Elena

A simple forge...

10 posts in this topic

I mean, how does the forge look like, the little one you set up at a faire and dismantle rather quickly afterwards? I am not speaking about an allegedly established workshop, but rather of a temporary one they might have on a ship (to be put into operation only when needed) or they can set it up quickly on a desert island, to be taken back aboard the ship one week later...

Anyone describing it, please? And anyone having a photo? Giving credits in the upcoming monthly Chronicle!

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I would venture that for simple repairs, they might use the ship's galley stove. It might not get as hot as a proper forge, but that area of the ship would already be prepared for fires and could probably get at least hot enough to bang some metal pieces back in shape. Of course, probably nothing too fancy or ornamental, but then again, that stuff can usually wait for a port. Another way that I have heard of it being done is on deck, creating a forge out of bricks (possibly from ballast?). I know whaling ships would render blubber on deck in a purpose-built brick fireplace. It would start out as ballast in an empty whaling ship, and then could be tossed overboard when the whaling was done and no ballast was needed. Of course, the pot and all would be kept for the next voyage. I believe that the Cutty Sark (though it may have been a different clipper/packet ship that I'm thinking of for this account) once lost her rudder while going around Cape Horn. While attempting repairs at sea for a makeshift rudder, the forge was swept overboard by a freak wave that broke across the deck. This would lend me to believe that a forge might be set up on deck for anything major. I still think that using the cooking oven for smaller projects, such as nails, would have been more than sufficient, given that there was enough room to set up an anvil and swing a hammer.

Coastie

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A little google search and I found these interesting images. They're not GAoP period, of course, but on topic at least. The first one is from the Yukon Transportation Museum and is labeled "ship's forge and cookstove". The second is of the Charles W. Morgan's tryworks, where she would render blubber into oil, and the third a historical photo of the whaleship Wanderer. Lastly a photo of men building a tryworks on an unknown whaling vessel.

6307698288_f7035232e8_z.jpg

charles+w+morgan+tryworks.jpg

tryworks_q_red_thumb_photo-archive_1991.

try_pots_deck.jpg

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It helps a lot, thank you very much! I guess this is how it is usually done aboard a (pirate) ship (since they are not quite welcome in any port) and if they have more to do, they can get a purpose-built fireplace on an island out of the regular ships' way... exactly how they are doing when careening a ship.

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A friend used to carry a travelling forge, well an anvil, a set of double bellows and a 3legged wooden tray that he used to line with clay for the hearth plus a tarp as rain cover. Once on site he'd rig up a bellows pole with a bendy sapling as the return, and pack the bellows nozzel into the hearth with more clay, bang in some charcoal/coal or coke and away he went ... it was large enough to make small and or domestic ironware, straps, hinges, nails, knives, arrowheads and patch armour.

It was about 25-30yrs ago now so any pics will be ol' fashioned printed types but I'll dig and ask around see if anyone has any.

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It works without pictures, Grimm! It is exactly what I need! Thank you!

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It would also be good to note that the size and ability to do any sort of smithy work would be proportional to the size of the vessel. Heck, even in relatively calm weather, it would probably not be a good idea at all to set up a forge on the deck of a sloop or small schooner. However, on a ship of the line it might be a relatively regular activity. For small coastal craft that were not expected to be underway for very long (say, a fishing vessel), they would just jury rig any necessary repairs and get them fixed properly in port.

Coastie

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A question: would a ship have charcoal aboard in our time before the steamers? and if yes, why? Because I heard that making charcoal for the little forge takes several days...

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Aye! of course there'd be charcoal aboard . . . the blacksmith, or whoseever's making presumptions of being one .. . would must be needing charcoal fer the wee forge on board for repairs and modifications of the iron parts so important even in the age of wood and sail . ..charcoal being not coal, mind ye, just hard wood properly burned once over and ready to go again and give ye fine heat and mak ye coals fer ye wee forge . . .

But seriously, a small bit of good hardwood to fuel a small forge would, and did, go a long way to helping even an amateur blacksmith repair broken links, meld iron to iron, and so on. Amateur I say as most ship-board smiths would likely be only part-time, as their "day job" would be something more often needed, like sail making, cooking, carpentering, etc. But still critical nonetheless . . .like a sailmaker doubling as a surgeon's assistant, when it came time to close the wounds, with the stitching skills and all, while the doc moved on to the more needful cases . . .

aye, thanks for your post, mate -

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Yes, thank you John,it fits with my ship's needs too.

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