When a customer phoned the other day to order an Austin 7 Weathervane, I realised two things, firstly we have now done four different Austin 7 designs and secondly only one of them was on the website! Fortunately for that customer he was looking for a weathervane based on an Austin 7 Chummy (as that is what his father owns), which happened to be the one already on the website.
As often happens with offering bespoke design work, once we listed a car on the website (for a weathervane or a sign for that matter), enthusiasts will find it but want their specific model, so in this case our original ‘Austin 7′ design was actually more specifically the Austin 7 Chummy, this has since been found by owners of an Austin 7 Ruby and Austin 7 Top Hat, and so our design portfolio expands down that tangent. It’s an avenue we are more than happy to go down as pre-war vintage cars really suit being weathervane sails, I guess the 1930’s was an era when weathervanes were quite popular. That reminds me of another Austin 7 windvane we did a couple of years ago, which was done in a pre-war style, so slightly simpler and bolder than our normal work, with a little less detail and a playful cartoon like nature, with a Policeman in correct era attire stopping a (we assume) speeding Austin 7!
The customer kindly sent us this photo of the finished weathervane on top of his period workshop. Given the Austin 7 was in production for such a long time (1922-1939) there were a lot of model variants, so it is more than likely at some point our collection of Austin 7 designs might even expand further! Though they fall in to general categories of the early open tourers (known as Chummys), the box saloons (1929-1934) and finally the Ruby (from 1934-1939) there were a lot build under licence by different manufacturers and with around 300,000 built there are also quite a lot left.
We’ve already touched on the Chummy being an early open tourer but the Ruby design we created is at the other end of the Austin 7 scale, being the later saloon model. For the Ruby the design was ‘modernised’ (all things are relative!), one of the most noticeable differences is the exposed radiator on the earlier cars is built in to the bodywork at the front. The early ‘Chummy’ cars sit on a shorter chassis, while by the time the Ruby came into production the chassis had another redesign with flatter rear springs and sat lower to the ground.
The final variant we have done a design for is the ‘Top Hat’ which as the name suggests can be driven while wearing a top hat! I’m not sure of the numbers produced but it built with a fairly high roofline on the saloon chassis (1929-34) and needless to say merits its own profile for weathervane and sign purposes as it is very distinctive in silhouette form.
Another great customer photo received last week showing a steam train weathervane; the design is based on the LMS Jubilee model. The contrast between the matt black powder coat and the cloudy sky really makes the laser cut train stand out. We can produce a weathervane design based on any model of steam train; a fantastic gift for any enthusiast!
We’ve just had these excellent photos emailed in by a customer showing their bespoke hanging sign in situ outside their home in Cheshire. We wrote about the design of this swinging sign on a previous blog post (click here to read it) as it features the family’s pet pygmy goats and Labrador. We absolutely love the photos, especially with the colour of the sunset in the background. The design of the bracket was also a custom creation, as it needed to mount to the top of a large gate post, and be strong enough to support the weight of the chunky sign while also having a traditional look and feel to it. We’re really happy with how this project has turned out, as is the customer!
We’ve just received some photos back from a customer who made their own weathervane as a gift for their in-laws. We were happy to offer advice on some of the key areas of weathervane manufacture, critically the balancing of the sail, in order for it to function correctly.
They had settled on a Labrador design and got in touch as they felt our Labrador weathervane silhouette was just right. Though we do not supply any of our designs to other manufacturers, as we would have no control over quality and it could damage our reputation, it is always nice to help out DIYers and a weathervane does make a great metalwork project. In this case the customer was an experienced welder and, being well aware of the importance of rust protection (especially as the finished weathervane was going to be in Cornwall) had already made plans to get the weathervane powder coated, with a zinc primer underneath for additional protection, so clearly the weathervane was always going to be made to a high standard. All our exterior metalwork is zinc electro-plated and powder coated, so this finish is fairly similar in durability.
I think this photo of the finished weathervane speaks for itself, it looks just right on the building and hopefully will continue to be a feature on the horizon for many years to come.
A great photo of our Fox weathervane covered in snow, following the very wintery weather we had last week! This is a miniature size weathervane and sits on top of a hexagonal obelisk, a unique and beautiful feature for any garden. We actually produced this piece almost seven years ago, and it still looks as good as it did back then, proving the quality of the finish we use. A fantastic gift for a gardener, as it can be so easily personalised with a bespoke weathervane design to reflect the recipient’s interests.
A bespoke weathervane design we produced at the end of 2017 – we’ve just rediscovered it now while looking through customer photos sent in during 2018 in order to choose the winner of last years’ photo competition. We love how the deep blue sky makes the weathervane stand out! It’s also taken from a great angle, as all the letters are the right way round and the sail has spun so we have a very clear view of the design.
In terms of creating this weathervane design, the main difficulty was the Kingfisher. The customer comissioned this bespoke weathervane for her husband, who is a wildlife photographer. She wanted the bird to be in the image as well as the man taking the photograph, which was tricky because of the difference in size; if the bird was actually to scale it would have been so tiny you wouldn’t have seen it when mounted on the roof. By making the Kingfisher design part of the tail & therefore a seperate component to the photographer profile, we felt he seems as though he is in the foreground, rather than just being a disproportionately large bird, which I think was a risk if we’d made him part of the main laser cut design. A fantastic personalised gift for a wildlife and photography enthusiast!
A Basset Hound weathervane we designed and manufactured at the end of last year. As our designs go, this one was reasonably straightforward as the dog is standing in side profile, though at the research stage we needed to look into specifics of the breed standard to make sure everything was exactly right. After showing the design to the customer we made a few tweaks to get the angle of the tail correct, but other than that we were ready to go with it. This bespoke weathervane was produced for a customer who’s Basset Hound had recently passed away; it’s nice that he is now looking down on the family and makes a lovely tribute to a much missed pet.
We designed and produced loads of bespoke weathervanes in the run up to Christmas, so thought we’d write a post showing the process involved in welding the sail. Firstly the bar is cut to size for the weathervane sail and cleaned with the angle grinder, removing any mildscale and dirt that could contaminate the weld. The customer had chosen the Celtic arrow, so this is clamped to the bench along with the bar, making sure they are straight and in line with each other.Once TIG welded on all four sides, the arrow and bar can be left to cool, which in our freezing cold workshop does not take long in December! The Irish Terrier profile is cleaned to remove any burrs from the cutting process, as is the top of the bar where the profile will be welded. This is then clamped tightly to the bench to ensure it is straight; if it’s leaning to one side the wind will catch the sail & just spin continuously rather than pointing into the wind as it should. Both sides of this are TIG welded.Once cool, we need to find the balance point on the weathervane sail. Because the arrow is cut from much thicker steel than the Irish Terrier profile, this point is usually somewhere in the centre, though it’s important to be precise or the weathervane won’t function correctly. This point is marked with chalk, and the mildscale cleaned off.A length of tube is now cut to size, and both ends cleaned to remove burrs and any grease or dirt, and finally a light sanding smooths off any grinder marks.The tube needs to be welded on at exactly 90 degrees, so we use a magnet to hold this angle while it is tacked in place. A set square is used to keep checking the angle as metal has an annoying tendency to pull one way or another as it heats and cools! It also needs to be straight in the other direction so it’s in line with the Irish Terrier profile, otherwise it would lean to one side when mounted & therefore not catch the wind properly. The photo below shows the weathervane sail welded completely, and ready to be zinc electroplated & powdercoated with whichever fixing and letter bar option the customer has chosen.
So here we have another of our new weathervanes created in the run up to Christmas, we cannot wait to get them all loaded up on to the website and for general sale. This bespoke weathervane design was done for a customer with a 1969 Lotus Elan +2, the relatively rare variant with an additional 2 smaller seats in the back, apparently there are approximately 1200 still on the road today, though this figure is somewhat vague and unsubstantiated! Hopefully we will be able to add the standard 2 seater Elan to our portfolio soon too. The customer has kindly sent in a photo of the weathervane in situ, set off with gold leaf on the cardinal points, I think the photo speaks for itself.
The challenge for us in terms of creating a silhouette to use on a sign or weathervane was capturing the essence of a car with such clean lines. Fortunately we were able to find a good selection of images of the car to work from (including a couple provided by the customer), in order to make sure we got the shape just right and didn’t miss out on any critical detail. It was a harder design to do than some older vintage cars, just due to the simplicity and smooth curves of the fibreglass body work but we are very happy with the end result.
The design brief for the car itself was to create a larger more luxurious version of the 2 seater Elan, capable of transporting 2 adults, 2 children and their luggage 1000 miles in comfort. While this made for a heavier car than the original 2 seater design Lotus still stuck to the classic Chapman design ethos of ‘add lightness’, weighing in at less than 900kg. This combined with the fibreglass body adding rigidity to the steel chassis means the Elan plus 2 maintained much of the remarkable handling characteristics which made its smaller stablemate a legendary car to drive. Not surprisingly Lotus stuck to this construction formula for many years.
Last week we made this uncomplicated yet beautiful obelisk. It consists of three uprights made from 12mm pole, tapered and forged with scrolled ends. The triangular structure is joined by lengths of 8mm square bar, with a central twist. The brief was for it to be ‘traditional looking but not too fussy’, which I think we’ve definitely acheived here. As usual it is zinc electroplated to protect against rust, and finished in a matt black powder coat, so is well prepared to withstand the worst of the North West weather! I look forward to seeing some photos of this next summer when the Clamatis has grown around it.