Family’s blacksmithing traditions endure

Anchors and cray pots hang from the ceiling; replica motorbike frames, and car and truck springs are on the floor below, in the half-a-century-old business of J F Breingan and Sons in Gisborne.

Blacksmith Jack Breingan began the business. Later it was taken over by his son Ray, who also raced motorbikes internationally, going on to build frames and construct replicas of famous bike brands.

Since his father and brother have died, Peter Breingan has run the business, keeping up the family blacksmithing tradition, although his trade is as a tool maker, specialising in plastic injection moulds.

Peter and his staff also continue to produce the unique eight-pronged anchor his father Jack invented.

“Grapnels are difficult to stow in a boat but this one isn’t,” says Peter, demonstrating how one arm of the grapnel swivels to lay on top of the other.

It also has an eye at the bottom. “We always suggest people attach the anchor rope or chain to the eye and secure it to the top of the anchor with a cable tie. That way if the grapnel sets stuck, you can pull it to break the cable tie and lift the anchor from the bottom end.”

The company produces a range of anchors including ones big and strong enough to hold a 14 metre boat.

Peter and staff member Lawrence Schouker were busy in early-November building up stocks of the company’s solid cray pots, ready to meet the demand from recreational fishers this summer.

The company also produces cray pot for commercial fishers and all meet compliance standards set by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The factory has its own forge and a range of tool and machines for working hot metal, some of which the late Jack Breingan adapted or built specifically for his business.

Peter says the bike frames his brother Ray built are still in demand among enthusiasts so he’s keeping that tradition going too.


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