Gary Meier’s Machine Tool Technology (MTT) students visited Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock after learning about pieces made by a blacksmith that had been found at the William Looney Tavern and Rice-Upshaw House.
Ronnie Walker, construction supervisor over the REACH sites, spoke with the MTT students about the ways that were used to date the William Looney Tavern and Rice-Upshaw House. He explained that the metal work at each site helped them determine the time period of construction. He showed nails, hinges, hand forged wagon and barrel hub rims, and even a bullet mold that had been found during the restoration.
The next day the students got to meet Lin Rhea who is the blacksmith at the Historic Arkansas Museum. He showed them around his blacksmith shop which was authentic and then explained heat treating metal. Rhea was welding and tempering the metal as they did traditionally and they were able to witness the actual science, in stages, of how the heating changed the hardness and density of the metal. MTT student, Hunter Drope, said, “I was amazed by the way he changed the molecular structure of the metal he was working with.” “The heat treating of metal that I teach in the Machine Tool Technology class was reinforced by Mr. Rhea in his demonstration,” said Gary Meier, instructor of MTT.
Rhea also showed students how he made nails, tools and knives in his shop. “Mr. Rhea’s knowledge, charisma, and enthusiasm in his field are something I hope I can take with me as I begin my career,” said Tyler Combs, MTT student.
Photo left to right: Hunter Drope, Gary Meier, Thomas Castelan, Tyler Combs, Vic Clark and Lin Rhea.