Monday, January 5, 2009

Wheels, part 2

It looks like the upload problem is fixed. I've had to resize and crop the pictures, and it appears the smaller file size has made the modem happy... I hate dial -up. I'm editing comments that we're supposed to go up yesterday, so I hope I can keep them all straight.

The prototype "plain vanilla" wagon is done (in fact it was done about 8 hours ago) and I've done some modifications to make a "buckboard" style where the front wheels are smaller--more on that later. The prototype has disc wheels and square edges with nothing fancy done to the running gear or bed. It shows that you can build a small wagon for SCA use in a weekend with dimensional lumber, and without an extensive supply of power tools. I had some shop scraps that only required trimming an inch or two off some 1x4s and a piece of luan ply the exact size of the bed, so the bed is a 'mock-up.' Since I'm going with a much more elaborate bed I'm not going to waste cutting up pieces for a prototype.

This whole blog thing has been fun; with the exception that I'm not a touch typist, so the typing part is a pain. As I think about how to describe the process while I'm working it's almost like teaching a class, which I really enjoy. I've gotten re-enthused with working on small wagons and I've decided to show how to make another much smaller "buck-board style" that uses commercial wheels and is very simple to build. It's not "period" or even "peri-oid" but it is cute, and we made good use of it while I experimented with various wheels, axles, etc.,

This was the first wagon I ever made. No plans--just a picture in a book. I learned a lot from it by modifying various parts of the running gear. At it's third Pennsic it was killed by three drunken stickjocks trying to do the chariot race scene from "Ben Hur." One of the most important things I learned from it was: if your livery colors are gold and green don't paint your wagon in them. The paint was hardly dry when my eldest daughter walked into the room and exclaimed, "Oh, John Deere!"

Sometime soon I'll web my "Oseberg Cart." That one is complicated to build, but all you have to do is pull 4 hitch pins and it breaks down for transport, and all the parts store in the bed.

Yesterday was a busy day down in the shop. I found some stuff I'd completely forgotten I had (like 2 four foot lengths of 7/16" rod) and couldn't find some things I know were there just a little while ago (like 2 three foot lengths of 7/16" rod :-).

Friday I had mentioned "hardwood dowels" for the "T" handle.

Here's why. Wagons always get overloaded sooner or later, and pine or poplar dowels just aren't up to the task: use oak.

On to wheels.

I noticed yesterday that I forgot to mention bicycle wheels (not just tires). Adapting bike wheels so they mount securely not in a fork is a pain, and again, they're hopelessly mundane. The only time I'd regard it as a worthwhile venture is for a dog-cart that's really going to be pulled by a dog or goat. I'd made a dog-cart once long ago on a whim. It was based on an "Irish chariot" found in a bog. It was more to play with cold bending laminations than anything else. I finished about three quarters of it and decided I just prefer wagons (and the dog refused to go anywhere near a harness). So I used the parts in other projects.

Maybe I'll revisit it one of these days...

As to why you need tires, here’s a shot of a wheel after having been rolled around the shop a few times, and across a couple of parking lots. Maybe ten minutes and barely a hundred yards. This wheel was sanded smooth when it left the shop; you can see how much crap it’s picked up in a very short time. You can also see that a chunk of the lamination was broken out where a small piece of rock wedged into a very small flaw next to an interior knot.

Anyway, while the wheels I'm showing for this Dejbjerg project are simple discs, it is possible to make fancier ones that have 'false spokes.' This is where having a router really comes in handy.

I made a "landsknecht wagon" wagon several years ago based on this picture. It had elaborate running gear with rear hounds tenoned in to the bolster, 'false spokes' wheels, a tapered and shaped tongue, and a large box that lifted off, with strapping, pennants, shields with mine and my Lady Wife's arms marshaled, and a cool lock. I was way too heavy, but was intended for use as a blanket chest at home, and only for use at Pennsic and as a practice run for the running gear.

The box is out on the sun porch next to the ballista and trebuchet; full of spare wagon parts, list field boundary ropes, and some tent stakes. I never have gotten around to painting it. The decorations and running gear all were used in other projects.

The wheels I made had false spokes, that give a more late period look without the hassle of dealing with mortising and tenoning hand made spokes. They can really dress up a wagon, and aren't that hard to do, though I wouldn't want to do them without a router.

The first step is to cut out the wheel discs. A compass usually won't cover a radius that large so you'll need a 'trammel point' or a beam compass. You can make do with a pencil, some tape, and a ruler. When you've done that go back to your high school geometry and divide the wheel into six equal parts as in the above right picture. Mark the six “spokes” about 1 inch wide, and the outer circle about 3.5 inches in from the edge. Make the inner circle about 6 inches in diameter.

I used some coffee cups and cans I had around the shop to strike the corners of the cut outs, then cut them out with the sabre saw. Sand the cutouts smooth then using a router with a ½” radius round over bit and guide wheel round over the cutouts.

Cut 8 disks 6” inches in diameter from ¼ inch luan, and 8 rings 3.5 inches wide with an outside diameter equal to the wheels. Mount the rings and circles as in the picture with glue and brads. Then again with the router with a ½” radius round over bit and guide wheel round the wheel rim.

Then drill and mount the hubs as already described.

For this wheel, 1 inch i.d. automobile heater hose is required for the tire. Mount it as already described. Note though that this larger hose can be finicky to butt up--remember it's easier to cut it off than put it on.

This edge-on shot shows 1/2" i.d. automobile heater hose on a 3/4" plywood disc tire. You can see the slope to the outer rim making it a truncated cone. I think it looks better this way, and is one of those little details that don't jump right out at you but enhance the overall look of the wagon. I didn't bother to taper the inner hub as they're not really noticeable on a disk wheel. Nota bene: they are noticeable on a wheel with spokes, and it looks much better to taper them both.


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