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A wheelright takes the skills of ladder making and hoop making and merges them with blacksmithying and a skilled awareness of angles and wear. Wheels look simple, but a well made wheel is in fact extremely complex and must be made with great skill to work properly.
The wheel is made as follows:
- A hub is made from well seasoned elm that has been turned into a barrel shape and is fixed with two iron bands which shrink tight after being put on hot. Elm is the best wood for the hub as it is strong and will not split, even after as many as twelve spokes are morticed into it.
- The hub is then set in a cradle and the mortices (pits) for the spokes are marked and cut.
- The spokes are made of heart of oak so hat they can withstand the weight of the wagon on a single spoke (only the spoke at the bottom of the wheel bears the strain) in much the same way as ladder spokes, except that one end is square cut to fit into the cradle of the hub, and the other is oval to fit into the fellow.
- A series of fellows are then made to create the body of the wheel. Each fellow is designed to be supported by two spokes and is made of curved ash (preferably grown curved either from a drooping branch or from a sapling grown in a mould to ensure strength).
- The spokes, cradle and fellow are designed so that the wheel will be slightly concave, curving away from the wagon. The hub and cradle are designed so that the wheel itself will be slightly tilted with the top out compared to the bottom. These two off-kilter builds largely counter-act but make the wheel far more stable and able to resist side-to-side motion and in particular the swaying motion causing by being pulled by most draft animals.
- The fellows are joined to each other by oak dowels, and bent onto the spokes using special levers (as the spoke is designed to slot into the fellow, the fellow must be bent to fit over the end).
- Once the fellows are in place the iron tire is put on. This bevelled collar is designed to match the curve of the fellows, the concave dip, and the pitch of the wheel, so that the entire tire meets the ground ? not merely one edge (which would happen if it was flat). The tire is applied hot and on cooling shrinks (which happens as soon as buckets of water can be thrown on it to stop it burning the wheel) to the perfect size to tightly bind the wheel together.
- The hub is then carefully augered to allow it to hold a cast iron box of metal which will bear the axle arm. A small section of the hub is cut away to fix the linch pin which will secure the axle in place (and can be removed to allow the wheel to be taken off or the axle greased). Oak wedges may be carefully hammered between the hub and the box to adjust it to the perfect fit.
Small wheels are perversely more difficult to make, as the work becomes finer, with the four-spoked wheelbarrow wheels notoriously difficult to make. Wheels can last decades if properly preserved and maintained and are often re-used as wagons wear out about them.
Wheels can be made flat that run vertical, these relatively simple devices are scorned by any true wheelwright as mere goblin work, although such wheels are not uncommon in poor areas of the Khinasi lands. Anuire is noted as the home of the best wheels, and in particular the realms of Diemed and Avanil. The wheelwrights of these realms export wheels far and wide and are justly famed for their skill.
, 05-02-2010 at 08:52 AM|
Last edited by , 10-23-2011 at 01:53 PM
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