The June meeting of the Central Arkansas Chapter of the Blacksmiths of Arkansas (CACBOA) was held at the forge of Garrett Sheeks, in Stuttgart. We haven’t seen as much of Garrett as we would like in the past year as he focused on his studies. But he graduated last month from welding school, and demonstrated his mastery of the craft by, shall we say, “improving” upon a forge weld in a trade item brought by another member.
Garrett’s forge is in what I grew up calling a “Quonset hut” – a half-round arched-roof metal building open at either end. The building was large enough to park three VERY large pieces of farm equipment, and still leave half for a smithy. Those Stuttgart rice-bred mosquitos were out in force when we arrive just before nine, but by the time the sun rose a little and the breeze started building up over miles of open farmland, combined with the smoke from two coal fires, the mosquitos fled the field and left the blacksmiths victorious. Or maybe they were just repelled by our impressive display of manly sweat…
We had two coal forges and three anvils busy all day as we spent the morning working on various projects. One of the anvils was the CACBOA travel/demo anvil, owned by Dale Custer, but made available to the club. Likewise, one of the forges was a rivet forge with a hand-crank blower owned by Herman Ginger, also available for use by BOA members for meetings and demonstrations.
The trade item was “some bit of kit for the travel anvil.” The travel anvil has a 3/4 inch hardy, just about the perfect size for using a railroad spike as a hardy shank. One of the contributions was, in fact, a cut off hardy made from a railroad spike and a piece of a heavy file. We also added a holdfast, a pair of tongs, and a toolbox to the travel gear.
Garrett’s mom fixed a chicken spaghetti feast. The recipe was developed by and for firemen, but, although she doubled the batch that served fourteen and added two huge cookie sheets of garlic bread, I think we eight smiths came close to finishing it off! Yes, we are big, hungry guys, but that was some good cooking!
At lunch our smith/optometrist Herman Ginger (who is NOT a dentist) demonstrated something called the “Pulfrich Phenomena.” If you cover one eye with a dark lens (i.e. sunglasses) and leave the other uncovered, a pendulum swinging back and forth appears to be swinging around in large circles. Try it!
We spoke about the plans for making charcoal, roasting ore, and smelting iron some time this fall, and we talked about the possibility of an all-BOA conference some time this year. Both ideas are eagerly anticipated. With all the industrial steel expertise and equipment the club has access to, we also discussed putting together a “smithin’ magician” build sometime later this year.
CACBOA Secretary, Robert Fox