Introduction to Wheelwrighting
This one-week wheelwright course teaches the basics of repairing and
rebuilding wooden wheels. The class is taught by two wheelwrights, Roy
Musgrove of Saskatoon, and Doran Degenstein of Lethbridge, Alberta.
It has attracted participants from across Canada, including other museum employees and horse-owners interested in restoring heritage horse-drawn equipment.
October 14-21, 2016.
For more information,
contact 306-934-1400 or email us.
Refurbish your Wooden Buggy and Wagon Wheels at the Western Development Museum
If you’re a wagon trekker or pleasure driver with wooden wheels in need of
repair, the WDM Curatorial Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada is the
place for you.
One week every year, the WDM offers the training course An Introduction to Wheelwrighting. For seven days, participants break down old wheels and assemble new ones. Spokes and felloes are not made at the course. Participants buy their own ready-made parts. Careful measurements and consultation with suppliers ensure that parts are a perfect fit.
Two instructors, Roy Musgrove of Saskatoon and Doran Degenstein of Lethbridge, Alberta teach the skills needed for buggy and wagon wheel repair. Both men have hundreds of wheels to their credit.
Out With the Old, In With the New
Old wheels are taken apart and the hubs examined for soundness. With the hub on a wheelstand, set up in an indoor heated museum shop, participants are ready to begin.
First you take apart the old wheel.
All it takes is a little muscle.
Check the hub for soundness
First thing is to install new spokes. Spokes take the pressure of the wheel, so are made of good straight-grained wood. Participants use a spoke pointer and a hollow auger to shape the tenons of each spoke.
Install new spokes.
Measure, cut, and point the spokes with a pointer.
Cut the tenons.
Two new felloes make up a new rim. Spoke positions are accurately marked, holes drilled and spokes inserted into the felloe with the help of a spoke dog.
A low carbon common steel is used for the tire on wooden wheels. Measure
twice and cut once. A rolling machine shapes the tire into a hoop-shape and
the tire is welded. Then the tire is heated. Hot metal expands and slips
easily over the wooden wheel. Plunged into water, the metal shrinks, holding
the wheel tight in the process.
Modern Tools do Old Tasks
Electric tools are used at the Western Development Museum. For instance, a traditional spoke pointer is attached to a modern electric drill. For serious students, wheelwright tools are imported by the WDM for sale to participants.
Wheels Rebuilt, Friendships Forged
Graduates of the WDM Wheelwrighting course make life-long friends with
mutual interests. They keep connected through The Traveller, the magazine of
the Western Canadian Wheelwright Association, www.wcwa.ca and by returning
to retake the course. Most classes contain at least one former graduate,
returning for the camaraderie that the class offers.