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I Forge Iron

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Lol, I feel like a kurmudgon raining on a parade!

But hey,,,,

Personally I think that blower  technology was maxed out somewhere between the design of the great bellows with the champion 400 and the buffalo design running a close race. I've used all three and am seriously considering a properly balanced set of bellows in my new "dream" shop.

Anything beyond this tech pushes hard against the KISS principal.

But its fun! So don't let me stand in the way...  ;)

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I’ve used a nice set of great double lung bellows ONCE, and agree they are pretty awesome to use.  Good luck though throwing those in the trunk of your compact car to move around! Hah!

And I get your point on gear drives for the Champions/Buffalos and their construction, being about top of the design heap, but for a small time operation very difficult and costly to replicate properly. Chain drives can be 95% efficient (not that that matters in this application) and can be very robust, and very minor alignment issues that would either lock up a gear drive or strip off the teeth won’t do the same to a chain drive. It’s a matter of scale of manufacture how you approach DFM etc.

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The bellows is a great item.. I to like them a lot.. But not for the faint at heart or highly portable.. Nor do that suffer a fool well.. 

A gas explosion in a hand crank blower makes a loud boom.. No harm no foul usually..   A bellows full of gas on the other hand..  There goes a few days of work for repairs.. 

Years ago I looked into doing this very thing and here in the USA fabricating a box from plate, accurately drilling the box and then getting the gears were of little problem.. This was with seals so it could be oil filled without being a leaker.  

The chain idea also was looked into and there was a rather large difference between teeth spacing for chain vs gear teeth spacing and the amount needed for the 2.. 

The chain always had to have a larger OD compared to gears as it was the tooth count of the gear that made the difference coupled with the overall gear size.. 

Where is the cog size OD on a chain drive  plays in more so.. Or I should say OD plays into a larger part.. Something about the power helix and/or tooth engagement which is constant vs the gears which can speed up or slow down the gear total output.. 

What this means is the chain drive needs to take up more room vs a gear drive.. 

At some point I will make a blower using a couple of old bicycles which the 27" road bike would offer a really nice setup..  I love those old  spoked cast wheels.. 

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Cant wait to see it.. 

There is also a ratio of bypass air to housing size.. 

if the fins are to big it will take to much power to turn the blower for a long period of time.. 

The 3 fan blades are from Buffalo 200 series.. Early 12" which is funny because it has metric shafting with a 12mm hole and is the smallest..  1901

The 14" buffalo is the next and it is 1/2" with imperial measure..  1909

And the 16" is also imperial with about 1/2" shaft size.. 1909

The early fan is stamped steel  the rest composite construction.. 

Also I have no idea where they got the 12", 14" or 16"  as the only difference between the 12 and 14 is the fan size.. The 16" on the other hand is nearly a completely different beast.. 





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You bet..

It is pretty amazing how much smaller they are verses the housings they run in.. 

The 16" was painted inside.. I'll snap pics tomorrow as it is interesting to really see the difference for case vs impeller.. The drive handle gear is a lot bigger than both the 12 and 14 and there is only 1 angular contact bearing to keep it spinning smoothly. This bearing is only a thrust bearing.. 

The early fans have bearings each end of shaft. The 14" shaft is only supported on 1 end  with 2 bearings..  It's really pretty crazy how they were always looking for ways to cut costs.. 

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It’s been years ago, but when I rebuilt my Buffalo 200 ( unknown vintage, repaired before Gore invented the inter webs), it only had bushings on shafts and gears. If I remember correctly two shafts tho ha a single ball bearing inset on the end as a very rinky dink thrust bearing! I had to remake one of the shafts and fab brass bushings as there was a lot of rust damage, it came from a cattle ranch junk pile.

The old oil turning to tar, and the squirrel that used it as part of its nest kept some water out tho! One shaft that I remade had a tapered pin hole drilled at an angle to fix one of the gears, that one I traded some work and had a gal I knew that was a tool and die maker replicate for me.

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Yes, on the early models the 2 upper gear shafts run on bushings which you can turn to change the angle of the gear interface.. on the early ones they were adjustable both top and bottom shaft.. On later ones it was the middle or bottom that was adjustable only..  

Yes the thrust bearings were just ball bearings added to both the end of the shafts and then to the thrust/axial bearing placement adjustments.. 

The bottom or pinion shaft  depending on year was either bearing on each side of housing/shaft..   Later were one side of pinion with 2 bearings only one 1 side and then with the 16"  it was only the 1 bearing for axial thrust with the end cap with thrust bearing being screwed in till it just touched the end of the pinion... The main stabilization of the shaft was taken up by the casting itself to act as a bushing.. 

As for a better machined product the Champion 400 was a much better machined product.. But I still prefer the Buffalo 200's  for air output and compactness.. 

The tapered pin on the drive gear (attached to the handle shaft) was weird as was the idle shaft being held but a set screw on top of the second gear.. 

From a machining standpoint much easier to produce with less accuracy and still a good, usable product.. 

I prefer the early style pinion support with bearings at either end of the shaft..   Nice thing is any of the 12" and 14" are nearly interchangeable for housings if cast iron.. the spacing is different which I think happened about 1909 or 1910 but it's been a long time myself doing the research on the units.. 

The nice thing is for the most part unless there is real damage or someone who was/is and idiot gets in there and busts things up, they are easy to rebuild with standard bushings, cold rolled steel shafts,  a drill press  or reamer and some common sense.. 

The cast iron gearing inside wears a very long time so unless from lack of oil or abuse will go for a really long time.. 

The 16" on the other hand form what I have seen takes more abuse to make run and with the less than stellar use of bearings things get out of whack quicker  and the gears do wear.. 

When I found out Buffalo made the 16" as a special order I had to have 1 and it had been trashed inside with stupiditiy Bad handy work but someone who didn't have a clue with what they were doing..  

Luckily I own a Metal lathe so can make the parts needed to fix most items with the Buffalo's..   Not so much with the worm gear in the Champion 400...  

At some point I will be putting up a complete " Buffalo Silent 200"  thread with differences and such as well as the other info I found..  Hopefully with bearings or exchanges to make them a little better..   

I have an early blower that I found regular sealed bearings that fit perfectly.. this made the blower nearly silent and dramatically cut down on oil leakage.. 

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Darn you have done your homework and lab time too!

I also cleaned up a neat little Champion blower, parallel gearbox like the Buffalo, I’m guessing it was for a portable farriers forge. All cast iron, quality made, not the sheet metal like the small BufCos etc.

Anywho thanks for sharing your knowledge of the different models and their variations, and I look forward to your future thread. I agree that if a person has access to some shop tools you can keep these old machines running pretty easy (as long as you understand how they work and are clever). 

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  • 2 weeks later...

still waiting for parts to be made, should be some progress this week, laser cutter has been on holiday and work piled up.

I plan on making it so it can fit in 4 places on my forges and with maybe  a choice of rotation but first must get the prototype drive and fan working

fan and handle removable from shafts

sprockets will all be welded on

4 sprockets, 2 chains, 3 shafts to give 36 to 1 for first prototype

fan 200mm 4 blade

handle unknown length at the moment

was going to do fan case close to blades as I need a reasonably high pressure

handle will have 2 bearings, both clutch type so it only goes one way

brass bearings on all shafts

2 small oil drip holes above chains, add a few drops whilst turning each day, surplus will drip out

maybe add a flywheel if needed later

trying to make this compact and at a reasonable cost

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 8 months later...

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