Author Topic: Rebuilding bellows, Up above my head!  (Read 9291 times)

Offline David R.

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Rebuilding bellows, Up above my head!
« on: November 25, 2017, 05:13:06 AM »
A good friend is helping me rebuild these antique bellows. I hope to have them up and running in my shop soon. We got a 15 gallon trash can almost full of critter nests out of them but there was suprisingly little damage.









« Last Edit: February 18, 2018, 05:45:37 AM by David R. »
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Offline Robert Wolfe

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2017, 01:28:45 AM »
Please continue to post pictures and you move through the restoration!
Robert Wolfe
Northern Indiana

Offline bob in the woods

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2017, 02:46:17 PM »
It's always a good idea to wear a dust type mask when you clean out any kind of "critter" nests.

Offline David R.

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2017, 04:35:42 AM »





Plugged hundreds and hundreds of nail and tack holes with matchsticks, toothpicks and glue. Very tedious but I think it will pay off when time to tack on new leather. The leather is nailed to the top paddle, center stationary section, bottom paddle and two intermediate ribs. That means there are five  pieces with hundreds of holes around the perimeter to plug. One of the ribs is shown below with holes plugged and brace and lap joints re-glued. The second rib had one end busted and mouse damage to the brace. It is under clamps with a splice repair glued and dowelled in.



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Offline Robert Wolfe

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2017, 04:24:45 PM »
Wow! That's a lot of plugs, but, I think you're right, it'll pay off in the end.
Robert Wolfe
Northern Indiana

Offline David R.

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2017, 11:42:25 PM »
Rib repairs completed. The worst damage was where a rodent chewed through the intersection of one end of a brace on one rib. One interesting thing we found were small empty mortices spaced around the edges of all the components; center board, upper and lower paddles and ribs. What we deduced was that these mortices would line up with small strips that were evidently installed temporarily to hold all the components in alignment in their expanded position evidently so patterns could be made to cut the leather. Hopefully I can get time soon to begin reassembly.



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Offline David R.

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2017, 05:42:37 AM »
The valves have been resurfaced with new leather and reinstalled with nylon webbing for hinges. It is interesting for me to note some details. The valve boards were made from one piece with stiffeners dovetailed in across the backs. They still show the marks of the depth gauge scribed around edges that set out the depth for the dovetail grooves. After cleaning 150 years of soot off valve boards I could also see the marks from the hand plane including the little ridge repeated all over the surface left by a nick in the plane iron. It is obvious dovetails were cut in by eye with no regard to exacting measurement or square, done in 'workman like manner'. (see 3rd and 4th pictures down in original post)
« Last Edit: December 28, 2017, 03:50:40 PM by David R. »
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Offline Robby

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2017, 01:58:01 PM »
Thanks for the updates. This is a really cool project.
Robby
molon labe
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Offline heelerau

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2017, 11:03:59 PM »
David, what a meticulous restoration.  I suspect certain advantages to using this type of bellows over the rotary ones. On the sheep station my late father managed, the old  bellows in the blacksmith shop stood on end near the forge having been replaced by a rotary set. I have a rotary set on my own buffalo forges.  I guess the main advantage may have been less room taken and rodent damage re the rotary type. Will look forward to seeing a picture of it in action.

Happy New Year from down under

Gordon
Keep yor  hoss well shod an' yor powdah dry !

Offline David R.

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2017, 04:04:19 AM »
Happy New year to you as well Gordon. The bellows do take up a lot of room and that may be a problem in my tiny shop. They will definately have to go overhead. May take some manuvering to get it positioned with lever in a convenient place.
I have worked with crank and lever blowers and electric blower forges. I have also spent a good bit of time with traditional bellows forge and like it best.  There is something quite soothing about the rythmic muffled clack and heartbeat of the valves.
There are some advantages as well. You can get several seconds of continued blast after you quit pumping the lever as the upper chamber empties itself. This gives you some time to manipulate your work and get your hammer in your hand. You can also fine tune the intensity of your blast for heavier work by adding weight onto the top paddle. I think it is also easier ergonomically to pull the lever than to rotate a crank. I also tend to burn up more steel with electric blowers and often forget to hit the switch when pulling work out thus wasting fuel.
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Offline David R.

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2018, 03:48:32 AM »
Starting to come together. All reassembled and temporarily braced in expanded position. Patterns made for the leather and 1/4 the leather cut out to fit. It is upside down on the bench at this point.




photo upload
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Offline brokenflint

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2018, 02:46:40 AM »
Hey Dave how's this working out?  Like to see a shot of the cmplete setup if you get the chance..

Ed
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Offline rich pierce

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2018, 03:20:26 AM »
Dave, what does the assembled bellows weigh?
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline David R.

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2018, 03:16:08 PM »
I have all the leather sewn, stained and oiled and ready to go back on. Just waiting for a chance to get back to it. I have no idea what it weighs but it is a two man job to move it.
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Offline g.pennell

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2018, 05:26:42 PM »
David, it was nice meeting you Saturday, and getting to talk a little about your iron mounted rifles. This sure looks like a neat project, but I think I’ll stick to my old Champion hand crank for now!  I’d have to build a new forge to make room for that monster.

Greg
“Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks” Thomas Jefferson

Offline David R.

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Re: Rebuilding bellows
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2018, 03:55:06 AM »
Thanks Greg. Certainly enjoyed meeting you. It was a good day and I always look forward to this meeting.
I got a chance to get some more work done on the bellows today. All the leather is installed. The wood for the strips that are nailed around the edges of all the components have been sawn out, the edges chamfered with a plane and all the pieces bundled and laid in the pond out back of the shop to limber up.
We took a little shortcut the original builders didn't have and stapled the leather on where it won't show. We saved as many of the original nails as we could and should have plenty to nail it all back with.





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Offline David R.

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Re: Rebuilding bellows, Bellows Completed, added pictures
« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2018, 05:30:29 AM »
Finished up the work on bellows and tested on bench, they will idle a full 11 seconds, the ones I use at the museum go 9. Next to get them in the shop and put to use!







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Offline David R.

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Re: Rebuilding bellows, Bellows Completed, added pictures
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2018, 05:37:43 AM »
Leather washers that will go over trunnions as spacers to keep working clearance between sides and mounts.

A couple of the original wrought iron nails split like this when driving them back in.

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Offline g.pennell

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Re: Rebuilding bellows, Bellows Completed, added pictures
« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2018, 05:52:18 AM »
That looks awesome...can’t wait to see it in place in your forge. Be sure and post more photos when you get it installed!

Greg
“Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks” Thomas Jefferson

Offline Brian Jordan

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Re: Rebuilding bellows, Bellows Completed, added pictures
« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2018, 07:43:59 PM »
Very cool project! Thanks for the pictures.
Formerly known as Melsdad

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Offline Robby

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Re: Rebuilding bellows, Bellows Completed, added pictures
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2018, 08:47:39 PM »
Hats off David, well done!!!!! Can't wait to see it in your shop.
Robby
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We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution. A. Lincoln

Offline David R.

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Re: Rebuilding bellows, Bellows Completed, added pictures
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2018, 04:55:03 AM »








Here are the bellows as they went in the shop over a year ago and how they came out today. They made the trip in the pouring rain from my friend's shop to mine and all the preparations were made to hang them overhead in my shop. In the morning we will hoist them up with block and tackle and hopefully have them running by afternoon.
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Offline heelerau

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Re: Rebuilding bellows, Bellows Completed, added pictures
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2018, 07:20:38 AM »
@!*%, that is a ripper of a job, they look magnificent. Please do shew us how the bellows looks all set up in your shop, I gather they sit over head. Should feel pretty pleased with yourself !!

Cheers

Gordon
Keep yor  hoss well shod an' yor powdah dry !

Offline David R.

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Re: Rebuilding bellows, Bellows Completed, added pictures
« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2018, 04:01:35 AM »




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Offline heelerau

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Re: Rebuilding bellows, Up above my head!
« Reply #24 on: February 18, 2018, 12:35:05 PM »
Thanks for the photos, I have never seen a setup for bellows here in Australia like that, not to say we don't have any, but I have never seen one.  I assume you have a remote lever hooked up to the cordage operating the bellows.  I love what I assume is the oak construction of the smithy.

Cheers

Gordon
Keep yor  hoss well shod an' yor powdah dry !