Saturday, December 11, 2010

Axle Boxes, Hinges and Blacksmithing

We have made good progress with restoring the iron work for the wagon.

The axle-boxes have hinged lids with three-leaf springs to hold them open or closed. The springs were rusted away and broken and one lid's hinge-pin was broken.

Using old saw blades I made up twelve new leaf springs to rivet onto the lids. And from a length of 5/16" mild-steel rod I fashioned a new hinge pin with Marcus's help. First off I cut the pin to length, allowing six diameters over length, three at each end, to form the domed heads. We held the rod in the vice and Marcus worked the oxy-acetylene torch to heat the end of the rod to red heat then I wielded the hammer to form the domed head. With one end done we put the pin through the hinge and Marcus again worked the torch while I held a hammer against the cold end of the pin and beat the other end into a dome. I think it's a pretty neat job.

Still on the subject of hinges but now much larger ones. Last week we heated the wagon side door hinges in the forge, prised them open and removed the hinge pins.

The hinge pins were well worn and needed to be either replaced or repaired. John used his welding skill to build up metal on the hinge pins and then ground them back to round.

So we have preserved more of the original ironwork, which is what we want to do.

This week we lit up the forge again. I wonder whether we'd find an excuse to light it if we had none ready made. It's great fun and very satisfying work.

We had to straighten out some of the hinges where we'd twisted them in our experimental work with the forge last week. But it was easily done and we ended up with four repaired hinges.

After we'd reassembled them we found that one pair was more worn than the other. We had to cut a section from the circumference of the hinge then re-heat it to red and close the circle up a bit tighter. Both Ollie and I were pretty nervous about doing this. Cutting bits out is a risky business. I reckoned that one hinge needed closing up by a quarter of an inch on its diameter. So I cut three quarters of an inch from the end of the bar where it closed on itself, and we closed it down carefully to tighten up the hinge. It's worked. The other hinge needed less and we did that successfully too.

Work at the forge drew a crowd.

Roger and Marcus turned up to watch then remembered that they had some fire-irons that need adjusting. John came along to watch and help too.

Showing off his smithing abilities as he beat the fire-iron into shape on our improvised anvil.

All of this ancient smithing craft could not go unchallenged by the carpenters' trade, so next we moved the new timbers for the wagon frame.

About half of the new timbers have been delivered. The sole bars and diagonal frame struts will arrive this week.

Keen to see what they looked like laid out the crew put them up temporarily onto the sleeper supports Ollie's made to build the frame on.

It was like a schoolchild with his first Airfix kit. Never mind the instructions, let's just put it together. It didn't seem to fit, so Ollie phoned the carpenter who said that the frame had never been put together and is still in need of adjustments to fit it. So we left it laid out on the supports so that the weather can do its magic.

This week and last week have been productive and exciting for me. Last week we lit up the forge for the first time since I finished refurbishing it, and we used it to do some important work. Also I finished off the hinges for the axle-boxes and I'm pleased with the end products, not least because we've managed to save most of the original iron work. I also got to drive a steam loco for the first time last week. I hope I'll repeat that experience, in fact, I want to learn firing and driving locos.


Blogger Flymo said...

Very impressive stuff. I do recall you saying about a year ago (about the time that I had my driving day at the AVR...) that you weren't in the slightest interested in the loco crew side of things.

Oh how the power corrupts!

10:25 pm, December 16, 2010  

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