A Miniature Carriage

A miniature carriage

Country Shows

This year to promote my business I am appearing at several country shows which has caused me a problem but then I have thoroughly enjoyed creating the solution. I suspect the first of many miniatures I make.

As a wheelwright all of my work is for someone. A customer has come along, commissioned me to repair or build a new wheel, and when I finish they take it away. I never really have examples of my work lying around to show, and certainly not enough to make a stall look busy.

The solution then is to make some. I have now made a several types of wheel, ranging from a carriage wheel with a rubber tyre to a wheel barrow wheel with a steel tyre, so something for everyone.

The Hardest Wheels

However along the way I decided to make as a demonstration piece, a miniature carriage which can be used to ferry “stuff” around a garden. Based very loosely on a American Conesta Wagon it features 4 traditionally made wagon wheels with steel tyres, of which fitting the tyres was the hardest part. The traditional method is to heat the steel tyre in a fire so it expands. Then whilst hot  you quickly slip it over the wooden rim, and then shrink the expanded steel rim by pouring on water. When it goes well its great fun, when it doesn’t ……. The problem with small wheels is there isn’t sufficient length of steel in the tyre to get any meaningful expansion, and that’s why smaller wheels are the hardest wheels to make.

For the first time I have used an enamel high gloss paint, designed for the  steam trains so once cured it provides a tough shiny finish – perfect when I then add some white enamel pinstripes

The end result as you can see from the picture is a magnificent miniature wagon and I can see it being very popular at our rural shows this summer, starting at the Suffolk Show in May. See you there.

Making Wooden Wheelbarrow Wheels

A wooden Wheelbarrow Wheel
A 16″ wooden wheelbarrow wheel

A recent project which also turned into a video for the heritagecraft youtube channel was to make a pair of wooden wheelbarrow wheels.

Now its often said the smaller the wheel the harder it is too make and having made a number of small wheels lately I can understand the sentiment.

A wheelbarrow wheel differs from a conventional carriage wheel in that its set flat. If you look at a carriage wheel you will see the spokes are set at an angle which causes the rim to set out from the vehicle which is referred to as being “dished”. the degree of dish is a much debated topic at wheelwrights gatherings. The theory has it that the heavier the load the greater the dish up too a maximum   about 5 degrees. Whereas a wheelbarrow wheel doesn’t have dish, its flat as its designed to be supported between two shafts.

This project comprises  two 16 inch wheelbarrow wheels each with 8 spokes. By way of a change the spokes were turned on a lathe, rather than using a spoke shave. The wheel is then finished by the fitting of a solid steel tyre, heated up in a fire to expand the steel, slipped over the wheel and then shrunk back with water. So watch the process have a look at the Heritagecraft youtube channel.

We are now making these wheels as a standard design and can be purchased online via www.fitzrobbie.co.uk