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 February 8 - 15, 2012 on the Guru's Den
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Shop Advice : Thanks for the help so far . . I definitely appreciate it.
   William Conn - Wednesday, 02/08/12 04:32:20 EST

Dave Boyer, one of the real problems with the Hisso engines used in the WWI aircraft was the valves, as the very harsh cam profiles against a valve with a sharp corner retaine slot just under the valve stem end cuased the valve end to crack off and then the engine swallowed the valve with the predictable results. The life of those engines was sadly often 5-6 hours or less in combat.
After the war when they were often expected to give as much as 25 to 50 hours before an overhaul this critical fault wasn discovered, and later, much later the fault rectified.
Unfourtunatly, in combat faults like this often do not get discovered, it is just assumed enemy action took the item down.
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/08/12 07:48:37 EST

Age and source of an anvil : I have what appears to be a pretty old anvil that I found in the Ozarks. How do I determine it's age and where it came from?
   Blue - Wednesday, 02/08/12 13:31:29 EST

Blue; a very few makers date stamped their anvils; other may have a serial number usually on the front foot of the anvil. Others they manufacturer's markings may indicate a general date. Others just the style is all you have to go on.

Anvils in America is the source for all the info pretty much known, see if you can ILL it at your local public library.
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/08/12 14:00:45 EST

Ptre; I was reading a copy of "the boy aviators" series, pre WWI as I recall, where they build an astronomically expensive plane---$10,000! That included a position for someone to lubricate the engine as it was running...
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 02/08/12 14:03:26 EST

Thomas P - Thanks for the information lead.
   Blue - Wednesday, 02/08/12 14:07:47 EST

ThomasP, most of the WWI aircraft had prices of less then $5000, and were often designed and the prototype built and test flown in less than 2 weeks! But then the drawings were often made in chalk on the shop floor, and the prototype built, then if it flew, not always a sure bet, then they might actually make drawings.
The Granville brothers were still fans of chalk on the hanger floor to design/build by and in the 30's they built and compaigned the fastest airplane in the world the GB Supersportster. The minimum airframe behind the maximun enbgine available. One of the scariest airplanes he ever flew according to Jimmy Doolittle who won the national air races and set a world land speed record in the GB, and then publically retired from air racing on the spot. No real GB's exist since they all crashed/killed their pilots eventually.
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/08/12 14:32:00 EST

GB Supersportster : "No real GB's exist since they all crashed/killed their pilots eventually."

Now there's a ringing endorsement! :-)
   Rich Waugh - Wednesday, 02/08/12 15:28:39 EST

casting pewter : I'm planning to cast an object in pewter and would like it to have an antique, maybe slightly tarnished appearance. Is there a way to accomplish this quickly? Thanks.
   - Robert Dean - Wednesday, 02/08/12 15:39:51 EST

But Rich, they were designed to do one thing and one thing only, Go as fast as possible and turn left every 30 seconds or so!

I guy has built a copy and flies it on the airshow circuit. He does fly slower, and he avoids hard turns at speed and low and thereby does not nibble at the bounds of a high speed stall
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/08/12 15:48:56 EST

Coloring Pewter :
Robert, Pewter is mostly tin, a metal that does not oxidize rapidly. The fastest easiest colorant is translucent lacquer with a gray tint.

Search for Hubbard-Hall and Pweter. They make an antiquing compound for the purpose.

The MSDS says it contains Cupric Nitrate 7-10%, Phosphoric acid 1-3%, Selenious Acid 1%
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/08/12 16:56:48 EST

Thomas, speaking of lubrication: It was the Wright Whilrwind that made Lindbergh's Atlantic crossing possible. It was the first truly reliable aircraft engine. However, he did some critical modifications to the valve train before his flight that removed the need for frequent lubrication. Some details are in the Pulitzer-winning biography that came out a few years ago, but escape me now.
   - Bajajoaquin - Wednesday, 02/08/12 17:30:33 EST

Many thanks Guru!
   - Robert Dean - Wednesday, 02/08/12 19:00:23 EST

Bajajoaquim That was probably the longest an early Wirlwind ever ran straight thru:) Most were due an overhaul at 25 hours and Lindy got 29+ hours on the one flight.
Later Wright engines like the great R1830 pulled many, many young guys like my Dad across the skies in WWII and ran roughly, but reliably for as long as several hundred hours between overhaul. BUT don't forget, they were pulling 100% Hp for 3 to 5 minutes and cruising on 75 to 80 % Hp for several hours and returning on 65 to 75% HP.
Rough since the R1830 was a 9 cylinder vs the P&W R1830 that was a smooth 14 cylinder.
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/08/12 19:45:55 EST

I'm still trying to get my head around rotary aircraft engines. Though I've got the feeling that getting your head anywhere near one would have been the last thing you did . . .
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 02/08/12 20:59:42 EST

Baja : Remember Wrong Way Corrigan ? He tried to get a permit to fly across the Atlantic like Lindberg did but they refused to give him one, So he requested a permit to fly from the east coast to the west coast, after obtaining the permit, he flew across the Atlantic, when asked why he did it, he said he lost his bering and flew in the wrong direction. :-)
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 02/08/12 21:10:14 EST

Guru, Thank you for your help. I will get back with you if I do not find someone in SC. Betsy
   - Betsy - Wednesday, 02/08/12 23:30:21 EST

1500 MPa Steel : What are some potential applications for 1500 MPa steel? Beyond making components for auto body structures? Where else is this type of ultra-high-strength steel used?
   Mark - Wednesday, 02/08/12 23:37:27 EST

1500 Mpa (217 KSI) Steel :
I'm not sure how this steel relates to others (it seems to be in the medium alloy - spring steel range) but autobody steel is not considered a "high strength" steel.

Generally in this range the condition of the steel (hardness and temper) mean a great deal.

Ultimate strength is just one of several properties used to specify steels. Stretch (ductility), resistance to cracking, hardenability, workability (forming or machining) and more are used.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/09/12 01:12:21 EST

Hot punching : I have suddenly started to ben punches. Is that down to bad hammer control- i.e. not hitting them straight?
   philip in china - Thursday, 02/09/12 06:06:03 EST

Mike BR, when you say Rotary d you mean the engines with cylinders arranged like spokes on a wheel, and where the cranck was bolted to the firewall and the propellor bolted to the rotating crankcase, or the same cylinder layout but the crank rotates? The fixed crank is the rotary, the fixed crankcase a radial. Both use an unusual arrangement of piston rods in that a single row engine will have one throw on the crank, with a massive big end running on the crank, and the remaining rods much shorter andpinned to small ears arranged around the main rod. That is why they sound "rumbly" when they run, always odd number of cylinders in a row, and the firing order for a 9 cylinder will be 2-4-6-8-1-3-5-9. They even mas produced 5 cylinder engines that were pretty bad at shaking things loose, and Bristol made quite a few 3 cylinder Cherubs that were reputed to have noticable firing of each cylinder even at full speed.
   ptree - Thursday, 02/09/12 07:56:16 EST

Bent Punches : Philip, two things are the most common causes of bent hot punches. First is staying in the hole too long - more than three hits and you should pull and cool the punch. Second is going too deep on the first side - about 2/3 of the way is enough. If you try going until you have a very dark spot on the back side, the biscuit is now so cool that it is bottoming the punch out against the anvil, in essence.

To avoid these problems, I usually mark both sides of the steel to make it easier to locate the back punch spot without having to go so deep as to get a too-cold biscuit and wreck the punch. Note: for punching to see when hot, I use a pyramid-shaped punch tip, rather than round. It's somehow easier to see when hot.
   Rich Waugh - Thursday, 02/09/12 08:21:31 EST

Radial engine : Thanks for that explanation of the crank, Jeff - always wondered about it but never looked it up. Makes sense now that I think about it. The rotary concept seems insane - all that rotating mass trying to throw the cylinders, valves, etc all into the wind!
   Rich Waugh - Thursday, 02/09/12 08:25:54 EST

Firing order of cylinders : What about number 7?
   - philip in china - Thursday, 02/09/12 08:45:54 EST

Bent punches : Yes, I do both of those. Thanks.
   - philip in china - Thursday, 02/09/12 08:46:20 EST

Phillip in china, Those old radials often missed anyway? No I just dropped that number.
The rotories often ran with as much as 300 G's trying to pull everything off as Rich notes. But in the days of a high speed engine turning say 900 RPM, a flywheel effect was helpful. Also since the cylinders were air cooled and the fin size was VERY limited by the casting technique over heating of air cooled engines was a real problem. So, spinning the cylinders at 800RPM helped cool them since the aircraft often had only 40 to 60 MPH airspeeds in those days.

Drawback was a severe torque effect. Some aircraft like the Sopwith Camel would not turn to the right at all. They would however turn the other way super quick so a 90 degree turn to the right was usually a 270 to the left:)
Try and turn right and the nose rose quick, turn to the left and the nose dropped due to gryoscopic precession.
By the way the Camel's bad habits made it a superb fighter in experienced hands as it was dynamicly unstable, yet killed about as many of its own pilots as of the enemy.
Modern fighter aircraft are also designed to be dynamically unstable but have high speed computers to interpert what the pilot wants and move the conrols several hundred times a second to get that.
   ptree - Thursday, 02/09/12 10:54:10 EST

Salt Bath Heat Treating : While not a current topic, the use of salt baths seems to come up fairly regularly. Here is a link to an article by Park Thermal, a company that makes the salts. It is a guide to safe usage and though it is probably beyond most of us to have and use this process, it will provide some background and explanation of how and why it is used.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 02/09/12 13:58:11 EST

Radials and Rotaries : Most radials had a master-rod setup with secondary rods attached, as described by ptree. However, there were some attempts at connecting all rods to a central pivot point to avoid the imbalance. They were problematic, because you couldn't keep that central journal from rotating independently.

The cooling remained a big issue, and one that required some serious development in manufacturing process. In order to exceed 100hp per cylinder (at one time thought to be an upward limit on power), Pratt&Whitney had to increase fin cooling area by casting solid metal around the head, and then cutting very fine fins with ganged slitting saws.

Rotaries are kind of tough to get your head around. One of the implications of a spinning crankcase is that, when viewed from the outside of the engine, the pistons all stay in the same place! Also, they are very smooth, since there is no reciprocating mass creating vibration. Also the centrifugal force mentioned above meant that the valve train arrangements were very limited. You generally fed fuel/air in through the center, and exhausted through a single poppet at the head. However, they had a high output for their weight, and were very compact, two things that were desirable to aircraft designers at the time.

All this material is from my memory of a couple of books: Allied Piston Aircraft Engines, and another one (title escapes me) about early aircraft engine development.

And sorry to keep this so far off topic for so long.
   Bajajoaquin - Thursday, 02/09/12 15:39:33 EST

Power Hammer Anvil (again) : Guru,
I am still in quest of a suitable anvil for the small power hammer I am going to build. I visited a scrap yard today and found several things I was tempted by but nothing I am willing to spend money on except for some rebar. They had a range of it from the tiny stuff all the way up to 2" and all of it was cut about three feet long. I'm sure you know what I am going to ask. If I collected several of the 2" diameter pieces and welded them into a bundle with banding around the outside and welded a top and bottom plate to them would this be sufficient to serve as an anvil for a light power hammer with a twelve pound head?

I don't want to tax your patience or your tolerance. A simple answer would be enough. My concern is that the rebar might prove to be too springy, even welded together. If this will work I can run by the place tomorrow and collect enough material to build the anvil. If not I will bide my time and continue my search for better material.

   - Bill - Thursday, 02/09/12 16:26:01 EST

Bill, you want about 75 to 170 pounds of material, the high end being best. As you bundle the re-bar you will want to weld the pieces together in multiple places to reduce flexing. The top end under the end cap will want to be very flat so all the bars make good contact. Align carefully when welding then dress with a grinder.
   - guru - Thursday, 02/09/12 16:35:34 EST

Bajajoaquin, I don't see it as off topic. Most of the early engines were more blacksmith made then machinist made:)
The efforts to make very closely spaced, thin fins was a challenge that took many many years of work. The earliest were cast iron and the fins thick and widely spaced. Then machined fins and they got much closer as the barrels moved to forged steel with a screwed and shrunk on head of aluminum. (I worked for a forge shop that made both the forged steel barrels until about 2004 and the aluminum heads till the 80's.
The last and most densely packed finned barrels were the Wright K types with barrels with closely spaced grooves machined into the barrel and the they rolled and caulked aluminum fins into the grooves. These fins almost look solid.
The industry was able to go from about 4Hp per cylinder in the original Wright Flyer of 201 cubic inch and 4 cylinders to something like 205Hp per cylinder in the Wright R-3350 Turbo Compound in just 44 years. Of course the gasoline also moved from 34 octane to 115/145. But most of the improvement came from better forged barrels and aluminum heads that were finned enough to handle the heat and hold together, as well as sodium cooled exhaust valves.
Just so there is some more blacksmith content, the barrels were forged in some cases from 8640 or 4140 late in the game.
Same shop also forged the hollow center rotating shafts for most of the jet engines made in the US. They developed a super special heat treat to yield a bore hardness and an od hardness and a soft core, and the bore and OD were different hardness and had to stay straight, and of course no cracks:) These were from 2' long to almost 12' long and looked muck like a field gun barrel.
That heavy wall tube we forged from was wonderful to have around as drops in my shop:)
   ptree - Thursday, 02/09/12 19:34:32 EST


Yes -- I meant rotary engines with the cylinders rotating around the crankshaft. But radials are strange enough . . .

This really is off topic, but my favorite WWI aviation story is about the training outfit equipped with aircraft too obsolete to have ailerons. When told the high accident rate was due to "wing warping," the general ordered that no aircraft be left out in the sun!
   Mike BR - Thursday, 02/09/12 21:43:03 EST

Ptree : When My friends were in A&P mechanics school they were told that really early airplane engines only lasted about 8 hours, but the airframes were shaken apart in only 4 hours.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 02/09/12 22:23:53 EST

Jacobs Radial Engine : The "Shaky Jake" was manufactured in Pottstown, Pa. by Light Manufacturing Co. The engine's designer and company founder was Mr. Jacobs, who had an auto garage in Philly that specialized in Ford Model T's and did an overhead valve conversion. He developed the Jacobs 5 cylinder radial engine [and a few others that never went into mass production] and contracted Light to manufacture the parts. In 1933 He purchased Light Manufacturing, and moved the company to Pottstown. The company went into receivership in the mid '30s, but survived 'till WWII when it thrived. These were not powerful enough for war planes, but were used in some trainers. The plant did other "War Work" and a second much larger plant was built by Defense Plants of America [the US Govt.] and operated by Jacobs Aircraft.

Post war the HP was increased, but as planes got larger and opposed engines came on the market to compete in the small engine market, there was not great demand for these little [235-275 HP] engines. The company closed up in the mid '50s.

I knew several old timers, including My grand pop who were skilled tradesmen at Jacobs at one point or another.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 02/09/12 23:05:56 EST

PH Anvil : Bill, are you paying for welding rods and for power? That is a powerful lot of both to make your anvil. When you have costed in those items I wonder if you will be saving anything by doing it that way.
   philip in china - Thursday, 02/09/12 23:58:15 EST

PH Anvil : Philip in china,
I priced new material and the best I could wrangle was $180 for 100#. My local suppliers don't keep such heavy gage in stock and if they have to order it I can't get a price break on one comparatively little piece. On top of that, the cost is way outside my budget.

I'll pay thirty-two cents a pound for the rebar and I have plenty of rod left over from projects I've done for customers. The time is my own but I'm weighing that against the time and gas I will save hunting all over the county at flea markets and junk yards and not finding anything. And there is the fact that without the hammer I'm going to continue tearing up my shoulder.

All totaled I think I'll end up spending about $50 cash and between 2 and 4 hours assembly, which equals $40 to $80 but it isn't cash and right now I don't have any orders in house. The electric won't be much. Maybe five dollars. I think it's worth it. Am I mistaken? I'm asking that seriously.
   - Bill - Friday, 02/10/12 01:01:42 EST

IF the hammer does what you want. A power hammer is a wimp on a blow to blow comparison to a hand hammer. A 50 pound LG running at half speed (where there is lots of control) hits about like a smith with a 3lb. hammer. A 25 pound hits as hard running full speed (which is hard to control). The difference is the power hammer can do hour after hour. If you want to replace occasional heavy blows combined with drawing power you will probably need a heavier hammer.

There are two schools of personal machine construction. The JYH school where you take advantage of found items and often wait until opportunity presents itself then make a plan based on what you have, or the DIY school where you buy what you need and follow a plan (often someone else's). In between its up to you.

Heavy iron is the hard part to come up with on these projects. Followed by whatever machining is necessary.
   - guru - Friday, 02/10/12 02:06:11 EST

I being of the Thomas Powers school do the JYH thing, and built a hard hitting hammer that definetly eased the load on my arm
   ptree - Friday, 02/10/12 07:38:30 EST

Dave Boyer, Jacobs was bought out of recievership by Page industries in Tulsa Olk, and built new engines into the 80's. The 300Hp was still in demand till then.
   ptree - Friday, 02/10/12 07:39:44 EST

Planishing Hammer : This may be a stupid question, but I was watching American Chopper and they were forming a gas tank on what I think was a planishing hammer. Anyway, it is an air hammer and looked like it was hitting pretty hard and fast. Now, if someone was forging a knife blade, would that type of hammer be sufficient for forming or welding ?
   Mike T. - Friday, 02/10/12 10:56:03 EST

Mike, Generally no. They are very fast without much speed control and do not hit that hard. At slow speed they would not hit as hard as a bare handed pat. . . For forging points and tapers you need to be able to rotate the work between every blow at a minimum. The hammer also needs work height compensation which some planishing hammers have and others do not.

These are a very specialized machine designed for working sheet metal and leaving a fine finish. They are not a forging machine.

If you want a small quiet machine for knife work look at the McDonald Rolling Mill. It will roll weld 2" billets and draw them out and can be used for a degree of tapering.
   - guru - Friday, 02/10/12 11:19:51 EST

Rolling Mill : I am challenged when it comes to mechanical things. We have a high tech, wonderful machine shop where I live. I suppose I could construct the simpler portion, and have them do the rest, they are schooled in reading layouts, drawings etc. :-)
   Mike T. - Friday, 02/10/12 12:14:48 EST

A Jackhammer hits harder and fast but they don't make good powerhammers either, not much throw where a typical powerhammer has a lot of up down space in it's cycle and deals much better with changes in thickness during a hammering cycle. (Though tuning it for the size of work to be done does increase it's efficiency)
   Thomas P - Friday, 02/10/12 17:53:57 EST

Mike T : Larry Donnelly from the Pensylvania guild is building the McDonald Mill to sell. He gets the machine work done at a shop and does the sawing, drilling, welding and assembly in His shop. He said the machine work He jobbed out cost $800 per machine. He didn't cut corners, there is a fair ammount of keyways & some lathe work.

The McDonald plans are metric, something You have to deal with when You build one in the US.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 02/10/12 22:26:21 EST

McDonald Mill Plans :
Hugh's plans are in both metric and English depending on the materials he had on hand. While most dimensions are metric much of the hardware is English with English dimensioned holes.

This is typical of a great deal of the world outside the U.S. where English hardware made for America is plentiful but most materials are Metric. Years ago we were asked to convert plans sold by a French company to an American one to all English. The overall dimensions needed some rounding but most of the larger fasteners were English. The small fasteners were metric but some components were English. The most difficult changes were stock sizes. We had another similar job but for the U.S. Government (officially metric) to convert an Austrailian design to English dimensions and American components. Like the French and Hugh's plans they were a mix.

Once when I was in a hardware store (Ferreteria) in Costa Rica I asked which hardware they preferred. "ENGLISH", was the resounding answer from clerks and customers alike. They did not say but I expect the Gringo fasteners were cheaper than Japanese or European.

In most countries English/Metric tape measures are common as well as mixed hardware and materials. Workers use both simultaneously. Only in the U.S. is everything expected to be purely English.

However, in the world of ball and roller bearings metric size are the norm with the exception of English series bearings which are limited in scope and becoming less and less common. So if you do machine work many of those long odd decimal dimensions are actually metric, no matter how you measure them.
   - guru - Friday, 02/10/12 23:48:23 EST

Measurements : One thing I have wondered about for a long time is this, many colonists came from England and English became the primary language that we speak today. Freedom, Liberty, Justice etc. mean the same thing today as they did in those days. Maybe I don't know how to ask the question properly, but where in the heck did the terms, pound, ounce, quart, gallon, yard and inch come from if we are the only ones who use them ?
   Mike T. - Saturday, 02/11/12 00:56:43 EST

Mike : Those are English units, but England and most of the other countries that were formerly part of the Brittish Empire changed to the metric system years ago.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 02/11/12 02:04:20 EST

Le Systeme Metric : Mike, all those terms are Euro-English going back. . . well to the beginning of civilization.

In BRIEF with lots of Generalizations. . .

The inch is the distance from the end of your thumb to the first knuckle and the foot is. . . well, a foot long. These were standardized as the dimensions taken from some King, Pharaoh or Emperor who's name is long long forgotten. The potentate was probably Middle Eastern since standardization of these units started there abouts. Weight units have been based on numerous things including the weight of a grain seed.

HOWEVER, Europe and the rest of the world, then as now, was made on many small countries all with their own languages and standards. Then in the 1700's the French (I think) developed the metric system which, while supposedly based on reliable global units was just as arbitrary as any other system. The only thing it had going for it was decimalization and multiples by 10 WHICH could have been applied to the English system and we would have been done with it. The problem though was that England ruled the seas and with it trade in English units. After England the U.S. dominated global trade AND along with it distributed goods in English units. Meanwhile France's "scientific" measurement system had been adopted in Europe and it has been the "official" U.S. system for over 100 years but never fully adopted. World Wars spread the need for standardization and most of the world adopted the metric system officially while often continuing use of their local traditional units. Meanwhile the U.S. continued to dominate world trade. . . England the last old world bastion of the old system caved into the metric system due to close trade associations with Europe.

In the U.S. we largely decimalized the English system for engineering units. Inches in common use are used fractionally but in engineering decimals are used. Pounds are almost universally used in decimal units except by the Post Office who still ships mail by the ounce. The U.S. scientific community adopted the metric system long ago and the engineering community is slowly converting.

The conversion to the Metric system in the U.S. is only taking hold now because of the domination of trade in the U.S. by Japan and China. . .

I am not a fan of the Metric system because it is no more arbitrary than the English system. IF the metric system's units were based on some universal standard such as the size/weight of a hydrogen atom or wavelength of its light as it burns (turning to water). . . multiplied by factors of ten OR binary powers. . . I'd be a proponent. . .

Somewhere I had a small engineering reference with traditional units from all over the world. There were dozens of different systems.

Meanwhile the inch was an inch for more than twice as long as the meter has existed. Scale drawings from Germany 700 years ago that used inches are the same as the modern inch.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/11/12 02:35:47 EST

Measurements : Metric may be nearly universal, but it is BORING! Meters, centimeters, millimeters, ad nauseum, simply have no romance or intrigue.

I say we should bring back the time-honored measures like rods, chains, furlongs, pecks, gills, drams, grains, fortnights, nonces, and thrices!

To paraphrase (or perhaps bowdlerize) the immortal words of Aldous Huxley, "A dram is better than a gram." Or something like that. (grin)
   Rich Waugh - Saturday, 02/11/12 05:15:25 EST

Metric/imperial : A mizture can be useful. 25mm bar is a lovely sliding fit in a 1" hole
   philip in china - Saturday, 02/11/12 08:52:14 EST

Thomas Jefferson made the metric system our official system while president.
Originally the meter was an arbitrary unit but is now defined by the wavelength of a particular light. The centigrade system does make sense and is very easy to check instruments against.
The metric units for force are just awkward.
I now work in a almost completely metric, except for all the structural steel and fasteners used are local purchase.

When I started at VOGT, and was doing a fair amount of drafting, every demension was a fractional equivelent unless for a fit. I often used more rounded numbers since I knew that the mills and lathes etc were decimal and did not know or care fractions of an inch or a meter. The Chickens#$% checker insisted that i change to fractional equivalents. I finally in a fit of frustration asked him if he had ever seen the dials on a lathe and took him "across the RR Tracks" to the shops and we looked for an hour trying to find a single machine with fractions on the hand-wheels. He finally relented.
A year later I found a machine that had fractional hand-wheels there, a vertical slotter, made to do huge cuts into valve bodies for the gate slot that Mr. VOGT built circa 1889 for another task and that had been converted for the gate slot job in the 30's.

After 21 years there I know all the fractional to decimal equivalents in inches. I think in inches but convert to metric. I think in degrees F and convert to C. Odd but I think distance in meters, IE that target is 300 meters:)
   ptree - Saturday, 02/11/12 09:42:06 EST

Meters weren't supposed to be arbitrary. They we established as 1 ten-millionth of the distance from the Equator to the North Pole. But the surveys weren't that good (or the Earth that round), so meters don't actually tie to anything real.

When I've been overseas, I've found that I mostly started thinking in Metric and not converting. If you have 150 KM to drive and the speed limit is 100 KM/H, there's no need to convert to miles to get a sense of how far it is.

The exception was temperature, I think because it isn't proportional. Even if you think of 64 degrees F as being twice as warm as 32, 19 degrees C certainly isn't twice zero. Maybe if I learned to think in Rankine and Kelvin . . .

Then there was the time my wife was at a dance camp overseas, bought a 500 ML container of ice cream, and asked how many pints it was. Another dancer who happened to be a BA pilot whipped out his Blackberry, punched a few buttons, and announced that 500 ML was .85 pints. Needless to say, my wife wound up even more confused.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 02/11/12 10:09:44 EST

The fact that all the machine tools are decimal is illustrative of the of the the best thing about the metric system,its easy to do the math mentally. I'd hate to be figuring doses for instance in gills and hogsheads! And there is some thing elegant about our universal solvent (water) being measured in cc,or ml which weigh one gram . I am sorry that here in Canada we started to metricate and then chickened out part way through.
   wayne @ nb - Saturday, 02/11/12 10:19:05 EST

OD/ID pipe dimensions : Does anyone know where I can find a table showing OD/ID pipe/tubing dimensions by shedule? I've been asked to make some swiveling bird feeders and a tube in a tube contruction would be perfect for this. I am thinking of using the heavy walled tubing used for hydraulic lines but I don't know exactly what you call that product. Thanks.
   Patrick Nowak - Saturday, 02/11/12 10:42:11 EST

Some 50 years ago, early in my schooldays, it was decided to teach the metric system. Of course as a child this seemed logical and I was enthusiastic. This keennessyou was not shared by my parents who, in post-war England, were firmly anti-French and German. However even as a young child I could see the inevitability and the advantage of the metric system and determined in my young mind to become familiar and fluent in both. However, the early spatial concepts of measurement which became embedded in my mind were mainly based on Imperial, as they were the measurements still commonly used. So even now I visualise more easily in the imperial measurements learned and practised in childhood. The me one major weaknesses of the imperial system is a lack of a suitable unit of measurement equipment to one foot. The engineering unit of millimetres seems infinitesimally small when measuring room sized distances and similar. Had I been born somewhere where metric had been standard all my life it may not have been a problem, but I am saddled with a spatial concept based on yards feet and inches and the necessity to do conversions in order to visualise. It is strange how early these parameters can be set.
   - Chris E. - Saturday, 02/11/12 11:20:42 EST

Pipe Schedules : Patrick, Machinery's handbook had such a chart, so does the AISC manual.

I also had one in my Mass2 mass and volume calculator that included all the engineering values. My chart was calculated using a dimensions data list and formulaes in a BASIC program. It includes all schedules from 1/8 to 42 inch and was more accurate than the published charts that had (and probably still have) typos in them. Generating the data programatically and converting directly to a database it more accurate than hand entering the data.

Mass2 ZIP Download Link

Mass2 is a DOS program and still works in a DOS window under Windows 98, 2000 and XP. Mouse support does not work but it had a VERY fast advanced keypad navigation (arrows, pgup, pgdn, home end).

This was a incomplete beta version when I stopped development due to the change from DOS to Windirt and Microsnot not supporting the previous data types from BASIC in VisualBASIC.

The program includes nearly 1,000 materials in the densities database, All of the structural sections from the 1973 AISC book (with permission - 32,000 data points) and the above mentioned pipe database.

Mass2 calculates the weights and properties of many geometric sections plus some never before defined shapes. It calculates 3D centers of gravities from individual parts and two simple cases of deflection and strain in all those structural sections including pipe.

Telescoping tubing: Pipe does not suit for telescoping assemblies. You have to buy structural tubing for that and it can be hard to find in our industrial decline.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/11/12 13:01:54 EST

Telescoping tubing : Patrick,

Even structural tubing isn't that dandy for slip fit telescoping sections. The best bet for that is DOM tubing, but it is expensive and some sizes have become difficult or impossible to get any longer in steel. Aluminum, not as much problem.

There's a straightforward hydraulic piping schedule chart for Sch40, Sch80 and Sch160 pipe with all the dimensions and pressure ratings available here: http://www.hollandpt.com/pdf/hydraulic_pipe_table.pdf

   Rich Waugh - Saturday, 02/11/12 13:29:42 EST

But does it calculate weight and deflection as you scroll up and down the sizes. . . My chart includes Schedule 5,10. . through XXS (double extra strong) in standard available sections.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/11/12 13:47:49 EST

Can't run DOS programs : I no longer have a machine that runs any OS old enough to handle a straight DOS program, unfortunately. Mass 2 would be a godsend if it would run in a Windows environment. Likewise my well-loved and well-understood CAD program DesignCad from American Small Business Systems. Sadly, the inevitable progress of computing has killed off some legacy programs that I really relied on, and the new stuff seems to be way over my head.
   Rich Waugh - Saturday, 02/11/12 14:45:03 EST

DOS Programs. . . :
That is why I still run Windows2000 Pro and XP

While I did not like the upgrade to DesignCAD 2000 it still runs on Win98, Win 200 and XP. It also produces gorgeous PDF files using the Adobe print capture system.

I've got thousands of dollars of software I cannot afford to update, and many programs that I cannot afford the learning curve.

The last laptop we purchased for a client had Vista on it and the supposed Vista capable data collection software would not run on it. . . The system would slow down slower and slower so that real time data was displaying an hour later. . . . Microsnot calls this an improvement.

So I guess that after my current laptop I will never have another. I can always build desktop PC's that accept everything from DOS to Win2000 or Unix. So much for progress.

OBTW - The PRO version$ of Windirt will run older 32 bit programs (and maybe DOS).
   - guru - Saturday, 02/11/12 15:01:19 EST

details on ray clontz grinder : I have the chance to get some machining done at a local school for free and I thought I would get the top roller for a ray clontz grinder made. I need to supply a detailed drawing and cant find anything on the web . So when I started to do one myself I realize that I dont understand a lot of the details. From the photos in the anvil fire plans section it looks like a bearing(ball?) is recessed into one end of the roller and held in place by a washer and a cap screw tapped into the end of the shaft.Im wondering if that bearing has to be a press fit into the roller. Also what keeps the inner race from turning on the shaft .Is it pressed onto the shaft? Its not clear to me how the inner bearing is kept located on the shaft. Is there a step machined in the shaft .What do I specify for size on the shaft if the bearing is to press on . Thats enough question for now . I really appreciate the help.
   wayne @ nb - Saturday, 02/11/12 14:48:32 EST

Details on Ray Clontz Grinder :
Wayne, Bearings are always a press fit on the outer race. Ideally they are a light press fit on the shaft as well.

To the best of my cogitating. . .

The pulley has two shielded ball bearings pressed in against shoulders. The shaft has a shoulder to support the inner bearing. A screw and washer hold the pulley on the shaft. Backlash is determined by the distance from the end of the shoulder to the end of the shaft, relative to the out to out dimensions of the bearings in the pulley.

Shoulders for bearings either need to be less than the width of the race OR have notches in them so the bearings can be knocked out. Ball bearings are cheap. Buy an extra set so you will have replacements on hand. Note that the small size of this pulley means that it is turning VERY fast (about 5x the contact wheel). If you make it smaller it will have a shorter life, larger a longer life.

Hope this helps
   - guru - Saturday, 02/11/12 15:15:52 EST

More grinder. . . :
Lots of folks think aluminum pulley's are better. . . They are just cheaper to machine. Steel (or even cast iron) wears better.

Press Fits The smaller the part the smaller the tolerances for press fits. At this scale 0.0005" to 0.0007" (~0.0127 mm)is a light press or push fit. 0.0007 to 0.0015 is a tight press fit.

An option to the shoulder on the shaft is a tubular spacer. For cheap precision shafts I use shoulder bolts. They are also hard. In this case a little turned spacer (or some washers) would hold the pulley in place.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/11/12 15:38:24 EST

Notes : You can look up fits push and forced) in Machinery's Handbook. The above is from the British Standard chart but there are also formulas. You may want to double check since I was guessing at your size range.

When using these dimensions you need to add a tolerance which makes the machining a bit pickier. The general rule is to use as loose or large a tolerance as possible. In this case I would use +/-.0002". However you can push your dimension one way then use +.0000 -.0005. Just be sure that when you add or subtract the max tolerance that you still have the desired fit.

Also note that many bearing catalogs have recommended fits (or they used to. . .). Pick your bearings and work from there.
   - guru - Saturday, 02/11/12 15:59:04 EST

belt grinder idler : The top roller or tracking roller has a crown to be able to track the sanding belt- about 1 degree each side of center. The bottom wheel is flat- rubber coated- a good source is Sunray - located in North Carolina- just google "Sunray wheels" for a website.
   - Ray Clontz - Saturday, 02/11/12 16:59:42 EST

Belt grinder wheels : Keep in mind what Jock said about small wheels turning faster. For today's high-grade zirconia and Cubitron belts and the like, the manufacturers (and experienced users) recommend a speed of 5000sfpm or even higher. That means that a 2" diameter wheel is turning almost 10,000 rpm. You do not want to buy cheap bearings! Also, due to the presence of grinding swarf, be sure to get sealed, shielded bearings for best life span.

On bigger wheels, balance becomes a significant factor, too. If you order wheels from a source like Sunray (good folks, in my experience) be sure to tell them your intended use and design parameters so they can supply you with the proper wheel.
   Rich Waugh - Saturday, 02/11/12 18:26:32 EST

Distance units : Anyone who ever navigated from a nautical chart will understand why the nautical mile remains popular for the purpose. It is equal in distance to 1 minute of latitude.

For the purists who still do celestial navigation, it is indespensable.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 02/11/12 22:02:31 EST

McDonald Rolling Mill : As a regular reader of guru's den section of Anvilfire, I sometimes get a buzz seeing my name pop up in relation to the Rolling Mill I invented. I enjoy getting feedback from builders of the mill. Most comments are favourable, even enthusiastic but a few grumbles about the mix of metric and imperial dimensions. A simple 25.4 mm to the inch conversion is all that is needed.

I long ago discovered the limits of Coppyright when the association I pay fees to belong to, started handing out photocopies of the mill plans for free. A post in Anvilfire, 02/10/12, states a Larry Donnelly of the Pensylvania guild is building the McDonald Mill to sell. He must be impressed enough with the design to use it commercially and is said not to cut corners. He also seems not to have noticed my name, phone number, postal address and email address appears in the document.
   Hugh McDonald - Sunday, 02/12/12 01:46:24 EST

I finally found it! A simple CAD program : For some years now I've been using an old legacy CAD program to do my mechanical drawings and job sketches, but it simply won't run at all on my new shop computer with Windows7 64-bit and is badly wonky on my 32-bit Win7 laptop. Over several years' time I've gotten really comfortable with this old program (TotalCAD 2-D) and all the other CAD programs I've tried out had too long a learning curve for me and/or were too expensive, so I had to resort to setting up a separate virtual computer just to run that TotalCAD program. Until now.

Thanks to a kindly suggestion from my former nemesis BurntForge, I think I have finally found a nice, dumb, really simple-to-use CAD program for doing my shop drawings and bid drawings for prospective jobs. This program is simple enough that I had it mostly figured out in about ten minutes, yet it really does seem to do what I need done. It has the customary useful features like spline curves, polygons and so on, it will do the necessary dimensioning and outputs a .dxf or .dwg file, as desired. Unlike my old program, it has a very easy and clean method for adding notes and callouts to the drawings, too. It is strictly a 2-D program, which is what I want - I have neither the time nor the desire to learn to do 3-D drawings at this stage. That's what pencils are for. (grin)

The program I've just discovered is called DeltaCAD and I'm currently using the free trial version which is good for 45 days with no limitations or restricted functionality. The full cost of a program license is only $40, so I’m pretty darn sure that I'll be buying it after I've tried it for a few more days. The program download is just under 10MB so it went quickly even with my somewhat hobbled third world DSL connection.

If you've been thinking about getting into using CAD for your drawings but don't feel like spending hundreds of bucks and the next six months of your life to learn AutoCAD, Rhino or one of the other full-strength programs, this program might be well worth a try. It certainly isn’t for engineers or architects, but at first blush it seems dandy for blacksmiths or newcomers to the world of CAD. It is, unquestionably, the simplest CAD program I've ever seen and yet seems plenty adequate for my needs. Check it out at http://www.deltacad.com

Thanks for the tip, Brande!
   Rich Waugh - Sunday, 02/12/12 11:28:49 EST

CAD Systems :
For most users the most important feature is conversion to a DFX, the AutoCAD interchange format. This format is used by automated torches, LASERS, CNC machines and engravers. The good news is that like the Microsoft interchange formats the aftermarket programs do a better job creating and reading these files than AutoCAD.

Curve Formulaes: The standard Bezier curve used in virtually all computer graphics and CAD programs is the worst choice ever made by major programs. It used to be the only curve in AutoCAD. In Rich's and my beloved DesignCAD (I was using it when it was Prodesign II) the curve routine is a Cubic spline.

A Cubic Spline routine uses matrix math which is very difficult to understand unless you are a high level mathematician. Instead of using control points and vectors off the line of the curve a Cubic Spline makes a curve from any three or more points ON the curve. Move a point to correct the desired line and it moves as expected.

I spent a lot of time finding a cubic spline routine that worked in basic and then a lot MORE time debugging it to work. It works great for graphing. I set it up to create a number of new points between control points so that it was easy to extrapolate data from the curve. NO, I'm not a math genius, but I'm a fair program debugger and hacker. . .

#1 rule to CAD. Points are set numerically by coordinates. They are typed in, not set with a mouse.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/12/12 13:56:08 EST

Back to Measurements... : Some interesting things in the discussion about measurments, and the conversions between Imperial and Metric.

At the end of WWII, when a few B-29s had landed in the Soviet Union, Stalin was determined to jumpstart his aircraft industry by copying them. He gave the job to Tupolev, who was in a work camp at the time. He was told to copy the B-29 in something like one year or two years. In order to do that, he had to make drawings. The Soviet Union was metric at the time, but there were lots of things that wouldn't convert readily: sheet metal gauge among the most critical. So, he decided to have his new factory, and all the suppliers, convert to inch-pattern. In a totalitarian state, it was possible.

I like to point out that Fahrenheit is also a "centigrade" system. The Metric Centigrade is based on 0 being the freezing point and 100 being the boiling point of water. For Fahrenheit, 0 was the lowest average temperature recorded in his German town over a period of years, and 100 was the highest.
   Bajajoaquin - Sunday, 02/12/12 14:35:35 EST

Smithy plans : Hi. I've been smithing for few years in 10x10 shed. got alot of basics. I am thinking of expanding and would like to put up another building for smithing and light machining, ie lathe and milling machine. I want to use the space efficiently. Would like suggestions on floor plans, layouts, buildings, etc from more blacksmiths. THANKS!
   Ray - Sunday, 02/12/12 14:50:15 EST

Splines : The very first thing I checked on this little CAD program was how it generates curves, expecting to find stinking Bezier functions. Nope - cubic splines! That right there was just about enough to sell me on it.

For an artist/blacksmith, the cubic spline is wonderful because you can so easily and intuitively manipulate it, something that is a real nightmare (for me, anyway) with Bezier handles and vectors. In a cubic spline curve you can simply move a point and the program routine adjusts the adjacent points to maintain the curve. So you draw a scroll, for example, and see that it has a bit of a bulge in one spot and just select the point on the bulge and ease it to where the bulge is gone. In the old DesignCAD you could generate a spline curve with a whole bunch of points and then tell it to "smooth" the curve and the routine would remove appropriate points until the curve had a natural smooth progression. What a treat!

If I could find someone to write an updated version of DesignCAD that worked like it did in 1980 but ran in a modern Windows environment, I erect a statue to him. I could get Jock to split the cost, too. (grin) Until that genius drops in, I think I'll be fine with the DeltaCAD. It only has about a tenth the finesse and power of DesignCAD, but it seems to have enough for my pedestrian needs.
   Rich Waugh - Sunday, 02/12/12 15:09:14 EST

Smithy Plans : Ray, Ray, Ray...give it up while you still can. Take the money you'd spend on building and put it into booze, instead. In the end, it will be less costly and no more destructive than trying to create a really great shop. Just kidding, of course, but you do know that this is a never-ending process you'll be starting, right? If you build a 40x60 shop , in a couple of years (at the most) you'll be feeling cramped again. And so on and so on... (grin)

If you ask a dozen smiths for their opinion of the best shop layout, you'll get at least eighteen different opinions, though there are a few things that most of us would all agree on.

First and foremost, make the ceiling high enough! 12' minimum, 16' is better, and 20' wouldn't be excessive. You may need to make or lift heavy stuff with a crane or hoist in there and you'll need the headroom. Second, make the door big enough - 12 tall by 8' wide or better. Provide for lots of ventilation. Don't locate processes that generate grinding or welding swarf near machine tools. Try to keep your anvil, power hammer, forge and post vise all within a two-step area. Have LOTS of ventilation. Have plenty of light in your machine work area and your welding area. I like lots of light everywhere, but others prefer the forging area a bit darker. I like concrete floors, others prefer packed dirt or gravel. If you're planning to do this for a living, separate a small office area from the rest of the shop. Have LOTS of ventilation. It is important enough it bears repeating.

If you can do it, when you pour the concrete floor, cast in a few sockets of 6x6 square tubing that are 18-24 inches deep and flush with the floor on top. If placed in strategic spots, these will be a joy when you want to put a post vise or a Hossfeld bender here or there but not be committed to it forever. While you're doing that, put an electrical ground loop in the soil below the concrete pour - your electrical equipment will love yo u for it. Also, run welding lead cables from each of those 6x6 sockets to each other and then to the location where you anticipate having your welding equipment. Now you have convenient grounding spots throughout the shop without having to drag a long cable.

Don't get cheap on your wiring. Lots of circuits and heavy enough ones. You're inevitably going to get more and more equipment and you'll want those receptacles. Easier to do them now.

If you don't have and use a CAD program for drawing, make a scale layout and cut pieces of file card to represent each piece of anticipated equipment including tables, benches, machines, even trash receptacles. You can move them around endlessly until you find a layout that seems to suit you. You'll also quickly realize that that 40x60 isn't enough and you really need 60x80, or maybe 80x 120, or...(grin)

Okay, there's a few things off the top of my pointy head. Others will have lots more. Have fun with it!
   Rich Waugh - Sunday, 02/12/12 15:35:32 EST

Shop Layouts :
Ray, Other than the immediate forge area work triangle or square (a square has forge, anvil, vise AND power hammer) everything depends on the exact equipment you have or plan to have. Some general rules:

Machine tools need to be isolated by a wall or distance from grinding grit and dirty operations. They should also be in a heated area unless they are only to be used for rough work. The reverse of this is if you have a lot of grinding equipment it is best in a seperate room to keep the grit out of the rest of the shop.

One of the best arrangements I've had in the past was a seperate welding shop. All the welding equipment in a space with a large bench. We also had the heat treating equipment in the same space as well as a grinder. All the grit generating equipment in one space. The only thing short was hoisting equipment for heavier weldments.

Load lifting capacity is highly recommended in a shop with heavy equipment. Many pieces of equipment in a small blacksmith shop weigh up to 4,000 lbs. (1814 kg). A small weld platen weighs up to a ton.

While a dirt or clay floor is good for a forge area it is terrible for machinery including power hammers, iron workers and other forge area machinery. Often you end up with multiple seperate foundations that are not suitable for replacements. So in the long run, a monolithic concrete floor is best. However, occasionally you need special foundations for power hammers. . .

One area that takes a lot of space to be efficient is a stock rack and saw. It is good to have the stock rack lined up with the saw or ironworker and stock supports. Then you need room for the cut off ends. Its hard to plan around this unless you have a LOT of room.

Besides stock general storage is important. Shelves for tools, shelves for parts and hardware. Bins, tool chests. . . If you have funds for a building, plan on setting aside about 10% for shelving space.

AND like an auto garage you need an open work space that is not dedicated to another purpose. You need this for projects, unloading trucks. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 02/12/12 17:07:20 EST

Smithy Plans , Don't forget the cost to heat and power.
   - jkmas - Sunday, 02/12/12 17:54:40 EST

Shop details :
Rich covered a lot of things I did not. His mention of floor sockets for vises is good. Another is to set anchors in the floor to act as deadman for pulling loads in and out of the shop.

Like any modern building a LOT can go into the floor. Wiring embedded in the floor prevents the need for cords and electrical drops to machines and benches. In a machine shop environment not only do you need high voltage for the machine but normal outlets for accessory lights and hand tools at each machine. Compressed air is good too. . .

If you have an air compressor and air tools you can reduce a lot of shop clutter and increase efficiency by putting in wrought pipe air lines (never use plastic or copper with air). Quick disconnects distributed throughout the shop like electrical outlets. This is not inexpensive to do but it sure makes things convenient. If you have an air hammer the distribution system will need a large dryer in-line unless you are running a high tech compressor with one built in.

   - guru - Sunday, 02/12/12 18:07:08 EST

Shop organization : I am looking for large wood framed crates to put casters on so I can load up with certain materials and store them under the bench. I plan on drilling large holes in the bottom so when it floods again (not if, WHEN) the water will drain out. I can't tell you how many little mosquito breeding pools formed from the last flood in all things like bins, cups, coffee cans, etc. Anyway, I was planning on trolling the warehouse areas around me for spare wood crates, like shipping kind. I plan on keeping things like shock absorbers, water pumps, things I use for my sculptures. Right now, I am in the process of making a giant hand using cylinder caps as fingertips and 4" pipe for the rest. The whole hand will have 24 points of articulation, each adjustable with thumbscrews and lock washers. I'll post when done.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 02/12/12 19:18:49 EST


Is it okay to use thumbscrews on the other fingers?
   Mike BR - Sunday, 02/12/12 19:26:26 EST

Interesting Metric observation : Sorry, Not really smithing, But since measurement systems were discussed...

So if water freezes at 0 deg C. boils @ 100, Thats a 180 degree change of phase (lacking a better word)going from solid to liquid.
Under the Farenhiet system freezes at 32, Boils at 212, Thats also 180 degrees of phase as well as degrees of temperature.

Do I smell conspiracy here or is that merely coincidence ??
   - Sven - Sunday, 02/12/12 20:44:56 EST

Nip, shame you are not closer, we scrap very nice over seas crates almost daily. They are made fro 6mm luan plywood and some species I don't know as the corners etc. I have a number and they are very nice. I try and keep a pile of the tops which aren't stapled a billion places at home for various projects.
   ptree - Sunday, 02/12/12 21:01:25 EST

Not Conspiracy, Design : Sven, Yes, that is how the Fahrenheit system was designed. At first the highest and lowest temperatures were measured in a survey of Europe. Human body temperature was also envolved and set at 100. These were the beginning zero and 100. The the freezing point of water was then found on this scale at about 32. When the boiling point was found the scale was restructured to that geometric reference of 180 degrees (opposites). This shifted the human body temperature to 98.6.

The relationship between 100 and 180 is where the 5/9ths comes in the conversion formula. The 32 is obvious.

The ice point is an excellent temperature calibration point as it is constant regardless of pressure. However, the boiling point at sea level is a miserable reference as it assumes standard atmospheric pressure which varies by gravity and the rotation of the Earth.

A better calibration point (you need two) would be the freezing point of Mercury or absolute zero, something actually constant.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/12/12 21:21:32 EST

Starting from absolute zero : That would be the Kelvin scale. The degrees are the same size as centigrade/celcius degrees, it just starts from the lowest temperature possible, so all readings are a positive value.

It is handy at cyrogenic temperatures, but for general use the numbers are high and don't relate to the weather.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 02/12/12 22:23:00 EST

The Fahrenheit scale was invented to be a human scale and is better for weather than Celsius due to the finer scale.

Using absolute zero and the ice point works fine if you divide the range by 1, 10 or 100 with everything below the ice point negative and everything above positive.
   - guru - Sunday, 02/12/12 22:40:36 EST

Hugh McDonald : Larry has built one and is offering it for sale, and hopes to be able to build and sell others.

Larry is a retired welder and was making mosaic damaskus commercially using presses. He has tired of that, and built a rolling mill much like Yours. I wasn't involved with the construction, so I don't know how closely it follows Your plan, it was built using USA available components. I have seen it work, and it works well.

I guess I shouldn't have called it a McDonald Mill, but the smithing community knows what that is and will probably call any similar machine by Your name.

Perhaps I should not have said anything at all, but since I blabbed about it, You may as well know where He stands with it.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 02/12/12 22:42:08 EST

Years ago I wrote a little tool bar program that converted temperatures from each of the scales, Fahrenheit, Celsius, Rankine and Kelvin. It displayed a graphic comparison scale with a zoom function. All the graphics were dynamic. It was one of my few windows programs but would not install on anything later than Win98. So much for using Microsnot programing languages and compilers. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 02/12/12 22:56:56 EST

Shops and Shops :
I've had a lot of shops from home shops to service stations and garages, a family machine shop, a dream shop (lost in a divorce) and an inherited shop of sorts. . .

My first "shops" were benches with drawers in corner. The highlight was a little 2-1/2" vise my Dad gave me when I was 4 years old. Any vise is better than no vise and that little vise was used for sawing, drilling, filing, holding. . . and very light hammering. It is my son's now.

Our first home shop of significance was in an old chicken house. We had drawing boards attached to the walls that would fold down if needed and a long 24 foot bench along one wall. That bench had sliding track outlets on the front (NOT recommended) and a "big" old Champion Universal vise. The bench going from end to end of the long room was great.

My next shop was a Phillips 66 Service Station. Like first class service stations of the late 60's it was well built. The handy thing that was easy to get spoiled with was the lift and the air lines. Besides hose reels at both ends of one pump island there were airline connections all over the bays and outside as well. The wash area had a big pit grease trap and there was underground waste oil storage. It was also well lit with lots of windows. I did not appreciate the industrial duty shelves and back room with more shelves until I moved.

My next shop was low rent in a basement with a garage door. Other than being where the electrical service was for the entire building, it had nothing much going for it other than being warm and dry. There was an office and seperate store room.

My shop after that was another basement space with garage doors. The best part was the building owner let us take the miles of steam pipes and plumb the place for air. I did both the air and electrical. Every work station (about a dozen) had electrical outlets and dual air connections. Being an auto garage there was also water in numerous places.

My next shop was an indoor/outdoor blacksmith shop. Other than being well ventilated it had few advantages.

Our family business MEC (Mechanical Equipment Company) started with a little basement shop with nothing but disadvantages. The big shop in the country had so-so high ceilings and some structural steel to hang hoists from. We had to put in all new wiring and 3 phase. For work height we had to put an 8 foot deep pit. Over it and the rest of the center isle of the shop we had a 10 ton Wallace Gantry Crane. The shop had a side section that we kept stock in and a weld shop. The main shop had an office, a stock room and a toilet. We had two lathes, two milling machines and other equipment. We turned out a lot of work in that shop.

The MEC shop was expanded for a large job. We needed 28 feet under the crane hook. The tallest stock gantry crane we could get was 24 feet. The new shop ended up with a pit to add 5 feet to one end. Darn big addition.

My "Dream Shop" like all shops had some compromises. This started with lot space. So the building was 32 x 40 on grade, 32 x 44 at 2nd floor level. 2/3 of the shop had a 16 foot ceiling and the front an open mezzanine for high work. The side of the shop with a second story had the machine shop and toilet downstairs, an office and store room upstairs.

In the high bay I had a monorail 40 feet long supported by a reinforced roof truss I designed. The trusses at the anchor point every 6 feet apart were doubled and there was a special long axis truss perpendicular to the roof trusses. I rated the rail at 5 tons with a two point load. It had two 2 ton hoists very handy.

My current shop is a mess. It is a double oversize carport type building 40 x 60 feet. These buildings designed to be barns and car sheds have the roofing tin running the long direction. The result is leaks sprinkled all over the roof that change from time to time.

The building is also insufficient for supporting anything other than itself. In fact I think it is only rated for about 5 pounds per square foot. . . One typical snow from 30 years ago and it will be flat. I'm looking into reinforcements. To fix the leaks will require an entire second roof over the existing one. . .. yeah the reinforcements will not be an option.

The lack of a way to lift with the building forced me to buy a forklift. Wonderful machine but high maintenance. Tires, brakes, hydraulics. . . the exhaust pipe fell off the other day. . . Step one according to the manual is to remove the counterweight. Need a hoist to pick 1,500 pounds or so. . .

   - guru - Sunday, 02/12/12 23:45:22 EST

Shop Floor Details. : I worked at a former auto bodyshop, It had floor anchors that were a capped pocket that contained a length of chain, We did not repair cars, But that chain was real handy for a multitude of anchor tasks, then the chain dropped back into its hole and capped when not used.
I would have liked steelplates set into the floor to temporary welding onto, but as a rented shop was not allowed to install them.
   - Sven - Monday, 02/13/12 07:08:47 EST

Floor anchors : I got the "socket-in-floor" concept from Ralph Sproul, a remarkably talented and clever blacksmith in New Hampshire. Those floor sockets work dandy for dropping a stub into to pull things with, too. When not in use, you simply cap them with a flush cap and you never know they're there.

Ralph is also the guy who got me using "gazintas", those handy-dandy 2" square receiver sockets build into my big benches for mounting vises, benders, work supports, etc.
   Rich Waugh - Monday, 02/13/12 11:03:15 EST

More Floor Anchors : I am spoiled- I have a dozen buildings. My main shop is so full of tools that you cant build big things in it, so I have a second building that is kept open and flexible, with 20 foot to the eave on the low side, 25 or so on the high side.
In it, we installed a 6' on center grid of floor plates- each plate is 12" x 12" x 3/4" , and they are welded to a grid of 1 1/2" rebar in the floor. Each plate has 4 holes, drilled and tapped for 3/4" bolts. I keep little filler studs in these holes normally, so they dont get full of dirt.
So the entire floor of the shop is a big clamping jig- you can bolt things down all over. And since its all connected, it also acts as a wire free ground for welding- you connect a ground clamp to any one plate, and all the rest are grounded.
We have built several very large projects in there, and the floor plates really come in handy. We bolted down the base plates to some 18' tall sculptures, for example, that would have been too top heavy to trust freestanding. More recently, we built a set of six 24' x 16' x 8' tall chandeliers in there- one at a time, of course- bolting down the base, and building them upside down. They then came apart for painting and shipping, and the next one got built in there.
Floor plates are very handy.
You can temporarily bolt down tools, or bending pins, or weld to them and grind off later.
But you need to put them in when you pour the floor.
   - Ries - Monday, 02/13/12 13:52:07 EST

What do you mean absolute zero is the lowest---my test simulator is giving me readings of -50k K! (and I am greatly amused, way off the top end as well as the universe would be a plasma at that temp!)

Time to figure out how they are getting those numbers in simulation...
   Thomas P - Monday, 02/13/12 14:26:31 EST

Weld platens are nothing BUT a big socketed plate. I've planned on mounting one of my big chipping vises on a plate with shank that anchors it to the platen. The reason to have it removable is that large assembly and welding jobs often need the entire platen open. A vise sticking up on one corner is a big obstruction. But any other time it is the BEST anchor point for a vise!

In shipyards where big steel is bent they have entire shops with the floor made of weld platens. Hot steel is dragged out of a floor level furnace and then bent to a traced line on the floor using dogs, pry bars or hydraulics anchored in the grid of holes.

One idea a friend wanted to setup was a pair of channels set in the concrete floor to use with T nuts for bolting down machinery. He keeps repeating the idea over the decades and I keep telling him no two machines will have holes that will line up at any angle to a specific distance. It had low probability of working except on a specific machine it was designed to fit. . .

In my "Dream" shop I had put in two power hammer foundations a couple feet deep and isolated from the surrounding floor by a 3/8" (10mm) thick layer of roofing felt. These were to fit the 100 pound and 50 pound Little Giants I had at the time. Then I purchased a 250 LG that would not quite fit the foundation for the 100. . . THEN I traded for a Niles Bement which needed a below ground foundation. . . None of the four hammers were ever setup in that shop. Future owners of the shop will not have a clue. . .

Floor plates such as Ries setup are a good idea. The drilled and tapped holes make them very useful. I fill such holes with socket set screws. Anchoring them well into the concrete and very flush is important. I would probably weld them to several pins driven into the ground to keep them leveled and to the rebar as well. J-anchors welded to the plates would also help hold them in place. Making the plates and then setting them up takes time a preparation - PLANNING.

I suspect that a few smaller drilled and taped holes would be handy as well as the big ones.

In one shop Josh Greenwood visited in Germany they had an old ancient anvil set upside down in the floor. It was used for upsetting and the square handling hole helped keep small bars from bouncing around.

In commercial buildings they put outlets in floors covered with a brass cover plate. One tip from woodworkers is to have a floor outlet in the middle of your work room for the table saw. These need space on all sides so all the space around them is a walk way. . . When they have a wooden floor they also run the sawdust collection system under it.

In my old shop the front door columns (6 x 6's) are bolted to 4 x 4 steel angle iron welded to a 12" I-beam that reinforces the edge of the concrete entry. The beam is below grade. VERY stout. Took planning.
   - guru - Monday, 02/13/12 14:49:36 EST

At the VOGT Boiler shops, in about 1986 they had a 3 month lull in the schedule, had contracts in hand for a HUGE boiler job and used that lull to pour concrete. About 15 acres of fresh concrete! Most went where there had been dirt floor for the previous life of the shop. In the boiler erection shop, they broke out the old concrete that was in somewhat poor condition. Before the replacement concrete was poured, they set up and laser leveled big 24" wide flange beams in the floor. They were set on foundations sub grade, and all tied together with a super heavy mat of re-bar that also served as ground for the welding to come. Those beams were welded into 80' or so long parallel leveling beams to erect the boilers from. The boiler modules were erected on their sides and were 72' long, 13' tall and 13' wide. The big ones went 235,000# each. Hence the 24" heavy wide frame on the sub grade foundations.We usually had about 40,000 amps of welders in action on that grid. (200 400 amp power sources set for an average of 200 amps.) Of course they were not all in the arc at once but the average was probably 120 at once. Next bay over had the big 1/4" wire submerged arc welders.
What with that much arc welding, the induction welders in the forge and in the valve shop a bare d'arsenval meter movement would just bang stop to stop most anywhere on the 40 acre facility. We also learned to be very good at grounding and shielding to get electronics to work.

I have an Acorn platen in my shop, set low for ease of reaching the center. I am slowly adding gadgets to go into the 2" square holes. One is an old about shot Prentiss vice, mounted to a 2' long square tube. I can grab the tube with a heavy C-clamp and have a vise at infinitely adjustable height for a welding vise. Figure how high I need the item to weld comfortably, and just set the vise that high. I have another set up for table top level, and have a number of home built jigs to mount as well. I use 2" square for lots of items I build, so the drops end up in my build tooling from pile.
   ptree - Monday, 02/13/12 20:23:04 EST

Floor Tie-downs : When I worked at the Boeing Everett factory during the late 1960's provioins were made in one of the huge hanger bays to do the dynamic and fatigue testing. Heavy steel channel weldments were set up at final floor level and several/many feet (I think 5 feet) of concrete were poured under them. The 747 test airplane was tied down to the floor through a complex web of loading points on the airframe structure. Testing took many months and finally it was time for the load to ultimate of the wing to body joint. AS I recall the wing tip was bent up 14 feet above the normal in-flight deflection when there was a pop; one of the longerons on the lower skin failed in tension. It failed above the required ultimate load, causing some frustration because that meant it was over designed and carring extra weight. Extra weight equates to excessive fuel burn. Most of the floors are as smooth as possible so the air bearings used to move the fuselage around could float slightly above the floor. The tie down area was at the far exit end of the bay where the plane would now be moved on its landing gear. All interesting stuff to a young and green engineer. If you are in the area, take3 the factory tour!
   Bob - Tuesday, 02/14/12 02:22:48 EST

Air Lift Pads or Air Bearing Plates :
These are very slick for moving heavy loads. A little compressed air and the load lifts a fraction of an inch off the ground and with almost no effort you can move tons.

The problem with these is you need a perfectly level surface or the load will take off moving on its own. We tested one of these on a supposedly level floor in a Nuclear power plant. The test went well until everyone turned their back on the load. A few seconds later the load was moving at about 5MPH and accelerating. The crew had to run to stop it and when they got in front of it they could barely slow it down. The floor was only about 1/4" or less out of level in 50 feet!

Friction is usually the enemy but more often it is our friend holding things in place.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/14/12 05:12:37 EST

Mr. McDonald : Is there no way to enforce the patent you have on your rolling mill ? If it is being produced commercially, can't you get an attorney and force these people to pay you the royalties you deserve ?
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 02/14/12 06:53:00 EST

Patents : Some simple truths about patents.
A patent's protection is only as good as YOUR defense of same. YOU have to find the infringer, YOU have to pursue legal means.

A patent ONLY covers the "New to the art" portion of what is claimed. That is if you patent the Safety Razor blade, but not the safety razor itself, everyone can make and freely sell the razor, just not the blades.

I suspect Mr McDonald's rolling mill is not patented, as rolling mills have existed for eons.
   ptree - Tuesday, 02/14/12 10:49:27 EST

Moving Heavy Loads : Air lift plates, dollies, cranes, rollers - they're all nice but any one of them can lull you into a false sense of security. When you're moving something weighing a ton or ten, your lifting equipment handles the weight, but usually YOU have to handle the MASS. And that's where people get injured or killed. They forget that all that mass is hard for a puny little 200# blacksmith to stop, once it gets moving. The lesson about mass and acceleration is too often learned at the expense of structural members of the equipment or the human body.
   Rich Waugh - Tuesday, 02/14/12 11:28:50 EST

Moving Heavy Loads :
In our family shop we had two 10 ton gantry cranes. They were used more at near maximum capacity or over 50% than not. This is unusual in most shops. Due to the fact that were moving such heavy loads AND in assembly work we slowed the gantry down to 1/5th of the factory design and sometimes that seemed fast. You did not notice how slow it was unless you were moving a light load from one end of the shop to the other.

Most small gantry cranes do not need to be motorized but the V-groove wheels that run on angle iron are very high friction and when there is a heavy load it took 4 men pushing hard to move the crane. We did this for our first big job then motorized the crane. We found it much too fast so I added in-line planetary gear boxes to the worm drive reducers. This was such a success that the crane manufacturer started offering the same.

Uncontrolled loads are where things get very dangerous. Tipping things upright from horizontal or the reverse can be very tricky. There is a point when the center of gravity changes relative to the lifting point and the load goes "over center". When this happens the lifting chain or cable goes slack due to the arc of the moving load. The load is not controlled by the hoist at this point and can move VERY fast. Light loads can be man handled at this point but heavy loads can be very dangerous at this point.

There are several ways to handle this moment. One is to setup a second load handling device to control the horizontal movement. The capacity of this device only needs to be a small portion of the load. But it is a tricky thing to do because the direction of the shifting center of gravity can and often does try to rotate around the lifting axis. This only works on loads with a definite direction of tilt controlled by a long straight edge or corner. Cylindrical objects and many machines with rounded bases do not tip in a controlled manner are most difficult to control. If they are very heavy then use three horizontal controls. This is often several crews on ropes but mechanical devices are safer.

The other method that works best but is not always available is to lift the entire load off the ground by two points, one at the top center the other on the bottom to one side. Then you raise the top as you lower the bottom. This results in a smooth controlled transition with no over-center situation. This can be done on a monorail with two hoists but requires the load's long axis to be in line with the rail.

Moving heavy loads safely requires thinking, planning and preparation, not just brute force.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/14/12 13:04:31 EST

In our boiler shops we used 2 bridge cranes to lift, and rotate 90 degrees those 235,000# 72' long boiler modules in a 75' wide bay. They opened a railroad sized overhead door that both admitted the lowboy flat car in but allowed the end of the boiler to go out to facilitate the 90 degree turn. But then we had very experienced crane operators, driving varible feq drive AC cranes. At VOGT we had more than a 100 overhead cranes and about 200 jib cranes
   ptree - Tuesday, 02/14/12 14:33:44 EST

Shops with RR-sidings in the building are nearly the ultimate of big industry. The only thing I've seen that is "spiffier" are large floating dry docks. Float the ship in, close the end doors, raise the dock by pumping out ballast and leave the ship dry. All done with pumps and sea water. Same usually have bridge cranes that can pickup all or most of a very large ship. But most of the ship handling is done on equipment rollers. During WWII they had concrete floating dry docks for in theater repairs. One of those things you do not see or hear about in the histories.

Even with all the high tech DRO's, cameras and speed controls on big 100 ton cranes I have seen some really scary things happen.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/14/12 15:16:27 EST

The scariest thing i saw with a 100 ton crane, was in the circa 1927 boiler shop bays, when a 100 ton crane was tracking dorn the crane way with a slung load a 4" thick by about 12' OD by about 30' long pressure vessel and all of a sudden the crane way sagged and the vessel, thankfully only 6" of so in the air skidded to a stop. A 8" fire main in the sand fill under the floor had broken, and then washed the earth from under the craneway footer. The load sagged the foundation under 2 or 3 crane columns. Took something like 20 triaxles of fill to replace what had washed away into the broken sewr drain that Happenedto be opposite the craneway from th fire main.
In those shops we had a crane that could lift a 50 foot drom over a 40' tall vertical mandrel for the worlds largest boiler riveter. That crane cupolla towered higher than anything fom a couple of miles and is still a landmark. We had our own DC grid to power all those cranes, because until the recent advent of Vari-freq AC drives the cranes were all DC for speed control. We had our own rr trackes switches etc so we could get to most buildings on the compound. In WWII we built Liberty ship boilers complete, one a week, and every serpentine header used for every liberty boiler. We made millions of forged and machines projectiles and of course regular boilers, valves and fittings and refrig equip. SO that of course meant rail shipment. We had our own RR crane, and switcher. Even shipped many rr car loads of valves and fittings made to special specifications to a place called Hanford in Washington, and another installation in Tn.
This meant of course that we also had lots of very heavy machining capability
   ptree - Tuesday, 02/14/12 15:57:55 EST

The foundation failing on a big crane under load IS scary. .

We used a crane once in a power plant that was designed by one of the plant maintenance engineers. It was supposedly rated 10 tons but the inexperienced engineer sized the bridge for stress, not deflection. Even with modest loads less than a ton the bridge flexed, the load acting like it was suspended on a rubber band. With loads approaching 5 tons the bridge sagged so badly that the electric trolley could not climb the hill. . . If you tried to just barely lift a heavy load it would hop off the floor then THUD back down as the bridge bounced. So you had to quickly lift the load and stop but not too soon. The crane should not have never been approved for use with any load.
   - guru - Tuesday, 02/14/12 17:42:39 EST

Moving Stuf : The scariest thing I've had to move in my shop is my fly press. It is bolted to a heavy structural steel stand, but is still very top-heavy and is pretty tall, too. I don't have an overhead crane, so the only way I have to move it around is with either the engine hoist or pry bars. The first time I had to move it, I stood there studying it for maybe an hour, trying to figure out a fairly safe way to do the deed. It finally occurred to me that the only way I could do it safely was to lower the center of gravity - so I chained a 250# anvil to the legs and all was well. It is now located where it shouldn't have to be moved again for a long time.
   Rich Waugh - Tuesday, 02/14/12 17:56:24 EST

Guru, on that crane that the foundation washed out on, it was as old as the shop, all the structuals riveted. The scary thing to us was hat the leak had occurred over time, so a load lifted to clear an obstruction could have failed in a much worse way. Because the leak washed the sand into a sewer, there was no indication, and since the crane tests were done at the end of the craneway, and the failure was in the center we were only able to discover the failure by failure!
In our area the fire mains are not metered so no indication of a leak there either.

We rebuilt the foundation after some serious jacking and leveling and that very same crane way, riveted structure and all is still there, still in us by the fab shop that rents the space.

People really don't often think of inertia. We had tons of left over jib cranes and unpowered bridge cranes. They were often reused in cases to lift light loads, say a 100# valve in production. When you reuse a 5 ton crane in a light load case you have to overcome the inertia of swinging that extar heavy jib, or pushing that way too big a bridge and it wears out the operators quick. Usually a light load is a high rate of production and having to move a 5 ton jib that would normally be swung 20 times a day 30 times an hour caused injuries.
I started putting in brand new 500# capacity jibs running on roller bearings and urathane wheels in tha bottom and that would swing with a couple of pounds of force. The guys loved them, and one avoided back injury paid for about 10 or 20 new cranes. These little light jibs could even be directly bolted to our new heavy floor in the new factory, so installing or moving was a piece of cake. Combine a light jib, with a high speed load mover and bingo now you can put up to 250# valves in a test machine all day long, 120 an hour, and not get hurt.
   ptree - Tuesday, 02/14/12 19:37:23 EST

New Forge : So I've been using a brake drum forge for about a month with natural lump charcoal. Ive been wanting to make a better forge because i have been having problems occasionally with getting the steel very hot (as in past a bright red)...usually this is after a while of forging so I'm assuming that is just because I .. A) am not taking good enough care of my fire ..or B)too much ash is building up and not able to escape out of the small hole in the center of the brake drum...which kind of relates to A. Anyways I'm wanting to build a new forge by welding something together and was just wondering if there were any special considerations besides the obvious components that perhaps you have learned over the years that would make it better...I've also been toying with the idea of a gas forge but not really sure if I would want to go that route. Pretty much I just am wondering if any of the experts have secrets in building good forges or do most of you just buy a nice gas forge or do you all use something similar to a brake drum forge and I just need more experience controlling the heat. (and I mean in general..i know that a lot of blacksmiths use both gas and coal) Also, if it is pertinent, I suspect part of the problem with my current set up is that it is outside, has no hood/ flue vent, and that its been 30 degrees outside here since I starting blacksmithing. Anyways, any help or hints on something better than a brake drum forge that I can build OR buy would be helpful...I've had a lot of trouble finding plans other than ones using brick with side draft blowers and I wasn't really sure I wanted to go that route....
   Jake Darrah - Tuesday, 02/14/12 23:45:06 EST

Jake : If you're using real lump charcoal and have a decent controllable air supply I see no reason you should be having problems achieving a full welding heat. (Bright yellow-white) Good charcoal mostly produces very light fly ash that foes up and away, and doesn't settle to the bottom of the firepot. If you have ash settling you may not be running enough air to your fire. How deep is your fire? You need fire that is eight to ten inches deep for charcoal to be really effective.

Side-blown forges are the traditional method when using charcoal. They're dead simple, easily made from stacked bricks and an air supply. You might want to try one.

I am a full-time smith doing this for a living and I don't have the time to mess with fire management so I use a gas forge. It just makes better economic sense for me. I looked at tall the commercially available forges and didn't see one I really liked so I've been building my own for years now. My latest forge has two venturi burners, is insulated with 2" Kaowool coated with ITC-100 and easily achieves welding heat. It has an air curtain to eliminate the "dragon's breath" common to gas forges, a feature that I will never again be without. I didn't cut any corners when building it and it wasn't cheap by any means. Still, it is just a necessary expense of being in this business. If I was a hobby smith, it would be excessive by most people's standards.

I also use either coal or charcoal occasionally, primarily when doing demonstrations of historical forging work. When making only one or two pieces at a time solid fuel is fine, but I can't keep up with it when I'm feeding a power hammer on production work.

If you enjoy the fire management, stick with the charcoal and build yourself a bit better forge for it. If you just want to forge and don't care about playing with the fire, I'd recommend a decent 2-burner gas forge like the Chile Forge. Gas is just simpler, cleaner and less hassle than solid fuel. You may need to learn a slightly different technique for forge welding with gas, but it isn't that hard to do.

As far as your ambient temperature goes, it isn't a significant factor. Think about it for a minute. A good hot forging temperature is about 2300-2400F. Your ambient temp is 30. That's a 2270 degree difference. My ambient temp is about 80. That's a 2220 degree difference. That 50 degrees difference between our ambient temps represents only a 2% change in the overall heat. Further, a good forging heat starts at about medium orange (~1700F) and goes up to high yellow (~2500F), a range of 800 degrees. 50 degrees, give or take a few, is nothing in that range. (smile)
   Rich Waugh - Wednesday, 02/15/12 00:31:21 EST

Moving Heavy Stuff : The largest thing I ever moved was my williams and white 200 lb. triphammer, which weighs in excess of three tons. Because of the configuration of my shop, which is a gambrell-styled cow barn, the ceilings in my shop, in the basement of that barn, are only seven feet tall. The plan was to lay the hammer on its side, which we did with a rollback truck. Then, using a second towtruck, one with a boom winch, we dragged the hammer, laying on its side, to the hole in the ceiling, over the loft upstairs, where farmers toss hay down through the hole to the cattle in my "shop". The towtruck with the boom then drove into the loft, extended the winch cable downstairs through the hay hole in the floor, and stood the hammer, which was almost ten feet tall, up in the hole. Alas, the hammer got diagonally STUCK in the hole while we were standing it up, and wouldn't budge to become vertical. My mother, god bless her soul, saw the problem and with her steel toed boot, KICKED the base of the hammer in the basement, which was to be my shop. Voila! The hammer stood right up, and fit PEFECTLY in the hole. Until she kicked the base of that machine, we had quite a quandry!
   stewartthesmith - Wednesday, 02/15/12 08:26:19 EST

Lump Charcoal in Brake Drum Forge :

First thing to consider is if you have a REAL brake drum. There is a guy on youtube that calls a disk brake rotor a brake drum. They are NOT the same thing. Rim depth should be about 3" (~75mm) center hole should be at least 1-1/2" (38mm). Standard brake drums are getting to be hard to find due to smaller cars and cars with rear disk brakes. Even pickup trucks have rear disk brakes these days. What you want is a brake drum off an OLD large auto from the 70's or a pickup truck that had drum brakes. Heavy truck drums are generally much too deep and very heavy. Save them for other things. Note that brake drum forges are a beginners forge and never very efficient.

Second consideration is your air supply. It should be sufficient to blow small pieces of charcoal (up to 3/4") out of the fire pot when wide open. You don't use this much air but should have that much capacity.

Third is the size of your lump charcoal. Generally this is a bit large for a small forge and much be broken up into pieces from 1 to 2" max. and include some smaller pieces. This can make a huge difference in fire performance.

Forth, charcoal being a low density fuel requires a slightly deeper fire than coal. You may have a difficult time achieving that in whatever "brake drum" you are using. See #1.

A hood does not make a difference in temperature but a wind shield can help keep cold wind off the top of the fire. This is usually a piece of sheet metal that goes about half way around the forge.

Ambient temperature DOES make a difference as there is a lot of air volume and it takes quite a bit of BTU's to heat that cold air. A number of old forges had air preheat in the stack for this reason. However you should be able to reach welding temperature in the core of the fire with enough fuel.
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/15/12 11:11:53 EST

Weird question - boiling horseshoes : At the Sutter's Mill shop, we have a huge tub of donated horseshoes. We use them for historical items that would have been made out of scrap a few hundred years ago: Hinges, door knockers, about 10 kinds of hoof pick, and the stray "quick and dirty use once tool".

OK, sometimes people want things made to food grade spec or (in the case that started this thread) just want a bunch of horseshoes for their Book Club.

I personally don't like just giving out pieces of sharp rust w aged horse manure in the crevices. So, we usually pull all the nails and try to clean out the cracks.

Do you know how hard it is to scrape out a sand, straw, horse manure mixture that has been pounded into the cracks by a 2,000 pound animal jumping up and down on one foot and then letting it "age" (dry) for a couple years? Even w a few special tools and letting the shoes soak for hours in the slack tub it about a twenty minute job for each shoe. This is awkward enough we have occasionally bought new shoes (on sale) rather than try to clean up the old ones.

Now, this last week, we tried something new. We BOILED the horseshoes and then scraped them out. Two hours of boiling and the situation really improved, but not perfect. Our scraper tool was still removing a lot, but it was now softer than glass.

Has anyone had any experience w this? Would boiling/soaking them for longer, adding detergent or chemicals do a better job? Forget it and just keep a supply of clean shoes for handout?

   David Smith - Wednesday, 02/15/12 15:08:23 EST

David Smith, I had a job to make some hat holders from horse shoes a year or so ago. I placed the shoes in my gas forge, heated to red, and then power wire brushed while hot. Those were very clean shoes then. I have also found that the hard face deposits will melt off in the gas forge.
   ptree - Wednesday, 02/15/12 15:49:06 EST

As Ptree did, wire brushing is much faster than scraping and picking.

Boiling in any chemically active solution would speed up that process. Lye would help dissolve lots of the hard to get out stuff. But then you would have a tank of lye water to dispose of. Dishwasher soap might be better but is still industrial waste if it does not go into a sanitary sewer.

Tumbling or cleaning in a vibratory finisher, either with sharp edged media (angle cut cylinders) would clean the greases and what not. The tumbler would need to have all the fluid changed afterword's and the media a good rinse to get all the manure out of the system. .

Cleaning by fire ends up being the least objectionable method other than time and weather (in a rainy climate).
   - guru - Wednesday, 02/15/12 17:20:08 EST

Horse bit : I have a horse from west berlin. it is very old . i would like to know more . it has the name of prhartman and friedrich str on it i need help please
   sonja - Wednesday, 02/15/12 18:28:33 EST

Cleaning Horseshoes : I think ptree has the right idea. When I was shoeing, we used to heat up our resets for slight reshaping and cleaning, and some of the packed material would fall out of the crease by itself. A wire brush could get the rest. An old farrier used to yell at us, "Heat's your best friend!" ptree also mentioned the hard face deposits coming off. Some shoes have a deposit of bits of tungsten carbide. They are in a matrix of a mild steel tube maybe 1/4"D and a foot or so long. A dab of them can be oxy welded to say, a shoe heel, and being so hard, they are grabby to the ground or pavement. It's a traction thing for anti-slip. If they are heated hot enough, the tungsten carbide bits can be removed.

FYI, the hard packed material in the crease, loosely called 'dirt' by the horseshoers, is desirable for traction. The old saying regarding the horse's movement is, "Dirt on dirt traction is the best kind of traction." This saying pre-dates the use of tungsten carbide. Nevertheless, the packed dirt contacting the ground did (and does)provide good traction.

Some shoes have countersunk nail holes and therefore, there is no nail crease. Those shoes are OK, but have slightly less traction than a nail creased shoe. On hand turned shoes, the nail crease is made hot with a creasing fuller.

   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 02/15/12 23:02:59 EST

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