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Blacksmith Shops of the Past

Monsonmotors

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
02/22/2020
Jos, how steep was the learning curve on connecting the flat belt stuff? How long did it take to get to your current, operating condition?
I’m two years into my shop. Joel Sanderson has offered me advice. I hope you will, too. Joel says I will need all new belts, for example.
Now that I’m stuck at home all day I hope things will move along faster.
As much as I admire the lineshafts and belts I will stay with the electric motors each machine was converted to for the immediate future. However, I will place the overhead lineshafts in place and slowly integrate each machine back to original flat belt operation over time. I still need to buy and install the substantial beams and posts to carry the load. Fortunately or unfortunately the amount of dead trees coming out of the Sierras makes cheaper lumber a distinct possibility.
For someone like me your and Joel’s operating lineshaft shops seem like a really big next step. I’ve been a mechanic all my life and that makes a few things easier.
 

Monsonmotors

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
02/22/2020
The “recreated” blacksmith shops are somewhat annoying, I think, after perusing original, operating shops. Many of the original shops appear to be always in a state of disarray. The new “wannabes” are just too clean and arranged. Add the Old English font and I start to gag a little. Looks like nothing is being accomplished, either.
 

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jos

Registered
Looking at old pictures of either, blacksmith and machine shops or foundries and factories I'm always amazed by the number of people working at close quarters and the vast array of clutter all over the (dirt)floor, stacks of parts near the machines etc. I guess that, as everything had to be done by hand (no pallets, fork lift) and basically everything was heavy, you moved it only and as far as you had to. We have a romantic view but it was just a hard life.
It seems there is a lot of interest in building old style shops right now, mainly automotive of course. And everybody does it to his own taste but I also like it messy, suits my way of working I guess.
I get my belts both new, NOS and used wherever I find them. I like leather but they are sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, canvas doing better in that respect. Joel already stated that an old belt can drive you nuts with irratical behaviour but sometimes you're lucky, some of my best tracking belts are pre-used leather. Allways go for the widest belt and largest pully sensibily possible and avoid a to big difference between drive and driven pully diameters. Sometimes a belt guide can prevent belt throw during start-up when there inevitably is slippage, this can be as simple as a piece of wood along the side of the pully. All in all, when building a line shaft installation, you start to understand why people were so eager to get rid of them in the days. It takes a lot to keep it functioning and I really commend people like Joel who make a living, creating works of art, in a belt driven shop.
Several of my machines are set up to be driven both by the line shaft and by their own E-motor. A freewheel clutch or one way bearing in one of the pulleys keeps the E motor from being driven when in line shaft operation. Actually the whole line shaft driving the smithy can be powered by E motor or by coupling it to the main shaft by a fast and loose set up.
API style studbolts and nuts as used in the oil and gas industry are of heavy duty design and use the same dimensions as old style bolts and nuts. For instance 1/2"nuts have 7/8" hex instead of 3/4" and height is equal to diam. instead of 0.8 diam. They look good on old machinery.
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The flypress I got this week
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Joel mentioned using angle drives in an earlier post. This is how I used one to drive a wood lathe
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Regards, Jos
 

Bob Willman

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
02/16/2020
I have been building a line shaft driven blacksmith shop since about 1990. Our blacksmith group visited Joel's shop a number of years ago and I am envious. Blacksmithing is a hobby to me whereas it is Joel's business. My prime mover is a 25hp Superior Type C oil field engine on natural gas. So far the engine cooling system, forge blower and 25lb Little Giant power hammer are belted up. More stuff waiting. The main shaft is 18' long and 2 3/16" in diameter. All belts are used obtained from auctions or barn sales. A number of split pulleys. both wood and metal, along with shorter shafts and clutch jack shafts obtained from auctions are awaiting use if needed. So many belts - so little time.

I did assemble a small line shaft machine shop in the blacksmith shop at the Wood County Museum driven by an electric motor. It was donated from a garage machine shop in Toledo. The belts there were made from farm round baler belts. I cut a 7" wide belt from TSC farm supply store to the required width and used a Clipper belt splicer to complete them.

I have acquired a very healthy respect for the engineers of the 1800s and early 1900s.

Bob
WB8NQW
 

Monsonmotors

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
02/22/2020
Jos and Bob,
Bob—you should post pictures!
One of the things I like most about old blacksmith shops is the unique overlap each one had on other trades. No doubt there were blacksmiths with plumbers, cabinet makers, military contractors, road builders, ship builders, on and on. We see mainly woodworkers, wheelwrights/ wagon makers, machinists and later automotive repair. That being the case I’m definitely going to be a blacksmith who works on motor vehicles of all kinds, or a “mechanic” who is also a blacksmith.
I’m also going to be (in my little imagined world) the third generation of such folk working at the same locale.
We will sell gas and automotive gadgets as the early roadside gas stations did, maybe a Coke machine, too. Probably the hardest task for me to date is tracking down and purchasing visible gas pumps. They are in such huge demand. I now own one and a line on number two. I could care less if they match. I hope to never restore a thing! However, taking a few years off with cleaning or derusting should be attempted.
The overall vibe should be that of a man (my grandfather) who began as a blacksmith (and did whatever else he had to pay the bills), whose children followed in his footsteps and expanded and also repaired wagons and agricultural implements, later, automobiles. And then I come along (1940ish) and expand the machine shop aspect of it and work on “modern vehicles”.
My father’s father did indeed own a early fancy gas station in New Hampshire and my mother’s father was indeed a machinist.
After looking at hundreds and hundreds of early gas station and blacksmith/ machine shop photos it’s pretty obvious that most of these places were not palaces. Lots of “homemade” signs and home-built accompanying tables and racks and shelving.
This will be how mine will look, hopefully. The way they really did as best as I can. No neon or “we bulldozed the entire thing and started over anew” look.
 

Monsonmotors

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
02/22/2020
And Jos, I think you are hitting the nail on the head with the look of your shop. I hope you aren’t disregarding the old wooden “ephemera” when you see it for sale.
 

Monsonmotors

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
02/22/2020
You wouldn’t think welding would be allowed anywhere near gasoline sales. I wonder at what point cities and counties began to enact zoning laws about such things? This gas station appears to be the butterfly that has morphed from the blacksmith caterpillar. Check out the sign on the right side of the building.
 

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jos

Registered
Great, is it for a specific make or general? I never used something like that, I gues the generator is clamped to the table and spun by the E motor? Looks like a repulsion motor with the rpm adjustable by moving the lever. Can it also be used to test/adjust voltage regulators?
Really fits your "transition period" shop.
At Beaulieu motor museum in England there is a nice set-up. Google " Jack Tucker's Garage Beaulieu" if you like to see more pictures
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Jos
 

Monsonmotors

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
02/22/2020
Jos, The tester is for all makes, as far as I know. For generations it was the main tester at Smith Auto Parts where I traded for forty years. Smith has sold out and all this cool stuff is exiting very quickly. I’ve been told it will check regulators. Every Smith store had a version of this and they all came from Evans.
I already have a period table to put it on. It will become the center of my “generator rebuilding center”. I have a couple commutator lathes and a growler, too. I bought an antique lot of generator brushes and some bushings.
Every mechanic in these parts has a personal connection to this machine. It had sold thousands and thousands of reman alternators.
I will print up a card with its history.
 

jos

Registered
I started out as car mechanic in the early eighties, so mainly alternators, mayby put new bearings in or exchange the brushes anything further just get a new (rebuilt) one.
 

Monsonmotors

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
02/22/2020
Jos, no one has ever taken my advice, before. I’m kinda shocked. Great addition! Yes, just about every old blacksmith shop had a bolt rack.
Have you bypassed other “furniture” in the past and what was it?
Dick’s Garage in Kingsburg, CA offered up a plywood bolt rack like yours and it broke into about five sections on the way home. I’ll try my best to put it back together.
 
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