Though these days the Beetle is more often remembered fondly as a car of the swinging sixties, it was initally designed in pre WW2 Germany by Ferdinand Porsche, at the request of a Mr Hitler. It needed be a ‘car of the people’; to seat two adults and two children, with space for their luggage, and cruise at 60mph. Importantly, it also needed to be affordable, and could be purchased through a savings card system. By the time the second world war broke out in 1939, only a handful of consumer cars had been produced, and all customer orders had been cancelled as production was switched from civilian vehicles to that of military vehicles. One of these was an amphibious vehicle, delightfully named the ‘Schwimmwagen’.
Our portfolio of weathervane and sign designs has grown over the past few years, based mostly on customer requests for new designs. Fairly early on we created a design based on the iconic Flying Scotsman but it was some time later before the LMS Jubilee was finally added to our design portfolio. Now the design work is done we can also incorporate these into house signs and decorative steel panels made to a customer’s specifications. Hopefully other rail enthusiasts will see these current designs and might want to commission other designs based around other locomotives. We have already done a great design based on a customer’s traction engine too.
The Flying Scotsman is world famous, in part due to its record setting top speed (reaching 100mph in 1934) and probably more significant in terms of actual usage its record for the longest non-stop run for a steam locomotive when it covered 422 miles in Australia. When the Scotsman became key in the rivalry between the LMS West Coast service and the LNER East coast service up to Edinburgh it was not the phenomenal top speed that really mattered, but the ability to run non-stop. This was achieved in part due to a corridor through the tender to allow the crew to change over without stopping. The significance of this is not to be understated, when you consider that during the London-Edinburgh trip the fireman would need to shovel around 7 tons of coal! The other key thing required for a non-stop run is a lot of water, which was often supplied by use of water troughs between the rails and scoops, especially in Britain. The later Flying Scotsman tender could hold 5,000 gallons of water. The LMS Jubilee class locomotives were initially built from 1934 1936 and were designed for mainline passenger work, with 191 built in total. They were a very common sight on the LMS lines right through until they were eventually decommissioned in the 1960’s. Their length of service and indeed numbers does mean the Jubilee class does have a nostalgia factor for a lot of rail enthusiasts, coupled with the fact there are four preserved examples still running on heritage lines in the UK today.
As a great little personal touch, one customer asked if we would be able to add a signal box to their weathervane. We thought about this a little as we did not want to affect the balance and function of the weathervane itself and eventually concluded the best option would be to have the signal box on the letter bars (North, South, East, West) beneath the sail, so the train appears to be flying past it. I think a house sign could look great with a bit of a landscape scene in it featuring both a locomotive and signal box… perhaps a project for the not too distant future.
Our LMS Jubilee weathervane was featured on channel 4′s ‘Shed of the Year’ programme, as one of the entries into the competition was a railway enthusiast with a shed beautifully done up to house his collection of memorabilia, with our weathervane as the finishing touch to his roof. This weathervane can be found on the link below: https://www.blackfoxmetalcraft.co.uk/weathervanes-other-vehicles/lms-jubilee-train.html
A photo sent in showing our Lancaster Bomber weathervane insitu. It was bought as a gift, and is now mounted to the top of a wooden post in the garden. This is a great option for mounting a weathervane when you don’t have a suitable out building. The wooden posts can be picked up from places like Wickes for less than £15, and we can supply a weathervane fixing specifically for this purpose, so it’s a relatively easy way of creating a unique focal point in the centre of your garden, where it can be easily seen and admired.
The iconic Lancaster Bomber is one of the first designs that started our range of military weathervanes. These four engined planes were produced during the second world war, and actually the majority were manufactured in Chadderton, just a couple of miles from our workshop. You can see more of our aeroplane and military vehicles weathervanes in the ‘other vehicles‘ section of the website, and as always we’d love to expand our range so do not charge extra for new designs.
We love this photo of our Labrador and Jack Russell dogs weathervane! We’ve done several variations on this doggy tug of war theme including loads of different breeds. They’re challenging to draw in comparison to designing a flat side profile of a dog, as you want to capture the movement and personality while also keeping the physical characteristics of the breed instantly recognisable. I love how the determination and stubborn nature of the little Terrier comes through here in contrast to the calm and gentle Labrador playmate! A wonderful unique gift for dog lovers that can be personalised to reflect your pets.
For more information on this weathervane, have a look at the link below: https://www.blackfoxmetalcraft.co.uk/weathervanes-dogs/labrador-and-terrier-tug-war.html
We’ve just packaged and sent out this bespoke George and Dragon weathervane – the design was based around an image provided by the customer. This week I’ve been putting the finishing touches on the sail and letter bars, including gilding the NSEW, and various small areas on the sail itself, like the tongue and the tip of the sail in 23.5 carat gold leaf. I’ve also painted St. George’s sheild in the colours of the English flag, some really nice highlights to finish off an already striking design. Any of our weathervanes can be personalised in this way; it’s a bit of extra work but the result is something truly unique that will stand out and be noticed anywhere.
A bespoke witch weathervane we produced at the end of last year. The customer asked us to add their little Terrier dog to the broomstick, as he and their cat had been great friends. Both animals had sadly passed away, and they wanted the weathervane as a reminder of their much loved pets. We’ve produced a number of variations on this popluar weathervane, for example various breeds of dog and even a Rabbit in place of the Cat, and also four witches riding the brromstick instead of one. Some of them have been fairly challenging as this is quite a difficult weathervane to balance, however in this case the dog is directly above the tube so it didn’t affect the balance point at all, making this variation quite straightforward.
A lot of trial and error went into the design of this bespoke swinging sign. It was produced for a new B&B opening in Pembrokeshire, and the concept for the design was given to us by the customer. They had a pretty clear idea in mind of what they wanted which was helpful, though I found it challenging getting the shape of the wings to suit the curve of the circle, while also ensuring that there were enough contact points between the two that the dragon would be properly connected and not a weak point. The hint of rocks and waves at the bottom was an idea we had partly to give the dragons tail something to join to, but also to connect the sign to the location; we felt this would perfectly suit the dramatic, rocky scenery of the stunning Pembrokeshire coast.
The customer’s were delighted, and gave us the following feedback:
“Black Fox Metalcraft captured the essence of our dreams and future in the sign they designed and created for us. Awesome communication, simply wonderful artwork, lovely, genuine people. So proud every time we return home to see this. And such positive comments from all passers by too! Thanks Richard and Jenny for exceeding all our expectations!”
We’ve just had this photo sent in showing a pair of our Art Deco inspired hanging basket brackets, looking fantastic now it’s summer and the plants are flowering! The customer bought a set of four brackets, and asked for them to be powdercoated dark blue, which we did for only a small extra charge. The design was inspired by an Art deco sun motif, it looks like it suits this house perfectly.
We’ve just had this photo of our Swallows weathervane emailed in by the customer. Though she chose to have no letter bars when ordering the weathervane, it’s such a great photo I thought it was worth posting. I love how the bright blue sky makes the birds’ markings stand out, the laser cut design is very distinctively Swallows. One of our more popular weathervanes!
Our John Deere Tractor weathervane stands out really well on the gable end of this barn, and we’re glad to hear our customer is delighted with it. We sent the weathervane out initially with a standard 18” long pole as usual, but when the customer came to mount it, he discovered that this was not quite long enough for the intended location, so contacted us to order another. We were happy to swap the standard pole for a longer one free of charge, as the returned pole can easily be re used for someone else.
We’ve produced a range of tractor weathervane designs now, though many of them from more of a vintage era than this. We’d love to expand our range in this area, so can produce new tractor designs for no extra cost. Check out our current range of Excavator and Tractor weathervanes on the link below – they make a great gift for farmers as they can be personalised to whatever extent your imagination will allow.
A bespoke Tractor weathervane we produced recently began as a Massey Ferguson 135, so a fairly straightforward design to produce there. Our customer then realised how much more unique the gift would be if we were able to include her father driving the Tractor, plus some of his animals. The only issue I have with designs like this is that the more individual components in a design, the smaller everything will have to be in order for the sail to balance, which is vital in the functioning of the weathervane. So we ended up adding a Cow, Sheep, Pig and Chickens, along with a waving driver, making it completely unique and personalised; a great gift for any farmer!