Nine members of the Central Arkansas Chapter of the Blacksmith Organization of Arkansas (CACBOA) met on May 17th, 2014 at the forge of Herman Ginger, in Pine Bluff. Herman has a well-outfitted shop with every tool imaginable, from restored hit and miss engines to industrial milling machines. The other members of our chapter have figured this out, and save up difficult tasks to bring when Herman hosts. This month Tim Huddleston brought the jaw from a massive post vice he is restoring that had somehow been bent, and needed to be straightened in the hydraulic press. I brought a trailer hitch that had been bent which we heated in the rivet forge and straightened on the anvil. It was great to see Shane back, recovering from surgery, and Garrett, who graduated just last Thursday. We’ve missed you guys.
Herman asked Dale to hold a demonstration of forge welding, which went very well, except when Dale, sliced his hand wide open on a flying piece of metal when cutting off the completed weld from the rod for the next member to attempt a weld. I tried to get him to hold still for a picture, but others insisted he go take care of it and stop dripping blood on the anvil. Maybe we’ll get Dale to author the “Safety First” article in the newsletter next month.
The most interesting thing about the forge welding was the tendency for the guy turning the blower crank to speed up when someone had pulled their bar out of the forge and was trying to weld. This happened with several different members at the crank. We decided it was an unconscious attempt to “help out” the welder, despite the fact that there was nothing in the firepot at the time. Interesting!
The trade item this month was a pair of tongs – one of the most ambitious projects we’ve taken on at our chapter. Four of us brought tongs. All of them looked very nice, although it is clear that some of us, myself included, need a demonstration on riveting at our next meeting.
Herman’s wife Suzanne threw a wonderful spaghetti lunch, with garlic bread, salad, and homemade tollhouse cookie ice cream sandwiches. We like Suzanne. If she ever gets fed up with Herman, I think she could have her pick of the CACBOA crew.
In the business meeting, we discussed the Nathan Robertson hammer class that Dale and I attended. We also talked about some decisions the board has made about the newsletter (advertising, classifieds, etc.), and some of the feedback we’ve received.
Dale discussed a suggestion that Bob Patrick (NWAC BOA) has made to put together an all-BOA event to smelt our own iron from ore, using traditional methods. We would make charcoal and roast the ore beforehand (perhaps an event of their own), build a clay kiln, charge it, fire it up, keep it fed all day, and remove the bloom in the evening. It would be a very long day, but one which our chapter eagerly looks forward to.
Dale also brought us up to speed on plans for another toolbox raffle and a possible all-BOA meeting in the fall. I think the toolbox can expect much more contributions from CACBOA this time around, as many of our members are progressing in skill very rapidly.
After lunch we finished up the repairs and the tong-riveting, and Herman, Tim, and Layne welded up a narrow twisting wrench for each of us from a stack of antique wrenches Herman had collected. The meeting is supposed to end at 3:00, but we were having such a great time, we didn’t really start leaving until around 5:00. Thanks again to Herman and Suzanne!