Somehow or other, I imagined that I had put this information up on my blog before this but as I was writing out my other post of today about blacksmith vises and my future mobile blacksmith forge, I realized that I had not done it yet.
Ok – some background.
The problem – I need some space to store things that should not be in the carport, under the house or inside my shop. Wood shed kinds of things like gasoline and other flammables, wood cutter stuff etc… but I don’t have a good place to build a shed. Tom McGillvray always says I spend far too much time looking for the end or the edge of the internet – meaning I find a lot of offbeat things. I was looking at arctic sledges one night when I realized that I don’t have to have a building – that is attached to the ground – I just need something that will shelter things and having it mobile would be useful. Why not build a shed on top of a movable platform?
Here are some pictures I thought were interesting and useful. I bought a LOT of reprints of old books on wagon, sleigh and carriage designs – which are interesting but not super useful because they all just assume that the blacksmith will take care of all the dirty mechanical bits and never actually describe how to design/build those parts! I actually found someone in Canada who makes modern sledges out of iron and oak and sent them an email – but they never responded.
Then I had a further thoughts (in case you are wondering – this has been percolating in my head for something like the last 2 years). A sledge is great, has very good ground pressure dispersion – but it is not very easy to move unless there is snow on the ground or you have a big tractor/team of horses. So I started thinking about wheels – iron wheels so you don’t have to worry about keeping tires pumped up. This led me to Shepherd’s Huts after some more google work – some nice shots below.
Shepherd’s Huts are a European thing but mostly seem to be British – they are huts for shepherds (duh) that get moved around and have basic amenities like a wood stove, a couple of beds and furniture – a place for the shepherds to be without camping on the ground. My not so brilliant brainwave was that this would work as a true shed as well. The key bits are the frame and the the mechanical stuff like the steerable front wheels and the wheels/axles themselves. Turns out you absolutely cannot find cast iron wheels in North America except as mixed odd lot eBay items. But there is quite an industry in the UK that makes Shepherd’s Huts for garden use and what not. I found a few that also will sell you the piece parts – in particular Blackdown Shepherd’s Huts and Tithe Barn Shepherds Huts
I ended up liking the piece parts that Tithe Barn offers the best and I contacted them. They were SUPER nice and helpful both via email and over the phone. They work closely with a local blacksmith and also a small family owned casting foundry. When I contacted them, they said shipping to the US was not a problem and they have been getting more and more international orders lately. They suggested that I buy TWO because the neighbors will want one when I get it finished – I laughed because I had already decided to buy two – one for a storage shed, the other as a mobile blacksmith shop (another thing that needs outdoor space instead of being inside my workshop). I figured that if I was going to have a pallet of iron bits shipped from the UK to the US, I might as well pay for the shipping only once and pulled the trigger on wheels for two huts, their associated matched axle bits and plans for their steel chassis (which I will either weld up or contract out (hopefully contract out since if I do it, it will take me forever!). Either Leo Cavalier’s shop or Alan Carpenito (who has moved out of town but is an incredible welder)
I think what I am going to do is to have the storage shed built with one or more ramps so I can move in mowing equipment/snow blowers etc… The blacksmith forge will have a very robust frame with sides that either swing away or up for rain protection. My Dad and I are looking on I-Beam structures and hoists – so you can easily offload heavy things like anvils to the ground and then back up into the hut when it is not in use?
Design thoughts are not complete – so good fun is being had chatting about it all.