Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe007
When was it like that - without warranties?
In the early-mid 1800's. At the time, wagon trains were built by non-union labor, but the profit margins were so slim that even using cheaper non-union immigrant workers didn't allow enough profit to compensate for after-sale repairs, especially for more complicated major repairs.
Most blacksmith shops warrantied their wagons for only 5 sundowns, and extended warranties were unheard of. Plus, without paved roads the wagons took a pretty good beating, not to mention the fact that many of the drivers, especially the younger ones, abused the hell out of their rigs by going at faster speeds that what the wagons were engineered for.
Wheel alignment was the biggest issue that wagon owners had to constantly contend with. Some of the pioneers even tried aftermarket wagon wheels as they thought they would get a better ride, but that seemed to magnify the issues. And forget taking you wagon train back to the dealer within the 5 sundown period if you had in any way modified it - anyone who had installed wood posts to raise the wagon ride height, for example, was immediately turned away (people at the saloons always recommended removing the posts if anyone were to need any wagon warranty work done).
Dundes, Alan. "History of Early Warranties." World Book Encyclopedia. 1973 ed. pgs 323-331.
Faragher, John Mack. Women and Men on the Overland Trail. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1979.
Walker, Henry P. The Wagonmasters: High Plains Freighting from the Earliest Days of the Santa Fe Trail to 1880. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1966.