Van Kleeck Bob




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By Dan Beard

The Van Kleeck Bob named after the Messrs. Van Kleeck, two gentlemen of Flushing, who own a double runner of this description which was built on their own designs, and is the swiftest bob-sled of my acquaintance.  This fast bob-sled is neither so simple nor so crude as the rustic jumpers described some time ago, and it will test your skill to build it properly, but with all the plans and measurements before you the task should not be too difficult for even a boy who can handle tools.

The Sleds for the Bob

are built entirely of good heavy oak; the runners of the sleds are 34 1/4 inches long, 4 1/2 inches high, 1 5/8 inches thick at the top, and 3/4 of an inch thick at the bottom.  To make the runners for the two sleds, one must have four 3/4 inch oak planks, each 3 feet long 4 by 5 or 6 inches wide.  Trim these planks down to 41/2 inches thick, by 34 1/4 long and 4 1/2 inches wide (Figs. 509 and 511).

On the top of the runners measure 2 1/2 inches from the stern toward the bow and draw a line to the bottom corner, then saw off the triangles.  At a point about 8 inches from the bow end of one of the runners, mark a point for the beginning of the curve (Fig. 510), and describe a neat and gradual curve to the top of the bow end of the plank.  Saw off a rough triangle first, and then trim down until the curve of the wood corresponds with the line drawn. 

Use this runner as a pattern and make the other three exactly like this one.  The exact proportions are here given, not because others might not answer as well, but because this sled has proved to be a very fast one, and sleds, like boats, are fast or slow ac cording to their lines and balance.  After the runners are blocked out, trim them down on the inner sides with a plane until the lower edge is only 3/4 of an inch broad (Fig. 510).  The runners are set at an angle, as may be seen by Fig. 5 12, it being only 11 inches from outside to outside of top of sled, while it is 12 inches from outside to outside of the bottom of the runners. 

There are two oak braces to each sled (Figs. 511, 512 and 513, A A A); these braces are 2 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches thick, and cut with 2 a beveled step or notch to fit the slant of the inside of the runners (Figs. 5 12 and 5 13).  The top ends of the braces extend through holes cut for that purpose, 1 1/2 inches beyond the outside of the runners, and 1 inch below the top edges of runners, and are held  in place by oaken pegs or pins (Figs. 509, 510, 511, 512, 513). To make the parts fit exactly and to get the proportions correctly, it is best to make on tough wrapping paper a set of plans the exact size of the proposed sled, and use these patterns to test your work by constant comparison.  

After the braces are made and found by experiment to fit the runners neatly, they may be rounded off on the under side, the better to pass over lumps of snow or ice which chance puts on the tracks.  

Make the tops of the sleds of 1/2 inch oak planks accord ing to the plans (Figs. 510, 511, and 512), to fit between the runners and rest upon the braces, which have been set 1/2 inch below tops of the runners purposely, to leave room for the top plank.  Secure the top board to the braces by iron bolts with nuts screwed to the lower ends (Fig. 512).

The Reach-Board

should be of selected maple 10 feet long, 11 inches wide and 1 inch thick (Fig. 514).  To it are bolted five oak braces, each 1 1/2 inches wide by 3/4 of an inch thick (B, Figs. 515, 516, and 517). The center of the bow-brace is 1 1/2 feet astern of the bow of the 2 reach-board, and the center of the stern-brace is 6 inches forward of the stern of the reach-board.  The bow-brace is 1 foot 1 inch long, and the others are all 1 foot 3 inches in length.  To the braces hickory hand or guard rails are bolted (Figs. 5 16 and 5 17), and the bow ends of the rails are fastened with large screws to the sides of the reach-board.

Thus far. I have described only a well-made bob, but when We come to joining the reach-board to the sleds we use 

The Van Kleeck Device,

which lets the bob over the "thank-you-marms" without the hard thud and jolt to which we are so accustomed. 

Reference to Fig. 518 will show that, contrary to custom, the king bolt does not go through the top of the sled, but is fastened by two washers and two nuts to an oak block, and the block is itself bolted to the sled top by two iron knuckles; this arrangement not only allows the front sled to turn sidewise in any direction, but it can tip up and down, until the ends of the runners strike the reach-board, thus allowing the sled to adapt itself to the unevenness of the. track without making heart-breaking jolts.   Figs. 520, 522, and 523 will show you that the stern sled is simply provided with knuckles, but in the latter case there is no kin g pin, the oaken blocks being respectively bolted to the reach-board and the stern sled. 

Where the king pin goes through the reach-board there is an block 10 3/4 inches long, 4 1/2 inches wide and a trifle over 1 inch thick, bolted across the bottom of the reach-board; to this is screwed an iron plate; another and longer iron plate is screwed to the big oak block below, and an iron washer separates the two (Figs. 518 and 519) and lessens the friction.  The plate on the big block is not screwed on until the nuts for the knuckle bolts are let into the holes cut for them and the knuckle bolts screwed into the nuts (see dotted lines, Figs. 518 and 519).

Across the top of the sled is another oaken piece, 1 inch thick, 4 1/2 inches wide and 11 inches long, and through this and the top of the sled the lower bolts of the knuckles pass, and are held in place below by nuts and washers.  The runners of the sleds are shod with steel bands 3/8 of an inch thick and tapering gradually at the bow to 1/8 of an inch, where it overlaps and is screwed on top of runner.  Of course the hardware must be made by a blacksmith.

The Steering Apparatus 

can best be understood by examining Figs. 520 and 521, where it will be seen that there is a solid oak foot-bar bolted across the bow of the sled, its center 91/2 inches from the points of the runners, and a stout hickory hand-bar bolted to the big oaken block below the reach-board. 

Fig. 524 shows the proper way to steer a heavily loaded bob down a steep hill.

This steering apparatus is simple, safe and effective, and the pilot has the full strength of arms and legs available for turning the bow-sled as occasion requires.  Fig. 525 shows the construction of an iron bob brake, and Figs. 526, 527, 528 and 529, the arts of a wooden brake, with teeth of iron bolts. 

Before using your racing bob polish the steel shoes with em ery cloth until they are as smooth as it is possible to make them, and then oil them with sweet oil; thus prepared, the heavy bob will slip down so quickly as to explain why one man calls his "The Oyster."

See Also:

More Sled Plans

Make Your Own Winter Gear

Winter Activities

Traditional Outdoor Adventure 






Additional Information:

Peer- Level Topic Links:
Ammunition Sled ] Arctic Hand Sled ] Basic Klondike Sled ] Ben Hunt's Cree Trail Toboggan ] Ben Hunt's Eskimo Komatik Sled ] Ben Hunt's Klondike Sled Plans ] Ben Hunt Klondike Sled ] Ben Hunt's Packrack Sled ] Bob Sled ] Bobsled Steering ] Bob-Sleigh ] Chair Sleds ] Equipment Sled ] Eskimo Sled ] Eskimo Sleds ] Get-There ] Gummer ] Ice Boat ] Jumper ] Klondike Sledge Plan ] Ohio Sled ] Pioneer Bob Sled ] Skiboggan ] Stone Boat Sled ] Toboggan ] Toboggan Camping ] [ Van Kleeck Bob ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.