Day 8

Today started as the days before with a stroll through the town. There are still so many sights to take in and places to visit, I am easily side tracked into conversations with the various staff I pass en route to the Wheelwrights shop. The fact that most of the historic trades staff know of my project is great, and they have all been so welcoming and supportive, every trade shop in the town is fascinating and I only wish I had more time to spend at Colonial Williamsburg.

My initial plan was to stay until yesterday (Tuesday) but I felt there was so much more to see! thankfully the Wheelwrights here are great hosts and are very happy to put up with me for a few more days, although my schedule will have very little room for error if I am to make it across to Washington state on time.

Today’s task was to strake some wheels… here comes the technical talk… strakes clamped

Straking is the process of fitting Iron strakes to the wheel, the strakes are shaped to fit the outside profile of the wooden felloes (curved outer sections of the wheel). Generally a wheel has one felloe per two spokes and one strake per felloe i.e. a twelve spoked wheel would have 6 felloes and 6 strakes. The strake is heated up and nailed to the felloe with large strake nails then cooled quickly causing it to shrink and tighten the wheel. each strake is placed across the joints in the felloes allowing them to pull the joints up tight as they shrink.

Phill and Andy straking


As with hooping wheels I find that straking is an exciting task, almost like the adrenaline sport of Wheelwrighting, it has to be done fast and with absolute accuracy…

Phill and Andy nailing strakes


I was honoured to be a nailer, the more exciting part of the job, albeit amidst acrid smoke and steam! nothing I can’t handle but it still makes it hard not to screw your face up…

Straking crew

It was great fun to work with a group of talented tradesmen, we had quite a crew assembled for the straking, all working together like clockwork…

straked wheel

To celebrate a successful straking we went out for a beer, and essential part of the job in my opinion and a great chance to unwind and chat with my peers.

With there being so few Wheelwrights left nowadays it is great for me to be able to meet and discuss my work with people of a similar age and attitude to the trade, especially over a few beers! … and it may have turned into a late one! hopefully tomorrow won’t require noisy tasks of any kind…


Thanks to Fred Blystone for the straking pictures.