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125 year old Alldays and Onions bellows restoration


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I picked up a lovely set of Alldays and Onions bellows on ebay and have restored them, and put them to use. Maybe 125 years old I reckon. Triple chamber, works smoothly.  Leather is original, just treated with “neatsfoot” oil.  A little woodworm, now treated. The top board  is warped, but doesn’t  affect the function and adds to its charm. At first I think one of the leather flap valves was sticking, I think, and the top chamber wasn't expanding, and I was dreading having to unpin the leather bellows but as I used it, it began working and now is working just fine. I have hooked it up to my modern side blower forge by cutting a hole in the back so I can run electric, manual either or.  One of the cast iron weights was missing, but have replaced with a mild steel ball, almost as good. I read somewhere they may have been painted red, so gave em a lick and then the transfer pipe on the side that passes the air between chambers looked like it needed brightening up, so that got the same treatment. The lever is original ash, just BLO and it looks fine. 

At some stage I’ll need to flip the frame so it blows the same side as the lever - a more awkward task then I expected. I spent an hour or two on the assumption I could just unbolt the frame , rotate the bellows 180 and bolt it back together, but over the decades of use in the past the cross rods have slightly deformed and wouldn't quite fit, when I switched it, so I need to plan ahead and get a couple of sons with muscles to help. A lovely object, and great to use with my similarly aged anvil and vices. It clicks and heaves and whispers as I use it, in a very relaxing peaceful repetitive sound - harder work but quieter than the noisy electric fan

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I think it worked for its keep for a few years but for the last 30 years it was at first a decorative feature in this guy’s hallway after he came across it in a junk store. He had done some restoration then including ouling the leather. His wife told him to move it out 20 years ago and since then he had it under a blanket in a garage. The leather soaks up any neatsfoot oil I put on it. I guess i’ll Keep reapplying .

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I love it more every day. It sighs and whispers to me as I work it, sometimes with a happy grunt as it clears its throat. Wooshhhhh. Click click clack whoooshhhhh click click clack. The forge gently exhales in synch.  Harrrrr. Harrrrr.  Who needs music?  Mind you, my very amateur hammering of steel on the anvil is like a kid playing a piano for the first time. That’s not musical yet...

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Hi Roger,

I was intrigued to see the bellows you’ve restored. I inherited exactly the same model with the Forge I bought two years ago and want to get it set up. I note that you have two weights on the hooks either side - I found a conical weight in the forge and wondered what it was for - probably for the bellows.... but where the second one is I have no idea. Could you let me know how much the weights way?

 

Thanks

 

Tim

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Tim, I’ll weigh one tomorrow and post here. Mine came with just one ball shaped weight, probably cast iron, and i bought a mild steel ball and welded on a loop to match. I don’t suppose it matters what shape it is.  I have seen these operating with just one weight on one side, and frankly I haven't worked out the physics. 

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Posted (edited)
On 4/4/2021 at 3:27 PM, Honing Blacksmith said:

Hi Roger,

. Could you let me know how much the weights way?

Tim.  the weights are about 14kg each. I assume you are on the kg side of the pond. One original cast iron and the second is a 12cm mild steel ball.  They seem to work.  Good luck. Hopefully you wont need to unpin the leather. 

Edited by Mod30
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Thanks Roger. yes, in North Norfolk in the UK. Actually - the internet is an extraordinary thing and shortly after asking you the question, I discovered two counterweights on sale and listed as “Weights for Victorian Bellows”. They reckoning the weight is 53lbs (24kg) for transport, so if that’s each then quite a lot heavier that yours, but I suspect it is for both. Anyway - I bought them, so we’ll see when they arrive. The leather is in good nick, having been replaced before I bought the forge.

Thanks for letting me know.

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