Testing My Fountain Tools

After completing my first set of fountain tools, I made a few test fountains to see if they were any good. Here is a video of two of them.

The first is a simple 12g portfire mix with 2g ofadded airfloatcharcoal to give the normal orange sparks you would expect from what is essentially just a black powder mix. The second is another 12g portfire mix with 2g of added aluminium powder (size #40-100), which gives a proper fountain effect of silver and gold sparks.

When I say portfire mix I literally mean the contents of a portfire! I still haven’t finished my ball mill for making black powder so this is a reliable substitute for now.

I was quite surprised that the aluminium produced both silver and gold sparks (or at least that’s what it looked like). Hopefully someone will explain this to me at some point!

The tools worked ok, but there were a couple of small issues I will need to correct when I make my next choke former.

Firstly this one had a tiny lip on the top end of the spindle, caused by an inaccurate bit of turning on the lathe. It was tiny, but unfortunately on each fountain I made it snagged on the way out and pulled off a bit of the clay choke. Not a big problem as the choke was deep enough for it not to matter, but just frustrating that the finished product was neat.

Secondly I think I need to try and taper the spindle a bit to make removal easier. i know other tools you can buy are very fractionally tapered tward the end, but as yet I don’t know how to achieve this. I’m not sure the lathe I use at college can do this and trying to do it by hand would probably look awful.

I’ll investigate and see what options I have, otherwise I’ll have to stick with it for now.

Overall I was very pleased with my tools though, they did the job and the basic fountains looked great, very satisfying!

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Making Pyro Fountain Tools

Fountain Tooling SetOver the last 6 months I’ve been taking a metalwork evening course at a local college. I wanted to make something I might actually be able to use so decided on a set of fountain making tools, to replace the ones I bought on eBay a while back.

The fountain tool set I already had was ok, but nothing special. The base is wooden and the rammers were really crappy wooden ones that weren’t very well made. The only really quality part was the spindle choke former. I also thought that it’d be good to only need one base unit, and have detachable spindles of differing sizes, rather than having to have a full set for every size of tube and choke diameter I might want.

So I decided to make a single aluminium base plate (should last a bit longer than wood too) with a screw thread in the centre, where different spindles can be screwed in. Each spindle would need a rammer to go with it that had a matched size hole down it’s centre. As I currently only have 3/4″ internal diamtere tubes I though I’d start by making a couple of spindles of that size, but with different choke sizes so that I could experiment with them later.

Fountain Tooling DiagramI spent a few weeks learning how to use a metal lathe and milling machine, which was really enjoyable, before risking making anything for real (as I had to buy the decent materials). I also drew up diagrams of what I wanted to make to try and explain it to my instructor (who preferred not to know once the word ‘fireworks’ was mentioned!). I tried doing my diagrams by hand but after so many alterations and rubbing out I reverted to doing them on the computer (using illustrator) which is much easier for me.

I decided to use aluminium for the base plate and rammers as it is ‘non-sparking’ (as far as metals can be), comparatively cheap and also easy to mill and turn on a lathe. However I chose brass for the spindles which is a little harder and I want them to retain their shape nicely under all the bashing they will receive.

So over the last few months I’ve made the tools you can see here, so far a set of three rammers, one base and one spindle. The spindle is 3/4″ diameter at the base and has a 6mm diameter choke former on one end and an M6 size thread on the other. I decided to start with two choke formers, with 6 and 8mm spindles, although I can make a bigger range later. Currently I only have the 6mm one (which is actually ~5.5mm so it can fit comfortably into the rammer with the 6mm centre hole). I have the 6mm hole rammer, and also the 8mm one ready for when I make the next spindle.

I’m also considering making a 7mm one too, so I have a set of three different 3/4″ foutnain tolls, with ~6, 7 and 8mm chokes. Apparently a choke size of 1/3 the internal diameter of the tube is ideal, so for a 3/4″ tube this would be roughly 6.35mm. At the moment the 6mm and 8mm ones I’m making are a little either side of that when you take into account the slightly smaller size used for the spindle (~5.5mm and ~7.5mm respectively), so a 7mm one will nicely meet this requirement as it’ll actually end up about 6.5mm. By the way I’m working in mm for the choke sizes purely out of preference as I find it easier than working in fractions of inches, and I think that 1mm increments in size are ideal for getting a good range of sizes.

I’ll post more photos when I have a the full set, and also when I test these for the first time.

View full photo set on Flickr

Fountain RammersFountain Choke Spindle