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Making Beech Wood Tough Enough For Cart Axles

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posted on Mar, 20 2017 @ 05:36 AM
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I'm not sure which forum is best for this. It may be information useful for someone.

Two days ago I met a historian who told me how cart axles were made when metal was rare.

The axles were made out of beech wood which was immersed in very hot beeswax for days until the beeswax soaked in. This made the wood tough, similar to lignum vitae. The beeswax also acted as a built in lubricant.

Fire risk. If you use this method take care.




posted on Mar, 20 2017 @ 05:52 AM
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a reply to: Kester

Wow, so i imagine these axles had no bearings.. ?

That's fine, as long as you had a crap load of axles ready to go..

A home lathe would be nice



posted on Mar, 20 2017 @ 05:54 AM
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originally posted by: Kester
I'm not sure which forum is best for this. It may be information useful for someone.

Two days ago I met a historian who told me how cart axles were made when metal was rare.

The axles were made out of beech wood which was immersed in very hot beeswax for days until the beeswax soaked in. This made the wood tough, similar to lignum vitae. The beeswax also acted as a built in lubricant.

Fire risk. If you use this method take care.




After reading your post I felt cheated. Your title suggest some interesting information would be contained within, but all I got was boiling beeswax is dangerous if left unattended. That might be helpful to those with no common sense.



posted on Mar, 20 2017 @ 06:54 AM
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originally posted by: brutus61

originally posted by: Kester
I'm not sure which forum is best for this. It may be information useful for someone.

Two days ago I met a historian who told me how cart axles were made when metal was rare.

The axles were made out of beech wood which was immersed in very hot beeswax for days until the beeswax soaked in. This made the wood tough, similar to lignum vitae. The beeswax also acted as a built in lubricant.

Fire risk. If you use this method take care.




After reading your post I felt cheated. Your title suggest some interesting information would be contained within, but all I got was boiling beeswax is dangerous if left unattended. That might be helpful to those with no common sense.


That's all the video has to say, too.

The one video today I'll get to watch and it taught me nothing- just someone who doesn't understand fire safety talking about fire safety.



posted on Mar, 20 2017 @ 07:46 AM
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a reply to: brutus61

If you have a need for a stronger component this is a way to toughen wood. That's the interesting information.

I have to add the fire warning to be responsible.

Videos from the distant past are strangely hard to find.



posted on Mar, 20 2017 @ 08:12 AM
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a reply to: Kester

If you'd like to read a book which is very informative about modern day wagon making, and making axles, I strongly suggest the book The Orgegon Trail...A New American Journey by Rinker Buck.

It is an excellent non-fiction/history read about two brothers who build a traditional covered wagon (two actually) the old fashioned way and retrace the paths of the American pioneers across the harrowing Oregon Trail during the 1850's. They travel the entire length of the Oregon Trail from Kansas City, MO to Portland, OR in 2007. The book dispels numerous myths about wagons and wagon travel during the mid 19th century. There are numerous sections covering wheels and axles, their construction, and all the pitfalls associated with them. It is truly an amazing book.

One of the fascinating things about the book is these guys made the journey from start to finish in one attempt. Many have traversed the Oregon Trail (by modern car/truck), but they've done sections at a time, returning year after year to complete another section. These guys start out and continue all the way to the end, come what may, in one contiguous effort, much the way the settlers did during the 1850's.

One of the other, many, very interesting facts is how the lore of the horse in the Old West is so inaccurate. And, it also gives insight into how and who wrote history books covering the Old West. Watch any old western movie and all you'll see is horses, and people's perception of the old west is one full of all manner of horses. This wasn't the case in reality. It was actually mules (a donkey - horse cross) who tamed the west. Horses were more for the aristocrats (the ones who wrote books) than they were for the common man. Plus, they were less durable than mules. Oh sure, the old western movies always had the token old (drunk) miner guy who had a stubborn old donkey, but the portrayal of the true role of the mule is largely missing from history. A curious historical oddity to be sure.

Anyway, if you're interested in wagon making, travel and maintenance (the old fashioned way) I strongly recommend reading this excellent book! It was #1 on the NYT Bestseller list in 2015/16. So compelling was it that I think I may just read it again.



posted on Mar, 20 2017 @ 08:25 AM
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originally posted by: Kester
a reply to: brutus61

If you have a need for a stronger component this is a way to toughen wood. That's the interesting information.

I have to add the fire warning to be responsible.

Videos from the distant past are strangely hard to find.


Ummm...you can also toughen/harden wood by charring it...in a fire...(blowtorch)

You can also use this charring method to preserve wood...it's used in some cedar siding applications...


YouSir



posted on Mar, 20 2017 @ 08:46 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Very interesting, I'll take a look at that book.

This book is a mine of information from this side of the pond. www.amazon.co.uk...

The author was educated then inherited the shop as the old craft was dying out. He realised the people with the information were largely illiterate so he recorded what he could. One thing I found fascinating was the best wood for various components was not just a type of tree but trees of that type from a particular location. That sort of knowldge could only be gained from many generations of experience.

I travelled with a donkey with packs. He taught me a lot, and I had no choice but to learn.
edit on 20 3 2017 by Kester because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 20 2017 @ 09:04 AM
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a reply to: Kester

One of the interesting things in the book I referenced is how much of a focus there was on wheels and axles back in the day (and even on their journey). It was almost an hourly consideration in some form, something they never lost sight of. I guess it makes sense, they were a major point of failure which could stop you in your tracks if ever taken for granted.

Just simple things like wood contraction/expansion from moisture could spell doom in short order. Again, not surprising in retrospect, but I'd venture few ever contemplate what a major consideration it is/was.



posted on Mar, 20 2017 @ 10:15 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Right about the role of horses in the old days. Modern folks tend to have a wrong conception. All you ever see in the old movies and videos is galloping horses. That was not how they were normally used.



posted on Mar, 20 2017 @ 10:37 AM
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I would have to say if it comes to a point of needing axles that their should be enough junk laying around to not have to worry about wooden ones. Probably a lot less people to deal with too. I'm on Lake Michigan so a boat would be my primary to move me north away from any possible issues for the next many years





posted on Mar, 20 2017 @ 10:44 AM
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a reply to: mikell

I'm thinking more of people who may need to make some hard component, probably not an axle, that's just the example I was given. Laminated turkey quills for a flintlock spring is another way to get around lack of suitable metal.

Boats I can definately agree with. I once moved several tons of timber towed very slowly behind a small rowboat. Truth is I think boats are best, as long as you have the water.



posted on Mar, 20 2017 @ 10:50 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

The wheel makes it all so much easier, but like you say, it has to work or you're stuck.

Having travelled with both and being soft-hearted the major difference for me is wheels run over everything regardless. A pack animal chooses it's steps carefully and avoids stepping on another living creature. As long as you haven't offended said animal.



posted on Mar, 20 2017 @ 12:09 PM
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If u find urself in a place where beach wood and bees wax are in high Supply and no metal poles n sigh maby u should reconsider the wagon and build a house



posted on Apr, 10 2017 @ 03:55 PM
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Years ago I read a book called Crusoes of Lonesome Lake (non-fiction by the way). The main character made his axles and bearings out of scorched birch with bear fat as lubricant. The book is well worth a read for anyone interested in survival.




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