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ONE OF A KIND. Bill Miller designed the shoeing box for this 1955 Chevrolet so he didn’t have to crawl to his tools. This was before specialty shops offered customized rigs.
Bill Miller marked his 80th birthday and his 60th year as a farrier in 2007. He started apprenticing in 1947. When he went into business for himself, in the days before custom-built shoeing bodies and specialty rigs, he bought his first truck, a 1950 Studebaker half-ton pickup. The truck served its purpose, he recalls, “but it was hard to maintain the equipment in the back with just a tarp thrown over my tools.”
So he decided to protect the tools of his trade and moved up to a 1952 Chevrolet panel truck. “Two horseshoer idols, Tommy Wilkinson and Joe Scholten, each drove a panel truck, so I figured that was the way to go,” Miller says.
Or maybe not.
“Back in those days,” Miller remembers, “you had to haul out your coal forge and set it up separately away from the truck. You had to get out your other tools, too. You’d spend about half an hour just getting ready to shoe a horse. I found out that working out of a panel truck, I spent more of my time on my hands and knees than I did in church.”
After using the panel truck for a couple of years while shoeing in the Fox Valley of Illinois, he says, “I decided I needed something different. That was before…