Tuesday 21 May 2024

Test Shot with Miniature Ballista

 It was a pig to bind the string onto the stubby arms of the ballista, and having tied one end on, that arm had to be held under tension by wedging it against the frame with a screw driver. I managed to get it done and it works! I'm using temporary skeins of braided nylon cord, as the cat gut was too powerful.
Getting it working has revealed several design flaws, and I firmly believe that is is an apprentice piece* to demonstrate the metal working skills of it's maker, rather than being an exercise in building a working miniature ballista.
* Possibly by a gunmaker or crossbow maker.

Thursday 16 May 2024

Miniature Ballista

 I bought this from a "Fine English Sporting Guns and Rifles" auction. The attached label doesn't give much info, and the string is broken. I'm hoping to figure out how it works and get it going. It should provide many hours of fun. The trigger mechanism has virtually no wear on it, so I'm assuming it was made for the fun of it or as a demonstration of the workers skill. Probably Victorian?
The arms that the string attaches to look rather short to me and there is no obvious way to pre tension the skeins of sinew. The 'wings' can fold back or forth and this may provide a way of stringing and pre tensioning.

Here's a transcript of the info that came with it written on 2 tiny labels.

Text broken int 4 sections corresponding to the 4 sides sides of the two labels. My comments in italics

Steel with folding “wings” :-
Origin and age not known, but animal-like sight looks oriental as does decoration:-
Fitted with 14th century European pattern revolving nut; but the groove in the stock is flat, not curved as in medieval bows to cut down friction; if the bolt was flighted it would have to be less than ¾” across to clear the columns in the central window (to be in scale the flights would be about 5/8”
across, with 3 flights) ; Winding handle may be in Ivory but more likely in Ivorine an early plastic;
Ones first impression is that it is French, the steel ‘stem of the handle’? is half-heart shaped, elegant and ‘resolved’? ; Fixing wedge is oddly short and undecorated; See ballistas on stands in Payne-Gallwey’s book “The Crossbow”; bought from Terry Sovine (French name?) (address given but not shown here).
David Martin wonders whether the bow has been put on back to front; there are two holes in the side of the frame towards the back which may be to fix the crossbow to a stand. (I disagree); when strung the string slopes downward from the centre; the screw thread on the screw holding the trigger spring is approximately
1BA and the thread on the animal-like sight is 2BA- both are a bit sloppy so I have locked them with Araldite; the barrel wobbles up and down a little; the sight centres ones aim but is no help for trajectory; there are file marks inside the outer wings and the centre ‘window’; catgut loose on right hand claw.


Friday 5 April 2024

English Yew Primitive

 This is my first successful bow of the year, 50# @28"
(an earlier Wych Elm primitive exploded after about a dozen shots! I shall be doing a "repair" and destruction test later, just to see how well linen binding supports a break).
The Yew was local to me, it had been felled by the council following some storm damage, and just left to rot. 
The bow has some nice character is 66" from nock to nock, and the limbs are 2" wide at their widest.
Playlist for the entire build here:-

Saturday 13 January 2024

Dear Diary a log and repairs

 Sometimes video isn't the best format for keeping track of stuff when there is a lot of it!
I've been pressing on with the Hickory flight bow rework despite multiple failures, as it seems to be providing opportunity for experimentation and learning for relatively little expenditure of time and effort.

Meanwhile one of the guys from our 'club' (a bunch of blokes who lob arrows around a field between sampling flavoured rum and eating cakes) brought me a 5' length of Yew log and a bow which I'd made him a few years ago, but was now too heavy. He wanted the 70# boo, Yew, Lemonwood taken down to 50#).

I then got contacted via facebook about a bow repair, it turned out to be a Ravenbeak bow (Boo,Yew,Yew) that I'd repaired before to patch a belly chrysal. It looks like the chrysal has returned and presumably the patch needs to be thicker and more extensive (Maybe there is a weak area in the core ?)

Mean while I've decided to cut the yew log into 4' billets as the thin end was a bit scruffy. The log is still very fresh and green and my 3tip alternate set bandsaw blade was worn out. I started to sharpen it, but soon gave up and ordered two new blades (from Just Bandsaw Blades).

So while I'm waiting for the bandsaw blades I need to have a good tidy up. Th bloke will be bringing the Ravenbeak repair over on Wednesday, so that will be an excuse to have a go with the Chinese repeater etc.

Sunday 31 December 2023

Review of 2023

 Been a funny year, it feels like I've not done much in the way of making bows, but I've still been busy.
The year started with a 120# Yew warbow from a fairly challenging stave, I did a 100# one too. I also tried for another 120, but the Austrian Yew was full of shakes and it split in two! I managed to repair it and turn it into a respectable 60# roving bow.

The mkii H Bow flight bow (pic left) performed fairly well, with some nice additions like the counterbalance/stabiliser weight, before exploding!
My mate Rob had given me some Rowan last year and I made a primitive with that, always nice to use a new timber. It preformed like most 'white woods' and felt like a cross between Ash and Hazel.

The scoop back Yew primitive was something a bit different and a delight to shoot.
The big project of the year was the mkii Archer Automaton which was hard work, educational, frustrating and great fun in equal measure.
I'm currently reworking a shoot through Hickory Flight bow, which like all my stuff is now mostly on my youtube channel.(Del Cat@delcat8168)
This blog has reverted to its original purpose which is as an aide memoire for me, this post providing a useful summary of the year.
My last little project of the year was making some little box wood clamps (with M6 threaded rod for the screws) to assist the glue up of the Hickory flight bow levers. (2shown, but I made 3)

Of course it's also an opportunity to wish one and all a happy new year. May all your projects bear fruition, or at least provide some enjoyment and may all your arrows find their mark.


Wednesday 27 December 2023

Old Flight Bow Progress


Seasons greetings to one and all. I've been doing some post Christmas tinkering in the garage/workshop.
I've taken off about 4mm of chrysalled belly wood and glued on slats of heat treated Yew heart wood. I've used a slat of Yew (~5mm thick) to construct the levers, making them a T section.

It's been up on the tiller for a quick shufti and I can see the levers are flexing.(mostly at the inner end) They are bound to flex a bit but I was expecting them to be stiffer. I can experiment by gluing on an additional strip to make them I section, which should help.
I used hide glue which can be released with gentle heat, so if necessary I can rebuild the levers a tad thicker and deeper maybe even V section.

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Reworking a Flight Bow

 I've got an old Hickory shoot-through flight bow with a chrysalled belly. It was a bit lethal, as I was trying to shoot it, finger loosing it, this set the arrows flexing and they tended to smash. Since then I've made a release aid, and that is probably the key to getting the shoot-through to work.
I'm going to rasp/machine off the belly (the chrysals go about 4mm deep) and add a new belly of heat treated Yew heart wood.
I'm aiming for 50# at 24" draw with a very light arrow.
Most of my stuff is on my Youtube channel now, but this post is really a log of what I'm aiming for with this bow.The bow is a Mollegabet style and I think the levers are a bit long and heavy, so they may get reduced during test/development.One dilemma is how do I terminate the new belly at each end where the thickness of the original bow increases at the grip and the levers? I'm favouring a simple butt joint, which, being in compression should hold. I'm concerned that if I try and fade it out at each end it may lift or splinter.