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I Forge Iron

Historic water powered hammer (and bellows) video, 11 minutes


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An absolutely lovely Smithy burning charcoal, (carbon vegetal), and with a quite large waterwheel driven helve hammer.  As an interesting part; the bellows are also waterwheel driven and are *compressed* by the cams with a counterweight used to open them back up---allows you to get more speed when wanted. Shows how multiple people were used to run such a system.

The voiceover is in Spanish

 

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Lovely!  I could watch that all day.  Unfortunately, my Spanish has eroded enough over the years that I could only occasionally get the voice over or the subtitles.

I was taken by the traditional garb and I suspect that the long tunics help protect against sparks.

I was also interested to note that it was a double bellows set up rather than a great bellows and that the water power was on the compression stroke and the counterweight activated the inflation cycle.  This may indicate an earlier original date for the construction of this set up.

The gauge they used to measure thickness was something that I might modify for use in my shop on a smaller scale.

Thanks for posting.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."    

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Yes the bellows set up was rather reminiscent of some of the stuff in  "De Re Metallica".  And working everything at a sparking heat!  I hope they were working real wrought iron.  I liked that they mentioned that the charcoal was produced from coppiced woodlands and so was a renewable resource.

What spooked me was how clean everything was.  One thing I remember from "The Mills of Medieval England" was the common expense of flood repair, having a canal  bringing water away from the stream would help with that.

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9 hours ago, George N. M. said:

The gauge they used to measure thickness was something that I might modify for use in my shop on a smaller scale.

George, you already have those in your shop.  They are called open end wrenches.

The hand handle on the tool used to drive the wedges tight offers both east of handling the tool, and control over the positioning of the tool. 

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Every blacksmith shop should have a set of metric and imperial go - no go gauges.  If you look you may have an adjustable spanner in the tool box for those odd size gauges. (grin)

 

Then there is the special series of go - no go gauges for hole diameters in metric, imperial, and letter sizes. 

 

Go - no go gauges were mentioned as far back as 2006 on the site.

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Great vid. I noticed the man running the iron. I guess this must be an example of what you guys mean about setting the anvil height to match the striker.  ;)

Speaking of the anvil height, i saw a similar type forge when it was in Prague. the hammer height was set much higher and more like knuckle height for the man handling the iron. 

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I was wondering how many times the floor was replaced by putting a new one over the old one.  Also if a century or two of work has sunk the anvil a bit deeper and finally if wear on the anvil had lowered it a bit.

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Glenn, remind me to never let you near my wrenches! Lol!

Thomas, the thought of showing up to a shop like the one in the video and finding it flooded... yiiikes. Man the maintenance on that must be an incredible amount of work. Do you think a facility like this one would've turned a profit back in the day? Just curious for some perspective

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If they didn't turn a profit they wouldn't be built and run!   Please remember  that after the great plague, the Black Death,  that the availability and cost of serfs and minions went up a lot due to the numbers being cut in half...

"The Royal Armoury at Greenwich 1515-1649: A History of Its Technology"   by Alan Williams & Anthony de Reuck  mentions  the armoury sending out wrought iron to a "batter mill" to have it turned into plate (They still have the original ledgers!)  Of course  the paintings of forge work by Velasquez and Goya show what you have to do when you don't have "a bigger hammer" to do things.  (Note the "Japanese" sledgehammers used in the 1630 Spanish painting...)

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I noticed that too. I used to have to hold the wrench or swing the hammer to loosen the head on the extruder at the rubber refinery and the wrench handle was so short from being redressed over the years that it was a matter of inches and you would be sending someone to the hospital. Made me more nervous to swing the hammer than to hold the wrench to be honest. 

Pnut

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The water powered shop north of Prague  ran continuously from around the 9th century until the mid '50's when it was shut down by the communist government. It was rural and their usual business was the blacksmirhs dream of swords to plows/plows to swords until they closed down. 

There were a number of hammers, perhaps 2 or 3 the size of the one in this vid, plus associated work benches. There was one pair that was pretty interesting. They ran off of one shaft,, a camshaft. One was going up and the other dropping. Inbetween was a poma lift type of seat. Think old time ski lift. You sat in the chair and kicked left and right to each anvil and used both to forge your iron.

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It was pretty cool. They wouldn't  let us beat hot iron, but they ran the hammers and we were able to swing back and forth and beat a piece of cold iron. Swinging between the two was easy and felt natural.

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