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Bellows


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Hello all, I have just come into possession of a set of very large bellows complete with cooling cone and frame work, I already have a set somewhat smaller yet still large which I restored and built a stand for and they are displayed in my lounge room (some may say what a waste) but I get a lot of enjoyment out of looking at them and thinking about where,when and whom used them and they inspire me to think up next projects whilst I listen (pretend) to the missus or just casually watching the TV. Now as much as I have a very large lounge room with cathedral roof etc and could if desired again display these bellows with my other collection of blacksmith equipment (blower/forge etc) I am starting to think about mounting this larger pair in my forge and actually using them. My current blower is a vacumm cleaner on a dimmer and works very well and is very quiet (due to the fact the actual vaccum motor is in another shed) My question to you all out there is how many actually use a set of bellows in their forge and if so are they roof mounted directly above or side or other and besides the obvious saving on electricity bills do they find them a hinderance ie space/effort/productivity etc. This may seem greedy but I like the idea of having access to both forms of airflow and experiencing what older generation blacksmiths had to go through (tipping most in the 18/19th century would of had a youngster operating them)Your thoughts would be appreciated and if I can I will post a photo or 2 of them shortly cheers Bully

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I used bellows for years. Mine were mounted to the side of the forge against the wall. I had a neighbor that had his mounted overhead. Truth be told, I will choose bellows every time because of the amount of air control I get. I also had a theory that it kept the left arm the same size as right arm.

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my portable forge is a bellows forge and a big bellows should work great for a main forge! it is a lot nicer noise wise than a hand crank and not hard to work ...ive been to wiliamsburg and theyres are mounted high made more sence to me . keeps um out of the way from harm. If you decide not to use um ile put um to use!! :D

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I use a fairly large bellows at the Historic Site that I work at. They work great. It is built into a forge cart, instead of a permanent forge. One reason for mounting the bellows high is to keep coal gasses from backing up into the bellows and causing an explosion. Just keep it a little higher than the fire. Hope this helps. :D

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I used a double lunged bellows for my demo forge for around 15 years and plan to do so again as soon as a get another one built!.

It was right at the end of the forge and I could pump it to a welding heat in the forge with my pinkie. Getting the pivot point just right on the lever makes all the difference!

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Thanks just one more question the leather is a bit hard in places due to drying out and not been used for a long time is there anything you can reccommend to supple it up again or shall I just go with beeswax/linseed oil and turps and let it soak in over time. Cheers Bully

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Bully , i'd give Dubin a go , gentely rub it in on effected area , should come up bonnza after awhile :)
Try it on a small section first & take it from there .

Bob , not sure " baseball " woulda been high on Bullys list of games ta play here in Australia , me thinks Bully needs ta reset his location in his profile

Dale Russell

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Bellows work great as compared to a hand cranked blower. Old Jerusalem Mill forge (Kingsville, MD) where I demonstrate monthly uses a bellows suspended in a floor stand, as compared to an overhead mounting, and it blows into a typical cast iron Centaur forge pot. With good bituminous coal the fire just shoots upward and getting welding heat on chain links and such is very easy. With large blocks of steel an electric blower is vastly superior to bellows. Hand cranked blowers don't work very well at all in any circumstance so far as I'm concerned. If you do use a hand cranked blower, you can rig up an electric blower to blow into the hand cranked blower so you can either crank or flip a switch.

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No I don't have plans to the bellows; didn't have plans when I built them either! Laid it out on the board, cut, used the first board to trace out the others, designed the snout when I saw how much space I needed for the hinges for the boards, etc.

John I would have to disagree on the hand cranks---if you have a *good* one. A poor one is just a whole lot like work, A good one that turns easily and will run 3+ complete revolutions after you let go of the handle is nice to use.

Unfortunately a lot of folks use too heavy an oil in their blowers and are spending most their effort churning oil than blowing air!

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I found this somewhere when looking for instructions for a bellows. It's from Aldren A Watson's "The Blacksmith: Ironworker and Farrier" which now I own :) It has a very good chapter on building a double chamber bellows. This picture shows how the nozzle is made. The whole chapter shows how to build the bellows, step by step. Very interesting how the valves are made.

Hope it helps

Rubén

post-2527-12652188827051_thumb.jpg

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We have a young man that was just laid off from the Williamsburg Blacksmith Shop that is going to help us but we would still like to find some plans to see how others do it.
We are talking about at least 4 sets of bellows so any help will be apreciated.
Travis

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Thanks Gents, Dale played baseball in Ballarat (Druids) for 4 years running ending up as shortstop, great game, and Bob yeah I use to spit on my glove and sleep with it under my mattress. As for the leather on the bellows it has split at the stitching and has a few small holes in it so will wait until it softens before I attempt to either re stitch and/or patch so meanwhile I have forged a stand for it and its upright in the loungeroom (missus just shakes her head now). It is a double chamber and even with the damage it still blows a incredible amount of air. They sure knew what they were doing when they made em. (Catch up soon Dale for a chat) cheers Bully

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Hey Bully
A lot of old blokes up the north coast used to use sump oil to losen up old leather on harness and such stuff. Made a mess but it did the job, after they'd poured sump oil over it and given it a chance to soak in they'd rub it back with a cloth, then start using stuff such as neats foot oil, old leather can be mighty thirsty, quench that initial thirst with old oil first, then use the good stuff as the ad said "Solly, oils is oils".
By the way I've had an old gent try to tell me that they used to use elephant skin on bellows, I let him have his BS laugh. Like, "Ah yeh Kundabung Sawmill here mate, we need a new elephant skin for our bellows, can you put one on the next mail train going north." "Sure thing bud, did you want the Indian elephant or the African elephant". "Gee I don't know, I'll check and get back to you, whats the difference". "Yeh mate the african one is wrinklier, thats the biggest difference".
Bet the old bloke is sitting on the verandah of the nursing home telling that story right now.

Cheers
Phil

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