“Git’er hot an’ hit’er!”
These few photos show th’ basic steps involved to craft a barrel from a piece of ol’ wrought iron farm wagon wheel rim. You need to understand that wrought iron can be th’ very devil to weld or it can go together like modeling clay. If you ain’t never worked wrought before, here’s a few tips: It can be worked at a red to yellow heat, brush th’ scale an’ flux’er when she’s yellow an’ weld’er when she’s greasy yellow to just white. Sparklin’ may just be a tad too hot, but some is O.K.. Now you have to know what you’ve got in order to get’er to weld an’ by th’ time you’ve got th’ skelp cupped, believe me, you’ll know’er better than yer wife! As you form an’ weld th’ skelp, be on th’ lookout fer cracks opening up on you, normally on th’ outside. These need to be closed/welded up immediately. If th’ crack is really big, your piece of wrought may not be suitable for th’ barrel, and you may never git’er welded up. Th’ feller in th’ photos is Dan Land from Auburn, Alabama. He recently stayed a week here in Corn Patch to learn how to do this time consuming job. Dan is a fine man an’ a good friend. Believe me when I say it’s a TWO man operation an’ not fer th’ weak of heart. We used a 5/8″ home made mandrel to keep th’ bore open while welding an’ we’ve added a couple of photos of it. Just click on the photos to make’em bigger. Enjoy!
The above photo shows how Dan has started cupping his skelp. We take it slow to keep cracking to a minimum. He’s got a big as-ed grin on his face because there were absolutely NO cracks that opened up on us when this blank was hammered.
Here Dan is closing up the sides of the pistol barrel that he has just cupped. This technique is different than how we’d go about it if we were welding us up a rifle barrel.
This is one AWSOME photo and it shows the barrel at just past good welding heat. See the incandescent sparklin’ goin’ on? Looks like th’ 4th of July. All the light you see in this photo is being given off from the white-hot skelp! Looks like the Aurora Borealis startin’ up on the left hand side. Must have something to do with magnetism………
This is what our mandrels look like. Dan whomped this one up in about 10 minutes. Just a simple tool made from hot rolled steel of a proper diameter and the tip hammered to a blunt taper. The handle also serves as a place to hammer on when the mandrel gets stuck in the bore.
Another great photograph! That’s one hot barrel. Almost makes yer tongue start to sizzle, don’t it? You can see the mandrel inserted into the barrel to keep the bore open while being worked.
O.K., fellers. Here’s Dan’s pistol barrel, red hot & octagon. Look at that big, ol’ yawning bore after a hard three an’ a half hours of swingin’ a 2 & 10 pound hammer. Looks like it should make a couple of nice .62 caliber barrels outta this, eh?