It’s hard to believe that the big strong iron beds you see gracing the cover of magazines, continually being used as a focal point in movies and plays…….has an Achilles Heel. Well it’s true. In this photo you’re looking at the cast iron drop-in eyelet “hitch”. What you ask is the functionality of these piece of an antique iron bed. This happens to be the place that attaches to the long angle iron side rail, that connects the headboard of the iron bed to the footboard.
First let me explain why this would be considered the Achilles Heel and most vulnerable place on an iron bed. When a iron bed is assembled, the two angle iron side rails are put into the connecting “hitches”. Because the iron casting at the end of the side rail is tapered, it self tightens into the opposite shape, hitch, that was cast onto the head and foot board of the iron bed. The reason this section of an iron bed is the most vulnerable to breaking is because of the way in which people try and put their iron beds together. Over the 150 to 200 year period that iron beds were being made people had a tendency to lose the original siderails that were made for the bed. Although side rails look very similar, they aren’t interchangeable. So a lot of the time a person will end up with an iron bed that doesn’t have it’s original side rails and consequently doesn’t fit as securely and tight as the original would have. When this happens people tend to take a hammer and try and pound the side rail down into the hitch to make it fit properly. In so doing there is a thing called “harmonic concussion” . That’s basically a physical shock wave that is sent from a newer cast hammer head through the old cast iron fitting. What ends up happening is the cracking or breaking of the hitch’s on the head or footboard of the iron bed. Unfortunately when this happens, repair is extremely difficult. Even when done properly, the correction will never again be as strong as it originally was.
One thing that will help insure against such a break to the “hitches” is the use of a rubber mallet. Anything other than something metal against metal.
Although iron beds are very durable, they do have this Achilles Heel that should be carefully dealt with.
I hope you’ve found this blog informative. I invite you to revisit my website
to answer any and all questions you might have about antique iron beds.
I also invite you to take a look at the multiple “Before & After” photo’s on our