The Blacksmith and Wheelwright were often housed together and usually the same person. The Blacksmith would keep good shoes on the feet of those large workhorses that worked the farms and delivered goods. As a Wheelwright, he kept the tires on the wagons.
Occasionally the tires had to be repaired because in the summer season, the wheels would dry out and the tires would loosen. The wagon would be brought to the Wheelwright and the tires would be taken off the wheel. The tire would be “upset,” i.e., made a little smaller. The wheel would be placed on a big millstone that was outside in the back of the shop. The tire rim would be heated in a bonfire nearby, brought into the shop red hot and dropped over the wheel. When cooled, the iron or steel tires would contract, thus making it tight again around the wheel. This process, called “setting wheels,” would have to be done to all wagon wheels.
Image Credit: Wikicommons
Respectfully submitted by Sue Basile