Re-steaming top bows?

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MWalker
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Re-steaming top bows?

Post by MWalker » Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:13 pm

I have a set of 15-16 top bows I got from Jim Finney many years ago, and it's now time to put them to use. They have been hanging from the trusses in my shop for about 15 years, and the bends have relaxed. The ends now splay out about 2"-3" from perpendicular. I have steam-bent wood in a former life when I built several Windsor chairs, so I know how to do that. The problem I see is how to apply the steam to just the corners which I want to affect. I'd need to enclose those areas and inject steam for an hour or two to soften them. That sounds like a lot of time-consuming work. Does anyone have a better idea? Is there some way to accomplish this without steaming the bows? Thanks for any ideas.

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Mark Gregush
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Re: Re-steaming top bows?

Post by Mark Gregush » Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:22 pm

I am going to be watching this one. I have a set of bows for the 20 Dodge that suffer the same problem from storage in hot dry environment (attic under metal roof). They lost their keeper and have relaxed some, well actually more then some.
I know the voices aren't real but damn they have some good ideas! :shock:

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Re: Re-steaming top bows?

Post by AndreFordT » Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:44 pm

Sometime a go, in 2016 I think, I worked on a 1914 roadster that spend two days underwater. Two months later the insurance give the car free and I could start to work.
The wood of the body was all bent and make the body out of shape. To get the wood back to shape I simply set the body in the water again over night. Next morning I put all on a straight frame and set the body in shape again with cables and tied all up. After a week of drying the body was straight again and the door was fitting the body.
So I think the easiest way to make the bows fit again, soak them in water overnight (or longer), make them slowly in to shape and make them dry for a few days. First make a model as they should be.

Just my opinion.

Andre
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Rich Eagle
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Re: Re-steaming top bows?

Post by Rich Eagle » Wed Aug 12, 2020 1:45 pm

That may work. Introducing some moisture may be all that is needed. How much bow does the bow get if you pull the ends to the proper position? it needs a little.
I will re-post the box I made for steam bending my Bus bows. It has a sliding door which allows the bow to receive heat while bending. I just heated water in a coffee can. Perhaps a simpler box could be made if you end up having to steam them.
Bowzzz1.jpg
Bowzzz2.jpg
When did I do that?


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Re: Re-steaming top bows?

Post by Joe Bell » Wed Aug 12, 2020 3:05 pm

Mike, I had a set like that, I soaked them in the cow tank for a couple days and then tied a wire to each end where I wanted them to be and let them dry for a week and they where like new again. Hope this helps, Joe

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Re: Re-steaming top bows?

Post by Duey_C » Wed Aug 12, 2020 3:43 pm

Watching here too. Also have a set for the 18 that are about 2" too wide now.
Strong bows! They really tug at the body when I put them on.
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Re: Re-steaming top bows?

Post by Altair » Thu Aug 13, 2020 12:04 am

I bent some oak pieces for fellows 1/4" pieces and I left them out in the rain on the lawn for about two weeks in the winter time. They did bend with some effort inside the rim, where they were left to dry for about a week. After they were dry the pieces were glued, shaped and painted and you can't tell they are laminated.


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Re: Re-steaming top bows?

Post by Allan » Thu Aug 13, 2020 2:50 am

A tip for all who are storing bows. They should always be hung with a timber lath nailed across them to keep the 'legs' set the correct distance apart. This will keep the bends from relaxing and the legs splaying outwards.

Allan from down under.


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Re: Re-steaming top bows?

Post by MWalker » Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:37 am

Thanks for the suggestions, Guys. I had wondered whether soaking them would work but didn't have any experience with that. I've got a setup to do that figured out and will begin soaking them today. I can do one side of all three at once, so it should take just a few days to get them back in shape. I'll report back with pics, in case anyone else wants to try it.

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Re: Re-steaming top bows?

Post by Mark Nunn » Thu Aug 13, 2020 1:40 pm

Is anyone who is soaking bows adding a little Downey fabric softener to the water? I read about that trick in Fine Woodworking Magazine about 20-25 years ago. Downey makes the fibers softer without affecting strength after drying. I still have the magazines but finding the article will take time. I'll look and report back if I find it.

Found it.

"When pre-soaking in water and Downey (10:1), the Downey acts as a surfactant, breaking down the surface tension and allowing the water to better penetrate the wood fiber."


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Re: Re-steaming top bows?

Post by MWalker » Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:22 pm

OK, here is my setup. I pulled the ends into position using a pipe clamp, then wired them together to hold them that way. The upper ends of the bows are hanging by a wire from the garage door track.
DSCN5090.JPG
After reading the previous post, I may run to the store and get some Downy fabric softener.
Attachments
DSCN5089.JPG


John kuehn
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Re: Re-steaming top bows?

Post by John kuehn » Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:34 pm

Soak them in your bathtub. That’s worked for some people. A friend here in town years ago did that to help shape the bows. Anyway in water for a day or two will get you to the point where you can shape them.


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Re: Re-steaming top bows?

Post by DHort » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:18 pm

Mike. Just think how soft your coveralls will be after you use the Downy. You will be able to go Commando.

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Re: Re-steaming top bows?

Post by Atomic Amish » Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:17 am

Lots of good info above.

I found this earlier in the summer while researching how to build wooden boats. Obviously, their steam box is over kill for you, but there is good info in here as well. It's a US Navy training film on bending oak.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfzuC3d1zY4

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Topic author
MWalker
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Re: Re-steaming top bows?

Post by MWalker » Fri Aug 14, 2020 8:49 pm

It's prettier with the Downy added. :D
DSCN5091.JPG

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