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Dan Lewis 08-21-2016 08:55 PM

Anatomy of a Paddle Wheel
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Here are a few shots of our not-so-secret recipe for making wheel stirrups. Stirrups (for anyone unfamiliar) are the hardware fastening the bucket planks to the wheel arms. We have the tools and equipment here on the Belle to make our own. The first pic shows our anvil (origins unknown) and some round stock threaded on our pipe threading machine (believe me, there is no fun in threading something like this by hand if it isn't necessary). With a decent torch you heat and bend it into the shape you see in the second picture. With a little paint to dress it up, you have a usable part to repair the paddle wheel. These pictures only show a small portion of what's needed for this wheel. We have 24 pieces here, but there are 192 of these total.

Jim Reising 08-21-2016 10:39 PM

In 1962/63 Alan Bates spearheaded rebuilding the wheel. At that time there was still one blacksmith shop in Louisville. If my memory is accurate, it was located at 5th and York. Alan had the blacksmith make all the stirrups and other iron parts we needed for the project.

Ron Anderson 08-22-2016 03:05 PM

You can't see and learn about this stuff anywhere else.

Thanks a bunch!

Dan Lewis 08-24-2016 09:49 AM

That blacksmith shop is still there. It was called Fred Hutt, but a young gentleman bought the business years ago and changed the name to Falls City Iron Works. About ten years ago we had new valve stems made for the engines, and we needed someone to rivet the caps holding the valve stems on the top of the valve. At that time I remembered this young man because he was a friend of my next door neighbor. We took all of the valves to his shop, and he gladly riveted the caps. He keeps much of the shop in the look of a traditional blacksmith shop with the furnace and bellows, hoping to entice schools to visit to show students his craft.

Bob Reynolds 08-24-2016 09:54 AM

Thanks for this info., Dan! There is a blacksmith shop at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, too, with old-time furnace and bellows. They make some cool stuff.

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