Swiss Files


 
 

Letters from Paul Schobernd


 
 

How It's Made?

 

Gentle Galoots,

Has anyone else seen that program, How It's Made? I love it, but the edition where they were building a carriage blew me a way! The carriage body was welded from square pipe which was no particular surprise, but the construction of the wheels was unbelievable.

The felloes were laid out upon a flat steel table in their correct position, then a steel hub was bolted on top and through them. Then the ends were cut to length, chamfered and tenon cut by a powered version of the appropriate handtools.

They used two rim sections which were pneumatically pressed in place, a rim was welded and I missed a part about something being soldered. The the tire was dropped up and down until the rubber tire seated itself. Somewhere along the line it got a coat of white paint.

What astounded me was the pneumatic table with pre-spaced bolts and the ease with which they just slapped together a wooden wheel. There was no dishing, no wooden hub, but the process was sort of a bastardized version of a carriage wheel. The process was meant for mass production, but I wonder how these wheels hold up? They use Ash for the spokes was the only wood identified.

I wonder if these town-used carriage wheels aren't meant for a short lifetime? I cannot see how the hub bolts in wood would not eventually elongate or break out. Of course, it wouldn't take much to de-construct and repair the wheel or just toss it and save the hub plate, if even that!

I had no idea that a carriage wheel could be built that fast with so little labor and even less wood! They have found a way to automate a centuries old process that just sort of shocked me, but maybe I'm the only person who wasn't in on this technological joke!

Paul in Normal, Illinois


 
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