Author Topic: Re-building a Great Bellows  (Read 469 times)

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Offline Quenchcrack

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Re-building a Great Bellows
« on: February 16, 2017, 05:02:48 PM »
Since December of 2016, I and two other smiths have been engaged in rebuilding a 100 year old set of Great Bellows for the Smithy in a local History Park.  We finally commissioned the bellows last weekend.  I have included a few of the hundreds of photos we took to document the process.

After removing the bellows to the barn of one of the members, we stripped it down to a pile of parts.  The leather lungs were actually made of Naugahyde and badly split and torn.  These were a modern repair.  We sanded, painted and sealed the three boards that created the two chambers.  We made new leathers out of top-grain, oil tanned leather using the old pieces for a pattern.  Each section had to be 14 feet long so two splices were made in the upper and lower sections.  New valves were made and installed.  A new tuyer (nose cone) was fabricated and forge brazed to replicate the old one which corroded away.  Rotten parts of the boards were routed out and replacement pieces glued in.  The sides of the boards where the support rod were installed were rotting and breaking so the holes were reinforced with steel bands.  Once we had the spacers installed between the boards, we hung the leather and secured it with trim lath and wood screws.  We then covered the nose block with 8 alternating layers of tar paper and leather to seal up any paths for air leaks.  Then a single piece of leather was used to cover the nose block and hundreds of tacks driven in to keep it secured.  After the refurb was complete we re-installed it at the smithy.  I was blessed to be the first smith to use the new bellows, which performed extremely well.





















It was a great project but we are all glad to be finished with it.

« Last Edit: February 16, 2017, 06:24:41 PM by Quenchcrack »
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Offline xj35s

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2017, 05:21:11 PM »
That is awesome. I bet it sounds evil, like a raging bull!
pessimist complain about the wind. optimist expect the wind to change. realist adjusts the sails.

Offline Unknown

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2017, 05:25:41 PM »
That Big old thing looks amazingly fantastic. Great job. I'd look at a few more pics of the process, but don't want to sound greedy.


Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2017, 05:41:02 PM »
We named it "Puff, the Magic Dragon".  When I lit the forge, I used 3 pine cones wrapped in a sheet of newspaper.  Once the paper and cones caught fire, I began to slowly pump the bellows.  I had flames a foot tall blowing out of the forge.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2017, 04:36:31 AM by Quenchcrack »
I guess he'd rather be in Colorado.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2017, 05:49:54 PM »
It needs a name! :thumbsup:

Here's a list of suggestions....

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wind_deities
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Augustus McCrea.....Texas Ranger      Lonesome Dove, TX

Offline wsdstan

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2017, 05:57:19 PM »
Excellent job.  That looks like a wonderful tool.  Let us know if you do name it. 
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
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Offline imnukensc

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2017, 06:07:37 PM »
Good stuff, QC.   :cheers:
The universe is made up of protons, neutrons, electrons, and morons.

Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2017, 06:15:08 PM »
A few more pics.  I am still looking for the ones of us forge brazing the cone shut.













I guess he'd rather be in Colorado.
-John Denver

Online upthecreek

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2017, 07:12:41 PM »
It's great to see it back in action. I bet it's saviors will be very caring with it in it's new life. You guys did a great resto and should be very proud to have it back up and running.  :hail: :hail: Some of that new needs to come off of it though!

Creek
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Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2017, 07:33:53 PM »
Tomorrow I go back to the park to teach the High School kids how to operate it.  They could burn it up in a heartbeat. 
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Online Dano

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2017, 07:42:41 PM »
That just goes way beyond words to say how cool it is to see the restoration.  I bet being able to use it after all you guys went through was pretty amazing indeed!!

Thank you for saving a really cool part of history!  I hope the school kids can get some admiration for what you all did!

Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2017, 08:54:02 PM »
Good work, gentlemen!
Of all the pretentious names listed in Wolfy's link, I'm liking your "Puff the Magic Dragon" best. It roars and breathes fire. Pretty fitting..... ;)
The more I understand, the less I know. Pretty soon I'll understand everything, and know nothing.

Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2017, 12:02:42 PM »
Here are the photos of forge brazing the cone together.  We used an old sheetmetal workers book to lay it out, cut it, folded it, heated it, dropped brass wire in the overlap, post heated it to flow the metal, and we had the finished product.  We did soak it in vinegar to clean it up.









I guess he'd rather be in Colorado.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2017, 02:59:53 PM »
What did you use for flux? ???
The only chance you got at a education is listenin' to me talk!
Augustus McCrea.....Texas Ranger      Lonesome Dove, TX

Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2017, 03:05:27 PM »
Borax.  Or maybe that was the instant grits, I fergit....
I guess he'd rather be in Colorado.
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Offline Unknown

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2017, 03:33:47 PM »
After brazing did you do any cold work to tidy up the seam? I wonder how strong the joint is; brass and steel. Wondering because I don't know. A hard silver soldered(brazed) joint in copper has potential to be stronger than the copper when done right.

What kind of wood is that for the valves? Looks like sapele, some kind of mahogany or maybe Spanish cedar.

Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: Re-building a Great Bellows
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2017, 04:01:20 PM »
Yes, Dave hammered the seam over a tinsmith horn after we cleaned it up.  If you look at the photo of the horn (tuyer) head on you can see it is held in place with hand fit shims in a 360 degree arc.  It cannot open up so the seam braze is not critical other than it cannot leak air.  The valves are made from 1/4" mahogany with oil tanned leather covering the seal side.
I guess he'd rather be in Colorado.
-John Denver