It was a day for going back to my roots, putting the fancy stuff to one side and make some wheels, something I haven’t done for a while, this time a set of four little wheels to replace some rotten ones from a customers much loved goat cart.
Years ago when I first started making carriage wheels, I got into the habit of always making spare parts, so for example if I needed 20 spokes, I would make 21 so I had a spare for when I went wrong. So for this project where I am building a set of four wheels I found myself turning five hubs, I needed 36 spokes so I made 40, The felloes ( the wooden rims) are made up of 18 pieces so I cut 20. Now when I first started this was useful, it saved time when I went wrong, now I would never admit to such a thing. For some reason I only do this when I am making wheels, I don’t cut extra leather, or forge extra steel. Its just a habit that’s hard to break.
But its nice to be back making wheels. Technically they aren’t difficult, its just honest, basic woodwork, the ability to measure accurately, cut straight, cut joints, and then for the grand finale you get to have a fire, heat up a steel tyre and then quench it with water, making lots of noise and steam, what more could a man want. For the outer rim you make a tyre out of strip steel, slightly smaller than the circumference of the wooden rim, then heat it up in a fire, causing it to expand, then whilst hot you slip it over the wooden wheel quenching it with water. Several years ago I once made a 2mt wheel, so the tyre used over 6mts of steel, and need one hell of a fire to heat it up. With so much steel the tyre expanded so far I didn’t think it would ever shrink back, but amazingly it did. the problem with these ones is that the wheels are so small I think I will be measuring expansion in single millimetres so fitting them is going to be a challenge. Maybe its just as well I make spares I might just need them.