Hi Ho Hi Ho, it's off to work I go

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Friday, July 31, 2009

Brian has been a very busy lad for a few weeks in Ratho.  The culmination of over a year of dreaming, he's finally had the opportunity to work at Ratho-Byres Forge.  Always wishing to have the chance to work in a British Blacksmith shop it's finally here.  It was also great as Brian admires the style of work that's produced at this forge.  Quite different from what you might picture when thinking of ironwork.  They stretch the limit and put a modern twist to things.  Needless to say, he's been happier than a pig in ... (I can't come up with a blacksmith equivalent). 

Unfortunately, Brian doesn't talk much, and he definitely won't write anything.  So there won't be any great stories to read about his experiences in this blog.  You'll just have to put up with my pathetically brief descriptions of pictures. 

There's a few pics in and around the shop.  The project he worked on the most was a set of 10 bronze door handles.  First time working with bronze he had quite a lot of difficulty as the proper temperature is hard to find.  Quite a few attempts ended with shattered metal.  But eventually  he caught on and managed (with lots of help from Pete).  He also had some time to play around and make his own art inspired by the design work at Ratho. 

He also had the opportunity to return to Blist's Hill in Telford (where Jim took us shortly after arriving in Manchester) to a large BABA Forge-In.  Unfortunately, the main event did not take place.  They were to have the wrought iron rolling mill running, but it did not go as they were worried about it not running at 100%.  This is where they take old wrought iron and weld it together into square blocks under a steam hammer.  Then they heat up the blocks and send them through the rolling mill - kind of like a pasta machine.  That squeezes them out into long bars which can then be used.  Reconstituted iron is something that is not done anymore.  Rarely is 'wrought iron' ever used in work.  Instead mild steel is used as it's cheaper to work with it.  There were a lot of disappointed people who had traveled a long way just to see that!  This is the only working rolling mill in the world (so I'm told).  Despite that, he still had a good time and got to talk with a lot of other smiths.  It was great to meet the people he's heard so much about over the last several years of getting into the industry.

An additional treat for Brian before heading out:  Pete fired up the big guy - the 500lb Massey.  Where the ground shakes with every hit and your deafened by the sound after only a minute or two.  Turning 2" square bar into a pancake after only a few hits was great fun!  Brian played the game of 'how far out can I draw this in one heat'.  Turns out that you can draw out a 6" block to about 3' - especially when the pressure from the hammer reheats the metal!  Big toys :D
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