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    New Spanish-style Ballesta

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    stoneagebowyer
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    New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Tue Dec 25, 2012 7:08 am






    Hi, gang. It has been a while since I posted anything, but I do check in from time to time, and have been busy.

    I think I posted a while back that I have been commissioned to build a German style heavy crossbow from a fellow forum member. That has been occupying most of my time just in designing the trigger, which, for a 850 lb. bow, really is my single biggest concern, and I spend a ton of time making drawings and testing out the system I came up with. But, there were some design ideas I had to try out with a working crossbow, so I decided to make a new weapon as a dry run, so to speak, to incorproate those ideas into the German.

    And here is the results. One of my biggest single worries was how to make a prod socket with really well constructed bearing blocks, and it came out well.

    With all that being said, this is an interpretation of a Spanish crossbow from the period of around 1500 - 1600, ie a Conquistador ballesta. I used yellow heart (Euxylophora paraensis) for the tiller, which is one piece. This wood is relatively inexpensive where I source it, is fantastic to work with, and glues and works easily. I simplified the tiller decorations with a simple bone inlaid cross, and put a non-authentic bone and horn buttplate on, 'cause I think it looks cool. Antler nut, and mild steel metal components. A true reproduction of this kind of weapon would not have had single side plates and lock plates done in this fashion, but would wrap all the way around the tiller and been folded onto the top surface, and would have been riveted on, not screwed on, but I think it looks nice and is very functional. I used a non-authentic front ring, not hand forged, but that is for later bows of this style, which I find very appealing. I used bow irons for the first time, and am totally in love with how simple they are to use, and how easy it is to remove the bow without having to cut through a hemp bridle if I have to adjust the angle of the bow, etc.

    One big mistake is that I first painted the arrow groove, and that was not a good idea, some paint remains, and I decided to cut my losses and just hope it doesnt look too terrible. Think before you paint is a good lesson to take forward.

    The prod is from Slowbow, 165 lbs., so this is a light target bow. It weighs 7.9 lbs, so pretty hefty, which should help with shooting. I began this project at the end of November, so it went relatively quickly.

    Feel free to ask questions. Now that this is essentialy done (still a bit more to do, touch up here and there, refinish areas that need it, etc), I'm back to the German with all this new knowledge to be applied to finishing that project. Happy yule to everyone.

    Dane
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    stoneagebowyer
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Tue Dec 25, 2012 8:00 am

    For those who are interested, here is a link to a build-along I posted on Primitive Archer's website.

    http://www.primitivearcher.com/smf/index.php/topic,36198.0.html

    chaz
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by chaz on Tue Dec 25, 2012 8:15 am

    Very nice in its simplicity (however I understand it was not simply constructed)

    Happy Yule to Y'ALL from Texas !

    Chaz
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by ferdinand on Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:27 am

    Nice and clean looking bow!
    I bet its a good shot!
    Happy Yule? Didnt know that one! But i guess its a good thing so back at ya!
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    stoneagebowyer
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:36 am

    Thanks, Chaz, and thanks, Ferdi! I havent strung it up, but did make a spanning lever yesterday, so this weekend, I will be testing it out on the range. I'll post again then. I got the string angle dead on, which makes me very happy I don't have to revisit that prod socket.

    Dane
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    ZigiMan
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by ZigiMan on Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:58 am

    Wonderful work! I also liked the clean look.
    And also liked the detailed build-along on Primitive Archer.

    ZigiMan

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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by chaz on Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:57 am

    The 850 lb. German bow will be an interesting build ........... hopefully you intend to share progress on it as well. And of course the spanning method of such a bow and ifo. on the prod. That first span should provide some interesting momments, not to mention just stringing it.

    Looking forward to that build.

    Chaz
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    stoneagebowyer
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:58 am

    Thank you, ZigiMan.

    Chaz, I do fully expect that inital stringing to be exciting. Color me dread, lol.

    Dane
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by Todd the archer on Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:52 pm

    Excellant job! Tell us more about the antler nut and socket details.

    Todd
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:41 am





    Thank you, Todd.

    The entire method I used is in that buildalong, but here are some photos to clarify how I did it. Basically, drill the nut socket from the side, make the bearing blocks from some thick bone pieces, inlet with chisels, and glue in with 2-part epoxy. It was pretty easy to do all this.

    Dane
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:45 am



    And, a shot of my new toy, a little 5-speed wood lathe. I have a bed exension on the way now, which will give me 39" between centers. This should prove to be a nice addition to my workshop, and add new possiblities.

    And now, the bow is completed and ready to be tested at the range, either today or tomorrow. I will post results then.

    Dane
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by Todd the archer on Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:41 pm

    I have got to get me a lathe!

    Thanks, Todd
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:15 pm

    That one was only about 250 dollars, so not a bad price. I looked at many, many reviews and product videos before deciding on this lathe. They are just so much fun, and you can do so much aside from crossbows - bowls, walking sticks, barrel tapered bolt shafts, pens, sword hilts, whatever. The only other accessory I need aside from the bed extension is a 4-jaw chuck, but I wont need that for the next few months.

    I realize I didnt address your question about the nut itself, Todd. I can post info on how I make them, but pretty much just turn them down to correct diameter, drill and tap a hole for a hardened steel threaded rod, cut in the sear, screw it in, and use files to create the lugs and so on.

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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by Taxus on Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:41 pm

    Very nice work, a lot like those in the Palace Armoury of Valetta.
    The inlaying looks good,I've just made a first attempt at some and it's not easy to get the edges perfect!
    Also what antler did you use for the nut?


    For turning I'd recommend a self centering chuck, it's a pain to get the standard type centered evenly (if its not centered properly it can be a problem with big lumps of wood due to the excessive vibrations)

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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by Gäst on Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:34 am

    Werry good work.

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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by jeep on Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:58 am

    Very nice work it should shoot smoothly! One question : Why do you put the spanning rod so far on therear? Yu will have problems to build a functional goat foot lever. If you don't mind I put photo of the knight armoury crossbow to show you what I mean.


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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by jeep on Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:59 am

    closer


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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by jeep on Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:03 am

    ;;;;;;;;;;

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    Todd the archer
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by Todd the archer on Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:42 am

    Question, does anyone know what the original spanish crossbows draw weight was? Also what purpose were they designed for, hunting, military, or target?

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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Sat Dec 29, 2012 4:36 am

    Taxus wrote:Very nice work, a lot like those in the Palace Armoury of Valetta.
    The inlaying looks good,I've just made a first attempt at some and it's not easy to get the edges perfect!
    Also what antler did you use for the nut?


    For turning I'd recommend a self centering chuck, it's a pain to get the standard type centered evenly (if its not centered properly it can be a problem with big lumps of wood due to the excessive vibrations)

    Thanks about the inlaying. The cross came out perfect, and the metal plates are pretty good. I used moose antler for the nut. Regarding turning, I use a metal lathe with a 3-jaw self centering chuck for nut making. The wood lathe will be for other purposes.

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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Sat Dec 29, 2012 4:41 am

    The spanning lugs are non-functional. Because of where I placed the axel point for the trigger, having the lug where it is on the orginals would not have worked, and futher, I don't have the skills right now to make a metal goat's foot. I am thinking of a goat's foot made from wood with some metal components, but that is for later.

    I made a spanning lever which works perfectly for this bow. The lever took about two hours to make from scrap wood and some leftover hardware. I'll post photos of it later when I post testing photos.


    Dane



    jeep wrote:Very nice work it should shoot smoothly! One question : Why do you put the spanning rod so far on therear? Yu will have problems to build a functional goat foot lever. If you don't mind I put photo of the knight armoury crossbow to show you what I mean.



    Last edited by stoneagebowyer on Sat Dec 29, 2012 4:58 am; edited 1 time in total
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    stoneagebowyer
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Sat Dec 29, 2012 4:44 am

    Todd, my understanding is that these were military weapons. They were used by the conquistador armies, and the crossbowmen were considered an elit arm of the Spanish army. I find it interesting that the crossbows would outnumber firearms two to one in some instances. Considering what type of forces the Spanish opposed in their age of conquest, it makes sense, and the crossbow was obsolete as a military weapon in Europe by this period, 1500 - 1600. I am guessing 300 or more pounds for the originals.
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Sat Dec 29, 2012 4:56 am






    I only got to spend a short amount of time at the range yesterday, and did have to make a few small modifications to the nut, but I was excited to try this bow out. Later I will post better photos and data.

    The long trigger lever makes for a very easy, smooth release, and the geometry is perfect, with no play in the nut as the trigger moves down against the nut sear, something I was striving for.

    Penetration and power seem good. I set up a traditional round hay archery target, quickly leaning it against a ladder (not elegant but I didnt feel like hauling the heavy wooden stand downstairs to the indoor range).

    At fifteen yards, I was getting good penetration. These two shots show the bolt in the target, and I am holding it the point where the shaft stopped.

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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by jeep on Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:21 am

    W.F.Paterson in he invaluable book "Crossbow", after a complete examination of one of the knight armouries crossbows assume that is whas a standard military issue weapon . Regarding the lath dimension he suggest a draw weight of 400lb (180kg). He Wright: "Spanned whit a goat foot lever with 1/5 of power advantage the bowman would then
    have to exert a pressure of about 80lb ((36kg) on the end of the lever, which would seem reasonable"
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    Re: New Spanish-style Ballesta

    Post by Todd the archer on Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:45 am

    Thanks for the info, designed for military so plenty of power for hunting particulary with 400 pound draw. Assuming 8" powerstroke what speed would you guess it would produce?

    Really like the sleek lines as well!

    Todd

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