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Trial Power plant: Alldays & Onions Air Hammer

So the hammer is all together again. But does it work? Will it ever work? A suitable electric motor is going to cost a bundle. I can get an old Continental engine if I drive 250 miles to get it and then fix whatever is wrong with it. The Acadia single-banger needs a trailer, work, parts and a clutch pulley that I haven't found yet. I need some way to try the hammer out on the cheap before I front the bucks and time to build something reliable.

Hey! What about Fran's old Chevy Cavalier that I towed home for a parts car? Yo. So we dragged it up to the shop and my son David groveled over it for a couple of days and Shazzam! Power plant! Chevy Cavalier ramped up to power the A&O hammer Friction drive. Not for the faint of heart or the humor impaired. The idler pulley is made from the rear axle spindles of another Cavalier and the outer parts of two patent wagon wheel hubs welded together. (I think they came from the Port Medway, NS fire wagon, the kind that the firemen drag/push to the fire, that was retired ca. 70 years ago and was stored in a building that later burned down.) The idler rests on a piece of heavy angle bolted to the hammer body where the original 15HP motor was attached and is clamped there by the same bolts that attach the ramp.

Car tire resting on idler and hammer drive gear The Chevy kinda wants to wander and requires the driver to hang his head out the window to watch the tire. It takes quite a huff to start the hammer, about like starting on a hill with a heavy trailer. Even after starting, the car seems to be working pretty hard and it's a bit tricky to keep the revs just about right. And we didn't realize that the electric fan was kaput so we boiled the rad a couple of times.

Well, the hammer does work, seems to be reasonably controlable, hits really hard. I love it already. I think I'll replace the tire with one of those horrible, hard, undersized spares —— the regular tire tends to chafe the sidewall on the idler and tries to climb off —— and try it again but the next project is to find a less hazardous power rig. It won't help the forging any if the smith falls over in a paroxysm of giggles every couple of minutes, not to mention that the Chev's muffler is still down in the field somewhere.

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Mike Spencer — Updated: Sun Aug 24 2003