Some tools to drool over.  Image (c) 1998 Jock Dempsey.  Click for enlargement. WELCOME to the anvilfire!
Virtual Hammer-In!

This page is open to ALL for the purpose of advancing blacksmithing, swaping lies, selling tools.

January 2011 Archive

WANTED Tips of the Day:
I'm sure most of you have seen our Tips of the Day. There are currently 6 categories, General, Safety, Buyer, Newbie, Anvil and Welding with some overlap between the categories. We may add a Machinery tips in the future. The tips are spread around on various pages and will be added to more.

Currently we have nearly 6 months of tips in the "General" category and will be closing that one out other than swapping better tips for lesser tips. The goal for the other lists is 73 tips (1/5 year) or more. Some categories currently have less than a month's worth.

We are looking for new tips to add particularly in Safety and Welding but are open to tips in any category.

We can add tips any time but it changes the display order resulting in tips repeating so we would like to add new tips at the first of the year. If you are interested in sending in some tips let me know. I can help with duplication problems.
- guru - Sunday, 12/04/11 12:23:39 EST

Thomas, thats a good one! When I used to do stage shows, I would pull out the ol' ASO and ask the audience if they can identify the object. Of course SOME folks knew and would yell out "Anvil!!!" to which I would reply "No thank you, I don't need any Advil... by the way, THIS is an ANVIL..."
- Nippulini - Monday, 04/02/12 10:24:07 EDT

help please: I'm working on plans for a JYH. I would like to take a look at one in person instead of just pictures on the internet. I live in Elizabethtown, KY. Are there any blacksmiths within a two hour drive of here, either with an actual JYH or who have worked on one? I have a number of questions about parts I have. I could pester the Guru with many more inquiries over the next month attempting to describe each piece but I think it would be a much better use of my time if I could speak with someone in person and show them what I have and the plan I am drawing. I don't expect anyone to come to my shop. It would be wiser for me to bring the few parts to them and besides, I want to look at the hammer if they have one. I'll check this page for any replies or you can email me.

- Bill - Monday, 04/02/12 16:08:37 EDT

Bill, answering questions is what we do. IF you need someone to look at parts you may send me photos.

A true Junk Yard hammer will not look like any other junk yard hammer. The goal is found parts as cheap as possible. As soon as you go by a plan you will need materials to fit the plan rather than a plan to fit the materials. .

Years ago I was going to write a Junk Yard Hammer's builders book and I still might. I've started a couple times but got bogged down in details. Junk Yard building is a philosophy that must be backed by mechanical knowledge or exceptional "gut feel".

Collect parts and materials enough that you think you could build several machines or more then take the best to build ONE. Big hunks of steel are the hard part to find (economically).

- guru - Monday, 04/02/12 17:52:05 EDT

Building a Power Hammer:
This article is not quite ready for prime time but it mostly works. Its not JYH building but a lot in the article could apply to it.
Building the X1
- guru - Monday, 04/02/12 17:58:05 EDT

Power hammer: Guru,

I appreciate what you are telling me and I really appreciate the number of questions you answered for me a month or so ago in the Guru's Den. I have most everything I think I'll need to build the hammer except for the anvil. I intend to purchase the needed material for that as soon as my bank account is healthy enough to stand a "Luxury" expense. So I am at the planning and drawing stage of things with the idea that I can more easily adjust the design on paper than in the construction.

Taking all of that into consideration I would still like to get a good look at a hammer before I go off half cocked. I'm not the most experienced mechanic in the world and have been known to actually read instruction manuals before assembling things. The plans you have available have helped to point out just how much I still need to learn. However, I'm game and don't figure to give up just because I run into problems along the way.

My father had a stroke of luck at the local flea market and came away with a nice piece of rail weighing about eighteen pounds. This is what I plan to use as my hammer. What is confounding me at the moment is the spring for the Dupont-style head assembly. I have a spring but I am not sure if it will function properly. It may be too stiff and I am not certain if it is actually robust and flexible enough to do what needs doing. It's the sort of spring used to restrain barn or warehouse doors when they are caught by the wind. It functions the same as a screen door spring but for a much heavier door. I'm concerned it might snap under regular usage since, though it is a compression spring, it is not a true machine spring. Using leaf springs from a trailer is an option but I think they would be too stiff for the small hammer I have. Keep in mind I don't need a large hammer for the work I do most often. On your advice I upped the weight from my original ten pounds to the slightly heavier version. I already know I'll need an anvil in the 200 pound range and have the scrap metal in my cross hairs.

Right now the spring is the thing I am most worried about. I'm going to see if I can pick up a scrap shock absorber spring from a friend of mine who owns a garage. If that is too stiff I'm considering a spring from a motorcycle shock.

Thanks for any help and for the help you've already given.
Bill - Monday, 04/02/12 19:27:25 EDT

Bill, I live in Floyds Knobs Indiana, probably within you drive range. You would run up I-65 to Louisville and I am just across the Ohio about 2 miles off I-64.
I have a self built JYH. It is the guided helve, leaf spring type some call a Rusty. Mine is on the JYH page on this site, but has been modified much since the original build in 2002. Now at 70#, tire clutch, slides and ram like a Clay Spencer tire hammer.
It is a scroungers delight, and you can click on my mane to e-mail me. I am home most weekends.
- ptree - Monday, 04/02/12 20:49:59 EDT

tire hammer build: Bill. I think you made a wise decision to build a tire hammer. We have been building and using them for probably over 12 years and have had no trouble with them. Many different compression spring have been used- motorcycles. ATVs farm equipment- we have built them using a spring in a spring- Clay Spencer has built probably over 400 in his group builds. The good thing about the tire hammer is that you can play around with the springs very easy and for very little cost as compared with changing leaf springs by adding or removing leaves. We have probably 12 or more members in our ABANA group with homebuilt hammers, all different and all owners are happy with them and some members make a living with them as they are knifemakers and make their own damascus billits. The Dupont linkage is very tuneable for different speeds and hammer head if you have questions
Ray Clontz - Monday, 04/02/12 21:30:24 EDT

Tirehammer #2: I have one of the original 2 clontz hammers me and Stuart willis built..using a oxy-act torch drill press and grinders,we didn't even have a bandsaw.My hammer has been running over 8 years with very few problems---If you have any fab skills at all you can build one,simplest design out there,believe it!!!
- R. Silver - Monday, 04/02/12 22:19:38 EDT

Leaf Springs on Hammers: The spring force at the toggles needs to be 10 to 50 times greater than the weight of the ram (depending on the length of the arms).

There are a variety of ways to do this. The way I did it takes some special parts. But a bow spring type hammer is simple to build as well. The trick is that the springs need to be unstacked and re-arced into nearly a U shape. That was the only serious issue with the CR-JYH (a tire hammer). This is not difficult on a hydraulic press. Trailer springs are not very expensive new and used ones the identical width (1.75") with leaves in only three thicknesses. You can easily mix and match leaves. Most old auto and small truck leaf springs are similar.

The advantage of the bow springs is they are the arms and springs plus there is no need for pivots for the top of the springs. We popped out the plastic bushings and replaced them with bronze oilite motor bearings that fit high strength shoulder bolts. The nice thing about shoulder bolts is they are hard, precision, high strength and come in many sizes. They make great small shafts and toggle pivots.

IF you forgo height adjustment as do most tire hammers the bow spring could be attached to a simple crank pin OR a pillow block. A lot less parts than the standard DuPont linkage. The only difficulty is pretensioning the spring. This must be done with pipe clamps or a big C-clamp. OR you can use a couple pieces of threaded rod and some end plates.

Besides the bow spring on top and the half leaf spring (or quarter elliptic) we used on the X1 you can also put the springs on the ram as shown in the image linked below. This one also takes the weight of the springs off the crank and puts in on the ram. Lots of ways to do this.
- guru - Monday, 04/02/12 23:46:11 EDT

Grinding Wheel Tip: Actually there is a third attribute.
Spacing of the grit. You might call it porosity.
More important for precision grinding than offhand or bench grinding
- Tom H. - Tuesday, 04/03/12 01:52:05 EDT

Daniel Smith Hammer: I have become the owner of a Daniel Smith Wolverhampton Air Hammer I'm looking for any information. This hammer was seized but have free up everything now. I'm guessing its around 100 years old. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks PS I'm in New Zealand Thanks
- Mandy - Tuesday, 04/03/12 06:57:05 EDT

Tom - Tip: Tom, I will correct. .
- guru - Tuesday, 04/03/12 09:23:15 EDT

Long time: A long time since I have posted here.

I got the vice stand made. The axle had a hub on the end so I welded the piece of 15mm plate to that having predrilled the holes for the vice. Forged 3 legs out of some 20mm hex tool steel and voila!

Been forging some wad punches. I sometimes need non slip feet for items and tend to cut circles out of either mouse mat or green baize (actually snooker table cloth). I got various sizes of pipe. Sharpened the end, filed a hole in the side in case the wad gets stuck then welded a piece of bar in the blunt end. With some I put a rivet right through from 1 side to the other but that should be unnecessary. I can now punch out circles in 3 sizes, squares or triangle. Had I had an assistant would have made a heart shape as well.

Also made some squat stands for our weights room. Forged 2 legs for each and forged the end of the main bar to make #3. The result were dead upright and within 1/4" of each other in height. I suppose I could have cut the extra 1/4 off but they were so close I left them They are probably as accurate as the floor anyway.
- philip in china - Thursday, 04/05/12 01:29:14 EDT

Wad Cutters or Arch Punches: Phillip, We have made arch punches from pipe but the soft material does not hold up well. Where it worked best is rotating in a drill press cutting rubber. Some of that magic DHMO lube was used ;) We were making 1-1/2" through 3/4" bolt holes in huge rubber gaskets.
- guru - Thursday, 04/05/12 08:19:39 EDT

Tip of the Day: Corn Cobs: Well, now I'll know what to do about all of those corn cobs after the next harves; all I need is a pile of files to haft in them! ;-) (And to think; I was using them for kindling!)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 04/05/12 11:22:59 EDT

Corn Cobs: Hmmm.
What to use those extra corn cobs for.
When the Sears catalog us all used up, maybe I'll think of something.
- Tom H - Thursday, 04/05/12 21:47:35 EDT

Corn cob-file: Perhaps bruce is holding the file to keep the poop off His hand...
- Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/05/12 22:18:08 EDT

Wad punches: These are just going through thin soft stuff. I cut on end grain wood which works well.
philip in china - Friday, 04/06/12 20:24:16 EDT

Corn Cob File: Dave
I think you are on to something.
Maybe that could be the next 'Tip of the Day' for guru.
- Tom H - Saturday, 04/07/12 10:07:43 EDT

Hey Thomas, remember this pic you sent me? Notice the one on the left. It has two pritchel holes! Also looks like the half rounded table and you can barely make out the vertical forge weld at the base. Looks exactly like the PW I just got a few months ago!
- Nippulini - Saturday, 04/07/12 16:57:11 EDT

The Corn Cob File: It's always wise to keep track of which end is which! ;-)

So, corn cobs are good for: file handles, sanitary needs, pipes, kindling, stuffing mouse holes around the old farm house... Very versatile is the corncob. Any other uses?
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 04/07/12 20:15:53 EDT

Forge welding: I have tried five or six times to forge weld and have not yet succeeded. At this point I would just like to sucessfully forge weld something and then build from there. Can anyone make some suggestions for a relatively easy forge weld that would be likely to succeed? Let me tell you what equipment I have and what I have tried. I have both a propane gas forge and charcoal forge. I don't think that my 3/4" pipe burner propane forge has enough insulation for forge welding as it is a brick pile forge from insulating fire bricks. I tried two or three times with it and only made a big mess with the borax. I don't want to try and forge weld in it again because it really messes up the insulating fire bricks. I then made a charcoal forge thinking that it may work better for forge welding. I made a bee hive mound a couple of times but was unable to sucessfully forge weld. Each time so far I have made a billet plates that I ground clean and then tack welded together. I also attached a piece of rebar as a handle. Several of the tries were with spring steel sized about ½” x 1 1/2" x 8". Two more tries were with a stack of (4) 1/4" mild steel plates sized about 1 1/2" x 1 1/2". I suspect that excess oxygen has been some of what I am fighting. I also think I may have ended up not having a clean coal fire by the time I finally got a bee hive formed. There could have been clinkers at the bottom. I have been using a hair dryer with a gate in front of it to run the coal forge. Once I got the bee hive white hot and then turned off the air and stuck in a small stack of plates. However, the fire started cooling off and the plates did not come up to white hot and so I finally turned the air back on. My coal forge fire pot is 5" deep and about 9" x 11" long at the top. The sides slope down to about a 5" x 5" bottom. The flux I have used is plain borax that I cooked in an oven to drive off moisture. I have considered trying to use natural charcoal in the coal forge to forge weld. My thought is that maybe the charcoal would at least not have issues like coal with clinkers contaminating the weld.
So any suggestions for an easy success that I could build on?

- Andrew - Saturday, 04/07/12 21:35:26 EDT

Andrew, I answered this question in length on the guru's den when you originally posted it last month. It will be in the archive which I have not had time to post. You DO NOT need to post the same question in all our forums.

We answer questions EVERY DAY and rarely does one go for more than a few minutes if we don't have to research it and at the most a day or so if I do not know how to answer the question.
- guru - Saturday, 04/07/12 22:02:03 EDT

Andrew, see link below, search for your name.
4th Week of March 2012
- guru - Sunday, 04/08/12 01:21:55 EDT


What are you using for a flux and how are you applying it?

On your propane forge, as a bottom brick, consider using a common fireplace brick. Should be available at places which specalize in buiding bricks. Will take longer to heat up, but then fairly resistant to forge welding slag.

Go to and on their homepage look for Affiliates. They are listed by states/country. If you can attend one of their meetings/gatherings and ask around for someone who will teach/show you how to forge weld.

Some sponsor regional gatherings. Normally several smiths using diffferent techniques. Tailgate sales (used tools) also.
Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 04/08/12 13:04:55 EDT

post vise for sale: 6" post vise in excellent condition $200. Located in Macon,GA
- Ty Murch - Monday, 04/09/12 16:00:49 EDT

Propane Forge Tip: For much of what I do it is going back and forth from the propane forge, reiginiting it each time. I've found if I put in a piece of say 1" x 1" x 1" mild steel it will keep sufficient temperature to where the forge often will take off again without having to ignite it again. Rather like putting a piece of wood in a coal or charcoal forge.
Ken Scharabok - Monday, 04/09/12 18:23:21 EDT

Ken, I've added that one to the tip about having some grit in the forge to keep it lit. Both good tips.
- guru - Thursday, 04/12/12 08:41:36 EDT

I.D.: This is a stretch, but here goes. A cousin gave me an nice old hand forged wood gouge (big one, 10"long, cutting edge is little over an inch wide). Anyhow, it's stamped J.N.Bauer. I researched the name, but failed to come up with anything... curious to know if anybody knew of that name off the top of your head? I am not expecting any one to research this. Usually when I get an old tool I like to look for a stamp of sorts and try to find out anything about them.
- Pablo - Friday, 04/13/12 14:06:34 EDT

Tool I.D.: Pablo- where are you, where did you buy the tool, and what is the local context (rural, urban, seaport, industrial)?

Tools from individual makers tend to be highly geographic, so if you buy an antique tool in Bucks County, PA; there are a lot of sources for blacksmiths there; but maybe not a lot of research in other locations. A blacksmith in Southern New Jersey would tend to sell his tools in southern NJ, and the surviving examples would tend to be found in that area. However, it is good to remember that as people moved around, or even as people migrated westard, they tended to take their eastern tools with them. Thus you can find tools in California from anywhere on earth, including Japan and China.

So, how big a stretch is it in identifying a tool from the thousands of blacksmiths and tool makers that worked in this country over a period of more than two centuries? It really depends on where you are and where it is from; and a lot of blind luck.

Send more information, and at least we can give it a try. (Got anything marked "Yellin?" Now, THAT we can help you with!)

Sunny and warming-up on the banks of the lower Potomac (but we could really use some rain).

Visit your National Parks:

Go viking:
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 04/14/12 09:42:47 EDT

Tools: Bruce,

I don't have any tools marked Yellin, but I do have a pair of tongs bearing Francis Whittaker's touchmark and "1986" that were given to me.
Rich Waugh - Saturday, 04/14/12 14:08:19 EDT

Tools & Origins: I do have a hardy-mounted bending fork from Nol Putnam, unmaked and undated, alas.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 04/14/12 21:04:23 EDT

...misnake!: "...unmarked" not "unmaked," 'caused he made it, he did! ;-)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 04/14/12 21:06:26 EDT

Thomas Powers: Please contact me at asylumATearthlinkDOTnet. I can't link through here.

Thank you.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 04/14/12 21:08:28 EDT

Tips: I whiten the horns of my anvils. At knuckle height they are also at siatic nerve height. A white horn is easier to see! I do it just by rubbing chalk on the horns. Here we have a plethora of chalk! Also you might have a tip about maintaining basic tools. Clean the crud off your vices and oil the screws. I have just put a light smear of grease on my anvil stakes. If they rust they do not give a good result. A stitch in time saves nine and all that.
philip in china - Monday, 04/16/12 05:59:14 EDT

Bruce, I live in Bucks Co., PA and I do a lot of buying at flea markets in NJ. You'd be surprised how many Pennsylvania crafted items are found. The Columbus Flea Market is one of the BEST. I recently got a bunch of good hammers (mostly for the odd size handles for re-handling my current hammers) and a case of 8-tracks. Spent about $15 total, even got a miniature anvil marked "Betsy" for $10!
- Nippulini - Monday, 04/16/12 11:35:41 EDT

Rust prevention: For greasing tools to prevent rust, the best stuff I've found is Vaseline. The old military Cosomoline is just a crude grade of Vaseline and most of us know how well that stuff works. Unlike Cosmoline, the Vaseline never hardens so it wipes off easily.

For tools that cannot have grease on them, such as my table saw, I clean them thoroughly and give them three or four coasts of Renaissance Wax. A refresher coat every few uses keeps them perfect, even in our tropical maritime climate here int he islands.
Rich Waugh - Monday, 04/16/12 11:55:41 EDT

Very old vasoline joke. Company which makes it sent out a researcher to find how people were using it. At one house the woman said, "Oh, it enhances our sex life". Now curious, "How". "We spread it on our bedroom door knob. Keeps the kids from barging in."
- Ken Scharabok - Monday, 04/16/12 14:44:58 EDT

tip: keep a squirt bottle of water near the forge. I use it to test/demonstrate where the "black" hot area is, especially if I have a novice in the shop. Also works well for controlling a fancy twist, more precise than dipping in the slackpot.
- Willy Cunningham - Monday, 04/16/12 16:20:52 EDT

So you squirt the Novice if they try to reach for the black hot area? I just yell at them myself...
Thomas P - Monday, 04/16/12 16:44:32 EDT

Bruce I sent you mail.

Thomas P - Monday, 04/16/12 16:47:31 EDT

I doubt this is news to anyone here, but Vaseline can easily be melted so it can be brushed on and runs into crevices.
Mike BR - Monday, 04/16/12 17:59:16 EDT

Vaseline: When I need to get Vaseline into those pesky little crooks and nannies I dissolve it in some VM&P Naphtha. Then I either brush or spray it on wherever I want it. The naphtha evaporates off fairly quickly, but slowly enough to allow it to flow into the smallest little crevices.
Rich Waugh - Monday, 04/16/12 18:51:55 EDT

Tip: Cut a piece of that "anti-fatigue" matting that we don't use in the shop to the outline of the base of your anvil. Slip it under the anvil and you will see a noticeable difference in the loudness of the ring. I use old colorful ones from the kids room.
- Nippulini - Wednesday, 04/18/12 10:41:22 EDT

Nip's tip: You can see differences in sound. Amazing.
- philip in china - Thursday, 04/19/12 06:24:40 EDT


I hear what you're saying . . .
Mike BR - Thursday, 04/19/12 21:23:29 EDT

You can now. :)
- Nippulini - Friday, 04/20/12 09:52:54 EDT

anvil: I just bought an anvil the only markings on it is a # 10 under the horn shape. does anyone know anything about it
wardo - Friday, 04/20/12 19:06:26 EDT

No markings. . .:
wardo, There were hundreds of anvil makers and even some of the big name makers made anvils for remarketing without markings.

IF the 10 is raised it is a cast anvil that weighs about 100 pounds. While there are several possibilities it is probably a late Fisher Eagle anvil. The last owners put a paper label on them instead of the cast Eagle logo. The best way to tell is visually. You may send me a photo. OR compare it to those in the link below.

Fisher Anvils
- guru - Friday, 04/20/12 20:43:31 EDT

Arrived in Wales, UK, I hope to see the smith at St Fagan's open air museum today. I saw the celtic firedog at the National Museum yesterday
- Thomas Powers - Saturday, 04/21/12 04:33:14 EDT

Sounds like a fascinating tour.
- guru - Sunday, 04/22/12 12:50:58 EDT

Need name of tool. It is like an adjustable pencil but intended for very small drill bits.
- Ken Scharabok - Monday, 04/23/12 19:11:39 EDT

Pin Vise, I think.
- guru - Monday, 04/23/12 19:44:58 EDT

Okay, the above tip I threw in was a good idea, but when I applied it.... BAD idea. The foam layer seems to isolate the anvils' resonance and makes it ring like a giant tuning fork. I slapped a strong magnet on the heel and nothing! Still loud as heck. Next try is a thick layer of plasticene clay.
- Nippulini - Tuesday, 04/24/12 09:23:24 EDT

Ken is it used for circut boards ?
I have one like that, google Mirco hand drill
- daveb - Tuesday, 04/24/12 09:42:54 EDT

Anvil Silencer: Nip,

My anvils are bedded in high-strength silicone adhesive and they are as quiet as my Fisher - a thud, not a ring. Doesn't matter if they're on steel stands or stumps, the silicone stops the ring.
- Rich Waugh - Tuesday, 04/24/12 09:45:34 EDT

Tool Name for Ken: Pin Vise - see this web page for one style:

- Don Shears - Tuesday, 04/24/12 10:11:56 EDT

Nip, Dense rubber is reported to work IF the anvil is bolted down tightly against it (results in similar to glueing down). Anything light or low density is the same as the method used to mount chimes or the bars in a xylophone or Glockenspiel. A bed of felt with a twisted cotton string on top is used on the Glockenspiel. These are also at the nodes where there is no movement at the normal frequency.

The best way to test an anvil's ring is to balance it on a narrow strip of wood. Even a dull ringer will ring this way.

If you want to wake everyone up strike the anvil on the side of the heel or horn. The twisting vibration around the waist is not dampened by the weight resting on a surface (gravity).
- guru - Tuesday, 04/24/12 10:19:41 EDT

Thomas Powers: Hi Thomas, If you have a hire car and a spare day next week pop accross from wales to Manchester to see some hammers and anvils! (ill shout you a lunch!) my office phone number is on the Massey Forging website!
- John N - Tuesday, 04/24/12 17:17:41 EDT

Years ago I was selling an anvil in the Dayton, OH area. Guy was guying for a brother who needed it for a play in NYC. Didn't ring loud enough. I put a styrofoam piece under it and it rang nicely.

I've seen putting a flattened styrofoam cup under an anvil at a blacksmithing gathering when the user's back was turned.
- Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 04/24/12 21:01:59 EDT

It was recently reported that major U.S. highway bridge construction jobs were going to Chinese firms that were bringing in Chinese laborers for the jobs.

"We have met the enemy and he is US.", Pogo, Earth Day 1972.

One excuse given by politicians for hiring Chinese was that there was not enough welders available (a job that can be taught in a few months and most of which is done by machine today).

The truth is that no American worker is willing to take jobs for less than half the dollar amount that those jobs were paying in the 1970's (1/3 the real amount in inflated dollars). This is true of almost all construction jobs today.

We are getting several recorded phone calls a day from politicians that want our vote. I would not want to be on the other end of the call if it was live.

No matter how complicated a mess it may create it is time we had a "no confidence" vote in the U.S. Vote them ALL out. . .
- guru - Tuesday, 04/24/12 23:13:12 EDT

Politix: I think in US and UK there should be a law whereby if fewer than 50% of voters vote there should be nobody returned to office as the electorate clearly do not want a politician.
- philip in china - Wednesday, 04/25/12 01:53:34 EDT

BUT, that 50% are the most knowledgeable as to who is running. So, do you want quantity or quality?

Elections in the US are typically held on a Tuesday (a workday). Croatia holds theirs on Sunday so people go from church to voting place.
Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 04/25/12 08:30:25 EDT

The only thing I like about election season is all the "free" wire signs strewn about. Usually they rot for a week or so after voting day is done.
- Nippulini - Wednesday, 04/25/12 11:50:58 EDT

No confidence: A no confidence vote requires a majority voting no matter how many voters turn out. What it is saying is "none of the above". This can end in a failed election. But this puts the parties on notice that the public is tired of business as usual and to get NEW candidates.

Otherwise we end up voting for the lesser of evils which is really no vote at all.

I don't care if we have Mexicans or Chinese in the U.S. workforce. I DO care that businesses hire them at wages a citizen cannot afford to work at and say "we can't get US workers ". . . I DO care that laws in other countries say that non-citizens CAN NOT work at a job that could be filled by a citizen (This includes Mexico).

f you cannot get citizens to fill a job and unemployment is over 4% (as it has been for most of the past 50 years) then you are not offering enough pay. There is a vast array of non-technical jobs that should come under such a law.

Everyone (the employers) says this will make us uncompetitive. Bull hocky! When everyone is being paid fairly the rest of the economy takes care of itself. With the huge trade deficits we currently have the problem is the internal market, not exports. When workers get paid more they can afford to buy at higher prices and the economy balances itself. When workers get paid too little everyone they cannot afford to buy from suffers. Manufacturers, farmers. . . everyone.

The politicians that let a major California bridge project be built by Chinese in the current economy should be removed from office as criminals and perhaps spend some time in jail as traitors (which they are).
- guru - Wednesday, 04/25/12 12:48:29 EDT

No confidence, indeed...: That bridge thing is so wrong on so many levels I don't even know where to start... A 7.2 billion dollar project and they say they're saving about $400 million by having prefab steel sections made in China rather than in the USA. Caltrans is not using Federal funding because that does come with a "Buy American" proviso. Yeesh...

Well, all you folks who use the bay bridge try to stay off it, it'll most likely no longer exist after the next moderate quake.

Read the article. I had not even heard about this and I WORK in the transportation sector.
Chinese bridge in California
Alan-L - Wednesday, 04/25/12 15:43:01 EDT

A bit of cheer: All the news isn't bad. There are some signs that American industry is making a small comeback. Here's one example:
New steel plant
Rich Waugh - Wednesday, 04/25/12 19:14:16 EDT

Chinese Bridge: The article states that politicians said U.S. companies do not have the capacity to build such projects. . . That may be true but we also do not have the capacity to build large nuclear plants and tanker ships either. . because we have let our industries be clobbered by slave wage imports from countries that only give lip service to environmental concerns, employee safety and retirement.

We have been letting this go on for decades and the problem gets worse and worse. If we do not buy own own products who will?

Politicians think everything is fine as long as the growing financial sector continues to grow. But this is a false economy. The ONLY true wealth comes from converting processing raw materials and turning them into goods. EVERYTHING else depends on this including the financial sector which should be a small bit of the economy's overhead.

China is not the only country stealing our lunch on big projects. Small countries all around the world including Japan (with less than half the area of the state of Virginia) have completed projects that supposedly could not be done in the US. Japan, a country 1/27th the size of the United States now dominates the world auto industry and machine tool industries. These are industries that the U.S. previously dominated. How did Japan do this? Largely by selling to the U.S the LARGEST single market in the world.

In the late 1980's Belgium (a country 1/10th the size of the state of Virginia) practically destroyed the U.S. stainless industry by dumping at below cost. We have anti dumping laws in place but they have never been put to use OR in time to make a difference.

LITTLE Japan has dominated large sectors of industry but now China with more area than the US and 4 times the population of the US is going after the rest of our industry. Unlike Japan, China has a population that can support the need for low wage laborers for the next century or longer. Give them a couple more decades of preferential treatment and they will dominate most of the world's industry. But they cannot do it without the U.S as a partner buying their goods.

At this point the US market is still the key. But at the current rate in a decade we will no longer count and to be successful you will have to market to China.
- guru - Wednesday, 04/25/12 20:09:34 EDT

Actually, commodity goods from China are at a near even price to produce in the US today, and will soon be more expensive. The people in China are learning to ask for higher wages and benefits and better working conditions as do all low wage contries eventually. The added cost to ship is also driving the cost increase.
It is predicted that the cost will be better in the uS sometime late this year.

Another issue is of course that from China you get what you INSPECT, not what you expect. So for companies buying components you also have added costs to maintain quality. Last with no real rule of law China is a bad risk in many ways to trading partners.

The final nail in the coffin may well be the death of faraway supply chains for just in time manufacture, brought to the forefront by Toyota. The Japanese earthquake, the floods in Thailand and the explosion of the nylon resin chemical maker have illuminated the potential for failure of the entire Toyota system.
ptree - Thursday, 04/26/12 12:57:49 EDT

Out of Time: One of the less useful notions of the recent past has been JIT inventory control - the crows are coming home to roost on that one as Toyota has discovered.
Rich Waugh - Thursday, 04/26/12 16:12:49 EDT

JIT and Empty Warehouses:
In the late 1980's the Takeover Kings made having inventory a bad thing. Any business with inventory on the shelves was usually undervalued in the stock market and was an easy mark. Buy 'em, dump the inventory (make them more "efficient") and then sell them striped of the assets.

There were actually advertisements that said, "Happiness is an Empty Warehouse!"

AND to top it off, our tax system does not favor inventories of goods ready to ship. IT SHOULD because goods ready to ship ARE the GNP and ARE national wealth. They are the lifeblood of a health economy.

Catalogs of what had been standard components like bearings, seals, couplings, gears, NUTS AND BOLTS, became wish lists instead of a catalog you could order from. Need a specific bearing? Order 10,000 and WAIT 16 weeks. . . OR pray that someone else places a large order and there are some left over for you. . . Need a common bolt that there has been a run on? Order 1,000 pounds of them (minimum), pay in advance AND wait 14 months. That is the current system in the fastener industry.

The result severely hurt industries that relied on stock components. Like the machine tool industry, conveyor and automation companies. . . We often had to scramble to redesign machines that were built from standard components one year that we could not get the next. We even had shops making short runs of bolts on screw machines. . .

In the early 20th century a factory that made a machine made every piece from scratch in-house. Castings, gears, bearings, electrical components and nuts and bolts. The captive foundry was the norm. Some made their own specialty steels. Screw machine bolts with head size and shape specific to the company were the norm.

This is way old Blacksmiths forge blowers and other machines are so so hard to find pieces to fit. The factory made it ALL. Gears, bearings, screws and often the machinery to make the parts.

As industry developed specialty manufacturers grew up that could make better parts by being specialists. Gears and bearings became off-the-shelf or contracted items. Industry standards came into existence. AND the supply chain included warehouses full of items ready to be used.

JIT and Empty warehouses force industries to be more self reliant even if it is inefficient to do so. If you cannot trust the market to provide "standard" hardware or have shortages you have to make it yourself.

An economy without inventory becomes a stagnant economy. Big manufacturers who can afford to make it all and few small manufacturers who cannot.

There are many details that make a dynamic healthy economy. Transportation systems, supply systems (warehouses), communication systems and yes, even banking systems. It is all part of the whole.
- guru - Thursday, 04/26/12 18:48:19 EDT

Industry: What you said is spot on, Jock. And that is why the Chinese are currently eating us for lunch in the industrial manufacturing markets. They took the long view, and our corporate raiders took the short view.
Rich Waugh - Friday, 04/27/12 07:25:18 EDT

In the 1980's we had 3 suppliers of heavy plate that we could make a phone call and have simple geometric shapes in up to 4" plate cut and delivered the next day. If we hand carried a drawing we could have odd profiles cut.

At that time I could get 4140 from J.T. Ryerson in pieces up to 18" thick flame cut and Blanchard ground delivered in the same week for a little over $1/lb.

Today it is much more difficult to find heavy plate. But we have water jet and LASER cutting of thinner plate readily available all over the U.S. The difference is the scaling down of industry and the fact that heavy steel suffered greatly from dumping.
- guru - Friday, 04/27/12 14:08:20 EDT

Steel Industry: I've got to agree that steel supply is a lot more restricted than it was in the 1970's and 1980's. But dumping wasn't the only issue - I worked in it and there was a heck of a lot of p-poor management Examples like Bethlehem Steel bringing on the worlds biggest most modern open hearths in the 1970's about 4 hours for a 500 ton heat. The only issue - one of their weakest competitors Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel was running a BOF cranking out 200 tons a heat 24 heats a day using fewer people to do so. And union work rules that were ridiculous - I'm not talking about a maintenance man assigned to a piece of equipment who did nothing except at the beginning and end of a shift unless it went down - they earned their pay. I'm talking about annealing operators running an annealing furnace who had to load 6 lifts of bars and check 6 brinell hardnesses in a turn pulling in over $30,000 a year in 1978 - over half the turn was spent sitting/?. They were really unhappy when I cut load weight, decreased cycle time and increased productivity by over 25% - they had to make 8 or 9 loads a turn and check 8 or 9 hardnesses. Best estimate is that they still had at least half a turn with no actual work required.
- Gavainh - Saturday, 04/28/12 00:05:49 EDT

May be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you want to see what a CF&I INDIAN CHIEF anvil looks like, there is one on eBay - #170832277728.

An anvil-head's wet dream.
Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 04/28/12 18:41:45 EDT

American Industry:
I will admit that U.S. Industry has been its own worst enemy and unions did not help. When Unions first came into place they were sorely needed to protect workers from abuses. Industry hired armies of bullies, thugs and local police to fight unions by violent means. The result was a highly charged adversarial relationship that still exists.

I've worked in Union shops where half the day was spent taking breaks and the rest arguing which Union's workers got to do a given job on a site where everyone was fully employed for the duration. . .

The big automakers GAVE AWAY their global advantage by not paying attention to consumers that wanted more efficient more dependable automobiles. They fought things like radial tires for 80 years when they were a proven handling, safety and economic advantage. Same with disk brakes. . . They saw emission controls as a fad that could be derailed by doing such a lousy job making them that consumers would revolt and get Congress to change the laws. Consumers revolted by buying Japanese cars. . .

They saw small cars as a fad and instead of MAKING them they imported them. All the early small trucks with American brand labels were Japanese made. . . GM and Ford were the worlds largest buyer of Japanese pickup trucks for a decade. . . Poorly made and poorly supported European cars were imported with American logos. . .

ONE American maker tried to make a small car, the Corvair and when it proved to be a disaster they replaced it with yet another too cheaply made car which failed for good reasons. So they quit. The thing is that Japanese cars at the time were worse junk. People expected more of U.S. automakers. A decade later Ford cam out with the Pinto, an IMPORT. The crappy English made models rapidly disappeared but the German made 2 liter Pintos were highly dependable and made the mark. But instead of improving them the US made versions with the 2.4L engine were a disaster due to poor engineering and general quality. . . Like the Corvair, a safety issue that the company refused to admit or repair killed the car.

Another wonderful U.S. made 4cyl compact was the 1962 Pontiac Tempest. Great little car. A four door that got almost 30 MPG. Its big slant 4 was half of a 390 V8 and very dependable. What happened ??? It got bigger and bigger and became the Pontiac GTO (a muscle car). . . .

At one time anywhere you went in the world you found U.S. made autos, tractors and heavy equipment. Today it is almost all Japanese, some Korean and even some Chinese. The biggest reason is the Japanese make SMALL heavy duty trucks with dependably diesel engines. Most of the world does not have big highways like we do note cities with major truck routes. They have small often rough roads and cities have old narrow streets. Fuel costs are higher and the diesel advantage is important. The reason you see almost nothing but Japanese trucks in the third world is because WE DO NOT make them. There has been no attempt to compete. Detroit just gave up.

We have been beaten by one of the smallest industrial nations in the world that has almost no natural resources to exploit. Meanwhile we are sitting on vast natural resources and have the best infrastructure in the world but we cannot make a dependable small truck.

Worse, compare a 1970's pickup truck with a new full sized U.S. made pickup. . . the new trucks are HUGE in comparison with no more capacity.

- guru - Sunday, 04/29/12 01:46:22 EDT

Not to mention resting their profits on ever-bigger SUVs when it should have been obvious that low gas prices wouldn't last forever . . .
Mike BR - Sunday, 04/29/12 08:15:41 EDT

I would argue several points Jock. The Corvair was no less safe than other small cars of its day, Ralph Nader was WRONG when he attacked the Corvair. The NSTB did a many years long investigation and found that the Corvair actually better than the other small cars of the day. My family had something like 18 of them over the years, I and all of my siblings had at least one as teens. Different yes, dangerous no. The oil smoke issue was due to mechanics using a tire iron to tension the Vee belt by pulling the alternator on the bracket. The tire iron would puncture the oil cooler. No one read the handbook or the tire inflation notices and actually maintained the tire at the correct but different from front to back pressures.
The Pinto fuel tank issue was overblown, not nearly as many actually burned as the media said.
The primary reason the Big three kept making big cars was that they could not make any money on the econo boxes.
And last lets not forget the yuppies and Consumers reports, who never met an American car they liked.
ptree - Sunday, 04/29/12 08:50:27 EDT

Corvairs, and such: I have to agree with Jeff on the Corvair. I had two of them, one of the first models and a few years later Monza. The Monza was a maintenance headache due to a bad dealer, but ultimately I corrected it and it was fine. Both of them were great dependable cars that handled terrifically on twisty mountain roads, especially in the snow. Of course, you had to actually read and understand the owner's manual and learn about understeer versus oversteer and other things, and then it was like a cheap sports car that was actually pretty comfortable. Nader was a publicity hound.

The Pinto was a great cheap little car. Yeah, the fuel tank could have been engineered better, but no vehicle is indestructible.

The little Pontiac Tempest and its Oldsmobile clone were really outstanding cars. I had the Olds version and that thing was a rocket and solid as a rock.

I also had a couple of the early 70's Japanese cheap compacts, a Toyota Corolla and a Dodge (Mitsubishi) Colt. Both had cheesy interiors but were solid mechanically and very thrifty. At the time, there was nothing domestically made that could touch them.

Down here in the Caribbean you see a lot of American cars and trucks, but you also see plenty of the tiny Japanese and Korean "heavy" trucks - barely wide enough to seat two side by side, but tough as nails with bulletproof diesel powerplants that will go 250K before any major service. They look like Tonka toys but will run circles around a US made 3/4 ton pickup in many respects. I'd love to pick up a used one, but no one will part with one.
Rich Waugh - Sunday, 04/29/12 11:13:38 EDT

Paths not taken: The problem was these guys acted like Microsnot when a problem was discovered. They would not even ACT concerned.

We drove Pintos and before that the FIRST of those import small cars branded by the American seller, the Nash Metropolitan. These were made by Austin for American motors. One sale I saw in National Geographic advertised "Buy our luxury car and get an economy car FREE". The day American motors stopped importing the Metro was also the day they stopped importing parts. When I bought my first I recognized the British parts and knew where I could find them - even though not listed for the car. We bought a total of 6 for no more than $50 each. Every one merely needed ignition points to start and drive off. . .

The Metropolitans truly WERE dangerous cars. They were made for nearly a decade and the only changes were all cosmetic rather than addressing the serious issues. The original body design was French and was supposed to be completely symmetrical the doors opening in opposite directions and the fenders of the oposite corners interchangable, the front and back glass the same. . . Half the dies to make the body parts. . .

The Metropolitan was Frankensteined from production British cars and much of the design dictated by American Motors.. The 1500cc Austin engine was coupled to a Sprite/Midget rear axel designed for 1000cc engines. All you had to do is rev the engine a little and side step the clutch and you would break an axle EVERY time. The brakes were from a lighter Austin sedan and the front suspension was also Sprite parts (for a much lower lighter car). Rear springs were easy to overload and broke more often than they should have.

The front suspension was modified to be Americanized to use typical cylinder shock absorbers rather than the lever arm type the British used. The shocks were a bad fit and the front end unstable. I modified ours (oh horror of horrors - a mechanic mod) to use a different style shock that attached further out on the lower A-arm giving the shock more leverage. This stiffened the suspension helping prevent rollover. On my convertible metro I added cut down sway bars from other cars and it handled much much better. . .

The brakes were designed for a smaller lighter car (the Austin Healy Sprite) so they undersized the diameter of the master cylinder to provide more force. The problem was that under the best of conditions the brake peddle almost touched the floor and with any wear or a panic stop the peddle DID go to the floor. I found a Volvo master cylinder that was 1/16th inch larger in diameter and replaced ours with those. This took a little more foot pressure but the peddle NEVER hit the floor.

But we loved our cute little roll-over specials. They are still popular in TV commercials and car shows. I think my brother still has three stored in a barn. They are better than money in the bank. A mere decade after buying every one we could find for $50 each they were selling for $5,000 un-restored and $10,000 restored. . That was 20 years ago. . .

This was one of a long list of bad imports brought in by the various Detroit makers that were quickly abandoned. One of the key issues to all these cars was they were mechanically different and dealer mechanics did not understand them. This made simple repairs a problem and the difficult impossible to get satisfaction. The parts problem from abandonment was the same story for all of them. . .

Volkswagen on the other hand was sold by dealers that sold and serviced them including stocking parts. The old Volkswagens were terrible cars compared to the Corvair and Tempest but they were supported by a company that believed in their own product.

The Pontiac Tempest was one of those GM failures to see the light or market the product. They only made the small 4 cyl model two years and the second was uglyfied with fins and chrome brik a brack. . . If GM had made the same car in their full line and stuck to original design vision the onslaught of import cars may have never happened.

The Pontiac Tempest would seat four adults comfortably and easily cruise the highways at Interstate speeds while getting nearly the same gas mileage as a crappy little 2 passenger VW. The slant 4 was easily maintained by American car mechanics. Handling was reasonably good and the brakes as good as any drum brake car. . .

The Pontiac Tempest could have been improved, made smaller (or kept small) rather than bigger and marketed as having all the advantages of an import without all the dissadvantages and probably been a great success. Instead they killed it and put their money into the Corvair which was not that much more economical.

The last Corvairs were a beautiful little car.

The steering column problem in the Corvair was fixed in every car sold in the U.S. starting in the 1970's. It was an easy fix, one universal joint and a break in the straight line of the column. If GM had admitted it was a problem not only in Corvairs but in every makers autos world wide and then FIXED it in theirs they could have acted as leaders in the market and you might be driving a 2010 model Corvair.

But they did not. They did what all big corps do, denied everything, pulled up the draw bridge, hid behind the ramparts and had the lawyers do the talking. . .
- guru - Sunday, 04/29/12 11:19:12 EDT

I too had a pair of Mitsubishi Champs(Colts but Plymouth branded) they were however 1981 models. Front drive, tiny 1400CC engines that ran like Singers and made 42MPH. You had to have the factory maintenance manual as everything was counter-intuitive. They were actually much easier to work on then the intuitively built cars IF you had the manual. Most parts were easy, the NGK sparkplugs were a tough find then, in KY. They would not drive out of the parking lot on any other plugs. Now all that said, they were very cheap, and looked it. The interiors were very plastic. They handled like a sports car and in the city ran like a scalded cat. We put about 175 K miles total on the pair, and with high gas prices I would love to have another.

Nader was mostly bad mouthing the early Corvairs for the single constant velocity joint rear axles, which the VW had from first production till the sSuper Beatle.
As Rich notes, read the manual, air the tires correctly and you had a nicely handling, go in the snow and mud, tough little car. The 6 cylinder engines are now desirable as Aircraft engines for home builders, especially for Pietenpohl Air Campers.
ptree - Sunday, 04/29/12 12:08:27 EDT

My brother is building a "super sports" using a modified Corvair engine. The ultra lights use half VW's. . . a LOT of modification. When you are done with either you may wish you built an engine from scratch. . .
- guru - Sunday, 04/29/12 15:45:06 EDT

Reading the Manual:
My first car with that 10 year old Pontiac Tempest. Shortly after I got it a friend of mine happened to find a dusty factory manual for it sitting on a shelf at a local auto parts store. A real treasure.

A peculiar thing about the Tempest engine is that the hydraulic lifters did not work correctly on anything other than 20W20 oil (year round). They ran noisy and inefficiently on the new multi-viscosity oils that I had been putting into it.

When I bought my first Metropolitan I found a reprint manual for it. The specs pages helped with finding matching parts from other British cars.

When I took over the service station I ran the previous operator had annual Phillips 66 maintence books going back to 1959 or so. Over a decades worth. These did not go into details but had belt and hose sizes and part numbers, tune up and lube specs, tire and battery information for every car for each year.

When I started working on imports I purchased dozens of shop manuals.

Each time I purchased a car or truck I purchased a manual for it. At the time the only manual for my 50 model Chevy truck was on microfilm. . . a real pain to use.

All OEM Ford Pinto manuals called for setting the points at .017" similar to most American cars. But the identical Bosch distributor in Volkswagens called for .024". The difference was that points would last much longer at the wider setting which gave them time to cool and longer wear life.

I set mine to the Volkswagen specs and got much long life between tuneups. Sometimes the manual is wrong. . .

Back when I started working on British cars I studied the available literature on adjusting SU (Skinner Union) carburetors with the cylindrical vacuum pot and needle jet chokes. A paired setup had a dozen adjustment screws that owners and ignorant mechanics would turn randomly trying to "tune" the engine. . . There is a simple logic to every adjustment which most be done in the right order. Knowing this I immediately became THE local expert on tuning British cars.

The only cars I have not had manuals for were the late model Doge vans we've owned. Too many high tech tools that I don't have are necessary for the simplest tasks. . . The good old days of being able to buy a junker and fix it up with a few hand tools are long gone. . .

I'm always amazed when I go into shops and there is no tech library. My auto library filled a 4 foot long shelf . .
- guru - Sunday, 04/29/12 16:31:24 EDT

Dodge Colt: I can't remember the year of that Colt I had - Mom drove it for a few years and was going to trade it in disadvantageously so I bought it from her. Mine had a 1200cc engine, as I recall, and rear wheel drive. As noted, the interior was plastic and cheap. The engine was a piece of cake to work on since it was so small and no front drive train to work around. Super easy to access filters, etc, at a time when Detroit was making those things inaccessible whenever possible.

My problem with the Colt was that it was designed for a Japanese driver - much shorter than my 6'-1" and apparently they like to drive LeMans style with locked elbows, which I detest. I moved the seat track back four inches to get the necessary legroom, adjusted the seat base angle for more thigh support and then of course, I couldn't hardly reach the steering wheel. A simple matter to chop the steering column and add six inches of tubing and drop the wheel position a bit while I was at it. Now we're stylin'! (grin)

I removed the rear seat and made a smooth deck over the drive shaft tunnel so I could put tool boxes back there, and made a trailer hitch for it. I built a small enclosed cargo trailer and put about 100,000 more miles on that little car, treating it like a small delivery van as I traveled around the US as an itinerant sign painter for a couple of years. That little car never let me down once.
Rich Waugh - Sunday, 04/29/12 18:45:50 EDT

Our little Champs were hatchbacks. I hauled a 4x8 sheet of plywood home in mine. I hausled lots of materials as I remodeled our first home and then built the second. Those little hatchs with fold down rear seat hualed all manner of stuff. It was a sight however when we had 3 car seats across the back, and a very pregnant Wife in the front. Had to buy a bigger car then:)
- ptree - Monday, 04/30/12 07:07:01 EDT

I always liked the idea of the Ford Ranchero, not too crazy about the Chevrolet El Camino (too much style too little truck). Then I saw a Pinto Ranchero. Then another. I called a Ford dealer about them and was told there is no such thing. . . It turns out we had a local auto shop converting Pinto station wagons to little trucks by cutting off the roof, moving the hatch frame and glass to behind the doors, and the bottom of the hatch became a tailgate. The fellow even bought Ranchero chrome insignia and put it under the Pinto insignia making it a Pinto Ranchero. . . A pretty clean job. Looked like a factory deal.

I've thought about this for a long time and could not believe how stupid the Ford management was by not making these. At the time they were importing small Japanese trucks . . . When they could have been building their own on a platform and body they already had. . .

The fact is the U.S. auto makers help put the Japanese in the global small truck business. Now that they make the majority of small trucks sold world wide they really don't need us to launch a new product anymore. . .
- guru - Monday, 04/30/12 13:27:00 EDT

Household Products: Correction fluid as a solder resist, to protect machined surfaces when heat treating, and for marking steel that will be heated.
Mike BR - Monday, 04/30/12 21:23:30 EDT

Counter    Copyright © 2012 Jock Dempsey, Cummulative_Arc GSC


International Ceramics Products