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This is an archive of posts from October 1 - 7, 2011 on the Guru's Den
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34 pound anvil : 35 pound steel anvil for sale on ebay its clearly the same anvil as the little columbian in your gallery but the logo is apparently wore off how much does it devalue a piece like that
   vern kelderman - Saturday, 10/01/11 13:18:01 EDT

Vern, The logo on the one in our gallery was very faint and the owner painted it to stand out. The recessed cast logo cannot wear off. It is either there and shallow, or was never there at all.

As collectors items anvils without positive logo ID's are worth less. As tools they are worth no less. So the difference would be that between a good tool and a pricier collector's item. Small anvils tend to sell for a lot more than you would think because they are SO handy to artists, jewelers and anyone else that wants a good tool but doesn't want something they cannot easily handle.

Its also possible the if there is no logo then the anvil may be a cast iron copy. .
   - guru - Saturday, 10/01/11 15:40:44 EDT

castable refractory : I have a shop built propane forge, three feet long, circular in section , insulated with fire brick on the bottom and ceramic fiber on the balance of the circumference. I am tired of replacing the ceramic fiber after big damascus projects, as the flux (borax) dissolves the fiber where it abuts the firebrick floor. I am considering casting a refractory floor with curbs on each side to contain the flux and protect the fiber. Will this help, and would Greencast 94 by ANH Refractories be the right stuff?
   Scott Wadsworth - Saturday, 10/01/11 16:01:25 EDT

Log in issues : Guru,

I noticed a couple of recent responses to logging in to your forums, and spamming. I read about viruses and spam in FAC's. Today I tried to log in your tailgating section for the first time. I also tried to become a member of CSI. Both were unsuccessful. I do not know if it is my skills, method or something else. In CSI I could not get the selection of time(fee) to transfer, so I could not get a cost on services.

Incidentally I had a previous log in in in slack o tub, but that was not used in a long time, and it was under a different email address.

Thank you for your help.
   Milton R. - Saturday, 10/01/11 16:41:43 EDT

Wiring Question : I just purchased a used Miller Dialarc 250 AC/DC (single phase). The unit is currently wired for 440 service and I need to switch that over to 220. Can anyone tell me how to go about that? Is it as simple as removing the 440 plug and replacing it with a 220 plug or will the connections inside the machine need to be switched as well? Thanks.
   Patrick Nowak - Saturday, 10/01/11 16:55:58 EDT

South Dakota Area Hammer-ins : Corey, it is sort of drifting into the off season for hammer-ins in our neck of the woods. In mid-September every year there is the Lamberton Iron Pour in Lamberton, MN. Maybe 50 miles from Sioux Falls. Besides cast iron a number of folks from the Guild of Metalsmiths (blacksmith group centered in the Twin Cities) demo blacksmithing there. While not an official hammer in if you get in good with the Guild a lot of the demos like that become mini hammer-ins as far as a bunch of guys learning from each other. I don't know if there is a local smithing group in Sioux Falls. If so we haven't had a lot of cross pollination with them.
   Martin Pansch - Saturday, 10/01/11 16:56:58 EDT

More Welder Wiring :
Patrick, YES you will need to change jumpers inside the box. If you open the box there SHOULD be a connection diagram glued to the inside of the box OR on the terminal block. If not you will need to get a manual from Miller.

Generally high voltage connections have a pair of wires connected together at the middle of a transformer circuit. Low voltage connections connect the two circuits in pairs instead of one long circuit.

If there is more than one transformer (such as for an axillary control circuit) if would have to be rewired OR changed out. A well designed machine will have multiple transformers wired to one terminal block where you change the jumpers.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/01/11 19:11:35 EDT

Logins and Logins :
Milton, we currently have a patchwork of logins. CSI is no more and I am still removing links. . . The CSI login still works as a "member" system and is what drives the extra features in the Tailgate (image and page links).

The Pub has its own login system which I munged onto the CSI system with a Cookie. . . When the auction page was running it had ITS own login. . .

I looked in the pub registrations and we had a lot of variations of Milton and none matched your current email. Drop me a line with your old email as a reference and I will fix you up.

Our new cart system is going to be the basis for all logins and passwords in the future so I've let things slide until then. It will still require integration for the other pages. . . getting close.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/01/11 19:39:27 EDT

weather vane : Guru and others,
Thank you for the input and help on the weather vane will use the point method which seems to be tried and tested through the ages...high temp grease and some weather stop seems to be the ticket...spins like it should...

   George Robb II - Saturday, 10/01/11 20:20:56 EDT

Will look at other Ideas if any out there please be detail in your explaination
   George Robb II - Saturday, 10/01/11 20:23:26 EDT

Castable Refractory : Yep, that will do the job, Scott. That Greencast is heavy as can be, so you'll want that big forge on casters if you have to move it.

I use silicon carbide kiln shelf for my floors and up the sidewalls about 3". Since there is Kaowool under the floor I grout the floor/sidewall joint with plain old stove cement and it seems to hold up fine. If I'm going to do a lot of welding, I have a stainless steel floor pan I can slip in to catch most of the mung and drool - I hate sticky floors and mine is a general purpose forge, not dedicated to welding.

My only issue is that next time I reline the Kaowool I'm going to have to spring for the 2600° blanket since I'm running burners that will cruise the forge at very near 2500°. The 2300 blanket breaks down pretty quickly at that temp, I've found.
   Richr - Sunday, 10/02/11 10:16:50 EDT

Rich, I asked for a quote on that blanket but have not heard back. Will have to tweek my guy Monday.

A lot of people lighten their refractory with various things such as vermiculite. But I found the castable to be so weak that the additive made it REALLY weak. You have to remember that castables are never as strong, hard or durable as fired brick.

I got distracted on the forge material question and meant to ask Scott if he was coating the blanket with ITC-100?
   - guru - Sunday, 10/02/11 11:39:55 EDT


If you haven't looked, the Miller site is pretty good about letting you download manuals. I think what you need is on page 17 here: http://www.millerwelds.com/om/o321q_mil.pdf. You probably should start from the Resources tab on the home page, though, and punch in your serial number to be 100% sure you've got the right manual.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 10/02/11 11:45:38 EDT

How can I Straighten a cast Iron plate : I have a CI plate that goes in the top of my house heating wood stove. This plate flips up and down with a handle from the stove. This does this so to top load. There are no new parts for this stove. The plate is now warped from a lot of use, it wont flip anymore. How can I straighten this plate.
   - tmac - Sunday, 10/02/11 12:30:34 EDT

Kaowool : I would certainly recommend the addition of the ITC-100.

Based on anecdotal evidence from a friend who builds his own forges, it seems that first using a rigidizer on the blanket and then applying the ITC-100 results in both significantly increased durability as well as the high IR reflectivity. I have a jug of rigidizer on the way and will be using it on my next re-line job. Note to self: need to order some ITC-100, too. I've tried a couple of less expensive alternatives but they haven't panned out. Ya gets what ya pays for, it seems.

While the ITC-100 may be pretty pricey, I'm doing this stuff for a living and can't afford to spend unnecessary time repairing the forge or suffering with reduced efficiency. That's why I opt for the ITC-100 and also why I use the new PNB burners from Steve Gensheimer. A hot forge with a neutral atmosphere means increased productivity and that means more profit at the end of the day. It's actually more fun that way, as well.
   Rich - Sunday, 10/02/11 12:35:20 EDT

Gensheimer burners : I just came in for lunch, having used my Gensheimer burner equipped little forge. These are the hottest, most fuel conserving burners I have yet found.. One in a freon can forge allows me to forge weld Horsehoof rasp tomahawks. I also run 3 RR Spikes at a time to make trowels.
   ptree - Sunday, 10/02/11 12:41:16 EDT

Test Post Are they working?? : Not posting for some reason.
   - tmac - Sunday, 10/02/11 12:53:23 EDT

tmac-iron stoves : When I was a boy growing up, my grandmother cooked on a cast iron wood stove. It had four lids on the top with slots. A handle was fitted into the slot to lift the lid. We would all be sitting at the kitchen table, my grandmother would fill the stove with sticks of wood, get a can of kerosene and pour it all over the wood, she would then light a match and everyone at the table would jump up and take off running, yelling, " Run, mamma is about to light the stove ! " When she threw the match in, there was a loud swooosh, and the lids would fly up three or four inches in the air. ha ha ha There is another story I just have to tell. When my cousin was little, his navel would pooch out four inches or so, the doctor kept it taped down in order for it to grow back in. One day he was standing by the wood stove in the living room and accidently touched his navel to it. He is about 55 years old now, and we still laugh about it......By the way, how many kids got their fingers mashed by the treadle on an old singer sewing machine ? I did and many I talk to did. How many got their arms caught in the wringer of an old Maytag ? I did and many adults have scars on their arms where it got them.
   Mike T. - Sunday, 10/02/11 13:44:04 EDT

Repairing Warped Cast Iron :
Tmac, Depending on the type of iron and shape it is probably not straightenable or repairable. Your best bet would be to have someone fabricate a steel plate to fit.

To straighten would require putting it on a flat refractory surface and then heating it evenly to a little over 2,000 F and letting it sag onto the flat surface. Then it would need to be covered with insulation such as kaowool while it cooled very slowly. IF you are lucky it might be the right shape.
   - guru - Sunday, 10/02/11 15:03:00 EDT

African blacksmithing : I was watching the 1937 version of "King Solomon's Mines" last week. The version with Paul Robeson.

Once they got to Twala's city there were some interesting shots of blacksmithing. One guy was pumping away at animal skins which were blowing the fire presumably via a tunnel. The smith had a piece of iron on a rock. He showed his striker where to hit it by touching it with a pointer at which the striker hit with a second rock.
   philip in china - Monday, 10/03/11 00:25:02 EDT

Mike T. : Before my time, I'm only 77.
   Carver Jake - Monday, 10/03/11 00:56:10 EDT

African Blacksmithing : Phillip, we have that clip on our AnvilCAM page.

Zulu Blacksmiths filmed in 1936

Its a pretty interesting bit of historical primitive blacksmithing that just happened to get caught on film.
   - guru - Monday, 10/03/11 08:14:58 EDT

I'm real impressed with the Gensheimer burner too. I was testing one at about 5000' altitude and it ran hot and stable over the complete range of my regulator.

Now that I'm getting caught up with myself I plan to take it up to 10,000 feet and try it out.

   Thomas P - Monday, 10/03/11 13:10:46 EDT

The thing I really like about the Gensheimer burner is the fuel economy. Running three spikes at a time to make trowels, I get about 9 hours run from a grill size bottle.
   - ptree - Monday, 10/03/11 13:50:30 EDT

I remember everyone was worried about the gas forges performing well at at the Asheville, NC conference, at 2,130 Ft. (350m), and then the Flagstaff, AZ conference at 7,000 Ft. (2134m) . . At both the most commonly used forges were the 3 burner NC-Tool forges that ABANA owns and they did just fine.

I've got a big old industrial control meter and type K thermocouple. Max range on the meter is 2,400°F (1,315°C). The thermocouple wire is only rated for 2,282°F but both the furnaces I've built an used it on would peg out the meter. . . On a forge I bury the thermocouple in the lining set back about 1" to keep from burning it up. This lowers the reading an unknown amount but let me know that a cooling refractory brick forge holds at about 600 to 800 F for a long time and is what I used to temper A2 dies.
   - guru - Monday, 10/03/11 14:12:15 EDT

I see Omega has a Type B 3100 degree thermocouple. Much different voltage range than the type K. I'll have to see if there is an affordable meter to go with them.
   - guru - Monday, 10/03/11 14:26:02 EDT

Pyrometers : Jock,

A short while back I caved in and joined the 21st century - bought an optical IR pyrometer that goes to 3000°F+. It was around two hundred bucks, as I recall. It seems to work great and is plenty accurate enough for forge/foundry work. Reads from -58F or so up to 3002F. It also has an included Type K thermocouple probe and it will output to a PC via included USB cable and software, for recording and triggering or something (?). It is a CEM Model DT-8867H, available from www.ruby-electronics.com and others.
   Rich - Monday, 10/03/11 16:44:41 EDT

Rich, Thanks! I have been looking at IR devices but kept finding $1000 models. . .
   - guru - Monday, 10/03/11 18:44:04 EDT

IR pyrometers : Jock,

I had the same issue for along time and then one day I was looking for something else on Ebay and saw the Ruby Electronics pyrometer - snatched it right up and haven't been sorry.
   Rich - Monday, 10/03/11 23:43:11 EDT

Mr. Jake : Carver Jake, if your only 77, your still a young man.
   Mike T. - Tuesday, 10/04/11 10:52:15 EDT

Temperature Measurement :
I've got that OLD wall mount meter/control that come from some type of coal boiler system. Beautiful analog meter with a foot long horizontal sweep needle from 100 to 2400°F. It has a mercury switch in it and high/low settings. I used it to control a gas furnace I built to melt zinc. Kept the temperature within about a 100°F range. Would work great on an electric kiln or low tech heat treating furnace.

For the same operation we purchased a foundry "dip" meter. It has an enclosed thermocouple on the end of a three foot long handle with the meter on the handle end. I'm not sure what the range is as I have not looked at it in a long time. But were were measuring zinc at the 1100°F pour temperature.

I've built several devices with nifty Omega Meters and controllers for other people. The last one used a digital IO card and data collection software. Used a USB cable to connect to a PC or laptop. It measured water temperature in a flow metering system. You get spoiled using other peoples money. . . I kept hoping we would need a TEST processor. . . No such luck. The little IO device couple be used to measure pressure, tress/strain, temperature and do high speed counting such as from the flow meters we were using.

On another job we were measuring and controlling a low big temperature furnace. I ended up with a roll of special thermocouple lead wire and two rolls of Teflon insulated fiberglass covered high temperature nickle plated wire. This one used a Omega DIN format temperature controller with digital read out.

And SOMEWHERE I've got some temperature probes we were using to measure the temperature of a block of steel. . Also hooked to an Omega controller.

But every job needs something special and none were forge temperature.
   - guru - Tuesday, 10/04/11 11:23:58 EDT

Forge electric fan : What CFM/pressure fan do I need for a forge with a 3" air intake. I have a Champion 400 hand blower on it now and it's OK for an hour or two, but all day's a little rough.
   Nerm - Thursday, 10/06/11 14:04:49 EDT

Blower Size :
Nerm, It depends on the size of the forge AND the fire. The great advantage of coal forges is that you can have a small fire for small work and a huge fire for large work simply by increasing the air.

You can run a small forge on as little as 90 CFM but you will have to be sure the fire is kept open. This works better on charcoal than mineral coal which melts into a solid mass and is difficult to get air through.

150 CFM is recommended for average single user forges. You may want larger for a real big forge.

Also remember when selecting a forge blower that your Hand Crank blower with its large diameter fan is a high head or high pressure fan. CFM is not everything, you need the pressure to go with it. Blacksmiths Depot sells a line of blowers designed for forges. The middle size is probably what you want.
   - guru - Thursday, 10/06/11 14:55:41 EDT

Forge blowers : If looking at salvaged blowers for coal forges you want a "Pressure blower" These have fewer, longer and very straight vanes compared to the squirel cage blowers many end up with. a squirel cage, often called an inclined vane blower is for moving high volume, low pressure air. The pressure blower is intended for higher pressures without stagnation of the flow.
   ptree - Thursday, 10/06/11 15:05:30 EDT

Forge electric fan : Thanks for the info. I was looking at a 300 cfm @ 4". I will measure the pressure before the pot to see what it is with the 400. Should have done this first, but just got lasy.
Thanks Again
   Nerm - Friday, 10/07/11 06:16:23 EDT

Oxygen : Has anyone ever experimented with running an oxygen line into their propane or coal forge ? Some people complain they can't get their forge up to welding heat, would running an oxygen line into it help ?
   Mike T. - Friday, 10/07/11 15:20:40 EDT

GURU : I'm unable to cancel my ad for the post vice ($110), I sold it to a friend. I want to send you some money but was unable to through your website, could you please list, or send me your snail mail address?
Thanks, Jim Jacobs
   Carver Jake - Friday, 10/07/11 16:42:59 EDT

Oxygen : Nope, it will not help, and will, in fact, probably cause problems.
If you have a forge with the proper number of appropriately-sized burners for the forge volume, then it should get up to welding heat, if your burners are adjusted to a neutral flame. If you have an excessively oxidizing flame you're giving away heat, and likewise if you have an excessively reducing flame.

Most people don't know how to adjust their burners properly, nor do they know how to size their burner(s) to their forge. If you don't have sufficient burner capacity for the forge volume you'll never get it hot enough. Similarly, if your forge isn't properly designed and operated, even sufficient burner capacity can't overcome inadequate flow, high radiation loss, improper back pressure, etc. You can't simply toss a burner or two in a box and expect to get it to function at optimum efficiency. Adding pure oxygen to this mix won't cure fundamental problems.

You can certainly get increased heat from a fuel gas by combining it with pure oxygen rather than air, but that comes at a cost. The oxy/fuel flame is TOO hot - it will burn up your refractory lining and your steel. Unless very carefully controlled, it will also scale the work incredibly.

Simply adding oxygen to the forge chamber will result in horrible scaling and will, if your regular burners are properly adjusted, probably drop the forge temperature by introducing the cold oxygen. Some people have reported that they got hotter forge temps by adding oxygen to the forge, but they probably had burners that were running excessively rich so that the oxygen could combine the excess fuel and burn.

Oxygen is expensive, potentially dangerous, and unlikely to give any real-world benefits, so why do it? Better to add another good burner, if needed, and be done with it.
   Rich - Friday, 10/07/11 16:51:10 EDT

Oxygen, cont'd. : As for adding an oxygen feed to a coal forge, don't even think about it! You would, if lucky, create a fire that simply incinerated everything you put in it. If you were a bit unlucky, you'd create a conflagration you couldn't deal with and that quickly burned through your firepot. Or worse.

Blacksmithing IS a potentially dangerous pastime, yet most people read up on it, pay attention to what is taught, and go for entire careers without a serious mishap. Trying to find "miracle" solutions in order to solve common problems without actually learning the fundamental principles involved is dangerous, ineffective and basically lazy. Expend the effort to *study* this profession (not just read nonsense on the 'net) and you will find that most of the answers are already out there and the rest you can figure out on your own - once you have the background knowledge.
   Rich - Friday, 10/07/11 16:59:30 EDT

Temperature and Oxygen : Rich is correct on all counts. Gas forges tend to run too oxidizing in the first place so adding oxygen will aggravate the problem. Good coal burns at 3,200°F (1760°C) and will easily melt steel and set it on fire. Any hotter and it would be difficult to control.

Nature or the great diety of your choice has given us the perfect balance of oxygen in the atmosphere for blacksmithing using carbon based fuels (charcoal, coal, oil, gas). However, a poorly built forge of any type will not take advantage of this gift.
   - guru - Friday, 10/07/11 18:38:02 EDT

Alcohol : Rich, Guru thanks for your input. I was watching Rocket City Rednecks the other night and they were making moonshine ( alcohol ) to make a rocket with. I was amazed at the flame it produced and then began thinking about using alcohol insted of propane for a forge. It looks like a fella could save all of his garbage and make all of the alcohol he wanted and then spray it in the forge under pressure.
   Mike T. - Friday, 10/07/11 22:03:14 EDT

Alcohol forge : Mike, that's the sort of question that results from watching "reality" TV and buying into the nonsense they spew. You need to do a little basic research before you consider these things.

A pound of propane has about 21,500 Btu's while a pound of ethanol only has about 11,500 Btu's. The amount of alcohol you can make from one month's household garbage would maybe run a small forge inefficiently for a couple hours. The time that you spent processing that garbage, if spent instead asking "Would you like fries with that" would probably buy you enough propane to run that forge for a week of hard work.
   Rich - Friday, 10/07/11 23:47:30 EDT

Forge Fuel :
From the Bronze age through several thousand years of the iron age THE fuel for metalworking was wood charcoal. It was used to smelt metal, to melt is for casting and heat it for forging. Globally it is still probably the most commonly used fuel by smiths. It is also the most commonly produced "low tech" fuel.

If you want to make your own fuel charcoal is where to start. Break up old pallets (a good source of free hard wood) and make charcoal

Mineral coal replaced charcoal where it was available and mined industrially. Before large scale mining small amounts of coal were used where it was found. But this was relatively rare.

In the modern era forges have been fired using fuel oil or diesel whichever was cheapest at the time. With common availability and the need for portability farriers started using propane forges then blacksmiths.

Smiths have also used electric resistance for heating steel and most recently industrial induction furnaces have been scaled down to small forge shop size.

During these thousands of years thee were many other fuels available but for good practical reasons they have not been used to fuel forges or for metal smelting.

Some of Goddard's first rocket experiments used alcohol and liquid oxygen but he changed to gasoline and oxygen due to necessary energy requirements.
   - guru - Saturday, 10/08/11 05:40:45 EDT

Of course, never underestimate the power of a good old plain fire! My very first foray into forging came from a fire I made in the basement fireplace after cleaning up some wood. I was using a long piece of steel rod to stir the fire. After a while, I noticed the end glowing. I pulled it out, laid it on an anvil and whacked away with boyish glee. That was the beginning of the end.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 10/08/11 09:04:23 EDT

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