The Master: Coach Builder Doug Hansen

Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop (605-996-8754,hansenwheel.com) in Letcher, S.D., custom builds and repairs wagons, buggies, and coaches.
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Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop (605-996-8754,hansenwheel.com) in Letcher, S.D., custom builds and repairs wagons, buggies, and coaches.
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Doug Hansen describes his business as “a modern workshop outfitted with antique tools…oddball stuff from the 1800s.” Hansen builds and restores traditional stagecoaches and wagons by the exacting methods of 19th-century craftsmen, a business that began as a hobby 32 years ago when he restored an old buggy for fun. Since that 1978 project, Hansen has made himself an expert on the subject. “Study allows us to achieve ultimate accuracy,” he says. Hansen has also learned skills such as blacksmithing, which he picked up by watching others working in the “old ways.”

Today, Hansen employs a team of craftsmen at Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop—including a blacksmith, upholsterer, painter, and wheelwright—to help him complete projects. His clients range from hobbyists and historical societies, to museums and commercial interests, such as Wells Fargo and film productions.