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 May 1 - 7, 2012 on the Guru's Den
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welding : Greatings from the great white north. (AKA Canada) I've got a welding question. I am a farmer, on one of my pieces of machinery the clevis broke off the piston rod on a hydralic cylinder. The piston rod itself is 1 1/2" in diameter. I am a fairly good welder. What are the best types of rods to use in situation like this. The weld has to be very strong. I have both mig and arc welders. Are 7018 rods OK? Or should I use something with Nickel in it for more elastisity? Should I preheat the pieces in my forge before welding? Thank you for any words of wisdom you have to share.
   Dan - Monday, 04/30/12 20:36:10 EDT

Dan, E7018's are probably close to what was originally used. You are looking for toughness not hardness.
   - guru - Monday, 04/30/12 20:58:04 EDT

Dan Rod clevis's are normally srewed onto the rod, did the rod break or the clevis? Clevis on the better cylinders are normally forged steel, and not heat treated. The rods are a heat treatable grade, and on most better cylinders will be IHCP which is Induction Hardened Chrome Plated. They will have a ground hard chrome over a thick case hardened rod. The case is usually about 15" deep. Pos weld slow cooling is probably a good idea. E-7018, into a good groove prep of clean metal also is advised.
   ptree - Tuesday, 05/01/12 07:13:35 EDT

About the hydralic cylinder. The piston rod itself broke right next to the clevis. Thanks for the advice.
   - Dan - Tuesday, 05/01/12 09:52:05 EDT

welding : I should have clarified that the piston rod broke right next to the clevis. Thanks for the advice.
   Dan - Tuesday, 05/01/12 09:54:12 EDT

Broken Rod :
What I would worry about is the fit and finish of the rod end. If the cylinder travels that far the repair could destroy seals and possibly even damage the cylinder.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/01/12 10:50:29 EDT

If the rod broke next to the clevis, that should be beyond the wrench flats and be well beyond the travel of the rod through the seal. I would be far more worried that the failure will re-occur when loaded. If a simple ag cylinder, and in a highly loaded condition the cost of a new cylinder i small. Also, I would take care to find out why the rod broke in the first place. I did forensic anaylisis on returned products for a cylinder and pnuematis/hydraulic maker 1979-81, and don't recall seeing a broken rod. They have a soft core for that very reason.
   ptree - Tuesday, 05/01/12 13:52:45 EDT

Soding and Halbach anvil age : Hi I have an S+H anvil. I am not sure of its age as the large date mark is not very clear. I know they made anvils pre world war 2 but was wondering hold long they produced after this time. The date is either 1884 or 1984 in large stamps and also has a date in small stamps of 13.1.86. So the anvil is either a very good 100yr+ or a well used 30yr old! Thanks for any help you can give.
   Jim Ward - Tuesday, 05/01/12 19:24:35 EDT

Jim, I am reasonably sure their anvil manufacturing ended with WWII. There are long articles about the company's history but they focus on the financial aspects of the company not the details of what they made. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/01/12 20:14:59 EDT

shopoutfitters 20/20 Bender : I know ,I am not a regular on you site. I am looking for the Guru to help me warn people about being taken by shop Outfitters. I made a horrible mistake & bought a shop outfitters bender , Modal 20/20 that they told me they would always sell dies for . Well that is not so! they told me today they stopped producing them for my bender. Now they are promoting the UB-5H that sellsfor more then the Base modal No 2 Hossfeld
   John Mark Gassaway - Tuesday, 05/01/12 21:35:10 EDT

Shop Outfitters MIni-Hosfeld Clone :
John, I had not looked at this bender for a couple years but when I did it came with a standard set of simple round dies, and a corner tool. There never was to my knowledge a wide range of die types like for the Hossfeld but I may be wrong.

I have parts of two #3 Hossfelds, a #2 Hossfeld and dies I recently traded for and I inherited a Harbor Freight version of the Shop Outfitters 2020 that is probably made in China. All that and all the bending I've done has been on benders I made.

While a lot of folks get a lot of use from their benders they are not much use without a set of dies, knowing how to use them and setting the whole up where it can be used. The 2020 came with a set of dies but a Hossfeld comes with none. The 2020 with dies (or the HF version) cost about what a single set of dies cost for the Hossfeld.

Tools become out dated, manufacturers stop supporting them. . This is ESPECIALY true with cheap tools imported from China. Just try to get parts or service for any one of the three Chinese power hammers that are no longer imported into the US. People paid thousands of dollars for these machines. They are orphaned nearly the same as machines that stopped being manufactured 75 years ago. If you need parts you reverse engineer them and make them yourself or have someone else make them.

I feel your pain. I have LOTS of tools that are no longer supported. This includes things like an expensive Starrett height gauge, an AirCo welder I invested nearly $4,000 in NEW, and a number of my Craftsman tools that need replacing but are no longer made. . . Then there is my 1978 Ford F600 truck and my 1980's Komatsu forklift, both of which are getting very difficult to find parts for.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/01/12 23:41:34 EDT

Breeze : What size should coke be? Same as coal, pea/dime sized? I assume you should break it up into coal sized pieces but I can't find a reference anywhere.

   GC - Wednesday, 05/02/12 12:19:18 EDT

information request : I am looking for a resource that describes industrial practice for forge welding 1" thick plate that would have been used around the 1910 time frame. boiler construction specifically. Does anyone know a book on the topic of antique welding methods.
   Bill Roes - Wednesday, 05/02/12 12:53:24 EDT

Bill Roes, in 1910 plate for all the boilers I am aware of would have been riveted. I worked for a large boilershop, and they switched from riveting to arc welding in the late 20's. Locomotive boilers would have been riveted until the very end for the most part as they are not conducive in design for welding. Maritime boilers were also riveted, with the exception of the "Scotch Marine boilers" they were an odd breed.
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/02/12 13:50:00 EDT

Forge Welds : Bill, The early copies of Machinery's Handbook up to the 15th edition cover forge welding but do not get into details.

Boilers generally were not welded. They were riveted together. Wrought plate for water tanks was bi-directional laminated wrought and I assume they used the same for boilers.

Otherwise forge welding was forge welding. Nothing different on a boiler than on a fireplace poker.

There WAS a change in practice in the early 1840's due to James Nasmyth's testing of chain failure mechanisms for the British Navy. He found that joints in chain were randomly prepared, convex, flat and concave. The result of flat and concave weld preps is that scale and flux is trapped in the weld, it is weak and fails. A convex weld prep was the strongest due to being a clean joint. Smiths MAY have applied this earlier but this was the first scientific study of forge weld failures. I suspect that the improved technique spread pretty fast after hundreds of chain weldors were instructed in the technique.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/02/12 13:59:51 EDT

forge weld : I have a section of a riveted boiler. however, it does have a forged weld also. It had a v-groove prep between two plates and a bar stock filler. It is a metallurgically sound weld, a little slag along the fusion line.
   Bill Roes - Wednesday, 05/02/12 14:39:19 EDT

Bill, IF there is slag at the weld joint then it is not metallurgically sound. Good forge welds in wrought have a clear band of pure iron at the joint or it is indistinguishable from the surrounding grain.

I've never heard of a V weld prep other than in gas or arc welding - but that does not mean it was not done. It also does not mean that a plate manufacturer did not join two pieces together.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/02/12 15:55:32 EDT

There never was a #3 Hossfeld- they used to make a #1 and a #2, and now they only make a #2.
So if you have 2 of em, they are the only ones on earth.

A Hossfeld is a whole nother beast from a Shop Outfitters or a Harbor Freight. When Shop Outfitters made their bender, they disregarded a lot of the principles that makes a Hossfeld work, so they are pretty limited in what they will do, and the chinese benders are NOT copies of Hossfelds- they are copies of Shop Outfitters.

A real Hossfeld will repay the time spent to learn how to use it- after all, every tool has a learning curve, and there is a lot less to learn about a hossfeld than a milling machine or a lathe.

Hossfeld has been in business, making their tools in America, since 1922. And the new dies still fit the old benders.
A new Hossfeld DOES come with dies- the basic set is enough to a LOT of bending, in about ten different ways. Of course, the additional dies you can buy are near infinite, but the basic machine, now cheaper than Shop Outfitters, is a heckuva deal.

I dont know why anyone would want to spend more for less.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 05/02/12 16:11:48 EDT

I have a "lockdown Securities" bender that either later became the shop outfitters or was cloned. Bought it for a bending experiment for the boiler shops to make "impossible" J-hooks. Proved the impossible wasn't, and then the little jewel sat in my lad for a number of years, used by me occasionally, and when we moved the plant I was gifted the outfit.I had kept the book and it is a jewel of a setup manual. I still have it and use it regularly. Does have a learning curve, makes the HF clone look like the crap it is. I paid $198 for the outfit delivered to our door. Saved VOGT about $0.50 per hook, and there were thousands in every boiler. It is NOT a Hossfield, but works a treat within its limits.
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/02/12 18:46:20 EDT

Like all of us, I scavenge along the railroad tracks, stalk slow trucks, etc. to get my
   - Rudy - Wednesday, 05/02/12 20:50:00 EDT

Like all of us, I scavenge along the railroad tracks, stalk slow trucks, etc. to get my "high grade" steel. The result is we have a lot of what looks great (leaf springs, coil springs, sleeper clips, etc.) but we don't really know what we've got. For serious projects, we spend a lot of time testing a sample and even then we really have no idea of the alloy.

I've been thinking about ways to solve this: Spark testing would be good if it weren't so difficult. I could make a spark spectrometer that would identify the alloying elements, but would be completely non quantitative.

I have discovered something that is probably and old trick and I would like feedback. With about 5 acids and careful technique it should be fairly easy to separate 10-15 unique alloy elements. With a really good scale it now becomes quantitative. Scientific American has the plans for a cheap homemade using an ammeter and a computer to get measurements down to millionths of a gram.

Think it's worth fooling around? Or has this been tried before w bad results?

Side note: Nothing but temporary rivets until the customer approves the final item.
   - Rudy - Wednesday, 05/02/12 20:50:30 EDT

Like all of us, I scavenge along the railroad tracks, stalk slow trucks, etc. to get my "high grade" steel. The result is we have a lot of what looks great (leaf springs, coil springs, sleeper clips, etc.) but we don't really know what we've got. For serious projects, we spend a lot of time testing a sample and even then we really have no idea of the alloy.

I've been thinking about ways to solve this: Spark testing would be good if it weren't so difficult. I could make a spark spectrometer that would identify the alloying elements, but would be completely non quantitative.

I have discovered something that is probably and old trick and I would like feedback. With about 5 acids and careful technique it should be fairly easy to separate 10-15 unique alloy elements. With a really good scale it now becomes quantitative. Scientific American has the plans for a cheap homemade using an ammeter and a computer to get measurements down to millionths of a gram.

Think it's worth fooling around? Or has this been tried before w bad results?

Side note: Nothing but temporary rivets until the customer approves the final item.
   - Rudy - Wednesday, 05/02/12 20:52:01 EDT

Rudy, I don't know. Howerver, there is probably good reason scrap yards are willing to pay $30,000 for a hand held device to test alloys. . .

I have a plan for making a spark test sample kit, but it is surprisingly expensive to fill and I've had no luck with a box with dividers. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/02/12 21:14:03 EDT

Hossfeld Benders :
Well. . I have a small one that has a brass tag and when cleaned up it says No.1. (it was traded to me as a #2). This is the one I have a bucket of dies for. But then I have two more large "Hossfeld" benders that are different sizes.

One that looks the most similar to the current model with the flattened tube socket accepts a swinging frame with about a 5-1/8" spread. The gauge ring is missing (if it ever had one).

The oldest one LOOKS like a Hossfeld but takes a 7-1/8" swinging frame (2" larger than the #2 Hossfeld). It does not have the perpendicular legs like the two that I am sure are Hossfelds. It has a looped flat bar that bolts to the bench but everything else looks the same as the known Hossfelds but is a bit heavier other that having the same hole sizes and approximate pattern.

Maybe this third bender was made by someone else. It was sold to me as a #3. But there are no markings on it just as there are no markings on the #2 I've got. I notice the new benders just have a paper or vinyl tag. . . So in a few years they will not be identifiable either.

While the #1 Hossfeld is a little lighter than the #2 it almost identical in size other than the 4" swing frame height as apposed to the 5". Its only a couple inches shorter and the gauge ring is only 1/2" smaller. . . All the pins are the same diameter. Pretty good reason to stop making two models.

Shop Outfitters DID sell the Lockdown Securities bender. I do not know which I have from Paw-Paw's purchase. I'm sure it is the cheapest one he could find.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/02/12 21:23:07 EDT

Hossfeld made 2 different length frames- a regular, and a large. I cant remember the actual names, but they were identical except for length and number of holes. So its quite possible both your benders are #2's, but slightly different. And of quite different ages. I have never looked at really old ones, but would imagine that since 1922, there have been some small design changes.
Real Hossfelds are made from good steel, with all the pins heat treated, as opposed to all the knockoffs, which put those silly balls on the top to make sure you wont try to do any top bending on them, as that would bend their pins. A real Hossfeld can run extra tall pins, and Hossfeld sells them, to allow bending on top of the frame, meaning much more flexibility in sizes and shapes, which is only one of a hundred or so things a real one will do that the silly copies wont.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 05/02/12 22:04:22 EDT

Hossfeld also made a small vise mount version of the #2. Might still be in their catalog because I saw it somewhere recently.

I suspect the pins are heat treated 4140.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/02/12 22:56:08 EDT

Metal testing : Guru,

I can tell you why they spend so much - convenience. My system would be cheap, but would probably take a week of waiting. Spark spectrometer, not quantitative, and you don't carry it in a pocket.

   Rudy - Wednesday, 05/02/12 23:20:17 EDT

I suspect the pins are 4140, as well.
I broke one once, and it broke like 4140. Examining the two halves, it sure wasn't A36.
It flew across the room, luckily not hurting myself, aside from my dignity.
   - Ries - Thursday, 05/03/12 00:28:40 EDT

The #1 Hossfeld I have has a bunch of dies but the pins and some small bushings were at the bottom of a container with standing water. . lots of rust. I looked through the dies and parts and they looked complete for what was there but is it far from a complete set and may be missing a lot of little parts.

There is a low probability that any of these dies will fit a job in my shop. While it looked like a lot of dies I remember helping a fellow identify dies he had with a #2 Hossfeld he had just bought. Half the bed of his full size pickup was loaded with dies and parts. Maybe 4 or 5 times what I have and perhaps all the dies made for the bender.

I'll need to inventory the dies again and then try to keep in mind what I have. . . tough thing to do as you get older. Maybe I need to print the parts catalog and mark the ones I have and take note of what's missing.

There are a lot of machines that don't do much good without all the attachments. A horizontal mill is one. They are great for high production with the right tools but not very good for small lots or one off jobs unless you just happen to have the tooling. This is why they are no longer popular. Vertical mills have replaced them for most purposes due to the flexibility of the tooling. This is especially true in job shops. Cutters are generally cheaper - however they do not last as long. But you can face a piece with a cheap single point fly cutter in a vertical mill where you would need a big expensive wide cutter on the horizontal OR take multiple passes. Setup in the vertical mill is a fraction of the time in the horizontal. . .

Hossfeld benders are sort of like that. If you have the tooling OR the job will pay for the dies (and you can afford to wait) then they are great. If its a one off job or you cannot wait then it may be better to do the job a different way.

We do a lot of bending on the hydraulic press. Most is on three point dies (two bottom one top). We bend curves and right angles, offsets. . . Setup takes no time unless you need a stop for repeat bends and that only takes a few minutes. The last bends we did needed a specific radius (1/4") in a right angle bend. Took about half an hour to make the fixture from scrap and about 10 minutes or less to make the 8 bends. The job might have worked in a #2 Hossfeld but was a little too wide for the #1. Getting the radius right would have taken a bit of trial and error on the Hossfeld. It looks like I could have made tooling for the larger Hossfeld but it would have taken longer. . .

The Hossfeld manuals all use photos which are fairly self explanatory but I would like to see plan view diagrams. Of course dimensioned drawings would even be better if you are designing your own tooling. Since the 7" tall bender I've got is probably a non-standard bender (or not a Hossfeld) that I would need to make all my own tooling for OR adapt standard tooling I may start there.

   - guru - Thursday, 05/03/12 13:32:26 EDT

Fire Brick : I was just able to score a dozen RCF (refractory ceramic fiber) bricks. Brand new, left over froma project at work. I suspect I'm finally turning into my father, because I jumped on these without having the feintest idea what I'm going to use them for. Plus they were free, and what smith turns down any free material, right?

So...I'm entertaining any and all ideas on what I can use my new found wealth for. I currently have a coal forge and do not have any plans to upgrade to gas, if that makes any difference.

Suggestions on the best use of these babies?
   Chris Comtois - Thursday, 05/03/12 15:11:00 EDT

If these are soft fiber bricks it is possible to make little one and two brick gas forges. Soft light insulating bricks are good to pile up around work to be heated with a torch or to help reduce cooling as part of a weld post heat treat. The fibre board and blocks are susceptible to damage by boron fluxes.

If the are hard refractory they make good work surfaces such as a bench top for heating. I put these over bar grating.

Lots of uses for all kinds of refractories in the shop. If nothing else you have a good trade item.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/03/12 17:13:39 EDT

Alloy identification : Rudy - The scientific american article sounds to me like old wet chemistr methods - they worked, but not down to millionths of a gram. A scientific balance registering to .0001 gram costs around $2500 new. For quick alloy identification a handheld spectrometer such as a Niton works - but all you'll truly get is alloy ID. I'm not aware of anyone certifying material with them. We have 2 in plant, and supposedly for incoming scrap ID. Funny, I get most of the ? stuff to run on a real spectrometer, either optical emission or x-ray flourescence. The best bet for inexpensive ID would be a used spectrometer (you'll still need standards (also known as certified reference materials), and they run any where from about $250 each to about $475 each.
Best price for a used spectrometer would probably be Electrical Engineered Products - owned by Jeff Cadman - just google search and EEP will turn up. Jeff does good work - keeps our 1 antique spectrometer an ARL 3460 vintage roughly 1980 ticking.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 05/03/12 22:49:50 EDT

Axle steel ID : Just a quick question, I got a Rail road car axle to use as an anvil for my power hammer, I am pretty sure its 4140. does any one know for sure if it is? thanks :)
   T. Van Krevelen - Thursday, 05/03/12 23:49:28 EDT

Spectrometer : I watch all of the detective shows on TV, and when they send evidence to the crime lab, they burn a sample in a device and get a read out depicted as a graph on a screen. Each element shows up differently as they have different properties. I think maybe metals are dissolved in acid and then burned. They seem to be able to tell exactly what a substance is by the elements contained in it. They can dig up a corpse, test a sample and tell if the person was poisoned by arsenic, anti-freeze etc. Even after cremation, these elements still remain.
   Mike T. - Friday, 05/04/12 03:15:40 EDT

Chris : If you want to sell those fire bricks, shoot me an e-mail with a price.
   Mike T. - Friday, 05/04/12 03:21:52 EDT

Mike T, The sample process could be Gas Liquid Chromatgraph, or spectrometer. The spectrometer burns a sample and the light emmitted is split and each element gives a different wavelenght. The GLC works in a somewhat similar method.
   ptree - Friday, 05/04/12 10:05:56 EDT

RR Axle : I would guess that a RR axle may be 4140 or a near alloy as the mathod of making would be similar to the rough terrain heavy equipment axles we made at the upsetter forge shop. Those big rough terrain axles were 4140. But below about 3" od on the unforged axle billet the alloy was 1541H and under 1.38" od the material was 1040H, and these were industry standards.
   ptree - Friday, 05/04/12 10:08:21 EDT

Mike, Many new spectometers burn the sample with a small LASER.

Note that many of the methods and especially the time lines used on the detective TV shows are science fiction. The very best lab in the country is the one in Las Vegas. This is the lab the CSI series is based on. Much is still science fiction and the cloning of that lab to other city/stories is a joke. The "Jeffersonian" lab in "Bones" is complete fiction. While DNA results can be gotten in hours the best most crime labs should do with all the proper documentation and tracking during the process is about 24 hours. Most labs that do criminal DNA testing are swamped, the time taking weeks to months in many cases. You also have to remember that time is largely related to sample size. If you have a medical sample it is one thing, but matching against trace is another.

While are great deal of this is currently science fiction many things in today's world rapidly go from fiction to fact. Pushing the envelope in these shows will just make them less dated in future.
   - guru - Friday, 05/04/12 11:01:19 EDT

RR-Steel :
I was given some RR-axel steel that had been rolled to about 4" square and was labeled 4140. True or not we made power hammer dies from it that worked OK. However I did not heat treat them so I do not know the result.
   - guru - Friday, 05/04/12 11:04:25 EDT

4140 is often available in a wide variety of sizes, forges very nicely and heat treats in big sections easily compared to many other grades and last but not least is cheap for a high quality heat treatable steel.
The big axles we made were to big, and too low qty to build a scanning Induction heat treater so they were furnace heat treated and 4140 is great for that.
   ptree - Friday, 05/04/12 13:46:09 EDT

Metal ID : I live right next door to the CSUS library and (of course) have web access AND web to the catalogs of the entire UC system.

If I go to wikipedia I find out there are about 80 different kinds of spectrometer. NOWHERE (Wiki, CSUS, etc) have I ever found a source that will tell you what each type is good for. Found a book in CSUS that was fantastic. Three inches thick and math far beyond my ability. NOWHERE in that book (or any others) could I find out what various types could/could not do.vbbbbbbbbbbbb (Kitty typing. . . ).

That's my current situation. I am thinking of going to the U and just plain paying for an hour of some material profs time to answer a bunch of (to him) basic questions.


Go to:http://www.erowid.org/archive/rhodium/chemistry/equipment/scale2.html hard to believe some guy did this in his garage.
   Rudy - Friday, 05/04/12 15:21:07 EDT

Garage Lab Science :
Virtually all the great experiments in physics were carried out using wood and metal devices built in relatively primitive shops. A small jeweler's lathe was often the most sophisticated machine and a bench lathe meant you were a serious scientist. The early experimenters could buy drawn wire but had to insulate it them selves. This often meant tedious hand wrapping with silk.

When I was in elementary school I built a Van De Graaff generator. Two hemispherical mixing bowls were taped together to make the sphere, pulleys were cut from cylinders of hard rubber and plastic with brazing rod axles, the sides were made from some scrap acrylic and the base was a heavy wood stand from some short lived toy. A small electric motor from a scrap box was used. A Sabre Saw and an electric drill were used for most of the work. The belt was changed a couple times until we found the right material. - most modern belting is anti-static and defeats the machine.

This was a low power Van De Graaff as it had a short column (about 12" between axles) and no external power other than the motor. High power Van De Graffs have a high voltage supply that helps charge the belt. Our little low power machine worked pretty good in dry winter air. It would make a spark jump about an inch and your hair stand on end after a half minute or so.

Huge high power Van De Graaffs are used used in nuclear physics.
   - guru - Friday, 05/04/12 16:31:46 EDT

More Garage Science : The easiest science experiment I built was an expansion and contraction of metals due to heat and cold device. It was an original idea of my Dad's I think and I passed it on to Dave Baker. Its easy to build.

Two thin metal bars or strips of sheet metal about 12 to 16" long are connected together at one end with a small nut and bolt. The opposite ends are tacked or screwed to a wooden block about 3/4" thick and 3" square, then the block attached to a board with the metal arms parallel to the board. An optional pointer can be attached to the end where the bars join.

The nearly parallel sides of this long triangle are very sensitive to changes in length. Light a match and hold it under one arm and the end will move 1/2 and inch or so away from that side. Apply an ice cube to one side and the pointer will move toward that side.

Cover one side and let the sun shine on the other. . lots of movement.

I also built a mercury barometer. . . And did various electrolysis experiments - it only takes a few seconds to make enough chlorine gas to make you choke with salt water, a dry cell and some wire. .

Early electrical experimenters used large batteries of lead iron and acid cells to make high amperage DC current. Nasty business. Benjamin Franklin experimented with a "humane" method of slaughtering animals with his battery of DC cells. The relatively low voltage DC was not very humane and set fire to the cows without killing them. . . He was more successful killing a turkey with a Leyden jar, which was then served up for dinner. He also demonstrated the use of electricity to fire the fuse for a cannon.
   - guru - Friday, 05/04/12 17:07:29 EDT

While I was in London, UK, I was able to step inside James Watt's workshop that is now on exhibit at the Science Museum with over 8000 original items still in it. He had around a 3.5" postvise with tanged mount. With it he was able to change history. Makes me feel that I'm letting my 6" vises down...

Seeing the atmospheric engine from 1791 was impressive as was the steam engine that remained in service for 127 years at a mine and when finally the mine shut down it was moved to the museum.

(on a sad note I did hear of a hundred year o9ld steam engine getting tossed down a mine shaft when they decommissioned the mine---along with hundreds of the brass miner's safety lamps, etc...)

In Wales the forge at St Fagan's open air museum was not being worked while I was there but the coal mine support blacksmiths shop at Blaenafon was very impressive indeed! (It unfortunately is looking a bit neglected, sigh.)

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/04/12 18:17:53 EDT

Early Electricity : So, Guru, if I'm reading that right, the earliest experiments with electricity used chemical means to generate it? I had been confused in the past because it's my understanding that they discovered that a magnet passing over a wire creates current after they discovered that a current passing over a bar creates a magnet. So I always wondered where they got the electricity from in the first place.
   Bajajoaquin - Friday, 05/04/12 19:09:32 EDT

The History of Electricity : There were many inventors and discoverers in the history of electricity. All the early work was with static electricity including the Leyden Jar and the "battery" of charged plates, a term coined by Benjamin Franklin. These early experiments showed that a metal wire conducted electricity. Then came the electric pile, a series of plates and insulators with and electrolyte that produced electricity. Many little discoveries that are well documented and many not so well known and undocumented. The wet cell was invented in 1800 and greatly expanded the world of electricity.

The histories miss many little details and glorify the inventors that blew their own horn. So like all technical histories there are lots of questions and the real truth is between the lines . .
   - guru - Friday, 05/04/12 20:44:31 EDT

History : Guru, That is like Nicolai Tesla but school children only hear about Edison, Marconi etc. Tesla created many inventions for Edison, but was cheated out of the money he was promised. Marconi used nearly all of Tesla's patents to create the wireless transmitter, Tesla was later awarded the patent. However, history books are reluctant to change once they have begun a myth. Christopher Columbus is still given credit for discovering America even though old Viking settlements and rune stones have been found on the coast.
   Mike T. - Saturday, 05/05/12 01:05:59 EDT

nicolai Tesla : While Tesla was indeed cheated of much, George Westinghouse was not one of the cheaters. When the "War of the currents" was at is height Tesla made a decision to forgo the money due him, in part to help Westinghouse, and in a large part to see his ideas come to fruition. He and George Westinghouse brought us modern life with electric heat and lights, and all the electric items we have in our home and shops. DC would have left the US with powerhouses at a distance of every few blocks in the cities and in the rural areas it would be a make it there or do without case.Tesla thought he was greatly improving the life of people with his inventions. I agree with him by the way that his inventions greatly improve our life.
   ptree - Saturday, 05/05/12 08:11:39 EDT

Hysterical History :
The Star Trek character Pavel Chekov was repeatedly pointing out the Russians who invented just about everything first. This became a running joke and had to have been based on a Russian one of the writers knew. The fact is, the Russians often did invent many things first. The problem was they did so in isolation or were ignored by the West who still has a Eurocentric view of history. The same with inventions from the Orient. Koreans invented movable type 200 years before Gutenberg. . just enough time for the news of the technology to travel from Korea to Europe by caravan and rumor. The Chinese were making iron earlier than Europeans by quixotically skipped past making wrought in large quantity to making cast iron.

I have a great little book titled Tales About Metals, published in the USSR in English and distributed by ASM. It has many of the documented cases of prior discoveries in Russia. Lots of stories about the discovery and technology of metals plus a little correction of history. It gave me a much better insight into Star Trek's Pavel Chekov.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/05/12 08:15:05 EDT

Pricing an anvil : Hi,
I am trying to sell an old anvil I found in my barn. I do not see any anvils that look like this in the photo gallery and need some help in identifying its type/worth. It has a flat tip/horn with a faceplate welded on top and weighs 40#. I cannot find any markings. It may be a homemade anvil, I am not sure. Can send pics if anyone can help me. Thanks, Trey
   Trey - Saturday, 05/05/12 15:17:13 EDT

Of course, DC is now being used for major long-distance transmission lines. In a way, Edison was 100 years ahead of his time.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 05/05/12 16:31:18 EDT

Mike BR I have not heard of DC for long distance transmission lines. Unless the physics have changed I don't see how DC would be used and you loose too much to resistance.
The secret that Tesla figured in AC and transformers was to run the voltages to very very high voltages and very low amps, and at the point of use transform for high to low volts and regain the amps. DC will not do anything in a transformer. You have to have the changing polarity to get the moving Gauss lines to induce the voltage you desire in the secondary.
If you generated extremely high DC voltage and transmitted that way, you would have to drop the voltage at the other end by resistance.

Maybe something new I am unaware of.
   ptree - Saturday, 05/05/12 17:51:52 EDT

Well, after a little research I see that DC has been used in a few cases to transmit power over long distance. Looks as if the reliability is not as good as AC, the equipment is expensive although lines are cheaper. It would look that in a few special cases DC may have advantages.
Been a long time since school, and they did not teach about DC for transmission, probably because when I was in school there were less that a dozen transmission lines in the world that used DC:)
   ptree - Saturday, 05/05/12 18:07:28 EDT

Trey, Click on my name (guru) and send away. Glad to help. If its an interesting home made anvil we may put it the DIY anvil gallery.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/05/12 18:07:37 EDT

DC :
There has been work in high voltage DC transmission but it is problematic. I think there is an advantage where very long distances are involved. But you don't just wrap two different length coils of wire around an iron core to reduce the voltage (a transformer) with DC. Changing AC voltages is easy. DC requires using a motor generator. No, you can't do it like the do in computers. In a computer they use AC, get close to the desired voltage, convert to DC then regulate the voltage by wasting power (making heat). Its very inefficient.

On the other hand, with the coming revolution in low voltage DC lighting homes should now have dual wiring systems with central DC supplies. These would ideally be able to be tied directly into a solar charged battery bank.

In large structures the DC supplies would need to be distributed but a central location would work in most homes. The huge old house my parents had that was wired in 1890 had a central distribution box on the second floor. This kept the wiring as short as possible. Since it was ALL in rigid conduit this was the most economical way to go.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/05/12 18:22:29 EDT

DC Power : There is currently a move afoot to connect the Virgin Islands to the Puerto Rico grid by means of DC transmission lines. I don't know any particulars, though.
   Rich Waugh - Saturday, 05/05/12 20:01:09 EDT

Changing voltage in DC : The way to change voltage in DC is to use inverter technology. Inductors work with pulsed DC much like transformers do with AC.

This is rather expensive equipment when You have to handle really high amperage.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 05/05/12 22:09:09 EDT

Underwater cables is one of the areas that DC transmission lines appear to have an advantage. The DC lines do not have to overcome the capacitance of the cable as do AC. The main way the DC is converted to AC is large thyristors valves, or slightly older tech mercury vapor valves. Valves is the British term used to describe a switching device such as a electric tube or solid state switch such as the thyristor.
   ptree - Sunday, 05/06/12 09:28:47 EDT

The last thing I had read on DC transmission was under water in or around Norway I think. But it was a proposed plan at the time (long ago).
   - guru - Sunday, 05/06/12 10:45:24 EDT

Time to forge a sword : Hello guys and sorry to be bothering. I am not a blacksmith (I wish I was) and given my curiosity I am coming here to ask a question: How long it takes to forge a sword? I mean, like the classical longsword of sorts.

I am curious about that since I have searched the net an only found references to katana sword making and nothing else. By the way, any of you guys knows the time to forge a katana too? Just curious.

Again sorry for all the bother and thanks in advance.

From a new fan in Brazil

   Heber - Sunday, 05/06/12 14:49:58 EDT

Time to forge a sword : Hello guys and sorry to be bothering. I am not a blacksmith (I wish I was) and given my curiosity I am coming here to ask a question: How long it takes to forge a sword? I mean, like the classical longsword of sorts.

I am curious about that since I have searched the net an only found references to katana sword making and nothing else. By the way, any of you guys knows the time to forge a katana too? Just curious.

Again sorry for all the bother and thanks in advance.

From a new fan in Brazil

   Heber - Sunday, 05/06/12 14:51:46 EDT

Herber, Everything depends on specifics. In a modern shop with ready materials the forging can take less than an hour. When you say "Classical Longsword" there are many differences and options. There are also the period materials verses modern materials. Wootz - the original "Damascus" is difficult to handle and adds a lot of time. Blades were sometimes made from one piece of steel and in others 5 pieces (core, right and left slabs, edge material and back material). The side slabs were often decorative Damascus. Does your forging time include making or processing the individual parts?

Generally work of this scale was done in shops with multiple workers, notably strikers to help with the heavy forging. This is somewhat the same as using power machinery. The difference between one man and a team doing the work Or a man with a machine is either of part of a day or a good week. A lot of people think of a lone smith doing this work but it was rarely the case.

After forging and heat treating the sword went to a grinder. Then perhaps to an engraver, then the hilt maker. .
   - guru - Sunday, 05/06/12 16:10:59 EDT

Thanks for the info o mighty guru (bow low to the ground).

My idea of the classical longsword mean this type of sword http://images.wikia.com/mk/images/2/20/Long_Sword.jpg

I am not a blacksmith so I dont know the diferences or options available and my question about time was idealized to the ancient way of bladesmith (middle ages). I was just curious on how much time a forger would need to forge a sword like the one in the link.

A week you say? hmmm that means a forger and 2-3 assistants or less? Sorry again but being curious is a flaw of mine :)
   Heber - Sunday, 05/06/12 16:31:31 EDT

Forging a sword : Do not forget the years of practice to learn the processes in the first place.

A SKILLED person could do it in the time as stated above. Someone just starting, well, you are going to do it a BUNCH of times before you get anything that even starts to look like the object of your desires.
   Wayne Parris - Monday, 05/07/12 09:44:58 EDT

I like doing the opposite. I make something from nothing until it "creates" itself into fruition.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 05/07/12 12:35:23 EDT

forging a sword : Heber, it also depends on what you're starting with. Given a uniform bar of modern steel, say a 44mm wide, 5mm thick, 800mm long bar (1.5" x .25" x 28"), and allowed the use of my power hammer, I can do just the rough forging of one of those in about an hour and a half to two hours. The grinding with a modern belt grinder, followed by hand finishing, for the blade ONLY, add another two days. That's working alone with 12 years of experience.

Now then, give me a few lumps of carburized wrought iron, aka shear steel, such as the best of the medieval smiths would have had access to, and you can add a couple more hours to the forging process. That is again for the blade alone. A medieval swordsmith made ONLY the blade, provided to the culter as a hardened and tempered bare blade. The cutler would add the hilt elements later, which for me adds another couple of days.

The forging is the easy part. Finishing takes far longer.

Now then: The sword you link to is NOT a classical medieval longsword. It's a fantasy, but has elements of "viking" swords of the 950-1100 AD era. Those sometimes included pattern-welding in the blade core. Add another two days to producing just a blade for that, depending on how wide the fuller is to be. The one pictured is far too narrow for the period of the hilt elements.

If YOU want to make one, starting with no equipment, skill, or teachers, call it ten years or so. Even at that, if you have never had close personal access to a real one, you will probably make the blade far too heavy. As Thomas Powers is so fond of quoting, a typical one-hand sword from the 950-1600 AD period would weigh from 2 to 3.5 pounds, or .8 to 1.5 Kg.

When you say "longsword," you are referring to a specific family of hand-and-a-half swords that typically looked something like one of these: http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/swords-albion-mark-nextgen.htm#Hand-and-a-half

Don't let video games or novels try to teach you about real swords.

For the record, Albion (arguably the finest modern mass-production swordmaking company) can turn one out in a day or two, but then they use a 5-axis CNC mill to shape the blade, followed by hand grinding, heat treatment, and hilting with investment-cast components, running ten or so at a time.
   Alan-L - Monday, 05/07/12 13:25:44 EDT

Well thanks for the info. I am not trying to make one myself I was just curious to the info on how long it takes to make one.

As for the picture of the sword I have never trully see a real longsword so I just googled it.
   Heber - Monday, 05/07/12 14:46:26 EDT

Another question: does the process of forging a long sword involves folding the metal like in the japanese katanas?

I got curious because I have learned that katanas are folded up to 20 times maximum (average of 16 times) and wondered if the same is done in the forge of a european sword.
   Heber - Monday, 05/07/12 16:51:18 EDT

And chose a commercial product. Funny thing about people trying to sell you stuff---they often misrepresent their product! The one you chose would not be a bad example of a viking era sword if the central fuller was wider but is quite different than say the 13th century Knight's blade.

Hard to be specific using general terminology. A long sword looked quite different in the bronze age for example.

I get asked a lot "How long did it take a smith to make a sword?" and my answer is that "He didn't!" As mentioned the smith and his workers would forge the blade but then different crafts even having separate guilds covering them would do the rest of the steps. (Very much like the Japanese did/do!)

In general the bladesmith did not refine his metal from ore but purchased it from a metal dealer. He would forge and heat treat the blade and then turn it over to the shop that did the grinding and polishing that would turn it over to the Cutler who would hilt it and then would arrange for a scabbard to be made.

   Thomas P - Monday, 05/07/12 17:17:38 EDT

Sword : Heber,

I volunteer in a museum blacksmith shop. I get questions from about 18,000 4th graders every year. I will guess that a quarter of the time the answer is "yes, and no". Era, culture, expense (the Japanese had "munitions" grade swords that were provided to the "common" Samurai. Not all had works of art) swords just plain come in different types, quality, design, etc. Ceasar wrote that the Roman swords kept their shape while enemies had to retire after a few blows and step on their swords to straighten them out.

A sword is not a sword is not a sword . . .


Years ago I saw a sword in the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History. It was iron (steel?????) but from some European bronze age. I swear it was made of wrought iron and weighed about 3 oz. It was terrible, but would be a good extension for your hand if punching a man without armor.
   - Rudy - Monday, 05/07/12 18:06:12 EDT

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has an extensive armoury section, including hundreds of examples of historical swords from around the world.

Folding steel..... sigh. I hear some cheap steak sizzling somewhere....
   - Nippulini - Monday, 05/07/12 18:28:20 EDT

Thomas: Thanks a lot but even if a single smith dont do the work (I understood that before) I still dont follow the thing about time.

Considering everything, how long would take for that sword to be ready to use? That is from the moment the smith get his hand on the metal to the moment it is delivered to the client that ordered it, how long one should had to wait to get the sword?

Rudy: I must beg forgiveness but you lost me there in your post (english is not my native language).

What are "munitions" grade swords and how better (or worst) are they if compared to a european long sword or a more traditional katana?
   Heber - Monday, 05/07/12 18:31:02 EDT

Munitions Grade and GI :
Consider the common bronze age sword. A stone mold was used and melted bronze was poured in. The metal cooled, the "sword" was dumped out of the mold into the pile. In a typical build up for war plows and artwork were literally turned into weapons and after the war the "swords turned in plowshares" by the same process.

The run of the mill soldier, especially the newly conscripted farmers (who no longer had plows) were given as-cast swords. Low ranled officers may have had sharpened swords with a little leather wrapped on the grip and the leaders and professionals had expensive custom made armour.

In the iron age the making of a sword became much more complicated. Metal was selected and processed by hand. There were no metallurgists to certify the quality of the steel. Each smith determined it by hand, literally. How it forged, hardened, broke. . A sword was not just forged, it was made from hand selected (or not) material, it was hardened and tempered using hand methods with various skill levels or none, it was finished to shape by hand to various degrees of quality, largely depending on time and expense.

When you needed swords to arm an army the quality varied greatly and so the expense. A good sword cost would cost good money. A great sword a LOT of money and if arming lots of troops the any sword would do.

As was the norm until fairly recently in history, you purchased your own weapons and armour. If you were unlucky enough to be the conscripted you got whatever was available to hand out - "munitions" grade weapons.

This is still somewhat true today. The term "GI" used for a soldier comes from "General Issue", the type of uniform and weapons given to the common soldier. The rules generally do not allow for soldiers to supplement their arms. However, it has been common for for decades for US soldiers to replace the standard issue fighting knife with a custom weapon. And recently many have used better higher quality body armour than what was available from the government. Often this was purchased by groups and donated to soldiers from their area.
   - guru - Monday, 05/07/12 19:58:10 EDT

ThomasP, In my time in the ARMY, GI meant Government Issue. And yes, most switched to their own knife. Handguns took a written permission to carry other than your issue. Pilots in Nam often carried M-1911a1's instead of the standard light weight >38 revolver, as they used the weakest loaded .38 shell made with ball ammo. But then the .45 was still GI. Now it would probably take an act of congress to carry a .45
   ptree - Monday, 05/07/12 20:18:47 EDT

Swords : Hmmm, I always thought GI (besides gastrointestinal) was government infantry. Oh well, what do I know.

About swords: I am not a great smith, but I will claim I could make an eyeball duplicate of the crummy bronze age sword I saw in the museum, in about 20 minutes.

On the other hand, the duplication nof the Sutton Hoo sword took the smith who did it (Lincoln?) about a year. A lot of that was research but does anyone know how many actual forging weeks it required?

Traditionally, a good katana (blade only) took 14 days to make.

Before it was delivered, about 30 craftsmen would work on it (only two on the blade, the rest made the "furniture") and delivery time for a custom sword was probably fractions of a year.
   - Rudy - Monday, 05/07/12 20:58:32 EDT

PS : If anyone is interested, go to a web search engine and open the images search. Type in tsuba (that is the correct spelling). Some of those things weren't just art, they were great art.
   - Rudy - Monday, 05/07/12 21:05:48 EDT

14 days only? What about that affirmation that took 6 months for a katana to be made? are this things relly that off the track?
   Heber - Monday, 05/07/12 21:36:30 EDT

By the way Rudy, do you know if the methods of forging a European longsword include the folding of the metal?
   Heber - Monday, 05/07/12 21:39:09 EDT

Tsuba : Iron and gold Tsuba - photo by Jock Dempsey This tsuba is wrought iron (or pure iron) and gold. The dragon passes through it, appears on the reverse side then on the front again. It is a beautiful work of art in the simplest of materials.

Japanese sword furniture was easily replaceable. There would be practice furniture, dress furniture and perhaps battle furniture. A sword could be ordered with plain furniture and the owner upgrade it later.

Mokume' Gane' (laminated patterned copper and brass) was invented to match or complement laminated patterned steel for use as sword furniture. Its use has been expanded to all types of metal art as has pattern welded steel.
   - guru - Monday, 05/07/12 23:13:38 EDT

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