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Thread: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

  1. #1
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    Default Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    I've signed up for the bronze casting class with Sam Johnson the weekend of November 2nd at Mystic Seaport. Has anyone else taken his class and if so, where have you gone from there?

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    I took his class two years ago at the Center for Wooden Boats. He'll give you a pretty good introduction to bronze casting. During the course of the weekend, you'll get your hands dirty, do a few pours, and leave with an item or four or your making.

    Sam is a good teacher. He's also put together a small book that he'll probably give you as part of the class. It will teach you how to set up your own home forge, among other things.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Quote Originally Posted by Yeadon View Post
    I took his class two years ago at the Center for Wooden Boats. He'll give you a pretty good introduction to bronze casting. During the course of the weekend, you'll get your hands dirty, do a few pours, and leave with an item or four or your making.

    Sam is a good teacher. He's also put together a small book that he'll probably give you as part of the class. It will teach you how to set up your own home forge, among other things.
    My hands will be dirty when I arrive, no doubt.

    He's sending me the book so I can learn everything before I get there. Probably make a few patterns to bring and I'd like to get started on a forge, at least start rounding up the materials.

    Did you follow up with any projects, make a forge?

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    I was really tempted to come home and build a small propane forge in the backyard, and after taking Sam's class I would have been totally capable of doing it. He's pretty thorough. But I was already up to my nose in building my peapod, and needed to stay focused on the job. (Me and bronze casting would be a slippery slope ...)

    However, now that the boat is done, and I'm sitting here typing about it, this conversation makes me want to go out into the backyard and build a bronze casting forge. Post haste.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Sam's an old friend of mine, and I took his class at the WoodenBoat School last summer. He brings in a number of patterns for useful things (belaying pins, cleats, chocks, and the like). He was staying with me, as he does when he comes to Brooklin, and with a little pre-class instruction, I was able to make a casting pattern ahead of time. I also made more patterns in the evenings after class.

    I admit I got pretty wigged out -- I wanted to get every piece of bronze cast for my boat that week. By Wednesday, I gave up on that idea, and decided to just enjoy the class and say that the boat would have to wait another year. Once I did that, I relaxed and somehow it all got done: two rudder pintles, two gudgeons, two bow chocks, two stern chocks, two belaying pins, and quite a lovely mast gate, all of my own design (except the belaying pins, for which I used one of his patterns).

    I can't say enough about Sam's class. He's a fine teacher, and you'll learn a lot. The rate of production -- and your confidence in getting stuff done -- increases rapidly by the end of the week. His emphasis is on amateurs and relatively small castings, so you come away with enough information to go ahead and put together your own setup if you want to do that.

    I talked to Sam about maybe doing back-to-back courses sometime, one week in patternmaking and one week in casting. It would be a nice combination. Maybe one of these days!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    I took Sam's workshop at Mystic last fall, and came away with a bunch of stuff, including a rather complicated set of outrigger oarlocks (which I still haven't finished cleaning up...). I also came away knowing I could do this at home, and have my furnace about half done (despite all the distractions in my life right now).

    I felt that Sam was a very effective instructor, and we are bringing him in to the ABM to do a weekend class this fall, too.

    Dan
    __________
    Daniel Miller
    Editor, Wooden Canoe journal of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association
    Editor, Shavings of the Early American Industries Association
    Thousand Islands, New York

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    I'm taking one at CWB this month. I know exactly what I want to cast!

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Quote Originally Posted by Yeadon View Post
    Ithis conversation makes me want to go out into the backyard and build a bronze casting forge. Post haste.
    Go on then. Get on with it.

    And don't forget to post pictures.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Quote Originally Posted by Lew Barrett View Post
    I'm taking one at CWB this month. I know exactly what I want to cast!
    We'll all be looking forward to your report, Lew. And pictures of the mystery casting. C'mon, what is it?

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Tom and Dan, thanks, the information is most encouraging. Is there any chance of either of you posting some pictures of the castings and patterns? Are all the patterns one piece or do you get into split patterns and cores during the class. Unfortunately, the Mystic class is only a weekend so that might be a lot of ground to cover in two days.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Some of the patterns are split, some are all one piece. Depends on their shape ... from what I can remember.

    It's a lot to cover, but after the first day you'll have a pretty good handle on it. My class was a Saturday and Sunday. A pair of nine or ten hour days.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Oh, no mystery, Jim. Two items. One is a sort of trim ring that is part of my ground tackle rig that is the top piece of my hawse pipe rig. The one I have is cracked, but will be adequate as a pattern. The other is the mate to an oarlock for the Hvalsoe. I already have one, but I hear you need two oarlocks or else you look silly when you use the boat to go places.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Photos???
    Pagie

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    I took the class a couple of years ago.. Worth every penny. I plan on making a furnace this summer so I can make a custom bow fitting for my boat.

    You will learn the definition of pounding sand though

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ledger View Post
    Tom and Dan, thanks, the information is most encouraging. Is there any chance of either of you posting some pictures of the castings and patterns? Are all the patterns one piece or do you get into split patterns and cores during the class. Unfortunately, the Mystic class is only a weekend so that might be a lot of ground to cover in two days.
    You'll learn most of what you need to know about casting in the weekend class. I asked Sam how that differs from the weeklong cast, and it seems mostly the longer class allows students to cast more objects, and maybe explore patternmaking a little more.

    Sam provides a bunch of choices for casting, some single-piece patterns, split-piece patterns, medallions, originals to use as patterns and so on. Or bring your own example. We covered cores as well. The weekend class truly gives an excellent introduction to the subject, enough that you'll be off and running when you get home. Then you'll spend the rest of your life mastering it...
    __________
    Daniel Miller
    Editor, Wooden Canoe journal of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association
    Editor, Shavings of the Early American Industries Association
    Thousand Islands, New York

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Sam lives three or four blocks from our house and is the busiest retired guy I have ever met. A bit of the mad scientist, absent minded professor and warrior philosopher all in one.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    He must be. He's all over the country.

    Next time you see him, ask if he sent my book yet.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    That will be next weekend, and I will Jim.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    I've never posted photos to this forum before, but I have a new camera and it may be a good learning experience to try. I'll see if I can do that soon. I'll try the patterns, too, but it is complicated to make patterns. I'd go with some of Sam's numerous examples, which pretty much cover the range of principles.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Here are a couple shots from my turn in the class...



    Three-piece outrigger oarlocks (mounting plates, outrigger arms and horns) and a rammer for ramming sand molds. Lots of cleanup yet to do. Not in the photo a nice 5" medallion proclaiming "Wooden Boats Proudly Made Here".



    Shot of the furnace at temp.

    My goal is to set up shop to cast sailing canoe bits and pieces.

    Dan
    __________
    Daniel Miller
    Editor, Wooden Canoe journal of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association
    Editor, Shavings of the Early American Industries Association
    Thousand Islands, New York

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Ok, here's a question for those of you who've taken Sam's class. For someone who has done sand casting in aluminum, does his class vary greatly in skills from something like that or is it just more of a "master's" class in pattern making/sand casting/furnace building?

    We did some basic pattern making and made sand molds, did the casting and finishing, but we didn't do much with the furnace itself other than heat and pour metal...

    Casting is a heck of a lot of fun, really.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Miller View Post
    Here are a couple shots from my turn in the class...


    Dan
    Ah Ha! The old oar lock cast! I guess everyone needs two! I bet it's a popular item.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    PUTS ME IN MIND of when my boat went down in hurricane Donna
    (1950) and one problem in salvaging her was creating a replacement for a broken stemhead fitting. I made a wood replecca, brought it to a bronze foundry, and the replacement even duplicated some of the pattern of the wood grain. It made me feel pretty good to see what can be done.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    I think I finally have the photo thing worked out.

    These casting patterns were not part of the class. I made them at home before the class started and in the evenings. Here's a photo of casting patterns for a mast gate, pintle, two different gudgeons, and chocks:


    Port bow chock, installed:

    Mast gate, installed, with two cast belaying pins holding it to bronze flatbar let into the mast partners. The pins were made to patterns Sam already had:

    Lower rudder pintle, custom design:


    Upper rudder pintle, same as lower, but with pin lopped off a bit. I didn't show the gudgeons because they're covered with masking tape right at the moment:
    Last edited by Tom Jackson; 05-13-2008 at 09:00 AM.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Thanks for posting that, Tom. i'm quite interested in the pintle and gudgeon patterns as I want to make some for the catboat. I see that there's a solid infill between the arms of the patterns of these parts. Could you tell me why it's done like that and how it works in the sand? And is the pin cast with the pintle or is it bored in afterward and a machined pin fitted?

    The pieces look excellent, by the way, nice looking rudder, good fitting job, nice rivets.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    heyo, my dad is looking to take the course..he has never casted before but it a mechanical engineer with much hands on experience doing all sorts of crazy stuff. he keeps thinking adn thinking about it...does anyone have an email or # for sam johnson (PM me?) that i could pass along so he can ask Qs and get all his worries set aside? i know he'd appreciate it, he has been looking for a casting class for a while now
    "It doesn't matter what it says on your tombstone, having one means you're dead." -Methos
    "May you have fair winds and following seas"

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    When I took his class, Sam gave everybody his card. Here it is.

    He would benefit from having a very simple website.

    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Quite irrelevant to this thread , but here's a photo of my furnace .A bit bigger than you may need but a good design I think (mine )


    Open


    Closed


    My foundry building .
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterSibley View Post
    Quite irrelevant to this thread , but here's a photo of my furnace .
    Pretty relevant, actually, and of great interest to many here. I recall some pictures you once posted of some very interesting castings. Door handles, I believe.

    I have plans for a furnace similar in features to yours but I'l probably start with something much simpler to learn the basic techniques. Do you have any pictures of the patterns you use? I find myself looking at objects and wondering how the patterns were made and placed in the sand, or, if I wanted to make a certain shape, how should the pattern be made. The patterns themselves are quite instructive.

    Thanks, Peter.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Jim ,I'll take some photos and post them .I have quite a few patterns of various jobs ...quite frankly patternmaking is fascinating .Working out how to make a complicated pattern is a real puzzle ! Something that is hard to disengage from .

    The furnace is a good design (says I modestly ..) ,it's good to be able to get as far from the thing as possible sometimes and with that arm /lever you stand 6 feet from the hot stuff ,lock it open and gently remove the crucible .The lid also lifts up and swings to one side for charging with metal .There is a primitive exhaust fan directly over the furnace to get rid of metalic fumes .
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
    Grateful Dead

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Sam Johnson's e-mail address is:
    sjboats@gmail.com

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    The class was cancelled because "we" had inadvertantly scheduled it for this weekend, which clearly wasn't within the spirit of Memorial Day. Next weekend, then.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Don't forget to take plenty of pictures, Lew.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    I will post at greater length on Thursday. I ran out of posting time (for other than fast snide remarks) the last few days, and will be leaving in an hour for a couple of days again. But lets start at the end and go back to the beginning.

    First, as many know, Sam will be giving his class at the show in Mystic. I believe he's staying at the Whaler Inn. The quick story is that the sessions were a blast. If you've never done this before (and I hadn't) and bring your own stuff or needs to cast, make sure they are relatively simple first projects. A couple of students showed up with items that needed a lot of work, were difficult to part, or were just so delicate and complex that they couldn't be done in the alloted time. Out of sheer good luck, we arrived with stupid, dumb stuff to pattern that happened to be what we needed.
    Something I needed was an oarlock (I have three and needed a fourth) for which I used an original as a pattern. I also needed a bow eye for my Hvalsoe project. Sam happened to have a belaying pin pattern and I decided to use one of those as well for use as my chain stopper for my newly restored windlass. Lindy cast the bottle opener (actually a complex piece with a lot of detail to clean up) and a beaver paper/chart weight. Here's the photo of the finished castings, all serviceable and ready to use.



    A bit of irony: On the way home I stopped by the local chandlery I frequent, and found a peg loaded with NOS Wilcox Crittendon oarlocks priced at $6 each. Exactly my needed pattern! All nice and shiny! I hadn't seen them there before, but hey....what fun would it have been to buy them? I made mine myself, and it only took all day!

    More later, including the rest of the photos and what you can expect when you take the class, which you should! Sam is a great teacher; energetic, generous, knowledgable and entertaining.



    Here's the shop and a couple of my classmates. Sam on the left, Slim Gardner center and Steve Moen, right. All three guys are tremendous craftsmen. Slim owns the incredible 88 foot "Deerleap" and Steve and his wife Yo have the LUDDCO Dreamboat, Orba. Steve is a master furniture maker, which he does for a living.


    OK, More later!
    Last edited by Lew Barrett; 06-03-2008 at 10:57 AM.

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    Default Re: Sam Johnson Bronze Casting Class

    Before I leave, the first thing Sam said to me Saturday morning as we arrived at the shop was "Jim Ledger told me to say hello to you."
    I was blown over, but Sam knows everyone I know, plus a bunch of people I don't, so I shouldn't have been surprised. Jim, your manual is on the way. I bought one too! But I won't be casting anymore oarlocks; casting will be reserved for stuff I can't easily buy. If you don't learn anything else, you will learn that a nicely polished new one off custom bronze casting takes time and focus to produce. If you can buy it off the shelf, you're wise to do so for most regular items. But as we have wooden boats, nobody who reads this will likely take my advice!

    Oh, and pattern making is really the art. The rest is making sure you don't get burned or have an explosion!

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