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beche repair

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Hello all,

So, I'm looking at buying this beche but I'm a little put off by the repair job and bracing around the hammer body. It's been siting around for decades and I'm unsure whether the hours to recondition it will be worth it when factoring in the defects.

Has anyone run hammers over a long period with cracks in the body?

I've had some help from friends who know of the beche but need a little advice on whether it would be a worthwhile project? As for the price, he wants scrap value for it.

Drawings might be a good thing to have as well, is there any beche contacts who I could get the blueprints from out there?

Any help would be hugely appreciated.




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That is a beautiful repair,     It might be awful for the hammer, but its still beautiful.


Honestly I would not buy such a machine without disassembling and inspection.    It may be fine and it could be scrap iron and you wont know until you open it up and do some digging

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I'm not really convinced that this is a repair, different hammer, different continent, identical strapping.  The through bolts running from the top cover to the gland face, yeh, they may be a repair, but the strapping, I reckon either it was done to all beche's of this size in the factory or it was retro fitted by the factory.  Seen too many photos of beches of this size and configuration with this strapping for it to be an isolated repair.  I started myh apprenticeship working under this hammer in 1982, and it had had this strapping on it then.


Dumbrells Beche.jpg

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Twice I tried to respond to this on Friday each time when `I pressed send I had a response that said I did not have permission and the text just disappeared into the ether gggrrrrr.

Third time lucky? 

My points have largely been superseded by forgemaster's  which should give you every confidence to take a punt.

I thought the "repair" looked so well engineered that it should give you confidence that the guys who did it knew what they were doing. If you get it for scrap value you will always be able to recoup that. The only money you would be gambling would be on any  transport and the time you spent checking it over and firing it up. That is a better financial position than many are in when buying a decommissioned hammer that is sold as working. Is there any way you can clean it up and work on it where it is?

Can you ask the vendor where it was in use and put an advert in the local paper for any employees of the company to get in touch with information about the hammer?

Beché are still in business so you should send them an email and see what they have in the way of parts list, parts. drawings and manuals…Massey kept records of every hammer, see if you can find the serial number and maybe Beché do the same. They should also be able to confirm forgemaster's evidence that it was built with the strapping originally.

My art administrator partner went by and  saw the photo over my shoulder and said "what a beautiful sculpture"…so you could always use it as a garden ornament if it was kaput!

As far as using repaired hammers go...The tup dovetail on my Alldays 3cwt gave out one day, three years after I had installed the hammer and built the forge around it. I thought I was facing financial ruin until I noticed that that the crack was through an old welded repair. Huge relief! If someone else's weld would last for at least three years then I could do the same. We Vee-ed out the crack and re welded it with 312 Tig rods and it has been holding up fine ever since...that was well over twenty years ago.

The tup cylinder head cracked through one of the bolt holes and this was kept going for a month or two with gaffer tape and silicon. The air pressure is only a couple of atmospheres…eventually the crack followed a weak line around the flange and became too much. The air cushion failed one afternoon at 3pm. I ordered a 75mm (3") mild steel plate disc from my local profilers, they delivered it at 6pm that night still warm! We welded a boss on one side and chucked it in the lathe and machined up the new head. we bolted it up and were forging again at 2pm the next day…23hours later!

I was slightly worried about the differing expansion rates between mild steel and cast iron but the hammer has been going fine for just under twenty years with the new head. 

Good luck with it.


Edited by Alan Evans
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Cheers Phil, not too far from yourself, Byron bay. And we met briefly when Will showed me around you workshop. Drawings would be a great help, it's an 85kg. The strapping must be an Aussie thing, have been told it was working 20 years ago by a spring works in Mullumbimby. It looks like the gland face has been welded using a brass or bronze filler but will attach a picture. Might have a chat with you Phil at the Agm at you place later in the year.

And thanks Alan, unfortunately the ex owner is long gone by now. But may ask around at the next forge in at Tamworth, NSW. Transporting it is only an hour and a half round trip, So a small price to pay for possible a good hammer. 

Great to hear that the beche company is still going in some form, I was half expecting to go off Nazel drawings and similar refurb photos.

On a completely different point Alan, what ever happened to your gates at Liverpool st during the redevelopment? 


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The Broadgate gates and screens were removed and then wrapped in greased sacking and put into store somewhere in Hertfordshire! They probably got more money for doing that than I did for designing and making them originally! It was because it was on a Public Art contract that evidently had had that condition.

When they asked me about their removal I suggested that as they were site specific and designed to work with those buildings, those granite paviors and that slope on the ground they are never going to be used anywhere else...it would be far better to scrap them and use the money saved to commission a new piece from somebody...even me if they wanted! Sadly they did not.

It was an £125k plus tax project I think, my third largest so far.... :( shame to see it go after only 25 years or so...

Incidently given your current location... it was designed in Australia. Lesley was on a lecture tour around the Art Schools and I went along to carry her bags...well somebody had to. It was just when Faxes were coming in because in order to get the design in to the deadline I had to cut up copies of the drawings and send them from a Hobart graphic shop to Arups where Peter Foggo the architect stuck them back together! So a bit of it was designed in every major city of Australia, the curled over tops and the zig zag forms were inspired by the sculptures of the Jabiru black necked stork and the crocodile teeth of the hollow log bone coffins I saw there...

So so how did you come to know them? Know about the redevelopment?


Edited by Alan Evans
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