WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from January 23 - 31, 2011 on the Guru's Den
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Coining press update
In the last few months, I've done almost nothing with my coining press, as I've waited for a few purchases to arrive... I'm now the happy owner of a high speed dental drill piped to my air compressor, a handful of carbide burs, and tons of research on the coin I want to replicate. Wow, let me tell you, this dental drill and special hose set to fit it are the best $60 I've spent on ebay EVER! With a little $2 carbide bur [1/16 shaft, .01" head], I can draw lines fine lines in steel with no more effort than a pencil. From hours with gravers and poor results to 10 minutes with this drill and slightly less poor result...
   - MikeM-OH - Sunday, 01/23/11 01:23:06 EST

I have a question about electric power.
Is there a difference between the two phase 220V that you get in north america and the single phase 220V overseas? Specifically concerning a step down transformer, would one designed to work for single phase 220v-->110v work safely here?

I think so from my understanding of waves and superpositioning, but I need to know for sure.

The specific situation is that electricians at an undisclosed location installed a plug with the wrong voltage for a battery back up requiring 30A at 110v, the plug is 20A at 220v.

From what I've been told, the battery backup requires one of those large sockets used for washers, dryers, etc. , but I don't think any product exists which converts 220v from a large socket to 110 at another large socket.
   Nabiul Haque - Sunday, 01/23/11 03:43:44 EST

Mike M-OH,

Nice work on the coining! Looks like you've got it worked out very well.
   - Rich - Sunday, 01/23/11 08:01:03 EST

Nabiul Haque,

30A @ 120v single phase is a readily available plug/receptacle in the U.S. It is either a NEMA TT-30, the three-blade type seen on washers and dryers, or the NEMA L14-30 which is a twist-lock type usually used for RV's, boats and equipment. The supply wiring must support such a receptacle, that is it should be 10 gauge wire or heavier at the breaker panel.
   - Rich - Sunday, 01/23/11 08:10:28 EST

Nabuil, The important thing is that the transformer is rated for the load. A 2:1 step down is 2:1 electrically. If you had 50Hz in you would get 50Hz out.

The reason for the heavy outlet is that 20A 220V equals 40A 110V (less a little for efficiency). You will need a transformer rated for a minimum of 4400 Watts (or VA) but double would be recommended. A rather large transformer. It will also need to be fused for the rating of the down stream wiring. AND there are grounding questions that must be addressed if you are wiring your own industrial transformer for this purpose. Generally on 110/120V circuits one side of the circuit is grounded to form a neutral. But the rules on this are complicated crossing borders and especially on the consumer side of the wiring.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/23/11 08:52:40 EST

Just to be picky, the standard North American 220V power is single phase, not two-phase. Probably a harmless error, but there *is* such a thing as two-phase power. It's an obsolescent and very strange beast.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 01/23/11 09:19:50 EST

Oh, and a (somewhat more constructive) second thought. If you haven't done this already, take a close look to see if the battery backup unit can be rewired for 220. It's likely got a big transformer in it already, and it wouldn't be uncommon for it to be built with an extra tap so the same unit can readily be used in 220V countries.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 01/23/11 09:31:13 EST

Coining: Very interesting work. I've been researching this subject for an in-house project. Most of this fine die work today is done by special reducing machine from large masters a foot across or more. There are just a small handful of folks doing the work by hand and not very much literature on the subject.

There are two directions to go. One is direct die cutting in the negative, the other making a positive hub which is then sunk into the die. Making a hub and sinking it adds some steps but has some advantages. One it that working in the positive you don't have to think backwards and you are seeing the actual shape that the coin will be. Another advantage is that it is easier to polish and smooth the raised surfaces. After the hub is sunk into the die the flat open portions of the die become the raised surfaces and they can be machined flat and polished.

Sinking the hub into the die is done cold using a 100 ton or more press. This mashes the annealed die blank a bit which must then be machined true and to fit the coining press. Today this could probably be avoided by using EDM to sink the die. Using EDM the hub is hand or machine cut in soft material then sunk in reverse in harden tool steel.

Forgers and Counterfeiters use several other interesting methods. Some carefully hand cut dies based on old coins using multiple samples to make dies just unique enough not to be recognized as specific old dies. Some modify existing old coins by putting rare coin mint marks them. The most unique methods are plating and explosive sinking.

In the plating method an original rare coin is heavily plated with hard chrome which is removed from the coin and sunk into a die holder. Its a technical process with many steps but does not require the artistic skills to hand cut a die.

In the explosive method a rubber mold is made from an original coin then a 14k gold "hub" is produced. This relatively soft but very accurate hub is then shot into an annealed die blank using a modified 10ga shotgun with special reusable cartridge and die holder. Gold is used for its high density and the fact that it casts very accurately and with high definition. It is also reusable.

According to Charles Larson the author of Numismatic Forgery the copying and reproduction of old coins is done in much larger quantities than one would think. Most forgers produce coins 100 at a time, sell them to a dozen pawn and coin shops in a city then move on. By selecting fairly rare but not exceptionally rare examples the coins are never closely scrutinized. They are bought, sold and traded so that the source is almost never found IF the coins are scrutinized and found to be fakes. Gold bullion coins are also counterfeited in various places, particularly the Middle East and Southeast Asia to launder money.

If you hold old U.S. gold coins bought in the open market there is a high probability that some or all are forgeries. Their gold composition and weight will be exactly correct. But they are not old coins. If you purchase ancient bronze coins there is a distinct chance that they too are forgeries. These are made by the tens of thousands and sold through dealers world wide.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/23/11 12:37:36 EST

The Canadian Mint in Ottawa has an excellant display of how they produce dies for coins. They offer free tours of the mint which includes the display of the diemaking. If you are in Ottawa the tour is well worth taking. They make a Master which is as you say about a foot across. Then they make an epoxy mould off the master to use for the tracer mill.
The tracer mill is also the way many other complex stamping dies were made before CNC machines became common. Lots of Model makers lost their jobs as the master models were no longer needed for the tracer mills as CNC has taken over.
The raised rim around the edge of coins is raised before the coin is struck, they roll the blank between rollers to upset the edge. The rim makes the face on a coin last significantly longer than if it did not have a rim.
   - JNewman - Sunday, 01/23/11 13:04:08 EST

Coining dies...
Thanks for the compliments. I've never been much for practicing freehand art/drawing, therefore I've not developed much skill, and that's definitely the weakest link here. I'm pretty good at copying lines, as long as I'm not trying to think about the "picture" they make, so I work off grid transfers and working both in the negative and upside down seems to help me keep the left brain out of it. Working under a 4x magnifying glass has also helped a lot. Regardless, my work will never be mistaken for a counterfeit attempt!

Right now I'm waiting for a new assortment of burs to arrive. I started off conservatively and only boutgh three burs, a ball, an inverted cone, and a straight one with a rounded end. These have ALL turned out to be the wrong size/shapes. Now I know I need a pointed cone, a larger ball, and a disc shape... those would make the kind of lines I'm cutting so much easier.

I have an acquaintance with no personal experience in the field who is yet able to tell me I'm doing everything wrong. I'm grateful for folks like this, as they remind me how awful I was for most of my life. :) Anyway, he insists that until very recently, all coin dies were cast of bronze, indicated by the lack of very sharp corners in pre 1900 coins. :) One of these days, I'll have to teach him to cast metals.

Polishing the inscribed faces of the dies has been interesting. After mangling two fingers getting in close to the lathe chuck, I've been using dowels with sandpaper to polish the dies before I engrave them. I've tried a dremel with a cloth polishing point for the large areas, but haven't been able to get into the small ones. I did try honing down a few gravers to fit in the small lines, but I'm probably doing more burnishing than cutting in there.

I'm amazed at how much detail transfes through! I'd wire wheeled one die surface only to find that EVERY wire scratch showed up on a zinc coin, although not on a brass one. The chart in machinery's handbook tells me that at given temps, coper alloys loose 20, 40, 50% of their strength, and at those stages they show more or less detail at this press's max force. One of the stamps I used on a die had a crack in the face; I couldn't see the crack on the die, but a 500F brass planchet reproduced the crack perfectly!

This has been fun so far, but after just one day of minting coins, I sincerely wish I'd spent the extra $100 and bought the air driven bottle jack... I have a bruise on one hand from pumping this darned thing. :) Time to make a new lever, padded grip, and a base that won't tip so easily.
   MikeM-OH - Sunday, 01/23/11 15:09:52 EST

Has anyone tried using mapp gas instead of propane? If so any thoughts on the pros and ons of doing so. Also if anyone has a chem degree or the like could they tell me if the hydrogen penetration of the steel would be as much of a problem in a forge as opposed to direct flame welding. sorry if that sentence doesn't make sense. anyway anything would be helpfull thanks.
   sean - Sunday, 01/23/11 17:13:05 EST

Sean, if you are talking about using MAPP for firing a forge its too hot. Not only will it burn the steel but it will melt most refractories at the air/MAPP burning temperature.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/23/11 17:39:05 EST

Burr Types: In larger tools the tapered with rounded end or "Christmas Tree" burr is the most universal. You may also find that larger sizes work better until you get to details.

While drawing type skills probably help, I have found that the firmness that you have to hold die grinders and carving tools is a different skill set than drawing which is faster moving and uses less force. Often the work is done two handed or braced to give greater control. On some small work I've found that moving the work and the tool in opposite directions is helpful.

For this work I suspect something like an engravers vise with a heavy hemispherical base might work well.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/23/11 17:41:23 EST

MikeM-OH, I suggest you look up "Rio Grande of Albuquerque", they a a jewelry tool supply house. For what you are doing, there are all sorts of devices for work and cleanup that would aid you immensely. Start with an electric flexshaft and hand piece, it's much more user friendly than a dremel tool. You can email me for any "brain picking", you'd like to do and I'll send you my phone #. I was a self-employed jeweler's jeweler for 35 yrs (that's a trade shop that stores, sometimes covertly send their harder work out to). Good luck w/ your efforts!!
   Thumper - Sunday, 01/23/11 18:56:56 EST

I didn't know about how many phases north american power comes in, I was told that it's two phase by the person who needs this.

The problem is that to get the 120V 30A single phase socket would require calling the electricians back and that is not acceptable given that they didn't do the job right the first time.

Self modifying the battery backup or assembling a transformer is most likely a no go, this thing is supposed to be installed at a company and im not sure what problems that would cause with insurance.

But I'll let them know that it's single phase.
   Nabiul Haque - Sunday, 01/23/11 19:05:19 EST

BALL VISE or Sunday project. I don't have but one belt sander and it's a fully enclosed (both long side's), Craftsman so it doesn't get used much. I depend on angle grinders, hand files and a pneumatic mold grinder. The biggest problem has been adjusting the work to be trimmed in the vise, so this is what I came up with. Start with a 3 jaw pipe vise. One of the base sides will be longer than the other, this is what you lock in your post vise (the jaw closing screw , or top of the vise, point's out into the shop. Next, take a 1" or more solid mild steel ball and weld a piece of 1/2 or 3/8ths round rod approximately 6 inches long to it. Finally, weld what ever type of jaws or vise set-up you want to the top of the rod. The ball end goes between the 3 pipe clamp jaws which you can now use to loosen and arrange your project, then tighten it up again. It'll rotate a full 360 degree's and tilt's a full 45 degree's !! I don't know how to post pic's here or I would. So If you want to see mine, send me an email.
   Thumper - Sunday, 01/23/11 19:13:16 EST

Thumper, thanks I'll check Rio Grande out. I only tried the dremel and flex shaft for polishing, but I need much smaller heads than the standard. As it is, I'm using a air driven dental drill for all the engraving. I've added a pic of my workign setup here:

I'd like to see your ball vice, I may need to make one for future projects. Since I'm working on only flat, consistent shape/size objects, my board with holes seems to work well for either powered or hand engraving, and its portable enough that I can do the hand engraving anywhere.

Thanks for the offer of your expertise... one curiosity is what tools work best for polishing small details, like groves only 1/64the wide? I've heard of pencil like sticks with abrasive embedded but wonder that the pros use?
   MikeM-OH - Sunday, 01/23/11 20:09:43 EST

Mike, I use the folded edges of wet-or-dry for getting into tight spaces. Polishing small places often requires cloth embedded with polishing compound wrapped around a pencil tip. In these tight places it is hard to remember the step at a time rules of coarse, less coarse, fine, extra fine. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 01/23/11 20:18:12 EST

Mike, burnish the teeny stuff. You can take a needle and polish the point then mount it in a pin vise. Also check out "Shofu" wheels (flex shaft arbors),in the Rio catalogue. They come in abrasive and polishing grits in various shapes, I think you'd like the knife edge (Greenie)for some of your polish work. Looked at your work and work station. The work is great!!! Trust me, the work station will be in flux for the rest of life, nice start !!! Guru was right about getting youself an engraving block, it would be perfect for what you're doing, my ball vise apparatus is too crude for that kind of fine work. A cheaper unit is the GRS bench mount system, again, Rio.
   Thumper - Sunday, 01/23/11 20:25:16 EST

Mike, I forgot, if you're going to do chasing, look at the "Gersonhammer", I don't get anymore royalties, but I still take the credit where I can get it LOL!!
   Thumper - Sunday, 01/23/11 20:27:20 EST

Since last posting, I had an idea and dug around for a pack of those insanely fragile dremmel cut off discs... I never had either the patience or the steady hand to make one go more than 3 seconds without snapping... but held by hand without an arbor, they seems to help polish in groves! I have no idea what grit they are, but its one less thing to buy right now.

I like the look of those shofu wheels, they will probably be my next restort after I run out of dremmel wafers and give folded sandpaper a shot.

Its nice to be able to get back into metal working while I sit here with all the symptoms of a hernia, but nothing showing up on expensive scans. Now I just need to arrange my engraving area right to get some support for my right elbow. I'm working close to my face with my arm sticking out in a position that's sure to aggravate tendonitis. :(
   MikeM-OH - Sunday, 01/23/11 21:06:14 EST

Nabiul Haque: For what it is worth, the single phase 110/220 We use in the US comes from using a transformer with a midpoint tap in the windings. This gives 110 volts from the midpoint to either end, or 220 volts from end to end. The midpoint is grounded at the source, this is for saftey reasons, not electrical reasons. If only 220 volts is needed, only 2 power conductors are used [the ends of the secondary winding]. There is often a seperate chassis ground wire and plug terminal. This leaves several choices in plugs and recepticals, with 3 or 4 conductors. In US wiring, the green wire is the chasis ground. A black or red wire is a power conductor, black being used in 110 and 220 and red used with a black wire in a system that provides both 110 and 220 volts. The wite wire is the grounded midpoint in a 110 volt or 110/220 system, but is also the "other" power conductor in a 220 2 conductor cable that does not include the midpoint tap.

Does Your 220 system use 3 wires? If so, what is the function of the 3rd wire? If it is a chasis ground [no potential to either conductor], it just carries through as a chasis ground.

In any case, the 2 power conductors of Your 220 system hook to the primary on the 2:1 step down transformer, and the secondary provides 110 volts.

2:1 step down transformers are common in the US, You may find one more easily here [on E eBay] than elseware.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 01/23/11 21:25:09 EST

Nabiul Haque: I forgot to mention that the usual 110 volt wiring in the US uses a white and black wire for the power conductors, and a green for the chasis ground.

If You get a US step down transformer, there may be wired for other voltages than 110 and 220, it is a matter of hooking to the corect set of wires.

When looking at the specifications, You will probably se 115 and 230 volts, for Your purposes, the same as 110 and 220. You may see tappings for 208 volts, and multiples of 220 or 230.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 01/23/11 21:47:29 EST

Mold makers use air powered 'pencil' grinders a lot. From $20 at habaflate to a couple of hundred for real professional types. Way better than electric dremels and the like.

Mike look around for the various items used in mold making for polishing. Various stones and various compounds all the way from AO grit to diamond. Sometimes even popsicle sticks and compound can get you into tight places if a polishing stone won't fit. And FYI, polishing stones are often shaped at the working end to suit if needed.

Listen to guru. Coarse to fine in steps. Every step should completely improve the last step so you don't end up with "shiny scratches".

Your link to your work is real cool. Nice.
   - Tom H - Sunday, 01/23/11 22:26:56 EST

Burrs and Coin Die Sinking: The problem with the little carbide burrs is that they leave a horrendously rough surface. If you want a smooth surface they must be followed by chiseling, scraping, files or grinding wheels. Very small grinding tools are available for die grinders but they have a VERY short life.

This is one reason direct cut coin dies are often made by sinking custom made punches into the annealed die blank (as you originally started). This is similar to the hubing process I described except the hubs are not a complete die shape, simply individual features on the die.

To use individual component hubs they are made one at a time, hardened and tempered. This works very well with faces and figures but is very tedious making word or letters (Which must be reverse punches). See our iForge demo on Matrix punches. Then they are sunk into the die by hand hammer or press, often both. This raises a lot of material around the depressions which is then removed by filing or machining, then soothing and polishing the "ground".

Lines can also be chased this way using very small tools much like repousse' punches. This also raises edges that must be removed.

SO, while the die grinder allowed you to make your dies very fast, to make good polished dies with smooth features will still take a lot of time.

Note that in this field of iron carving, the Eisenhower (iron carver) usually takes advantage of every tool available. While Ward Grossman demonstrated beautiful hand carving using only chisels and hand hammer in a steel block, his complex works used every possible metal working tool from forging and torching to using die grinders. However, he had developed high skills with the chisel and probably used it rather than die grinders and burrs to the reduced need to remove tool marks. Hand coin die cutting has long taken advantage of lathes as you have done for cutting circular grooves and lands as well as cleaning up after hobing. Using round nosed chisels to flatten and smooth burr cut lines is a mixed method that I have not seen described, but it will work. Engraving machines (miniature 2 axis mills) are often used to cut the letters

The use of Popsicle sticks as mentioned by Tom H is a very good idea. They can be used with valve grinding compound which used to come in little two sided tins with coarse and fine compound. This could be followed by automotive rubbing compound but only for the finest polish. Nail "files" can also be used. I also take round needle files, heat and bend them into rifflers. You CAN purchase these but the straight files are much more common and not that difficult to bend hot.

While wire brushing will remove burrs it leaves both scratches and a raised surface (sort of like water raised wood grain). I do not recommend it on this kind of work. Final polishing can be done with a soft buffing wheel and Tripoli compound. Note I said FINAL polishing. Any coarser polishing will break down edges and result in a soft blurred die impression. This is only done when every surface is a soft paper smooth scratch free surface.
   - guru - Monday, 01/24/11 10:57:39 EST

Guru, lapping compounds are still available from mill supply houses and in an astounding variety of grits amd materials.
Google Clover, they are the maker we used at the valve shop.
   ptree - Monday, 01/24/11 13:48:18 EST

Clover brand is what is (was) sold in auto supply stores. The little green double tins (top and bottom lids) were handy. The two grits worked pretty well on cast iron and steel. Being small and inexpensive and coming in only the grits they thought best takes away any confusion or decision making. A good starting point.
   - guru - Monday, 01/24/11 14:21:36 EST

MikeM-OH and coins:
Mike, you should go take a look at some of the Mexican Revolutionary coins (1913-1917). Most (all) of those dies were made by hand, by blacksmiths and silversmiths and mechanics, especially the Zapatista coins from the state of Guerrero. On one of the silver-dollar size silver-with-trace-of-gold (unrefined, or raw, Mexican silver)2 pesos they heat-treated (hardened) the die, did a poor job, you can see how the surface spalled. On another from the state of Mexico, also Zapatista, they took a bar trued in a lathe and removed everything but the design, and used that to hand punch incuse coins (you can see the lathe marks as concentric arcs in the incuse design). In Cuidad Durango it appears they used lead bullets to strike 1 centavo pieces. Considering how extremely corroded some of these pieces are, it appears some of the bullets were used first. These were not collector pieces, these were made for the urgent need of a circulating coinage.

David Hughes
   - David Hughes - Monday, 01/24/11 14:30:15 EST

Rims and reeding on coins were also used to prevent clipping---when coins were bullion you could remove a slight amount from the edge of a coin and so by doing a lot of them you collects an appreciable amount of gold or silver and then still pass the coins for their full amount.

Reeding and rims on a coin would show a coin to have been tampered with and underweight.

Thomas---my we seem to know a lot about counterfeiting...
   Thomas P - Monday, 01/24/11 14:38:47 EST

Most modern references say riming is done by rolling but on many coins it is done in the press with a collar die. Simple reeding is cut into a one piece collar and more complex marking such as lettering and decoration are usually done in three piece collars. Simple rims can also be raised in the pressing process.

I forgot to note that many lower value coin forgeries are made by casting using lost wax. Original coins are used to make a rubber mold and waxes made in that. The down side to this method is that it is slower than coining in a press and each coin must have the sprue carefully trimmed and the edge finished to hide the fact that the sprue was cut off. Up to the point where this is less work than making faithful dies and the investment in a coining press this can be the best way to make coins.
   - guru - Monday, 01/24/11 16:07:10 EST

Dave: Sorry I don't actually know what is installed at the site; I'm just asking via proxy for some one else who needs the actual solution.

I'll post if they get back to me with more information.
   Nabiul Haque - Monday, 01/24/11 19:09:27 EST

I was just reading your thoughts about the fifth leg on early anvils. It seems very plausible in fact I feel your correct about it and this got me to to thinking. The angled or slopped face has the advantage of causing the force of the blow to be distributed across the base of the anvil in such a way as to help it remain stable on the stump.When you consider that many of these anvils probably weren't tied down because they were turned to use surfaces other than just the face it would seem that the slopped face had an engineered purpose. What are your thoughts?
   Dick Sargent - Monday, 01/24/11 20:32:12 EST

Dick, I am sure that was the idea. The sloping face and fifth leg on at least several makes of English anvil are definitely on purpose, not just the vagaries of making an anvil by hand.
   - guru - Monday, 01/24/11 21:09:10 EST

I have a peter wright anvil. It says peter wright patent circular stamp that I believe says wrought iron and the #'s 1 0 18. what is it worth and would it be better to hang on to it?
   angela - Wednesday, 01/26/11 01:57:13 EST

I have a peter wright anvil and wanted to know the value. On the side of the anvil it says peter wright patent, a circular mark I believe says wrought iron, and the #'s 1 0 18. Seems to be in good condition.
   - angela - Wednesday, 01/26/11 02:01:15 EST

I have a peter wright anvil and wanted to know the value. On the side of the anvil it says peter wright patent, a circular mark I believe says wrought iron, and the #'s 1 0 18. Seems to be in good condition.
   - angela - Wednesday, 01/26/11 02:01:39 EST

I have a Peter Wright anvil and wanted to know the value. On the side it says Peter wright patent, a circular stamp(?) that says wrought iron, and has the #s 1 0 18. Compared to pictures I've seen it looks to be in good condition. Help please?!
   angela - Wednesday, 01/26/11 02:06:14 EST

Angela, this is not a chat board. Post your question, and then our members will answer.
I few bits of info are needed to make any suggestions on your anvil.

Where in the entire world the internet reachs is this anvil? Our member Phillip-in-china may offer quite a different price than pour New Zealand member, and my self in the rust best, the one part of the world that is pretty flush with anvils another.

What is the condition? top chipped, Swayed, tourch gouged? all critical as well.
   ptree - Wednesday, 01/26/11 09:01:56 EST

Anvil Values: Its time I write a FAQ about this. . .


The numbers on the side are English hundred weights and equal 130 pounds (59kg). This is a very common size anvil in the "portability" range. Being the most common size reduces its value from larger and small anvils.

As ptree noted, condition means everything and location can change the value as much as 30 to 50%. Condition generaly needs to be judged by someone experienced with anvils.

Peter Wright is a good brand that is sought after and is more the valuable than many others.

You mentioned hanging on to it. New anvils of lesser quality will cost twice as much as this anvil is probably worth. As a tool it is as good or better than a more expensive anvil. While it is quite old it it not considered a collectible or antique. It is just a good old tool. So if you (or a relative) have use for it, then by all means KEEP it. Also note that many people hold such anvils as investments. This type anvil is no longer manufactured and prices are steadily climbing.

Value in the US if in very good condition is probably $250 to $400. A little more if its perfect. But if is shows significant wear and you are located in the rust belt (such as Ohio) then it would sell for $150 to $250. In California, Alaska and Hawaii add 40%. If in another country then prices reflect the general economy and demand. $100 goes a LONG way in Central America but might only buy you lunch in Tokyo. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/26/11 09:45:49 EST

hadrening keystock
   - r highley - Wednesday, 01/26/11 09:49:59 EST

The Compact Fluorescent Light Saga:

Well, I had Sheri purchase some of the new fluorescent bulbs to put in the 3 bulb ceiling fan fixture over our desks which is used a lot and uses up bulbs. It WAS NOT an auspicious start.

She purchased an 8 pack of Sulvania bulbs at Sams. I let her make the purchasing decision as a average purchaser (IE knowing nothing about the product). The price was very reasonable. However, 2 out of the 8 bulbs were DOA. One did absolutely nothing, the other strobed blue light and reminded me of a hippie party black light (insert loud rock music and the smell of marijuana here).

The 60W "equivalent" rated bulbs are distinctly dimmer than the incandescent they replaced. The three bulbs produce less light than the two incandescent they replaced (one was burned out in the fixture).

So, based on bad out of the box product either call the price 25% more or the "long" life 25% less. The "power" savings are based 100% on the supposition that the "equivalent" rating produces equal light. In my unscientific test they produce 25% to 40% less light. It is distinctly dim at my desk with 3 bulbs compared to 2 at the "equivalent" (BS) rating. IF we had needed all eight bulbs the trip to purchase more would eat up several gallons of gasoline ($3/gallon) and several hours of our time.

I am having a hard time finding the cost savings. We will see how long they last.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/26/11 10:14:55 EST

R highley, I assume this is some sort of question? Key stock is generally SAE 1018-1020 (AKA mild steel) and while it will harden it is not considered a hardenable steel, nor is it designed to be. In some applications it is case hardened but this only puts a thin wear resistant surface on the part.
   - guru - Wednesday, 01/26/11 10:20:15 EST

Key stock is made of different stuff. There is brass and 18-8 stainless. I think that most of it is medium carbon of 0.40% to 0.45% carbon. If the latter, it can be hardened at a bright cherry red, 1500º - 1550ºF.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 01/26/11 10:31:21 EST

thank you for your help.
   - r highley - Wednesday, 01/26/11 14:11:44 EST

Quite a while back I was planing on making a model steam engine. I never actually completed the project, but I noticed for moving part it was usually brass on steel or cast iron on cast iron. Usually not steel on steel with the good models. I'm interested in the technicial info behind why this is. I can understand cast iron, because of the graphite platlets allow it to self lubercate to a point. I think its basically the same theory with brass against steel. I'm more ignorant in this area than I'd like to be can someone please give me some more info on this sort of thing? Thank you.
   - RM Howell - Wednesday, 01/26/11 21:33:53 EST

RM, like materials tend to gall, that is under load parts of one weld to the other and little parts pull off creating a rough surface that gets worse and worse. Different materials do not weld and hard on soft also works.

Hardened steel on hardened steel has a very low coefficient of friction and makes good bearings. Some very precision bearings are made with hard steel shafts running on cast iron lands.

Cast iron is a particularly unique material due to its stiffness, dampening and porosity. It holds oil well and does not gall. There are many reasons it is one of the ideal machine material.

The study of friction and wear is a complex field filled with complex formulae and microscopic study.
   - guru - Thursday, 01/27/11 00:09:09 EST

I worked on the railroad for many years and know a few
things about bearings etc. Back in the good old days rail cars had what was called babbit bearings. These were two C
shaped babbits ( brass ) that went on each side of the journal. Each wheel had a grease box and before a train would leave the station the car men, one on each side of the train, would walk the train putting grease in the boxes. If a box ran out of grease for any reason, the journal would get red hot ( called hot boxes ) and if the car was not set out in a siding, the journal would burn in two. Now that we are all modernized, rail cars have Timken roller bearings......There used to a place I knew where a man built a railroad steam engine with cars, track, the whole nine yards. Boy Scouts would take field trips to his place and he would take them riding on his train. To tell you the truth, I don't know if he built it from a kit or if he built it from scratch.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 01/27/11 05:31:31 EST

Speaking of railroad engines, the old steam engines were more powerful than the diesels used today. The advantage of diesel engines is the fact that they load up faster ( come up to their full capacity faster ). The only steam engine company I can remember was the old Baldwin Steam Engine Company. There were main line steam engines and the smaller steam engines that switched cars in the rail yards. Some of the old main line steam engines were monsters.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 01/27/11 05:41:25 EST

Baldwin build a lot of engines. The California State Railroad Museum has some beautifully restored early steam engines that were hauled by sailing ships from the East Coast to the West Coast around the horn of South America. An amazing voyage. Wooden ships hauling such heavy machinery.

These early Baldwins with their funnel shaped smoke stacks and decorative frills were instant classics and are often used to represent the early steam locomotives. If you are ever in Sacramento California the museum is the most worthwhile thing to see in the city.

There were quite a number of other companies that built steam engines including some of the railroads themselves. Norfolk and Western built advanced steam locomotives in their Roanake Virginia shops including the beautiful streamlined Class J's.

Historic Railroads and Blacksmithing: I obtained in a trade THE Norfolk and Western blacksmith shop touchmark. The mark is letters "N&WRY" 3/8" tall with a wooden handle. It appears to be hand forged and has the original hand made handle. This piece was obtained directly from the closing N&W Roanoke shops.

This piece of history is for sale. Serious inquires only.

   - guru - Thursday, 01/27/11 09:53:12 EST

I want to make some rounding hammers out of 1045 steel so please tell me if this is the correct way to harden the faces. With a torch or forge, heat one end till non-magnetic, then quench in warm water moving it about till hand cool. Repeat on other end. Last step, with a torch, heat the eye of the hammer and allow the heat to spread to the faces, quenching when a light straw color is achieved.
   Thumper - Thursday, 01/27/11 12:02:05 EST

There are railroad buff trade shows that are held every so often. All of the old railroaders will bring their artifacts for display. Contact the railroad and see who is the head of one of the organizations. Also, might check the internet for listings of RR. items that are bought and sold.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 01/27/11 14:30:43 EST

Some American Steam locomotive makers

American locomotice

   ptree - Thursday, 01/27/11 18:29:56 EST


I use the wet rag method. Quench amd agitate one face in room temp water at about 100ºF above non-magnetic. Put in vise hardened head upward and abrade the face to bare metal. I temper with a 7/8" square bar with a turned eye in one end that makes a snug fit on the head. I put the eye on at a welding heat and wait for a dark straw. Quench.

Wrap a wet rag around the tempered head to protect it from undue heat which may wreck your temper. Using large bolt tongs on the rag, take a hardening heat on the other head and quench. Clamp in the vise and abrade the face. Keep the wet rag in place and "rim temper" the face with the same eyed tool.

Sand and polish. I think the Plumb Company still advertises the rim temper. I don't know how it is done in industry, but the idea is to get a hard central face. The heat is conducting from the outside in, so you should get a softer temper on the rim than that in the center of the face. This is to prevent spalling. All well and good, except it is nigh impossible to see straw in the center and a nice ring of purple or blue around the rim. I've never been able to see a clear demarcation. Nevertheless, this is a good method, and I trust that I get a rim temper.

I've not tried inserting a hot drift in the eye for tempering. It sounds iffy to me. On occasion, I have applied two tempering tools to surround the hammer face, one following the other in order to get a dark straw tempering color. And they were both quite hot.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 01/27/11 23:34:07 EST

Frank, at the Valve shop, right after the breakup the now independent forge shop got an order for several hundred thousand hammers. From littl 1# cross peins to sledges. No brand name forged in, just the "Wear safety glass...
They were forged from C1045 in a press. The first hit was on the edge of the dies and just distorted enough to totally flake off the scale and start a little spread on the billet ends. Then 4 progresive closed die impressions and a final trim the sheared the flash and punched the slug from the eye. The still hot forging went on a stepping conveyor that passed the faces of the hammers by a water stream that would impinge dead center on the face.
This quenched from the center of the face and once indexed the heat would temper back from the mass of the head, and then at the next index or so a flood quench.
The heat time in an induction heater was about 30 seconds for a 12# sledge, the fogeing operation took maybe 30 seconds and the residence time on the step/index conveyor maybe 2 minute then into a tub. From there to the shot blast (Tumblast) and a light spritz of oil and ship.
   ptree - Friday, 01/28/11 07:28:22 EST

Thanks ptree. It's not always easy for us hand forgers to see what is done in closed die forging. I'm in the desert here. Once I got to see an axe forged at Snow & Nealley in Maine. I think there were about three hits or impresseions and thence to a flash trimmer. It then got held in a device while the slug was driven out all the way from one side to the other. I didn't get to see the heat treatment...probably another department.

In hand and sledge work, I use about 1 5/8" square for a 3 pound hammer. If we know the length beforehand, we drop back and notch the stock all around to isolate the heat and make the striker work more for each heat taken BOL. The eye is punched first, a little undersized. A small slug is removed. It is then drifted from both sides to give the eye a slight hourglass shape. While the drift is in, we flat it to get rid of the slight frog eye. Then, with the hammer eye tongs, we forge the peen either trip hammer and flatter or sledge hammer and flatter, or a combination of the above. When it is cropped at the notch marks, we get a "hogged out" hammer head that gets normalized and then needs grinding and disc or belt sanding. Finally, the heat treat and polishing.

   Frank Turley - Friday, 01/28/11 09:49:41 EST

Frank, in the closed die world, almost always the first hit is a bump to knock off scale, and bulge the billet a little where you need it.
The first impression will be a gentle move it a little, start the eye in making hammer heads.
The second will start to really move towards final shape, and get the eye about 1/3 in on each side.
The next impression will be get to finished and get the eye down to maybe 3/8" thick slug.
The last impression will have stencilling and pretty much be a coining blow.
The billet was moved with tongs, and lots of air blasts to keep scale out of the impressions and off the billet.

Scale will errode the dies and makes for rough forgings so a lot of effort is made to keep it out of the dies. Lubrication is sprayed into the hot dies to ease the forging load and hold down surface tears.

We also had walking beam tongs that would progress a nut or tailpiece for pipe unions thru the dies without any operator. Those machines would forge at a rate of about 45 parts per minute, including flash trim. But when you make a million pipe unions a month, all of forged steel you had better have a fast system to forge them and machine them.
   ptree - Friday, 01/28/11 10:21:19 EST

NEW INTEREST from young people can get the juices flowing again as well as a re-grounding in the basics. it makes a person think that there is hope that someone is willing to learn to use hand tools and such to actually make something out of something. i was asked by both of my grandsons to show and teach them about forge work and such. the oldest 15 yrs. old wants to do a very reachable project. the other one grabbed a handfull of sky right away. but i still am GLAD that this old geezer has been doing something that got someone interested. i showed them this site and told them to read the "Getting Started" and all the safety stuff. i would like to welcome them to the forging/smithing world. kinda makes me proud, y'know.
GURU, i'll have my friend look at pic again.
   - bam-bam - Friday, 01/28/11 17:09:44 EST

Bam-bam, given a few tools and a little guidance kids can do a lot of things. After seeing a rope making demo at a boy scout convention when I was 13 I came home and built a rope making machine. The machine and all the tools were made mostly from wood and a 36" piece of 1/4" CF steel rod. Cranks and hooks were bent cold in a vise and cotter pin holes drilled with a hand drill. The tricky part was the cranks had to be bent after putting them through the wood frame. We made a ton of rope hand cranking that machine. Later I motorized it with an old adding machine motor and hand sawn wooden pulleys. Everything ran out of true about 1/4" but it ran and made rope!

We made rope from 3/8" up to 1". The hardest part was getting together a crew. It takes at least 3 people. One to anchor the rope and control the twist, one to "walk" the rope controlling when rope is made and one to crank or run the machine. If hand cranking you need three or more people for that job as it gets very tiring. If your machine is not anchored to the ground or a tree then you will need several people to anchor the machine. . . With the motor we needed someone to stop and start it.

Ah the good old days. . . .
   - guru - Friday, 01/28/11 22:42:32 EST

Frank, thank's for the tip. I like the "surround" way of tempering rather than a center heat or using a torch.

ptree, I saw the using of the die striking method of forming making forged pistols (Discovery Channel), took them 3 molds to complete the frame....very impressive to say the least.
   Thumper - Saturday, 01/29/11 13:04:11 EST

Thumper, Once you see a real industrial hammer or press or upsetter, it is hard to believe we still make stuff by Hand:)
Today, at the club a 3# hammer was started. after half an hour the rough shape and eye were done, and there were 2 strikers plus the master.
In the forge shop the forging to complete was 4 or 5 hits. Of course that was in a press and the impressions in those dies were sunk to the 0.001". The billets were exactly cut to lenght, the steel heated to a exact heat by induction, and almost all the human factor removed.
Those hammers in a 3# size, with a nice American hickory handle probably retailed for $20 or so. Profit for the forge shop, tool company, distributors and retailers, made in the USA and it sold for $20. Hard to explain why a $200 hand made hammer is that much better:)
   ptree - Saturday, 01/29/11 20:49:56 EST

Oh and by the way, that press that made the 3# hammer? A made in the USA National Machinery, 5000 ton mechanical, that new today would be probably $2,000,000 FOB Tiffin Ohio. So say add $25 to 50K to move it, another $100K for the foundation and building and $200K for the induction heater and you too can make hammer at the speed of the press:), Oops, forgot the dies, add $80K
   ptree - Saturday, 01/29/11 20:53:53 EST

I suggest that we're not in a price contest nor a speed contest between industrial press and hand forging. In terms of hand work however, there is such a thing as variety, aesthetics, and custom design. Please see www.brentbaileyforge.com and click on Hammers.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 01/29/11 23:02:05 EST

Frank, I use hand forged hammers in my shop made by Nathan Robertson, That was a reotorical joking question.
   ptree - Sunday, 01/30/11 07:51:36 EST

ptree, If we were doing this for the $$, I think we'd all find other jobs ASAP LOL!! And yeah, I agree, there is a "special" feel/pride to using a tool or implement that's been handmade at the forge.
   Thumper - Sunday, 01/30/11 12:03:59 EST

Gotta clarify, by "doing this", I meant making hammers.
   Thumper - Sunday, 01/30/11 12:38:08 EST

The difference between hand or open die forged hammers and mass produced is one costs $20, the other $120. Many craftsfolk are willing to pay that price difference for their tools.
   - guru - Sunday, 01/30/11 12:39:41 EST

Ptree, If you can get me 5000ton nationals, new, for $2mil Ill sell every one you can give me! very tired old 5000 ton crank presses still make $1.5m

A made in Japan, 1800t Massey, was, (from memory)$3m 15 years ago!
   - John N - Sunday, 01/30/11 15:00:19 EST

John N, Haven't bought one in many years, I estimated from inflation. Whoops!
The last upsetter purchase I was involved in was a 9" National, rebuilt from 2 machines since each had a fatal crack in ine side of the frame. That was in 2005 and I think I remember the rebuilt at $1.5 million.

I am under the impression that no NEW national or Ajax upsetters have been built since the eary 70's
   ptree - Sunday, 01/30/11 15:40:26 EST

looking back; saw a reference to railroading. Old Town Sacramento has a good one as has been said. up in the Mother Lode of Central Cal in Jamestown is Railtown 1897. it is affliated with Cal. State Railroad Museum. they do repairs, rebuilds, and such. also excursion rides. i have watched some of the work in the shop in times past, enlightening.
will finish tree work this week i'm off and start the new roof over forge/shop area. been a long time since i climbed trees, this go'round i'm using the gear to do it right.
   - bam-bam - Sunday, 01/30/11 16:24:59 EST

Bam Bam,
How times have changed. I have heard that the Union Pacific diesel shop in Little Rock has the ability to actually build a locomotive from the rails up if need be. Instead of ordering a lot of parts, they just make them. I was in a machine shop in Jonesboro, Ark not long ago. There were only a couple of men on duty but smoke was coming from many of the machines and I knew from watching that they had been programmed to turn out parts. I read in an article that all of the knowledge from Adam and Eve until now is at the point where all of knowledge doubles every two years. A computer expert was asked the question on a TV program...Will there ever come a day when computers will have the ability to think as a human being ? His response was...We believe in the next 30 years or so computers will be built with the capability of rudimentary human thought. You don't have to go back to the 40's or 50's to see the progress that is being made. Just go back to the 80's and compare what the technology was then to the technology now. Even in law enforcement they are solving crimes that took place 40- 50 years ago with DNA testing, computer fingerprint analysis etc.
   Mike T. - Monday, 01/31/11 01:00:57 EST

MIKE T; the shop at Rail Town did a restore/rebuild here a few months ago. saw it make a run past the sawmill where i work. looked like a good job. last i saw, the shop did alot of hands-on, but i did see a couple CNC machines. i think you are out west,or where?
   - bam-bam - Monday, 01/31/11 04:40:07 EST

bam bam
I live in NE Arkansas, I hired out on the old Missouri Pacific Railroad which was later bought out by the Union Pacfic. The Little Rock railyard is the next largest to the North Platt railyard in Nebraska. I am still up at 4 a.m. have to have a colonoscopy at 7 a.m. :) oohh boy
I used to be in the work orders department ( sent work orders to trains ) I worked the California area L.A. down
through Las Vegas. I'm like you, I love the old steam engines. My dad took me riding on an old steam engine just before they scrapped them.
   Mike T. - Monday, 01/31/11 05:18:31 EST

As a kid in 1948, I boarded a Missouri Pacific train at Union Station, St. Louis, and went to Boy Scout camp in Irondale, MO, seventy miles south of St. Louis. From the little train station in Irondale, we hiked three miles to get to the camp. It seems to me that we boarded a steam locomotive powered train, but memory fades. I remember that my mother teased me saying that it was one of those old trains designed for "milk runs," meaning that it would often stop to pick up those early morning milk cannisters left by the dairy farmers.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 01/31/11 18:47:36 EST

Mike T, May the Master Smith that watches out for us all keep a special eye on you. A co-worker just had that and his doc found cancer.
When i was growing up in arizona, we took a long excursion ride in the White Mountains. 2 big steam engines, can't remember the type. got hooked on 'em then. some of my kid years was spent in a mill town called Standard, and logging trains still ran along with trucks. diesle fired steam was the last i remember.
You might look up Westside-Cherry Valley Railway. i'll see if i can find website and pass it on.
   - bam-bam - Tuesday, 02/01/11 00:32:48 EST

Mike T; check abandonedrails.com....also wikipedia has some stuff
   - bam-bam - Tuesday, 02/01/11 00:48:44 EST

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