Medieval & renaissance era woodcuts and manuscript illustrations of blacksmiths at work, often show a 'pair of bellows' supplying air to each fire in the blacksmith's hearth. Some woodcuts showing both bellows each having its own separate nozzle or tuyere inserted beneath the fire.
A 'pair of bellows' consists of 2 single stage (single acting) bellows mounted side by side to supply air to the fire, and the bellows are mounted together so as to allow both bellows to be operated with a single lever. One bellows ingesting fresh air while its partner is exhaling air into the blacksmith's fire.
A rocker shaft or pole mounted between the bellows allows the pivoting action that lifts one bellows while lowering the other. The rocker shaft is mounted loosely at each of its ends so that it may rotate freely within its bearings. The operating lever is fastened securely to the rocker shaft. In many illustrations the operating lever is long enough to be within reach of the blacksmith while he is standing beside his forge hearth. There are also some illustrations and woodcuts showing the operating lever to be pulled by apprentices or helpers that are not near the forge hearth, but most illustrations show a long lever handle within reach of the blacksmith near the forge.
A cross arm is fastened securely to the rocker shaft so that each of its ends is located above the rear of each bellows. If the operating lever is placed within reach of the blacksmith near the fire as found most often in old woodcuts, then the other end of the operating lever will often be fastened to the far end of the cross arm also.
The rocker shaft is mounted loosely at its ends so that it may rotate freely within its bearings. And as the smith raises and lowers the operating lever, the ends of the cross arm will in turn, move up and down, raising one bellows while lowering the other.
Page updated July 24, 2005
This page is in the early stages of construction and may have a large number of errors.
Page created March 5th, 2005.