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Will Urban

Making a great bellows

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Posted (edited)

Hey guys I recently started working on a great bellows which I hope to use for civil war reenactments as a portable forge would have been used later in the war in lieu of the travelling forge built off a carriage essentially (too much investment for now) and I wanted to share some . 

I used 23/32 plywood for the main construction and used 3/32 with a fabric under layer for the valves to help create a seal. 

The dimensions are 30inch wide by 48inches long and when I started the skin I made sure it opened to 50 inches so taller then it's width with a slight bias towards the top chamber

I was planning on using vinyl backed canvas for the skin.

Thanks for checking it out

Will

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Edited by Will Urban
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I made a set of bellows a few years ago, I used thin leather and I had to sew pieces together to get it to the right size.  I treated the leather with Neatsfoot oil.  They worked great.  I like the valves you have made.  The vinyl backed canvas should work fine.  Looks like you are well on your way.  Nice work so far.

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Did you base your design off any plans. I had trouble figuring out how many valves to put in the center and bottom leaves and how large to make the holes. I ended up going with 6 inch diameter holes 3 on the bottom and two on the top.

I opted to go with canvas because of cost but also because I've been told that it would be accurate for reenactment's also. I'm also not 100 percent sure of the valve design so if it doesn't work I don't want to be heartbroken tearing all the leather off. I got this bolt of canvas for free from my mother's surplus fabric supply AKA the basement haha.

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I think you'll get plenty of air, the ones I made back in 2004 with around those same dimensions had 2 four-inch round holes and seemed to deliver plenty of air. I used a heavy commercial awning fabric that's essentially heavy waterproof canvas.

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I finished skinning it with the canvas and tested it and it works which makes me happy because I really did not want to have to remove epoxy and about 200 staples 

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Is that the bellows or the start of a frontier wagon? That is a beast.

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It's funny you say that your not the first person to say that it looks like the Conestoga wagons. It is large but I actually took some outer dimensions off the bellows that I learned to forge on its my favorite out of the four at the museum I work at. And still I scaled it down some proportionately. 

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Wow. Scaled down how much?

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I would love to see some video of this beast in use!!!

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I'll be more than happy to post some video of it running but I do have a few things to finish first. I need to finish the stand turn a pump handle and forge weld up about 8 ft of small chain I want to try to keep the externals looking as historic as possible which is why I'd also like to cover the top panel with some tongue and groove boards and also with the two cleats

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Posted (edited)

I made a small set in 1987 for the house fire and they are still going strong Pig skin for the outer cover and a simple heavy leather flat for the valve. A couple of hydrolic fitting for the spout.

 

Edited by Garry Keown

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Thanks guys most recently I've been working out the bellows supports and how I want to design the firebox. the picture is how I'm trying to build my temporary set up with some slight modifications to make it more sturdy without having to dig holes for posts. At least while working towards a full travelling forge.

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That looks very much like Neil Faulkenberry's travelling forge, seen here behind me at Batson's 2008 hammer-in.  Nice little setup, all wedged mortise and tenon takedown construction.

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Alan 

That's almost exactly what I'm going for.  I am curious why does he use a hook to hang the bellows pump. Most of the ones I've seen are either mounted directly top or bottom to the top cross member.

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Easy to take down.  Just unhook the beam.  The hook goes through one of a series of holes drilled in the beam to adjust the balance.

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That's an awesome idea all the ones ive used have a hole drilled through the pump handle and a pin with two forged loops as the hinge on the top of the cross member.  The only downside to his design is the uprights have to be much taller then.

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I'm planning on building a smaller one for the design of the traveling forge I can do a wip on that one if people are interested.

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Yeah, that sounds interesting Will. Thanks.

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Absolutely I'll continue to post to this one while I finish the mounting for the bellows and the forge and then put a post with the link to that.

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So it's been a while since I've added to this but I have completed a working version 1 of the forge. And will be testing it this weekend at a reenactment. So far so good but I'm loozing forward to seeing how it handles it's first fire

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That's pretty neat.  I'd love to see a video of it in actin if you can do so.

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Absolutely glad to be able to have something a bit different to talk about. I just finished setting up camp at a reenactment today so I'll take a video of it tomorrow in action.

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