Making Wheels

In his days as a carpenter at Rowlands' it would take Arthur Tink 3-4 hours to make a cartwheel, but it was a job he enjoyed. The wheel comprised four different elements; hub, spokes, felloes and tyre.

The hub was made of ash or elm turned to size, bored to accept the spokes and with the centre cut out to accept the axle box. This had to be done accurately by hand otherwise the wheel wouldn't fit the axle correctly.

The spokes were made of cleft oak, morticed to fit one end in the hub and the other in the felloes. The wheel could be made less heavy by honing down the spokes with a spokeshave.

The felloes were pieces of ash worked into four curved sections. These were bored through to accept the spokes and then dowel-jointed toghether to form the rim of the wheel. When assembled, the wheel would be planed to make it look respectable before fitting the iron tyre. The circumference of the wheel rim would have been made about 5/8" greater than the iron tyre.

In order to fit the iron tyre onto the larger wheel it was heated in a fire to make it expand, When hot enough it was quickly removed from the fire and levered onto the wheel rim, taking care not to scorch the wood and spoil the wheel. Cold water was immediately poured onto the tyre causing it to contract. This effectively clamped the wooden members together, forming tight joints. Finally the tyre was nailed to the rim. Right, Arthur remembers making wheels.

This method of wheel-making had changed little over the centuries and is basically the same as that used by the Saxons and Vikings. Spoked wheels have also been found in Glastonbury dating back to the Iron Age.

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