Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Completer Finisher

I've been finishing off several odds and ends. The 60# Yew has had the arrow plate done and a couple of coats of Danish Oil on the bow. I find it a tad heavy and I rather overstretched myself trying to shoot it in at a good full draw without warming up, felt like I had a knife stuck between my shoulderblades, it eased off the next day when I went on a screen printing course (great fun) and was bending over and using my shoulders a fair bit.
I've booked into the ILAA popinjay shoot for next Sunday, I don't really have a suitable bow, so I'm reworking an old churchyard Yew stick bow that was full of character, but was a bit iffy at its high draw weight. I'll take it down to 40#...ish  and make it more whip ended, that should do the job and turn it from a show bow into a working bow again.
I also got round to making a string for the frankenbow, which shoots surprisingly well.
The pics show some of the interesting features of the 60# character Yew English longbow, there are a couple of nice blushes of red where knots were.

I've been working down the Yew stick bow and got it to a smoot 50# at 29" so I'm pretty confident with it now, it has loads of checks and craks running anong the wood and at least 3 patches on the belly, but I think it's fine, the two big character knots look really spectacular.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Nocks on and Full Brace

The bow is looking more like a bow now, the horn nocks are on, but not polished and the tips are much slimmer.
I've got it up to full brace and the tiller is coming along, the lower limb is still a tad stiff.

You can see from the unbraced pic the bow still has some reflex, it needs a stringer to get it braced and even then it's a bit of a heave!

One pic shows a nice blush of colour round a filled knot.

I've done some more work on it and it's looking good and pulling 60# at 27". By the time I've scraped and sanded out the tool marks it will be 60# at 28" It's then down to shooting it in and testing it at 30" draw.

Monday, 20 March 2017

60# Yew at Low Brace

I've had some problems with the bow trying to bend sideways, mostly on one limb that also has some twist near the tip. Some steaming shifted the limb sideways by 0.4"and removed the twist. I've now got it to a compfortable low brace without it rying to turn inside out! I've had it on the tiller and it;s begining to shape up.
Short video here:- https://youtu.be/BajcQ9vwG7w

To really appreciate the bend one also needs to see the unstung shape, but it's pouring with rain and I can't be bothered to go out and take that pic'!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

60# Rustic Yew

I've been working a stave of spliced billets, it had rather a lot of reflex and a bit of a harsh kink in one limb. I've eased out the kink and little of the reflex with steam and got it a bit more even. It still has plenty of character. I think there is enough meat to get back to 60#, but it was roughed out fairly tight.
A bit more work to even out the limbs and I'll get it up on the tiller again. It's been up a couple of times just to find the stronger limb and to check that I'm in the right ballpark.
Here are a few pics to be getting on with!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Bits and Pieces

I've been pondering the disappointing performance of the flight bow on Sunday so I put it back on the tiller and took force draw measurements... they were very much as before plus or minus the odd decimal of a pound.
I actually took a reading at 27" which was 71.1#
So why the disappointing performance? Presumably the arrows... they didn't seem to go away very cleanly, the fact that I could see them go implies they were slow, but why? They were longer heavier and larger diameter than the previous arrow I'd tried, all of which would slow 'em down also they were possibly weaker spine (I could only use the shafts that I had available).
All in all too many variables to draw firm conclusions other than the bow is still ok (whew!)

I had a comment on the wonky warbow on Facebook from a chap who said he'd like a bow like that, something rustic. I decided to see what staves I have available. I sometimes feel a bit guiltly because I have people sort of waiting for bows, but it's a matter of matching staves to requirement. I have a couple of people after bamboo backed Yew bows and I need heartwood for those rather than staves with good sapwood, I also have a couple of people wanting primitives, not to mention warbows. Hopefully by later in the year I'll have a good bit of seasoned timber, but at the moment I only really have a couple of staves which happen to maybe suit this rustic requirement (60# @28" but going out to 29 1/2". So we'll call that 30" then!).
These staves may or may not be suitable, but I'll get 'em roughed out and see where they go. The reflexed spliced billets, may have too much reflex to go out to 30" draw as the stave isn't particularly long. The other stave may not have enough heartwood, but roughing them down will show what's there. This shows the difference between using odd limbs and billets that have come my way and buying premium staves from Oregon or Canada.
I do like to have the history of a stave, the spliced billets with the reflex are from the same batch of Yew as Wonky Warbow harvested from Newmarket in 2013.

I've also been tarting up the Frankenbow, putting a horn tip overlay onto the tip of the primitive limb. It just needs a new string and I'll shoot it. Can't wait to turn up to an NFAS field shoot and when asked what class I'm shooting, I'll say " Top limb Primitive, bottom limb Longbow!".

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Frankenbow

As Kipling would say we should face triumph and disaster and treat them both the same!

With bow making disaster is inevitable, but it provides opportunity for experiment so I determined to utilise the socket portion of the takedown bow that broke on Sunday (previous post) to produce a novelty bow with an upper limb from a primitive that broke a while back.

First a few words about the takedown, both limbs had survived, it was the male part, the plug that fits into the socket, that had failed. The bamboo on the back had given way at the glue line and broken. This joint had been re-made once before and maybe this weak point was left over from then. The original failure was due to my cutting into the bamboo back where it enters the socket.
The Yew primitive upper limb has been whittled down to form a plug to fit the socket, taking great care to leave the back continuous, this seems to be surving.
I've taken some pics and video showing the work, which are dobtless more interesting than a lengthy explanation.

 I did a video, before the final tiller was finished, I needed to do that to see how it was flexing because the boo backed Yew was a 40# bow but the primitive was a 50#

My target weight for the Frankenbow is 40# at 28 and that's pretty much where it is in the pic on the left. I may do a horn tip overlay on the right limb, and by the time I've scraped and sanded out the tool marks it will be pretty much spot on 40#
Here's the link to the video:-

Monday, 13 March 2017

ILAA Roving Marks Yattendon

Ah, well, a bit of a curate's egg of a day, but most enjoyable.
It was raining hard on the drive down, but we mostly go away with drizzle in the morning which held off in the afternoon. The shoot was over undulating parkland with a good deal of shooting over huge Oaks and Chestnuts in the afternoon.
My day went well for the first two shots, but the bow exploded on the third! I'd taken my light weight takedown bow, which had already had a chequered career, having failed at the joint previously.
Before the shoot I'd shown how it pulled apart and JT was sceptical that it could hold up... "Of course it will, solid as a rock!" I assured him... whoops. Ironically, one of the arrows was a scoring shot.
The limbs have survived, so maybe I can make it into a kids bow or use a limb from a primitive to make a "Frankenstein's Bow". (I've already started on it!)
The only injury was to my pride, which rather lasted through the shoot as I was somewhat anxious about the flight bow and it's untested arrows.
Brian Mooyaart (the organiser and driving force of the ILAA ) most generously lent me his Osage bellied Bickerstaffe bow (60# @28") which served me well through the day.
I tired a bit through the afternoon and my left elbow was giving me a bit of gyp so I sat out a few shots and saved myself for the flight shoot. Again a bit of a curate's egg, the good thing was that neither bow nor arrows exploded, although one arrow broke at the tip having found a stone.
Whilst waiting on the shoot line I was being wound up by one chap, suggesting the bow was too short to meet the criteria for a longbow. I wasn't much amused having had a bow explode on me earlier, but once we'd finished I was chatting to him about flight shooting most amicably. He'd won the flight, but I think I was second, although neither of us made 300 yards (I stand to be corrected on all this if anyone has better info). The flight bow seemed easier to pull than expected, now this could be because I'd been pulling 60# all day and was nicely warmed up, it could be the damp weather or maybe the bow was starting to give up. Only cold hard figures from the tiller will tell the full story.
The good news is that the arrows showed up really well!
So you see it was all a bit up and down, but a roast chicken dinner and a good night's kip has left me nicely loose and refreshed and full of enthusiasm.

I don't do many roving marks shoot, but what I do enjoy is that it's more sociable than field shooting, you are wanding round en masse rather than just a group of 3 or 4.
Many thanks to Brian and Catherine Mooyaart (and their marshalls) for a most enjoyable day out. I don't hold them accountable for the rain!

Here's a link to a short video clip:-

Saturday, 11 March 2017

More Flight Arrows

I've been making some flight arrows for the spliced Yew flight bow.
I've made 'em 27" to allow an inch extra draw from the 26" I've tested it at. Maybe they will be fright arrows rather than flight arrows.
I turned some brass points same as usual, but with a shorter tang, I'm using my "standard" 5/16 arrow shafts that are 35-40 spine, this will maybe horrify some people, but with a shorter arrow and a light point, the dynamic spine should be ok, also bear in mind they will have to flex round the grip of the bow as it has no cut out for the arrow being an English Longbow.
I'm getting fed up with losing flight arrows, so I've bought some Neon Yellow paint which seems pretty bright (Rustoleum Neon Yellow) It seems to cover well and goes nicely onto the wood, it's not a gloss finish and I'll probably put some clear acrylic over it. I rubbed it down lightly with wire wool to get it smoother.
I've only weighed one arrow and it's 281 grain which is about 4 grains per pound of draw weight, I could go a bit lighter, but one of the arrows I've already shot from it was about 220 grain, so I'm not too much heavier considering the arrow is 3" longer.
the balance point is nicely forward of centre being about 40% of the way along the shaft from the front (or 10% forward of centre if you want to look at it that way)

Monday, 6 March 2017

Energy/Work in Flight Bow?

Is it worth drawing the flight bow another 2"?
Here is some of the force/draw data which is pretty linear so there is enough to derive a straight line equation if one can really be bothered, but just taking the first and last figures gives a difference of 49 pounds over 16" of draw which is near as dammit 3 pound per inch.
Draw "  Poundage
10         18
12         24.8
14         30.8
16         36.6
18         43
20         48.9
22         55.8
24         62
26         67

For 24" draw if we assume 5" brace then we have pulled on average 31 pounds for 19 inches (that's 31 being the average of zero to 62 pounds and 19 inches being 24 minus the 5" brace)
That gives 589 pound inches

For 26" draw we get 33.5 x 21 which equals 703.5 pound inches which is a pretty impressive improvement on the 589. it's just over 19%
This really shows why it's so tempting to overdraw a fight bow. I got 199fps at a 24" draw, at the 26" draw I lost the flight arrow! You wouldn't think it possible to loose a flight arrow , but in rough meadow it's easy to see every odd bit of straw but not the arrow. It doesn't help that when you get that elusive clean loose you don't see the arrow go.
If we assume 28" draw doesn't explode and gives 73# that would give 36.5 x 23 which is 839.5 pound inches. Now that is over 42% up on the 24" figure, mind we lose some aerodynamic advantage in the thinner shorter arrow.
the problem is that one can't go back to 26" draw if it explodes at 28" ephemeral things flight bows!

Anyhow the upsot of all this rambling is that I'll make some flight arrows and maybe paint 'em bright yellow in time for an ILAA shoot on Sunday.

As an aside one sometimes gets asked the question, or asks it of oneself. "Is this ok?"
Well the chances are, if you've felt the need to ask, the answer is probably no!
An example, the double patch I did on the warbow last week, left a tiny bit of chrysal showing on one edge fairly about mid way between back and belly where there is little strain... well the chrysal won't propagate into the patch will it? Also I'd forgotten that the warbow belly had been heat treated and I hadn't heat treated the patch, that won't matter will it?
After a day of roving I've seen the bow and sure enough, barely visible, there lies the chrysal exactly where it was before but much smaller! It didn't extend into the first thin edge patch but it was across the big patch
If it's not right... do it again properly.
I've rasped out the big patch extending it lengthways to take in some of a pin knot on the side and to extend deep enough to remove the entire chrysal. There is nothing of the original big patch left and I'm into clean wood, I made a new patch rough fitted, then heat treated. The heat treating makes the patch warp so it needs re-shaping after heat treatment. It's been glued and the wraps taken off today.
It will get finished ready for a shoot at the weekend. It should be ok this time, but rest assured if it's still not right I'll confess!
The point of this is to be honest and analytical with your work, no one does perfect work all the time. Sometimes mistakes and errors can be worked around and will be fine, but sometimes it takes a bit of perseverence.
Remember, the man who never made a mistake, never made anything, and if you really must have a definition of "expert" (I hate the term) I'd say it's the person who can put right their own mistakes.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Stupid Boy!

Yesterday I narrowed the tips of the Spliced Yew Flight Bow and decided to risk it at a 26" draw, so I got my stuff together remembering to put on a belt for my quiver and went to the flight field to see if it was dry enought to shoot.
Excellent, quiver, arrows, wellies, laser range finder, tab, glove, bracer, pencil and paper....
Bugger, I hadn't put the bow in the car!
Of course it's raining today, so I've been out in the garage and taken careful force/draw measurements right back to a rather nervous 26".
I got a good set of data and a linear force draw curve.

Then I got a call from my mate JT to go to the flight field... well things took a turn for the worse...
JT forgot the Wonky Warbow, then we couldn't find the flight arrow I'd shot from from the spliced Yew, while we were looking...
This bloke (who I've never seen before) comes walking towards us, so I go up to chat to him and he asks what we are up to.
I explain and say we have permission from the farmer.
"No you haven't. I'm the farmer"
Every time I try to explain the course of events from over a year ago when I asked for permission he'd interrupt....
"No you didn't, I've never seen you before in my life" or
"No I didn't" etc
Eventually I asked if he could just let me explain my version of events, which was briefly as follows.
I got permission from farmer's wife. A few weeks later the farmer came over to the field to ask who we were (he thought we were travellers casing out the field) and we explained, showed him the bows etc... he said no one had told him about us shooting but it was ok.
Later in the year I left a bottle of scotch at the farm shop for him.

We packed up to leave and JT remined me that the bloke we saw originally was Shane, so I drove over to the farm shop and made enquiries there. The farmer was in the office with a woman, who came out to talk. It transpires that Shane is the man who "looks after the fields" and doesn't have authority to allow us to shoot.
Fair enough, it's the farmers land, we won't shoot, but what really pissed me off was his attitude. I may be all sorts of thing but I'm not a liar.

He wouldn't look me in the eye, and he must have known that it could have been Shane that we'd spoken to, but he wasn't going to let on and would rather imply I was a liar!
Still we had a couple of years occasional shooting for a bottle of scotch, and I'm glad Shane got it not the farmer!
I told the woman that I just wanted to straighten it out so that the farmer didn't think we were taking the piss, and to reassure her that we wouldn't shoot.
The woman said she'd talk to Shane about it... dunno WTF that is going to achieve... maybe if they'd been straight with me when I asked permission in the first place and they'd actually talked to eachother. Anyhow for those who think I'm a grumpy old git, think yourselves lucky you haven't met this farmer!

Enough of that, the frogs are making merry in the pond!

Friday, 3 March 2017

Chrono Results

I improved the backstop for my chrono shots by fixing some snap hooks onto some foam so I can hang it securely onto the wire that supports the backstop netting.
I tried a lighter flight arrow from the Yew flight longbow. It was one of the arrows that made 310 yards from the Osage flight bow. It managed 199.0 fps which then made me wonder, how fast the Osage would shoot?

Well it made 218.5fps, but the arrow went half way through the target and snapped in half! Presumably the foam swung sharply at impact while the arrow was still flexing a bit. Bit of a shame to snap a good flight arrow but good to register a solid reading in excess of 200 fps !

Of course flight shooting isn't all about brute arrow speed, the weight of the arrow and how it flies is important too.
Shame the Yew didn't break the magic 200, maybe an extra inch of draw and some tuning of the bow will get it there. I haven't taken the full draw pic yet, but I can take down the chrono and do that next.

Just added full draw pic, since then I've narrowed the tips to get 'em working a tad more and improve the tiller.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Spliced Yew Flight Bow

Ha! The dreaded "explain more" box has been ticked. Now I'm guessing it's not an interest in expressing cat pee! So I'll ramble on about the flight bow in more detail.
Firstly the billets, these were odd bits that were just too good to throw away but had peculiarities. One had the weird alternating heart/sap wood, this is often visible when you cut a log, this pic shows
what I mean, with areas that are neither clean sapwood nor clean heartwood:-
I maintain continuous heartwood on the belly even if it is relatively thin in parts, similarly I like to have at least some sapwood showing along the entire length of the back. This billet also had some natural reflex (which I left alone) and some deflex which I took out with dry heat (hot air gun and oil) The grain also wandered side to side on this billet and I cut it out following the grain to some extemt, whilst heating to take out the deflex, the tensions in the wood caused some sideways bend which I had to correct with a further session of heat. The advantage of all this heat work is that it toughened up the belly on what had been the weaker limb.
The other billet was mostly sapwood in parts and I had to take care to preserve as much heartwood as possible, by reducing the back rather than the belly, there is a bit of deflex at a knot near mid limb which makes the tiller look weak and a bit ugly.

I've since heat treated it (the right/upper limb) to take out the deflex and stiffen the slightly weak mid/inner limb.(see pics) The pull out the deflex I strapped the limb to the narrow edge of a length of 2x1 timber back downwards (back and sides protected with 3 layers of masking tape) Where I wanted the limb to bend I put three small pieces of hardboard under the back, this forced the tip up and away from the 2x1. by a couple of inches. I clamped side cheeks along the limb and gave it 5 minutes of heat, then strapped the tip hard down onto the 2x1 and heated some more.
I didn't go mad trying to pull out too much bend and made sure I heated over a good long area. This method of just strapping down the ends gives a gentle bend and allows the natural flex of the limb to apply the force evenly rather than trying to force it a one point.
Design wise, I've made the lower working limb as long as the upper to try and keep the strain on the two limbs as even as possible, having said that, the timber in the limbs is so different that the thickess of the limbs is substantially different (I may take some measurements at some point just out of interest)

The general philosophy of this bow was purely distraction and experimentation. If I really wanted to make a good flight bow I'd start with better materials, but it's allowing me to evaluate a short draw ELB and compare it to the long draw heavier weight bows. The distraction element is just to keep me busy and stop me worry about the cat, mind she's much better now anyway and is coming in to watch me work and getting up to mischief.

The pics show it after the heat bend/treatment, you can see the upper limb (right) looks effectively stiffer and much of the deflex has gone, note I haven't tried to bend it hard at that knot.
It's not been back on the tiller yet, hopefully it will have gained a bit of weight which I can scrifice if necessary to get the tiller as good as possible.
I've shot it throgh the chrono' with pretty consistent results, best 187.4fps average of 5 shots 183.2
I was using a bamboo flight arrow 346 grain and 24.75" overall length.
I need to check the draw weight and get a full draw pic, I suspect the weight is prob about 65#.
We hear a lot about 'hand shock' and I think it is often attributed to the wrong thing! First shot through the chrono hurt one of the joints of my left hand like hell, but close examination showed that the corner of back and side was rather pronounced and was right under the knuckle. A few strokes of the rasp to round that edge and the problem evaporated!