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Making Concrete Donkey and Carts

19 years ago

I posted this on the Garden Junk forum and they suggested I post here.

Has anyone ever made the cement donkey and carts from molds? My dad has the molds he got from my grandfather. They are antiques I think. We tried making several when I was a kid, but the legs and wheels always broke. Has anyone seen instructions on how to properly do this? How do you attach the body and wheels to the cart?



Comments (23)

  • 19 years ago

    I'd love to know!
    I used to collect donkeys - it's one of the things I gave up for my last move - I had ove 200 ceramic donkeys and succlents planted in all of them. I'd really enjoy making one big one now for my new garden.

  • 19 years ago

    Are the molds designed so you could add a piece of rebar to attach those parts?


  • 19 years ago

    I don't think the molds are made like that. It has been several years since I've seen the mold. I know there was a place to put a thin wire in the cart to attach the wheel, but I never where to go with it after that. The wheels would always break before we would get a chance to figure it out. For whatever reason, our concrete didn't seem to hold up we. We would put rebar on the legs and the concrete would break off of those too. Even after being left in the mold for several days to cure.

    I won't physically be able to look at the molds until September. I wanted to see if I could solve the problems first and then ask to borrow them.

  • 19 years ago

    How are you curing your concrete and do you move your mold soon after it's cast? You may be stressing the concrete at it's weakest point and it's fracturing. I'd try adding the rebar like suggested if it's possible, not moving the mold once it is poured for a week or more and possibly adding some fortifier and/or fibers. Also keep your concrete hydrated for the first 3 to 4 weeks to let it cure and strengthen. There's also a premix that a few people use in here that is fortified already--I think it's Quikwall?..not sure of that.

  • 18 years ago

    Hi Adella
    Did you ever dig out those molds?
    I'm very interested in doing a concrete donkey cart...sans donkey.

  • 18 years ago

    There are many types of molds that require different techniques. What materials are they made of and can you post pix?...that would help determine the best casting proceedures.

  • 18 years ago

    I still don't have the molds and probably won't see them again until next year now. Hurricane Katrina canceled my trip plans. The molds are made out of aluminum. I'll have to look for pictures. I know I have pictures of the donkey and carts some place, but I'll have to remember where I put them first.

  • 18 years ago

    To make this piece successfully you will need to properly prepare the molds and the mix. You'll need to oil down your molds with clean motor oil. (You can try castor oil, but we found that clean motor oil was best for the aluminum molds. Get it into every crevice!

    Your mold mix will be best if you use a mix of 1 part portland cement (sold in 94lb bags) 2 parts sand and 3 parts pea gravel. Mix to an oatmeal type consistency, using a small mixer for this because you'll need a lot more concrete than you probably think. You can get away using the premix not use fence post mix, get the concrete mix, ask at the hardware store if you're not sure. It will have rocks, and this is perfectly ok...they will not be visible.

    Pour you concrete mix into the oiled molds, being sure the mold is supported.

    Pour about 1/3 then gently rock the mold, pouring the next 1/3 and rocking. Repeat until full.

    Let the concrete sit till it thickens up so when you put a piece of rebar in it, it will stand up and not fall over.

    You'll want to put in some wire in the wheels (before you pour the mold if it's all one piece, lay mold on it's side, then lay the wire in a circle inside the leg). Use 3/8" rebar in the legs. Any thicker and you'll have problems. Stick the rebar in the legs when the mix is thick.

    Leave the piece to sit in the mold at least 24 hours (if warm weather, 48 hrs if less than 75 degrees outside).

    Demolding is when pieces tend to break. Turn mold over, upright, then remove mold pieces, but make sure when you unbolt it, you unbolt EVERY bolt a little bit at the same time, not undo one, then the next, etc. This is VERY important.

    Once it's demolded, leave it alone and then cover with damp towels, keep out of sunlight and wind for a couple of days.

    Then it will be ok to put outside.

    DH has poured this mold for years, using this method and no problems ever. Sometimes the ears will break, but putting wire in the mold before pouring will help. Make sure the wire is long enough so that it doesn't float out when you pour in the concrete! Doing the pour in 3rds helps with this, you can reposition the wire as needed this way.

    Send us an email when you get the mold and we'll help you with this.

  • 16 years ago

    I have an old concrete donkey and cart in need of some TLC. The concrete wheels of the cart are missing, there is some rebar showing on the donkey, and he needs ears. I'd love to know whether AdellaBedella got the molds and tried to use them, and whether anybody has any ideas for repairing my donkey and replacing the wheels. Thanks!

  • 16 years ago

    I got busy and didn't get around to borrowing the molds. Maybe one one of these years.

  • 13 years ago

    Does anyone know where I could buy a mold to make a donkey and cart for my garden. I have always loved those. I remember a neighbor had a few lawn ornaments when I was a child and one of them was a donkey. I used to go over and pet the donkey gently as though it was real. Us city kids didn't get to see real farm animals.

    I would love to make one now - it would be a great project for me.

    Thanks so much

  • 6 years ago

    Just seeing this post where can i get a concrete mold?? I would love to know

  • 6 years ago

    When I was looking for them many years ago, a few sets popped up on ebay -- but I didn't get them (bidding war? expense of shipment? I don't remember.) I was able to get the bits I needed to restore my little donkey and cart from a place in Virginia...Harpers Lawn Ornaments. They have an online site. As far as I know, they don't sell the molds, though. Good luck!

  • 2 years ago

    WOW! Exactly what I've been searching for. I recently acquired the aluminum mold like the picture above except my mold has the ears and tail in a separate mold. My question is how do you attach?

    The mold for the wheel is one piece, is that complete? How are you supposed to pour so you have a spot for the axle?

    I know this thread is super old but hoping someone might pop up with an answer.

  • 2 years ago

    I need to make a left ear for one of these. My donkey's left ear (actually husband's grandmother's) falls off (rebarb exposed where ear used to surround it. The ear got accidentally scooped up by a tree company doing tree trimming near the donkey. Anyway, if someine knows how I could order a left ear, I would greatly appreciate it!

  • last year

    Snoopy Waite- I’m new to this site so not sure how to reply directly to you, but I’m currently fixing up a donkey and cart. Like yours, the ears and tail were separate pieces. I took a photo of them. They appear to be attached to the donkey by thin pieces of rebar. Hope this helps. The tail has a similar (but curved) piece of rebar.

  • last year

    Ooh, I wish I had gotten notifications about people posting on this before! First, I was able to replace the wheels, not re-make them (couldn't find molds, and when I did, they were prohibitively expensive) ... purchased replacements from Harper's Statuary & Water Gardens in Harrisonburg, VA. One of my burro's ears was in disrepair, and I used wire mesh to shape a replacement mold. Once I did that, I used hardening clay around the wire. It's been many years now...but as I remember, once it hardened, I made concrete slurry, and poured it into the mold. What I cannot remember is how I kept the concrete from sticking to the wire mesh and hardened clay. Saran wrap? I just don't remember...Sorry! Then I attached the new bit of ear (Epoxy? More concrete? 🤷‍♀️) That little burro and cart is still in great shape!

  • last year

    Thank you T

    Does the donkey have a sleeve to

    accept the rebar

  • last year

    Hi Snoopy, the donkey body has holes drillled at the sides of the head and at the tail. i don think there a ”sleeve” per se, just a pretty

    deep hole. We’re having difficulty finding an adhesive to initially hold them in place until we can reinforce with concrete- ears had a lot of damage so there are pretty big gaps to fill.

    I will see if i can get a close up photo of the holes for you, but if you zoom in on this one you can see one ear hole.

  • last year

  • last year

    Snoopy, here’s another photo.

  • 7 months ago

    I recently acquired the do key and wagon when cleaning out a yard. The leg had got broken and one ear also. I make a mix of cement and with a lot of trying actually repaired both so the donkey looks almost original. I was so hoping to find the original company who made this one so I could restore it to original look. There is no harness or wagon rails to attach to the donkey. I can't get the nuts loose on the wheels to put rubber washers between the wheel and the wagon to make it more stable. So I am just going to do my best. I'd love to know how old this donkey and wagon is. Does anyone know how to find the manufacturer stamp?

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