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 September 16 - 23, 2011 on the Guru's Den
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Compact Spare clutch : If you eventually need to re-index your tyreclutch because the 4 or 5 lugbolt locations are worn off...
You dont need a tyreshop to break a bead on your compact spare tyre. (assuming compact spares can be taken loose from their rim. Realy I dont know, maybe they are somehow bonded to the rim? They are intended to be disposable afterall.)
Otherwise, I expect it would be pressed off the bead just like any other car tyre, And I think a large blacksmithvise or flypress could work fine for that job.
BTW, car tyres usually dont come off the bead like truck and tractor tyres using a hammer etc. It can be done, But along with the inner "safety ridge" and much softer sidewall, car tyres dont transmit much force from the sidewall to bead whilst hammering on the sidewall...
   - Sven - Thursday, 09/15/11 23:28:16 EDT

Changing Tires : Sven, I was in the tire business for quite a while. Normal auto tires can be changed with manual tools and are in fact much easier than truck tires due to the lighter side walls. I've changed everything from hand truck and wheelbarrow tires, to racing tires and classic car wire wheels (which I've also rebuilt) as well as heavy truck tires. Many of these did not fit any of the tire machines in the shop and had to be done entirely by hand. Many folks came to me with their pricey Porsche magnesium alloy wheels to hand change them because the tire machines often bent the soft light wheels.

I had an 1950 truck that had nearly original tires that were rusted on. . . Nothing would get them broken loose. I asked a truck tire shop about it and they said that when that happens you cut the tire off and saw the steel wire reinforced bead in two. That is what I had to do to 2 out of four tires on that truck.

A compact spare is an unusual beast. It is designed for triple the air pressure of a normal auto tire and has much heavier side walls (thus the speed/distance limitation). I suspect this has something to do with needing special equipment to change them.

When I buy an automobile the first thing I do is get a full size replacement wheel and tire. . .
   - guru - Friday, 09/16/11 09:24:41 EDT

Update: So, one good thing about being flooded out is that it gives you an opportunity to reorganize. The entire shop floor is clear, two benches (one permanently fixed to the wall) and new lighting. The furnace and water heater used to be located in the shop area, they are being relocated, so now I even have an extra 6 sq ft of space. My entire scrap collection is gone. Now I will be more discriminating as to what I will collect (no more "hey, stop the car! There's a neat piece of metal over there!"). Cleared out the oxy/acet lines, regulators still work. My Makita angle grinder got plugged in today and worked like nothing ever happened. Plans: multi size tiered stock rack, rolling wood bins as cabinets for things like shock absorbers, etc (plus labels on all bins), dedicated panel for the welders (4 so far), that's about it right now. I'm always open to suggestions. Life getting back to normal, slowly......
   - Nippulini - Friday, 09/16/11 12:37:03 EDT

TGN: So are you going with a Dagobah theme for your swamp smithy?
   Thomas P - Friday, 09/16/11 14:19:32 EDT

Off for Quad-State tomorrow---my wife came back from AR early and says she wants to go so less haulage room but far more comfort!
   Thomas P - Friday, 09/16/11 14:20:32 EDT

Tiger 990 Blower? : I got a real deal on a forge, vise and blower on Craigslist, Blower is marked "Tiger" on the stand and "C 997" on the blower case. A couple of people have told me this is a Champion design and others a Canady-Otto. Can't find any reference to it (no surprise) other than for sale posts. Is anyone familiar with this type of blower. Thank you
   - Mike S. - Friday, 09/16/11 14:51:26 EDT

chimney boot : I am in the process of looking for a 12" boot for my forge chimney. I need to know if I need to get one rated for heat or can I use a regular one? Kelly
   - kelly - Friday, 09/16/11 19:58:39 EDT

Kelly if its rated for a wood stove or boiler it will work with a forge.
   - guru - Friday, 09/16/11 21:32:47 EDT

weather vane : can anyone lead me to a drawing of the bearing in a weather vain
saw a sketch of a ball bearing ball in a tube but couldn't figure how it worked without falling out or getting weather into the tube and rusting out.
   George Robb II - Saturday, 09/17/11 12:58:16 EDT

George, I made a weather vane that lasted 30 years with no visible wear that rotated freely all that time. It simple ran on a point. The point on the 5/16" dia shaft was about 70° with a rounded tip. The wear surface was high carbon steel welded inside a piece of 1/4" schedule 40 water pipe which was the spine of the weather vane. A dab of grease and its set to go for decades.

The trick to good free moving weather vanes is perfect mechanical balance. With vane balanced the end of the pipe just barely rubs the shaft so there is little or no friction. Then the vane needs to be very aerodynamically unbalanced so it points into the wind.

weather vane

Sorry for the bad photo. . . This anvil weather vane is about 3 feet long in total length. The anvil is thin 18ga sheet metal and the point side has 2 scrolls made of 1/2" square and the point was a 3" triangle made of 1/2" plate. To balance the arm with the point was adjusted between the two scrolls until the vane balanced while horizontal, then it was welded. The thick heavy point was necessary to balance the weight of the relatively large sheet metal part on the other side.

I never got around to making the direction part. Since the trailer was moved frequently it would have been a pain to align each time. It would have just slipped down on the same 5/16" rod having a center made of 1/4" pipe as well.

The most unusual weather vane I made was a microscope weather vane. . . Same bearing system in all my weather vanes.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/17/11 14:56:48 EDT

Ball and Needle Bearings in a Weather Vane :
To use ball or needle bearings you need two. To do this right you need to do, or have some machine work done for you. Both ends of the tube need a precise fit and a shoulder for the bearing to press against at the bottom and a precise bore at the top. Then the shaft needs to have a shoulder at the bottom, the section that fits the bearing, THEN a long relieved section between the bottom bearing and the top bearing. Assembly on long shafts is much easier if the far end bearing is smaller than the first end. That way you are not pressing or pushing the first bearing over a long shaft. There also needs to be a cap to keep water and dirt out of the bearings.

Designing with ball bearings is not hard but it requires planing (how big and heavy an item to be supported). Then selecting bearings that are readily available, preferably in sealed or shielded versions in this case. Making drawings with the proper tolerancing for ball bearings. Then making the device.

Ball bearings are MUCH more sensitive to dirt, rust and corrosion than the plain bearings I describe above. My plain bearing design is loose enough that no amount of rust is going to lock up the bearing. All a ball bearing needs is one spec of hard grit (a grain of sand) and it will lock up.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/17/11 16:08:43 EDT

Mig Welder : I'm finally going to get modern and get an electric mig welder. O/A is great, but expensive, limiting....and HOT. I'd like some info on what to get, I figure stick with brand names (Hobart, Miller, Linclon), and I'd like to stay with AC house current. I know the work cycle is limited because of AC, but I'd like some info on what size unit to buy for tack welding and bead welding. The smaller ones are all rated for 1/4 in steel, but I figure with a good "V" scarf I could do 1/2 with a few passes. Thanks.
   Thumper - Saturday, 09/17/11 20:42:05 EDT

JYH vs DIY Hammer : Guru, I disagree with your assumption that a JYH is a haphazard creation. Future mainteinance was a critical part of building my sparetire hammer. I made sure that all pieces that could wear out could be replaced easily in the future. Perhaps I have this attitude because I started blacksmithing late in life and don't plan to ever buy another powerhammer. I've gotten 6 years of good use out of it, I inspect it before I use it and keep everything well lubricated and tight, I expect to get at least a dozen more years out of it with only minor repairs.
   Thumper - Saturday, 09/17/11 21:30:00 EDT

JYH vs DIY Hammer : Thumper, I consider a true "Junk Yard" hammer to be one built from whatever one can find on a minuscule budget and put together only with one's own labor. Since individuals skills and equipment vary greatly the quality of the results also vary a great deal. I've seen a great number of such hammers that even with a lot of effort have been very poor machines.

A DIY hammer is more of a project machine that one may have spent money on materials and perhaps machining services. While these also vary a great deal they are rarely lacking in materials where needed.

The biggest difference between the two is that a true junkyard hammer cannot be built to a specific plan since it is based on windfall components. A DIY hammer can be built to a plan using materials that may vary but not so much as to deviate greatly from the plan.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/18/11 00:09:57 EDT

Electric Welders :
Thumper, First you need to define "AC House Current". Virtually all modern homes in North America have 240V and a 200 Amp or more rated service. This will run a pretty decent size welder and a lot of machine tools. If you are talking 120V only then that is another thing. . . Often garages and out buildings only have very limiting 120V and low amperage services

MIG requires an inert gas cylinder and regulator with flow meter. The cylinder lease, gas and regulator is usually not included in the price of the welder. A helmet and gloves are also extras.

MIG is a production process that is fast, clean and efficient. But there are costs to this efficiency. Wire and gas are not the only consumables. MIG tips and nozzles are frequently replaced and it helps to have anti-spatter compound for the nozzles.

Small MIG machines will not weld if there is dirt, paint, rust or heavy scale. They a technically complicated machine and a lot can go wrong with them.

Straight arc welding is much more flexible and economical. All that is needed is the machine (a big transformer), rods, a helmet and gloves (Chipping brush tool optional but recommended). Rods come in a wide variety and you can easily weld stainless without purchasing both wire and gas for the process.

The down side is coated rods leave a flux coating on the weld that must be chipped and wire brushed off. This makes it less of a production process than MIG and the cleaning adds some labor time.

I never regretted the purchase of my old Miller buzz box but have had many regrets over the AirCo MIG welder I purchased years later.

Ideally a MIG machine with AC & DC taps for stick welding is best if you do not already have a buzz box.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/18/11 00:18:55 EDT

Thumper - MIG welder : I strongly suggest You get a 230 volt unit, the ones rated 250 amp @40% duty cycle work great. These are about 200# and run on a 50 amp breaker and #6 wire. The performance is far above what You can get with a 115 volt unit. .035 wire with 25%CO2/75% Argon will handle most general home shop welding with short circuit transfer. If You were doing heavier work, a machine this size will run .045 Dual Shield.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 09/18/11 00:21:55 EDT

mig welder : Thumper, I have both 220 and 120 models of mig...hobart and miller... the 220 is a monster with .035 wire. the 120 is only good with .023 wire. That being said,...I have seen a master weldor take and pass the certification test with the 120 model, 1" thick with the huge "v" groove
The picture of the finished product is forever burned in my mind, it was a work of art
   Larry - Sunday, 09/18/11 07:35:51 EDT

blacksmithing Calendar : The website for the Michigan Artist Blacksmith Association (www.miblacksmith.org) has a 2011 calendar as a .pdf download, under the Membership tab, towards the bottom of the page. It was created as a do-it-yourself project for the MABA members. The second page of the .pdf has pictures of a calendar hanger project (a modified key holder) that any smith can make.
The pages are sized for an 8.5 x 11 sheet of card stock and orientated as landscape, so it can be printed out on any home computer setup. Enough room has been left at the top of each page for a 3-hole punch to be used to hang the pages from. The calendars “art” are old blacksmithing equipment ads (mostly power hammers) from the early 1900’s. There are hopes for a 2012 calendar posting.
   Steven Spoerre - Sunday, 09/18/11 07:46:48 EDT

mig vs stick welding : I have Mig and stick. The stick welders will make sound welds in many materials, do much bigger welds with assurance. BUT the stick machines are slower due to cleaning.
My MIG is the little Lincoln Weldpac 100, with the added regulator using straight CO2. I use 10# rolls of .023 wire and on light stuff like the 16 Gage tube I do many projects with great. I use my mig in semi production work making products for sale, and I have had the 110V machine about 11 years now. I bought it to try out mig, thinking it would not last, and if it looked like a good process for me I would upgrade to a 220V "real" machine. Still running:) I would never do anything structual with this machine as I have both a Miller Thunderbolt buzz box and a Lincoln SA-200 Gas engine welder, both of which will run almost any rod-any material.
If I were to buy only one electrical welding machine, I would start with a AC buzz box from Lincoln or Miller or Hobart. If a little more money was available than an AC/DC machine. If more money is available than a AC/DC with MIG tap.
   ptree - Sunday, 09/18/11 09:06:35 EDT

DIY/JYH : Considering mine was a cross between the two, mine was designed-built with maintenance in mind. I did have an industrial background and had fought too many non-maintainable machines in the past. With one exception every component on my machine is replaceable with the removal of bolts. That exception uses a blue tip wrench:)

Using windfall materials and components does not make for a non-repairable machine, or a poorly operating machine. Poor planning yields that result. Measure twice, cut once applies to machine design.
Think the design/construction through. Once built can I take the machine apart to repair every single item? If the answer is no, then re-think. In a forge hammer-upsetter-press ETC everything will break. The question is not if, but rather when. While we often use our machines in a hobby shop, and that when may be after our lifetime, it will break. Assuming it will be on the next owners watch may be assuming too much.
In forge machine design my Father's adage that "If an inch is good, 2 inches is better" applies. Use the biggest, best shielded bearings you can afford. Use the biggest anvil under that hammer, the stoughtest frame you can build, use at least 3 times the weld fillet you think you need. And the machine will still find a way to break eventually. The shock level, vibration, the scale the heat all conspire to wreck machinery.
The above is one reason the old machines with oiled bearings were "total loss" systems. Pump oil into the center of the plain bearings and wash the scale outwards. So when Jock says that a old machine like a Little Giant should be slick with oil almost drowning in oil he speaks the truth.

The old Upsetters and mechanical forging presses I worked with in industry used total loss oiling for this reason. In the upsetter shop, running 5 machines 3 shifts we went through 1700 gallons of lube oil a WEEK. Once through, ran down the side and into a water filled pit to be skimmed off and recycled.
   ptree - Sunday, 09/18/11 09:18:57 EDT

Another Welder /Shop Cost : I always recommend 240VAC Machines. But unless you are lucky you will need to run wiring for a special outlet. However, that is also likely on a 120V machine as the only outlets in new homes rated for more than 15 amps are those for window air conditioner units.

Note that the standard high amp welder plug IS NOT the same as an electric stove plug even though it looks a lot the same. The pins are different.

My little Miller Thunderbolt 225 buzz box called for a whopping 90A breaker! The first place I used it was in the service station I operated at the time. I had to run 30 feet of 1' conduit and #6 wire. I used a 60A breaker because the cost difference was half that of the welder which I bought new ($130 in 1972). While miller recommended 90A I never had trouble on 60A. But I never ran rods over 1/8".

The second place I setup the welder was in a shop space I was renting. It was a commercial building with heavy wiring and the breaker box just happened to be in my space. I put the special welder outlet just below the box and piggybacked on a 50A breaker feeding a sub-panel. I came in a week later and the landlord was having a sign installed and the sign guy was using a buzz box he wired in just below the MAIN! I asked why he didn't use my outlet and said he hadn't had a plug on that welder for years as he never expected to find an outlet for it!

The third place I used the the welder was at a friends home that was rented. We took an old electric stove cord and put a welder plug receptacle on the end as an "adaptor" cord. We had no problem with the 40A circuit but all we were welding was sheet metal. My friend kept the adaptor cord because he was going to purchase his own welder. The cost at the time was 0 for the cord of a discarded stove and $12 (in the 1970's) for the receptacle.

When I ran the circuit for my shop in Virginia I put the receptacles in a convenient location one on each side of a dividing wall. This gave me two places to plug in with wire for one run. A third was placed under the breaker panels because it was cheap and easy.

In my newest shop which only had minimal lighting and 120V receptacles we ran wires for two welder outlets and about eight 240V machine outlets. Cost just a few years ago was about $1000 for the wire and hardware. That included a big 60A disconnect and wire for BigBLU to hook their air compressor into. The shop is still only partially wired. The lighting is marginal and whole areas do not have receptacles of any kind.

Depending on your situation I have found it most economical and convenient to put in a 100A sub panel centrally located in a shop space. That provides more breaker spaces and short runs for wiring. I have not run the numbers but I'm pretty sure it costs less or no more. It definitely reduces labor if all the wiring had to go back a main panel as little as another 50 feet away.

Another thing to consider is labor. I've always been lucky to be in situations where I could do the wiring. If you have to hire an Electrician there is a significant cost AND in many cases you may need a building permit. Often electrical permits require extra fees for each "special" outlet or circuit. That is anything 240V or over 20A. But every locality is different and rules on who does the wiring vary.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/18/11 09:59:13 EDT

More Welder Wiring :
Our family shop was in a large building (over 4000 sq/ft or 370 sq/m). Running permanent circuits was expensive. In the weld shop I put a 100A sub panel and ran numerous outlets. 240V 60A for the welder, 240V 40A for a kiln, several 120V 30A for grinders and a couple 3PH circuits for machinery. A milling machine and air compressor also ran off this panel on the opposite side of the wall as well as there being a welder outlet on that side. But there was still large areas that were inaccessible to the MIG welder.

Years earlier I had made extension leads for my Miller buzz box. These were two 15 foot long welding leads with a box on the end to plug in the leads that came with the welder. The length was limited by my budget at the time but doubled the distance from the welder to the work.

For the MIG machine I made a 240V 60A extension cord about 25 feet long. This has a nylon welder plug on one end and a 6x6 box with welder receptacle on the other. It was a $150 extension cord at the time. . . It got the welder to most of the places we needed it.

That cord also works with the buzz box. Between the high and low voltage extension cords and leads I can weld about 60 feet from an outlet. This has been used on a couple construction sites and doing work out in the driveway.

Due to having an investment in leads an and extension cord for the Miller buzz box leads I converted the stick welding taps on the AirCo MIG machine to the same type as the Miller. The Miller uses a long taper pin and the AirCo used a small twist lock. So, besides being able to swap leads I can also use the extension leads on the AirCo. Its little conveniences like this that make life in the shop much happier.
   - guru - Sunday, 09/18/11 10:35:19 EDT

Based on his original comments, that he'd like to stay with
   - Bajajoaquin - Sunday, 09/18/11 12:55:35 EDT

Looks like my comments didn't make it in....

Based on his comments that he'd like to stay with house current, my recommendation is a little different. I'd say to go with one of the small 220v machines. I bought a Lincoln 180, but later research suggested that the Hobart Handler 187 may be the way to go. I'd suspect that you could shop on price, and be perfectly happy with either.

I run mine off of a dryer outlet, which was a pre-existing circuit, and unused, since I had a gas dryer.

The step up from a 140-amp 110v welder to a 180-amp 220v machine is fairly small in price, but pretty significant in capability. If you want to have a unit that fits in with normal household capabilities, I think one of these would fit the bill nicely.
   Bajajoaquin - Sunday, 09/18/11 13:01:28 EDT

Picked up a nice straight peen hammer at flea mkt for only 4 bucks! After cleanup, there is a logo on the side, a horseshoe with the letter 'V' inside. Any clues to make?

Also at the market, I saw a sign that said 1700's colonial anvil. Of course I HAD to check it out. I took a couple pics, maybe Jock will post them. This anvil is seriously old, museum quality I wouldn't dream of anyone forging on it. The guy says its about 150 pounds, very short and squat, short small horn, no pritchel. Says he's looking for $350 for it. Located in NJ, I have his info for collectors.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 09/18/11 15:04:02 EDT

Nip that Horseshoe with a V. Are you sure its not an A? The Atha trademark was a Horseshoe heals down with an A inside.

Colonial Anvil

   - guru - Sunday, 09/18/11 16:26:40 EDT

Nips Shop Anvil with Rust and Watermarks from Irene (flood 1) :
Wilkinson Anvil Dudley England
Wilkinson Anvil Dudley England with flood watermarks.
Click for larger image.

The above is the result of the flood waters from Irene. A week after the cleanup Nips basement was full of water AGAIN!
   - guru - Sunday, 09/18/11 16:34:49 EDT

Jock, thanks for posting the photos. The 1700's anvil is for sale, and I have the contact info if anyone is seriously interested.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 09/19/11 08:23:00 EDT

Welder (Cont) : After all the responses, I guess 220v will be the most practical so that's a start. Next, Guru, in your last post you talked about combining both an Airco and Miller, did you create something that can be used either as a buzz box and a mig welder or did I mis-interpret? There's lots of good Lincoln 225 welders for sale on craigslist in this area so that would be the best of both worlds. By the way, my main panel is on the otherside of the wall from my shop panel so that should cut cost a bunch on installation.
   Thumper - Monday, 09/19/11 12:19:51 EDT

thumper, the guru owned a horrible experiment gone wrong, the airco machines that tried to be all things to all people, and failed pretty miserably at all of them. The germans have an expression for a combo like this- it was an "egglayingmilkpig".

Today, there are a couple of GOOD machines that will do both Mig and Stick. But you cant afford one. I have one, a Miller 304 inverter, and new, with a mig gun, you are looking at around six thousand dollars for one. It is an excellent machine, one of my favorite welders ever- but to be as versatile as it is, as reliable and trouble free, it takes quality in, and that costs money.

In the size and price range you are looking at, buy a Lincoln 225 (a "tombstone") or a Miller Thunderbolt. These are both bog simple, bulletproof stick welders. No bells, no whistles, no leather seats- but they work, day in and day out.
The cheapest models of each are AC (output, not input) only. (all of them are AC input- that means they will work on the AC electricity your utility sells you).
Both the Miller and Lincoln are available, for a bit more money, in AC/DC models. This is great, if you can find one, as it enables you to run a much wider variety of types of electrode, which often will be easier or better for your job than AC only electrodes.

Small mig machines are handy, but more expensive, both to buy inititially, and to run, than stick machines. I have 4 Mig welders right now in my shop- ranging from a small 110 volt machine, to a very expensive push pull model that will run aluminum wire 30 feet up in a manlift bucket- all have their place, but if I was only going to have one, it would be, without a doubt, a Miller 200-250 amp all in one 220 volt mig machine. Variations on this machine have been made for over 30 years now, they are tough, versatile, and will do small and large jobs. They hold their value very well, and are just plain good welders. Early ones were called Millermatic 200's, the newest model is called a 252. These are industry standard, for people who make their livings from welding.
   - Ries - Monday, 09/19/11 12:36:33 EDT

Thumper, I put Miller cable plug receptacles in the AirCo so all my cables were interchangeable. Welding cables are as bad as cell phone charger plugs. They all do the same job (most at the same voltage) and all are different. . .

VOLTAGE: Look at it this way. 30 Amps is a heavy 120V AC circuit requiring 10ga wire. 30 x 120 = 3,600 Watts (3.6 kW). A 50 Amp 240V AC circuit is a common stove outlet. 50 x 240 = 12,000 Watts (12 kW). The output of the welder is the same as the input in kW. The voltage is reduced raising the amperage but the total power is the same.

The niftiest 120V welding tool I have seen is the small portable plasma units. These can be run on a common small construction site generator along with the necessary air compressor. The HUGE advantage to these is that they will work in locations where oxy-acetylene supplies are many miles away. They will cut plate heavy enough for many light steel construction site jobs. One of these and a matching small welder and you can build a steel frame building in a third world jungle. . .
   - guru - Monday, 09/19/11 12:45:53 EDT

The niftiest 120 volt welding tool I have ever seen is the Miller Maxstar 150 STH- its the size of a lunch box, will run on either 120 or 220 volts, and will tig weld like nobodies business. Unfortunately, they start at $1700 plus accessories. But they are the bees knees- I have carried them on airplanes in my checked luggage, rented a small argon tank locally, and been tig welding stainless steel 1500 miles from home effortlessly and with high quality. New inverter welders can do much more from the same input amperage than old transformer models- meaning more bounce for the ounce from a Maxstar than any other 110 volt welder. And the pulse feature is amazing, on thin sheet. I dont own one, but would love to- I either borrow, from an ex-employee of mine, or rent, when I need one, but if you think welder technology hasnt changed and improved, you have to try one of these.
Unfortunately, you have to pay to play...
   - Ries - Monday, 09/19/11 13:33:08 EDT

The AirCo "egglayingmilkpig" :
I really got screwed on this machine and I invested a LOT in it. The base machine was $1500, but then you added a wheeled cart, I went with the heavy duty cart that would carry TWO gas cylinders, add $600. The first class two stage gas regulator with flow meter was $325. Now I had $2425 in it. A little later I added an AirCo high frequency unit for TIG work. This and another regulator added about $1000 more. . I attached the TIG unit with a bracket that I made to fit the lifting lug. Since I frequently moved it by truck I THEN added a roll/bar type lifting frame to the heavy cart so it could still be picked up with a crane. Add $150 in materials So now I had about $3650 or more in it in 1984 dollars. . . It was an OK welder but did nothing great.

The first thing that failed was the main power switch when the machine was less than a year. This is a part that should not have failed in decades. It was a common brand (Bryant) but a special configuration. I went to the dealer I had bought the machine from. . no luck. While there I went by the repair department. . . there was a row of a dozen of the same Dip-Stick 160 welders all in various states of disassembly. . . I knew I was in trouble then. I found a switch with the same rating and form factor at my electrical supplier. The only thing different in a "standard" switch was the terminal arrangement.

About a year after that the motor DC power diode failed. I called the dealer. . they gave me the bad news that AirCo had abandoned the welder and parts were nearly impossible to get. I went to Radio Shack and found a slightly heavier bridge rectifier for a replacement.

A few years after THAT I was building a gas furnace and wanted to try a MIG tip burner. So I used a spare from the AirCo . . . Worked great. So I went to get a replacement tips to put in the little used welder and to build a couple more burners. . . Guess what? The AirCo MIG tips used a thread that nobody else in the industry uses. Tweeco, the supplier of hundreds of types of replacement tips doesn't carry anything close. . .

So, to use the welder the gun needs replacement IF one will fit. Nobody lists a replacement so I expect its a make your own parts deal. Might be easier to bush and re-thread the gun. . .

This should have been a life time investment. The fact that it was abandoned was not nearly as bad as things failing that should not have failed with the low and light use the machine got.

Meanwhile, my little 40 year old Miller buzz box still rattles and hums and has burned about 1/2 ton of welding rods in its life.

This was the second time I got screwed on welding equipment. The first was on a Sears "Craftsman" "HD" oxy-acetylene outfit. It was also abandoned a year after I bought it. It was OK equipment. But when I went to go into blacksmithing full time I wanted to buy a wider range of tips. Nope, none available EXCEPT for a replacement for the one size cutting tip that came with the outfit. . . AND no other parts were available at all. I was SURE the parts were made by some major supplier and parts should be available. . . Nope. . all special made for Sears. The equipment lasted a couple more years but finally the torch body failed. . . I replaced it with 30 a year old Victor torch that came in the bottom of an auction box of junk. I still stick with Victor.
   - guru - Monday, 09/19/11 14:30:58 EDT

Hay Budden 157 : I have a Hay Budden stamped 157 on the side and 2 2 stamped on the base curves under the horn and rear. I'd be interested in info on this.
   Steve - Monday, 09/19/11 15:03:49 EDT

Airco welders : At the valve-boiler-ice machine shops we had about 650 certified welders. So when we bought welders the suppliers noticed. We were very conservative and usually after trialing to ensure the welds were up to snuff and the amps and voltages listed on the dials were per rating we would try one for a year to see about servacability etc. We had Airco's that had been good machines and when that stupid does everything but nothing well machine came out we bought one. That was certainly the only one we bought.
They had about 500 Lincoln motor generator units when I started in 1981, burning stick by the ton daily. They slowly changed to dual shield mig, and Most were Miller units. We also had several hundred Lincoln Ideal arcs and they were near bullet proof.
My next mig for home will be a Miller or Hobart(both built in the same factory)
   ptree - Monday, 09/19/11 15:35:25 EDT

Steve, That 157 is probably the weight. Hay-Budden had serial numbers on the base, usually 5 or 6 digit. Later numbers had an A prefix.

Hay-Budden was an American company based in Brooklyn NY from 1885 or 88 until 1928-30). They made a wrought iron steel faced anvil and then in the 1900's a two piece all steel upper body and wrought or mild steel base. Many consider them THE premier American Anvil maker.

Hay-Budden also made unmarked or private branded anvils for some of the big hardware chains.
   - guru - Monday, 09/19/11 15:51:22 EDT

If its any consolation, I have at least 5 welders in my shop that cost as much, or more, EACH, as your airco.
Luckily for me, though, all are Millers, and parts for all are still available in stock.

Good welders cost money. My lesser of my two Tig setups cost about what you paid for the airco. The bigger one, the Miller inverter, with added radiator and HF box- well, you dont want to know.

While it is possible to buy a good new welder in the $500 range, either a small mig or a buzzbox, which will last a long time, real professional equipment is not cheap, and never has been. All in all, I easily have between fifteen and twenty grand in welding equipment in my shop. However, it has made me hundreds of thousands of dollars of income over the years, and being made in America Miller brand equipment, it has been extremely reliable.
(Lincoln is good too- but personally, I would stick with one or the other)
   - Ries - Monday, 09/19/11 16:18:56 EDT

Can't say I've had any experience with high end welders. I have a cheap HF Chicago Electric TIG machine, scratch start 220V. Size of a small tool box and about 15 pounds. Never had a problem, it can also do SMAW. The HF Miller knock off stick welder I have only run on 110, but CAN be wired for 220. Never had REAL MIG, my Lincoln WeldPak 100 is running with FCAW using .035 wire. My household service is 100 amp (as of now), after the flood my electrician (who also happens to be my sons godfather) is looking to upgrade to 200 amp with a dedicated welder receptacle. I simply cannot wait!

Keeping in mind, I run a hobby shop, not production. So the cheap HF stuff works for me just fine.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 09/19/11 16:53:27 EDT

Oooo! Forgot to mention the inverter/welder HF unit, lunch box size, runs 110 current and handles 3/32" rods. Awesome for quick on-site jobs.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 09/19/11 16:55:11 EDT

Hobart makes a nice small plasma cutter, that has an on-board compressor, 5 meter leads and runs on 110V. Will sever 1/4"
The local Rural King has the complete Hobart line and carries consumables as well. Miller is the industrial line from the same factory.
I have never had any bad luck with Lincoln or Miller.
   ptree - Monday, 09/19/11 19:39:34 EDT

Airco Welders : The older ones that weren't made by Miller were made by Mid State. I guess Your dealer didn't tell You to contact Mid State, who built Your machine.

In My opinion, the involvment of BOC didn't do anything good for Airco.
By about '90, Airco machines were being made by ESAB.
At some point in the mid '90s BOC sold the Airco retail busness to what is now AirGas.

Those Dip Stick 160s weld about as good as any, but You are on Your own for most of the parts. A friend of Mine got one 2 years ago, the power switch was shot. It was replaced by the local welder repair shop in Scranton, Pa.

You might find a replacment MIG gun, but not from anybody Your local dealer stocks.

If Youy gun uses 1/4-20 tips, You can get them from Esab. Otherwise changing to a gas diffuser that accepts common tips, even if You have to modify one or make it Yourself is a good idea.

There are or were adapters to fit Tweeco MIG guns available, but making Your own is not out of the question.

I plan to convert My older but really nice clean Dip Cor 300 to the "Euro" gun connection, there MAY be a ready made adapter, but I will probably rob parts from another machine that came that way.

You COULD have done the DC TIG by scratch start, pipeliners & boilermakers do it all the time, but it is harder to learn.

   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 09/19/11 23:07:05 EDT

My AirCo machine was made in 1983-84, paperwork is dated 82. Yep, it takes 1/4-20 tips but I could not find them anywhere. I've had offers from folks that wanted to buy it but I could not sell it in good conscious. I'll just fix it as needed until it is uneconomical. I haven't used the machine in years. Its last use was welding aluminium with the TIG attachment on my dad's and my brother's ultralite airplane projects several years ago.

As I mentioned I made a bracket on top for the Heliweld High Frequency unit. I added an outlet to the machine for the high voltage circuit and special leads for the welding circuit. It was more than an egglayingmilkpig. It was a SPECIAL swimmingegglayingmilkpig. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/20/11 03:56:12 EDT

TIG Welding :
This is the area I have the least experience welding. I've welded just enough aluminum to know I do it poorly and just enough stainless to know I need a lot of practice. Besides practice I probably need someone with experience to coach me. WAY back 40 years ago when I took my arc welding courses they didn't have enough folks signed up for part 3, Inert Gas Welding (Part 1 was oxy-acetylene and Part 2 was arc welding).

When I setup the TIG we had a couple specific jobs to do which I got through and then never had time to spend a lot of time practicing. The first project was a bunch of 1.75" diameter tubes on a 1/2" thick 6061-T5 plate. Fillet welds around cylinders on plate a bit too heavy for the machine. High Frequency TIG will really overtax the duty cycle on a machine. The next pair of projects was welding up a small machine frame from 1 x 1 x 1/8 aluminium angle. This was well within the capacity of the machine. It was a highly finished part where all the corner welds were filed flush and finely finished. It had a matching aluminum electrical enclosure attached and made a nice looking job.

The last job I did many years later was weld some stainless tubing. I was not very happy with it. The exterior looked fine but the interior was full of stainless "icicles".

TIG is definitely handy for some odd jobs. I've made new junctions in thermocouple wire and extended the tip of a spark plug 6" for a forge ignition system. But I am far from proficient with it. I've seen a guy welding thin wall (28ga) stainless vent stack and the Nuclear guys make pipe welds on complicated manifolds that look like a machined surfaces.
   - guru - Tuesday, 09/20/11 13:40:51 EDT

TIG : 1/2" aluminum plate sucks up a lot of heat. A 300-350 amp machine and a big water cooled torch are what it takes to do this sort of work. I don't know anything about 6061-T5, but on heat treated aluminum, preheat is seldom used, and kept to about 200f when it is used, in order to loose as little strength as possible [You still loose a lot].

To do stainless tube & pipe properly [if going for full penetration] You need to purge the inside of the pipe with an inert gas to prevent "sugaring" - oxidizing the surface. Solar Flux is a work around type of solution for this problem.

I am only good enough to get by with TIG, but I don't attempt critical or code work.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 09/20/11 23:03:51 EDT

Beginner : I have never welded before, but was thinking of buying a buzz box to start learning. Is this a good idea ? What is your advice for making a good continuous bead ?
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 09/21/11 07:57:51 EDT

MikeT My suggestion is to sign up for adult education night classes at your local vocational school if available. You get to burn lots of rods and have expert advice as you learn. Usually very good value. It is how I started long ago, took two night classes and they gave me a great basis to start from. The only equipment i had to buy to start was a helmet and gloves
   ptree - Wednesday, 09/21/11 08:30:11 EDT

beginner welder : Buy yourself an AC/DC little Miller machine, 240 volt. plan on an extension cord from a dryer outlet 240 ac. Leave the leads on the machine short as they come, but replace the ground clamp with a copper one.The welding electrodes you should get for practice and all position stick welding is E-6011 in 3/32" or E-6010 3/32" and 1/8"
   - danny arnold - Wednesday, 09/21/11 08:37:20 EDT

Buy or borrow "How To Weld" by Todd Bridigum by Motorbooks. 90% of the material is straight from AWS. I simply love this book. It opened up a whole world about welding that I thought I already knew. What I like about it is that he shows you what NOT to do! I like seeing how mistakes are made, I find it easier to avoid them that way. The book covers pretty much all welding processes you will find for a home or work shop, plus safety, history, types of metals, gasses, weld positions, machines, etc. I HIGHLY recommend it, even to you old guys who also think you know everything. *wink*
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 09/21/11 10:34:12 EDT

Input : Thanks for the valuable information.....I will copy and paste in my documents.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 09/21/11 11:40:54 EDT

Consistant Welds :
Mike, Practice, practice, practice. . . I could weld a lot of things but was not very consistent until I took on a job where I used up about 100 pounds of rods. I improved rapidly as the welding was all the same material (large 1/4" plate boxes similar to a wood stove). But by the end you could not tell where one rod ended and another started on long continuous beads up to 4 feet long.

That was after welding classes where I had turned a 3 pound block of steel into a 6 pound block running parallel stringer beads a couple hours a night for 6 weeks. . . and several other projects where I THOUGHT I had done a lot of welding.

Many folks do not look as closely into the weld as they should. The arc should be short (about a rod diameter) which is hard to maintain. A long arc is easy but does not weld properly, makes more sputter balls and a rougher weld. many folks also run too fast. The rod is usually consumed in a bead about 1/3 its length so it is being fed into the weld as much or more than the weld puddle progresses. Not feeding into the weld results in that long arc.

You also judge the weld by sound. There is a certain bacon frying in the pan sound that is just right. But it varies with rod type. A good welder can almost weld by hearing rather than sight and occasionally do so in blind corners or in tubes and boxes.

I've helped a lot of student welders by sitting across from them and coaching them as they weld. It usually only takes one bead. "Closer, closer, steady now, keep moving, keep that arc short, watch the puddle size. . ." Just say that over and over as you weld. . . .

But this is all stuff that you should learn in a welding class along with the dozens of safety rules that apply. If you continue with your welding the text book is a reference that you will use over and over. The book recommended by Nippullini sounds good and there are many others such as Welding Essentials and Welding Fabrication & Repair both sold by Industrial Press.

I prefer good old E6013's for general purpose AC welding and E6011's for welding dirty rusty nasty stuff. . . E6010's are similar but a DC rod. If you can't afford an AC/DC machine you can still do a TON of welding with an AC only machine.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/21/11 14:36:40 EDT

bellows : i have recently received a 5' x 3' double lung blacksmith bellow that is in working order and built in 1969(date carved)in it. I have a gas forge and have no use for the bellow. can you give me some idea on the worth of this item? while I want to see it get used again I would also like to see a profit too.
   Todd - Wednesday, 09/21/11 15:25:52 EDT

Bellows : Todd, As with all hand made things the quality of the work is everything. Bellows vary greatly in quality and utility. Many are made much too heavy and shorted on leather making them clumsy to operate.

The leather on bellows can shrink and age to where they are difficult to use. Depending on how your bellows was stored, treated, re-oiled. . . The leather MIGHT have more life in it, or it MIGHT not. A 40 year old bellows is getting up there in age even if never used. The bellows I built in 1976 lasted 30 years but then the leather started going all to pieces. Due to the variations and quality of leather this life is hard to predict.

Re-leathering an old bellows can cost hundreds of dollars in materials and is a significant amount of labor. A bellows that size should open to at least 4 feet in total with ease. If not, it has been shorted OR the leather has shrunk. Often it is more practical to build a new bellows than to repair an old one.

Depending on if someone has a need for it or just HAS to have it and the condition and quality value could be anywhere from $50 to $500.

A good bellows can be a joy to use. But many are no-joy.
   - guru - Wednesday, 09/21/11 18:47:11 EDT

Welding : I'd like to thank everyone for their input in my quest. All the info was valuable and at times a bit overwhelming. Due to the up coming X-mas season and having 5 grand daughters,(ages 4-17), I've decided go cheap, therefore a stick welder. Mig IS in my future, just not the immediate future.

Mike T. definitely take a voc class at your local community college. If there isn't one available check with the high school shop teacher, if he's a good teacher he won't mind the age of his student.

Again, thanks for the info.
   Thumper - Thursday, 09/22/11 12:24:06 EDT

Hmmmmm welded Christmas presents. . . ;)
   - guru - Thursday, 09/22/11 14:56:48 EDT

Thumper : Yeah, and when the 17 yr old gets married, I can give her a "Welding Present"...ouch, that was terrible. By the way, I scored a Lincoln 225 AC for $100.00..ain't gatherin' no moss on this stone!!!
   Thumper - Thursday, 09/22/11 21:18:25 EDT

   - guru - Friday, 09/23/11 00:36:02 EDT

   - Nippulini - Friday, 09/23/11 08:53:40 EDT

   Lenny - Friday, 09/23/11 12:23:45 EDT

   - john n - Friday, 09/23/11 15:30:36 EDT

   - john n - Friday, 09/23/11 15:30:51 EDT

Yes, there will be a written exam. : OK, OK. . enough. . . I had to setup some word spam filters and more IP blocking due to some trollish taggers. It can't stop the gibberish but it will slow them down. The test you see it one of dozens (all the other posts were blocked. This was after many tests on a testing forum. Then all the snippets of code have to be merged into the live forum code and tested. . .

   - guru - Friday, 09/23/11 16:13:50 EDT

coke cinders : Dear Guru,
I am an artist in Washington State and am looking for some coke cinders
to use in a sculpture,do you know anyone burning coal who I could contact?
Thank you,Joseph Goldberg
   Joseph Goldberg - Friday, 09/23/11 16:31:00 EDT

Information Central : After posting his question Joseph called. I sent him to the NWBA web site. He is looking for "clinkers" to use in art work as texture.

On a normal day I get more questions on the phone or in email as on anvilfire. We often joke that we should answer the phone "Information Central". We get questions on how much is something worth, on where to get things, how to locate a smith, where to sell their Grandad's tools, what kind of anvil IS it, and take orders for ITC, Kaowool. . . and so on.
   - guru - Friday, 09/23/11 17:13:07 EDT

plasma welding : With all the welding talk I am prompted to ask if anyone on anvilfire has experience with Mutiplaz welders or can explain how plasma welding works.
   wayne@nb - Friday, 09/23/11 17:59:31 EDT

Hand Hammers : I have been off line for a while due to some personal issues. I just wanted to add a couple of lines on hammers.

They have to fit you and what suits me might well not suit you. Here most of our work is done with the cast hammers from Blacksmiths Forge (see advertisers). I handled them all with standard hickory handles and they work well. To a beginner I would suggest just get something good and see what you like. At forge ins etc. ask to use different hammers. Most smiths will let you. Remember the traditional smith's hammer in Uk is a ball pein in abot 2 to 3 pounds depending on taste and individual strength.

I also picked up a couple of Big Blu slash peins- 1 right and 1 left. They are SO useful.

Sledges I use are all local products. Here we get a very good sledge head and the price is silly. Only problem is getting handles so whenever I go back to Europe I tend to return with a caseful.
   philip in china - Friday, 09/23/11 18:10:45 EDT

Bellows : I don't think I have ever even seen a bellows, but why can't naugahyde be used to rebuild an old bellows ? Just get some that has a leather look to it.
   Mike T. - Friday, 09/23/11 22:32:22 EDT

Idea : I was doing some thinking and was wondering if this idea would work. Place magnetite or hematite in a plastic barrel. Place the end of a cable in it and place the other end of the cable to a high pole. When a storm comes up, and lightning strikes the pole, the heat from the lightening should fuse the magnetite together. I have read that lightening can produce several thousand degrees of heat. Recover the blume and forge it on out, placing another barrel in its place.
   Mike T. - Friday, 09/23/11 23:48:57 EDT

Mike, Iron ores while having a high concentration of iron still have it as a form or iron oxide or other compound. You don't just heat it to make iron. It must be heated in the perfect reducing atmosphere (usually very hot carbon monoxide) to strip the oxygen and other elements. This in turn forms into very small droplets of molten iron which must then be given a chance to combine with other droplets and run together. . . The operation of the furnace, just how much blast and how reducing the atmosphere, and long the ore and iron are heated and exposed to the reducing atmosphere determines if you get pure iron, steel or cast iron.

If you just heat a bunch of iron ore without these conditions you get "roasted ore" (one step in making iron) but absolutely no iron. . .

AND while lightning produces very high temperatures and a lot of energy it is minuscule compared to the amount of heat energy required to reduce a significant quantity of ore. Look up Fulgurite for the result of lightning hitting sand or rock.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/24/11 08:19:23 EDT

Bellows Coverings : Mike, You can cover a bellows with all kinds of things. Heavy canvas is often used and many types of sail cloth would work. Naugahyde (vinyl covered cloth) would also work but has a short life when heavily flexed compared to leather.

That said, leather stretches differently than cloth and is generally more durable and air tight. Leather can be several times thicker and stronger than air tight cloth and be more flexible and stretchy. There is a good reason it is a preferred bellows material.

To avoid killing and skinning several cows or an oxen to make your bellows covering you can avoid all that flexible material and build a box bellows. This Oriental invention is the Buddhist Vegetarian solution to providing air to a forge and is much more economical.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/24/11 08:32:46 EDT

Anvil question : I have found a Anvil at a local flea market. It looks just like the Anvil on the top of the Anvil page the small one sitting on top of the large one. It has a E inside a circle on the side of it. the man is asking $ 250.00. It has a very nice sound to it when you strike it with a hammer. Im looking for some professional in-site. Thank you let me know what you think.

Kip L. Kaiser
   Kip Kaiser - Saturday, 09/24/11 12:23:52 EDT

benchmark : the small record paperweight at the top of your small anvil gallery page has the word benchmark on it it is written with extended letter legs and is a registered trademark i have 2 of these but cant find out who benchmark is ive also searched UK
   vern kelderman - Saturday, 09/24/11 14:20:14 EDT

rail road spikes : I spoke with someone today that told me that the rail road spikes near the switch plates are harder and market with a xx one the head. Is there any truth to that?
   Kip Kaiser - Saturday, 09/24/11 16:44:43 EDT

plasma welders : Hey my question on plasma welding was a serious one,looking at the multiplaz web site it looks quite intriguing but I'm not knowledgable enough to asses their claims. Any thoughts?
   - wayne@nb - Saturday, 09/24/11 17:18:38 EDT

RR-Spikes :
Kip there are RR-Spikes that are marked "HC" for "High Carbon" but all that means is that they have more carbon than mild steel, IE about 30 to 40 points carbon. This is NOT "high carbon" in general terms, it is medium carbon which makes a part very tough with greater hardenability but does not make it a tool or cutlery steel.

I do not know about XX. However, the HC marking is based on a very old standard that not all manufacturers us. We have had spikes reported with all kinds of markings that ONLY mean something to the manufacturer like casting numbers do to foundries.
   - guru - Saturday, 09/24/11 18:10:57 EDT

Multiplaz : Wayne, It looks like an interesting device. Appears to be Russian, manufactured in China. It does many things but I'm not sure how well. The soldering operation looked like it burned the copper pipe (black flaky copper oxide). Torch cutting tile looked handy if you are into making tile mosaics. I like the lack of need for a gas source or even an air compressor.

I would worry about the availability of dealers if I depended on it. It has a 24 month warranty but that is no better than who you purchase something from and the company backing it up. Try getting warranty service on your Saturn auto. . . (or even service).

Water and alcohol are not the only supplies necessary. Like all arc/gas/plasma processes there are nozzles, tips and such. They list cathode and nozzle life at 10 - 20 hours. They do not say but I would use distilled water. You never know what kind of minerals are in local water and the deposits they produce.

Plasma is one of the four states of matter (Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma). A plasma is a cloud of protons, neutrons and electrons where all the electrons have come loose from their respective molecules and atoms, giving the plasma the ability to act as a whole rather than as a bunch of atoms.

Plaza generally only occurs at high temperatures and is very energetic. The Multiplaz states 14,400°F (8,000°C).

Several discussions on this device confused it with electrolysis units.

The question IS do you need a plasma torch?. Generally it is needed when you have stainless to torch cut. In this case you are limited to 3/8" (10mm) but can cut non-metallic materials. This one seems to replace an oxy-acetylene torch for many purposes. However, even a small oxy-acetylene rig can cut plate up to 2" or more.

This is a very portable device weighing less than 20 pounds. However, at 120V they say no less than 20A and suggest a 25A breaker. In modern homes the majority of outlets are on 15A breakers, special circuits in a kitchen at 20A and rarely anything higher in 120V unless there are outlets for window AC units (rated at 30A). So you can't just plug it in anywhere and expect it to work at full capacity. But this is true with any significant tool including many small 120V welders. My B&D Wildcat angle grinder will trip anything less than a 30A breaker when you lean on it. The Multiplaz can also be setup to run on 240VAC.

Keeping the arc going in Mode II (arc cutting - heavy welding) looks like it requires a lot of practice to maintain that 1.5 to 2 mm (.060 to .080") arc length, especially with that big torch and tip blocking your view. The demo guys (like the Henrob salesman) always make it look EASY. . .

For the price you can purchase a nice Miller AC/DC buzz box, a full size (Victor Journeyman) oxy-acetylene setup with cylinders and consumables to get started. You can't do the same things but the Multiplaz can't do everything these two can either.

   - guru - Sunday, 09/25/11 01:30:24 EDT

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