Brontes, Steropes and Pyracmon…

…were the three cross-eyed giants who worked with Vulcan in the forge. Together they wrought Achilles’ shield, the gates of dawn, the axle of the chariot of the sun and, would you believe, the helmet of Pluto plus the trident of Poseidon! Venus popped in for a look (Boucher captured the scene in oils) and even Zeus dropped by to have his thunderbolts smartened up. So one way and another they were a pretty busy bunch.

There was another chap ‘up Norse’ who went by the name of Loki; he knocked up Thor’s hammer and worked with a lot of very small people. Wayland (Great Britain) you’ll recall was, after a bit of a run-in with the Swedes, commissioned by Merlin to create Excalibur for Arthur. Then there was Biscornet, the French smithy who made the hinges for the doors of Notre Dame and sold his soul to the devil by all accounts. So, as the boy and I set off to the local forge, our expectations were high.

We gathered around the table and set to work.

I had thought that we might hot rivet the members together but it turned out that by the time we’d fiddled the rivet in, wedged in the support at the back, given it a couple of whacks and then re-adjusted the backing to take account of the shrinkage, the rivet would be stone cold. Hot riveting needs to be done quickly and the job in hand wouldn’t allow for speed. So that was a bit disappointing – no wheezing bellows, leaping flames, sparks a-flying or glowing metal to flavour the scene.

We got the method after a short while and then things progressed relatively smoothly. We could have done with a hefty hydraulic rivet squeezer of the sort that Hillman must have had but even then, it would have been jolly tricky getting in to the corners of the cross-member.

The final job was the front spring hanger and I understand that that was the most difficult. (In my new capacities I had to attend an executive and supervisory meeting at 3.00). Again, it was a case of getting enough support under the back of the rivet to make sure that it kept tight up against the metal. There wasn’t a lot of room for purchase but after making up a couple of special tools all went well and I arrived back at the forge just in time for the final blows of the ball peen which tidied up the heads. It had been a long day.

In those pre-Christian days when Wayland flew from Sweden and landed in England (yes, I know – just stay with me on this) he chose as his home a chambered barrow only 7 miles from my old school and I and a few chums had more than once walked to the White Horse on Sunday exeat. I mentioned this to the boy in an effort to entertain and engage him on the way home – he was unimpressed and yawned but, if the truth were known, I think he struggles with his Latin.


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