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THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from December 8 - 15, 2011 on the Guru's Den
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Springs : I remember seeing on a web site or television ( I can't remember) A man was making a spring. He heated the metal to red hot and then quenched it, then he dipped the part in oil and lit it, allowing the oil to burn off, this was his tempering method. Wouldn't hurt to try it, seems simple enough.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 12/08/11 08:49:53 EST

Spring Steel : Are the 10XX series steel considered to be spring steel ? Or just some of them ? Or is my memory getting bad ? :-)
   Mike T. - Thursday, 12/08/11 08:53:59 EST

10XX : I think that you can make springs out of 1065 through 1090. The blazing off method of tempering may work on small springs, but it depends on stock thickness. One blaze off might sork on a thin flintlock spring, but it might take repeated blaze offs on a railroad freight car spring. As with all heat treatments, one must experiment.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/08/11 11:26:12 EST

Springs : Lots of spring material inside old tape measures. Also good for animal tails if you're into metal sculptures.
   Carver Jake - Thursday, 12/08/11 12:35:31 EST

I have an antique blow torch that I believe used benezene as a fuel is their a substute fuel
   - jim bright - Thursday, 12/08/11 13:03:13 EST

I have an antique blow torch that I believe used benezene as a fuel(Metalworking by Paul N. Hasluck) Is there a substitue for this fuel
   - jim bright - Thursday, 12/08/11 13:06:09 EST

Blow Torch : Most of those old blow torches were designed to run on gasoline, preferably white (unleaded) gas, Jim. I'd have to see the specific torch to say for sure, but that's a general rule. Many of them will also run fine on kerosene, too.
   Rich Waugh - Thursday, 12/08/11 13:12:29 EST

Odl Blow Torches :
These have a bad habit of seals drying out or failing and pressurized fuel leaking or spraying out. . . (VERY dangerous). They have mostly been replaced by propane torches.

10XX Steels Its the XX that is important. Yes many springs are plain carbon steel Hardenable springs are generally made of 60 point or greater steel. As Frank noted music wire is generally 1090/1095.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/08/11 13:49:52 EST

Coleman camp fuel will work in those old torches, but I have to ask why do you want to use it?
If it is to use as a working tool, you're better off getting a propane torch, no need to preheat the burner etc.
NOW THOUGH, if you love to tinker, like seeing these old beautys work just for the sake of getting something from the past working just because it is fun check out colemancollectorsforum.websitetoolbox.com/ there is a bit of information, and a bunch of friendly knolegable people there.
   JimG - Thursday, 12/08/11 14:47:59 EST

Blow torches : Jock's caution about the gaskets is worth keeping firmly in mind - I wouldn't use one until and unless I'd personally torn it down and made it right.

I think one of those old gasoline plumbers' torches was the very first tool that I "rebuilt", when I was about twelve years old. It was in an outbuilding on a property our family bought, and it really intrigued me - fire and all that, y'know? :-)

I took it apart, cleaned and polished it and replaced the packing in the valve and the rubber gasket in the filler cap and oiled up the leather in the pump piston and away we went. It worked just dandy, though you did have to go through the whole pre-heat routine to get the generator to vaporize the fuel properly. Once that was done, however, it was a fine old torch and I soldered several hundred copper pipe joints with it when Pop and I built a sprinkler system for the property. These days they've become antique collectors' items, (and I've gotten to be an antique myself) but they still make useable tools if you're careful. They'll burn pretty much any fuel that will vaporize under heat - gas, kerosene, diesel (though dirty), alcohol, naphtha, etc.

   Rich Waugh - Thursday, 12/08/11 16:37:23 EST

Cameron's Forge Parts:

These control parts MAY be standard but they may replacements. A bunch of equipment was made in Canada during the early 1900's because it was cheaper than paying import duties. Canadian Fairbanks, Canadian Giant. . and so on. But I can see a technical part like the motor controller being imported because it was too specialized to manufacture in Canada just to get around duties. . .

The motorized blower looks very similar to American models including the stand.
   - guru - Thursday, 12/08/11 17:06:40 EST

FINAL Springs : Guru....You da' man, fire it was!!! The proof I found was in the end of the loading lever. The keeper spring didn't work, so I removed it and discovered it was partially melted and butter soft...not to mention made out of brass which was a big surprise. Sure you don't want an AKA of Sherlock? LOL. Carver Jake, nice tip on tape measure springs.
   Thumper - Thursday, 12/08/11 17:14:18 EST

I vaguely remember seeing a similar controler, blower and motor in a behind the scenes tour of the Curatorial Centre for the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon, you might want to give them an email asking if they have any info.
   JimG - Thursday, 12/08/11 18:12:04 EST

i need a replacement oiler for a kuhn B1 hammer. installed a drip oiler but it does not function the same as the original. source, advice, oiler, any and all appreciated.
p.s. centaur couldn't help.
   - dennis k. smith - Friday, 12/09/11 08:54:46 EST

Dennis, Centaur dropped Kuhn and there are no U.S. dealers but Kuhn is still in buisness and will supply parts. See our Power Hammer Page list of manufacturers. You may need to fire up google translate to read the web site but they have people there that speak English.
   - guru - Friday, 12/09/11 09:12:59 EST

need original replacement oiler for kuhn B1 hammer. centaur couldn't help. any assistance appreciated.
   - dennis k. smith - Friday, 12/09/11 09:19:22 EST

Parts in Fires :
Thumper, there is often no better anneal for dead softness in plain carbon steels. The fire (wood) builds up to maximum heat just above the transformation point and then goes out slowly (hours). Part fall into a bed of ash and coals and may take many hours to cool through the transition range.

Springs in such a situation will be left in their compressed shape. They will need to be bent back into shape before hardening and tempering. The trick is to not spring them TOO much. You want just enough spring with maybe 10-15% extra (very little on a small spring). If you reshape it too much it will either break OR reach the yield point and bend. The problem here is that once the yield point is reached and steel starts stretching strength drops below maximum and it will bend farther than it would normally just spring. . . ruined again.
   - guru - Friday, 12/09/11 09:22:27 EST

t-planch,what is it ? : The old song,"The Blind Fiddler"has lyrics I would love to have difinitively explained."While dusting out a t-planch that was out of fix"small enough to "bounded from my tongs"My guess is some sort of wagon fixture,perhaps worn out and needing a "steeling"thanks Generik
   Generik Broderick - Friday, 12/09/11 10:30:45 EST

T-planch : I believe a T-planch is a shelf in a fireplace/oven. May refer to cleaning out coals or embers with a pair of ember tongs.
   Rich Waugh - Friday, 12/09/11 10:56:59 EST

Poetic License :
Rich, the rest of the song refers to the even occurring in a blacksmith shop. The year 56 supposedly 1856. . . However, there are painting titled 'The Blind Fidler" from the 1700's and Stephan Sills says 1756.

Generik, Folks songs are often inscribed by others, not the author. So there is the matter of accents, slang, local colloquialisms. . . Tis an Irish tune but the word could be mispronounced French. In fact the word IS French for T-board OR floor. . . If the original author was not actually a smith there could be much more technical confusion.

From a technical stand point the most common use of T-planch is a "top board". It can also be a plane (to smooth same).

In Enameling a planch is a thin brick used to support the work (a kiln shelf).

Last, a planch is a flat iron Mule shoe.

"Dusting out"? is more of a problem. Anything slipping from ones tongs is understandable. "Out of fix" seem to mean need repairs or adjustment.

Dusting MAY have referred to fluxing, holding a hot piece while adding powdered flux. OR sandblasting (dusting out is a colloquialism for this but does not suit the period) and a small piece held in tongs could go flying. . .

Another version of The Blind Fiddler is sung in one recording "I lost my heart in a blacksmith shop in the year of 48. . ." by the Celtic group Empty Hats. Later they sing "lost my eyes. ." But its hard to tell in either place. The printed lyrics says "eyes". . .

Most modern versions do not include dusting out or T-planch. . .
   - guru - Friday, 12/09/11 11:58:42 EST

Old school torch: remember that Benzin is a term for Gasoline in German. Gasoline and kerosene are the two fuels I have heard of used in such torches
   Thomas P - Friday, 12/09/11 14:20:08 EST

Die springs : Hi Guru! I have an open question for anyone that can help. I have a 75 lb Fairbanks hammer and it has a 10,000lb 5/8ths inch die spring that can't be the correct spring. Any ideas on what the correct spring should be? I live in North Georgia and am new to power hammers but old to blacksmithing. Here is a link below.

   Wind (Tannis O'Neille) - Friday, 12/09/11 15:06:43 EST

Tannis, I called a friend who has one but the hammer is now off-shore. . . Try Bruce Wallace (see our Power Hammer Manufacturers Page). He owns what is left of Fairbanks, even has a few spare parts. To compare springs you will need wire diameter, OD, length and number of coils.

Fairbanks use a pretty heavy spring due to the leverage even though the toggle arms are quite short.
   - guru - Friday, 12/09/11 21:10:45 EST

Die Springs : I have been trying with him for about a year and a half and have gotten no where. Were you able to look at the photo on the link. There is less than 1/8th of an inch between each coil. I will just order a similar spring that will give me a bit more gap between coils and see what happens. I need to dig out my foot ball helmet too I think. Thanks :~) Oh, I am very glad your health is still improving!
   Wind (Tannis O'Neille) - Friday, 12/09/11 22:00:48 EST

Power Hammer Springs :
That spring definitely has too many coils. In the loaded condition you need a spring with about 1/2" between coils and 3/4" to 1" free.

FIRST, DO NOT run this hammer. The spring is already at shut height and running the hammer will bend or break the arms.

If you want the EXACT spring shut height for a new spring then take the spring out (be very careful as this one looks to be overloaded as is).

Then raise the ram until the cutout in the ram is in-line with where the spring would be. Then with the adjustment screws on each side adjusted in about 1/16" each measure the distance between the two spring support plates. This is the shut height (compressed until it can go no farther)of the new spring. This will tell the spring maker how many coils the spring can have.

The extended length of the spring should be about 1 to 2" longer than the distance between the spring plates as shown in the photo.

Between the shut height, the extended length, number of coils and diameter of the spring there will only be ONE spring to fit right and that may have to be custom made.

While you are working on it be sure to free up the height adjustment. Doesn't look like its been moved in years. This needs to be adjusted for every significant change in work height to get the best performance from the hammer.

May I use your photo?
   - guru - Saturday, 12/10/11 01:52:56 EST

Spring : Yes you can use the photo :~) I already have removed the spring and freed up the adjustment on the pitman arm. Thanks for telling me how to adjust it also. That is the help I needed!
   Wind (Tannis O'Neille) - Saturday, 12/10/11 07:13:00 EST

Power Hammer Springs : Yes, you can use the photo. I already have she spring removed and the collar on the pittman arm freed up. I am making sure I understand the rest of your directions. Thanks
   Wind (Tannis O'Neille) - Saturday, 12/10/11 07:37:55 EST

kuhn oiler : thank you for the info. sent kuhn an email. does anyone know how the original worked as it seemed to only feed during operation and seemed to be self-regulating, unlike drip feed replacement.

sorry fro multiple post. kept getting response that it didn't post.
   dennis k. smith - Saturday, 12/10/11 09:33:08 EST

Three Adjustments on Fairbanks and Bradleys :
There are three adjustments on a Fairbanks. Stroke, Work Height and Spring Tension.

The normal spring tension is set so that the toggle arms are are near horizontal as in the photo. The spring can be made a little tighter to make the movement a bit stiffer and more controllable. OR made just a LITTLE looser to give the ram more movement and hit really hard at slow speed.

The stroke adjustment is made by moving the pitman nut in its slot in the crank wheel. The closer to center the lighter the hammer hits but the faster you can run it. The farther out on the crank wheel the harder it hits but the slower you need to run (for control - unless doing very heavy drawing).

The height adjustment is set to leave about the distance of the starting work between the dies or a tad less. This changes when you make big changes in work size OR change the stroke OR make a spring adjustment.

Generally you are best off to keep the spring adjustment a little stiff. This gives you more control and generally prevents the hammer from damaging itself. The spring adjustment is NOT the work height adjustment. If the die to die distance is too great the hammer will start to compress the spring before striking the work and the blows will be soft. IF the die to die distance is too little it can be hard to get work in and out of the dies and do delicate work (just barely tapping the work).

Making the stroke and height adjustment requires a wood block and perhaps a pry bar to raise the ram and the proper wrenches to fit the adjustments.

Little Giants are the same EXCEPT they do not have a stroke adjustment.

If you understand these three adjustments and keep the hammer in the condition to make them easily as well as the tools to so, you will find a mechanical hammer very flexible to use. If you don't learn to adjust the hammer OR leave an adjustment stuck and inoperable the hammer will be cranky and difficult to use in many situations. For the most part, once adjusted for general work you will rarely change it. But when you go to forge a large heavy piece you will want to start higher and use heavier blows. Or if you are working a lot of smaller than average work you will want faster lighter blows. The hammer will do both well if you take a minute to adjust it.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/10/11 09:35:39 EST

Oilers :
Dennis, I am not familiar with the Kuhn oiler but I suspect it works on vacuum. Other oilers such the multi-point oilers used on Nazels, Chamersbrugs and some steam hammers had either a little crank arm OR a rotating wheel that connected to the hammer mechanism and pumped a little oil with each stroke of the machine. These are relatively expensive oilers made by companies that specialize in oilers. Nazels had vacuum activated oilers on some models.

Complex automated oilers are becoming a rare device as machines have gone to sealed bearings and those that need constant oil flow to closed systems that are port of the machine, not a stand alone device. The exception is the "one-shot" oiler fitted to many milling machines. We have a lathe with a "one-shot" but its internal to the lathe carriage and not an aftermarket device.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/10/11 09:46:29 EST

Complex mechanical oilers still have a place in forging machinery such as mechanical presses, and upsetters and probably always will. This systems work on a total loss system to ALWAYS flush oil from the center of the bearing outwards. This prevents the ingression of the forge lubricants and scale. No one has yet made a sealed bearing that will stand up to this service. These bearings are typically in the 20 to 40" id by 12" to 16" wide. Bronze plain bearings.A typical mechanical upsetter has something like 120 lube points, a press a few less.
Typical consumption on a mechanical upsetter will be in the 15 to 20 gallon a shift range. The oil used is so viscous that it is usually warmed to 120-150F to allow the pump to suction the oil into the pump inlet. Typical oil would be an EP-460. EP-460 is easier to scoop up with a shovel than vacuum up if the temps are in the 30F range or below!
Lincoln, Bijou and others still make and fully support these systems and I suspect in heavy equipment they always will have use.
   ptree - Saturday, 12/10/11 17:37:39 EST

Friend had to buy a new oiler for a Nazel a few yours ago. Googled on "oiler" (as we all call them) and got nothing. I tried "lubricator" and struck gold! New Manzel was $1,500.00!
   - grant - Saturday, 12/10/11 19:40:34 EST

When common items do not come up on a search it is usually because our language is often so misused the sorting out the real from the trash is nearly impossible. But when something not so common is impossible to find it is the fault of those writing about the subject who stick to too narrow a description and do not use word variations. If you discuss vises and never use the word vice it may never come in in a search by someone from Great Britain. Many items need the trade name, technical name, common name and various combinations to be sure it is found. Writing for the web is not the same as technical writing, or writing ad copy, or anything else. Conversion from print literature to the web often does not work for this reason.
   - guru - Saturday, 12/10/11 21:51:17 EST

Tannis : If You aere trying to use off the shelf die springs, try this outfit:


They publish specifications on maximum deflection, it is always less than the coil bound condition, and needs to be followed for long life.

Note the different ammounts of deflection on the same length spring in different pressure catogories.

I have not studied the website to see what information is available there, I have the booklet from 30 years ago when I was an apprentice.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 12/11/11 02:03:22 EST

Oilers : I know nothing about oilers but ptree was talking about shoveling and vaccuming it up. Why do these oilers not have a pump that recycles the oil back through using a screen to filter it ? When viscosity becomes an issue, use it for something else like quenching etc.
   Mike T. - Sunday, 12/11/11 10:01:58 EST

Mike T. This equipment has bearing so heavily loaded that a plain bearing with VERY viscous oil, with an very robust extreme pressure additive package is required. The oil is slowly flushed thru the bearing from the center out. From there it oozes down the machine into a water filled sump. The oil is then skimmed off the water as a mix of forge lube, scale fines, water and the oil. I set up a system to place the used oil into totes and it went to a local Castrol recycling center where the oil was recycled to pure oil, re-additized to meet the EP-460 spec and returned to our bulk tank in a 120F condition. Our bulk tank was heated as were the pipe lines to the machines. We had about 25PSI on the pipelines to make a "Supercharged" condition for the Lincoln high pressure lube pumps.
Virgin Mobil brand EP-460 was in the $3.89/gallon range when I set that system up. The recycled oil, in our tank cost $0.89/gallon.

We had a different recycling company, that was not reputable when I started and they cheated on the oil spec, providing oil that was often only 1/3 the correct viscosity and worse only ran a viscosity index of about 10-15 VS the spec'ed 90-110. Viscosity index is a measure of the REDUCTION in viscosity when an oil is heated. Their junk oil caused 2 crank bearing failures and a broken crank.
To see the cost of not using the right oil, an upsetter run with good maintenance should run for perhaps 6 years in 3 shift use before a crank bearing fails. WE got 18 monts and a year and then a year till the crank broke. That is three machines to rebuild. To rebuild a 9" upsetter requires a 10 ton crane and a 4 man crew about a week to disassemble. Then the bearing bronxes will have to be measured for and poured and machined. The crank wil have to be shipped to a shop capable of turning a hard 4140 crank that is about25' long, has bearing journals say 24" in diameter and the pittman will have a 36" or so throw. In 2004 figure $100,000 to replace the bearings and if things go well about 6-8 weeks downtime. If you break the crank you better have a spare cause they took something like 18 weeks to get forged, heat treated and machined. A crank, if ordered at regular lead time was at min a $10,000 + shipping item.

And that boys and girls, is why multi-point lubrication systems, using high grade oil will never ever go out of favor in big equipment.

And also why when high grade oil runs $5/ a gallon and you use 1700 gallons a week in a factory there is always someone ready to sell you cheap, off grade oil, and someone who does not know oil who will buy it.
   ptree - Sunday, 12/11/11 11:59:11 EST

I have "Forging Industry Handbook" with pictures of these machines. The 10" upsetter that is capable of making 13" upsets is almost bigger than my whole shop. Some of the hammers are larger than my house!
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 12/11/11 12:17:50 EST

Nip, we had a 10" upsetter in the shop I worked in. One of 2 under power in the US that I know of. We made axles in that machine that took a 5.5" billet of 4140 and in 5 hits the almost 7' long billet would end up at something like 5' long and it would have a 22" diameter about 3" thick flange. The machine topped out at about 2700 tons as the pittman went over center.
I was Maintenance MGR when a 9" upsetter was being installed in our shop. We took 2 badly crashed machine and made a good one. The 9" had a 2 piece frame and we took a right and a left frame half, repair welded the cracks in those and scrapped the other 2 halves as they were broken in an unrepairable way. Then lots more repair welding and bolt the 2 halves together. Then line bore the bearing areas to take the bronzes. This was done in Tiffin Ohio at National Machinery. Then the frame at 596,000 pounds was sent to us by truck and they drove it right up to our door in Louisville. 215' long truck :)
The foundation needed a 50 cubic yard block to sit the machine surrounded by the pit. We had an old, under the floor water tank for a big cooling tower that the new machine would have to be brought across, that would have taken $28,000 in flowable fill to allow enough support for the machine coming in. Then we found an old 4" upsetter foundation just under the slab and that had to be broken up and removed and would have taken another few thousand to dump. I had an inspiration, we broke the roof of the tank and just dumped the broken concrete into the tank as it was broken by the "Hoe Ram" and each day we dumped about 5 yards of flowable fill in to fill the voids. Made what would have been about $123,000 for the foundation drop to about $86,000 and we got a nice new floor to take the machine across.
The machine was sitting on the foundation and I had set up for the other parts to be assembled when Dana went bankrupt (our biggest customer) and I and 16 others in management were RIF'ed.

I was able to buy a number of those 454# axles and one is just outside the shop door set into the ground with the 5.5" end at nice height for a sledging anvil. We just made a split cross from 2.5" square steel when the IBA met at my place last month. Look on YouTube under forging a cross and you can find some short video that shows that axle in use.
I took several to SOFA and had them for sale at $50 each for a 454# anvil. Had some littler ones at about 250# as well and almost could not give them away. I had thought JYH anvils.

And just in case I have one spare only, not for sale.
   ptree - Sunday, 12/11/11 15:52:41 EST

Thrust bearings : I've been told that a used thrust bearing makes a good addition to a post vise (allows greater clamping force, easier to release), but I have no idea where I'd find one. What sort of machinery are these found in?
   Colin - Sunday, 12/11/11 16:22:19 EST

Thrust bearings : Why used when you can purchase one the exact size you need for $10 to $25?

Try McMaster-Carr, Thrust Ball Bearings > Type > One-Piece Ball Bearing Type

Note however that these are fairly thick and use up space or screw length. But you can produce crushing force with gently hand pressure using these. The type above a loosely shielded but do a fair job of keeping dirt out. I've used them on post drills and as replacement thrust bearings where plain bearings were used. They are also used on screw punches.

On vises I prefer to add a stack of three of four flat washers lubricated with Never Seize. This is compact, cheap, simple, debris resistant and works almost as well as a ball bearing.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/11/11 17:19:07 EST

Thrust bearings are in every swivel crane hook.
Be aware that if you add an anti-friction bearing to the thrust, and use an extreme pressure lube on the screw, you can overload the system and something will fail.
These vises were designed to operate as built and do so well. A little dry moly lube on the threads of the screw will prevent premature wear, and reduce friction about as much as I would do.

In the valve company where I did R&D, I found that paste moly reduces the friction enough to see a 40% decrease in friction for a given desired load. In other words, use paste moly and apply the same torque to the handle and the jaws will have a much greater clamp load. Add a anti-friction thrust bearing to the screw and you could easily strip the threads at the loads you handle torques you currently apply.
   ptree - Sunday, 12/11/11 17:23:33 EST

Vises : These spherical washers are also a good way to go. I use them on all kinds of things. http://www.mcmaster.com/#spherical-washers/=fbll8c
   - GRANT - Sunday, 12/11/11 19:18:03 EST

Vises : I've also seen regular (axial) ball bearings used too. The ones large enough to fit over the screw seem to have more than enough thrust capacity. And if they are big enough for that, the outer race usually more than big enough.
   GRANT - Sunday, 12/11/11 19:23:56 EST

Overloading Vises : I've added disk bearings and longer handles to vises but I also RESPECT the fact that I have made it easier to use the vise without putting one's full weight on the handle. However, this can be VERY dangerous as Shop Gorillas are everywhere and sneak in when you are not looking. . . resulting in bent frames and stripped threads on your vaforite tools.

I've found Leg Vises vary a lot in the necessary effort to clamp them tightly. I've noticed when examining the threads that some are coarser than others. The welded threads tend to be coarser and the chased finer (thus requiring less force). However, the smoothest operating leg vise I had was one with the coarse welded threads. I suspect it was the result of lots of use while well lubricated.
   - guru - Sunday, 12/11/11 20:27:30 EST

Paste Moly : Ptree, how does it break down over time ? Could it be used in wheel bearings,universal joints etc. ?
   Mike T. - Monday, 12/12/11 02:15:17 EST

moly paste : The moly paste I speak of is Dow Corning MolyKote GN Assembly paste and is about 70% moly disulfide. It is NOT usable in wheel bearings and the like.
A 2.5% moly in grease is reccommended for wheel bearings, ball joints etc. When moly grease was added to ball joints at the factory for cars the life went so high they quit putting grease fittings on them.
The GN paste will go solid in a grease gun and not pump. Great as a brush on lube, second best anti-seize I have found, with Dow Corning MolyKote Anti-Seize 1000 the best.
   ptree - Monday, 12/12/11 07:34:54 EST

"When moly grease was added to ball joints at the factory for cars the life went so high they quit putting grease fittings on them."

Bad financial decision, they should have reformulated it so the buyer would be forced to change it more often (think lightbulbs, nylon stockings, MPG cars)
   - Nippulini - Monday, 12/12/11 09:22:53 EST

Molybdenum Disulphide lube additive :
Molybdenum Disulphide is added to all kinds of lubricants. There are wheel bearing lubes with it added and other types of grease (generally if the grease is dark gray then it has Molybdenum Disulphide in it. One type of molykote assembly compound is diluted with a light solvent and painted on then let dry. We used this when assembling engines back in the 60's and 70's, the nuclear industry uses it on threads in stainless. It is a significant component to high pressure gear grease.

The problem with Molybdenum Disulphide is that it is a very fine black substance and very dirty. The gear grease I mentioned above is very sticky and combined with the Molybdenum Disulphide just a spot of it in the shop will spread everywhere. We greased a big set of 40" open gears with it and the guys in the shop managed to get it all over themselves. . . and then on every handle, knob and handwheel in the shop. It was years before it was all cleaned up. . .
   - guru - Monday, 12/12/11 10:27:57 EST

I agree that moly disulfide will spread to cover the earth! I found one and only one hand cleaner that would remove it from hands completly.
Solopol EF from Stockhausen. Has ground walnut hulls as the grit and is also the friendlist hand cleaner I have found in an industrial environment.
We used the GN paste on EVERY SS bolt in our valves to prevent galling as well as SS bonnet threads.
On the 1500 and 2500 pound class steam valves that were designed to be taken apart to repair we used the anti-seize 1000. Nothing else allowed disassembly of the Crome-moly alloy valves after service at 1000-1200 F. This high temp steam service at these pressure is used in big utility power houses. the steam will "wire draw" cut the solid Stellite disc/seat combos very quickly if any leakage occurs. We made a series of valves that allowed disassembly inline. The previous industry standard was to cut out the leakers and weld in new.
   ptree - Monday, 12/12/11 10:40:42 EST

coat rack : Im putting a 5foot stick of 1 inch square tubing into the hardy hole of this large centaur i bought to make a coat rack. Finally a coat rack that wont fall over. I want hooks at the top that follow the blacksmith motif. I would weld 4 horshoes at the top but it might look like heck. Do you know of anyone who might offer iron handmade hooks to hang the coats on?
   vern kelderman - Monday, 12/12/11 12:13:23 EST

Blow Torch Gaskets : If you are going to replace the seals and gaskets in an old blow torch, be sure to use Nitrile or Viton seals (or O-rings). Also, do NOT forget to pull out the check valve at the base of the pump tube and replace the pip if it has one. This is not optional! If the check valve leaks pressure and fuel back into the pump tube, you will get a nasty surprise if you are burning gasoline. Many camp stoves use kerosene because it is less volitile but I am not sure about using Kero in a gas torch. I think the orifice is the wrong size to get a good flame with kero.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 12/12/11 13:50:12 EST

Coat Hooks :
Vern. . . the square tubing might be the ugly part. . A nice piece of harwood will also work. . . Any one of the guys here could help you with hooks. I've got boxes of them BUT they are small and often pointed. Coat hooks need a large smooth end. Either a healthy scroll, a ball or animal head without points that would catch in the material.
   - guru - Monday, 12/12/11 15:06:31 EST

Pretty simple to make the hooks from railroad spikes using the heads for the knobs and flatten and draw out the body to make the curve and fastened end. Stout rivets would look good; drill a set of hooks back to back so the rivets will go all the way through from one side/hook to the other. Overkill but looks take precedence.
   Thomas P - Monday, 12/12/11 18:30:39 EST

If using RR Spikes for the hooks, I do a wizards head just under the head of the spike, draw out under for the curve and make a ball end, or a gentle scroll over to make the hanger gentle on clothes. I have made maybe 100+ of these:)
   ptree - Monday, 12/12/11 19:05:01 EST

I've Been Working on the Railroad Spike : I found a great use for railroad spikes. I forge Lima Bean/Leaf Latches out of them for tourists, First, I flatten the head, cross peining and flattening it for greater width, then I forge a tapered point on the other end, tapering it square from all directions, then I flatten that into a "leaf". At this stage, it has a lima bean at one end, and a leaf at the other. Then I forge down the middle of the spike, lengthening it as I do that. Then I bend right angle bends at both the beginning of the leaf, and the beginning at the lima bean. Then I bend the interior right angle bends to make a beautiful door handle or latch. For the thumbpiece, I flatten the head end of a tiny railroad spike, then draw out the body to some length, then curve that length. The finished product comes out to a beautiful, utilitarian latch forged from a plentiful source, RAILROAD SPIKES!
   stewartthesmith - Monday, 12/12/11 20:58:48 EST

Coat rack : Yes 5' of box with a large centaur as the base certainly won't fall over. I thought I used overkill here!! Forge some hooks for it! It is a great way to learn techniques. Some of my students here have done several. If you can't get the ends right just drill a small ball and glue that on the end.
   philip in china - Tuesday, 12/13/11 06:41:02 EST

Centaur Coat Rack : Bill Pieh (Centaur Forge) used to say, "farriers treated their anvils as consumables." So a Centaur anvil as hat rack is sort of appropriate.

Farriers who use up anvils (largely from cold work and repetitive work) were the reason Bill said he could never make a living off blacksmiths (as many of us use the the same anvil that our Father, Grand Father and Great Grand Father might have used. . ).
   - guru - Tuesday, 12/13/11 11:47:16 EST

Stewart is the extra work of forging RR spike alloy worth getting the steel free?
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/13/11 12:39:50 EST

Bucketloads of Spikes : For the life of me, I cannot remember where I got bucketloads of railroad spikes. I think I acquired them at a flea market from a vendor
   stewartthesmith - Tuesday, 12/13/11 20:32:28 EST

Spike Lima Bean Latches : Stewart, send the Guru the drawings for these so he can put them in the Iforge, How To, section of Anvilfire.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 12/14/11 04:30:31 EST

RR Spike Vibes : I think the RR spike, like the horse shoe, has certain positive associations to most people; a little hint of the romance of the past. They can identify with it. A bean latch forged from modern mild steel is just a bean latch; a bean latch forged from real wrought iron is a "replica" (assuming it follows historic forms); but a bean latch forged from a RR spike is "cool." Also, anything to do with "recycling" (short of your neighbor using processed sludge to fertilize his fields {really, not all that bad an odor}) has a somewhat positive connotation.

So, perhaps the extra work is worth the additional cachet.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 12/14/11 08:27:20 EST

Philip, shame on you!! Glue a ball on the end, indeed! I haven't found a glue that exists that will stand up to even a 6011 weld. I once glued a 10 point diamond to a 16kt gold bracelet (no prongs, couldn't bezel set it) with a strong epoxy. My family jeweler reamed me out and a month later the stone was gone.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 12/14/11 09:13:01 EST

mike, I will do that : I am going to send the site owner a photo of my "railroad spike lima bean latches" in progressive stages of completion which I have mounted on a board at a museum where I demonstrate on weekends. Perhaps he will publish the picture!
   stewartthesmith - Wednesday, 12/14/11 11:05:32 EST

labor intense? : to thomas p, I can forge four lima bean latches a day by hand. The steel in railroad spikes is not superhard, so it is easy to forge. Under a triphammer, I can forge dozens in a day!
   stewartthesmith - Wednesday, 12/14/11 11:24:59 EST

Triphammer makes all the difference!
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/14/11 11:58:33 EST

RR spikes : I don't find RR spikes all that hard to forge, they are pretty low carbon and not much alloyed. Of course I use a powerhammer as any steel with a cross section as big or bigger than a RR spike gets laborous hand forging.
   ptree - Wednesday, 12/14/11 12:52:59 EST

what size flypress : Having never used a flypress I still want one. The decision has been made but I'm at a loss as to what size. To narrow the field I will probably order from Pieh (if they still handle them) or Old World. I'm mostly working on small art items, not interested in architectural.
Is it "buy the biggest you can afford and have room for" or some other rule of thumb? I have my sights set on C-frame.
   - Willy Cunningham - Wednesday, 12/14/11 13:13:55 EST

GENERALLY the biggest you can afford is best BUT in flypresses the larger manual versions are two/three man.

For some general size information see my flypress capacity chart on Flypress.com

Note that my calculations are tonnage for punching or shearing. The ability to form and forge is much different.

Kaynes used to sell a version called a Super 5 which was a #5 with a #6 flywheel (and thus capacity). Its the one I would look for but I do not know if they are still available OR if putting the heavier flywheel on them was a good idea (from a durability standpoint).
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/14/11 14:40:44 EST

Spike Latch Stages :
Latch forging stages
Bean Thumblatch from Spike Story Board

I did a lot of adjustment on this photo but there is not but so much you can do with low light shop photos.

   - guru - Wednesday, 12/14/11 14:50:49 EST

Looks Good to Me! : Of course it's an illustration, so it only has to convey information, not be beautiful. (The adjusted photo, not the latches.)

I will relate that one of our crew used a RR spike to forge one of his swords' cross-guards. ...and forge, and forge, and forge. Well, at least he knows that it's tough; which is a good thing in a sword cross-guard. But he still mumbles about it to this day. :-)

Cloudy and cool on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 12/14/11 15:49:39 EST

Can I use a type of steel drum for a forge, like an old oil drum or gas silinder or will it not do. Im still new and would like to get in to knife making. Funds are limited. What type of coals can i use?
   - Chris - Wednesday, 12/14/11 16:59:18 EST

Chris did you look through the "Getting Started in Blacksmithing" link at the top of the page?
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/14/11 17:25:02 EST

Forge and Fuels :
Chris, Almost anything that will hold the fire can be used for a forge. This starts with a hole in the ground, can be a tin can (for small work), can be made of wood (insulated with dirt, protected by tin), steel, cast iron or brick.

Here lies the rub. Almost any blacksmith can cobble together a working forge from almost anything BUT without the knowledge of what works and what does NOT a newbie can often spend a LOT of effort creating something that does not work. First rule, do not spend a lot of money of make your first efforts too permanent.

Almost all fuels (oil, gas, coal, charcoal, wood) work in a forge but low quality coal and charcoal briquettes do not. Coal comes in infinite variety from black shalely gravel that is nearly impossible to burn to pure high energy low ash fuel that will melt iron in an instant. Good fuel is a joy to work with, bad fuel will ruin your day. Second rule, Do not purchase more than a small sample of unknown fuel. Try it before buying more.

Blacksmiths use real wood charcoal, high grade bituminous coal, and special "forge coke" as solid fuels. Heating oil, diesel, cooking oils, natural gas and propane also work in forges designed for their use.

Look at our Getting started article. It has links to a plans page for a small beginners forge. DO NOT spend a lot of money on it. Save your money for an anvil, tongs and steel. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 12/14/11 18:11:24 EST

nice job adjusting the photo : the shop where that was taken is dark, with zero electric lighting. Makes for good forging conditions, but poor photographic conditions, even with a digital cam
   stewartthesmith - Wednesday, 12/14/11 20:41:02 EST

Picture : Stewart...those latches look fabulous. How much do you get for a pair of them ? Here is a suggestion on any rustic work such as this. Take samples ( pictures ) to contractors, interior decorators, people building new homes etc. I hear that a lot of wealthy people, look for rustic, unusual, hand made craftsmanship type items when building or redecorating. Give estimates for X-number of door hinges, latches etc. The latches in the above picture would look good on rustic kitchen cabinets etc.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 12/14/11 22:01:35 EST

Mike : "unusual hand made" - that's my end of the market! Nothing more unusual than stuff that's been made by me!
   philip in china - Thursday, 12/15/11 06:02:36 EST

Since I usually make unusual stuff, does that make my stuff usual, unusual or usually unusual?
   ptree - Thursday, 12/15/11 07:31:33 EST

PTree; *you* are unusual so the items you make are usually unusual---though sometimes not!

So have you figured out the "next big thing" when everyone in the USA has a RR spike trowel?

   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/15/11 12:07:15 EST

Yes. But since I have only produced about 350-400 so far everyone in the US having one may be at least a year or so in the future:)

Have shipped about a dozen trowels and a dozen and a half veggie choppers this gifts season.
   ptree - Thursday, 12/15/11 12:46:53 EST

To Mike T : Mike, thank you very much for the compliment. However, I just made those latches for the fun of it. Professionally, I am a tool forger. I manufacture slate shingle rippers for the slate roof industry, as well as slate hammers and stakes. I also manufacture grapevine joiners, aka "beaded slickers", bullhorns, and other smoothing tools for the bricklaying industry. I manufacture caulking irons and marlin spikes for the boatbuilding trade. I manufacture cooperage tools for the barrelmaking industry. I also manufacture ice tongs for export; a lot of the world still lacks refrigeration. Colonial ironwork is not my forte, although I like dabbling in such, as well as forging pattern welded damascus bowie knives for my own amusement. Those latches, on my part, where at best "whimsical". Thank you again for your kudos
   stewartthesmith - Thursday, 12/15/11 14:40:33 EST

all I did : all I did, mike, was to apply tool forging technique to repetitive duplication of an ornamental piece I made. I work part-time, on weekends, as a demonstrating blacksmith at a western-style amusement park in New Jersey, called Wild West City, during the summer. To create that board, I had to forge ten identical door latches, in one weekend, showing progressive stages in their manufacture, so that I could show this to tourists for demonstration. I am far more comfortable in my own shop, doing production runs of a hundred identical forgings in a row, and it is far more lucrative that doing "one-off" pieces for the general public.
   stewartthesmith - Thursday, 12/15/11 14:46:15 EST

one more thing.... : in my own shop, everything is modern and electrified. This enables me to run triphammers, and because of a rheostat-controlled blower in all of my forges, I can easily put up to a dozen pieces in the fire at one time, making my work far more cost effective than using manually powered equipment in an historically accurate vintage setting like the blacksmith shop at Wild West City, which has zero electricity. All the forgings that come out of my own shop are highly polished, finished goods, whereas in the ancient shop where I demonstrate, there isn't even an electric grinder. In blacksmithing, over 35 years, I have discovered that time is money, and that in order to make money at this, one must produce goods quickly, efficiently, and looking highly finished. Power tools sure help that goal!
   stewartthesmith - Thursday, 12/15/11 14:52:39 EST

Stewart, They should at least have a steam engine to run a Little Giant at WWC. . . Folks forget that the U.S. Army was still fighting native Americans well after the electric motor was invented and in widespread use . . . But STEAM was the thing for most of the "Wild West" period.

We recently found many of the old Roy Rogers series on archive.org and most of the episodes included WWII era automobiles. a Jeep and dial-up telephones. They were only going back about a decade or so from the actual times. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 12/15/11 15:53:01 EST

Steam engines all over the place at the mines during the Hay-Day of cowboying out here in NM.

The "wild west" was pretty much predicated on being able to ship cows to the slaughterhouses and then the beef without it spoiling to the big cities back east...
   Thomas P - Thursday, 12/15/11 18:30:47 EST

I really tried : there was a scranton 90 pound triphammer for sale in proximity to WWC in the Poconos, a beauty for sale on ebay for 1200 dollars. I tried to talk the owner of WWC into purchasing that machine, but he said "no go", business is off this year. Oh well!
   stewartthesmith - Thursday, 12/15/11 19:36:40 EST

Authentic Colonial : To be truly authentic you ought to send me 20% of your profits as "tax". Anybody interested in reenacting to that extent let me know and I will give you details of the account to which to remit.

Going to be a bit busy over the next couple of weeks so lest I don't make it to the site I hope you all have a merry xmas or a freilekker Channuka or whatever.
   philip in china - Thursday, 12/15/11 20:21:00 EST

Railroad spikes : Over the years, accumulated reading and talking has given me the impression railroad spikes are about 1065 w manganese(?) to make them work harden.
   Rudy - Thursday, 12/15/11 21:49:48 EST

Rudy, : The spikes are toward the low carbon end of the continuum.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/15/11 22:10:23 EST

Even spikes marked "HC" for High Carbon are only 30 points (min) or so carbon usually maxining out at 40. RR-Rail is in that 1065 area. See our FAQ's on RR-spikes and Junkyard Steels.

People who make knives out of spikes like to claim they are higher carbon. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 12/15/11 22:29:14 EST

RR spikes : Actually per the AAR spec that ThomasP has posted repeatedly I think the spec for a HC spike is .30 with a top of spec at .32. I know that the brand new RR spikes head marked HC I buy by the keg, forge like mild, and respond to Heat Treatment like a C-1030.
And work hardening would be a bad choice in a fastener.
   ptree - Friday, 12/16/11 08:25:27 EST

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