The Wheelwright at work – fitting a tyre.
We have seen Charlie Burnett before on these pages. He was born in Easterton and we know that in 1911 he was a young carpenter in the village. Later, he started to work for the Gye business in market Lavington as a highly skilled carpenter and wheelwright. Let’s look at some photos of the last stage in wheel making, fitting the metal tyre. Without the tyre, the wheel would have a very short life. All pictures were taken in Gye’s Yard, but not necessarily on the same occasion.
Here is Charlie, displaying a cart wheel he has made, together with a tyre about to be fitted. The tyre has deliberately been made too small by the blacksmith (Charlie’s brother Bert in this case). This was done so that when it is, eventually, in place it holds all the wooden parts of the wheel together.
To get ready, the wooden wheel is clamped onto a base and nearby, in the yard, a fire is built from scrap wood. The tyre is built into the fire so that the metal gets red hot and expands.
As quickly as possible the tyre is transferred onto the wheel and is hammered into place. Of course, the wood begins to burn on contact with the red hot metal.
But the lads are there, ready to pour water on the wheel to stop the burning and to cool the tyre. The cooling metal contracts and shrinks onto the wheel, making it a solidly fixed together whole.
There is still time for some final finishing off.
Charlie Burnett is a hard man to please, but he looks happy with this tyred wheel.