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Triple Chambered Round English Bellows video...


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After John B sent me a very detailed description of the interior of one of these I procrastinated constructing one because I was not sure how well it worked and I knew it would be very hard to make one. Now that I found this video of one in use I have no doubt that it really works. I hope you enjoy it.

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Any chance of you passing on that there info? Looks like a nice system and fairly compact.

Nice bellows shame about the forge, not exactly under control

Pm me with your email address and I can send you them as an attachment

If anyone is interested in making a set of these, I have a complete iron frame setup that is requiring the bellows replacing as the originals rotted out. Come and take them away, a donation to the Devon Air Ambulance fund would be welcome.
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I bought an old set of these a couple of years back with a view to restoring them. Most of the leather and some of the wood was shot so as I stripped them down I sketched, photographed and measured every thing.
I still have the info some where.

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Constant air flow and maintain pressure. The central chamber acts as a reservoir much like an air tank on a compressor.

I understand that. I may be wrong but I thought that was also true of 2 chambers. As I see it, a double lung bellows has 2 chambers and I can't see how adding another chamber would even out the air flow any more than the 2 chambers of a double lung bellows.

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Looks to me like the top chamber inflates on both the upstroke and downstroke of the lower movable flat. If such is the case, it would combine the advantages of an Oriental box bellows with a European double-lunger.

Where is the intake on this thing?

I have mailed details I put together to a couple of people that requested them, unfortunately I don't have the technical expertise to download them directly onto this site, however I will answer these

Looks to me like the top chamber inflates on both the upstroke and downstroke of the lower movable flat.This Top section rises and collapses as it fills with air from the lower bellows, and has usually got a weight on top to assist it in deflating and forcing the air into the tue pipe feeding the hearth

Where is the intake on this thing?
There are two air intakes,
One is underneath in the centre of the bottom disc, This base is a fixed disc that has an air inlet flap in it, and there is also an external (transfer) pipe that links this lower chamber to the centre fixed board this in turn has an air flap to stop air passing back into the lower chamber as the top chamber sinks back forcing the air into the tue pipe.

The other intake that allows the centre bellows to fill is on the lower board in the centre of the bellows that moves up and down as you pump the handle, This board is connected by an inverted Y shaped frame that has the large weights attached

The reason you can't see this air intake is because it is directly behind the Y shaped casting supporting the t

Hope this helps.
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I would love to see those drawings.

Hi David, I don't have the detailed drawings Wayne made, but here is some information and comments on the bellows I had

The bellows are 2 foot (500mm) diameter, the bottom board with the vent for air and transfer pipe fitting in is a solid piece/disc of wood about 1and1/4" (30mm) thick. The top board was also a solid piece/disc of wood.

The fixed centre part is made up of three layers, the top and bottom layers being about 3/4" (20mm) thick, and the centre piece appeared to be a solid piece 1 and 1/2" (60mm) thick the top and bottom pieces were made of segments as seen in the pictures, and were used to sandwich the leather of the bellows to make them air tight.

There were also circular segments making rings to support and stretch the bellows allowing them to concertina above and below this circular ring to allow the rising and falling of the bellows.

The disks were made of solid timber, and the rings are made of segments as this was the most economical and strongest way of making them, they unfortunately did not have the advantages of chipboard or MDF in those days.

The leather for these bellows seems to be in one piece, there is no evidence of any joints as seams to hold the sides into a tube, they must have used the body of the beasts slaughtered for leather, and then manipulated it to form a tube of the required size,

The outside at the boards and other areas as around the tue and transfer pipe are secured by large dome headed nails as can be seen.

Leather I believe used to be glued together with some substance known as "Rabbit skin glue" then stitched securely to make a watertight/airtight bond, as in wine vessels etc.

The people who used to manipulate leather were known as Cordwainers and were obviously very talented people even back in the mediaeval and prehistoric times, there skills were probably developing even before blacksmithing and the introduction/discovery of iron.

The problems on these bellows would be chafing if you used the copper rivets, washers and roving method of making a seam, I would think modern flexible glues could be used these days, but ensure you have a very good overlap on the seam, maybe even interlocking it as a wrap around joint. Have a word with your local cobbler or leatherworker if you have one.

The other problems are the weights on the sides that rose and fell as the bellows are pumped, make sure they are clear of the outer casing on the bellows as if not they will chafe through the leather.

The leather was also regularly oiled with a substance I know as "Neatsfoot oil" to keep the leather supple.

Hope this is of assistance.
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Before I found a good hand-cranked blower I tried several kinds of air pressure devices. I found a drawing and brief description of a two chambered cylindrical blower in my 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica (Vol III, Pg 706). I guessed about the measurements and used canvas instead of leather. I built an awkward and inefficient device that worked well enough until I traded for a good blower. Despite my incompetence in design I think that the cylindrical bellows offers sufficient improvement over the pear shaped, hinged, bellows to be preferred. Some day I would like to try the roots supercharger, originally developed for the same purpose (see ibid, pg 708).

I like manual control so I will hold to my Champion 400 until I find something that can do as much as it can.

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I put the info John B sent me into a Word document and I'm trying to attach it here. I hope it works :)

Hope it helps


PS: It worked ;)

PPS: I have an idea to mix this info with the one in the Inversin bellows for the third world and the one in either Hasluck's "Smith's Work" or Smith's "Manual of Blacksmithing" and the one in "Oil Drum Forges"; all into one that should be over-engineered but that needs less skills to build :)

Inversin: http://cd3wd.com/cd3wd_40/JF/JF_OTHER/SMALL/04-084_blacksmiths_bellows.pdf

Oil Drum Forge: http://cd3wd.com/cd3wd_40/JF/JF_VE/SMALL/04-110.pdf

Hasluck's Smit's Work: http://www.wkfinetools.com/mLibrary/Hasluck/1904-smith%27sWork/1904-SmithsWork-Hasluck.pdf

Now that I've seen it work,I'm more motivated to try it :)

Bellows details shown 1.doc

final John Bellamy bellows description.doc

Edited by Grafvitnir
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Ok, Hopefully attached are sketches of the bellows I took apart.
I have tried to show the airflow, but basically as you pulled down the lever the middle board rose up pushing air into the top chamber while the bottom chamber fills through the bottom valve.
As you let go of the lever the middle board sank pushing air up the iron pipe from the bottom chamber into the top chamber at the same time filling the middle chamber through the air inlet on the side of the middle board.
Because the main board, middle board and the bottom board have air vents passing through the edge of the boards these boards are laminated.
The centre part is made of a board 1 1/4 inches thick with 3/4 inch boards on top and bottom, however the boards are built up only in the areas needed such as the edges where the nails go and at the points were the air vents were.
I cannot remember how thick the top board and the spacer rings are but I have an idea that they were made from 1 1/4 boards. The spacer rings were each made up from four pieces butted together and joind by thin metal strips over the gap.
The valve flaps were wood covered with leather and hinged on one side with a leather hinge, another thin strip of leather was fixed on the oposite side to stop the flap from opening too far.
The skin of the bellows was made from 3 pieces - one for the top chamber, one for the middle chamber and a 3rd for the bottom chamber, the extra thickness of the main board and the middle board allowed for the extra nails were the leather overlapped.
The bellows I took apart were 22 inches dia.

Bellows 2.bmp

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