J B Prior’s

J B Prior of the Guild of Model Wheelwrights showed this model spoke machine at the Bristol show in 2015. It is an unusual model which shows a development of the wheelwrights craft.

Practical Carriage Building, Vol. 1, published in 1891 includes a description of a spoke tenoning and boring machine by M T Richardon. In it he explains that it is very hard work to tenon spokes by hand and have them all true, “so that when the rim is driven on all will be perfect.”

He adds: “But this machine will do such work easily and well. It is made as follows: First procure a Horizontal Friction Feed Drilling Machine. Then make a horse of plank. Bolt the drill on one end of the horse and cut a slot in the center of the horse from the middle of the end opposite the machine.

“Have a blacksmith make for you a three quarter inch iron rod and ten or twelve inches from the top sink on a collar four to six inches in diameter for the wheel to rest on. Take two pieces of flat iron, one-half inch thick, two by four inches, and make nuts of them to work on the three-quarter inch rod below the stationary collar. Run on one of the nuts and slip the rod down through the slot in the horse.

“Secure the other nut on a board ten or twelve inches in diameter, and run the nut on the rod from the under side until it tightens the rod in a position for the wheel to be operated on. This rod will then be adjustable back and front, up and down, and will hold any wheel that ever comes to be repaired. Put a crank Oil the bottom of the rod to raise and lower the wheel.

“Take any ordinary hollow auger, fit into your machine, place the wheel n the rod, the front down, and raise or lower until the spoke comes in a line with the auger; adjust the friction feed to suit the work, light or heavy (I work from seven-eighths to three-inch spokes on mine), turn the crank, and the auger will feed up to the work, and as smooth and pretty a tenon will be made as any wheel machine can turn out. Fit a table to do your boring also on the same machine.”