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 August 1 - 7, 2012 on the Guru's Den
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Job Available : I am a blacksmith at silver dollar city in branson, mo. we are a 1880's theme park similar to dollywood. we are in need of a blacksmith/sandcaster for seasonal (about 9 months per year) employment. would prefer someone with some blacksmithing skills as the sandcasting is much easier to learn. helps to be a people person as most of the work is done in front of guests.

call 417 338-2611 and ask for human relations.
   dennis k. smith - Wednesday, 08/01/12 08:49:31 EDT

Hammer Handle : I've seen (and heard) that the octogonal profiled handles seem to fit the hand better, less likely to slip out. Also, the facets of the profile are supposed to make it easier to put the hammer head at different angles. I haven't seen these handles available for replacement, although I have seen some carpenters hammers with them. Speaking of handles, I've replaced the handles on some of my sledges, and as we do, I cut the end short. The cast off end is perfect for a machete project i am working on.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 08/01/12 09:05:35 EDT

Anvil : I live in Iowa, USA. I have tried looking for good anvils, but no one in my area has one or knows of one that has not been sold for scrap or that has a face that is not so marred up that it is not worth buying it. I talked to a lot of people in my area and i have seen and heard of anvils here and there but like i stated before they are either marred up or not heavy enough. I also, in my area, am fighting with the Amish for anvils as they tend to buy them up or bid them up. I will be going to another auction here soon and am hoping to find something there, but we will see.

As for the rebound on my work, i should be more specific. I am using a 50lb anvil set on a log that was cut to my striking height. I am unable to secure the anvil as the feet are mostly gone, all this is set on a cement floor. The steel when i am hammering on it is about yellow hot, so it is more then hot enough, the tongs may be one of the issues. The work really doesn't jump that high as much as the entire setup does. I am working on getting better anvil and will then fabricate a stand for it that will keep it secure. I think it is mainly that i don't have enough mass behind the blow.

Making an anvil, i have a buddy that i have been talking with that has his own CNC. He is who i have been asking costs and different things about, he also has a welder that will penetrate 1.5" to do any of the welding. I would be paying for the material, machining time, and weld time with no added overhead. He has a buddy that does waterjeting that would do any of the shape cutting for us. As of right now i am asking him to price the cost of everything up to include the material to see if it would be easier to just buy a new anvil out right. We have talked about hardening it 2 different ways, either getting a materiel that can be heated and air hardened or welding stelite onto the face and getting it ground flat. Hope this gives you guys more incite.
   Shane - Wednesday, 08/01/12 09:27:52 EDT

Rebound :
Shane, the work is not supposed to bounce or rebound. Rebound is the test of hardness (and mass) between hammer and anvil.

The ratio between hand hammer and anvil for forging should be 40 to 50 to one. These means a 1 to 1.5 pound hammer for a 50 pound anvil. More than that and the anvil moves around and the work is inefficient.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/01/12 11:30:16 EDT

Anvil Tie Down :
Many anvils are clamped down using the feet. But many are also clamped up on the waist and strapped to the stand. Anvils can also be inlet or set into the stand OR the stand built up around the anvil to fit well.

If an anvil is heavy enough I prefer just putting "D" shaped blocks between the feet. This keeps the anvil from moving too much but leaves it easy to take off the stand or to move.

Others prefer having the anvil very tight on the stand. Silicon caulk will glue the anvil to the stand tight enough that it often does not need any other tie down.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/01/12 11:38:45 EDT

Amish : Hmmmm...Shane, if you are competing with the Amish for an anvil, I would approach them and negotiate for one. I bet they have sources.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 08/01/12 11:44:20 EDT

Screwdriver : I expressed that poorly: I hardened at cherry red and let the colors run to just short of blue.

I don't know if this is worth the trouble, but I really don't like obviously modern (chrome yellow rubber) tools hanging on the wall of a historical exhibit.
   - Rudy - Wednesday, 08/01/12 13:48:17 EDT

Making an Anvil :
I recently had a fellow ask about making a custom anvil. I quoted $20 to $30/lb. and he came back with $5000 for a 250 to 300 pound anvil. This was doable but tight. My plan was to make the top half from heat treatable steel and the bottom from mild steel or whatever was available. I was going to do the machining of the square holes and shaping of the horn and base in-house. The heaviest welding and heat treating would be done by job shops.

The two biggest parts of this job are the logistics and the finishing. The logistics include getting the hundreds of pounds of steel delivered from different sources, on and off machines, to and from shops and finally shipping to the customer. The finishing is all done by hand and is sculptural in nature. Basically you are hand carving the shape with a cutting torch and grinder. Some amateur anvil makers are good at this, most are not. This cannot be done with CNC machines unless you have the right 3D CAD model.

While $20/lb sounds like a lot, after expenses it is just making wages.

The discussion on this project broke down when the customer (who claimed to be a metal worker) provided the dimensions and description of what he wanted. What he described added up to a 750 pound (or more) anvil. With waste that is over 1,000 pounds of steel. There were also some complexities that added to the labor costs regardless of weight.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/01/12 13:55:35 EDT

Screwdriver : Sounds like it was over tempered.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/01/12 14:00:44 EDT

which one : I can afford 1 anvil a month for my collection-I,m torn between a 1934 german S&S or a peddinghaus-AIA doubts the quality of german anvils prior to WW2-do you know anything about a S&S
   Vern - Wednesday, 08/01/12 14:23:16 EDT

Which One : Vern, I never heard of S&S but S&H were probably one of the best anvils ever made anywhere in the world. They are no longer made and those in good condition are first class tools and collectible as well.

Söding & Halbach German Anvils
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/01/12 14:46:12 EDT

Vern sent a photo. Nice looking anvil, definitely says S&S and is not a S&H.
   - guru - Wednesday, 08/01/12 15:35:17 EDT

Silver Dollar City : Sounds like a good gig. I would have jumped at it... 40 years ago! If any of my more footloose friends come poking around I'll bring it to their attention.

Nice site: http://www.bransonsilverdollarcity.com/craftsmen/craftsman_detail.aspx?AttractionID=855




Actually got some work done at the forge Monday and today. Endurance is limited, but the projects are still coming along, just more slowly.

We're hoping for more rain on the banks of the lower Potomac; most of the little we've gotton have been passing showers. Corn is shot; but the soy beans are hanging on.


Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 08/01/12 17:36:38 EDT

I'm sure cherry red means different things to different people, but I remember seeing it defined as the lowest visible red. That's not hot enough for heat treating.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 08/01/12 20:32:29 EDT

screwdriver temper : The torque in the use of a screwdriver often causes them to break, to snap, so after hardening, they are taken to the "soft" end of the tempering heat rainbow. They are tempered to a gray (626F). If you stopped just short of blue, you are probably in the 554F range. In looking for color, you'll see blue, then pale blue, then gray. The gray is a little tricky to see. Some call it a gray-green, some "ocean green."
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 08/01/12 23:18:40 EDT

treadle hammer : I need any reviews on the discount steel treadle hammer. I am wanting to buy one and their price is right, but I don't know anything about them.
   wayne - Thursday, 08/02/12 17:57:52 EDT

I need any reviews on the discount steel treadle hammer, they look good and the price is right,but I know nothing about them. They had a demo at the metalsmith conference,but so far I have not been able to talk to ant one there.
   - wayne - Thursday, 08/02/12 18:04:13 EDT

I need any reviews on the discount metal treadle hammer. they look good and the price is not bad,I don't know anything about them.
   - wayne - Thursday, 08/02/12 18:08:01 EDT

Identifying my new old anvil : Hello all,

My name is omar. I am currently stationed in pearl harbor, hawaii. My experience level is zero, however I have been reading everything I can find and am in the process of trying to find a first edition machinery's handbook. I am gathering all the tools I need to start learning the art of smithing, and so far I have an anvil. I got it from shop 31 Propeller and Forge located in Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. It is covered in rust and flaking paint. I've been cleaning it up and so far the only identifying features I have found are a small placard that reads: PROD DEPT, PHNS, 03789. On that same side near the top about an inch under the face there is an upside down triangle with what looks to be a C in the center. On the opposite side there is a small Z and to the right of that is an X with the top filled in. It looks like an upside down triangle with to legs. The dimensions for my anvil are 3ft from horn to heel. 14 in tall. 6 in wide at the face. 14 in wide at the feet. The following link is to my photobucket album with pictures of the anvil. http://s1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff434/blazedkiwi/

My question is, does anybody know who made this or where it could have possibly come from? Could it be possible that the shipyard made this anvil? As far as the working surfaces are concerned, should i have them resurfaced or what should I do? If I could get one or two more of these anvils, would they be worth selling so I can pay for more tools and forge supplies? Any help is appreciated, thanks.
   omar - Thursday, 08/02/12 20:29:47 EDT

Identifying my new old anvil : Its "Columbian".
Columbian has been around a long time but mostly known for making Vises, I have a excellent Columbian machinist vise and my buddy has a Columbian postvise.(What is an amazing bit if drop forged construction)
BTW, Columbian has made vises of various quality/duty throughout.
Some models are precise and tough industrial duty tools and others are lightweight crap. As far as vises go, Just because its name is Columbian does not automatically mean its a high-end vise, but as far as I know their anvils are good.
   - Sven - Thursday, 08/02/12 22:24:48 EDT

Treadle Hammer : Wayne, the treadle hammer kit being sold through Discount Steel was designed by members of the Guild of Metalsmiths. We found that Discount Steel offered really a competitive price to cut and laser center punch the location for all the holes. We (the Guild) did a build of about 20 of them off the bat a couple years ago. It is designed so you can drill/tap and bolt most of it together though some of us opted to weld them up afterwards. If you want to give one a try either email me or, better yet, come to the Guild meeting August 8 (we'll have a roast pig and sweet corn) and ask if you can come by someone's shop to try it out. Just Google Guild of Metalsmiths and you should find our site and info on the meeting.
   Martin - Thursday, 08/02/12 22:53:49 EDT

Iowa : Shane, I'm in southeast Iowa. Have you been to Haverhill and met the fellas from UMBA ?
   - Ten Hammers - Thursday, 08/02/12 23:29:42 EDT

Treadle Hammer :
I am not familiar with the version you referenced but the key things that are done wrong on a treadle hammers are the anvils are often too light and pivots too sloppy. You can improve the performance by replacing bolts used for pivots with precision shoulder bolts in reamed holes. Shim as necessary. As to anvil weight, steel costs money or takes time to scrounge. Mass is mass and you can not avoid it.

A lot of folks waste a lot of effort building fancy straight line motion hammers. If the arms are level (perpendicular to the anvil) at working height +/- 1" then the arc of travel is less than flex and inaccuracies in the machine. A series of replaceable anvil caps can compensate for most situations.

NOTE: A treadle hammer DOES NOT replace a power hammer for heavy drawing and significant forging.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/02/12 23:32:30 EDT

First Editions :
Omar, Why are you looking for a first edition of Machinery's Handbook? You could easily spend $1000 on a book you can buy for as little as $25 if you settle for a later edition. The 5th Edition is identical in content and sell for much less. You can also purchase a commemorative first edition reprint that is identical to the original for $50 or less. Besides having the same content it will be new and quite durable.

The best editions for blacksmiths are the 15th through 17th. These sell every day for $25 and occasionally for as little as $10. For the cost of a single first edition you could buy a dozen Machinery's and almost every blacksmithing book in print.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/02/12 23:42:47 EDT

Repairing the Columbian :
Omar, grind out those drill holes or torch burns and weld them up with E7014 or E9014 and then grind flush. That is ALL it needs. Any more will be damaging the anvil.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/02/12 23:45:47 EDT

TIG welding with helium/argon : Question regarding tig Welding. I would like to try a helium argon mix, which is supposed to give a hotter arc and various other advantages. As this is only an occasional requirement I do not wish to rent and outlay for another cylinder. I am aware that there is equipment on the market for large industrial uses to regulate and makes their own ratio of gas from separate cylinders of argon and helium, rather than buying75/25 percent mix which it is marketed in the UK as Heliarc mixture. Has anyone successfully used helium balloon gas bottles for this welding purpose. Does anyone know if it is sufficiently pure.
   - Chris E - Friday, 08/03/12 08:13:03 EDT

Chris, The cylinders for filling balloons come from the welding supplier in the U.S. OR are filled by the welding suppliers.
   - guru - Friday, 08/03/12 09:13:57 EDT

Iowa : I work in Marshalltown and Fisher. I have heard of this place many times and have met a few people that do talk about it all the time but have not been there yet myself. I actually was bidding on an anvil recently at the auction in State Center, and lost to a guy that works here as well but that i didn't know about it. The anvil was from Haverhill and in really good condition and went for $450, just out of my price range that i had at the time. I have been trying to meet all the people in my area that do any kind of blacksmithing.
   Shane - Friday, 08/03/12 09:56:36 EDT

setting gate posts : Is there a rule of thumb for setting gate posts? how deep to weight of gate? How can I be sure my heavy as hell gate wont sag?
   Jim - Friday, 08/03/12 12:06:32 EDT

Anvils and Auctions : You will very rarely get a good deal on an anvil at an auction, be it live or on ebay. The good deals are to find them before they go to auction or are advertised. Any time an anvil of ANY quality is found at a farm auction it will have been specifically advertised and many people will be there to bid on it.

Talking to other blacksmiths only finds found anvils which are going to have an educated price. The good deals among smiths are for small, chipped or damaged anvils.

You want to find the anvil someone inherited, or a from a widow's husband's tool collection or in the non-smithing shop that inherited an anvil and does not know what to do with it. Anvils are still found almost everywhere IF YOU ASK. Anvils were used by almost every farmer, city farrier (private and public), every early auto garage (formerly a blacksmith shop), multiples were used in many small industries, large industry maintenance shops had anvils, school shops had anvils and private individuals (inventors, model makers, car restorer, gardeners) had anvils. Have you asked all your immediate neighbors? I've been GIVEN anvils by neighbors twice!

The landscape is anvils. . .
   - guru - Friday, 08/03/12 12:31:13 EDT

Gate posts :
This is a hard one. Posts depend on the soil and that varies tremendously. Is it sandy or loamy? Packed or loose clay? Wet or dry? Full of rock or not?

My advice on large gates is a buried steel beam connecting the two gate posts. This makes them a single unit that cannot tip toward each other. IF the gates are very heavy and will be left open a great deal then a beam or concrete support should extend underground to the parked position. IF the gates are going to have an automatic opener then this needs to be designed into the whole.

When building jib cranes, a device that has forces much like a gate, the concrete foundation is calculated to counterbalance the loaded crane without regard to soil conditions. The length of the crane gives it a tremendous mechanical advantage so the foundation which is more compact is often very heavy compared to the crane load.

Masonry posts are often the counterweight to the gate. To prevent sag or tipping of the post it should weigh more than the gate times their centers of gravity. A ratio of double would be ideal but one to one is balanced. To calculate this you take the distance from the center of the column to edge of its base horizontally (or distance to the hinge) times the column weight and compare it to the weight of the gate times the distance from the edge of the footing (or hinge) to the middle of the gate. IF the value of the gate side is greater than the column then it will tip unless the soil holds it back - which you cannot count on over many years.

SAGGING: ALL steel gates and structures sag. It is the nature of steel. Gates with loose joints sag worse than tight or welded gates and this cannot be calculated. But gate sag CAN be calculated (see Machinery's Handbook), however it is tricky and every gate is structurally different.

To have a gate hang perfectly level it is made with a slight upward slope to compensate for the natural sag. This is how everything from bridges to truck trailers are made.

The problem is. . how much sag relative to the strength of the gate. Many gates are now being made of solid plate because it is the strongest for the amount of weight. A gate with a heavy frame can be heavier than solid 1/4" plate but have 1/10 the resistance to sag. A gate with diagonals will sag much less than one with pickets only. Pickets are nothing but dead weight.

Large gates are made with very heavy frames made from 2x2" or 3x3" square bar and very heavy joints. Then the fill is not considered structural - just weight. These frames are often tested prior to putting in the fill and then adjusted to hank straight. IF the gate is complete then it is tested and then bent until it hangs straight. . .

The problem on many gates and on long gates is the possibility of bending it (not just sprung sag). This can be the result of the gate design OR added load. Gates are almost always where the public passes by or used to keep the public OUT. Good gates should be able to support the added weight of people climbing on or over them.
   - guru - Friday, 08/03/12 14:00:37 EDT

TIG welding with helium/argon : thanks Jock for that. I suspected that the gas would be the same standard of purity (I can't see how it is possible to economically justify a parallel production and supply chain.) But an enquiry at the gas suppliers resulted in the usual sucking through the teeth and negative responses. Though this is the usual reaction from people that either don't know the answer, or have vested interests!
   - Chris E - Saturday, 08/04/12 01:57:45 EDT

TIG welding with helium/argon : referring though to the second part of my question, my plan for the arrangement to do the mixing is to have the Argon and helium cylinders, each with regulator and flowmeter and then a one-way flow check valve (to prevent backflow) feeding to a Y joint and then a third regulator and flowmeter to control the combined flow to the welding torch. The idea is to have the first two regulators operating at higher than normal pressures to overcome the resistance of the extra regulator and flowmeter. One of the considerations may be to put some form of swirl device in line to ensure thorough mixing of the gases. Can anyone think if I have missed anything or offer advice based on their experience? I have not had the benefit of using or seeing one of the commercially available devices.
   - Chris E - Saturday, 08/04/12 02:10:26 EDT

MIxed Gases : My first thought would be that it would be cheaper and easier just to get a cylinder of mixed gas and be done with it. And you would have the comfort of knowing that the gas mix was proper and mixed completely. Why go through all that rigamarole just to end up with uncertainties?
   Rich Waugh - Saturday, 08/04/12 02:20:56 EDT

Chris,

First, I'd check the price of helium per cubic foot in those disposable cylinders. My guess is it's high enough that you'd pay for a cylinder in pretty short order if you used the mix with any regularity.

Second, I suspect it's going to be tough or impossible to balance the flow with two flow meters feeding into one. I don't have true flow meters (just pressure gauges calibrated in CFM), but I think even the real ones work by using a regulator to control the flow through a fixed orifice.

In the setup you propose, the pressure upstream of the third flow meter will likely equal the higher of the argon and helium regulator settings. The valve in a regulator closes when the downstream pressure is higher than the regulator is set to. To control the mix, you'll need to set either the argon or the helium regulator to a higher setting than the other. If the argon pressure is higher (I think it will be), then the pressure downstream of the helium regulator will be higher than the regulator setting, and the valve in that regulator is likely to close and stay closed. So you'll be going to a lot of trouble to weld with straight argon.

If I were to try this, I'd skip the third regulator and flow meter. Hopefully the flow restriction in the solenoid and torch would be low enough that the individual regulators and flow meters would work normally. If so, the total flow would just be the sum of the readings on the individual meters.

But that's still a lot of trouble just to avoid buying a cylinder of mix, which is probably the cheaper option in the long run.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 08/04/12 07:58:20 EDT

Gas mixers : At the plant we just bought and installed two industrial gas mixers. Reason is we use liquid to gas bulk tanks and had argon and CO2 tanks but could not justify a third bulk tank for a smaller need. In a multi shift operation using production robotic welders the gas mixers make sense in this case VS portable tanks. These mixers were expensive and require electric service for the controls. They have a small tank to hold the mixed gas as well, since demand is never steady.

Regulators, Actually gas pressure reducing valves have a number of quirks such as lead/lag, hysteresis, repeatability and accuracy, all due to the simple spring over diaphragm. The size of the diaphragm in relation to the pilot valve and to the sevro valve control all of the above. Trying to build a mixer vs buying gas to spec in a tank does not look practical to me. You plan for a mixer will yield different gas mix ratios depending on start and stop and middle of run.

In the US Helium can be had in weld gas style tanks and small disposable tanks that look like slightly over sized propane grill tanks. The small disposable tanks are low pressure and I have no idea of purity. They make nice slightly larger tank style gas forge bodies though.
   ptree - Saturday, 08/04/12 08:23:14 EDT

Mixing from two flows :
As noted this is more difficult than it appears on the surface. Flow is highly sensitive to back pressure. To mix liquids or gases the flows must go into a container with no pressure OR very little proportionally. That means to mix gases you do so at very high pressure feeding lines working at much lower pressure OR that have a pump to repressurize the mix.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/04/12 10:43:48 EDT

Kinyon Hammer : I need a little advice on my air hammer operation. I have a Norgren filter, regulator, oiler combo and I can't seem to get the oil to flow right. There is oil blowing out of the limit switch's exhaust as well as the hammer's exhaust. Also the main exhaust pipe which is steel plumbing parts seems to be sweating. Does anyone have any advice on how to adjust this oiler and if the condensation is related? Thnaks a lot
   Brandon - Saturday, 08/04/12 13:19:42 EDT

Oiler adjustment. First you don't say where the oiler is located. The proper installation for air prep units is F-R-L or Filter-Regulator-Lubricator, and is usually at the main inlet connection as close to the devices need oil as reasonable. If you place the oiler in front of the filter you just flood the filter. In front of the regulator and you over oil the regulator and cause bad response in many cases.
Oilers have an adjustment on top, usually either a plastic knob you lift to adjust or a small screw that takes a small screwdriver to adjust.
To set an oiler there is usually a small clear dome to observe the drops. Most folks adjust to get some magic rate of drops. Totally ignore the dome and adjust by the following method.
1. Open the adjustment to allow some oil to flow when the machine is cycling.
2. Once the machine has been cycling for a decent period, say an hour or so, place a clean white piece of paper in front of the exhaust. cycle the machine for a stroke or two, no more.
3. observe the paper, no marks, not enough oil, wet spec's bigger than 0.010" is too much oil. a very fine dot pattern is perfect.

Notes on lube oils for pneumatics:
1. ISO 10 spindle oil is good.
2. ATF is best in unheated buildings and has very friendly to seals chemistry.
3. Avoid all of the patent medicine oils like Marvel Mystery oil, they will usually destroy seals in short order.

The best oilers throw a "Micronic" size mist, not droplets The smaller the oil droplet size the farther it will go through piping and more fittings before it coalesces out on the pipe wall and then only cause problems, not lubricating.
Parker's version is know as "Micro Mist"

Don't vary the oil without re-checking the oil rate by the paper method, since tiny viscosity changes make for big changes in the oiling rate in these devices.
If your shop goes from cold to hot and back, definitely go for a very low pour point oil like ATF or you will see cold condition no oil and hot over oil.

Ptree who worked in the R&D labs or a major maker of this equipment last century, and has used this equipment for 30 years.
   ptree - Saturday, 08/04/12 13:59:38 EDT

condensation on air pipes : Usually you see exterior condensation on airlines that are colder then the surrounding air. This usually means one of several things
1. The air supply is coming from a colder area and is flowing fast enough to cool the pipe.
2. Excessive pressure drop. As the air goes through a big pressure drop, it expands and from simple physics we know that an expanding gas cools.

If the F-R-L units are too small or the fittings are too small or the valves are too small... you get excessive pressure drop.
One needs to check the catalog rating of Cv to see that items match. Often in these items you will see the exact same internal flow path and sizing on three pipe sizes. IE a 3/8" 1/2" and 3/4" pipe size on the same valve. The 3/8" is over ported, the 1/2" is full ported and the 3/4" underported. The worst offenders are the F-R-L units the use pipe adapters that slide on and have adapters to close couple the units. I have seen these double under sized!
Hence the Cv
Cv is 1 CFM/PSID across the unit at 70F If you match Cv's or at least or close you will be pretty good. Note that in most systems the filter and regulator are the two most restrictive items, followed by those stupid little sintered metal exhaust mufflers that clog while you watch and a simple wet oil coating also makes them much more restrictive.
   ptree - Saturday, 08/04/12 14:08:43 EDT

On the sweating, when compressed air expands, it cools. So it shouldn't be surprising for condensation to form on an air tool, exhaust especially in humid weather. The oiling rate has little or nothing to do with this.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 08/04/12 14:08:54 EDT

OIl and Water :
If you use your air hammer a lot them water IN the lines is a serious problem and ends up in the lowest parts of the hammer. I've seen gallons of water drained from exhaust lines on these hammers which have the exhaust valve and exhaust line near the floor. You need a large trap and water dump at this point. Better yet, a drier in the air lines. These units work on the refrigeration principal and do a great job. They are also the dirty little secret of air hammers. If you use one a lot you should have a drier.

Condensation on the pipes just past the control valve (the exhaust) is normal. This is where the major pressure drop occurs in this type system.

Water IN the lines (different than condensation on the outside) and can cause problems with oilers. So you need a good water trap before the oiler (and/or a line drier as mentioned).

Besides the order listed by Ptree, the control circuits should not be in the oiled air line. . . Liquid in these little valves can cause all kinds of trouble.
   - guru - Saturday, 08/04/12 18:35:49 EDT

Condensation inside air lines : If you compress air that has water vapor in it, and in my part of the world, 80 to 90% relative humidity is a fact of life. The air compressor should have a tank drain, and it need to be used often, like daily at the longest in a heavy use shop. There are also auto drains but most are garbage. The best auto drains are small ball valves with an electric operator that are opened and closed on a timer.
Water vapor and pollen and blow by oil from the crankcase on most recip's make a nasty mix and it will glue up and cause sticking in most components.
The very best way to fight condensate is a refrigerated drier and run the dew point down to -40F and you will have almost no problems with condensate. Most folks can't afford a refregerated dryer for a home shop, so..
An extra tank, a nivce big one that lets the freshly compressed air cool down will drop out lots of water, and give less pressure fluctuation as well. Put the auto drain on this tank and be prepared for the condensate. Note that this is NOT pure water and is illegal to dump on the ground, as it will usually have a fair amount of oil as well. Then have a nice big filter with an easy to drain bowl and that is as good as you can get reasonably with the cost of a refrigerated drier.
There are also desiccant driers but these are costly to get one big enough to serve a heavy use hammer. They also need replacement of the charge of chemicals on a regular basis.
   ptree - Saturday, 08/04/12 19:26:15 EDT

Control circuits and oilers : I would disagree on not oiling the control circuits. If you are oiling at the correct rate, the control valves will not be hurt, and will in fact run smoother. The little control valves have seals just like the cylinder and big spool valves.
I built many many industrial machines with extensive air circuits and they were oiled just like every other pneumatic item. I did specify and use the Parker brand Micro Mist oilers running spindle oil, and set by the paper method. In fact I used a trick, a "Reclassifier" to capture the extremely fine oil mist once through the machine, and get an excellent muffler.
A reclassifier is a simple air filter with centrifugal separator in the bowl. I plumbed to at the exhaust point of the big air user, and the exit from the filter went thru a standard air muffler. The filter GREATLY muffled the noise, caught the mist and was cheap.
   ptree - Saturday, 08/04/12 19:32:27 EDT

loose hammer handle : I pounded in a steel handle wedge and it works just fine. RESTORING LITTLE GIANT
I am using an abrasive blade in a circular saw to level the bottom die dovetail. This is far more accurate than using an angle grinder, as Sid S. does in his DVD. Grind a little, file a lot.
   Steve P - Saturday, 08/04/12 23:23:48 EDT

Chris E : Helium is becoming scarse world wide, so You would be wise to grab a cylinder of the helium/argon mix You want now, if You can get it.

I have a few Smith Gas Mixers, these use a 2 sided regulator to ballance the gas pressure and needle valves geared together so that one closes as the other opens. These are available in the US used, but are probably pretty pricey new. Having said all that, I have not experimented with these mixers yet.

There is little to gain using a helium mix that can not be gained by increasing amperage, if Your power suply has the capacity.

I would be leary of helium sold in disposable cylinders specificly for balloon filling, as it may be "watered down" so to speak but still light enough to float a balloon. Moisture, oxygen, carbon or any other non-inert gas content is a big issue.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 08/05/12 00:15:58 EDT

Dave,

Good point on the purity. I'd have figured that the cylinders were filled from the same source as welding cylinders, but I found a Linde "balloon helium" MSDS that lists nitrogen in the 0-10% range. Another good reason to use mix from a welding supplier.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 08/05/12 10:18:17 EDT

Going a little further out on a limb on the helium cylinders, I wonder if the nitrogen on the MSDS might be because they don't purge the cylinders before filling them. I found a FAQ that says (one brand at least of) disposable cylinders is shipped at 260 PSI. I think that would mean the gas would be around 5% nitrogen if they started filling with the cylinder full of air at atmospheric pressure. I get a little over 1% oxygen for that scenario -- maybe that's low enough not to show up on the MSDS. (Or if 1%'s the cut-off, maybe it's a little lower than that for the brand I found the MSDS for.)

Or maybe they pump the nitrogen in on purpose -- or use it to purge the cylinders before filling with helium. However it gets there, it's not something you want it in shielding gas.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 08/05/12 21:22:30 EDT

Nitrogen as a shielding gas : Nitrogen has some use in Europe and other places as a shielding gas for de-oxidised copper, but that is about all.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 08/05/12 22:13:40 EDT

TIG welding with helium/argon : thank you everybody for the input about helium and argon. Dave, my guess is that the helium for balloon cylinders comes from the same source and is the same purity, but I hadn't thought how easy it would be to "spike" it with the injection of a small percentage of nitrogen, in order to render it unsuitable for welding purposes. I did hear that the suppliers of CO2 bottles to pubs did something similar in order to prevent their bottles from being purloined for welding purposes. I cannot vouch for the veracity of the story, as I have always been able to justify authentic supplies. However with helium it is a different story. people and companies that weld aluminium and therefore use pure argon are in in the minority and no one that I know users a helium mix, so I do not have the opportunity to borrow or try. Commercially the cost of the gases is about triple that of argon plus the monthly rental which makes it a considerably expensive option for occasional use and learning purposes. For at the moment, that is how it would be. But although I have 320 Amps of DC/DC welding capacity, sometimes I wish I had the 440 amp version. RE disposable welding cylinders, I was not thinking of using these at all even if they are available in the UK, as they would be prohibitively expensive even for practice purposes. In the UK however, substantial but conveniently sized professional bottles of helium are available for balloon filling purposes at a very reasonable cost and no monthly rental. Hence the idea to have a weekend practice session. However, I have a better perspective of the physics and the practical problems involved in achieving the desired result. thanks everyone.
   - Chris E - Monday, 08/06/12 02:07:59 EDT

CO2 : In the US at least from my supplier, the CO2 I buy for my small MIG welder is a "Soda" bottle, ie a CO2 tank used for soda fountains and welding both.
The weld supply even call it a soda bottle:)
   ptree - Monday, 08/06/12 07:32:55 EDT

So does that make the store clerk at the shop a "welder jerk"?

(note to anyone under the age of 15, this is a joke making fun of the use of the work jerk as in "soda jerk")
   - Nippulini - Monday, 08/06/12 08:20:00 EDT

Helium He : The last time I had a helium cylinder was several decades ago. I picked up one at my welding supplier for a family birthday party. We filled hundreds of balloons. . . then did several more parties before I had to return the cylinder. At the time it cost me $80 and the welding supplier loaned me a balloon inflater.

On my MIG-TIG machine I had a CO2/Argon bottle and a small argon for the TIG. never had a need for helium but only did small amounts of aluminum welding. . .
   - guru - Monday, 08/06/12 14:51:33 EDT

It was told to me MANY moons ago that the term
   - 3dogs - Monday, 08/06/12 18:13:03 EDT

Jerk : It was told to me MANY moons ago that the term "jerk" referred to the motion involved in the pulling of the handle on the soda water spigot; a tall, sorta gooseneck looking, chrome plated gizmo up on the backbar. Yeah, I remembered that; now, where the @#*% did I put my hammer 10 minutes ago?
   - 3dogs - Monday, 08/06/12 18:13:42 EDT

OOPS : .....Seems I've also forgotten how to post!
   - 3dogs - Monday, 08/06/12 18:16:58 EDT

An oxy/acetylene torch mixes two gasses at two different pressures pretty accurately. I think the key is that the back pressure in the mixer and tip is lower than either regulator setting.

I think if I were going to try to mix shielding gas myself, I'd try to emulate that setup. Using a straight regulator on each cylinder and a needle valve downstream of each regulator would let you keep the gas pressure at the metering point high compared to the back pressure in the TIG torch. You'd have to work out the calibration, but if necessary, you could fill a plastic bag with each gas (separately) and time how long it takes.

Ideally you'd have a way to shut each gas off upstream of the needle valve. It probably wouldn't be that expensive to buy two solenoids. You could wire them in parallel, connect them to the welder, and bypass the built-in one. I don't think you'd need check valves with such a set up.

Still, it would take time and trouble. And would be feasible only if you could get welding-grade helium at reasonable expense.
   Mike BR - Monday, 08/06/12 19:07:48 EDT

Mike, Using the OA torch the adjusting is done visually with the back pressure active.
   - guru - Monday, 08/06/12 19:42:21 EDT

Helium availability : Thanks to insider information, gasworld can exclusively reveal that the world is again dealing with a shortage of helium. Jane Dawson explores the issue further.

Sources from within the heart of the industrial gases community have alerted gasworld to a current and worsening helium shortage. The deficit of helium is a subject that has received significant media coverage for over a year, but as we discovered the issue is a lot more imminent than previously realised.

Indeed, according to industry sources the outlook is less than rosy, with informants predicting, “a sustained period of tight supply at the best of times and helium shortages during times of plant outages.”

Contributing factors
Our sources emphasised that the current shortage, similar to the last major shortage which occurred in 2006/2007, is the result of a loss of capacity from the market rather than significant growth of demand. There are a number of factors contributing to the current loss of capacity.

The first, and most important, factor is that since the first quarter of this year, the U.S Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been allocating crude helium feedgas to the six helium refining facilities that are linked to the BLM Pipeline & Storage System. The BLM’s allocation has been caused by several different factors including planned and unplanned outages of the BLM’s Crude Helium Enrichment Unit (CHEU) and high demand from the helium refiners as they sought to compensate for outages at other world helium sources. All of these factors can cause reduced pressure in the BLM Pipeline and force the BLM to allocate crude helium to maintain the minimum acceptable pressure in the pipeline. As a result of the BLM’s allocation, the six helium refining facilities, which collectively account for roughly 4 Bscf of the world’s 7 Bscf of capacity, have been unable to operate at their full capacities.

While the BLM’s allocation of crude helium has been a contributing factor to the current shortage, other plant outages have also come into play. There have been periods of curtailed helium production at the plants in Algeria and the source in Orenburg, Russia has been shut down for several months. These outages have directly taken capacity from the market and contributed to the high demand from the helium refiners connected to the BLM Pipeline.

As our source explained, “The helium supply chain is really all connected. An outage at a source in Algeria or Qatar takes supply out of the market and increases demand on the BLM Pipeline. This lowers the pressure in the BLM Pipeline and forces the BLM into an allocation situation.”

In the short-term, the helium supply situation looks set to worsen this August when ExxonMobil, responsible for around 20% of all global helium sources, is scheduled to take a three-week planned maintenance shutdown. Even companies that have been relatively impervious to the shortages thus far are likely to be effected by this shutdown, thanks to Exxon’s unrivalled size and the fact that they supply most of the world’s major helium suppliers.

In fact, as gasworld discovered during our May issue, helium supplies will remain relatively static until the next major facility, Qatar II, goes live in May 2013. But the period between now and then remains uncertain, so just what are the expected consequences?

Considerable consequences
With a decline in supply but a steady demand, it is only logical that firms will be unable to meet customer needs and just as the BLM allocates capacity, they too will inevitably have to allocate helium supplies and in doing so, regulate its availability. Our source explained, “Suppliers will be allocating product to customers and the impact on them will be two fold. They will receive less helium and may also experience delays in when they receive it.”

But just how companies allocate their product is a matter for individual firms to negotiate. Traditionally, some suppliers have allocated according to urgency with the less pertinent applications such as balloon gases seeing little to no allocation. Meanwhile those applications that are deemed more critical, such as helium needed for medical Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), are often exempt from allocation.

But here we enter into the territory of speculation. Though the shortages between 2006 and 2007 can offer indication of the consequences to come, with such immediacy and global prescience as this shortage, impacts in terms of the price of helium and substitution of the element can only be wondered at. Certainly our sources remain sure of one fact: “The helium supply chain in the future looks less reliable than in the past.”

Tempered change
Nevertheless, the news is not all negative. As our sources explained, helium demand has a seasonal element with fluctuating usage that ties into Northern Hemisphere summertime. Consequently, we can expect a reprieve from the shortage after ExxonMobil returns to full production and demand tail-offs during the winter months.

A friend of Mine has the local FTD floral shop. Helium filled balloons are one of the things they offered to go along with the flowers. He has been informed by Airgas, a large industrial gas distributer in the US that He will nolonger be able to get helium for the balloons, and that they will only be providing partial deliveries to helium contract holders. The way the letter read, it looks like they won't be able to sell helium to anybody that did not have a contract already in place for it.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 08/06/12 21:04:41 EDT

The missing facts. . . :
Helium is extracted from natural gas.

Despite being one of the most common elements in the Universe there is very little on Earth. The natural gas picks up the helium from radioactive decay (a very long slow process).

Once natural gas supplies are exhausted so will helium. . . Unless we find a way to manufacture it using some type of nuclear reaction.

Currently the largest scale uses of helium is in cryogenics but a planned use that would take huge quantities of this increasingly rare element is heat transfer (cooling) in nuclear reactors.

While the world acts like fossil fuels are inexhaustible they are in fact finite resources that WILL run out in the foreseeable future. This makes helium cooled nuclear reactors a moronic replacement for fossil fuels. When one runs out, the other will no longer be viable.

Helium is also used for deep water diving gases. Lack of it would make maintaining off shore oil rigs hard to maintain. One needs the other. Ironically natural gas (carrying helium) mixed with oil is commonly flared off at thousands of oil wells world wide.

There are two problems with helium, one being a very small molecule it leaks easier than any other gas other than hydrogen. The other, being light it floats away to the top of the atmosphere where solar winds blow it away. . . Once it escapes. . . its gone.
   - guru - Tuesday, 08/07/12 01:18:47 EDT

Helium : Presently, the largest consumer of helium is Our U.S. Govt/military. They use about 1/3 of the world consumption to purge and clean rocket & ICBM fuel systems, with NO EFFORTS to recapture the gas after use. Most articles suggest that helium SHOULD cost about 20 times what it does now to reduce unimportant uses and encourage recapture and recycling.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 08/07/12 22:08:16 EDT

Good thing that argon works just fine to tig weld aluminum, then. I am not planning on commercial travel by blimp any time soon, either.
   - Ries - Thursday, 08/09/12 00:51:09 EDT

Heavy inert gases as well as other common atmospheric gases are not a problem. Argon, xenon, krypton and neon along with other gases are extracted from air. Hydrogen can be produced by a number of methods so its lightness is irrelevant. As Ries noted, we have other inert gases to use in the place of helium. And since these come from the air, releasing them back into it is not a problem.
   - guru - Thursday, 08/09/12 01:44:50 EDT
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