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 July 16 - 22, 2012 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Metal Idenification : Hello everyone, I need some help identifing some metal chucks my neighbor brought over today. He hauls scap (iron and steel) and they couldn't be picked up by thew magnet. The metal is shaped almost like a natural rock found in nature, but its clearly not a rock. I have seen iron/nickel alloy meterioies and it is not that. Any help would be appreciated. The specs I've obtained so far are below.

Weight: very comparable to steel
Magnetism: nonmagnetic
hardness: about as hard as low carbon steel
color: dull light gray on surface and more shinny silvery gray when cut.
Sparks: admitts no sparks when being cut with an abrasive cut of saw.

Well, what do you guys think. It is much too hard to be plain lead. My best guess at this point is Zinc from a hot dip galvanizing tank. I havn't tried to melt it in the gas forge yet, so I can't say for melting tempature yet. Let me know what you think.
   RM Howell - Sunday, 07/15/12 22:55:13 EDT

RM, There is a high probability that those are manganese nodules used to add manganese to steel at a foundry.

The reason for this is that in our area of Virginia there was a pile of this stuff out in the woods near an old RR-siding. Once in a while someone would report it as waste they thought someone had dumped out in the woods. . . In fact, it was a strategic defense stockpile for the local foundry in the event of military need. When the foundries closed they finally hauled off the pile of manganese.

No telling how many piles of such materials are hidden all over the country.

Don't try melting it in your forge unless you do so in a crucible. Zinc will wreck your forge and may result in health issues for you. Pure zinc is fairly soft. Alloy zinc is harder and almost as strong as mild steel. Its density is lower than iron/steel (but close).

One of the first tests on such mystery metal is to determine the specific gravity. Find someone with a laboratory scale setup for the purpose (most schools should have one). A sample is weighed in air, then water and the ratio is the specific gravity. In a flame test manganese burns green, zinc white. These two tests may narrow down the possibilities.
   - guru - Monday, 07/16/12 00:20:49 EDT

mystery blobs : RM, if there's a big scrapyard nearby ask if they have a zap gun. That's a handheld XRF spectrometer. All they have to do is point it at a clean spot and pull the trigger, and poof! Instant elemental analysis. They might do it for beer or doughnuts.
   Alan-L - Monday, 07/16/12 12:32:52 EDT

Hand Steels : I am looking for a blacksmith who knows how to make quality hand steels as used by miners. I'm not sure what type of steel needs to be used only that it needs to be extremely strong to withstand constant hammering. Even if you cannot point me to a blacksmith could you recommend a type of steel that would be ideal?
   Casey S - Monday, 07/16/12 13:23:58 EDT

Casey, The type of steel is not as critical as how it is heat treated.

I am not clear as to the type of tool you are asking for. Do you mean a drill? This type of tool is made from high carbon shock resistant steel such as S5 or S7 with the working end heat treated fairly hard and the rest tempered to about a spring temper.

Note that in mining operations it was not unusual to have a smith on hand who would repoint various bits and tools daily.
   - guru - Monday, 07/16/12 13:42:55 EDT

Possibly "feathers" used to split rocks after you have drilled a line of holes in them with the above drill...(the drills often called "star drills"---and note that miners expected them to wear and need to be reforged by a smith on a regular basis---why most big mines had a complete blacksmith shop and a smith on their payroll)
   Thomas P - Monday, 07/16/12 14:33:34 EDT

Josh Greenwood does a lot of stone work and made his own splitting wedge sets. Pairs are made from round stock to fit the drilled holes and taper. The one that goes in the hole usually has a bent tab to keep it from falling down in a deeper than necessary hole. Depending on what you are cutting you need more than one set. Sizes start at 1/2" diameter.
   - guru - Monday, 07/16/12 15:26:15 EDT

Are there any US manufacturers of industrial forging hammers at the moment? the companies that made the Erie hammers, CECOs or similar?

(I see Phoenix list large hammers, but I cant honestly see these being effective if the configuration is the same as the side views shown on their website)

I have a requirement for 3 new arch frame open die hammers to 2200# ram and am interested to know what quality machinery is out there before I cost up the first new Massey hammers for 25 years!
   - John N - Tuesday, 07/17/12 16:30:56 EDT

Following on from the youtube vid of the ram and pitman overahual we have put a similar start to finish on a 2500 ton clutch we recently did,


any good music suggestions to go with these videos appreciated :)
   - John N - Tuesday, 07/17/12 16:41:12 EDT

Following on from the youtube vid of the ram and pitman overahual we have put a similar start to finish on a 2500 ton clutch we recently did,


any good music suggestions to go with these videos appreciated :)
   - John N - Tuesday, 07/17/12 16:41:28 EDT

Following on from the youtube vid of the ram and pitman overahual we have put a similar start to finish on a 2500 ton clutch we recently did,


any good music suggestions to go with these videos appreciated :)
   - John N - Tuesday, 07/17/12 16:41:41 EDT

Following on from the youtube vid of the ram and pitman overahual we have put a similar start to finish on a 2500 ton clutch we recently did,


any good music suggestions to go with these videos appreciated :)
   - John N - Tuesday, 07/17/12 16:41:45 EDT

John N, as far as I know no makers of new forge hammers in the US of the size you mention. There are however many used dealers that have large, cheap inventories of forge hammers and they are rebuildable to like new.
All of the new installations in the last 10 years that I know of are rebuilt when you say forge hammers, presses and upsetters in the 1000# and up. And most I have experience with are more in the 5000# steam, and 1000 ton+ for presses.
   ptree - Tuesday, 07/17/12 18:31:15 EDT

Thanks ptree, A project im working on requires some very high quality kit. Ive got a 8500# Erie that im rebuilding, but the lack of solid used kit (crack free)in the UK (and europe from my searchings) is making me think that it might just be easier to go from scratch for the small ones.
Customer wants air hammers, and is 'anti' chinese machinery, so all the electro-hydraulic ones are out.

Arch frame hammers are prefered for the rigidity (Ni alloy forging). Any leads to good used stuff appreciated though!
   - John N - Tuesday, 07/17/12 19:17:37 EDT

A frame Hammers :
Nasmyth built his first in pretty short order after he saw the French had built one from the sketch in his notebook. But he had a captive foundry and patternmakers on the payroll.

But these days you have modern options. Big flame cut plate and fabrications, and foam investments. For many large castings its cheaper to make foam investments by hand than to make permanent patterns.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/18/12 02:05:08 EDT

new hammers VS rebuilt : John N, listed in the Surplus Record, on the web you will find a number of US dealer that have inventory of Eries and Chambersburgs up to 25,000#. Have not seen much in double arch frame 1000#
I would think a standard cast frame from what I expect are existing drawings in your files would be the best way to go. No new engineering, and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies. I think you need industrial quality hammers not a scaled up junk yard hammer.
I would hope that you will share the experiences as this developes.
Good luck.
   ptree - Wednesday, 07/18/12 07:29:56 EDT

Arch hammers : John it is great to see heavy manufacturing equipment being made in the Western word again. Too bad you are not making it in North America, I would love to quote on making the patterns for a project like this. Doesn't make a lot of sense across the pond though.

For one or 2 castings, foam patterns can make sense but 3 is sometimes getting to the point where wooden patterns are as cheap. Surface finish on the castings will be better with a wooden pattern as well. If the frame is a hollow section rather than a I section, a skeleton corebox may make sense to keep costs down for a big casting like this. However you again lose surface finish if it is an air or steam passage. Skeleton patterns or coreboxes are very rare these days but for big castings they do help cut costs.

You might want to look into getting the frames made in steel rather than iron. The cost per casting will be higher but if you hit a void in the casting when the machining is almost done you can weld the casting up rather than having to scrap the casting. A huge steam turbine manufacturer who's patterns I have worked on is now making a lot of the castings they used to make in iron in steel now. This provides repair-ability both in manufacture and in the future life of the parts.
   - JNewman - Wednesday, 07/18/12 10:27:42 EDT

Arch hammers :
Modern manufacturers often use heavy steel weldments instead of castings. This eliminates pattern costs and in low production and prototypes changes are easy to make in second generation parts. OR like the steel castings repairs and changes can easily be made.

The important difference between a cast iron frame and steel frame is the deadening of high frequency vibration (ring).

I'm planning a 250 pound hammer and have most of the steel for it. But I also have a 2600 pound piece that could be a ram on a ton hammer. . . Back when I had a crew, shop and budget it would be easy to build hammers up to multi-ton size. The old shop and 2x10T crane with 28 feet under the hook is still available . . . and otherwise empty.

However, it seems to me that the new screw presses with high tech DC servo drives are the cutting edge in forging.

   - guru - Wednesday, 07/18/12 11:43:09 EDT

Thanks for the advice guys. I do not rate fabricated frames at all for industrial hammers. My experience (and the industrial shops I work in that have had them) is they have a very short service life before needing repair. Possibly somthing to do with vibration harmonics of some such thing I do not understand!

I think the way forward on this one will be to make one leg pattern and get 6 castings from it, and one cylinder pattern with alternative coreboxes for the 3 different sizes. Do somthing similar for the valve chests.

The stroke and overall dimensions of the 3 sizes of hammer are very similar (the bigger ones are just chunkier), we would just end up with a 'normal duty' one ton hammer, and the two smaller ones very heavily built indeed!

Steel castings would be nice but the choice of suppliers, price and delivery they offer in the UK would put me right off from a manufacturing point of view.

Ill keep you all posted if the paperwork looks like it will turn into metal later in the year!
   - John N - Wednesday, 07/18/12 13:57:13 EDT

All of the superalloy forging companies I deal with doing ring work use high energy hammers (especially for the punch and saddle ring work.), then onto a ring roller for final operation.

I dont see how this could be replicated on a press, no matter how high tech. Material dwell time is a huge issue on a press, even a very fast one. There is a very narrow working temperature range of lots of these materials.

Low tech is the new high tech!
   - John N - Wednesday, 07/18/12 14:02:45 EDT

Symetrical Machines : I had thought that an A-frame hammer could use a common leg so only one pattern would be needed. Saves a LOT on a machine that size.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/18/12 14:42:11 EDT

Multiply sizes from one casting or frame :
This is common in lots of tools and machinery resulting in the smaller being a "Heavy Duty" and the larger a "standard". Blacksmiths vises made in 5 pound increments had 2 or 3 sizes for the same screw making the small vise in a range stronger and more durable for its size. I think Fairbanks hammers made several hammers in one frame size.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/18/12 14:57:41 EDT

The Erie hammers I know are super duties, and all have symmetrical legs and slides. Cast is the way to go for these hammers for long industrial life. Unless you have seen and worked and had to maintain big iron in an industrial forge shop the duty cycle and very very harsh environment are beyond the belief.
In normal industrial practice I usually say "If an inch is good 2 is better" but in heavy forge shop practice I usually say if an inch is good 4 inches may do and make several as you will soon need them"
The weldability of steel is nice in castings, but when dealing with castings this large they are very weldable by specialist companies.
I have seen weld repairs on the anvil of a 13,000# double arch drop hammer that used 23,000# of weld metal, and that was a huge mig welder. Since preheat is so critical, once started they just change welders until the job is done.
John N, Do you have drawings for old Massey products of this size to work from?
   ptree - Wednesday, 07/18/12 19:45:56 EDT

Heavy Duty : That is what I liked working in nuclear. Building iron radiation shielding into everything makes it all very heavy. 3" to 4" thick was the minimum and many places 6". Most of it was ductile iron for the higher density and strength. Our lead glass windows were 10 and 12" thick.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/18/12 21:30:54 EDT

Speaking of "good old iron" :
I'm ready to let my 350 Niles go. Its a wonderful old machine but too big a project for my current situation. If I sell it I could put the money into the 250 mechanical I want to build . . . which would fit in my current shop.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/18/12 23:17:58 EDT

Utah coal : My forge is in southern Oregon, so coal is scarce and expensive. I am talking to American West resources about picking up several tons of their coal from the Spanish Fork, Utah facility. Has anybody used this material, and is it satisfactory? The analysis sounds OK, but I would feel better with a first hand account. Thanks!
   wadco - Thursday, 07/19/12 01:20:51 EDT

Our big iron hammers, all Erie's were from the 20-30's and were designed and rated for 150 psi steam. With maintenance they ran in 3 shift operation till removed from service in the mid 90's. most were sold to other hammer shops and went right back into production. The smallest was a little 1500# that was used to make test bars for the lab. The smallest production hammers were 5000# of which we had many.Had a couple of 7500# a 10,000-a15,000 and a 25,000#.
All running closed die on valves and fittings. Materials were C-1023, C1029, 5%Cr 2.5%moly, 316SS, 410SS, Monel, Hastalloy, Nimonic,347SS, Duplex SS and lots of other exotics.
Forging Monel and 316SS are both a real test of both your equipment and your forge practice! Smallest forging was a 1/8" street ell, weighing about 2 oz. as forged to 2500# flanged valve body forgings. The street ells were forged in a platter that had about 6 forgings.
This all in a 1905, city block sized tin shed,with dirt floors when I started in 1981. Shop still there and is now an independent forge shop, but all presses.
   ptree - Thursday, 07/19/12 07:25:48 EDT

Coal :
Wadco, There is a lot of variability in coal. Before making a large purchase always get a test bucket or bag (40 to 50 pounds) and try it out. You want high BTU, low ash and good coking. Ash should also conglomerate and make clinker so it can be removed not just blow around.

Folks that have never used first class coal will say theirs works fine. Decades ago Steve Kayne just happened upon an early Northwest Blacksmiths meet while on vacation. After watching all the "experts" carefully building special forge welding fires he unloaded his forge (he was carrying a set of tools including a coal forge on his van), put in a handful of coal that did not fill the firepot and made a forge weld in 1/2" bar without flux in less than 5 minutes. . I've seen his demo of good coal in that same partially filled firepot and and was as amazed as all those folks a that gathering.

Really GOOD coal in a proper forge is a joy to use. Other coal works but costs a lot of time and has a significant learning curve.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/19/12 08:01:33 EDT

John N, it does me good to hear you may get to build a big 'un!
   Alan-L - Thursday, 07/19/12 14:34:00 EDT

New hammers : Thanks for the words of encouragement guys! This project is a while a way from being an order, but its the first job for a long time that im excited about (ie, challenging :D )

Basically this is the best opportunity for some new UK made hammers in a long time - my customer of 20 years + need quality hammers that will work 24-7 (yup, day and night), and I have the designs, drawings and IP, and a bit of know how ive picked up over the years!

The anvils might come from overseas (the 3 blocks would weigh combined 22.5 ton, which is a nice full container!) other John N, when the plan solidifies a bit ill send you the drawings for the castings. 30 days on a boat would not kill it!

We put the legs on the big Erie we are rebuilding in my factory yesterday. One of the guys filmed me standing up and positioning one of the legs, so I will let you know if it goes on youtube :)

Heavy manufacturing is alive and well in parts of Europe (dispite all the doom and gloom you might read in the media), more so on the continent than the UK for steel processing equipment. Have a google for SMS Meer in Germany to see the best of the best. Exporting to China and the rest of the world. Need a new 10,000 ton open die press? no problem if your pockets are deep enough! The German ecconomy is strong (they managed to keep wage inflation low compared to Italy, Spain etc) so they are competitive. I just hope propping up the rest of the wobbly Euro countries doesnt drag them down.
   - John N - Friday, 07/20/12 16:27:50 EDT

I have an 1889 fisher anvil and have been trying so hard to find its worth. I hope u can help me. The patent is April 24,1877. It weighs about 145-150 lbs. The top from back to tip measures 25
   - Brenda l esser - Sunday, 07/22/12 19:22:07 EDT

I have an anvil that I've been trying to find the value of. NO LUCK!! It is an 1889 Fisher anvil. Patented April 24,1877. It weighs around 144-150lbs. The measurement on top , from back to tip is 25". The bottom from back to front is 10 and 1/2", height is 11 and 5/8". I do not see nor feel an eagle. It is rusty. Any help you can give me to the value will be greatly appreciated
   - Brenda L Esser - Sunday, 07/22/12 19:33:12 EDT

Forklift anvil : I have a 3x6x30 in fork of a lift truck, I want to cut in into a 10" piece and approx 19" peice to build my anvil from, a buddy of mine has access to a 550 amp welder, I know I'll have to preheat the pieces to weld them, and if I heat treat the anvil( large in ground fire and liquid cool) will it bust the welds? Or should I heat treat the top piece first? Never worked with anything quite so big, just not sure.
   - Stump - Sunday, 07/22/12 21:39:29 EDT

Anvil Value :
Brenda, Condition means everything. Even the best anvils can be abused to where they are only worth scrap price or a little more. Chipped edges and broken corners reduce the value as does heavy rust pitting, plates that have been worn or machined thin reduce the value, face weld separations are not repairable on a Fisher and make them worthless except as yard art.

Value could range from $50 to $400 depending on the market (location and how you advertise makes a difference).

Late Fisher Norris Eagle anvils had a paper label and no raised eagle.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/22/12 22:44:07 EDT

Forklift Tine Anvil :
If the pieces are preheated the welds should not be a problem during heat treatment. However, heat treating is always fraught with problems. When heat treating an anvil only the face should be hardened.

Before cutting your steel take a look at our article on Making RR-Rail anvils. You want the mass in line with the hammer blows, not spread out.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/22/12 22:54:33 EDT

Brenda if you were selling a car would you advertise it with only the year and Make and no information on model, mileage, body condition, etc.

Anvils are the same way; You have a 1899 Fisher---what's the anvil style? Options?, (my fisher has 2 1.5" sq hardy holes and no pritchel!), Condition? (rusty is generally *not* a problem for anvils unless excessively pitted on the *face*). Dings dents, chipped edges all count against and mint condition gets a bonus on price. My fisher doesn't have an eagle either.
   Thomas P - Monday, 07/23/12 12:59:27 EDT

[ Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2012 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC

Get anvilfire.com GEAR.

International Ceramics Products