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Period Forges

Stephen Norris

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Firstly hello to all. I've been smithing for 5 years, still learning and based in the london area in England.
I'm searching for info. on 15-16th century mobile forges. I've come across two types- a wooden board with a sand boxed in for the hearth with twin seasaw bellows and a back blower hearth with a twin action bellows mounted underneath. Does any one have any prints/images/ etching of heath of this period.

Many Thanks,

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Military groups generally set up camp in villages in those times; remember one of the points of contention as late as the American Revolution was the billeting of soldiers in civilian homes.

When I did a Y1K LH event I took some rocks and sectioned off a part of a campfire to use as a forge---the campfire then was used to produce charcoal for the forge.

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I take my travelling forge to events using twin single action bellows with a cam mechanism for medieval and a single double action bellows for 1550 onwards.
However I explain to the public that the forge I am using is just for show and that either they would take over a local smithy as Thomas mentions or would build a semi-permenant set up in a long term encampment.
I have heard that a friend of mine MAY that is MAY have an illustration of a 15th century forge cart, I am waiting to here back.
Stephen what group period do you do? I am with the company of saint george.

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Wayne can we see a picture of your set up? I've been using my two single action bellows in the style of the carvings on the stave church at Hylestad, Setesdal, Norway with a seperate person dedicated to working the bellows in alternation.

I've been wanting to build a more modern set, saw the high middle ages and have wondered about the mechanisms to work a pair alternating with one bellows pole.

I had to leave my double lung bellows when I moved and have not built another set---I sure do miss it though, I could pump it with my pinkie and could easily reach welding temp and weld up billets in it.

I would greatly like to get the cite on the possible 15th century forge cart to add to my history of smithing collection (and make one!).

I was in the Irish Living History Society of Central OH, (president 3 times), SCA, VestRus Vikings, and Regia Anglorum (for a short while before I moved out to nowhere)

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The earliest documented Traveling Forge (with drawings) that I found was in "A Treatise of Artillery" 1780, London, by John Muller, reprinted 2005 by The Scholar's Bookshelf, ISBN 0-945726-47-3. I also have later drawings and specifications for British 1840s and American mid-1800s. If you find an earlier wheeled forge for the military, I would appreciate receiving the information.

If my memory serves me correctly, Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was the first military commander to decide that hiring farmers and other non-military folks to pull his artillery around needed to be replaced by trained military personal, thus making a huge advance in the use of artillery and military strategy. Prior to that, with artillery drawn by a hodgepodge of civilian equipment. I doubt the blacksmith equipment was standardized either, as it was likely provided by whatever civilian equipment was available. I would be interested in seeing any scholarly documentation of the pre-1700 time period blacksmith equipment, especially equipment used by the military.

Edited by UnicornForge
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The Wallace Collection includes a set of heavily ornamented "armour repair tools" but they look to be for cold work and for some big wig who wanted to "play" at fixing his armour.

I don't think a forge in a Vardo was likely; after all it's possible to build a forge into your car you use nowdays; but how many have you seen or heard of that have done so? Far easier to use one outside. I'll ask around and see if anyone here has heard of one in the sheep herder's wagons out this way.

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Hi Justin,
This forge was designed to pack flat for travelling to events, the main part consists of the back board, the hood, two side pieces and the front.These all join together with mortice and tenon joints held with knock out pegs.
These frames were made hollow - like picture frame and a lighter frame was fixed to the inside faces to take thin wooden laths that hold the daub.
For the daub I have used papercrete -70% pulped paper,10% sand,10% soil and 10%cement, shred your paper add boiling water to pulp it down. Drain off the excess then using a bucket or a pan measure ingredients out and mix.
Papercrete is light weight, flexible and fire retardent (to an extent) when you tell folks your forge is made from wood and papier mache the response is interesting.
Some lenghts of angle iron fitted inside the top take a steel base and the fire pot, the tray is covered with copies of medieval floor tiles. The back board is open at the bottom so that you can access the ash dump.
At the rear is another frame to support the crank and two horizontal bars to join this to the main frame and to sit the bellows on - a couple of cross bars provide bracing and extra area for sitting the bellows on.
The important bit is that the T crank is not horizontal, if you sit your bellows on the frame and then lift the top to the max opening position, this is roughly the angle the crank needs to be set at otherwise you will be straining the hinges of the bellows due to the twisting action of the crank.
This forge has been in fairly regular use for 4+ years now in all weather conditions and is still going strong, in due course I am going to change it over to a side draught forge.
Hope this is of use

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Here's a good picture of an armouror's forge, and the pair of bellows with it's rocker shaft used.

Also, 2 pictures of my big medieval-style forge for (decently) small work:D.

I love how the pair of bellows works. If only I had me a pair:(...

By the way, I am planning to build a medieval-styled portable forge out of wood (see:http://www.iforgeiron.com/forum/f7/making-forge-out-wood-8038/). If I can finish it soon enough(:rolleyes:), I will post pictures...




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Thanks for sharing these images, Wayne. You don't happen to have any pictures of actual mediaeval or earlier or slightly youger anvils (iron age - 16th century)?
I saw a picture of a mobile gipsy forge in some Russian or Ukrainian blacksmithing revue. It looked like a wooden, earth (?) filled box on legs hooked up to a pair of bellows (not on the picture). I don't know about it's presumed age, though.

Edited by gazilla
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Hi Gazilla,
I have come across a fair amount of illustrations of surviving anvils from various archaeological reports, my scanner is down at the moment so when I get over to the mother in laws I will get some pics sorted.
Here is a couple of very basic set ups




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