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August 2011 Archive

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J. Dempsey  <webmaster> Rev. 7/98, 3/99, 5/2k, 6/2k, Friday, 04/06/01 16:43:25 GMT

Tool Borrowing: I was brought up to believe that if you borrow a tool you are expected to return it in as good as, or better, condition than you received it. If I borrow a tool and it breaks or dies while I'm using it, I simply replace it for the owner - immediately. I expect the same on the rare occasion that I lend out a tool. Currently, there are three people in the world to whom I will lend one of my tools. Every one of them feels the same way I do about borrower's responsibility. Other people don't and that's why I refuse to lend them my tools. My wife, bless her, won't lend any of my tools to even the three guys on the "A" list without clearing it with me. Of course she doesn't hesitate to borrow them for herself (and forget to return them to the shop). That's why she's not on the A list. (GRIN)

I have a very old DR brush mower that I never use but my landlady likes to have her handyman use for mowing. I "rent" it to her for ten bucks a day so there are no hard feelings when it comes back damaged or not working (which is frequent, since it is so old and worn) - I'd have to do the repairs either way, but this way the responsibility is clearly mine and a "cost of doing business," and she doesn't have to feel guilty about it. If I just lent it to her it would surely cause a problem between us and I definitely don't need that. I would simply gift her the thing but then I'd still have to repair it all the time and would quickly tire of that. Sometimes we have to go to some strange lengths to facilitate harmonious relationships.

One of the biggest reasons I own so many different tools is that I hate borrowing.
- Rich - Sunday, 07/31/11 15:48:12 EDT

I keep trying to give my Grandson a little 2 oz ball peen hammer but at 2 years old his mother says NO! She still has the 3/8" VSR drill that I gave her one Christmas...the time will come!

I too have started assembling tool kits for the grandkids all *good* tools though old and cheap. I've thought that the "fake" tools they give kids were worse than useless and often dangerous as well as you try to force them to work.

After some experiences when I was in college I vowed never to marry a lady who couldn't at least change a tire and check the oil in her car on a regular basis!

In the south you have various types: the southern belle who can't even boil water---but is easy on the eyes. The southern belle that when she's not being photogenic may be stripping down daddy's tractor and re-building the engine and the tomboy who may be the best mechanic in the family and greatly prefers tools to toile!
Thomas P - Monday, 08/01/11 15:31:44 EDT

Girls and Tools:
Its not just girls. So little REALITY exists for most folks today that few men or women know a box end wrench from an open end wrench or spanner. Ask for a combination wrench and they will hand you a pair of pliers. . .

When I had a service station I taught a number of young women (including my wife) how to change tires on their British sports cars. Even though they could probably get some hormone driven stud to do it for them by just looking helpless the odds were that the guy wouldn't know a knock off hub wrench if they saw one or how the side lug screw jack worked and probably break something.

My biggest business failing was not taking advantage of an idea I had in the 1970's when I had a service station. I was going to hire a crew of cheerleader types to work the pumps. Train them to check oil, tires and such. If they could get the hood open that would have been a big plus. We would have been swamped with those hormone driven studs buying gas. . . I think my wife nixed the idea. . .
- guru - Monday, 08/01/11 16:04:43 EDT

Women and Tools: I'm with you, Thomas. My first girlfriends and my first wife were all incapable f doing anything with tools besides putting them away somewhere they'd never be found again.

My wife Sally, a solid mid-westerner, was the best pick - her family owned a hardware store and she knew all the tools and how to use most of them. She can stretch screens, cut glass, run a pipe threader, and knows a hawk from a handsaw. The only downside is that she greatly prefers that *I* do all the tool-operating in this family.
- Rich - Monday, 08/01/11 16:57:31 EDT

I married a graduate of the USAF Minuteman Ballistic missile repair school. She was an honor grad, and asked to be an instructor. I have found her to be a much better lawyer than mechanical repair person, and that is all I am going to say about that:)
ptree - Monday, 08/01/11 18:53:40 EDT

Women and Tools: I can say this about my wife.
When it comes to tools, she is an excellent cook!
""and that is all I am going to say about that:)""
- Tom H - Monday, 08/01/11 22:26:08 EDT

My Ex was pretty good with tools. She had been a Daddy's girl and learned a lot from her father. She helped in the service station and could open the hood and check the oil on most cars (hey. . finding hood latches is an art). And at one time I taught her how to change points on an MG which required assembling a bunch of little loose parts IN the distributor mounted down on the side of the engine in the dark. . . As a school teacher she was the one that fixed all the AV equipment. New plugs on cords, replacing projector bulbs and so on.

In the old days a school janitor was also a handyman and did many of these tasks but in recent times they are mostly women that are mop and broom types only. . . Of course in the old days the janitor was also the guy that took care of the coal fired boiler. If you weren't a mechanic those things would be broken down all the time.
- guru - Tuesday, 08/02/11 09:11:27 EDT

My wife has shed most of her training now that she has a tool using monkey to hand; but she is far better working with bureaucracies than I am. I tend to lose it and ask them "Why are you not doing the job you are paid to do?" Which upsets them. So she handles the finances, bills and insurance and I get the centipede and repair duties.

Teaching basic smithing to college students I have found that many of them have never used a hammer with intent before. All indoor computer games as kids and none of the build a fort or treehouse. We do get some ranch kids at times---I call them ringers as they are so far advanced over the regular kids.
Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/02/11 13:00:02 EDT

Yep, farm kids still learn a thing or two about using hand tools.

I was surprised a few years ago that a bunch of suburban boy scouts taking the metalworking merit badge had never used a hammer. . . how the heck are you supposed to drive a tent stake in the ground? Or a nail into one of those stupid wooden camping platforms. .

If they HAVE a tree house it was a kit from a big box store and probably put up by someone else. . .

- guru - Tuesday, 08/02/11 18:13:35 EDT

Chinese Tractors: Around here there is a very small tractor which is very common. They haul several cubic metres of sand or rock at a time although they are tiny. The cooling system is wonderful. The engine has a water jacket but there is no water pump or radiator. On top of the water jacket there is a hole in the jacket and when the engine gets hot it steams. When the water runs low they top it up.

PTOs are all exposed belts and flywheels. One very common accessory is a trailer with a lifting boom. The boom is powered by the tractor of course. The fatening of the load is characteristically simple. The boom is a piece of heavy pipe with short studs of bar welded on top sticking out. You rope up your load, swing the boom across and just passthe rope between any 2 of the studs. It is as simple as that!
- philip in china - Tuesday, 08/02/11 19:00:05 EDT

Evaporative cooling:
Phillip, That is how the hit or miss engines from 100 years ago operated. Just an open tank as part of the casting and you kept it full of water. . . These were briefly a replacement for stationary steam engines and both were replaced by the electric motor. . .
- guru - Tuesday, 08/02/11 19:31:58 EDT

Engine cooling: The old Lister-Petter low-speed diesel engines had a cooling system that was a step up from the evaporative, but less than a modern system. They used a closed loop, thermo-siphon cooling system where cooling water was stored in a tank above the engine and gravity fed to the water jackets. When it picked up engine heat it rose into the tank to cool back down. Dead simple with no moving parts, but it took a fair sized reservoir to have the necessary mass to function well. Still, those old Listers would run continuously for months, even years, pumping water or generating electricity in rural areas of the world. Unfortunately they can't meet EPA guidelines so they can no longer be imported to the US. I'd like to have one of those simple 600-rpm engines for a standby generator.
- Rich - Wednesday, 08/03/11 09:51:24 EDT

Rich, I had a B.F. Avery tractor back in the early 80's, made around WWII that had a thermosiphon cooled Buda engine. Once I cleaned all the pond mud and scum from the system, worked well. You just had to get used to seeing some steam in the hot summer:)
ptree - Wednesday, 08/03/11 10:18:15 EDT

My late 70's Yanmar diesel tractor is thermosiphon- it has a radiator, but no water pump. I hate it. You must mix your coolant precisely- 1/3 coolant 2/3 water, and if you run the tractor at all hard, it has a finite time before you must stop, let it cool, and refill coolant. Its kind of the worst of both worlds.
I have downgraded to one of the smallest bush hogs available, at 42" wide, and that helps, but in general, it is a cost cutting measure that is not satisfactory for a hard working tool like a tractor.
Unfortunately, around here, even a used 9N can run over 5 grand, and used Kubota 4WD diesels are often ten grand or more, as they can run 20 grand new these days with a front loader.
So I am stuck with the thermosiphon.
- ries - Wednesday, 08/03/11 13:18:34 EDT

What were they thinking:
You really have to wonder what the heck designers or their supervisors are thinking. . .

We had three Dodge Vans with about 10 years age between them all. The defroster would not keep up with icing weather at just below freezing in Virginia. Now these things are build in CANADA. . . where it is MUCH MUCH colder for a lot longer time. I can understand one model having this unsafe situation but for a decade (10 redesigned models)????

I had a Porche 917 many years ago. I drove it across town one winter day to run an errand. Stopped for about 20 minutes, then restarted the engine. The shock of 20 degree F cold air popped most of the valve guides out. . . NOW. . for a high dollar vehicle from Germany (a place colder than Virginia) this is an engineering disaster. I had to replace both heads (which means removing the engine). I sold it as soon as I got it back together and running. . .

My best pickup was a used 1973 Dodge heavy duty with a 300 HP 360 and a rock crusher 4 speed. But shortly after I bought it I noticed it ran hot a lot and could not be left idling OR standing still in traffic for more than a few minutes. The radiator had some issues so I looked into replacing it.

On inspection I noticed that the panel the radiator bolted into had a second set of captive nuts for a 6" wider radiator. But the panel opening did not extend that far. I checked with the dealer about what radiators fit. They asked if the truck had AC or an automatic transmission. No. . . but what is the difference? A bigger radiator for about $100 more. So I got it and an new fan shroud to fit (increases fan efficiency). But not only did the radiator have over 1 square foot more area it was a thicker triple core (three rows of tubes) instead of one. A LOT more radiator! I had to use a panel cutter to remove the excess sheet metal but otherwise it bolted right in.

I worked that truck hard for nearly a decade. Never had a bit of cooling problem in all that time. But you could tell by the heat being thrown off that it NEEDED that much radiator even without AC and automatic transmission. What were the engineers thinking when they put a radiator for a 165 HP 318 in a truck with a 300 HP 360? I don't think they were thinking at all.

That was a great truck and I miss it. It was built at a time when fully accessorized 4WD Ford and Chevy trucks sold for less AND weighed less than a stripped down (not even a radio) Dodge. The weight was in the frame and body panels and it showed years later when all those Fords and Chevy's were rusting out and the Dodge was as solid as new. It had a hot dip galvanized bed! Actually a better built truck. . no hype (except for the radiator. . ;( ).
- guru - Wednesday, 08/03/11 15:14:54 EDT

Jock, the basic engine in the air cooled VW's and Porches are all based on a circa 1928 or so 4 cylinder air cooled 25Hp engine turning at much more modest rpm. The air cooled engines went thru many changes, but if you research, valve failures or many sorts were endemic to these little 4 bangers.
In the books weak valve box is often seen.
U to 1960, these engines have the mains machined into the case. The valves on the 60's VWs needed valve adjustment almost every oil change.
The Porches were really just souped up VW's in most cases.
ptree - Wednesday, 08/03/11 15:27:44 EDT

Ries could you not stick a pump in the line and "drive" the thermosiphon? Of course this presupposes it does have access to 12 VDC.

(But I have such fond memories of chirping VW engines from the mid 60's!)

Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/03/11 17:10:41 EDT

Volkswagen = Hitler's Revenge

Yeah, I got REAL sick of paying Porsche prices for parts in Volkswagen boxes. On the 914 the first step to any engine maintenance including a belt change is to remove the engine. . .

As a sports car mechanic I absolutely refused to work on Volkswagens. The only reason I had the 914 was a used car dealer couldn't get the carburetor retrofit someone had put on it working and I got a fantastic deal.

All too often someone would want a simple tune up on a VW and a chunk of the head would come out with the spark plug. The typical mechanic would put thread inserts in with the engine in place. . . Just let the chips blow out the exhaust. I was NOT that kind of mechanic. SO I just plain refused to work on the POS. Due to this being a common problem, it was also not uncommon to come across a VW that one of the plugs would blow out while going down the road. My mom had a VW van that did that and I got real good at screwing the plug back into the stripped hole. . .

Years later one of my Dodge vans developed a knock and flutter then stopped dead shortly after the dealer put plugs in the engine. . . I got it towed in and it had a bent valve. They replaced the valve at great expense. I drove away and a mile later the SAME thing in a different cylinder. . . This time I was pissed and stayed while they pulled the head. . . I told them I wanted to see what went wrong. A piece of an over length thread insert had broken off in the engine and got hammer by the piston into a little ball about 3/16" in diameter. When it got sucked into an intake and when trapped under a valve it bent the stem.. . THEN it got sucked back up into the head and into another cylinder . . You could see the hammer marks in the piston and heads INCLUDING the thread texture. You could also see the broken edges of the extra thread insert. They saw these marks the first time but did not get the piece of debris out of the head! The dealer admitted they screwed up and refunded my money. A rare thing but we had been doing business with these folks for 20 years. . .

Ries' pump -- Quite a few late model cars have pumps seperate from the engine. They are belt driven but have hoses in and out so they are not an integral piece. One of those might work as a retrofit.
- guru - Wednesday, 08/03/11 17:51:48 EDT

Thermosiphon raditors are usually designed for natural flow. Might work with a pump. Might not. If the radiator is overheating that bad, I would check for clogging and blockages Mine would over heat bad until I cleaned all the crap out. Since the thermosiphons are NOT sealed they constanly lose water, leaving all the salts and hardness behind, just as a boiler does. You may need a serious descale.
I would also check for the engine condition, IE is it producing more heat than designed from bad fuel adjustment or timing? Most thermosiphons are also very dependent on the fan air flow. Mine had a poor belt when I got it and a new belt helped much.
I think most of the IH Cubs were thermospihon and they work here in the summer heat, most tobacco farmers had one.
ptree - Wednesday, 08/03/11 20:22:52 EDT

Thomasp I have a love hate relationship with the air cooled VW's. Had them in Germany and raced them off road. Simple to work on, but required much work.
I have owned 3 brand and designs of air cooled rear engined cars. VW, NSU and Chevy Corvair. I would rate them in the order NSU best, then chevy, then VW.
The NSU was an inline, overhead cam 90 degree hemi transverse mounted rear engined car. It really was 4 one lung 300 CC motorcyle engines running close formation:) Literally! The first NSU's had one lung NSU motorcyle engines and when they wanted bigger they doubled. After WWII the doubled again:)
Had unique front wheel geometry, the wheel laid over when turned much like a front wheel on a cycle does.

I had several Corvairs and my family perhaps a dozen total. Much of Nader's book was absolute BS. The other thing was the Corvair was different, it required reading the owners manual and most did not. It required 15 psi in the front wheels and 24 in the rears. Adjust the alternator like every other Chevy with a tire iron to pull the alternator tight and the end of the tire iron poked a hole in the oil cooler and that dripped oil into the exhaust manifold heater, giving that "parfume de Corvair" blue oil smoke in the cockpit. They had put a 1/2" square hole in the mount to allow use of a ratchet to tension but again no one read the manual.

VW's as a 25Hp 1100cc 3 main bearing engine was a fair 1943 engine in Germany. Started in the cold, hauled the family on the rural roads and was cheap and simple. same engine with 5 main bearings as a 1200 CC was ok but just barely. The 1300 ccs burned exhaust valves on #3 as they overheated that valve box. The next version the 1500CC was a weak valve box that tended to burn all 4 if #3 lasted long enough.
The 1600CC were a bit better.

In the homebuilt aircraft world, the VWs were converted as they "Looked" like real airplane engines.
Folks forgot that an airplane engine has a totally different power demand than a car engine. A tractor engine, or stationary powerplant like a generator is closer than a car engine. Car engines usually develope say 75% Hp for very short periods and then cruise at 20-30% power. An aircraft engine will usually develop 100% for 3 minutes then be pulled back to 76-85% for a climb of say 20 minutes, then cruise at 55-65% power for hours.
The aircraft engines have tremendously large bottom ends compared to car engines and appear very under rated. Typical small engine from my early flying days was the Continental O-200. 200 cubic inch 4 cylinder that developed 100Hp. But would cruise at 2200 rpm at 65% power all day long at 4-6 gallons an hour. Gave 1000 Hours between top overhauls and 2000 hours to a magon if well cared for.
Whats a 200 Hp car engine, about 1500CC now?
ptree - Wednesday, 08/03/11 20:40:41 EDT

Dodge Truck: My Dad got a new 3/4 ton Power Wagon in '67. At the time it was cheaper than a Ford or Chevy. It did have a really tough all gear, iron transfer case, and the front axle ran in gear oil all the way out to the wheel bearings. It had a 100K mile waranty on the powertrane, less engine. It had a 210 HP 318 2 barrel, marginal power for a 7,000# truck that had a utility body full of tools.

The cab rotted out badly over the 22 years & 210K miles, the block core plugs all rusted through [some more than once] and the didtributer was a piece of crap with loose bushings that were no better after the dealer re built it. This allowed the dwell to vary all over the plasce at different engine speeds & vacuum levels.

The hydraulic clutch never engaged at the same place twice, the manual steering and non-power drum breaks made driving it a chore.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 08/03/11 22:39:22 EDT

Engines and Conversions:
My brother is building a DIY supersport airplane using a Corvair engine. . lots of mods to the engine including an updraft carb system.. Ultra lights use VW's, run them at peak HP/RPM and use a belt or gear box to correct the prop speed. My Dad opted for a Honda engine and a special speed prop.

All the Dodges we had from the 60's had that core plug issue until some genius started putting in stainless core plugs. I had a rubber "repair" plug put in the one under the bell housing when I had the engine overhauled.

My '73 360 had the Chrysler solid state ignition module and the Distributor went 400,000 miles without service or adjustment. One of my brothers had one of the old Dodge civilian power wagons and if you sneezed on it the electrics would fail. A big difference between the 60's models and the 70's even though the technology changed very little.

When I sold that Porsche I replaced with a German 2 liter Pinto. Had more power and get up and go than the Porsche. Used a bit more gas in the process but was infinitely more dependable. The later larger US built engines ate cams on a regular basis. Usually a week after the 12,000 mile warantee ran out.
- guru - Thursday, 08/04/11 00:13:03 EDT

That German Pinto engine was indeed a jewel. German Ford had some really good engines. One of my favorites was the 1000 CC V-4. Talk about a nice compact engine! there was a racing version of the German Ford Tanus, had that V-4 in racing trim, full roll cage and set up to drive all week and race on Saturday.
ptree - Thursday, 08/04/11 07:07:38 EDT

Many years ago I had a V8 Range Rover. That model had 2 big electric fans in front of the radiator. They were switched by a thermocouple in the radiator. The thermocouple gave out so I asked the dealer for a new one. When he told me the price I quipped "No, I already have the Range Rover, I just need the switch". Well there was no way I was going to pay the money they wanted so I just bought a simple switch which I mounted on the dashboard. The great thing was that yes I could switch it on when the engine was running hot but, much better, if I saw a big hill looming up I could switch on before the engine got hot.
- philip in china - Thursday, 08/04/11 07:25:59 EDT

Gerrman Ford 2L:
One of the fastest Formula Ford models ever were the ones built on that 2L Pinto engine. They could out run the big Indie cars on road race courses and required intake restrictor plates because they were WAY too fast for the small open wheel racers they pushed.

The Pinto we had the longest was a Wagon that had about 300,000 miles on it when we sold it. It was driven HARD for all those miles and had the original clutch! The only repairs other than wear parts were replacement timing belts every 69,000 miles.

Nip if you are still driving one here is a hint. The Bosch distributor in that Pinto was basically the same one in a VW. Ford said set the point gap at .015". VW said .024. I always set the points to .024 and adjusted the timing accordingly. Points lasted longer and the general performance (starting in cold weather) seemed better.

Pintos were an ugly thing and got a bad rep for the gas tank fires. The 1.6 L British engines and transmissions were junk and the American 2.4 L engines that also went into the "new" Mustangs built on Pinto frames were also a bad engine. But that 2L German engine and transmission was a real work horse as long as you changed timing belts before they broke and tightened the carb bolts when they vibrated loose. We had two, a sedan and a wagon, that were the cheapest transportation we ever owned.
- guru - Thursday, 08/04/11 07:45:02 EDT

Manual Switches:
When I rewired my 1950 Chevy truck (ALL new wiring), I added turn signals operated by two toggle switches on the Dash. If you needed emergency warning lights you just hit both switches. A nice red pilot light let you know the signals were on.

This was an illegal setup because the DOT only recognized self canceling signals put on the steering column. But I never had trouble with inspections.

The OEM setup on that truck was a single tail and brake light over the license plate.

When it came to manual things I MUCH preferred a manual choke to an automatic one. Automatic chokes frequently failed and often in the closed position. I had that happen on one truck TWICE which left me stranded on the road until the engine dried out. . . After the second failure I disconnected it and tied the choke open. A couple presses of the peddle to prime the engine and a couple short pumps as it started and it worked fine for YEARS.
- guru - Thursday, 08/04/11 08:13:28 EDT

My 72 Chevy with the very complex QuadraJunk carb has a manual choke as it stuck closed too often. I took it to a racing carb shop when it was about 25 years old and had it rebuilt. They agreed that the manual choke should stay in place.

My understanding was the 1600 cc pinto engine in my Sister's Pinto was a German Ford, the 2L was a English ford and the 2.4 V-6 was a British design pushed up to 2.4 or 2.6L
My memory may be weak on that one.
ptree - Thursday, 08/04/11 10:22:45 EDT

Nope, The Overhead cam 2L was the German engine and transmission, the 1600 was the rattle trap English engine. I thought the larger engines were American made but I may have been wrong.
- guru - Thursday, 08/04/11 20:51:09 EDT

Jock My Sisters was the first year, had the 1600 and 4 speed and was still in daily service in the mid 80's. That particular engine ran as smooth a sewing machine and never ever gave a single glitch.
ptree - Thursday, 08/04/11 21:31:50 EDT

2.3L Pinto & other: These are the ones that ate cam lobes. My friends Dad had one, a '78 or '79 I think. He tried several different brands of oils & Arco Graphite, cam & rocker problems the whole time. This was an American Ford engine.

My cousin had a 1600CC Capri ['73?]. That little car went like hell. Later She got a newer 6 cyl, it was a heavier car & performed about the same.
- Dave Boyer - Thursday, 08/04/11 21:56:10 EDT

Cam Eating Pintos :
My brother in law's first brand new car was one of the cam eating Pintos. He drove it out to our place one nice summer day, parked it for a few hours and when he started it to leave the formerly quiet engine started making jack hammer sounds. It only took an instant. The car with a 12,000 mile warrantee had 12,100 miles on it and two years more payments. . . He was sick over it. It did not matter what kind of lubricant you used, they had undersized oil ports in the cam. It was an engineering problem that should have been addressed with redesigned cams. . .
- guru - Friday, 08/05/11 00:37:49 EDT

The 1.6 is a Cosworth engine and sucks, very low HP. I think the strongest 1.6l (according to my books) pushed a measly 88 BHP. My 1980 wagon (r.i.p.) had a 2.3l US made engine. I removed the catalytic converter and straight piped the exhaust with a Hooker header, rebuilt the carb, upgraded the differential. That pony was fast for what it was. The '72 wagon I have now has the 2.0 German engine. Needs a lot of work though, from my understanding lead subsitute helps prevent premature valve wear. Never had any cam problems. Jock, thanks for the tip on the point gap. Pintos are so ugly they're cute!
- Nippulini - Friday, 08/05/11 10:19:34 EDT

The Pinto Body Style and more:
Would you believe the Pinto body is based on a Ferrari compact sedan? Ford raised the back to make it a 4 seater hatch back and flattened the grill. But if you cut the back roof line off to fit the fender line and put a convertible roof on it you will see the Ferrari lines.

Nip, I have the special tri-square key wrench for the 2L Pinto head bolts if you want/need it.

We always ran premium gasoline in those engines even though Ford rated them for low octane. . . Some brands had additives (Exxon) that caused excessive ash deposits on the plugs AND valves. After one valve job I told my wife to stop buying the Exxon and the frequent plug replacement stopped and I assume lack of similar deposits on the valves also saved them.

The only reoccurring problem I saw on that engine was the carburetor vibrating loose. This was caused by a missing bolt in the air filter housing bracket OR missing bracket. Two of the Pintos we had came with this problem. The folks selling couldn't keep them running. . . I replaced a bolt and never had a problem afterward. One Pinto came to us with a worn out distributor. The fellow that owned it was taking it to the shop every month. . . The red-neck mechanics just kept putting new points in. A $15 used distributor fixed the problem.

We had a local body shop that made Pinto Ranchero conversions from Pinto wagons. The first one I saw had me going to dealers asking about them. They told me there was no such thing. . . The conversion used the top half of the frame and glass from the hatch for a rear cab window and the bottom half for a tailgate. Pieces of used pickup truck bed were cut and fitted to make the bed. The guy had even found/purchased Ranchero Emblem next to the Pinto Emblem. Looked factory to me. . . Ford missed a definite opportunity.
- guru - Friday, 08/05/11 13:00:44 EDT

1.6 Capri: When I said that car "went like hell" that was in comparison to other little low displacement cars of the era, early Hondas, VW Bugs, Pintos & Vegas, etc. I believe a 1.5 Honda at the time was 62-63 HP and the smaller ones less. Thinking back on it, I belkieve My cousins Capri was a bit earlier than '73, it was one of the first generation, She got it used in about '75.
- Dave Boyer - Saturday, 08/06/11 12:12:24 EDT

Speaking of John Deeres: A farmer said to his best friend that his sex life wasn’t good and thought his wife wasn’t interested in him anymore. So his friend advised going to see a marriage counselor.

A few weeks went by and the friend was getting very worried that he hadn’t seen the farmer for a long while so decided to call round. There was no answer at the door but the friend could hear music from the barn so decided to take a look. In the barn was the farmer dancing naked around his John Deere with a rose in his teeth and box of chocolates in his hand, so he asked the farmer what the hell he was doing.

The farmer replied - "The counselor told me to buy some gifts for my wife and then do erotic things to a tractor".
- grant - Saturday, 08/06/11 17:33:49 EDT

Further on John Deere I have sent a photo to Jock.
- philip in china - Saturday, 08/06/11 19:26:53 EDT

Phillip sent a wild John Deere/Harley Tric Hog photo but without attribution I cannot post it (copyright questions).

It says 1946 LUC John Deere (engine and most of the drive) and Harley Davidson (possibly some frame and forks - dual vertical Harley exhausts on the JD engine. . .

You can drop me a line if you want to see.
- guru - Sunday, 08/07/11 15:27:35 EDT

Bronze casting?: Diego Giacometti...Alberto's little brother. I was given a large picture book of Diego's bronze work: "Diego Giacometti" by Marchesseau. Two of my students from the 1980's gave me the book and were enamoured of his work. Personally, I think Diego's work is exceptional. He did lots of furniture and animal forms with relief surface texture. But how did he do the attenuated forms such as table legs and stretchers for himself and his brother? The book does not explain the methods. When I first looked at his pieces, I thought there might have been some sand casting. His casting began in the early 1900's and he died in 1985. I did a little research on the internet, and I get nebulous replies about technique. Most of the writing is done by art critics or magazine writers.

One person said that he made plaster molds with his hands and that bronze was poured into the molds. Really? There's got to be more to it than that. A couple of writers say it is lost wax, a method which dates back thousands of years. That dismisses the subject with a simple sentence...tells us nothing. Another author was talking about the thin legs and chair of "A Seated Woman." The author says that the plaster was placed directly around the wire-like armature. If that is so, then what happens?

In any event, I think that Diego was high tech for the period in which he worked. There is the possibility that he worked with the currently popular thin shell slurry material, which I understand came to the art world from the aerospace industry in the mid-1960's[?].

Does anyone know his methods, or did he take them to the grave?
Frank Turley - Sunday, 08/07/11 23:51:13 EDT

Frank, I know nothing about the man or his art but I do know a bit about casting having made masters and molds for ceramics, plaster, zinc (permanent iron molds), brass and iron. Many of the methods were non-traditional (ie - not published in books). There are LOTS of unique and original ways an artist could have made castings in a non-production setting.

Shell molding (any mold not a solid block) dates back to the earliest metal casting. Molds could be split and removed from a clay or plaster master or made to surround an investment made of anything that would melt or dissolve. Wax was a popular material for melt outs but other materials could be used including sugar and lead.

Shells were traditionally plaster but clay has been used for a good while. In fact it is a natural transition since a certain amount of clay and sand is added to common plaster to make it more refractory.

I do not know how far back ceramic shell castings goes of the modern type. Many of the advances have been in better materials and techniques such as centrifugal casting to get denser cleaner castings. But this is generally applicable to small parts where many are cast at one time on a tree.

Some of the big 20th century advances have been in rubber molding compounds. While not rated for direct bronze casting it can be done in a silicone rubber mold if you do not want to reuse the mold. In metal casting it is most often used to reproduce waxes in great detail then use any applicable lost wax process. Many other materials are cast directly in the molds.

I found some photos of Diego Giacometti's work and I believe he used a number of methods. Most pieces appear to be lost wax (of some type) and others, sometimes on the same sculpture appear to be direct carved molds or "scratch" molds. In the link below the dogs appear to be hand modeled in wax but he tree appears to be a scratch mold. The one previous to it with leaves and frogs seems to be a similar combination of methods.

Scratch molds are particularly an artists method because every piece is an original. Working in the negative also produces a very alien effect in some cases because it is the reverse of what was carved.
Diego Giacometti
- guru - Monday, 08/08/11 01:26:13 EDT

anvil logo: bought an anvil has a quarter moon with a straight horizontal line through it and it looks like a small sun were the line and moon meet. there is a name under the line and what looks like a patten reg.under the logo tried the pencil trick no help any ideas on make would be appreciated.
tx Jim
jim - Monday, 08/08/11 10:27:35 EDT

Moon and Sunset Logo:
Jim, That is a Southern Crescent made by Southern Skein and Foundry, Chattanooga, TN. These are a lower grade steel faced cast iron body anvil similar to a Vulcan Anvil, This company made the Vulcan toward the end (1960's).
Vulcan Anvils
- guru - Monday, 08/08/11 12:28:41 EDT

More about Diego Giacometti: I found a nice biography of Diego Giacometti at

The only techniques the author mentions in a rather intimate article is using plaster, scratching bits of plaster and using clay for a sculpture and making multiple plaster molds from it. Other places mention lost wax.

To me, it appears that Giacometti uses as a variety of media and methods in sculpting, casting, forging and welding often all combined in one work. While the material is all bronze it is worked in a combination of methods that other artists usually do not combine. He has clay and wax pieces combined with what look like scratch mold parts as mentioned above. These parts may also be conventional molds that have been modified by carving the plaster to add details.

The difference in Giacometti's use of various techniques is that he produced a uniform effect from all of them. The castings were finished well enough that they matched the forgings which were textured to match the castings. . . In other words he was both a talented artist and consummate craftsman.

I could not determine if he did his own foundry work or if he took his molds to a foundry to have cast. But it does appear that he made his own molds using fairly standard methods.
Diego Giacometti Biography by Robert Wernick
- guru - Monday, 08/08/11 12:40:27 EDT

I am pretty sure Diego Giacometti worked in lost wax with commercial art foundries in France. I think he mostly made his originals from clay, possibly some plaster, but then sent them out to be cast.
I have seen several in person, at various museums, and they always appeared to be pretty traditional bronze castings.
There also was a kerfuffle a few years ago where a foundry that had cast a lot of his work while he was alive was making new copies years after his death, without the estate's permission.
- ries - Monday, 08/08/11 19:56:54 EDT

Reminiscin': In my dotage, I recollect Ella Mae Morse singing the Blacksmith Blues, so I youtubed it, and found that Walt Disney did a Donald Duck version. Donald is the blacksmith. The song was popular in its day.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 08/09/11 09:29:08 EDT

Donald the blacksmith has some tricks but, as Frank Turley says, "The steel laughs" at him. . .
- guru - Tuesday, 08/09/11 10:41:02 EDT

Then there's the Three Stooges bit as mechanics. Moe gets his head stuck in a pipe gets hammered on the anvil after being in the forge. The head twist in the vise is a good one as well. Still trying to track THAT one down.
- Nippulini - Wednesday, 08/10/11 18:47:59 EDT

Hilarious New Story:
Mark Cortino sent us this new story for the Story page.
The Removal
- guru - Thursday, 08/11/11 08:31:21 EDT

Buster Keaton: Keaton's movie, "The Blacksmith" is available on youtube. His persona is probably dumber than "Dumb and Dumber."
- Frank Turley - Thursday, 08/11/11 10:13:54 EDT

I have over 20 years experience . I have my oun shop looking to go south for the winter . I do lots of knives bits and spurs but have done lots of architecural n.j. pawley 435-901-3003
- n.j. pawley - Friday, 08/12/11 13:27:14 EDT

n.j. pawley you don't state if you are looking for a job, a shop to share, a place to rent or what. Is that just an oversight?
Thomas P - Friday, 08/12/11 17:06:58 EDT

Sounds like the shop is going south to me. . .

If I were looking for a job I'd try to be more concise and communicate the facts.
- guru - Sunday, 08/14/11 12:48:32 EDT

work: I don't know exactly what I'm looking for other than I want to get out of wyoming before the snow gets to deep I'm looking for maybe a part time demonstration gig or someone needing help in there shop . I'd like to be in northern newmexico /southern colorado but if the right possition opened up I'd go anywhere
- NJPAWLEY - Wednesday, 08/17/11 15:20:03 EDT

work: most of my shop is already packed . I can build a shop just about anywhere I just need a little space and a good location. I'm looking to relocate of good. your right cody wyoming dries up as soom as school starts so now is the time for me to relocate
- NJPAWLEY - Wednesday, 08/17/11 15:24:38 EDT

work : I guess what I'm doing is fishing
- NJPAWLEY - Wednesday, 08/17/11 15:26:29 EDT

Received my QuadState 2011 package (Sept 23-25): Albert Paley (Friday night presentation), Alan Flashing (Power hammer deveopment of shapes and designs), Carl Close (Piercing, repousse and detail work), Michael Blue (Creating the precision cutting edge - Straight razors & fillet knives) and Lisa Geertsen (Artistic hand forging).
- Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 08/17/11 15:30:30 EDT

Moving South - From the Frying Pan Into the Fire:
Moving South sounds good until you get there. Many places in the Southwest are nearly the hottest and driest places in the world. In the Southeast, unless you move to Florida we still have relatively cold winters (cold enough you MUST heat to avoid freezing pipes) and the summer heat is intensified by high humidity and swarms of insects. We definitely have seasons. . .

The last time I was in Phoenix AZ the temperature on the streets was 130°F (54°C) while the official temperature was a mere 105°F. But its a "dry" heat. . .

But these are generalizations. Altitude and surrounding land features can make a big difference. Temperatures moderate somewhat with altitude and large bodies of water tend to average temperatures somewhat.

New year-round resorts with new construction are good places for a blacksmith to be. Watch for the next "hot" ski resort or city hosting the Olympics (Sochi, Russia and Pyeongchang, South Korea are next). In some cases the construction goes on for years before and after the event. In others its a huge boondoggle and is vacated before the last medal is awarded.

You may not be thinking big enough. Our friend Rich Waugh moved from the Southwest to the Caribbean. I've been investigating Costa Rica with 72°F year round at an altitude of 800-1,000 feet. Warmer as you go down and cooler as you go up. But even their tallest volcanic peaks never see frost much less snow. . . Its a big world out there. Do you have a passport?

I don't know about Wyoming but the farther South you get the more likely you will need to speak some Spanish. . . especially dealing with laborers and construction crews.

Cost of living is a consideration for many. This includes realestate (buying OR renting), utilities and taxes. Some states have more intrusive laws than others (which often increase the cost of living).

How much "shop" you have makes a big difference and can effect your ability to retreat if you are not happy with your move. My shop if "packed" would currently consist of three or four 20 foot containers. . . But there was a time long-long ago when I could have lived out of the back of a pickup truck.

When making a voluntary big move it helps to travel to the places you are interested in and spend some time there. Do your research both on paper and in real life. Talk to people! Educate yourself.
Travel and Passports
- guru - Wednesday, 08/17/11 18:38:05 EDT

weather: Northern Arizona, northern New Mexico, southern Colorado, and the Texas panhandle all have cold winter weather. If you want to be a real "snow bird," go to Yuma.
- Frank Turley - Thursday, 08/18/11 00:22:09 EDT

Weather aand location: By and large, people that aren't from the southwest don't really understand what the elevations of different areas are. Albuquerque is 5000' and Santa Fe etc. are over 7000' above sea level. They also don't know that the Colorado Plateau is pretty much all over 4000' and that starts at the Mogollon rim.

Frank, My wife took a bronze casting class from Michael Storey when he had his foundry in Payson, Az. She still has the notes and formulae for the slurry. Also, lots of tips for setting up shop that won't break the bank. If you are interested, e-mail me at: v i k f o r g e at y a h o o dot c o m . Michael is also on Youtube.
- Loren T - Thursday, 08/18/11 02:34:24 EDT

Weather: You tell 'em, Frank!

When I lived in Phoenix we always used to say, "No matter how miserable it is here, it's way worse in Yuma!" And it was damn sure miserable in Phoenix.
- Rich - Thursday, 08/18/11 08:12:26 EDT

We had a miserably humid day lately---got up to *34%* RH! Much more comfortable at 8% RH.

I think the Farm and Ranch Museum in Las Cruces NM already has a demonstrator.
Thomas P - Thursday, 08/18/11 12:46:40 EDT

NJRAWLEY: Go to Click on link for affiliates. Contact blacksmithing groups in your state(s) of interest.
Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 08/18/11 18:11:05 EDT

bronze casting: Loren T. & All, I admit that I was interested in Diego Giacometti's bronze work, and I threw out my questions as a form of phishing. I was lazy, but I am not totally ignorant of the current thin shell method used frequently at modern foundries. We have three art foundries in Santa Fe, and I have on occasion, watched them pour. I think that silicon bronze is used nowadays more than tin bronze.

I suspect that Diego stuck with the tried and true plaster molds, lost wax, and tin bronze rather than thin shell, the latter probably not creeping into the art world until the mid 1960's. I talked recently face to face with two bronze artists, and they maintain that a long table stretcher could be poured with the sprue on one end, not on the side, and assuming that all was vented properly. The mold is pre-heated. Furthermore, regarding assembly, the oxy-acetylene torch was beginning to come into prominent use in 1903. Diego was probably braze-welding the corners of tables, etc.

I've spent 48 years trying to learn a few blacksmithing techniques. I don't think that I want to be a bronze artist with molds. If I did a piece in bronze, I would probably forge it.

I do thank everyone for their comments and conjecture.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 08/18/11 19:46:14 EDT

Thick to thin weld: Artist friend, Stuart Kraft, put a new youtube of Turley fire-welding a stem onto a leaf.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 08/18/11 20:37:35 EDT

Bronze Art:
Frank, See my iForge brass demo (link below).

This is a bunch of small stuff. But I also worked on a solid brass gate with Josh Greenwood. He forged all the 1/2" square brass and 3/4" Square frame and I welded everything together that did not get riveted. Many of the scrolls were welded to pickets then the weld dressed flat and covered with a brass collar. It was a ton of torch and die grinder work.

The brass is both considerably denser thus heavier than iron AND not as stiff so sagging is a concern even in a garden gate. The bottom of the gate had a solid panel about 8" tall inside a frame to stiffen the gate and provide support. The gate was for a house in Virginia Beach.

If you make anything out of brass or bronze remember the increased weight compared to iron and the reduced strength.

Much of Diego Giacometti's bronze furniture looks to have forged and scrolled bar stock which was then welded into a solid frame with cast components. As you noted all his frames look to have a lot of torch work. The overall texture on many pieces would hide torch welds.

Many modern rails with bronze top cap are welded with either a torch or TIG.

iForge brass demo
- guru - Thursday, 08/18/11 22:34:01 EDT

Bronze: I do a middlin' amount of forged bronze work, all done in high silicon bronze, alloy C65500. Lovely stuff to work with in a gas forge! Very nearly the strength of steel vis-a-vis sagging and such. Autologous and/or filler-rod TIG welds result in a perfect color match, too. No forge welding, of course, unless I get to try in outer space some day!

Silicon bronze has become the bronze of choice for most sculpture casting these days - alloys like Everdur and Herculoy, again because of the ease of working, low fuming, and color match when welded.
- Rich - Friday, 08/19/11 09:07:41 EDT

you guys read my mind already got the numbers for the abana clubs down there . I'm not looking for less winter just shorter winter. this year in cody the weather was so bad all of june I couldn't do any outside demos and it is already getting down into the 30's at nite. time to go south. I wintered in cave creek az. last year it was great sunny and 70 every day thanks for all the comments
- nj pawley - Saturday, 08/20/11 14:28:56 EDT

all my fab tables that I dont sell and all my homemade tooling that I don't give away are going to be recycled, that will save me one 20 foot shipping container the rest I think will fit in one and my big horse trailer it's going to take us two trips I think the hard part is the unloading of the air hammers ect. after I get to where I'm going
- nj pawley - Saturday, 08/20/11 14:37:15 EDT

work: its a lot shorter commute to warmer weather from n.m. than from cody wyoming and the cold weather thing is all relative depending on where you think cold is. if any body knows anybody looking for a demonstrator or a helper let me know or 435-901-3003
nj pawley - Saturday, 08/20/11 14:51:08 EDT

NJ Pawley I OWN a 10,000 sq ft. building in Baton Rouge Louisiana, I am so tired of working alone that I would be willing to discuss having a REAL blacksmith share my space rent free. Snow is not an issue here. the recession has missed La. Work for a decorative smith is available. Call (225) 927- 9800 weekdays
- danny arnold - Sunday, 08/21/11 08:25:26 EDT

Winter is Coming (Game of Thrones):
When I was a kid I loved the winter and snow. I would play in it all day and come home with my cloths covered in ice. We had a steep sled riding hill that was FAST. I know we reached 50 MPH or more and would sled ride at night when it was faster (and more dangerous). I'm surprised none of us got seriously injured. We loved "snow-days" and would take advantage of every moment of it.

When I was in my 20's I worked every day in an Auto Service Station. Winter meant commuting in the snow, working on cars covered with slush, salt and road grit plus putting on, taking off and repairing a LOT of tire chains. The 70's and early 80's were probably the last decade in the Southeast that folks regularly used chains. I learned not to like winter so much. I was also learning about the added expense of winter. . .

As I grew older winter became more of a chore. Our basement, while closed was drafty no matter what we tried and pipes freezing were a constant battle for years. I spent lots of time thawing pipes, repairing pipes, digging and repairing pipes in frozen ground. . . There is nothing like desperately needing to GO in the morning and having to fight snow and ice to thaw pipes first. Winter stopped being fun.

My blacksmith shop was outdoors and later when enclosed it was unheated. It is no fun working with steel that your fingers stick to. Most machinery does not like cold either. It is stiff and brittle. Running it was a good way to fry a motor or break something. Winter became something to hate.

Now the older I get the more I dislike winter (not crazy about mid-summer heat either) and my body is less resistant to either. It seems that when I was a kid the 90's were perfect and 20F was still OK. . . Now my comfort zone is much much narrower. As you get older you find out why so many people want to move South to retire. . .

So a drastic move to somewhere like Costa Rica where much of the midlands hovers around 70F (21C) most of the year becomes more and more of a possibility.
- guru - Sunday, 08/21/11 10:40:56 EDT

Danny; and Winter:
Danny: I had a $1 a year lease for the National Park Service in Natchitoches, LA, and one of the conditions we imposed was that the University was that the University was responsible for snow removal. We knew it only snowed once in a blue moon, but I didn't want any arguments about who had to shovel it when the rare occurrence occurred.

Jock: Despite my vulnerability to cold, due to my stringy frame (6'1 and currently 145 pounds, but "I'm getting better!"); I actually like winter here in tidewater Maryland. The river and bay do tend to temper the climate a bit; and all the stuff STOPS GROWING on the farm- grass, vines, trees, poison ivy... Sometimes you get some really great days for clearing the wood, or forging in the shop, or woodwork, that you just don't have in the summer.

Current plans call for staying until the icecaps melt. ;-)

Fixing to rain on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks:

Go viking:
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 08/21/11 13:34:42 EDT

Weather: Just had a hard tropical storm (Irene) pound us. Some water damage, some wind, some flooding, the usual. Several hours with chainsaw and tractor and I could at least get off the property. Ain't life grand?

Rich - Monday, 08/22/11 17:24:03 EDT


The current headline on says Irene may hit the United States. Apparently you must have imagined the storm damage (grin).
Mike BR - Monday, 08/22/11 20:09:04 EDT

Mike: They treat us like a red-headed step-child all the time!

- Rich - Monday, 08/22/11 21:22:19 EDT

The Forgotten America: Don't feel bad, they forget Alaska as well. . . Hawaii sometimes and the rest of the territories or possessions (even Puerto Rico with a population of 4 million and possible NEXT state) all the time.
- guru - Tuesday, 08/23/11 09:13:00 EDT

Hey here in New Mexico we get forgotten all the time; so much so that New Mexico Magazine has a long running page of folks talking about being told they can't ship stuff to NM as it's "out of the country"; getting charged extra for "international" service; not having credit cards accepted as they don't accept foreign ones, etc and we are a state in the contiguous USA!
Thomas P - Tuesday, 08/23/11 12:03:26 EDT

Loking for a Blacksmithing Teacher in Miami Fl: Im looking for a teacher here in Miami Fl, plain and simple. I have no experience working metal like this but its been a dream of mie to learn and have a forge of my own one day. Any advice would be most welcome.
- Timothy Marin - Tuesday, 08/23/11 17:46:28 EDT

Miami Blacksmiths: Contact FABA, the Florida Artists Blacksmiths Association.
- Rich - Tuesday, 08/23/11 18:00:17 EDT

Timothy: Look in the Miami Yellow Pages for probably ornamental ironworking. Designers may also have leads for you. Some places may order almost everything from a catalog and then assemble it, while others may involve forging.
- Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 08/24/11 09:24:08 EDT

Teachers: Timothy, You may find it difficult to find someone local to teach and under the conditions or cost you expect. FABA will have monthly meetings where they often have brief classes. But to get significant instruction you should look into a crafts of Blacksmithing school.

There are two schools in North Carolina (John C Campbell and Penland). And there are numerous schools at greater distance such as Frank Turley's school in Santa Fe, NM.

Besides the actual forging there are many other metalworking skills that can be learned at various trade schools and community colleges. A modern blacksmith shop is more machine and welding shop than the romantic image of a 19th century forge.

Then there are the related skills to all crafts such as drawing. Most blacksmiths are "artist blacksmiths" but many forget the ART and need to be able to draw to be successful. There are many art schools and those Community Colleges that have machine shop classes often have art courses as well.

You will find that an education in this field requires a broad range of knowledge. Start with the many books on the subject then look at local educational sources. A trade school welding course will get you off to a good start.
- guru - Wednesday, 08/24/11 11:05:06 EDT

RE : Teachers: Thank you all so much for the advice! Ive already begun looking into a welding program but the classes have already started... :(

I have a limited experience with metal working mostly in jewlery that i make at home with metal wire and a table clamp vise as a makeshift anvil. I know.... its pretty bad.

I guess what im really looking for is an apprenticeship with a local blacksmith or something along those lines. But ive already started tearing into the book i just bought.

And as much as I want to go to those schools its not possible for me right now. The biggest problem for me is the traveling distance to attend those schools.
- Timothy - Wednesday, 08/24/11 12:20:36 EDT

Timothy; please read the posting about apprenticeships here at anvilfire.

And going to the FABA meetings will be the fastest method of finding out what's available locally.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/24/11 12:54:23 EDT

Miami doesn't have a trade school or welding school or community college? Wouldn't take but a minute or two on Google. . . Note that MANY of these have adult retraining courses that ANYONE can sign up for (even high school students).

Apprenticeships in Blacksmithing
- guru - Wednesday, 08/24/11 13:30:23 EDT


There's nothing bad about making something you want to make using the tools and materials available to you. In fact you can learn a lot that way. But I suspect that blacksmithing will open new horizons for you.
Mike BR - Wednesday, 08/24/11 19:23:48 EDT

At the moment I'm hiring the teenage son of friends to come work in the shop of Saturday mornings. Old saying is the first 80% of results come with the first 20% of effort. That is about what he is willing to put in. I have to redo virtually everything he does to add the 'quality' factor to it, such as straight shafts, flat ends, nicely draw poker points and centered eyes. I suspect this coming Saturday will be the last time I employ him. His parents say he does about the same level of work for them. I was trying to give him a leg up on experience, but apparently he is slated for a lifetime of minimum wage jobs.
Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 08/25/11 09:07:53 EDT

I hope that it will open new oportunities and horizons for me. Just as I hope to use my nutty imagination to forge some amazing pieces of work. But I guess it will all come in due time. All i have to do now is collect the pieces for a forge starting with an anvil... any advice on where to look for one. Ive read the forums but inside experince also works well :)
- Timothy - Thursday, 08/25/11 12:06:33 EDT

Lets see: last several I found were: Craigslist, Church, looked where an anvil should be, talked with a fellow at a fleamarket (he was selling oily car parts---his uncle had the anvil at home...). Talked with people at an SCA meeting---one had a 400# anvil he wanted to trade for a 125# anvil he could move around with, garage sale, etc
Thomas P - Thursday, 08/25/11 12:29:34 EDT


Try this link:
Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 08/25/11 16:13:40 EDT

Timothy, Have you looked at our FAQ's page or Anvil gallery? We have a good article on how to find anvils OR anything else you need for the blacksmith shop.

Our anvil gallery also has images of lots of good anvils as well as some of the bad that you do not want.

Almost more important than an anvil and the tool that more hours are spent at is the Vise. Most shops have three vises for every anvil. Most smiths do not consider they are setup without a blacksmiths leg vise (see the FAQs again). But for many uses any heavy bench vise is suitable. Vises are used for holding work while sawing, filing, drilling, chiseling, bending. . . and holding scroll and bending jigs. Most heavy hammering should be done on a blacksmiths vise but if the bench vise is sufficiently heavy they can be used for some of this work. Vises run from little jewelers, watchmakers and locksmiths vises that only weigh a few ounces having 1.5" (38mm) jaws to big chipping vises weighing more than a man with 8" (200 mm) jaws.

There are also specialty vises such as woodworking and patternmaker's vises, sawyers vises and machinist's vises.

When you are on the search for tools do not be too narrowly focused. Other equally important items may come up OR fantastic deals that YOU may not be interested in but may be able to TRADE to someone else. Getting by on the cheap is the art of the deal.
- guru - Thursday, 08/25/11 17:21:23 EDT

Thank you all sooooooo mch for you information and advice! I cant wait to find a good place to set up a forge and get cracking!
- Timothy - Thursday, 08/25/11 17:45:00 EDT

Heavy Weather Coming: Y'all be careful along the East Coast and tidewater areas; looks like we're in for a big, bad one. We're lowering the mast, doubling the lines and sinking the ship (at least as far as she'll go, being made of wood) tomorrow afternoon. My anvils should stay put, but I guess I'll see how good a job my friends and I did on the new forge's roof.
Irene on NOAA
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 08/25/11 20:19:26 EDT

Hurricanes and Flooding: Even in the mountains and hill country the rains from a hurricane can be devastating.
- guru - Thursday, 08/25/11 22:23:39 EDT

Vises and Benches:
A good vise is a great tool but it is no better than the bench it is anchored to.

Think of the marriage bed of Odysseus and Penelope (Homer - The Odyssey) which was made as part of a great live Olive tree around which their home had been built. Many would think that this romantic symbol of permanence is the place for a blacksmith's anvil but the correct tool for such sturdy anchoring is the VISE! Vises are used for much bending and pushing. These tasks use a great deal of leverage and need the best possible anchoring to be the most effective. Stout anchored benches are the place for shop vises.
- guru - Thursday, 08/25/11 22:23:47 EDT

Bench Vise: "weighing more than a man with 8" (200 mm) jaws"

I don't know what a man with 8" jaws weighs, but a good old 5" jaw bench vise goes about 75-80#.

Stay away from the import vises with wide porly supported jaws. If one of those is what You have, treat it lightly.
- Dave Boyer - Thursday, 08/25/11 22:26:01 EDT

8" Jaws: Why that's not that much. I recall reading that some of the famed Hapsburgs of Austria had lower mandibles far exceeding that. Ah, the perils of inbreeding!

The best place for a blacksmith's leg vise that I've found is securely fastened to a stout post sunk in a concrete floor. Plenty of room all around it to swing a cat.
- Rich - Friday, 08/26/11 00:24:08 EDT

Vise Weights: I've got two bench vises over 100 pounds. . . and a third I am not sure about.

Old vises were both heavy castings and were made of the best iron, often alloy ductile iron. Most manufacturers of the time were trying to make the most durable possible product without going to forgings and breaking the bank.

Today the choices are not very good. Even the better vise lines are cast of questionable material. This leaves you with old vises OR the Ridge Tool forged Peddinghaus Vise. Its a fantastic tool if you can afford one but not very large.

Vises have also been made in infinite variety with all kinds of odd features. But I've found that most gimmicky vises are not very good. You cannot beat dead simple and heavy duty when it comes to vise design.
- guru - Friday, 08/26/11 00:45:53 EDT

Vises: Having pretty much grown up at the valve company, I learned to really like massive chipping vises. Since the shops were very old and usually threw away nothing massive 250#+ vises were bolted to nearly every thing. Primarily Columbians but many Reedss as well.
The best currently available vise is the Wilton machinist. These have a torpedo shaped body and the 8" weighs about 150# or so. The little Wiltons are cast junk, but all of the torpedos machinist style are first class.
When I had to buy 30+ new vises to equip 30+ new workbenches in about 1994, I bought JET brand and found them good value. These were in production use and we shipped all 30+ to Texas when the plant was sold for continued use.
ptree - Friday, 08/26/11 07:26:11 EDT

The two really big vises I have are both Prentiss chipping vises and both came out the same old multigeneration machine shop. They are both still in my old shop and I desperately need to move them. . . The third large vise I have is a large Columbian and not nearly as stout as the Prentisses but still a heck of a vise. I think Prentiss became Reed or vise versa. . . A bunch of those small New England manufacturers changed hands back and forth making the same product with different names.

Thelargest Prentiss is going to be mounted on a Weld platen that weighs about a ton. The smaller on a bench as it always has been. The Columbian is on a heavy stand bolted to a piece of 1" plate about 40" in diameter. . . I may sell it simply because I really DO have too many vices. . . ;)
- guru - Friday, 08/26/11 09:09:43 EDT

Kelvin: The 82 and HK were like marks, such as what batch of steel it had been made out of, anvil crew which made it, or inspector.

In Anvils in America on page 68 Richard Postman indicated ATTWOODS were made in Sheffield (home of Househole also). I don't know how far from it Stourbridge was, but really an anvil brand something like Eastman & sons from there. On page 72 Postman indicates he had seen two ATTWOODS with just WARRANTED and stone weight on them. I understand WARRANTED mean the body was all wrought iron. BEST IMPROVED? Might mean they were increasting the quality.
Ken Scharabok - Friday, 08/26/11 09:45:40 EDT

BEST IMPROVED: Maybe refers to the grade of steel used for the face plate, i.e. "Best Improved Plow Share Steel" which was a common designation, at least for cable steels in the US some years ago? Best improved was about 1095, I think.
- Rich - Friday, 08/26/11 10:58:03 EDT

Biggest shop vise I know of belongs to a friend. It was the vise for a large-ish shaper and weighs 300+ pounds I believe.

I have a 100# 6" vise bolted to a utility pole that's the shop roof truss support---good sized pole sunk 5' and then concreted in. Being aggressive on it does make the shop wall and roof chime in but it does seem rigid!

The foot rests on/in a chunk of 2'x4' grader blade(?) with the large square recessed bolt holes I had planned to make a table from with hardy holes.

Bought 2 postvises today; 100 mile drive to pick them up but they are complete with good screws and at a substantial discount to local prices.
Thomas P - Friday, 08/26/11 13:33:08 EDT

The largest vise I have seen and used was made from a 36" 2 jaw lathe chuck set on its side mounted to a slab of 6" boiler plate and anchored into the floor. We torqued union bonnet valves in it, in my day we used 13' cheater with 3 men to turn the 8" nut. This was on a 4" pipe size valve. In the 30-40's they built the same series up to 8" pipe size and used the same vise!
I replaced the 13' wrench and 3 guys was replaced with a hydraulic torquer, and the builder had to push a button to run it:)
ptree - Friday, 08/26/11 14:01:08 EDT

I forgot to put in what I would guess that vise weighed, I would put it in the approx. 3000#
ptree - Friday, 08/26/11 14:02:12 EDT

Shaper Vises: I've had a couple shaper and milling vises. Too specialized for general work. The short jaws are very stiff but even a huge shaper vise has very short (in height) jaws. The advantages of a traditional vise are that the width of the jaws and over hang let tall work can be clamped to the size of the slide arm and the relief under the jaws allow for clamping odd size work.

Large odd lathe chucks are good for all kinds of things. They are best mounted on weld positioners, rotary tables or dividing heads.
- guru - Friday, 08/26/11 15:16:27 EDT

The lathe chuck in question had arms that held pads about 10" square and stood proud of the chuck body by about 24". It had a honking big crank to open/close. It was a Vogt made chuck as were most of our chucks. We had a unique feature in that the 2 chuck arms were designed to take shaped pads that gripped a forged valve body that had no flat surfaces, and the could be indexed to machine both pipe legs and the bonnet/internals without unchucking.
The really big valve bodies, say a 3500# forging had a piecework rate of 2.5 days. That is 2.5 shifts per valve body in a 48" Gisholt turret lathe.
ptree - Friday, 08/26/11 15:28:25 EDT

Something New (far) Under the Sun: Superdense aluminum!

I can't wait to forge some of that! ;-)
Science Daily link
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 08/27/11 13:33:38 EDT

Materials Science:
I saw a couple shows on Nova about new materials and processes. One was on making high grade diamonds. Diamonds have many other properties besides hardness that make them valuable for other purposes.

1) Diamond conducts heat almost instantly.
2) Diamond resists electrical conductivity more than any other material.
3) They can be doped with various compounds to produce conductors or semi-conductors.
4) They hold up to much higher temperatures than silicon.

This means that they are the ultimate electronic chip substrate. The rapid heat conductivity and resistance means that they be used be make much smaller lighter weight electronic components. In the field of power control and conversion this is very important because it means significantly lighter and small controls for electric vehicles. It could save tons on electric trains and even a few pounds on an electric car still improves efficiency.

Currently they are growing significantly sized (1/4 to 3/8") in crystal clear gem quality diamonds.

Other areas where materials science are making dramatic break throughs are in medicine, particularly in materials for replacement organs. Several methods have been developed for growing organs but they need a substrate armature or scaffold to grow on. One way is with a bio-rubber the other is using actual organs that are washed of all the surface cells leaving nothing but a rubber like protein scaffold.

Your own cells are grown on the scaffold. When transplanted the organ is not rejected like a donor organ. There is no need for a tissue match OR harvesting a fresh organ (the organ for the scaffold can be from a cadaver). So far animal hearts and lungs have been created this way AND human wind pipe which was successfully transplanted.

NOVA - Can we live forever?
- guru - Saturday, 08/27/11 16:38:54 EDT

On Monday, September 5th, the Science Channel will have a program on Shooting Anvils. Likely around 7PM, but check your TV listings.
Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 08/27/11 20:09:20 EDT

I like watching Nova. Did you see the other materials episode with the liquid that, when exposed to a magnet, turned solid? They're using it in vehicle suspension among other things. I'd like to see if that technology could be applied to mountain bike suspension. There are currently products on the market that claim to lock out when force is applied from the top, but they are rather picky and have to be tuned in properly.
Oh, maybe we could live forever in our corporal coils, but the sun will burn out eventually!!
- Ty Murch - Saturday, 08/27/11 20:53:17 EDT


I think the Red Giant phase is closer than anyone's letting on. Why else would they be installing solar compactors on the street corners near me? (grin)
Mike BR - Sunday, 08/28/11 12:51:32 EDT

Mike BR: 12-21-12 is the end of the world, I saw it on TV.
- danny arnold - Sunday, 08/28/11 22:33:06 EDT

Happy B'day: I'll have a happy birthday on 12-10-12 just a few days before it all comes down.
Frank Turley - Monday, 08/29/11 10:43:15 EDT

No fair, Frank: Mine is 12-28-12, just one measly week too late. To think I'm never going to reach 64 - good thing I don't believe in Mayans, Aztecs, Toltecs, Molmecs or Edgar Cayce! (grin)
Rich - Monday, 08/29/11 17:29:25 EDT

Awful lot of solid geometry made of limestone out there not to believe in them! However they don't consider the world ending just cause their calendar reaches it's last page---just time to get a new one and open it to the first page of the next great cycle...

And mine is 12-15-12
Thomas P - Monday, 08/29/11 18:31:42 EDT

End of Days: The stock market is more likely to bring about the end of the world as we know it than some astral alignment or world killer asteroid.
- guru - Monday, 08/29/11 23:51:01 EDT

The End: I saw a cartoon where the Mayan calendar carver said to the high priest, "I ran out of room. I hafta' stop at 2012." The priest sez, "That's gonna' worry a lot of people some day."
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 08/30/11 00:40:35 EDT

Need a Custom Fireplace Grate Maker: We have a busy retail hearth business that often has requests for uncommon sized fireplace grates. We need an experienced, dependable person or company to make and ship custom grates for us on an as-needed basis. If this is something you are set up to do and might be interested in, please call 1-888-834-7375 (THIS is the CORRECT phone) and ask for Monte, or email us.

Custom Fireplace Grates
Monte - Tuesday, 08/30/11 17:02:30 EDT

Danny, I removed your post because most of the listings were from folks that should be advertising here including one that repeatedly asks to advertise and all I ask is to send a check . . . which never arrives.

If you are trying to advertise an ebay sale of your own you are welcome to put it on our Tailgate page.
- guru - Tuesday, 08/30/11 18:14:24 EDT

No takers on the solar compactors, huh?

They're pretty amazing devices. You just open a door on the front and drop in a piece of ordinary trash. The machine squeezes the energy out and transfers it to a black grid on the top, where it's beamed at the sun.

(Of course, it *is* *just* possible I might have got the energy flow wrong. . .)
Mike BR - Tuesday, 08/30/11 18:29:49 EDT

I'm 17 years old and i want to get into blacksmithing. I was just wondering if selling handmade tools to the local tool trader would be able to act as a part time job replacement? or if i shold just apply at mcdonalds. i hate working inside but the boss i work on a ranch with cant do anything anymore.
- Wesley - Tuesday, 08/30/11 22:07:32 EDT

Wesley: In order to make any real money, You have to be able to make good stuff fast. There is no money trying to compete in the low end, and there is not much middle ground.

Someone once said: "Behind every sucessfull blacksmith is a wife with a good job." There may be exceptions to this, but for most it is a better hobby than job, and making Your hobby into Your job can take the fun out of it.

What are Your longer term employment/means of support goals?

Part of the problem with marketing Your products through someone else is that they need to be able to sell them for 2X what they paid You for them, and that often means You don't get much for Your product.

If You come up with a niche product and a really effective way to produce and market it, You may do OK, but marketing costs eat up a portion of Your gross.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 08/31/11 00:39:30 EDT

Any blacksmiths for hire in So. Cal?: Dear Blacksmiths,

My 8 year old son and I have fallen in love with blacksmithing. But the blacksmith we were learning from is too busy now; and we're looking for a teacher in Ventura County, California. If it's a little farther, that's fine! We'll pay the going rate, or more! Isn't there anyone out there who will take pity on us, and offer us their kind services? We had no trouble finding blacksmiths in Vermont, where we own a little off-the-grid cabin. But that's just for summers. Here, back in real life, blacksmiths are scarse. And Adam's forge is a bit far. Help!
- Kathleen Egan - Wednesday, 08/31/11 01:21:41 EDT

Did I post that in the wrong place?: OK, I see that my "want ad" appeared right in the middle of a very interesting conversation, and that it's ill placed (the ad, not the conversation) This was my first post, so I plead ignorance. Will a moderator move it to the right place? I was a bit confused about the three forums. Sorry!
Kathleen Egan - Wednesday, 08/31/11 01:29:38 EDT

California Smiths: Kathleen, The is an old fashioned run-on forum. All posts go at the end.

Have you tried the CBA (California Blacksmiths Association)?
- guru - Wednesday, 08/31/11 08:09:05 EDT

Even on eBay, unless our are selling big ticket items, their commission and PayPal's will eat up about 16-18% of your gross.
- Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 08/31/11 08:46:55 EDT

Selling Hand Made Tools - Occupations: Wesley, Dave is correct on every point. Here are some more.

1) In almost every area of manufacturing, including hand made tools and crafts items, we are in a global market. To compete you do not need to be cheaper but you need to be much better and not TOO much more costly unless your work is exceptional in every detail. Generally you want NOT compete head to head with slave wage imports.

2) To compete in this global market (we are talking about Europe and Africa as well as Asia) you need the proper tools and machinery AND need to know how to tool them up. This means power hammers, presses, ironworkers, saws, drill presses. . . A modern blacksmith shop is more like a machine shop than an old fashioned (18th Century) smithy.

3) There is ZERO money in selling new goods to trade lot or flea market dealers. You must sell through regular retailers OR direct. Note however that selling direct means a LOT of work on top of making the product. You have catalog, brochure or web site costs, plus advertising. This in turn means inventory on hand.

4) At 17 years of age there is a LOT to learn about manufacturing methods, operating machine tools, metallurgy and business methods. I highly recommend that you continue with or go back to school and get a degree in some related field.

5) Working a McJob. IF you have the brains and chutzpah (A yiddish word, look it up) to be an entrepreneur then you should be able to do better than a McJob.

I often suggest to teens looking for work that there are vast neighborhoods of folks looking for someone to do lawn work and other tasks. Practice cleaning windows and you can probably make a couple hundred dollars a day working weekends with no more than a bucket, some Windex, a squeeze and some paper towels. Note that making your own window cleaner with water, household ammonia and rubbing alcohol is cheaper and works better. And some things come off windows better with one or the other. Do a good job and repeat business in a small neighborhood will keep you busy. Beats flipping burgers.

In an aging America there is a lot a young entrepreneur can do to earn a living. But it takes WORK. We have had a number of the kids from our neighborhood come looking for lawn work. They expect us to provide a riding lawn mower. . . When I point out we need drainage ditches dug and bushes transplanted (real work) they never come back. I also have machinery to de-rust (mostly sanding and scraping by hand) and a cluttered shop to sweep and organize. AND those windows to clean. . . All low skill work but work that needs to be done that we are willing to pay for. But it must also be done well. There is skill and craftsmanship in sweeping a floor. Those that cannot see the dirt they missed under the machines and benches or streaks left on windows need not apply. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 08/31/11 08:51:22 EDT

Lawn work will definitely get you outside. Working for yourself means you get all the money---and losses.

Learning how to maintain your tools yourself can make a big difference in how much money you keep. Well maintained tools do the job Faster and Better. keeping your equipment up also helps get jobs.

Small engine repair can then be a nice side business during the winter.

Finally SAFETY; no amount of money is worth taking unnecessary risks---even a $100 bonus for mowing a steep hillside won't cover a 100,000 hospital bill and life long problems with what's left after the accident. (My grandfather was killed mowing with a tractor, flat land but with a bar ditch along the road.)

If you want to make money selling tools to blacksmiths you should expect to spend several years getting good before you make enough to cover costs. Expecting to sell when you first get started is like expecting to win car races the day you get a learner's permit!
Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/31/11 13:12:23 EDT

Looks to market opportunities no one else is satisfying. Within two counnties we have three smiths. I go after the low end of market as to tools and custom items. Another guy goes exclusiely stair rails (in the $100K range plus} area. Another has work directed to him by deigners for reproduction.
Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 08/31/11 13:55:25 EDT

My First Lawn Mower: Cost me $2 and took a couple hours to hand craft parts for the centrifugal governor. It ran for years. . . My brother in law would go out on every spring cleaning day when they will pickup anything put out at the curb. Every year he would come back with at least one lawn mower if not two that were only a few years old and only needed a spark plug or gunk cleaned out of the carburetor. Take advantage of the amazing amount of stuff American's throw away and you can make good money with little investment. You just can't be picky about what you do.
- guru - Wednesday, 08/31/11 14:26:03 EDT

slack tub pub: can i register? on here? that page? or e-mail? call me "hotshort"
- danny arnold - Wednesday, 08/31/11 21:42:16 EDT

Tool selling: Lol I just want a bit of gas money, not a business, I want to be a Youth Minister. :) And i was just pondering. Thanks for the input guys :)
- Wesley - Wednesday, 08/31/11 23:28:57 EDT

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