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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 22 - 31, 2012 on the Guru's Den
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Has anyone ever heard of or seen a Hydrogen Forge?
   - Kelly - Monday, 05/21/12 23:42:52 EDT

Hydrogen Forge? : I have recently gotten Back into Blacksmithing...being out of it for about 10 years or so. I have a quite a bit of profesional experiance in Metal Work. I have been looking around for any info on using Hydrogen as an addition to propane to fuel the fire in my forge..unfortunately I havent fun across much on the subject...seems like everyone is using it to power torches and cars, but not a forge. Have you seen or heard of anyone using a hydrogen Generator to fuel a forge either partially or fully? By the way...I think it is wonderful what you do to further this Lost Art. Thank You for your reply in advance.
   Kelly - Monday, 05/21/12 23:56:52 EDT

Hydrogen Forge : Kelly, The problem is that hydrogen / oxygen burns WAY too hot (5072°F 2800°C) and only about 12% lower with air. A hydrogen flame is used to melt aluminum oxide powder to create synthetic sapphire. Aluminum oxide or alumina is one of the major constituents of most refractory clays and bricks.

SO, a hydrogen forge would completely melt down. Even if made of highly refractory zirconia or silicon carbide these expensive refractories would be near melting and lose strength sagging and failing. . .

SO, How do they get away with metal rocket booster nozzles? They are made like a radiator with closely coiled tubing through which the liquid fuel starting at cryogenic temperatures is evaporated. . .

The other practical problem with very high temperature forge gases is burning the metal. Carbon and carbon based fuels just happen to burn JUST hot enough to soften or melt iron under the right conditions. While many are concerned about achieving forge welding temperature there is a much more significant problem with higher temperatures. Iron, is a relatively slow conductor of heat. In a regular forge it takes time for the center of a piece of iron to get as hot as the surface. IF the fire is a lot hotter then the surface could be melted (or burned) before the middle was sufficiently hot to work.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/22/12 00:18:05 EDT

Roll Forging : Hello, I am looking for information about the use of roll forges and their tooling, specifically an Ajax 00. I have a few books about tooling development that I have read. But I need someone with practical knowledge. Thanks!
   Andrew Kyte - Tuesday, 05/22/12 10:47:42 EDT

Hydrogen forge: what he is trying to get across is that a hydrogen forge is much more expensive and complicated to build and run and gets you nothing that you can't do with just propane itself.

You can melt steel in a propane forge even a home built one---happened to me after I did a reline and still had the burner adjusted to the "almost no insulation left" setting. Happened to a friend who had just built a propane forge and melted a billet in it at a MOB meeting.

How much hotter do you need it?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/22/12 12:15:29 EDT

Now if you have the extra cash sitting around look into an induction forge. *Very* nice indeed!
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/22/12 12:16:22 EDT

hydrogen : Those little "water torches" jewelers use that work by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen are indeed useful for what they are designed to do, which is weld platinum. Platinum welds around 6500 degrees F, a good 4400 degrees hotter than needed for steel...
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 05/22/12 12:19:56 EDT

Roll Forging : Andrew, I've looked for resources on this subject and found very little information. The ASM Forging reference has a paragraph and a illustration of forging a long spike. The number of passes seemed to be very high.

Marks' and Machinery's Handbook do not even mention the process but the old ASTE Tool Engineers Handbook (McGraw-Hill 1949) has numerous product examples. It lists capacities of Ajax rolls from #0 to #6 and includes general percentage of reductions possible. However, there are no engineering details.

I do not know this for a fact but I have a feeling that in their hey-day the roll forge manufacturers engineered and manufactured the dies for the customer. Thus the lack of published engineering information. Since R&D into this process by making trial dies would be VERY expensive I suspect that making the dies was a lucrative part of the business.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/22/12 13:07:15 EDT

Roll Forging : Thanks for looking up the info. This is the same dilemma I keep running into. I know that many industrial forges use them for rough forming before closed die operations, so the info is still available. More than literature I am trying to find someone who was or is an industrial smith and hopefully has a little insight into the particulars of set up. I know its a long shot to find that ONE person but you have to start somewhere. Thanks again for the response!
   Andrew Kyte - Tuesday, 05/22/12 13:24:44 EDT

Roll Forging :
Many of the examples given seemed to be partial process applications. Axels were rolled to provide an end to cut splines into and a shoulder to upset the flange. Auto peddles were blanked prior to drop forging the flat part and bending to shape. One interesting example for blacksmiths was the back "leg/jaw" of a leg vice was rolled to form the tapered round leg on the end of a rectangular section (which might have also been rolled from round or square) that in later processes became the rear jaw.

I recently did some design work on a small set of D-rolls for a specialty job. On simple dies guides and stops were as important as the roll dies. Some of the guides were on the roll die. Rolls were also made as a series of disks with each step on a disk. This would allow some less expensive R&D. Instead of making a whole new die with multiple impressions just one or two could be modified and replaced. Just some thoughts. . .

This was all for a special built from scratch machine. Its for a proprietary manufacturing process so I cannot say more or post drawings.

   - guru - Tuesday, 05/22/12 14:28:02 EDT

I think that was on some more modern vises as my old ones show a forge weld on the leg.

However I do recall seeing swords being rolled out in a pre WWI picture of their manufacture. The dies were not round but lobed so that you fed in the blank it would roll the blade and then there would be a gap asnd the blade would be released and fall as the dies cycled around for the next one.
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/22/12 17:08:43 EDT

Roll forging is usually a very special set up engineered for that task. The base machine, like a drop forge hammer was a mostly standard item that would be tooled up by the user.
Often one would see a set of rolls next to a drop hammer to isolate a section or make a long draw that would be difficult in closed dies.
Never seen axles rolled for splines as the axles we made had the main shaft at the as recieved diameter, and a single bump upset from a cute little 4" auto loading upsetter to make the 3 to 4" long bigger od end fro splines to be formed. Most splines on axxles are formed bt a sort of extrusion, raising the splines somewhat like roll forming threads.
The flange end would be either upset forged in 4 to 5 hits in progressive dies or forged in a press and friction welded on. But, the main shaft on truck axles are straight bar stock.
On the semi float and non-float the axles are often reverse extruded or even cold formed on spline rollers.
In England a famous company makes "bulldog" shovels and spades using mostly roll forgers for the early metal movement.
Old tech, and in very high production handy and reliable.
I have thought of building a mini version to roll forge my trowel blades, just to say I did, and because I like making machines:)
   ptree - Tuesday, 05/22/12 18:39:23 EDT

On the British cars I used to work on many had "semi floating" rear axles. This means the outer bearing is in a separate hub like a truck rear axle except that instead of two bearings there is one so the hub relied on the spine end to hold it in alignment. Full floating has two bearings and the axle does nothing but drive the wheel.

Like a lot of British autos these were old technology, the axles roll forged, upset and the splines machined. The problem with the axles I am most familiar with is that the splines were smaller than the shaft section and they commonly broke at the end of the spline due to stress concentration. Anyone who raced cars with this class of axle used special high strength replacements that among other things had the straight section machined a tad smaller than the root of the spline.

The illustrations in the books on roll forging are all very old products. We are talking Model A Ford era stuff. The steps I described are from an example that is repeated in almost every book that has a section on roll forging.

In recent years I have had folks send me photos of roll forging machines available for less than scrap. Nice machines IF you can afford the six digit cost of engineering and and having dies made.

If you look at what is required to make these dies you will find that it required the most sophisticated machining and die sinking technology available at the time.

Quite a few of the reduction and tapering operations that could be done on a roll forging machine could be done on the much cheaper to tool up rotary forging machine - a device that is still popular today.

Old tech forging using D rolls and flypresses are not covered in most engineering references. Modern screw presses (mostly made overseas) use giant servo motors and are computer controlled to produce a force profile as needed by strict engineering specs. They are a LONG way from operator controlled clutch driven machines of the 19th century.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/22/12 20:48:02 EDT

Currently, you can buy a mini- roll forging head for a HEBO machine- these are an add on unit that uses the main HEBO power head to power them, and they are set to roll fish tails and similar ends on railing caps- they roll in almost 360 degrees, but not quite, then roll out again.
Pics at the website www.usahebo.com , then click on the EAS3 endforging link. There is a video there.
this is the smallest roll forger I have seen, and one of the only ones available that doesnt weigh ten tons (literally) and require custom tooling.
The little HEBO head can do rolling either across the rolls, or with the rolls, and has the ability to move the rolls closer together or farther apart while rolling. Its a nifty little unit, which is very sturdily built, probably weighs 800 or 1000lbs, and, these days, runs over ten grand without a motor or gearing- just the head itself. The power is supplied by a HEBO machine, which would be 3 to 7 hp, with a motor geared down to around 10rpm, with incredible torque.
HEBO does make a couple smaller sizes, and at least one bigger one, and Glaser, the other big German manufacturer of blacksmithing machinery, also made similar machines.

this is probably as small as was ever built commercially- most real roll forgers, like the ones Ptree is talking about, start out as 4 foot cubes of solid metal, weighing 5 tons or more, and go rapidly up from there.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 05/22/12 21:31:17 EDT

roll forgers : As Reis says, start at about 4 foot cubes and go up. Usually way up:)
Most blacksmiths think of a open die hammer that ships complete at say 25,000# as huge. In the industries I was in 25,000# is often the die weight for one side of the closed dies. In upsetters, the tool holder for a nice 9" upsetter will go about 10,000# less tooling, and a 9" upsetter frame only, no moving parts etc goes about 595,000#.
This equipment if well cared for will make money but you need 3 shifts all year type work to justify starting up. If you have an old shop full of paid for equipment then you can get by with less production, but short runs cost much for set-up. Tooling costs pretty much the same for 100 parts as 50,000 parts.
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/23/12 10:18:01 EDT

Roll Forging Machines : I think one article I've got said 20 to 100 HP, AND they have a huge flywheel (due to the intermittent loading). But as impressive as this is the significant cost is the dies.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/23/12 12:05:54 EDT

The price, size, and tooling costs of commercial roll forging machines are exactly what makes the HEBO machines so interesting. Of course, when you are used to buying used machines for pennies on the dollar, the HEBO machines SEEM expensive, but, in real world, apples to apples comparisons, fifteen or twenty grand for a plug and play roll forging machine, with a range of off the shelf dies designed just for small scale blacksmithing, is a heckuva deal. Hebo makes a range of stock rolls for these machines that are in the range of $1000 to $2000- you cant even walk in the door of a 4 axis edm shop, and expect them to look up for that kind of money.
The Germans have developed a whole industry of small scale blacksmithing machinery that seems expensive to weekend hobby smiths here, but are actually quite reasonable for what they can do. I have had my HEBO since around 2004 now, and it has certainly paid for itself several times over, as it is the best twister, scroll bender, and circle roller available for a small shop. I could buy the embossing head, or the end forger, or the basket twister, or the horizontal hydraulic former, and each would, again, be cheaper, better engineered, and nicer to use than any industrial machine you could buy. Assuming you could buy industrial machines in most of these categories, which, mostly ,you cannot. NO american company makes CNC twisting machines, although, if they did, they would no doubt cost two hundred grand.
Nobody in industry makes anything like the little HEBO roll forger- most industrial shops like the ones Ptree has worked in buy 50 year old machines and rebuild them. If those american made machines were still available new, they would probably cost a half million dollars for the smallest, ranging up to tens of millions for the big dogs.

If you are seriously interested in roll forging, you can either build your own machine, or buy HEBO. Unless you have a really large scale machine shop, and your time is worth nothing, the HEBO is going to be a lot cheaper, and will start work tomorrow.

I dont get paid by HEBO- I just paid a lot of money for mine, and have been continually impressed with how well designed and built it is, and how nice it is to have a machine that is designed by blacksmiths for blacksmiths.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 05/23/12 13:03:50 EDT

A well thought out and made machine is a joy, period. When the American big iron was made in the 20-50's it was the standard of the world and was world beating in WWII. BUT then lot orders were usually in the 100,000, and mechanically skilled labor to maintain these high maintenance machines was available, trained, and at low cost.
Try and find a local mechanic who can pull a 24" od roller bearing from a frame weighing half a million pounds. Yes there are specialists that travel with their now very rare and expensive skills and tools. Then every factory that had equipment like this had their own millwrights and machine shops to make repair items. Often had small foundry as well or a local almost captive foundry.

This is NOT blacksmith tooling, this is tooling blacksmiths made small things for. Since this equipment was never mass produced, and most were somewhat custom the factories that made these had big blacksmith shops for things like linkages, railings and the like.
The HEBO is most likely a delight, I have not had the pleasure of running one. BUT it is most likely not a 100,000 part lot order machine and as Ries (Note I spelled it right this time) notes, not apples to apples.
Want to make the same design long spade from 1" think stock by rolling out the blade, and you feel you might do the spades in quantity for say the next 50-80 years the big iron is the no questions choice.
Want to run a blacksmiths job shop and make lots of 50 and less, the HEBO or equiv is the no questions choice.

Having been exposed to and worked with the big iron I am fascinated with it. But I also have a love hate relationship with the big iron. I have been the Maintenance manager in a city block sized shop of really big iron, almost all orphaned. Most of the big iron ran daily and when something that is 50 years old and the parts are huge specials custom made for each machine the maintenance manager has a very stressful job. We did have 2 huge cold reverse extrusion presses from Germany, and very current. These were huge, and were a huge nightmare to maintain as the they were typical German industrial machines of the late 90's and so used their own shop made hydraulics even in the control circuits, and in the very early 20000's they were bought and no longer supported the hydraulics so every single item had to be switched out as they failed. And yes they did fail and fail often.

From my small exposure of say 30 years, and only to say 15 brands of real industrial equipment that was imported, I never saw an import machine from any where that matched US for the hydraulics or electrical s.
HEBO was not one of those I was exposed to. I was exposed to nearly every one of the great US brands, Cincinnati,Monarch, Le blond, New Britain, Acme-Gridly Warner & Swasey, Pratt & Whitney, Lodge and Shipley and conomatic. There were many more. Most no longer in Biz, but boy did they make first rate machines.
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/23/12 19:41:43 EDT

Ptree, you are absolutely right, there is no comparison between the industrial machines you have experience with, and a Hebo or similar small shop machine.
And for mass production, you need industrial machines.

I am a small shop, doing small runs- I might need 800 scrolls for a project, but not 800 a day. And so, when I talk about machines like the Hebo, it is from that perspective.

I have known a few people that have had relatively small industrial machines in their shops- Grant had a small upsetter, for example. And even at scrap prices, these machines are an order of magnitude more expensive to run and maintain than machines designed for a small shop.
If you can actually justify an Ajax roll forger, and are willing to pay the maintenance and tooling costs, then there is no question its a better, faster, longer lived machine than the current crop of european machines made for blacksmith shops.

But most of the smiths in the USA these days are smaller shops, which can be perfectly happy with small shop sized machinery. Hebo, Glaser, and several Italian and Spanish companies are making machinery specifically for blacksmith shops, and the prices, while not cheap, are so much cheaper than used industrial production machinery would be, that they are much more approachable for a 1-5 man blacksmith shop.
There are at least a couple dozen small shops now in the US using machines like these, doing a mix of fab and blacksmithing work on them, and they can really make money for a small shop.

The current prices of the good ol' american iron, if it was still made, would be stratospheric. The last full sized american made lathes, in the early 90's, from companies like Monarch or Leblond, were in the range of two hundred thousand dollars for 24" x 96" lathes, and were only being bought by the US government. Similarly, the last few Chambersburgs were in the $150k to $250k range.
   - Ries - Thursday, 05/24/12 00:08:11 EDT

Ries : What machine type and size were the "last few Chambersburgs" that were made (and when)?
   - Dave Hammer - Thursday, 05/24/12 07:02:14 EDT

Rust : I have had a question in my mind for a long time, sort of unsure about asking because I didn't want to sound dumb. If you had a large quantity of rust ( powder let's say ) and placed it in a large crucible, could it be melted into iron-steel or is rust useless ?
   Mike T. - Thursday, 05/24/12 07:03:05 EDT

Last Chambersburg : There was a NEW 300 pound self contained on the Chambersburg dock when they were auctioned off. I would assume that was the last machine they built.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/24/12 07:29:35 EDT

Rust to Iron :
Melted rust is melted rust. It would actually give off water and become gray iron scale.

To convert rust to iron requires a reducing atmosphere (lots of hot carbon monoxide) to strip the oxygen from the iron. The ore would need to be properly exposed to this atmosphere (not just in a pile), then protected from oxidation.

The process of smelting ore into metal is much more complicated than just heating it. Many ores are also roasted prior to smelting and others require chemical processing. Some ores are self fluxing and others needed flux added to make the melt fluid and protect the virgin metal.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/24/12 07:46:36 EDT

Roasting ore helps to get rid of sulfur in sulfide ores and to break up the ore to allow access of the CO into the cracks in it. Ores that are free of sulfur (an phosphorus for that matter) and in finely divided state do not profit from pre-roasting.

Rust is a high grade iron ore; but as mentioned it needs to be *smelted* not *melted*. As a variant of this I collect my firescale in my shop and use it in my bloomery to make iron. Since I run the bloomery infrequently I can have pounds of this "free highgrade ore" to use along with my other ores. I did pick up a heavily rusted bollard that I'm saving the rust from as it will be in the 10 pound range when it's all chipped off. All "ore for the bloomery" (if not "grist for the mill")

One thing to watch out for with rust is the possibility of it being contaminated with high lead lead paint commonly used on *old* ironwork
   Thomas P - Thursday, 05/24/12 11:33:20 EDT

Mike Bondi got a quote on a 150lb Chambersburg in the late 80's, and they were quoting him about a hundred and twenty five thousand bucks. Figure close to double that for a 500lb. Factor in inflation since then, and, well, lets just say its a lot of money.

Ajax currently owns Chambersburg, so its not really gone.
The auction was probably just for machinery and stock at that one location- the CECO, or Chambersburg Press company, has been continually in business, making mostly closed die forging presses as part of the Ajax line. But still called Chambersburgs. As far as I know, they havent made any self contained since that auction.
On their website, they still list both open die arch hammers and utility hammers as available, with brochures for both online, and dated 2009 for the utilities, starting at 750lbs and going up from there. It would be interesting for somebody to call them up and ask for current prices on a 1000lb utility, or a 4000lb Arch Hammer.

My guess is that they are at least quadruple what Anyang will ask for the same sized machine.

But my basic point is just the real industrial machinery, either new or rebuilt, is stratospherically expensive, and more of it is getting scrapped every year, making the used stuff rarer and rarer.
So for a small shop, the newer, mostly imported, machines that are designed specifically for blacksmiths are actually a really good deal.

Interestingly enough, Ajax still lists the NO. O roll forging machine as a current product, and the basic brochure is available online at their website. It is a cute little bugger, weighing in at only 8500lbs.

Another very interesting thing I learned on their site is that almost all of their new closed die hammers are CNC programmable. I know the japanese have been doing serious research into direct drive CNC controlled stamping hammers, where the motor can be programmed to change the speed at different parts of the stroke. I would imagine the new Chambersburgs are similar, with the force, speed of stroke and number of strokes all programmable by the operator.
   - Ries - Thursday, 05/24/12 11:39:24 EDT

When I was maintenance manager for the upsetter shop, it was reported to me that National and Ajax had not made a new upsetter since the 70's.
To my knowledge Ajax is an office with drawings, that will have parts made to the drawing for your machine.
When we needed a new upsetter we bought several old worn out 9" upsetters and took the better frame halves from 2 and had them weld repaired to fix the cracks, and to make the bearing bores small enough after the two repaired havles were joined to allow line boring. The tool slide and grip slide came from the third.
To my knowledge, AJAX can sell a new upsetter, made from old drawings by having the frame etc cast somewhere other than the US as no foundrey still exists that can do the parts.
There are still several shops that can hot forge the main shafts, heat treat and machine them.
I would expect a new Ajax upsetter of say a usefull 4" size to run several million. Look at the price a for a new National Machinery Maxi-press fro comparison as they have pretty much the same components, just add a grip slide.

A 4" is good to bump up a 2.25" bar to say about 2.5 for splines on an axle. A 9" is useful to make the flange end on the same axle for a Group 8 truck. Think semi-truck.
The 10" we had would go about 2400 tons, and in 5 hits could produce a 2-3" thick by 22-24" flange on 5.5" bar 4140. Think 3-4 man crew, think 350Hp electric motor and some way to heat those bars to keep it fed
Ries has it right5, for the likes of us a Blacksmith level machine is indeed the right choice.
Now if you are Steve Parker and working atr Scot Forge and making forgings like the main shaft for a 9" upsetter you really need the big iron.
   ptree - Thursday, 05/24/12 13:57:59 EDT

CNC Programmable Presses :
A popular press is the electronically controlled screw press (a type of fly press) I mentioned above (made in India). These use huge servo motors (on some the flywheel is the motor armature). While they use inertia as part of the process a lot of the control comes from simple leverage and motor control. Force control is super fine and dwell as well. Any force/rate curve the engineer wants can be programmed into these machines.

I've built large stepper motor controlled machines and the control unbelievable. Steppers move 9/10th of a degree (1/40th rev) per pulse of the DC controller power. In micro stepping mode a 1/10th of a degree is possible. High speed radio frequency switching is required for high RPM. The DC drives whine at high frequency.

Small steppers are used to control digital printers and scanners. The largest standard steppers can drive multi-HP machinery. Torque of these motors is the highest at low speed. When used with moderate reduction gearing the torque is unbelievable. They easily replace hydraulics in many cases but with superior control and none of the mess. However, you DO pay for the control and convenience.

The last machine I built using digital controls changed feed rates in thousandth's of an inch per revolution on the fly simply by entering the feed rate and pressing enter. The actual rate was measured by a feed back loop and corrections made dynamically if needed (they were not - but "it" happens.. ).
   - guru - Thursday, 05/24/12 14:48:21 EDT

Chambersburg :
At the auction everything was sold off piecemeal. The drawings and literature were sold off as a lot. The insider group that bought the drawings setup a business to sell copies of drawings with a very strict copyright policy. It didn't pay and apparently they sold the lot to Ajax.

I got a quote on a 100 pound one piece Chambersburg utility hammer in 1998 for $51,000. That was a cost of $17/pound at the time. During the following decade you could buy used utility hammers up to 500 pounds for as little as $500. Industry was dumping them. Most of these were support hammers for shops with larger machines. Not much of a market for new machines when used ones are selling for 2 to 10%.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/24/12 15:25:53 EDT

Scale to Iron : In one of my books it notes that the scale from a medieval Italian forge was regularly swept-up and sold, at 20 soldi (silver coins) per 100 pounds, for resmelting!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 05/24/12 17:46:46 EDT

Amd to think we paid about $250 every few weeks to have 14 tons of scale hauled to a special waste dump from the axle shop!
   ptree - Thursday, 05/24/12 20:49:42 EDT

The programmable stamping presses the japanese are making use a very low RPM, very high torque DC motor, that is programmable for speed at any part of the stroke, direct driving a gear and crank style stamping press. It can hit once, and it can be stopped at any point of the stroke by an E Stop button, instantly, unlike regular mechanical presses. They sound similar to the electronic screw presses you are talking about, in terms of control, but they resemble regular, old school mechanical punch presses.
   - Ries - Thursday, 05/24/12 22:05:32 EDT

Scale : Formerly Pyron, now the Niagara Falls plant of North American Hoganas got its start after WWII by combining inexpensive electricity (Niagara Falls Mohawk power plant) by-product hydrogen gas from producing chlorine and plentiful low carbon mill scale from Bethlehem's plants around Buffalo. Combine them in an electrically heated continuous furnace and you get sponge iron powder (There's milling, sizing, and other operations but those 3 are the basis of the plant's beginnings.) Common end uses for sponge iron powder include semi-metallic brake pads, self-heating packs for MRE's and hunter's hot packs, and the iron powder added to cereals and flour.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 05/24/12 22:40:42 EDT

Ries, The upsetters and mechanical forge presses I worked with all had a set up that once a fixed amount of rotation had begun, 30 degrees from memory they locked in and it was goig to full cycle period. That lead to some spectacular failures. In an upsetter, the bar is usually in a porter bar for the bigger stuff, and always set into a backstop as the grip slides alone cann't hold against the tool sldie. If the bar droops a little, the tool slide tooling will align the bar with great VIGOR!. In a 10" upsetter where the porter bar is hung from powered hoists and can be tilted to align, when the alignment is bad the 2400 ton auto alignment tends to toss the 2 operators about 10-12'. One of the critical safety issues on that job is knowing where NOT to put the finished forgings as getting flipped into a 6' square box of 500# forgings cooling from the machine is fatal every time.
   ptree - Friday, 05/25/12 07:25:01 EDT

Ptree, that is true with all mechanical presses, shears, ironworkers, press brakes, and punches, as well as your upsetters. Which is one reason why OSHA likes hydraulic machines better. Of course, they compensate on older machines with double palm buttons, laser curtains, and other safety features designed to make sure parts of the operator arent in the line of fire.
But these new japanese punch presses combine the best of both mechanical presses and the safety of hydraulics.
The basic concept could easily be applied to a variety of machines, although its probably not feasible for the really large scale stuff you worked with. I believe they currently make these up to 200 ton machines. Probably there is a size where the DC motors would get prohibitively expensive- 20hp is possible, but 200hp might be a bit much.

However, the basic drive train would make great forging presses, with the ability to hit hard, like a hammer, but with the control and finesse of a hydraulic press, all in one machine. The problem with hydraulic presses in forging is that they are so slow that the heat is often sucked out of the part before pressing is done, unless you use heated dies, which arent really practical for a small shop.
But a DC direct drive mechanical press would hit very fast, but just once- its the perfect forging press.
   - Ries - Friday, 05/25/12 11:47:28 EDT

Mechanical upsetters and punch presses are similar in this respect. Once the clutch trigger is tripped they are going to go through the full 360° cycle or else. The "or else" is generally something is going to break or be destroyed. I like to think of it as "unleashing the hounds of hell". There is no turning back.

Generally both these machines need to have every job engineered unless it is easily a case of overkill. Punch presses are not built nearly as strong as upsetters and are generally not good for forging unless the job is very carefully engineered. I've had two people tell me they were successfully forging with a punch press and then later scrap the machines due to broken frames. . .
   - guru - Friday, 05/25/12 11:47:48 EDT

I should be clear- I am not advocating using a punch press for forging. I am proposing that if a mechanical hammer was made using this direct drive DC motor tech, you could program it to act both as a hammer and a press, with any speed of multiple hits possible, or single hits.
   - Ries - Friday, 05/25/12 14:58:46 EDT

The Japanese press had a HUGE specially designed stepper/servo motor and special DC controls. Pretty interesting design. I suspect the large drive wheel is more gear than flywheel.

I did some searching and could not find the press I was describing that I had once found. I found a lot of Chinese presses that used a combination of servo motors, clutches and hydraulics. The castings looked old tech with new tech drives.

I also found numerous research papers on electro press design all written in China and India. . . .
   - guru - Friday, 05/25/12 17:02:38 EDT

Well the upsetters and the vertical Ajax and Nationals I worked with all had air clutches and brakes and are only like a punch press in that they have a flywheel and a crankshaft.
In these machines, the flywheel is spun up by the motor and spins freely on the back shaft. When the pedal is tripped or buttons etc, the air clutch is engaged. You DO have a very small window in rotation to step OFF the pedal and have the machine stop Again, from memory about 30 degrees.
Now on the upsetters you only sort of unleash the hounds of hell, because if the machine goes solid, and the toggle springs are correctly adjusted the toggles go over center. Now when the toggles go over center on a 9" and you happen to be about 30-40" behind the machine the ground moves under your feet! You are witnessing the release of about 1800 tons rather quickly. If however someone overtightened the toggle springs, what you hear and feel is the 24" diameter crank snap. Been there for that too, and again I was behind the machine and in about the same spot.( I avoided that spot for the remainder of my time in the shop as I thought perhaps I jinxed the machine)

On a big upsetter or vertical the free spinning flwheel is pulled in by the air clutch, and the back shaft spins. On the opposite end of the 14" OD backshaft is a big pinon, about 18-20" OD that engages the bull gear, about 16' OD. The bull gear is keyed to the crank. Now on a 9" upsetter the flywheel is about 10' diameter and the clutch is about 8' in diameter and is closed with a full diameter air piston running at 90 psi. There is an air operated brake on the back shaft so that when the clutch opens the brake sets. It is a wrapped on the shaft type, about 12" width and has a nicely sized cylinder.
Pretty different than the old stripper clutch punch presses. They are really more like the huge OBI presses used to trim forgings in a drop forge shop.

The smallest upsetter I was around was a 4" Ajax, the biggest a 10" Ajax. Our 8 and 9" upsetters were Nationals.
At Vogt we had Nationals and Ajax vertical forge presses to 7000 ton.
All pretty much have the same general working principle. I Have also been around Hydraulic presses to 1000 ton. Most were 4 post Eries, and could be pretty quick if properly maintained and powered. Lots of the Bliss and Eries are slow because someone screwed up the prefill valves, or substituted a modern hydraulic drive and grossly under sized the unit. BUt all things said, the hydraulics are indeed slower.
   ptree - Friday, 05/25/12 20:00:04 EDT

OSHA complian punch presses : The punch presses [except for 1 in the die tryout area of one shop] were all OSHA compliant, at least to a degree, and had air clutches & brakes. As soon as one or more of the cycle buttons was released or any of the emergency stop buttons were pressed the clutch would disengage and the brake engage on any part of the cycle. There would be some overtravel, but not much considering the many tons of moving machinery that had to be stopped.

The drive system on the big presses at the auto frame plant consisted of a large flywheel belt driven from a huge motor. The clutch & brake, called a torque pack, were built into this flywheel. From this point on power was transmitted by gears. These were "crankless" presses, rather than having a crank running the length of the press, there were large diameter gears meshed together, each with an ecentric and connecting rod to power the ram through cylinderical crossheads. Ram guiding was independant from the cross heads.

We had presses like these up to 5,000 tons, but that force was intended to be spread out over the length of the press, not concentrated in one smalish area like on a forging press or upsetter.

Screwups in presses this size are spectacular. Generally the tooling gives way before the press fails.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 05/25/12 21:46:47 EDT

I bought a blacksmith vise recently. The only distinguishing mark is NO 34 at the bottom. It has a spring inside the screw, an Acme thread, painted original green... about a 4
   - Lenray - Friday, 05/25/12 22:56:50 EDT

blacksmith vise : I bought a blacksmith vise recently. The only distinguishing mark is NO 34 at the bottom. It has a spring inside the screw, an Acme thread, painted original green... about a 4" jaw. Any idea when, where or who manufactured it.. History of it? Been in the family for many years
   Lenray - Friday, 05/25/12 22:57:18 EDT

Lenray, I have never heard of a blacksmith vise or any other type with the spring inside the screw. If you send me photos I may be able to tell you more about it.

Check this link, Blacksmith Leg Vises
   - guru - Saturday, 05/26/12 08:50:00 EDT

Coiled Spring Leg Vise : I have one that had a coil spring around the main screw mechanism, but it was obviously a field-expedient modification, and didn't work very well. I added a more conventional spring on the leg to give it a boost.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 05/26/12 19:26:04 EDT

fence restoration : Guru, I was contacted by someone in Marietta, Ohio looking for a blacksmith that does restoration of fences and posts. This is the original fence of a house built in 1830 or so. Do you know of anyone near Marietta, Ohio that would be interested in doing restoration of fence? Thanks, Betsy
   Betsy - Saturday, 05/26/12 22:58:07 EDT

We do work in the UK on a big Ajax upsetter (from memory a 9
   - John N - Sunday, 05/27/12 08:05:36 EDT

Upsetters : We do work in the UK on a big Ajax upsetter (from memory a 9")Im guessing its WW2 vintage. It got a full overhaul about 4 years ago. The machine was seriously abused (all the toggles locked down, forging against the back stop), it only made one in 4 forgings correctly. Everything shimmed with billets.....

Anyhow, long story short a couple of the guys that work for me did the overhaul, and said it was the best made machine they ever worked on. The slide pockets in the frame (6' apart, 15' long) measured up to a thou, after 60 odd years of use and abuse. A single thou on a frame weighing quarter of a million pounds or so!!!

I had the pleasure of watching it forging after the overhaul. Zero scrap parts rate. It was putting a 10" + sphere on the end of a piece of 6" bar, in one bump. they came out like white lolly pops.

(all dimensions are very approximate from memory, except for the 0.001")
   - John N - Sunday, 05/27/12 08:06:39 EDT

ooops, my bad. The upsetter I mention above is an Acme.
   - John N - Sunday, 05/27/12 08:13:08 EDT

Betsy, I would contact SOFA (Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil), the local blacksmiths association.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/27/12 10:26:14 EDT

John N, the old big iron was usually all made to best standards, and that is pretty much true of all the makers, US or UK. But that equipment was made to run 3 shifts for 100 years with the occasional overhaul.
   ptree - Sunday, 05/27/12 12:28:15 EDT

During the era of big iron in the 40's and 50's the major manufacturers were each trying to make a better, more durable machine than the others. They started with the most improved designs, the best castings well aged, and then machined and fitted to the best possible standards.

During this era they didn't have to think about the massiveness of the machines and efficient use of iron because they knew their competitors were also trying to make the best possible machines.

Its a lot different today. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 05/27/12 13:02:54 EDT

Good enough : I've heard that in the WW II era, "Good enough for government work" meant the the work was up to snuff, that it wes good. I guess nowadays, it means, the work is for schimmel.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 05/27/12 18:17:22 EDT

Govt. Work, G jobs & etc. : In a machine shop, when You are making something for home use it is called a Govt. job G job or similar.

This comes from the secrecy that went along with defence & arospace work, where few if anybody in the plant knew exactly what the part was, who it was really for or what it did.

When making somthing for home, You don't want too any people asking questions, lest You get caught. Saying it was "Government Work" got You off the hook explaning what this "differernt" part was. At some point jobs for home or for friends got to be called Govt. jobs. G jobs or Guvys, depending on the shop.

"Close enough for Govt. work" is like saying it is "good enough for who it is for". The piece may not be perfect, but it will work and get the job done. The above mentioned G jobs are usually done in a hurry, sometimes rather crudely in attempt to get finished before the foreman finds out, but good enough to work.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 05/27/12 21:45:51 EDT

Dave has it exactly. Same in every shop I have worked in.
   ptree - Monday, 05/28/12 07:33:21 EDT

Has anyone here used a paint on product called POR 15 ? if so how did you like it ?
   Harley - Monday, 05/28/12 13:24:04 EDT

POR15 : I've used it Harley, and I felt that it was good but overpriced. I prefer a product called Hammerite - also too expensive, but more durable.
   Rich Waugh - Tuesday, 05/29/12 01:27:53 EDT

Hammer finish paint : I will just add my two Penn'orth. The second of the two products has been strongly marketed in the UK since the 1960s. It has become a household name due to the strong marketing. Whilst it is undoubtedly capable of producing a very attractive finish it does not live up to some of The claims made for it. For many years it was claimed that it could go over rusty services with minimal preparation, claims were made for its durability etc. I have done a lot of painting with a wide variety of materials and processes. (One of my projects a little while ago used 36 gallons of paint.) if one discusses paint and paint systems with the technical reps from the large manufacturing companies, you are talking to people who really know their subject, their own companies manufacture hammered finish payments, but they recommend for indoor use only such as on cabinets and machinery. Furthermore, contrary to the claims which have been made for many years, that the well known of proprietary brand does not need primers, under coats, or extensive preparation I have done tests that showed failures in the paint film protection within weeks. I will explain briefly why this is so.

Hammer finish Paints contains an additive, I believe it may be silicon-based, that causes the painter to "wrinkle" into that attractive pattern. That results in shallow depressions which inevitably reduce the paint film thickness. The durability of a coat of paint is largely determined by the thickness of the film (there are specified minimum thicknesses for all industrial applications). This results in minute paint film failures which start corrosion, particularly if there is no proper primer and undercoat system below. Even with good preparation and primer I have seen this particular brand of paint start to fail within three weeks in winter conditions. The early signs of failure would have been missed by most people, but I have a background in high-class vehicle paintwork.

In addition the hammer finish paint is very difficult to apply to get a satisfactory even coating and consistent pattern particularly by brush.it is also incompatible with a lot of common paint thinners. A splash of the wrong thinners and it will turn into a stringy mess. The proprietary thinners is enormously expensive. I would also concur with the conclusion of Rich Waugh that it is overpriced.

I do have a machine in the workshop that I painted with the material sometime in the late 70s which looked a million dollars when it was finished and if it was washed and polished would still look very good. It was however properly sanded and prepped and primed prior to application of the top coats.

Largely what you're paying for is the very expensive advertising that has built this brand into a household name.
   - Chris E - Tuesday, 05/29/12 09:58:21 EDT

However, if the particular finish is what you desire and if you prep and prime adequately, the end result can be very good and attractive. If you are happy with the cost of the materials, then go for it
   - Chris E - Tuesday, 05/29/12 10:03:09 EDT

During WWII a lot of items were made that did the job but were not "pretty"---all the time spent fettling castings and doing pretty paintjobs was applied to making more stuff for the war effort. So good enough for government work could be something that did the job correctly but wasn't pretty.
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/29/12 17:38:12 EDT

War Time Paint :
I've had several machines with labels that stated "War Time Paint" and text to the effect that it met Defense Department requirements. I could not see any issue with the quality of the finish. Of course these were machines like a Brown and Sharpe surface grinder and a Cincinnati mill, both companies which probably would not reduce their quality for any reason. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/29/12 21:58:16 EDT

War Production Board : The War Production Board did specify the ammount of work that could be spent on cosmetic finishing of painted surfaces of machinery built in the WWII era, machines built under those specifications cary a little brass tag indicating the above.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/29/12 22:00:34 EDT

G-jobs : That's it all right.
Only sometimes the G-job got more attention to appearances than regular work. If it was ending up in my tool box, it was going to look good.
Company work was "good enough".
Or, as is sometimes said, "For the kind of women we run around with, that's plenty good enough."
   - Tom H - Tuesday, 05/29/12 22:59:23 EDT

water press : looking for any information on 100 plus ton rail road style press, ram and table on bottom pushes up. piston pump with crankshaft; connecting rods to pistons on pump.
   pete wensley - Wednesday, 05/30/12 00:31:36 EDT

Water press : Pete Wensley, I have experience with a 4 post hydraulic press that used water as the fluid. The press I worked with came from the Baldwin Locomotive shops in Ohio, and was moved to Henry Vogt Machine Co for WWI war production, having been built in 1913. It had 3 hydraulic cylinders on top and was a push down unit. You could valve in the center only or the outer 2 or all three cylinders depending on the job. Ours had a 7 cylinder Worthington crankshaft operated piston pump, and also used a 1200 gallon air over fluid accumulator added by VOGT. The press used "Prefill" valves to allow fast down without force, and then the pressure was applied. 1200 ton as I recall. The water had a small oil additive for corrosion resistance and to add a bit of lubricity.
It was basically the same as a 4 post Erie forge press, except the controls were far more complex. The seals gave lots of trouble as rope type packings on the clyinders had great trouble sealing against the low viscosity water fluid. But since there was only about 1% oil, the water falling on the huge blanks we were making into hemispherical pressure vessel heads did not cause much grief. The workmen hated when that slimy water squirted on them though.
Parts were a totally do it your self affair.
I scrapped that press about 1993-4.
If looking for a replacement pump, try Worthington on the net, these were pretty common in the oil fields but are now a little rare.
Most folks would probably change to a modern pump and control system.
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/30/12 07:27:52 EDT

Snohomish Ironworks, in Snohomish Wa, has a 100 ton horizontal water press, I believe it came out of a ship repair machine shop in Everett Wa. It was primarily used to work on propellor shafts and steam engines in old steam powered tugboats, of which there were a lot around here.
It still works, but they very rarely use it.
I havent been down there in a while, cant remember the details, but I seem to remember it leaking, too.
Its been close to 100 years since these were common, so there are very few of them still around, and obviously, no parts.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 05/30/12 12:26:23 EDT

Anvil : I recently acquired a Hay Budden anvil, serial number 172798. It has a crack running nearly all the way around the waist (front, back, and under the shoulder - still connected under the body). It is a london anvil with Hardie and Pritchel holes. Under the logo is stamped 120. Is that in lbs, or hundredweight? The face has a chip on one side, two little defects (cutter?) and the edge at the table side has a little overhang. Can I/Should I repair the crack, the chip the defects on the face and/or the overhang?
   Trent - Wednesday, 05/30/12 13:45:47 EDT

anvil : there is also a 57 stamped on one side of the body (opposite logo). It also has a 5 stamped on the front foot of the base (opposite from serial number). There is also a hole (hardie?) under the shoulder in the waist, and another hole in the bottom of the base. Could you explain to me what these thing mean/are? Also any other insight or wisdom about this anvil will be appreciated.
   Trent - Wednesday, 05/30/12 13:54:33 EDT

ANVIL : Also, I can send pictures of the anvil, if that would help.
   Trent - Wednesday, 05/30/12 13:56:08 EDT

Trent, Late Hay-Budden anvils were arc welded at the waist. This was in the early days of electric welding and occasionally the welds failed. The waist weld can be gouged or ground out and re-welded. This is an American made anvil so the weight is in pounds. The square holes in the sides and bottom were for handling the anvil during forging, welding and heat treating.

The other defects are best ground out by removing as little material as possible. If the anvil edges are mushroomed out that material should be ground off and the edges rounded a bit. Rounding the edges will remove a lot of chipping and prevent more from occurring.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/30/12 15:10:47 EDT

Repairing anvils is like ramped up dental work. I just imagine the anvil as a giant tooth to drill, clean, and fill!
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 05/30/12 17:23:55 EDT

copper vessel repair : I have been asked (as a last resort,he works with metal) to repair a star shaped crack in a copper vessel. I think I can solder it as water tightness is the main criterion. What cleaner / flux should I use. Any tips appreciated.
   wayne @ nb - Thursday, 05/31/12 20:25:55 EDT

Wayne, start by mechanically cleaning the metal with fine sand paper. Then some Sparex to clean in the cracks. Sal Amoniac is often used as a cleaner/fluxing agent. Generally for a break like this a thin patch is recommended.

I like using a tin bearing flux when soldering. These have powdered tin in them and the surfaces tins in a "flash" of tin when just the right temperature is reached. Then adding a little solder is easy.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/31/12 20:45:51 EDT

Copper vessels are also brazed to make them and can be brazed to repair them. I would practice on scrap prior to the piece. ..
   - guru - Thursday, 05/31/12 20:48:47 EDT

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