Modern Blacksmithing Rational Horse Shoeing and Wagon Making

with rules, tables, recipes, etc., useful to manufactures, blacksmiths, machinists, well-drillers, engineers, liverymen, horse-shoers, farmers, wagon-makers, mechanics, amateurs and all others who have occasion to perform the work for which this book is primarily intended. by J.G. Homstrom 1901

How to Put in a Wooden Axle

One of the most difficult pieces of work to do in a wagon shop is to put in a wooden axle. In the first place, you must have well-seasoned timber, hickory or maple. Take out the old axle. The skeins will come off easy by heating them a little. Now cut the timber the exact length of the broken axle. In order to get the right pitch and gather, you must cut off one-half inch from the back side of the end of the timber and one-half inch from the bottom side, this cut to run out at the inner end or collar of the skein, as shown in Figure 14. Next take dividers and make a circle in the end of the axle the size of the old axle-in case new skein is put on, the size of the bottom of the skein inside. This circle must be made so that the lower side of it will go down to edge of the timber, and the sides be of the same distance from the edges. You will now notice that most of the hewing will be done on top side, as it must in order to get the right pitch, and as one-half inch has been cut from the back side it will throw the front side of the wheel in a little; this is gather. If a wheel has no gather the wheel will be spread out against the nut of the skein, and the wear will be in that direction, and the wheel will rattle, as you know the skein is tapered i but if the wheel has gather, the pressure will be against the collar of the skein, and the wheel will be tight, as it forces itself up against the collar and the wider end of the skein.

Wooden Axe

Some wagon-makers will use the old axle as a guide and cut the new by the old. This is not safe, as the old is mostly sprung out of shape. In hewing the axle for the skein great care should betaken not to cut off too much; better go slow, because it depends upon the fitting of the skein to get a good job. When the axle is finished or ready to be driven into the skein be sure to have the axle strong; that is, a little too large to go in easy. Now warm-or heat, if you will- the skein a little, not so much that it will burn, and drive it onto its place by a mallet. In making new wagons I think it would be wise to paint the part of the axle that goes in the skein, but in repairing I deem it unwise, because it will have a tendency to work loose unless it will have time to dry before using, and I have noticed paint to be still fresh in the skein after years of use. There should be no gap left between the collar of the skein and the axle, as water will run in and rot the timber.