The purpose of this section is to provide as much information as possible on the techniques involved when making a model. Because there are no kits of parts it is nesscessary for the horse-drawn vehicle modeller to create his own method of manufacturing the parts and the sequence and method of assembling them.
Within this section, therefore, you will find a wide variety of tried and tested techniques. Some will necessitate the use of lathes and special tools. Some, on the other hand will make use of the minimum of tools. All, however, will allow the modeller to make precision models and to develop additiional skills.
Good luck and happy modelling!
Brush painting – By Joe Cartledge
Preparation of the area to be painted is most important. I have
always used P800A wet and dry paper. At all times I use this
dry, and make
sure that the paper does not get a build up of dust on its surface
or scratching will occur. Keep wiping the surface of the paper
with a soft cloth.
Spray varnish technique – By John Elwood
The problem of the perfect finish is always present for the modeller who wishes to paint passenger vehicles and carriages. The coach builders spent many hours of careful work applying undercoats, base coats and varnish, usually applying many coats of each with a finishing polish using a silk handkerchief to produce a perfect finish with a magnificent depth of colour.. For the modeller, therefore, although many coats of gloss paint can be applied and rubbed down, no matter how carefully the painting conditions are controlled, there are always several tiny specks of what appear to be dust which ruins the final finish. A suggested solution is, therefore, to use a good base coat, well flatted using 800 wet and dry paper followed by several coats of matt paint of the selected colour to build up a good surface. Allow several days for the final matt coat to cure and then apply several coats of a good quality acrylic spray varnish to produce the first gloss finish. Allow this to cure over several days and then apply a good quality automobile paint restorer to ensure that the surface is burnished and properly flat. The final finish is then achieved by using a good quality car polish. This is a technique used by model boat and aircraft builders with great success.
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Making a Wheelbarrow
Make a wheelbarrow - By The Chairman (Brian Young)
The wheelbarrow is a prime and ancient example of man's ingenuity, where simplicity creates a functional structure that stands the test of time and even the availability of more modern materials. At rest the barrow stands firmly on rough ground because of the triangle formed by the wheel and the two legs and the single wheel allows the barrow to travel down the narrowest track. In use it is an example of a second order lever, where the load, closer to the wheel than the handgrips creates a mechanical advantage for the lifter who lifts with his leg muscles, not his arms. The liability of the barrow to tip when lifted, is overcome by the operator whose straight arms are able to maintain its balance.
Why not use my Plans? à Wheelbarrow plans
Test your skills now! Make this wheelbarrow without the drudgery of years of apprenticeship. The original plans were drawn to 1:12 scale. It can be made from any kind of wood, or even card if you have no woodworking tools. If you have no access to metal, then remember that many of the wheels were unshod. I have purposely omitted detailed instructions to test your ingenuity and skills The wheelbarrow is a prime and ancient example of man's ingenuity, where simplicity creates a functional structure that stands the test of time and even the availability of more modern materials. At rest the barrow stands firmly on rough ground because of the triangle formed by the wheel and the two legs and the single wheel allows the barrow to travel down the narrowest track. In use it is an example of a second order lever, where the load, closer to the wheel than the handgrips creates a mechanical advantage for the lifter who lifts with his leg muscles, not his arms. The liability of the barrow to tip when lifted, is overcome by the operator whose straight arms are able to maintain its balance.
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Model Accessories - By The late Bob Beach
Fittings such as drag shoe and roller scotch brakes, shaft harness, carriage lamps, harvest ladders and so on, greatly enhance the appearance of a model, but be careful. Make sure that they are the correct size and that you do the necessary research to use the correct design for the period, and traditional type for the area. If overbearing they will detract from the model. Fittings are often as great a challenge as the model itself, so don’t begrudge the time and effort that must be spent upon them.
The argument, “to paint or not to paint,” applies as equally to the making of accessories as it does to decisions about finishing your model. BUT, if you are set on realism and want to depict the social story of a vehicle at work, then accessories can add to, and even transform a project.
The first step is to collect old rubbish by developing a “magpie” eye for what might be of use at a future date for a diorama model, scraps of carpet, cloth, polystyrene and clear plastic sheets, leather and so on. They could be described as "rags to riches."
Background materials Examples:
Wooden cotton reels are ideal blocks from which they can be turned. A larger scale may demand a former on which thin staves can be shaped and applied, particularly for buckets and open casks. Bayonet lamp caps can be made into metal buckets.
Crates are easily constructed by applying thin strips onto a wooden block. Alternatively 3mm hardboard can be scored to represent the boards (to the selected scale) and stuck to a prepared block of scrap wood. Hardboard bindings can then be glued onto the finished crate.
A rub down
with fine sand/glass paper and a coat of matt varnish gives a "used" look
to the crate.
Model Corrugated Iron Sheet - By Brian Simpson
I recently decided to model a Shepherd’s Hut from Acton Scott working farm. The biggest problem was the production of corrugated sheeting that clad the sides and roof. One of our members had used the corrugation on pet food tins, which is OK for 1/12th scale but I work in 1/8th scale. I tried catering packs from a local hotel but they did not flatten out satisfactorily; therefore, I decided I would have to make my own.
I found sheet aluminium 0.5mm thick, which proved to be ideal, at my local DIY superstore. All I had to do now was make a jig.
The profile of the full size sheeting was 3 inches from peak to peak which in 1/8th scale would be 3/8th inch. Each sheet needed to be about 10 inches long by 4 inches wide to allow some waste for final shaping and fitting.
Using a 2ft.by 4 inch length of Lime, I marked out the positions of the troughs and routed them out to the correct depth with a 3/16th bull-nosed router bit. This left the peaks with square tops. I used an appropriate sized wood carving gouge upside down to round over the peaks. (You need to grind a small internal bevel on the gouge for this to work properly. Alternatively you can use a proper back bent gouge). I then sanded the peaks and troughs until I was satisfied with the finish. The Lime was cut in half to produce two half jigs 12 inches long. These could then be interlocked as male and female parts. Register pins were glued in so that the jigs always located together correctly.
The aluminium sheeting was placed in the jig and it was clamped in a large woodcarving vice. Unfortunately this would not apply enough pressure to create a fully profiled corrugated sheet. I decided that 4 inches wide required too much pressure to shape the aluminium so I reduced the width to 11/2 inches and it worked. The secret is not to try to form the full depth profile at one go. It is better to form it in several passes.
Because the jig had been reduced in width I could not form the 4 inch wide sheet as one. I had to fully profile 11/2 inches (the width of the jig) then simply move it forward in the jig keeping the last formed peak registered in the jig to maintain parallel alignment of the corrugations.
The roof sheets had to be curved; if done very gradually in the bending rolls this was possible without crushing the corrugations.
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Modelling Techniques - By John Elwood & Other Members
FRAME CONSTRUCTION. See Also: SUGGESTED TOOLS.
Why use glue to make a cart or waggon frame? There is a quick retort, why not? If it looks right, does it matter? No, the point being made concerns the achievements and frustrations of the wheelwright, when glue for him, was not available. If you wish to follow in his footsteps, then you must emulate his ways to find out how it was done.
Here, we are restricting ourselves to his mortise and tenon joints which are superior to gluing two pieces of wood at right-angles to each other, and are so easy to cut at 1: 16 scale, and even easier at 1:12 and 1:8 if those are the scales that you prefer. The secret, if there is one, is not to pre-drill the mortises, which makes it difficult to stop the chisel from slipping into the hole.
Although the width of the mortise is traditionally just over 1/3rd of the width of the timber, the final width is governed, not by measurements, but by the width of the chisel, mortise gauges are set to the chisel, though they are unnecessary at model scales. Using 1/16 and 3/32 inch flat swan-necked gouges or a 1/8 inch bevel-edge chisel for 1:16 scale, will cut equivalent 1 inch, 1½ inch and 2 inch mortises.
The last chisel gives the game away; the back, as in all mortise chisels, is ground off so that it is not as wide as the face, in order to clear the hole and prevent it from sticking. Tiny flat gouges can be ground off in the same way. The sharpened angle does not need to be blunt like that of a mortise chisel, as long as you realise that it will not be as robust and you must be careful not to snap it.
At this scale, no mallet is needed, for the chisel can be pushed into hardwood. Neither is it necessary to mark out the joint conventionally, just mark a centre line the length of the hole, and straddle it with the chisel. The grain of the wood keeps the hole straight. Wood with a straight grain helps. At 1: 8 scale, oak can be used for framing just as the wheelwright did, but at 1:16 scale the finer grain of Ash gives much better results.
Hold the wood in a vice. Begin by making a cut at each end, with the face of the chisel facing outwards; then in order not to crush the ends of the hole, do not touch these cuts until the very end.
If you push little cuts with the chisel all the way down the line at 1:16 inch intervals, the grain collapses, and the little pieces can be levered out from time to time. Do not force, and break the chisel. When the depth is approximately halfway through, turn the wood over, and work from the other side after ensuring that both holes will coincide. Soon you will go right through, and the pieces will fall out.
Finally clean up the ends where you made the first two cuts. It is simple! Stopped mortises are not more difficult, but require a little more patience
The tenon is cut to fit the hole. The end of the wood is held up against the mortise, and marked from it using a sharp pencil and your fingers to form a thickness gauge, ready for sawing outside the line. With a square, mark off the haunch end in the usual manner.
A method developed in the Northumberland shipyards for sawing tenons has stood the test of time. Hold the wood vertically in the vice with the cutting lines at right angles to the length of the bench. Start the saw-cut on the back edge of one of the lines, and work towards you, and down, so that you can see what you are doing. Leave the far edge uncut to hold the saw in place Do the other line, turn the wood round and make two more cuts in the same manner; then saw down horizontally, using the previous cuts as a guide. This method reduces all errors.
Then turn the wood horizontal and cut the shoulders so that the waste falls away. On a good day simply hammer in the tenon, but on an irritating one; ease it in with a file.
Always make a through tenon a fraction too long, to clean off flush, or to leave protruding as they usually are on a vehicle. If you have your own method, that's fine.
The model will be much stronger, and look more realistic for your efforts, and you will have the satisfaction of working as a true wheelwright or joiner.
An exception is preferable when mortising naves. Here the hole must be in exactly the right position and must run in accurately to the centre, so a dividing head is advisable. Start with a ring of vertically drilled holes at the back ends of each mortise. Then set in the angle of dish on the front ring of holes. Note that the back ring is always drilled at right angles to the axis of the nave and the tenon tapers.
A mortise and tenon is a sophisticated joint that has stood the test of time for builders, carpenters, wheelwrights and shipwrights. It gives great satisfaction both to the maker and user. Once you have tried it you won’t want to glue the pieces together again.
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| Drawing a Horse | Carving a horse |
Drawing a Horse
Drawing Horses - By the late Bob Beach
If you can write, you can draw. Those who teach themselves to draw or paint need never be bored and practice makes perfect. While our ordinary members finish up with models of horse-drawn vehicles, many of which have a beauty all of their own, some of our associates are content to seek out old carts, waggons and carriages and the animals that pulled them, as adjuncts to their landscape painting. Indeed, this was the method used by John Constable.
Here we offer you some examples and tips to get you started. Use our sketches as outlines for your work. Many of these pictures have actually been drawn on a computer with a graphics pen. Talent has nothing to do with it, except to give pleasure to others. One's own reward is an increased awareness of life's elegant forms. The blank page is forbidding only for those afraid of being embarrassed by their results. What does it matter what others think, if you have enjoyed the exercise? This encouragement is therefore aimed at students of all ages. Once a student always a student.
Everybody thinks they know what a horse looks like, knows that is, to recognise one from another kind of animal. To draw one is different; then you must start to observe closely. Anyone can do it, it is not difficult, neither is it easy unless you are prepared to spend the time and effort.
The first time someone draws a horse, they make the hock joint bent, almost at right-angles. Horse breeders call it sickle hocked, or "hocks in the next county." When you look at a horse, see how straight his hocks are if he is to carry his own weight properly. Your next task is to draw the hock and fit a horse onto the front of it. Arm yourself with an H or HB pencil and a putty rubber, and don't be afraid to use both vigorously. It doesn't matter if there is a horse in front of you or not. When the paper turns dirty and scuffed, place a sheet of greaseproof paper over it and trace up. Then place a piece of drawing paper over that, hold it against a well-lit window and trace up again. If you can't see the outline properly on the greaseproof paper, ink it in with a fine felt tip pen. Don't be afraid to "worry" the lines, and always leave your drawing from time to time. When you come back to it, refreshed, you will be able to see your mistakes clearly. It is often possible today, to enlarge or reduce the size of a drawing using a photocopier. If you can't do that, use the age old method of the artist, square up, that is, put a grid over the original drawing, and draw onto a larger or smaller grid on a fresh sheet of paper.
Using short straight lines to delineate the major planes gives a drawing greater strength than continuous curves, which weaken the outline and make the horse look sloppy. Range over the whole animal rather than trying to finish one part, but examine each detail with determined observation. Photographic fussiness is neither possible nor desirable. Most of the detail is suppressed, but what is depicted must be accurate. Concentrate on diagnostic characters to produce almost a caricature, and you will have made a simple, but powerful statement.
The bodies and legs of geldings can be fitted into a square. Stallions are a little taller and hold their heads higher. Mares have a longer back and a more delicate head. Draw an outline of the animal standing still first. Then redraw the action, using a compass to swing the limb joints into position, starting with the point of the shoulder and the hip, remembering that the length of the bones does not change. The set of the head and neck is critical; when active, head up and neck arched. When docile, the head is lower with a straighter neck. Eyes are high up, ears on top of the head, noses dished, straight or Roman.
When pulling a load, the
forehead is in front of the nose, and one foreleg braced well back.
Unlike the ox, perhaps the greatest indicators
of power are the hindquarters, so avoid an inverted pear-shape. In
heavy horses the Vastus muscles are said to be "well let down",
that is touching the muscles of the second thigh. From the rear the
impression is of a box. It is desirous for the back to be short and
straight in a real animal, but a dip and exaggerated belly make the
animal look more natural. The Trapezius muscles form the withers,
the point at which a horse's height is measured. They are like a
tapered scarf onto which the neck is fitted.
Don't read any more of this advice until you have actually drawn a horse. Don't wait, DO IT!
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Carving Horses - By the late Bob Beach
read what I have to say about drawing horses, you will realize
that an accurate outline is essential before you can consider
sculpture. After the carving starts, it is the only datum line,
which remains. This outline can be used to make a wire armature
for clay modelling, or for carving base-relief, or in the round.
In my case, I carve in the round, finishing the work with a whittling
knife, after obtaining the accurate silhouette with a coping
saw, and roughing out the contours with a gouge.
If an oiled or varnished finish is desired, complete with some staining to enhance features, then I suggest woods such as English Walnut, Sycamore, which is beautiful but rather hard, Olive and the fruit trees, Apple and Pear. It really all depends upon what you are trying to achieve, as does the scale of the animal.
This exercise is the carving of a horse to make it look as realistic as possible, and as I have pointed out in the drawings, using measurements of an actual animal is the best way to get it accurate from the start. The grain of the wood must run down the small parts, in our case, the ears and the legs, though bent knees and hocks seem to survive when the joint needs to be flexed. At 1:16 scale, an 18 hands Shire horse requires a block of wood, 7 inches wide, 2 inches thick and 5 inches long, but it can easily be made up from several pieces which are doweled and glued together. I actually prefer to make the horse in two pieces, the joint running lengthways, which makes it easier to saw out the legs. If the head is to be much turned from the centerline, and this usually enhances the appearance of the animal, then it is best added as a separate block. In any case since the head is almost never directly facing the front, it is always necessary to set out its symmetry separately from the body. Lime blocks are usually purchased rough-sawn, and you must dress off the surface on which you intend to draw the side elevation with a plane.
Your final outline should be drawn onto a piece of greaseproof paper. This is placed on the surface of the wood, and the outline is pricked down with a sharp point, so that the little holes may be joined together with a sharp pencil. It is best to mark in the head, but to leave an eighth of an inch all round to allow for it to be redrawn when turned. Because of the stance of the legs, you must make two drawings of the horse from the near and the off sides, though of course the trunk is the same in both. If you are using two pieces of wood, then both drawings are used, one for each piece. If you are working from a single piece, then do not use the second drawing until you have finished sawing out, except for the legs of the other side; these are more accurately marked out and cut from that side.
It is of course possible to use a band-saw or mechanical jigsaw to cut out the shape, but I prefer to use hand-tools. In this case, it is a coping-saw, with the block held securely in a vice, which for me is a little metalworking vice, mounted 44 inches from the ground, much higher than an ordinary woodwork bench. Don't try to hurry, let the saw do the work, and concentrate on keeping the cut at right angles to the surface of the wood. Remember that the far end of the saw will always try to lag behind and cut corners. The blades of coping-saws may be inserted to cut on the push or the pull stroke. I prefer to push, but inevitably more blades are broken this way. It is essential to cut accurately, just skimming the outer edge of the pencil line, and this is a make or break stage in the carving. Make sure also that the ground line under the hooves is cut off absolutely square with a tenon saw, or the model will never stand firmly. Don't forget to cut the second pair of legs from the other side.
So far so good, the trunk should look like a horse, but the head is hopeless, and the tail and each leg run right across the body. Attend to the tail first. You cannot mark onto the wood from your paper because of the curved surfaces, so all the drawing on the ends has to be done freehand. Draw in a centerline for the whole animal; this is not normally straight, but in plan view is a shallow "S" curve to take in the set of the head and the positions of the legs. You can now draw the outline of the tail from the rear, and start to cut down to the contours. Hold the model firmly in the vice, because YOU MUST HOLD THE GOUGE WITH TWO HANDS, and work round the buttocks from both sides, across the grain, removing surplus wood with a screwing motion, to leave a rough outline of the tail. This should give you the necessary practice to start on the legs. If you have used two pieces of wood, which is much easier, the legs already begin to look right and you can dowel the two cut surfaces of the wood together as I have shown you in the diagram, but do not glue up. Use temporary metal rods in the dowel holes, when it is easier to hold each half separately in the vice while gouging out the contours.
If you are working on a single block, and the animal is standing on three legs, you have the advantage that the single leg can be drawn fairly and squarely in the mid-line. Now draw in the legs on the ends of the block, and saw them out as well as you can, though the front and rear legs do get in each other's way, so that you will find yourself finishing the removal of the pieces of leg not required, with the gouge, or by drilling a row of small holes to weaken the parts which you need to break off. A flat or bevel-edged, 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch chisel is useful for cutting off the ridges left by the gouge, and some finishing work with files will trim the silhouette into shape except for the head. This should now be tackled, making sure that its symmetry is in line with the direction in which it is supposed to be looking. Most of the cutting can be done with the saw, including the taper of the neck, which in plan view is not as great in heavy horses as most people imagine.
Now hold up the horse against the light, and check that all is well, so far. It is still possible to hold the model in the vice until it loses all its flat surfaces, and in this manner, the rough contours can be cut down with the gouge, once again working across the grain, and with TWO HANDS ON THE CHISEL. During this time, concentrate on the chest barrel, which is not round, and make the chest a little narrower behind the forelegs, with a slightly exaggerated swell to the belly. Don't attempt to finish any one part, but move onto the withers and neck, the hips and buttocks, all the time attempting to delineate the major muscle blocks. This means that you should refer constantly to my anatomy drawings and photographs of the actual animal you are carving.
By now, it should be clear that the model looks like a horse, though it is still very clumsy with square legs. Mount the horse upside-down in the vice and mark out the underside of each hoof. Turn it slightly outwards, and make the front ones broader and rounder than the rear ones. You are ready now to begin whittling with the knife. Start with each hoof and coronet, and work up the legs, making sure that they join the body naturally, part way up, and do not look as if they have been stuck on underneath it. It is unlikely that you have come this far from the sawing out in one session, but in any case, now is the time to put the model away, and to come back to it after at least 24 hours have elapsed. Then you are in a position to give it a long, critical scrutiny, holding it up in every direction, with the light in front of it, but especially behind it. It is remarkable how easy it is then to see the faults, which is the time to correct them and then put the model away again.
We now have the essence of a horse, which needs refining to finish it. Start with the head; I use Dentists' burrs mounted in a pin-vice so that I can scrape out grooves for the eyes, ears, nostrils and mouth. (I can't get on with the burrs mounted and turning in a flexible shaft). When I think I have got the shape right I finish off with little rat-tail files. Manes and tails and feather over the fetlocks, are easily carved in with a "V" gouge, and a little waviness in the long hair doesn't come amiss. All the time, you will be holding up the model to the light and turning it round and round. People will think that you are admiring it, but actually, the reverse is the case, and you must learn to criticise your own work. However, it must be constructive criticism, for nobody carves a horse which is as good as the real thing, and you should never, never give up because you cannot achieve perfection. Never claim to be a perfectionist.
Just before you stop carving, give the model two coats of decorators' emulsion paint. This fills and raises the grain and is then burnished with a wire brush. But it also shows up all sorts of imperfections, and it now looks as if the horse were made of alabastine china. Correct your mistakes and then make a conscious effort to stop before it becomes overworked.
By far the best paint to use is artists’ acrylic resin; I use it straight from the tube for the first two coats, mixing it on the animal. Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre are the essential colours for Dark Bay, Bay and Chesnut horses. After that, it is necessary to use Black and White for shading and I mix the paint on the plastic lid of a margarine carton. This is the stage at which you can really make the model look like the actual horse you are copying, with all its markings.
Then, as in real practice, the collar is slipped over the head upside-down; only, because the ears are not flexible it must be a very tight fit. Metal hames are tapered in the lathe, hammered into shape and then drilled before soldering in any wires. Padding to go under the collar and cart-saddle is made up and rammed into position with Blue-tack. Horse brasses are formed from washers, which are drilled and pinned. Harness buckles are made from copper wire.
These methods could be used just as well at 1:12 or 1:8 scale. In many ways, the larger the scale, the easier the task, but then there is also a need to show more detail if you are to maintain the necessary realism.
Nothing could be much more satisfying than creating a sturdy horse in action, and I wish you joy. I repeat that anyone can do it, and all that is required is patience and dogged determination. As I said with the drawing, don't let criticism put you off, the only criterion is whether you wish to make the effort, and enjoy what you are doing.
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Lamp Making - By the late Patrick Field
The original inspiration came from an article in Model Engineer about making lamps for traction engines. The idea was to make a die the shape of the vent top and then punch shim brass into a lump of lead. This produced very inconsistent results, with more bad ones than good ones. There were problems with the lead spreading, and keeping the die upright, so I decided that the solution was a guide for the die and a mould for the lead.
A casting from an old lawnmower bolted to a steel plate made an ideal guide for the die and a mould was turned up to fit in a hole in line with the die. This worked a lot better, but gradually the die would go in deeper; the stamping would get stuck and then deform as it was levered out.
I tried various grades of lead and solder in an attempt to get better results. Eventually I noticed a lump of Plasticine on the shelf in front of me and wondered how it would work. The results are very good as long as the metal and die are a close fit in the mould to stop the Plasticine escaping.
The final breakthrough came when I could not get all the detail from a die that I wanted, and decided to try a layer of soft cardboard such as a Weetabix box on top of the Plasticine. For every new stamping the Plasticine is re-levelled and a fresh layer of cardboard inserted. This produced excellent results, with nice clear detail on the stampings and very few failures.
This system is also good for the slightly domed backs of round lamps with the boss for the red light if required, and for the tops, bottoms and sides of square lamps and many other parts. The ultimate aim was to make lamps like the originals. I recently tried a small medallion with 5 thou. shim with excellent results. If you can get the detail on the die, you can produce as many as you like which are all the same.
It was intended to put some sort of lever on the die guide to turn it into a press, but I have found it best to select the right size of hammer for the job and give it a quick sharp blow. Mostly I use annealed 10 thou. brass, and if the stamping requires a lot of forming it can be re-annealed and stamped again. The advantage of the mould being soft is that it reforms for every stamping.
Making round items, apart from the conical vents, have required a lip round the edge, so the shim is cut into disks slightly larger than required to allow for trimming. The metal is formed and then trimmed by laying a washer the same thickness as the lip inside the item as a guide, for trimming round with small tin snips. To finish off it is given another light stamping to straighten up any distortion and finally rubbed over a sheet of wet and dry paper to clean up the edges.
So far all other shapes have normally required a lip round the edges. To avoid problems at the corners, the metal is cut out at the corners and the edges bent up over a block the same size as the die, so that it fits in the mould. The item is then worked in the same way as the round ones.
This may appear to be a lot of trouble to produce a few items, but in the long run it has many advantages. You only have to make each die once; after that all the stampings are identical and as close as I can get to the full size lamps. It has also been a lot of fun.
As there appear to have been as many designs of lamps as there were carriages, whenever I see an interesting lamp in a museum I take a few photos and measurements for future use. One day I should be in a position where I am able to make most of the parts for a new design from my collection of dies. If any member wants any parts to make lamps, please ask. I may be able to help.
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Bending Rolls - By Brian Simpson
The problem with being a Model Wheelwright is that you have to make wheels! This entails making tyres, strakes and nave bonds. I found bending round tins a bit of a problem so I decided to try to make a simple set of bending rolls to do the job. The rolls are the pyramid type.
Each side consists of two hardwood strips 51/4 inches x 7/8 inches x 13/16 inches glued and nailed between two 6 inches x 3 inches x 3/16 inches plywood sheets. The strips are set so that there is a 5/8 inch gap between them but the plywood sides have a slot cut in only 3/8 inch wide x 31/2 inches long making a square channel in which a hardwood bush, which carries the top roller spindle, can slide. (See Top View of One Side on plan and Photos)
Two holes are bored 3/8 inch diameter centred 13/4 inches apart 33/4 inches down from the top to take the spindles of the two bottom rollers. The best way to make sure that all are aligned is to sandwich the sides together before assembly to the base and drill and cut the slot and holes through both at the same time. The base is a piece of ply 3/4 inch x 6 inches x 3 inches.
The bushes (you need two) are made from hardwood each 1 inch x 7/8 inch x 5/8inch with a 3/8 inch hole bored through them centrally.
The rollers are made from 30mm mild steel tube each 31/4 inches long
with wooden dowels glued inside with epoxy resin. These wooden dowel
inserts need to be drilled out centrally at 3/8 inch diameter to take
the spindles which are glued in. The spindles are made from 3/8 inch
mild steel rod. The spindles for the two bottom rollers are 61/4 inches
long but the top spindle is 81/2 inches long.
One problem I did find is that the adjusters tend to waggle a bit because the angle iron is thin and therefore there are not many threads in the hole to support the threaded bar. One solution would be to silver solder a 10mm nut to the angle iron.
Using the Bending Rolls
The top roller moves down under gravity but is restricted in its upward travel by the adjusters. The motive power is provided by simply pushing the material through.
To use the rolls it is important that you set the top roller parallel with the bottom rollers each time you make a tyre etc. If you don’t you will not get a perfect ring. It will be a spiral.
With the top roller resting on top of the bottom rollers screw the adjusters down until they touch the top roller spindle. Then with a felt pen mark the wooden handles with a radius line each in the same direction e.g. at the 12 o’clock position. You can then unwind the adjusters and provided you turn each one the same number of turns with reference to the felt pen lines the top roller will be kept parallel to the bottom ones.
Start by setting the rollers using the adjusters so that there is a gap between the top and bottom rollers such that when the top roller is lifted by hand upwards to butt against the adjusters you can just see daylight between them. Push the material through then reset the rollers tighter by screwing the adjusters down a little making sure that you turn the same amount on each adjuster using the felt pen line for reference. Each time you adjust the rollers by screwing the adjusters downwards the material will bend further until you have a complete ring.
The problem now is to get the tyre off without spoiling the shape. To do this un-screw one of the angle iron bracket screws on each side and rotate the angle iron and adjuster out of the way. This will enable you to remove the top roller and extract your tyre. Because you have to remove the screws each time you make a new tyre it is better to use crosshead screws as the heads wear less than slot heads. In fact it might be better to alter the design so that bolts and wing nuts are used.
It can be a little tough on the hands but I find a pair of gardening gloves a help. As expected thin material is easier to form than thicker stuff is. However, I have bent bright mild steel 1/2 in wide x 1/16 in thick but it made me sweat a bit!!
To use again replace the top roller, reposition the angle iron brackets and replace the screws. You will then need to reset the top roller parallel to the bottom rollers by repeating the step detailed at the beginning.
You will find that you get a flat section at each end of your tyre. There are two ways to get rid of this. You can cut them off provided you use a length of metal oversized or you can hammer them into shape over a round bar.
I know this all sound very confusing but it is easier to do than to describe and I am sure the photos will help.
I am sure the ingenious among you could adapt this idea to incorporate gears and a winding handle to make it easier. Off the shelf gears are available from Muffet Engineering, Tunbridge Wells at a reasonable price. They have a Web site.
There are sets of plans available in model engineering books to make more professional looking miniature bending rolls but for those who do not have access to a metal working lathe and milling facilities I hope the above method will help.
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Holding Panel Pins and Rivets - By Bob Postlethwaite
Holding pins and rivets for converting into model bolts can be a problem. I have used panel pins of 1.0 or 1.6mm. diameter when I needed square headed bolts.
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At the end of the Neolithic period, saws were not yet available and to hew a solid wheel from a hardwood tree, would have taken many, many hours. A cleft plank which includes the very centre of the trunk, the site of the original pith, is never favoured today because the centre is always more liable to rot and cause planks to twist badly. This would prevent the single piece wheel from occupying the largest diameter of the trunk, and tripartite wheels seem to have arisen very quickly to replace them, though not before a dowel-joint was invented. Once accurate holes could be drilled, they were simplicity itself.
A selection of tripartite wheels of increasing sophistication is shown below. All use internal dowels to locate the three pieces, and reinforcing staves at right-angles to the main grain to hold them in one plane. From the beginning the locking nature of dove-tail slides was appreciated. At first the two staves were on opposite sides; later, on the same side. Eventually the staves were driven into a curved slot further to increase their rigidity, because, once sprung into position they would not work loose.
Then followed "fenestration"; cutting out holes where the structure allowed, in order to decrease the weight, and then the staves were replaced by "cross-bars" which ran right through the three wheel parts from side to side. This last type with inserted naves remained widespread in the Mediterranean long after spoked wheels had been developed. There is a bipartite wheel shown in a very early picture on a Hittite vase, which is held together with pegged "H" shaped pieces. The axle must always have tended to open up the centre of the wheel by pushing the two sections apart. Four of these "H" pieces, however, in the wheel also shown, constitute a very strong linkage for the parts of a tripartite wheel.
Both these examples also have inserted naves, which were made by boring out the centre of a small log of harder wood and inserting it into a larger hole cut in the centre of the wheel. This meant that the wheel could rotate freely on the axle, and there was less wear when the bearing surfaces were all, side-grain to side-grain. Certainly the end grain of the disc wheel itself, would cut into the side-grain of the axle. The hardwood nave had the further advantage that it was replaceable and as it was gradually increased in diameter, it eventually became the anchorage for the spokes.
A variety of such wheels carried all the loads which were too heavy for pack-animals for at least two millennia. Agriculture on the farm required little transport, as animals for the market walked there on their own feet. It was the City States which created the need to move goods in any bulk or weight, and these in Mesopotamia, Egypt and later in Greece and the other areas of civilisation springing up around the Mediterranean Sea, were all associated with water-born transport. Apart from the exceptional carriage of building stone, the journeys were local and within the capabilities of oxen.
Even military wheeled transport was minimal, the armies starting out initially by sea, living off the land and making any "engines" of war from local materials. However there must have been some ox-wains to carry the personal effects of the leaders, and there are records of these having been used as chariots to provide headquarters command posts in battle. Clearly they did not move at great enough speeds to be used as fighting vehicles.
No further progress occurred until horses, ridden at first only by important leaders became more generally available and were used to pull the chariots. The Roman Legions were so large and numerous, and their campaigns so sustained, that considerable baggage trains would be required to provision their ordnance.
It is a sad fact of life that many of the wonderful inventions which are such a blessing to all mankind, set off originally to appease the greed of the rich and famous, whose aggressive behaviour causes them to make war on others. So it must have been with the invention of the spoked wheel, to provide a rapid means of military transport by light carts, carrying only one or two people, which could be drawn by swift little horses in place of ponderous oxen. Only because the load was small, was it possible for the Celts to construct these little wheels as early as 800BC, and it took over 2,000 years for the design to be applied to large commercial vehicles in any numbers.
There is only uncertain evidence of the use of waggons, four wheeled vehicles whose front wheels could be steered, before Tudor times. Ginzrot, an Austrian wheelwright postulated their use by drawing a Roman box waggon and a log waggon, but he drew wheels which most archaeologists consider to be of much later academic design, revolution not evolution. The wheel with deep felloes was one of four from a funeral bier, but they were close-coupled with no apparent steering device. The only hard, if dubious evidence comes from a rock drawing which shows a second "A" frame cart attached to one in front. This is the most likely forerunner of waggon undercarriage anyway, which probably appeared in the first century BC.
The Celts were certainly precocious blacksmiths and carpenters; they were able to make one piece wheel rims which they must have steamed, and iron tyres or hoops for their wheels. Some of these they may have shrunk on hot, though not universally. Their tyres were thin, initially bands to bind the felloes together, and held on with large headed studs which took the wear. Without any dish to the spokes and especially in the case of wheels with single piece rims, they would have had insufficient strength to withstand the pressure of the contracting iron, and would have buckled.
If wheels were shod with hot hoops in 700BC, why was it, that George Sturt said with great authority, that the practice was re-invented in the late eighteenth century? The reason was, of course that the Celts made small wheels, never more than three feet in diameter. Large waggon wheels were up to six feet in diameter, and the problem was to obtain and handle a red hot strip of iron nearly 3 inches wide, 1 inch thick and 18 feet long.
Modern historians dislike the phrase the "Dark Ages," but in the world of the cart wheel it was a period of consolidation when disc wheeled ox-wains did the work, and spoked wheels, almost, but not entirely were found only on cult vehicles. Around 1,000AD, a monk at Canterbury was illuminating an agricultural diary. He depicted mundane tasks such as ploughing and wood gathering, and drew an "A" frame ox-cart with spoked wheels. It is to be presumed that he was recording work on a rich ecclesiastical estate, for most ox-wains would surely have used disc wheels. The wheels which he drew were just like those drawn by the artist Van Hillegaert, depicting the "Siege of S’Hertogenbosch" in the late sixteenth century. The spokes, large and wedge-shaped, were inserted into the felloes from the inside and held with pegged mortise and tenon joints.
This brings me somewhat sketchily to our wool trade with the Low Countries which took place from Medieval to Tudor times. Superficially the wheels might be Celtic, but there are two major developments; they are large and strong enough for commercial work, and "cotter bolts", long metal bolts held by keys, the cotters, before nuts could be cut, were strong enough to hold the axle-tree rigidly to the body. It seemed a small enough change, but probably had far reaching consequences for it stiffened up the whole structure.
Evolution of design, of course, never stops when there is a new need to fulfil, or a new material to fulfil it. But, in the case of the cart wheel, its last task was to provide the first wheels for the "horseless carriage" and its offspring. Perfection of wheel designs for horse-drawn transport, occurred between the years of 1700 to 1900.
Three significant changes had taken place by mid eighteenth century. The nave had almost doubled in diameter and was now asymmetric because spoke mortises were cut close to the inner end, so that spokes could be deeper in section. This meant that leverage on the axle was reduced; and it could be coned, increasing the diameter just where the greatest strain occurred.
Secondly, in the large nave there could be more spokes, and they were inserted at an angle to each other to create triangulation, the "dish." This greatly increased the rigidity and strength of the wheel. To make the bottom spoke vertical when it carried most of the load, the coned axle was canted down. Narrow tyres ran well enough, but broad felloes had to be coned to stand flat on the ground. Broad coned tyres were difficult to make and they scuffed the surface. So began an argument as to the best angle of dish and wheel breadth which was not resolved until a completely different design took over in the late nineteenth century.
Last but by no means least, at the beginning of these changes, some genius hit upon fitting two spokes to each felloe. They had to be sprung into place with a tool called a "spoke dog," but once there, they locked the felloes together so that they couldn’t vibrate apart. The heavy fastening plates were no longer necessary, nor was the tyre relied upon to hold the felloes together, though of course it was of great assistance.
Wheels built up to 1850 were more or less made to this pattern, though the number of spokes increased, they were staggered alternately at the nave, increasing triangulation and the tenons on their outer ends became round instead of square.
By 1850 the Industrial Revolution had gathered momentum, iron was plentiful and steel was now readily available. The old, all wooden axle tree had been superseded by cast iron stub axles set into a wooden exbed and oil became the lubricant, replacing tallow.
Next came the all-metal undercarriage, and coned axles were replaced by cylindrical ones made of steel. The lynch pin was discarded in favour of three bolts which secured the wheel to a back-plate, called "Mail axles", though they were also used on fast road vehicles, and the wheels of light carriages were held on with left and right handed nuts.
These developments relied upon the introduction of springs to lessen the impact, as the gross weight of a waggon hit a bump in the road. At 4 m.p.h. such blows were unimportant and first attempts at springing in Elizabethan times were aimed at reducing the jolting for passengers in carriages, by hanging the coach body on posts on leather straps. The posts became laminated wooden strips, which became laminated metal strips. There were elliptical springs from 1804, culminating in the semi-elliptical spring for both light and heavy commercial vehicles. Hancock produced vulcanised, solid rubber tyres in 1846, which came into favour for light vehicles before they were replaced by Dunlop’s pneumatic tyres after 1888.
So far all these wheels had been drawn by horses; none had to transmit power from the axle to the ground. However, a very rugged wheel had been developed for army artillery pieces. In place of the nave, the spokes were tapered and ran right to the axle with no spaces between them. They were held in position by two plates which were bolted together. The spokes could be dished, but it was more economical to set them straight. It was these last wheels which were ideal for the transmission of power and, shod with solid rubber tyres, became the first motor lorry wheels.
Village wheelwrights worked in spendid isolation until prefabricated, standardised parts became available in the second half of the nineteenth century and so, as each man developed his own style, his own trade-mark, there arose recognisable patterns of regional design. This was true of carts and waggons alike, but, because the waggons represented the aspirations of the wealthier farmers and land-owners, the designs which amounted to an art-form, were more obvious to see. Of course, some wheelwrights were more successful than others and their trade enlarged at the expense of the "little man." Eventually the large firms converted to factory methods, and batch production led on to full scale mass production lines.
Uniformity, economic efficiency and mass-markets are considered to be the cornerstones of modern manufacture, though without built-in obsolescence, the system grinds to a halt. Village craftsmen working as a family group, declined as they could no longer compete. Early carts and waggons were vehicles of obstinate glory. Each shire produced its own unique, idiosyncratic variations; younger developments bore the dull uniform stamp of mass-production.
Model Wheel Construction - By John Elwood
The choice of wood is largely a matter of choice. The most important issue is grain. Wheels at 1/12th or 1/8th scale are extremely difficult to finish if the grain of the wood is coarse, or open. Good quality pine, beech, birch or close-grained hardwoods are all suitable. Providing there is sufficient thickness of the wheel blanks wheel rims can be turned in pairs. It is not essential, or wise, however, to use the traditional ash, elm and oak for small-scale models.
Although wheels can be constructed without the use of a lathe it is obviously more difficult to produce the hubs and rims without one. At its simplest a power drill held in a stand with DIY tool rests will suffice but it is clear that a more sophisticated machine is desirable. The Picador (if one is available or a similar lathe) is undoubtedly the cheapest for it is a self-assembly unit comprising precision parts manufactured by the company. A large number of other models of lathe are available but a woodworking lathe is more suitable than the engineering variety by virtue of its higher rotational speed.
A set of standard turning tools is essential although many tools for detailed work can be made from old files.
In the USA, and to a certain extent in this country, rims for lightweight road vehicles were laminated – a procedure which can be followed by the modeller. An accurate jig for the internal diameter of the wheel rim will be required and also beech or birch veneer strips softened by boiling or steaming.
For those without a lathe or turning facility, wheel rims can be made by a method of scribing the internal and external diameters on the basic material with a pair of compasses and finishing with a coping saw.
If the wheel is to be painted the rim can be turned from good quality multiply. It is more difficult to achieve a good final finish of a plywood-based wheel since the wood is generally more open grained. It is worth experimenting with a super-fine wood filler if the grain is coarse. Whatever the method a flat finish using the various grades of glass and sandpaper is vital if the final finish is to be good.
The first consideration when making a “felloe wheel” must be the number of spokes and hence the number of felloes. With the de rigueur rule of two spokes to each felloe, it is a simple matter to determine the number of felloes to the wheel.
A “Hub jig” to ensure drilling the hub at the correct “dish” angle for the spoke mortices. Generally the “dish angles” for agricultural wagons will be 7° and for passenger road vehicles 2°or 3°. When making the jig it is advisable to provide flexibilty by incorporating a variety of brass tubing guides to suit several “dish angles” and stub axle sizes. In use the jig is set up in the lathe tool rest with the drill bit centred laterally on the hub
A set of hardboard “Dividing disks” for ten, twelve, fourteen and sixteen spoke wheels are essential to ensure the accurate location of the drill bit when drilling the spoke mortices. Great care must be exercised when setting out the disks to ensure that the locating holes are accurately placed. In use a nail is passed through the dividing disk into a locating hole in the lathe headstock. A hole at the centre of the dividing disk is drilled to accept the lathe arbor.
At the assembly stage the hub and spokes are fitted into the rim. Since the hub must be at the true centre of the wheel and each spoke the same length “Sanding jigs” based on the size of the wheel, the number of spokes and the axle size are required. These are set up on a base with the hub set on a spigot. The spokes are then offered up to a sanding disk. It is absolutely essential at this stage to ensure that the forward movement of the jig is carefully controlled to ensure a correct fit.
The spokes are formed from wood prepared to the correct dimensions, from suitable dowel (3mm plus) or from barbeque sticks. The profile can be cut after assembly or pre-formed using a profile cutter manufactured from a small piece of heavy galvanized iron. In the latter case the profile should be oversize to allow the dowel easy access. The profile may then be obtained by drawing the dowel through the cutter several times until the correct profile is finally obtained.
The spokes can be set onto the hub in a variety of ways depending upon the scale of the vehicle. Larger scales will allow the mortice and tenon method used by the wheelwrights but pins set into the hub and the spoke are an acceptable alternative for 1/8th and 1/12th scales.
The tyres are formed from brass or 'tin-can' metal fashioned to the width of the rim. A bending machine similar to that described under ‘tools’ is useful but careful hammering on a workmate/steel bar can also be effective. The length of the ‘raw’ tyre should be slightly less than the circumference of the wheel rim to ensure a close fit after the ends of the tyre have been silver soldered. Soft soldering is ineffective.
The spokes, assembled in the hub are then sanded to length using the jig and sanding plate and carefully glued into the wheel tryre.
The wheels are then ready for the final finish and assembly on
Spokes and Felloes - By Cedric Lewis
(Editors note: Cedric Lewis is one of our most accomplished members who is also a volunteer wheelwright who practices at the Worcester County Museum in Hartlebury refurbishing wheels and vehicles)
One of the questions most frequently asked is: “how many spokes should there be in a wheel?” and, oddly enough, this is not as vague a question as it may at first seem. The answer is really self-governing, not by the number of spokes, in fact, but by the number of felloes.
The weakest part of any felloe is at the outer ends where it comes face to face with its neighbouring felloes. This is because, having been cut from a straight-grained board, due to the curvature of the felloe the grain begins to run at an angle rather along the length as it will be at the centre.
Obviously, if the number of felloes remains constant, then the bigger the wheel, the longer the felloes will become and the effect of the ‘short grain’ will become increasingly worse, seriously weakening the wheel structure.
The answer to this problem is to shorten the felloe length so that it does not wrap around so far and across the grain. This is achieved by increasing the number of felloes and, therefore, the number of spokes, to maintain the normal rule of two spokes to a felloe.
So there would appear to be a rough ‘rule of thumb’ which seems to apply to most wheels up to around four feet in diameter and that is a felloe for every six inches of wheel diameter.
Thus a thirty inch diameter wheel would have 5 felloes (10 spokes); a thirty-six inch diameter – 6 felloes (12 spokes) and so on. There is obviously some overlap on these parameters but as a general rule that seems to be the way it works.
For example, a heavy-duty wheel may have more spokes than a lighter duty wheel of the same diameter to enable it to carry a greater load. Alternatively it may be more heavily constructed and so there will be deviations from the general rule.
The ‘short grain’ problem does not arise on wheels with steam-bent felloes, usually two-piece as in, for example Governess Cart wheels. Being bent, the grain will naturally follow whatever curve is induced into the felloe. However, the number of spokes would still seem to relate to the size of the wheel as guided by the general above rule.
Whilst on the subject of spokes, those who build wheels, model or otherwise, have learnt to appreciate the “two spokes to a felloe” custom and the fact that, because the spokes have to be sprung into the felloe due to the angle between them, the overall effect is to hold the whole wheel together, even before the tyre is shrunk on.
Another aspect relates to the shaping of spokes. A suggestion was once made that the almost aerofoil section “was to make the wheel go faster!” However, although the section is aesthetically pleasing, the truth is weight reduction with very little loss of strength, a round or ovaloid section being almost as strong as the rectangular section. This also applies to the chamfering on wagon bodies which became an art form but could reduce overall weight by 5%.
Occasionally the exception to the rule appears as, for example, on one of the bow-topped caravans at Hartlebury. This has small wheels, less than thirty-inch diameter, which have 14 or 16 spokes in them with three spokes in some felloes and two in others. This was almost certainly done to reduce the number of felloes which with two spokes/felloe all round would have been ridiculously short, creating lots of joints. Three into 14 or 16 does not go, so for example, on the 14 spoke wheel there are 4 - 3 spoke felloes and 1 - 2 spoke felloe.
Why, you may ask, have so many spokes on this vehicle in the first place? Good question but the wheels were probably made up from old (or stolen) carriage or gig wheels. They certainly have Warner hubs and were probably cut down from a much bigger size which had possibly rotted at the felloe ends whilst the hubs had remained sound along with the lower ends of the spokes.
Wheel Stagger, Set and Dish - By Cedric Lewis
Experience would indicate Stagger usually occurs in wheels with more than 10 spokes. The reason for this, and particularly applicable to wheels with small diameter hubs (naves), is that the spoke pockets (mortices) become close together and when, at the same line , form a ring of weakness. By staggering the spokes, this “shear ring” is eliminated thereby reducing the possibility of the hub collapsing.
The amount od stagger is usually ½” (half an nch), being a quarter of an inch on each side of the normal spoke line. This means that when spokes are positioned at the bottom of the wheel when fitted to the vehicle, they will either be in front of, or behind, the true vertical which is normally achieved by an unstaggered spokes where the Set of the axle end is such that the bottom spoke is verticle so that the optimum weigt-carrying position is obtained.
Obviously the angle of Set is equal to the angle of Dish in the wheel, although Dish is not normally talked of in degrees of angles, but rather by the amount by which the front face spoke at the tang shoulder projects forward of its entry into the hub (i.e by dropping a vertical line at 90 degrees to the hub axis , e.g 1” Dish.
Dish was introduced into wheels to give added strength to resist the continual “hammer” on the inner face of the hub, from the side to side movement of the body of the vehicle and any external forces against the outer edge of the tyre (e.g. Kerbing). Staggering the spokes increases the effect of the Dish marginally because it introduces a small amount of triangulation (as in the bicycle wheel spokes) further strengthening the wheel.
Finally, with a Warner type hub, where an iron sleeve is shrunk onto the wooden hub, it is possible for the spokes to remain in line, as the iron sleeve is spread two-thirds of the hub length providing strength and support, the spokes being morticed inton the sleeve and into the wooden core of the hub.
These are generally used on lighter vehicles, both passenger and commercial, where wheels have 14/16 spokes and small diameter hubs (6” or 7”).
As a matter of interest, in both parallel and tapered bore sleeves these have to be shrunk onto the hub and, in fact a 5’ Escape ladder built by the author in 2004 were fitted with tapered sleeves to accommodate 16 spokes.