Animal Drawn Cart Research Proposal

Pages: 10 (2595 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Engineering

Animal-Drawn Cart

The purpose of this study is to study and analyze the historical development of the animal draw cart to the current day, examine the various types of carts that have been used throughout the world and provide possible suggestion for improvement in the current development of the device.

While this study began as an initial historical development of carts as well as addressing the many different types and uses of the vehicle it slowly emerged that there were many more parameters involved than simple engineering and material consideration. While these certainly are of the utmost importance, it is even more important to consider who the owners of these carts would be and not merely the uses that they will be put to. Without considering holistically the relevant costs and availability of the materials, the greatest engineering design in the world will not help those in emerging nations that cannot afford or have the availability of materials that may be called for in a carts design.








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The animal drawn cart has existed and possible arose with the discovery of the wheel around the fifth millennium BCE ("Cart"). Since that time the human mind has developed various strategies and engineering solutions to make these carts more efficient and beneficial to their needs. This study will use historical and current research in the area of this device. Over the centuries animal drawn carts have been used to carry everything from supplies to other animal and human beings. Up until the creation of the train and the internal combustion engine, animal power was one of the primary forces in the transportation of goods and humans. The only other source was the waterways and even then animal were used to pull canal boats upstream in order to deliver merchandise.

Research Proposal on Animal Drawn Cart Assignment

This paper will research the implementation of animal drawn carts both historically and currently. Although the trains, planes and automobiles have take over the area of transportation in many counties, the poorer nations still rely heavily on the "beast of burden," which brings us to the other aim of This paper. After analyzing the past history of this device and the current uses it has been put to, suggestions will be made as to how to improve the cart. This will be researched in several areas, both in the actual design and engineering of the efficiency involved, but also in the materials used and available that can help with the initial costs of the device. The choice of material can also affect the operation of the device so these will have to be assessed carefully.


As previously stated the history of this device dates back to the creation of the wheel itself. Since then there have been many interpretations and creations of this system of transportation, many of which have improved or time and many other, due to their simple design, have remained virtually unchanged. Carts have been mentioned in literature as far back as the second millennium B.C. Carts may be named for the animal that pulls them, such as horsecarts or oxcarts. ("Cart")

Carts come in many different shapes and sizes but the basic idea of transporting material and/or living cargo remains the same. Carts generally have two or four wheels, although there are some exceptions with more than four. Those with four wheels, called drays or wagons will usually have a pivoting front axle with a pole that is connected to the collars or yoke of the two controlling animals ("Cart"). The traces that come from the animals are connected to the pivoting axle and then by chain or sometime rope, to the rear axle. (see figure 1)

Two-wheeled carts normally, sometimes still referred to as wains, have two shafts, one along each side of the animal, which helps to support the forward-balanced load in the cart, these shafts are then connected by a saddle from the horse or other animal. The traces then attach to the axle of the vehicle. (see figure 2) in all the above cases the traces are then attached to a collar, on horses or to a yoke on other larger animals like oxen or to a smaller harness on other lighter animals. One-horse carts are commonplace and are the most abundant from of transportation for low-income or smaller acreage farmers. "Two-wheeled carts drawn by oxen and donkeys are used commonly for farm transport in the northern part of Uganda and generally in the rest of the country." (Ogwang 181)

Traces are made from a range of materials depending on the load and frequency of use. Heavy draught traces are made from iron or steel chain. Lighter traces are often leather and sometimes hemp rope, but plaited horsehair and other similar decorative materials can be used.

Builders of wains were known as Wainwrights, just as the builders of carts were known as Cartwrights. These trades no longer exist, but the terms survive as the surnames of descendants of those practising these crafts. ("Cart")

While the installation of brakes on most carts is not a common practice, especially in flat areas, they may certainly be a desirable feature for other reasons. Brakes are also a substantial feature, which can help to save the animals from sever stress or pain on steep inclines. In an upward run the brakes can be used to rest the animal and in the downward run to ease the strain of the weight burden as well. This is aside from the safety measure that brakes give to carts and their owners.

Carts may also be very specifically constructed for a single purpose as we. Take for instance the Light Single Drum water carrier used in Kenya and developed in England for this specific purpose. ("Light single Drum") See Appendix I for schematic.


The initial devices for animal drawn labor were probably plows, which were used by farmers to cultivate their fields. Usually pulled by oxen, horses or other larger draught animals, these plow had a large blade that spilt the ground as the animal dragged it forward. While efficient for the time and still in use today the appearance is rather clumsily see figure 3 (Starkey 12)

Such a pull has an upward component and a forward component. If the pull were at an angle of 45°, these horizontal and vertical forces would be equal, so that as much of the applied force is being used in "lifting" as in "pulling." If it were possible to change the 45° pull into one that was almost parallel to the ground, the same force would have a much greater horizontal (forward) effect. (Starkey 12)____)

Figure 4 on the next page illustrate the forces of both the tractive as well as the resistant forces involved:

The use of a cart certainly increases the weight of the load that can be handled by draught animals in comparison with the amount that could be loaded on their back or by the use of a sleigh, which is a return to the plow idea. The lower weight and resistance and tractate forces are much greater. Ideally a cart needs to be lightweight yet durable and also posses as efficient wheel or axle system as possible. It is also necessary that these cart are equipped with the correlative harness system for proper use with the animal or animals involved. Oswang notes in his article, a Note on Improving Animal-Drawn Transport in Uganda that aside for these general principles carts also need to be:

adapted carefully to local operating conditions in terms of terrain, type of use and the characteristics of indigenous draft animals designed to take account of local production conditions in terms of the availability of components, materials and manufacturing skills manufactured in a way and on a scale that matches the capability of local industry marketed at a price people can afford with credit available if necessary.

Oswang 182)

After thousands of years of development might think that the designs of animal carts, especially in third world countries would have reached an be optimal level of efficiency in these regards. However, in his article, the Development of Low-Cost Animal-Drawn Carts, that there is still some developmental evolution occurring:

Working in Nigeria and the UK however, members of the Development Technology Unit have developed cart components and cart designs which are significantly cheaper than existing designs. These cost reductions have been achieved by rigorous simplification of design, usually by providing only the minimum number of components. Such components as there are, are easy to make, of easily obtainable material and require only the minimum of skills and tooling to produce. (Oram 171)


Material has certainly been one component that has created an evolutionary step in making carts not only more durable but lighter as well. While wood is still a traditional and often readily available material for cart construction in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Animal Drawn Cart" Research Proposal in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Animal Drawn Cart.  (2009, February 28).  Retrieved May 24, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Animal Drawn Cart."  28 February 2009.  Web.  24 May 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Animal Drawn Cart."  February 28, 2009.  Accessed May 24, 2020.