Restoring Our 1800s Chuck Wagon

Back in 1992, I was fortunate to find this 1876 Studebaker in good enough condition to get out and get cooking right away. After we got the chuck box full (the chuck box is the place you chuck all of your utensils and equipment), the first person I cooked for was my Mama. Mama taught me how to cook and shared her love of cooking for people with me, and I wanted to start off by thanking her with the first meal I prepared on my very own Chuck Wagon.

Let me tell you, over the years, this chuck wagon has served me well. I’ve made a living doing what I love, and that’s the best kind of life to live. Of course, a lot of livin’ can cause a lot of wear and tear, so it’s time to focus on restoring the wagon to its former glory.

Of course, restoring a Chuck Wagon isn’t something that you can just drive up to the automotive repair shop or look up replacement parts on eBay. Taking the wagon apart, we had to make sure not to misplace any parts, even if we didn’t need to use them now, we’d need to replace them later. There weren’t any blueprints or measurements or any information available other than what was already holding the wagon together.

Fortunately, we were able to replace the rotted wood and find colors that were true to the original Studebaker colors. Using Rustoleum Hunt Green and a good rag, we were able to apply the paint in such a way that the beautiful grain was visible all the way through.

We rebuilt the chuck box and the boot where we keep our cooking pots and Dutch ovens, and were able to stain the wood, attach antique looking fixtures, and affix our tools to the side of the wagon using leather straps.

I think it’s safe to say that this restored chuck wagon is a mighty fine piece of history, and we’re grateful to be its steward. I hope you enjoy the slideshow of our finished product – and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more cowboy cooking and history every Wednesday.