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November 2010 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

The Nutritarian Eating Well:
Vegetarian cooking is new to us so we are constantly learning and experimenting. Sheri's beans and salsa are staples of our diet. But we need some variation or things can get boring and we might slip into bad habits. .

We have gotten the spicing of Sherie's beans to the point where you would swear they had meat in them. Besides some hot peppers, onions and garlic, spices include; chili powder, black pepper, pepper mix, oregano, cloves, garlic powder, potassium salt, celery seed and bay leaf.

You have to be careful with powdered cloves. A half teaspoon had the whole 10 quart batch tasting mostly of cloves! It was good but a little too much for every day. However, cloves are one of those spices that are very good for you.

Our latest thing is stuffed peppers. We use both large bell peppers and poblamo peppers. The poblamo peppers are the ones you most commonly find as stuffed peppers in Mexican restaurants. They are hard to find but their mild heat is very nice.

Make two or three peppers per (large vegetarian) serving, four if the peppers are small, two if serving with other things. Slit the peppers, remove the ribs and seeds and rinse. Stuff with a mixture of cooked beans and salsa or just beans and top with salsa. Bake for 1 hour at 350.

Dinner the other night was stuffed peppers, baked sweet potato and green salad. Hmmmm good.

I like a little salad dressing on my salad but commercial dressings are loaded with sugar (high fructose corn syrup), salt, oil and who knows what else. . The "diet" versions are worse with even more salt and bad synthetic sweeteners plus even more of those "who knows" ingredients.

So Sheri did a little searching and found an easy to make almond based dressing. A double recipe follows:

1 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup water
2 tablespoon honey (or stevia).
1 tsp lemon pepper*
2 tbs chives
1 tsp sweet basil
2 tsp ginger
1/2 clove garlic.

Blend in the blender for several minutes depending on how smooth you want it.

* After looking at the ingredients in the "lemon pepper" we are going to substitute other things because it is over 90% salt and a lot of yellow dye. A very BAD deal when buying spices. They substitute salt for the ingredients you THINK you are buying. So much for a "healthy" recipe.

Substitute for "Lemon Pepper":

20 parts Potassium Chloride ('no salt' salt)
5 parts citric acid
1 part black pepper
(lemon not needed in the above recipe).

On a low salt diet who would think that "lemon pepper" was 90% salt? Even when you read the ingredients they make it hard to tell. The label says "12%". But that is 12% of your government daily allowance (about triple a healthy amount and far too much in a low sodium diet) in only 1/4 teaspoon. The recipe above has double that amount in one serving.
- guru - Monday, 11/01/10 13:01:42 EDT

What do you mean Poblanos are hard to find? You just stop by the Rosales' Stand during harvest and buy them by the 30 pound gunny sack!

Thomas in the middle of the Pepper belt
Thomas P - Monday, 11/01/10 13:54:22 EDT

Yeah, Well here the grocers don't know a poblamo from a serano from a . . . . It can get REAL dicey identifying the mild from the flaming hot. Jalapenos are nothing compared to many others. . . Sheri bought a grab bag of peppers. . You name it, it was in there. Loads of fun!

When we do stuffed peppers with sweet Bell peppers we had some extra salsa and you almost can't tell the difference. .
- guru - Monday, 11/01/10 15:54:42 EDT

Poblano: I thought a Poblano was a guy from the state of Puebla.

In New Mexico, we have chiles that are often from Hatch, NM, and Chimayo, NM. They have a little heat, but they are also FLAVORFUL. It seems that if one just eats a chile for picante-heat, one is missing the point. We also spell chile, as I am doing here. In Texas, they have "chili cookoffs," and we are known to say, "Geez, they can't even spell it correctly."

Speaking of which, there is a central Oklahoma college whose football team are known as the "Bronchos," misspelled as though there might be a lung condition. It should be "Broncos," as the Denver team is rightly named. Oh well.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/02/10 12:07:51 EDT

I like Hatch's chiles so much Frank, that I have friends in Denver send me a case of them every three or four months. For some reason, the local grocers here don't stock them, and think I should be satisfied with Old El Paso Chopped Green Chiles. Not gonna happen - I want those nice tasty big whole Hatch chiles. We use them in about three meals a week or more. No hope of getting the Chimayo chiles, unfortunately.
- Rich - Tuesday, 11/02/10 12:41:56 EDT

New Mexico care pkg: Because of Jock's perseverance with his diet, I am forwarding to him some posole, chile rojo, and blue cornmeal, that he may continue with a New Mexican bent.

You may try this for red chile molido: Peter Casados, P.O. Box 852, San Juan Pueblo, NM 87566.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/02/10 14:40:09 EDT

Well .. . we got into the chiles when we started to make our own salsa. We really liked Herdez salsa but it has a LOT of salt in it. We are trying to cut back on sodium and had been using a lot of the Herdez on Sheri's beans. So, this is new to us and the chilli peppers are something we don't know a lot about.

What I have learned is that they come in infinite variety and the range of heat from 0 to 300,000. . . (yeah there are some exotics that hit 500,000) can make cooking a real adventure. It seems like the development of new varieties is part of every horticulture program in the America's

Frank Etal, Be sure anything sent goes to my North Carolina address or it may be months before I see it. .
SHeri's HOme Made Salsa
- guru - Tuesday, 11/02/10 15:28:16 EDT

Pumpkin Pie: Hmm. . too heavy on the shift key. . .

We are modifying more recipes to our diet. The latest is a low-cal pumpkin pie. We substitute Sevia for the rather large amount of sugar and Silk Almond Milk for the condensed milk. The eggs are the glue and can't really be avoided. But removing the sugar and fat remove 3/4 of the calories and you cannot tell the difference in flavor or texture. A great recipe for the Thanksgiving season.

Sheri's beans are so rich and flavorful that we are going to make bean gravy for the mashed potatoes. Just put the cooked beans in the blender and add water as needed. While potatoes are not normally on my diet they will be this Thanksgiving and Christmas. With bean gravy they will not be a diet killer.

Now to try to reinvent the Turkey. . . (please NO TOFURKY!)
- guru - Tuesday, 11/02/10 15:58:52 EDT

Frank: Thanks for the tip, I'll give him a try. I can generally get decent ground red chile here; though not the best, it is okay. Some good chile from the pueblo will be a real treat.

I never had posole without ham hocks or fat back in it - seems somehow un-American. (grin)
- Rich - Tuesday, 11/02/10 21:19:05 EDT

2 Quick Questions...: Just 2 quick questions and I'll be on my way :p

Have any of you ever used Lignite in your forge? Can you use it or would it be more of a last resort?

Also are there any blacksmiths (not farriers) in Billings, MT that any of you out there know of? I might have asked this question years ago but I can't remember. Thanks
- Matt Hunter - Wednesday, 11/03/10 02:45:49 EDT

Big Timber: Matt, is near Big Timber, MT. Bill & Pam Moore.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/03/10 11:51:00 EDT

Re: Montana: Thank you Frank!
Matt Hunter - Wednesday, 11/03/10 23:04:06 EDT

Montana, Bozeman: Tom Wolfe is an old friend teaching horseshoeing at MSU. http://animalrange.montanaedu/horseshoe.htm.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/04/10 07:48:12 EDT

And my first question...: Lignite anyone? "Lignite is the lowest form of coal after peat"

thanks :D
Matt Hunter - Thursday, 11/04/10 17:00:24 EDT

Matt; I've not tried lignite but I would assume it may work but you may need to "coke it first". (probably somewhat between making charcoal and making coke...) May depend on the particular deposit too.

After all you can smith with peat!

Thomas P - Thursday, 11/04/10 19:27:59 EDT

Re: Thomas P: I hear that you have to "coke" coal in order to use it but it sounds hard because I don't understand how you burn something without oxygen? Unless you put it inside some sort of a heat resistant box, close the lid and voila!? I like doing things the experimental way, instead of just buying it. I'm a sort of "naturalist" I guess.

I'll try my best and keep looking online for more information. I just thought I could put lignite or Sub-bituminous coal (which Wyoming has PLENTY of)
in the fire and use it raw?

Thanks for the info Thomas P!! :)
Matt Hunter - Thursday, 11/04/10 20:32:25 EDT

btw: hopefully my questions aren't too annoying.
Matt Hunter - Thursday, 11/04/10 20:33:36 EDT

Coal: Dried and aged lignite has a BTU rating of about 8,000 and the best blacksmithing coal about 12,000. So you have a third less heat per volume of fuel. This also effects how concetrated of focused a fire that will produce a given temperature. In other words, it will take a much larger, less controlled fire to do forge welding.

Not all coal cokes well. I doubt your lignite will coke at all. Coking occurs naturally in a coal fire. As the coal is heated outside the sore of the fire the volatiles evaporate and gas off. During this stage goo coal becomes plastic, the gassing makes it foamy and all that remains is a hard foamed carbon. In pour quality coal the volatiles can be the only fuel and thus it must be burned in a very deep fire in order to produce heat that iron can be heated in. I once had some of this nearly oil-shale type coal and all it did was make great leaping yellow flames and left behind burned out rock as big as they started. . It might work in a boiler but NOT in a forge.

Commercial coking is done in a retort just like making charcoal. In both cases the gases given off are used to fuel the process or supply raw material for other industries. Coke furnaces feed huge chemical industries.

This brings up another issue. Beside the density of the coal (peat is the least sense, followed by lignite. . .), there is also the question of impurities. Oil shale is a version of coal with a very high degree of clay or clay with a small degree of carbon. . . The best coal has only a few percentage points of impurities and these are what form ash and clinkers. One property of good coal is that it makes more clinkers than ash. Ash goes up the chimney and rains down on the world, clinkers get shoveled out and disposed of in a controlled manner. Formation of a small amount of good clinker is an indicator of good coal.

When I tell people that coal can be infinitely variable they simple cannot image just what that infinite range means or lack the imagination to do so. INFINITE - from worthless to the fuel of the gods and everything inbetween.

Try some, test it, THINK about, build a different type of fire or forge to burn it in. Whatever you do DON'T bring home a ton of it. A 5 gallon bucket tops.

- guru - Friday, 11/05/10 10:34:01 EDT

Re: Coal: Wow, well said Guru! How do you know so much info?

It's too late, I've already gathered too much coal but I will test it. Thanks Mr. Dempsey & everyone else!
Matt Hunter - Friday, 11/05/10 17:50:36 EDT

Lignite: It's got to be better than starting with wood and raking the coals in towards the heart of the fire, like we ended up doing in the Viking camp in Newfoundland. Very smoky, and a long time until you got a productive fire going for forging.

So, how would lignite compare to charcoal?
Bruce Blackistone - Friday, 11/05/10 21:11:52 EDT

Bruce, It depends a lot on the impurities. But charcoal is virtually the equivalent of a very low density coke. Almost pure carbon with air spaces.
- guru - Saturday, 11/06/10 08:52:50 EDT

Arcane knowledge:
Matt, I've been around a while, I'm very observant, I read and studied a lot (have a high level of reading comprehension partially due to reading slowly), done a lot of things, and THINK about them a lot. When I was in elementary school one of my favorite subjects was geology. The conversion of sedimentary rock to metamorphic fascinated me. Coal is part of that process. If you every drive through West Virginia on the turnpike (as I've done a least a 100 times) you can observe every variation in the exposed coal and slate seams.

I was also a geeky science kid and figured out on my own that you could make potassium nitrate (needed for gunpowder) from the legally available to kids (for replenishing their chemistry set) potassium chloride and sodium nitrate. . . We did lots or pyrotechnic "experiments". Do you remember what a benzine ring is? The difference between acid, alkali and salts? While this is not Phd level chemistry it IS taught in public school along with basic algebra and geometry. . . Do you know few people can determine the hypotenuse of a triangle or determine the area?

I play chess (only for fun) and pay attention to logic (A must come before B to get to C) and done a LOT of computer programming. I'm a self taught engineer and machinist and can hold my own against most professionals. I've had a wide variety of interests from art to the construction of musical instruments. . . Ever build a guitar? Calculate the spacing between frets?

There is a LOT to study in life.
- guru - Saturday, 11/06/10 10:30:03 EDT

Guru: Everytime I see your name I think of an East Indies man with great knowledge :P

I was not a geek per say in school, more of a loner. I've always had a hard time with math and I never really liked science but the older I get I'm starting to like geology and some types of chemistry and metalurgy. I love plants and trying to grow things from seed. I also like to try and build things from scratch. I am also a slow reader and I am always learning new things and constantly looking in books or on the internet for more information. My mind is like a sponge that never gets wet (er?) I guess some of us are built this way?

Without looking, I can't tell you what a benzine ring is (sounds like something with welding) and all that triangle math stuff....forget it you lost me. Never did like math. Never tried to build a guitar either but I used to play one! I have a hungry mind and I'm always thirsting for knowledge.

I've even tried to dabble with making black powder. I heard of a story of getting potassium nitrate is to pee on a bunch of charcoal and let it sit for about a year and crystals should be growing on the coals...but who knows if this really works or not.

My mind often wanders around too much and I can't stay on one topic for too long. Similarly with blacksmithing etc. You will see me post something on here for a good week or two and then you won't see me for six months to a year haha.

Matt Hunter - Saturday, 11/06/10 21:30:35 EDT

Shop Math: Years the prerequisites for various trade were defined based on the highest level of education one achieved. For most mechanical trades, machinist, blacksmith, plumber it was the eighth grade. At that time eighth grade math was basic algebra with some simple geometry. It was the working math that everyone that lives in a technical society needs to be able to apply to every day problems. Simple things like handling fractions (which is what algebra is all about), figuring the area of a room, increasing or decreasing a recipe, calculating the MPG of their transportation, balancing a checkbook, understanding percentages (like a 15% off sale), understanding food labels. . . Machinists, carpenters and blacksmiths were expected to be able to determine the circumference and area of a circle, understand the relationships of angles and do the math to calculate the long side of a right triangle. All pretty simple math and an absolute requirement for anyone in charge of a job.

Today we have calculators to do the grunt work of mathematics and they even replace the large tables of sines, cosines and logarithms. They have buttons to insert PI and one press instant reciprocals, roots and squares. All one has to do is remember the most basic of rules and have the gumption to open up a Machinery's Handbook or other reference to look up the solutions to triangles.

My father, a much better mathematician and engineer than myself kept the solutions to triangles page from Machinery's handbook taped to his drawing table light. . . When he was in his prime serious mathematics was HARD. Calculating machines often rounded too much and many calculations with hundreds of steps had to be done by hand using long division on paper. .

A lot of it is a matter of practice. If you never do the needed calculations you forget how even with them written in front of you. I was pretty good at higher algebra at one point but today I manage using the simplest tools. If its tricky I look it up and plug it into a spread sheet or BASIC program.
- guru - Saturday, 11/06/10 23:38:06 EDT

Slow Reading:
I once read a book on speed reading. The most important rules were to train yourself to skip the little "glue" words and NEVER EVER back up to re-read something. . . I immediately realized the reason I read slow. I back up and re-read anything that didn't make sense the first time. The way we learn words, expanding our vocabulary is seeing them in context. Often the context of a later sentence defines a word that came before it. Read two, backup one, reread, understand. . . Those so called "glue" words are also often the logic framework. Break the logic, break the meaning.

Learning, comprehension, knowledge. . . education.
- guru - Saturday, 11/06/10 23:51:28 EDT

Lignite vs. Charcoal: Ahh, I see! A tree is a tree, but lignite could have all sorts of useless trash in it from mud to clay to sand to whatever the leavings of the geographic and geological context were.

The question arose mostly from my ignorance of lignite. :-)
Bruce Blackistone - Sunday, 11/07/10 06:48:38 EST

Coal and "Impurities": In seventh grade, Junior High, we had a class called "Geography." In it, we had to study a unit, "Natural Resources" and "The Story of Coal." We read that coal was the result of vegetable matter that has been compressed a million or more years, when it eventually transformed into coal. I don't remember that we talked about impurities, but during that transformation, there was bound to be some earthy matter entrained in the vegetable material. When the coal is subject to combustion, the earthy stuff gets hot and viscous. It is heavier than coke, so most of it gathers by gravity near the bottom of the firepot where it coagulates. It appears to be "metallic" and it can clink when dropped on the anvil. It is "gradoo;" it is not drawn to a magnet.

Is it usable? We paved our driveway with it, when I was a kid in St. Louis. We had a coal furnace in the basement. I believe the old Farmers' Almanac said to put a clinker in your garden, and it would help the plants grow. The large, circular ones are sold as dinosaur droppings at renzissance fairs.

When my students ask me to define clinker, I tell them that it's "mudduh oit" [how some New Yorkers pronounce mother earth]. I pronounce it that way as a bit of mnemonics, and to wake them up.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/07/10 08:45:42 EST

volatile coal?: "Coal usually contains a considerable amount of incidental moisture, which is the water trapped within the coal in between the coal particles. Coals are usually mined wet and may be stored wet to prevent spontaneous combustion, so the carbon content of coal is quoted as both a 'as mined' and on a 'moisture free' basis."

I read this and I was wondering if this is why you said to gather no more than a 5 gallon bucket full? I hope it doesn't explode in my garage. I have about a 55 gallon garbage can full of it. Maybe I should take it back to where I found it? hehe

Matt Hunter - Sunday, 11/07/10 16:53:39 EST

5 gallons vs. 2 tons: Guru didn't want you to waste your time or money getting a large amount that was unusable.
Frank Turley - Monday, 11/08/10 10:37:28 EST

Our old friend "cracked anvil" has two several ton piles of coal in his yard that are so much waste material due to the poor quality. About all you can do is dig a big hole and bury it and THAT is illegal in many places.

Dino do? I thought it was dragon buggers.
- guru - Monday, 11/08/10 14:15:43 EST

Whatever you do don't put a CAR into that garage they often have gallons of gasoline in them and that's flammable and the vapour *explosive*!

Make sure your house is passively solar heated too as all other forms are DEADLY!

Or perhaps I should just put it don't worry about swallowing gnats when you commonly swallow camels!

Thomas who lives over a magma bubble, drives a pre-airbag car and plays with knives and red hot steel
Thomas P - Monday, 11/08/10 15:54:16 EST

pirate treasure: so I'm a little confused? should I keep the coal or should I dump it? now I'm afraid that our car is going to explode! (note: it has been over 2 weeks since the coal has been in the garage with 0 casualties...)

I don't think the regulations for dumping coal is illegal in Wyoming since you can dig up rocks and take them home without a permit. But digging and dumping are two different things. We're not as strict as California or NYC. I do have have a place back in the hills where I like to dig holes (searching for treasure?) so maybe I'll just dig another hole or find one of my pre existing holes and bury my black treasure there...
Matt Hunter - Monday, 11/08/10 17:51:49 EST

Try it out (and the likelihood of it self igniting is low---piles of scrap steel have caught on fire before; but it's not a common occurrence and never has happened to me or any of my friends in nearly 30 years of smithing...)

Thomas P - Monday, 11/08/10 18:55:57 EST


After maybe 40 years ( I am 46 ) from the fist time I saw an anvil ringing under a red piece of steel I got my first anvil , but I need a little help to identify it because the only information I could read was 123 Kg , 1912 and also GIOL9 , I have some pictures to share if you give the permission to send .
Thanks for the attention .
Regards .

Klaus Poloni .
Klaus Poloni - Monday, 11/08/10 18:59:44 EST

Matt, Where do you get the "explode" business?

The "volatiles" in coal must be heated to extract them. This happens in the fire or coking furnace. Your Lignite is probably VERY low in volatiles.

Thomas DOES have a point about cars in garages. . Insurance companies do not like basement or attached garages because of the added fire and casualty risk.

Another friend of mine makes a point of asking whether you would prefer to be in a room with the floor covered with loose asbestos of gasoline? The gasoline fumes WILL kill you in a short time if a static spark doesn't make even shorter work of you. The asbestos MIGHT kill you in 50 years if you spend weeks or months in that room shuffling around. . . So which is more hazardous?
- guru - Monday, 11/08/10 19:06:15 EST

FIRST ANVIL: Klaus, Send them to the address here (the red text is links).

However, the chances of us identifying an anvil from Europe to a particular maker is unlikely. We may be able to tell you something about the style or area of origin.
- guru - Monday, 11/08/10 19:19:43 EST

Matt Hunter: It appears there aren't enough brain cells in the folks here to answer your questions so you can understand.

It's OK to keep your coal (even in your garage). Just use a little of it to determine whether or not it's suitable for forging. If it's not suitable for forging, get rid of it.

The probability of your car exploding because of gasoline fumes is low, unless you have a leak and something that would generate a spark in your garage.
- anon - Monday, 11/08/10 19:41:06 EST

Coal...: Okay, to clear some things, I do not have lignite. I just asked if it was usuable (and it is) end of story :)

I DO have Sub-Bituminous coal but I am guessing it is LOW in volatiles so I will keep it in the garage. (the large "grave" I just dug after posting a few hours ago will just have to be left as much for all the hard work)

I will use all of the above information! Thank you guys!!! - Xie Xie!!!

Matt Hunter - Monday, 11/08/10 20:42:26 EST

Matt Hunter: I know You would rather let this thread die, but a little more information may help You.

Having some [whatever the proper ammount might be] volatiles in coal makes it easier to light and keep lit, reasonably low ash, dirt & etc. makes it easier to work with. Good coal is easy to learn with, low grade coal will add frustration to the learning curve. If You can use what You have great, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
- Dave Boyer - Monday, 11/08/10 21:31:39 EST

I usually suggest that folks order a bag of GOOD coal from one of our advertisers to have a standard to compare to. Knowing what works properly will teach you a lot about judging what you have available locally and save you a lot of grief.

In 1978 I did a two week long crafts show and ran out of coal toward the middle of the second week. One of the organizers said they had coal in their old coal bin and no longer used the coal furnace. So I got a couple buckets. This was coal from Southwestern Virginia. The stuff made great leaping yellow flames, very little heat and the residue was equal in volume as what I started with. . . NOT coal that you could smith with.

In 1985 when I was working in California I helped a young lady setup a little forge to play with. We found "coal" at the local landscaping lot. It sort of worked. Hard to start. Hard to keep going. Low BTU's. It worked but was a handicap.

I've had coal that melted and made a gooey fire if you can imagine that. The goo stuck to the steel, occasionally flaming all the way to the anvil . . .

LOTS of variations in coal.
- guru - Tuesday, 11/09/10 10:28:36 EST

here in the Canadian maritimes I have anthracite available easily as its used as a heating fuel in Maine.
I hve done some succesfull forging with it although it does have a lot of gooey stuff that becomes clinker when it cools.I have read that you cant forge weld in with anthracite.True?If so why not.Any other thoughts on Anthracite?Cheers wayne
wayne @nb - Tuesday, 11/09/10 19:26:50 EST

Given the right conditions I think you can forge weld with any fuel. Often the problem is the forge design. Some fuels need a deeper bed and/or more continuous blast. Sometimes the "bed" needs to be more tower than bed. With the very best coal you can forge weld in a fire a few inches deep and with only a handful of coal. With others you need a very carefully maintained behive or "cave" fire. Some coke forges had an arched brick roof to reflect the heat back onto the metal and into the fire thus increasing the intensity of the heat. Forges with excess oxygen require more flux of other techniques to protect the steel.

But if you toss a poor grade of coal in a forge designed for another fuel you may have a difficult time getting a decent forging heat much less a proper welding heat.

One method used by smiths for centuries is to place an iron or stoneware tube about 6 to 8" tall over the forge fire and fill it with coke or charcoal. The result is a very intense heat and clean combustion where you treat the gases coming off the tube like a big torch. Small parts to be welded are heated on top of this fire so they are easy to observe. Besides welding, brazing is also done this way because the work is clearly visible.

So, don't give up. Study and experiment. There are a bunch of smiths up in your area and I'm sure they know how to make the most of the available fuel.
- guru - Tuesday, 11/09/10 20:22:45 EST

Anthracite: I used a lot of anthracite and charcoal when I first started (it's what I had). The two rules I learned for anthracite were to keep a constant airflow (it doesn’t have to be full blast all the time, but it needs to be there; an electric blower will work, bellows are not so good and sometimes impossible) and to build a deep bed and treat it like charcoal for welding.

The most irritating thing is sorting out the clinker from the coke afterwards. Nothing clumps together, so you have to pick out all the fiddly bits from the good bits (or vice versa). Sieves are useful.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 11/10/10 21:31:14 EST

Bruce...Sorting: I tell my people, "It's like sorting fly specks from black pepper." I got that one from my dad.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/11/10 07:55:18 EST

Ha hah ahahahaha ha ha eeee. . . .
- guru - Thursday, 11/11/10 15:32:23 EST

propane brazing/welding: am having trouble with mixture and heat control. done regulator thing as well as tip changes. am a millwright, but decided i am BRAINDEAD on this. can you point me right? p.s. i also heat`n`beat but don`t think i`m good enough to call myself a blacksmith.
- bam-bam - Thursday, 11/11/10 17:32:26 EST


I had a professor from New Mexico who said they always put black pepper on the beef jerky they made so their city relations couldn't see the fly specks. But I guess that might be exactly what your dad had in mind.
Mike BR - Thursday, 11/11/10 17:37:04 EST

Brazing with propane:
Bam-bam, I've tried welding with propane oxygen and no matter how I adjusted the flame I got foamy porous welds. There might be a technique to it but its beyond me as well.
- guru - Thursday, 11/11/10 18:56:12 EST

Expert comparison - oxy-acetylene; oxy-propane; methyl-acetylene-propane (MAPP): I've had my first encounter with oxy propane recently when my friend and I were rosebud heating a channel iron for clamping and straightening. I was getting much more positive and rapid results with my oxy-acetylene than he was with propane. He said that he used his outfit for heating and cutting, but not welding. A student asked me to compare the two outfits, acetylene or propane, and I really didn't know enough to give a cogent answer. And I know zippety doo doo about MAPP. Anybody?
Frank Turley - Friday, 11/12/10 09:56:16 EST

Frank, I've had good experiences with oxy-propane rose buds but it depends on your needs. They are softer, quieter and more economical than oxy-acetylene. The temperature and intensity being a little lower is better for many heating jobs. But if you need that intensity then you will not be happy with propane.

For cutting oxy-propane works well but requires a slightly different technique. Again, the heat is not so intense and restarts are more difficult with oxy-propane. But the fact that the bulk of machine flame cutting of all thickness plate is done with oxy-propane should tell you something.

As noted, welding with oxy-propane is not so friendly. But for other purposes it works fine.

MAPP is a mixture of gases. I've used small bottles but not in welding equipment.
- guru - Friday, 11/12/10 11:28:04 EST

COLD SAWS: I'm looking into purchasing a used cold saw. There are many brands and wonder if anyone could recommend one and why. I'm looking for a bench model that is for a 110 outlet. I know about Scotchman, but they are expensive, and wonder if the other brands are as good, like Jet, Wilton, Dake, Beliegh, Doringer, etc? Any recommendations would help.
- David - Friday, 11/12/10 11:55:02 EST

thanks for info. nail got hit. welds just as you said. brass rod brazed fair but required smoothing. needed to anyway ornamental project. yes,on a sword. been making display/semi-user for 2 yrs. tempered,case hardened,even black. am not a "purist", but also work a 1920`s coal forge. will keep trying welds and let you know if i find the trick. thank`s again.
- bam-bam - Friday, 11/12/10 16:50:43 EST

Well Frank I don't know that I qualify as an expert but I have recently got rid of my acetylene tank. I have a large acetylene rosebud which I often used with propane but when heating heavy bar (over 1
- JNewman - Friday, 11/12/10 19:21:28 EST

Well most of my message disappeared. The gist of my post was if a propane rosebud is not giving you as much heat as acetylene buy a bigger rosebud. It will be cheaper than burning acetylene in the long run. I paid for my new larger rosebud in a day.
- JNewman - Friday, 11/12/10 19:43:35 EST

Cold Saws: The best cold saws, and, in my opinion, the only ones worth buying, are european, mostly italian or german. There are two models made in the USA- both are essentially european saws- Doringer was the long time US distributor of Haberle, an excellent german company, and they basically copied the german design, and Scotchman had a similar deal with another euro company, first selling, and then gaining the rights to make a euro design.

Baleigh, Jet, and Grizzly are selling made in China cold saws. These are not very good. Baleigh, in particular, seems to be having QC problems.
Dake, and some other old line US saw companies merely buy and rebrand good european saws.

There are NO good 110volt cold saws.
And any real cold saw is going to be expensive. Its simple math, really- a decent cold saw is going to be 3 to 5hp, with a gear reduction unit to bring it down to about 40 rpm, and must be exceptionally rigid to get good quality cuts. Mine is 500lbs or so, thats a common weight.
All of this costs money. All the euro saws are in the $2500 to $5000 range. And worth it. (thats new)

Used, I would expect to pay a grand to two grand for a good one.
Sure, there are sometimes deals out there for less, and you need to jump if you find one.
Good names include mostly anything italian or german, along with variations on Brown, which is dutch.
You wont do wrong by buying Pedrazolli, Haberle, Doringer, Scotchman, Bewo, Eisle, Behringer, Brobo, Soco, TrennJaeger, MEC, and older Dakes and Wiltons. Newer Dakes and Wiltons could well be Chinese.

As for voltage- not only are most 220, but most are 3 phase. I ran my big (14"/350mm) saw for a couple years with a static phase converter, maybe 40 bucks from Enco, it worked fine. Not as powerful as it is now on true 3 phase, but very usable.

The really cheap ones- the chinese models from Grizzly, or Harbor Freight, that are tiny 9" machines that are just not very good. About a grand new, and really underweight and underpowered.

Watch ebay, and be ready to jump. There is a pretty decent looking Clausing Startrite on ebay right now thats currently under $400- probably will sell for closer to $1500, but you never know.
Theres a good Kalamazoo, thats $2k or best offer- both of these are Euro saws, that were rebadged by the american saw companies.
These are miles better than a Jet or Wilton or Baleigh.

Jet and Wilton are both divisions of a Swiss multinational that makes NOTHING themselves- they source world wide, although usually far east. Their quality varies from machine to machine, but is not stellar, although their most expensive model in any category is usually a good, reasonably priced economy machine. And usually 1/4 or 1/10 the price of a real american or european equivalent.

- Ries - Friday, 11/12/10 20:38:34 EST

One slight correction- The mother company of Jet actually owns Powermatic as well, and they do still make some Powermatic tools, along with a few Wilton tools, in the USA. But 90% of all three brands is now subcontracted from overseas. With varying quality- the expensive Wilton drill presses, the geared head models that start around 3 grand, are actually made in either spain or sweden. So far from all Jet/Wilton/Powermatic tools are crummy- but few of them are made in house.
- Ries - Friday, 11/12/10 20:42:12 EST

Oxy Propane Welding: There is no secret, it just plain won't work well.

Oxy Acetylene gives a reducing flame that allows welding without a flux, Oxy Propane does not.

If You have no alternative to Oxy Propane, You might try some borax as flux, but I don't know if it will help.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/12/10 22:13:06 EST

Mapp & Propalene: MAPP is being phased out, and replaced with propalene.

Both of these are much cheaper and safer than acetylene, and burn nearly as hot without the pressure limitations of acetylene. Both cost more than propane. Neither of these works for gas welding steel.

At Quad State, not this year, but for the last several years there was a guy demonstrating Oxy propaline for flame cutting. It worked really slick with a much greater flexability in tip to work distance than Oxy Acetylene.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/12/10 22:19:49 EST

Oxy/Propylene: I'll heartily second what Dave said about the guys demoing the rig at QS. Their tips were machining works of art and extremely accurate and concentric. I could make cuts with that setup that would have been impossible for me to do at all with O/A. I'm talking 2" thick plate and doing both straight and complex curved work that had a kerf that nearly matched a bandsaw. Really astonishing - and I'm not a guy who does a lot of gas cutting at all. A couple of guys who were proficient at gas cutting stepped up and did astonishingly accurate and clean work, but there was also one woman who had never held a torch in her life and she made very satisfactory cut in 1" plate with no problems - first try.

I was so impressed I came home ready to buy and found out that absolutely no one in my area sells propylene. What a bummer! So I have to stick with oxy/acet or oxy/propane for now, blast it.
- Rich - Saturday, 11/13/10 02:26:24 EST

cold saws: Thanks Ries for the comprehensive cold saw review. It was very informative. I appreciate your honesty and straight talk. I have seen on ebay some Hyd Mech cold saws and have heard they are made in Italy. Do you know anything about them? They don't meet your previous guidlines, but I was wondering since they are made in Italy. Since money is always tight, I will keep my eyes open for that good German cold saw near me as shipping costs can ruin a good deal. Thanks.
David - Saturday, 11/13/10 13:24:36 EST

I think the little Hyd Mech saw may indeed be made in Italy.
Which would make it a decent saw, within its capacity.

Hyd Mech makes very good industrial bandsaws, but I think they import from Italy their cold saws.

Cant you talk the wife into a trip to Italy?
In Italy, cold saws are much cheaper. A little 9" saw like that could be boxed up as excess baggage, and you could bring it back with you for probably an extra $50.
And get to eat great pasta and pizza while you are at it.

- Ries - Saturday, 11/13/10 14:51:29 EST

Italy: Ries - Unfortunately, I just returned from Italy at the end of September and I'd love to go back and eat pasta, pizza, and panini's, but, I spent to much on that trip. However, I do have friends in Munich that might help. I think ebay and lots of patients on my part is the most likely path for me.
David - Saturday, 11/13/10 15:42:16 EST

oxy/propane: it will take awhile to get the names down. age effects i guess. started trying different flux,but not borax yet. thanks to all for imput. next atempt will be MAJOR preheat. i have made smoothe cuts and fair bending heat from cold stock. mainly use it to keep/ bring back working heat on finer projects. thanks again to ALL.
- bam-bam - Saturday, 11/13/10 16:13:09 EST

P.S.: are any of you available by direct e-mail?
- bam-bam - Saturday, 11/13/10 17:35:03 EST

bam-bam, some folks are, some are not. The red highlighted names will send mail if you have a properly configured browser. Folks might contact you if you had left an email address.
- guru - Friday, 11/19/10 02:07:39 EST

peter wright anvil, 97#: Have a nice P.W. anvil for sale.
- Alan Dalby - Saturday, 11/20/10 19:49:15 EST

peter wright anvil FOR SALE: Anvil weighs 97#. Stamped "solid wrought". Stone weight numbers: 0-3-13. Good condition, with nice ring and rebound. Selling for $350 on
utah country boy - Saturday, 11/20/10 19:55:16 EST

propane conversation: one of you mentioned borax as flux. seen some in store but think it is soap. best place to get some? local weld shop is clueless. the two suppliers in my employers' rolodex out of buisness. yes, i`m being a hound dog on a ham bone with this. thanks
- bam-bam - Sunday, 11/21/10 02:44:58 EST


You want the "Twenty Mule Team" borax that's in the laundry aisle in most larger stores. There is also stuff called "Boraxo" that is indeed soap. You don't want that.
Mike BR - Sunday, 11/21/10 09:31:39 EST

Borax: Bam-bam, Borax used to be sold in most North American grocery stores as a "laundry booster". It is no longer heavily advertised and is falling out of favor. Borax is NOT the same as Boraxo (made by the same folks). Boraxo is a hand soap that contains a small amount of borax and does not work as flux.

You may need to try several grocery store chains to find it. Look where they have the laundry bleach. It is usually near there. See our FAQ on Borax.

In Europe borax is sold through farm and chemical suppliers for adding boron to soil. It must be used very sparingly as it is a needed trace mineral but too much is toxic. The bags are rather large and you would want to share with other blacksmiths.

Borax is also used as a flame retardant in cellulose (shredded paper) insulation.

I don't know why but borax is found in the spice and chemical supply rack of Hispanic Grocery stores. But they also have dies and colorings in the same little bags so it may be that everything of this nature is put in the same place.

Anti-borax welding compounds are made using mostly boric acid and a pinch of borax plus other ingredients. You can purchase these from our advertisers and I think several carry plain borax in a tin.

You can also buy it from McMaster-Carr in 5 pound and 25 pound pails. The 5 pound is the same price as in the grocery stores, just packaged differently.

- guru - Sunday, 11/21/10 09:39:39 EST

Home Depot sells it. So does Lowes. Look in the cleaning supply aisle.
- Nippulini - Sunday, 11/21/10 11:28:17 EST

My wife says borax is used as a meat tenderizer in Taiwan (which is why it's in with the spices in the Asian markets). Guess it's the same thing in Latin America. The laundry kind sure is cheaper, though. . .
Mike BR - Sunday, 11/21/10 12:53:02 EST

borax: thanks, have seen the twenty-mule team stuff in a couple stores here. got same type info from frank t. we are just getting a loews store. opens at christmas. will check thru links also. over 50 and just learning this computer stuff.thanks
- bam-bam - Sunday, 11/21/10 17:10:29 EST

anvils for sale: slightly over 200lb sway backed peter wright--550 ....over 200lb mousehole..450
pete - Monday, 11/22/10 07:23:17 EST

Borax & Spices: We have a goodly number of Amish in our area, and borax is both "plain" and relatively popular. Given that this is an international (very international!) forum, this has limited value, but if you're in an area with some of the Plain Folk, check out where they shop. Otherwise, there are lots of good sources listed above.

When we were in school, we were told about the importance of the "spice trade" in the Age of Exploration and before. However, as noted in Mike's note, "spices" included a wide range of both foodstuffs and chemicals. Borax, alum, dyestuffs, pigments, cinnabar; all sorts of things of various uses and desirability were traded under the general term of "spices."

Just a little something to "spice" up your day. ;-)
Go viking!
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 11/22/10 09:18:54 EST

anvils: Pete is located where??
- Frank Turley - Monday, 11/22/10 21:35:54 EST

Pete, Location, Location, location. . . . makes a difference in shipping or pickup. . .

Pete is in Bedford Co., VA.
- guru - Monday, 11/22/10 21:45:35 EST

Borax uses and Food:
Borax is used as a preservative for meat, especially pork. In the U.S. it is not allowed except for export. While a little borax is not toxic there is no control on the amount used on meat and it is mixed in high percentage with salt and the meat packed in the mixture.

However, a lot of countries are banning the use of borax in meat and on occasion banning meat imports from the U.S. altogether because we allow it. So from an economic standpoint it seems stupid to allow its use at all. There are better ways to ship and preserve meat today.

Borax is used as a drier when tanning hides. I've used it several times for that purpose but it was so long ago that I had forgotten that use.

Many of the lists that give the many uses for borax seem to confuse boric acid with borax. While similar they are two different things. Boric acid does not contain sodium. The sodium causes a bright orange flare when borax is used for flux. Boric acid does not. . .

While insects do not like borax, boric acid is the ingredient in "Roach Proof". We used it to keep ants out of the kitchen cabinets and it worked. We had roaches in the shop that come in with cardboard shipping boxes and live on the cardboard and glue. . got rid of them too. Best low toxicity substance I've seen for getting rid of insects.
- guru - Monday, 11/22/10 23:01:14 EST

Once a lady had a talking parrot. But all the parrot would say is curse words and insults of the vilest sorts. So one day after the parrot had insulted her and her guests she flew into a rage and locked the parrot in the freezer. . .

After a while she grew remorseful at having done such a terrible thing to the helpless bird. So she went to release the bird.

Upon opening the freezer and letting the bird out it said perfectly clearly.

"Madame, I am VERY sorry I insulted you and your guests. I apologize profusely. I shall never do such a thing again! Just please never put me in that cold dark place again."

The Lady said, "Yes, if you promise to be good".

Then the parrot asks,

"May I ask, what ever did the poor turkey do?"


Enjoy your day of feasting. If you must overeat, make it cooked and fresh green vegetables! Try our healthy low calorie pumpkin pie. Recipe posted above on 11/2.
- guru - Monday, 11/22/10 23:11:29 EST

Journeyman, High Steel, and a Gate: I normally don't do large ironwork, but a journeyman-friend-striker designed a large gate with two sidethrow/posts. He did the work in my shop, some of it fabbed, some tenoned and riveted. I helped with the latter and I forged the thumb latch. Another fellow, Jim, a high steel man came to Santa Fe recently to work with Helmut Hillenkamp. We all talked about Jim auditing my class, which he did. Later, Jim offered to help us with the installation, praise the lord! There were some 1" holes to be hammer-drilled in several anchor points. Jim had his large Bosche with splined drill shanks, a big help. After the side posts were installed and the epoxy dried, Jim got at the helm of a Bobcat and rigged a cable setup to hoist the gate into place, We had already arc welded some King Metals 7-knuckle hinge leaves to the gate. Once the gate was in place and checked with a level, the corresponding leaves were welded to the gate post. The gate weighed 500+ pounds. I hadn't been involved with this kind of work for a while, so it was good for me. You never stop learning.

If anyone questions the use of arc welded fabrication, I quote Tom Bredlow: "I may be a blacksmith, but I'm not a stupid blacksmith."
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/24/10 11:44:42 EST

Frank, Josh Greenwood takes pride in doing everything at the forge but when hanging heavy gates he calls for steel beams in the columns, usually tied together under the driveway so there is no possibility of creep or sag. The the pintles are fitted on site and arc welded to the steel beams in the masonry OR to tabs that penetrate the masonry.

His last job had open holes in the brick columns which were filled by the masons after the gates were hung. A portable generator welder was used for the welding and a tractor with a hydraulic lift used to hang the gates. The tractor was the weak link as is often the case with customer supplied equipment. It could not reach high enough so the gates had to be carefully rigged so they could be raised higher than the boom would reach. Each leaf was 10 x 12 feet and about 800 pounds.
- guru - Wednesday, 11/24/10 13:12:21 EST

Musings on Borax: : The first borax mining in the US was at Borax Lake, near Clear Lake, CA (no, it wasn't the 20-Mule Team borax). In effect, they sank an open end box in the lake, bailed out the water, and felt around in the mud for borax crystals--and the mud was real disgusting (reducing conditions, for the chemists). Then they had to recrystalize (concentrate, purify) the borax. They actually made money doing this. Soon after this they discovered the saline/evaporite lake playas (dry lakes) in NV and east CA. Surface borax crusts were scraped up, recrystallized and shipped (this was the original 20-mule team material, out of Death Valley in the 1880s-ish). Better than rooting around in the mud, I would think, although still tough conditions. After that they discovered the massive evaporite deposits in old playa deposits. Some of these were geologically old enough to be up in ridges instead of in the playas. The massive playa deposits, worked as open pits or disolved in the subsurface by hot water injection and removal/concentration/seperation, are todays source. Origin of the borax is understood to be from hotsprings, concentrated by evaporation.
- David Hughes - Wednesday, 11/24/10 13:24:36 EST

New Anvils in the Galleries and for sale:
We have two new anvils from opposite ends of the globe in the galleries both with WWII history. A German anvil damaged by bombing during WWII and Vulcan unearthed on Guam during the current environmental cleanup. The German anvil is for sale.
The Bombed Anvil
- guru - Wednesday, 11/24/10 14:01:45 EST

Anvils: Very neat
- Slackner - Wednesday, 11/24/10 16:27:37 EST

German Anvil: Nice repair.

What is the asking price?
- Slackner - Wednesday, 11/24/10 16:32:02 EST

I don't think a price has been set. So you'll have to ask the seller. I expect around $3000.

I advised against the repair as I thought it might be worth more as a WWII relic than as an anvil. However, the Germans that sold it knew the history and they had no interest. Of course most of Germany wants to forget that WWII happened and the rest want it to continue. . . Sort of like many folks in the South feel about the Civil War.
- guru - Wednesday, 11/24/10 18:30:21 EST

I was in France a few years ago, and before I went, I'd read a book that made me interested Vichy. So when I looked at the map and saw that Vichy was four or five hours away, I drove over on a whim.

I should have thought more carefully. The history that happened there is the kind that leaves no physical traces and that no one wants to remember. So there is nothing there but a no-longer-fashionable spa town. Not an unpleasant place, but I could have spent my time more wisely.
Mike BR - Wednesday, 11/24/10 20:30:06 EST

Happy Thanksgiving
- Slackner - Wednesday, 11/24/10 21:08:31 EST

Often the best "historical" places are those not touched by history. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 11/24/10 22:09:41 EST

David Hughes et al.,: In the long ago days, I visited some 20 mule team ore wagons at a Death Valley Museum. I think that the rear wheels were covered with an iron tire that was about 1" x 8". The wheel was about 8' tall. The front tire was about 1" x 6", the wheel about 6' tall. These measurements are from memory; might be off a little. I had heard that the wagons were made in Modesto, CA. One time, I was driving through Modesto, and I stopped at their library to inquire about the shop. Nobody knew diddly squat. I had to hustle on, but I've often wondered about a shop large enough to iron a wheel with 1" x 8" x approximately 25' of tire iron. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall! And where was that shop? Did they make the wagons as well as the wheels? The Smokey Bears at the Death Valley Museum knew squat.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/24/10 22:39:13 EST

Lost History. . .:
In my home town or Lynchburg, VA they had a wagon works that made tens of thousands of Conestoga type wagons. I spoke to a number of "old timers" who remembered being in the shop and there being a long row of forges and power hammers. The machinery still existed in the mid 50's. The building still stands, traces of where the line shafting was can be seen, but every other trace is gone. No one knows the history (that I've heard) or published old photos. The best I could determine all the hammers went to scrap.

Lynchburg also had a small automobile plant where they made the "Piedmont". Only one is known to survive and little or nothing about the company.

Lynchburg is also where the automated cigarette machine was invented. The inventor got involved with shady investors from Richmond who stole the invention and launched the great American Tobacco companies upon which Richmond prospered. Otherwise Lynchburg would have been the center of the cigarette trade and probably three or four times its current size. The Piedmont automobile would have also probably been successful in that light.

The tides of history are strange and the gaps in our knowledge of it vast.
- guru - Wednesday, 11/24/10 23:25:24 EST

More lost?: About 20 years ago, I was asked whether a "forge" was located at Valley Forge. I contacted the Historic Site by mail, and inquired as to the "forge." Was it a smithy? Well, the Smokey Bears were not too sure. They thought that perhaps a bloomery was located there, but they didn't have any direct evidence, either archeological or written.

Since that time, more may be known. I haven't checked.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/25/10 08:51:03 EST

Lost History:
In this part of the country (PA, VA, MD, NC) there had been hundreds of small bloomeries at small marginally productive mines. The result is that there are dozens and dozens of places with "forge" in their name and very little or nothing known about their past. Its like places with ford in their name. The ford was last used in the 1700's being replaced by a (often covered) bridge nearby and that picturesque antique replaced by a steel or concrete bridge at yet another place that straightened the road further. Same for ferries.

In this same part of the country the Revolutionary war and then Civil war ravaged many of the same places more than once. Armies seemed to like to destroy court houses and their records. . . Fire seemed to be a problem with many early court houses as well. In Northern VA many court house locations changed more than once for various reasons.

The courthouse in Martinsburg, Berkeley Co, West Viginia houses the pre-civil war Virgina records for the area. . Those (were) housed on a hot dusty mezzanine out of sight and are in shabby condition, need cleaning and rebinding. All the records from the time it became WEST Virginia are well maintained. . A definite historical prejudice.

People don't realize it but their local county records office, usually part of the court clerks office, is the repository of the vast majority of documents that history is written from. Who sold land to whom, who married into which family, which family members were given what in a will and who survived at the time of the writing of the will. Combine this with the records of the courts and who was in office and you have "history". Even when the history comes from other sources the proof is often in the court records, deeds, wills, voter registry, tax rolls, surveys and maps . . the portraits hanging on the walls. . Loss of a courthouse in a fire or attack is much more than the loss of a building. And it has happened repeatedly in the Mid-Atlantic states.

In the old Berkeley County (then Virginia) records I mention above I found that in 1822-23 there was a terrible outbreak of what is still only known as "fever" that killed many adults in the locality and thousands country wide. One of my Great great great grandmothers was orphaned along with hundreds of others at that time. The court orphan records are the primary evidence of this outbreak followed by the probate records which were very thin because the disease hit young healthy child rearing adults worse than other groups. Thus the high number of orphans and few wills. Fit all the pieces together and you have "history".

But it IS disappointing to go into a place and find that nobody there knows anything about the history, ESPECIALLY at "historical" sites. At least you would like to hear "we don't know BECAUSE. . . ".

That is how I felt when I stopped at the (new at the time) Buffalo Forge plant in Amherst, VA. The sign with Buffalo Forge in all caps was HUGE (maybe 20 feet tall) so it could be seen from the highway. I talked to the receptionist, she let me talk to one of the engineers and he called his boss in. . . I knew more about the company then they did. The place has changed hands several times and the last I knew it was Buffalo Air Handling.

Three major Virginia historical sites, which are in fact a significant part of U.S. history, among other places, Williansburg, Jamestown and Appomattox, had fallen on hard times and almost disappeared by the 1950's. Before the Rockefellers took interest in Williamsburg it had become nothing more than a few dilapidated buildings and a few poorly maintained homes surrounded by weeds on a little used dirt road. Jamestown had completely disappeared (other than underground or water) with the changes in the James River, the surviving buildings of historic Appomattox Court House were being used as barns, the official court house having moved about five miles East (along with the highway, railroad and all the rest). In all these places that are featured over and over again in U.S and local history most of what is there today are recreations of the past.
- guru - Thursday, 11/25/10 10:48:18 EST

Hammer-In in gilford CT: Sat. Nov 27, 8am-4pm

Blade & Knife Hammer-in

Gilford Arts Center,

411 Church St, Guilford, CT,


This will be a combo of bladesmithing/blacksmithing event.
We plan on making a knife during the day with demos from me...Mace Vitale, Mike Spangler, and Paul Letourneau. I will forge the blade, Mike will grind it, we will heat treat it and sharpen it, Paul will do a handle...if time allows we will try and get a sheath made for it too. Other demos will include...Tong and tool forging with Bill Scheer....Bill is the Blacksmith at the Mystic seaport shipsmith shop, Casting with MICA graduate Barbara Wechter, Hammer making and guard forging with blacksmith extraordinaire Sam Salvati. I will be demoing pattern development in laminate steels, graver making for wire inlay, one of my business partners Jamie lundell will be doing a short demo on armor making.

Other demos to TBA.

There will be a forge set up with demos going on all day while the knife demos are going. There will also be an open forge area with several anvils for you to hit some hot steel. Tailgate sales and a hot lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers

Cost: $25.- bucks gets you in the door, lunch, and a chance to win the knife we make during the day. You can also purchace extra chances for the knife for an extra $5.- bucks each. Kids under 12 free.

All proceeds will go to getting some more equipment for the forge shop at GAC so we can better teach all the young minds.

If you would like to pre-pay you can send a MO to me at:
Mace Vitale
925 Rt. 80
Guilford, CT, 06437
You can also pay at the gate
- Mpmetal - Thursday, 11/25/10 12:00:05 EST

Don't know why I'm thinking about France today, but I visited St. Malo and saw a beautiful medieval port. Then I saw a picture of the place in 1945. The Germans held out there after the Normandy invasion and we bombed it to rubble. The French rebuilt it "stone by stone," the claim.
Mike BR - Thursday, 11/25/10 12:41:13 EST

Borax Wagons: : I understand the borax wagons were made in one of the Mojave Desert towns, like Mojave or Barstow. One set of wagons were refurbished around 1949, and used in parades and for publicity for some time after (I believe these are the ones at Furnace Creek, Death Valley). I understand Mojave was the railhead at the time. It turns out the teamsters were freighting the borax out of Death Valley (not an east trip), and near the end of the line they were traveling almost directly over the massive playa borax deposits that became the open pit near Mojave.

The steam traction engine (without engine) at Furnace Creek was tried by the borax company to haul loads. It was a dismal failure. It was later sold to the Keene Wonder Mine. On one of it's first trips (if not the first) it buried itself in the sand. When the two concessioners c.1930 (Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells) were collecting relics from the desert, the Furnace Creek batch got to the traction engine first. The engine out of the tractor was probably pulled and used at the Keene Wonder Mine, one of the few sucessful gold mines in the Death Valley.
- David Hughes - Thursday, 11/25/10 14:40:52 EST

Forges: In 1988 I went to Milwaukee to my 40th High school reunion from Arizona. We flew into Washington D.C. to see my Father-in-law at the old soldiers home. We rented a car and drove from there to Milwaukee via Dayton, Ohio where other relatives resided. My Aunt Mary and Grandpa Claude came to Arizona as children in 1911 from Clifton Forge, Virginia. We went through there to get some pictures for Aunt Mary and found that the forge makes railroad axles and wheels. There were hundreds of them lined up ready for shipping.
Frank: There is a blacksmith in Patagonia by the name of Doug Thaemert. He is an expert on wagons. He at one time had 6 smiths working for him full time, during which time he built the Budweiser wagons that you see in parades. When I visited him in the '90s, he was doing wagon appraisals and teaching wagon restoration. His shop is in the building that has a sign saying "Lopez Pool Hall" on the front. I just googled his name and he is listed along with his phone #.
- Loren T - Thursday, 11/25/10 18:00:36 EST

Loren T: Thank you. Doug is an old friend and I met him years ago in Taos, NM, when he ran a Western clothing store. We are in touch, as he is an old Turley grad! I e-mailed him the other day about a new CD covering the "Old Spanish Trail" and the use of mules on the trails of the West. Doug is an old mule aficionado. Doug is retired from the wagon work.

I have a "bit" part in the CD, literally. I discuss briefly the mule and horse "ring bit" used extensively in Chihuahua and New Mexico/Arizona in the Spanish Colonial period. The CD is called "Mula;" J&S Productions, Santa Barbara, CA.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/25/10 19:40:10 EST

Thanksgiving: Getting Ready for Thanksgiving
Rich Waugh

Well, today is Thanksgiving, 2010, and I must say that I truly do have reason to give thanks this year. Most years I don't get too damn excited about Thanksgiving, as I don't much care for turkey, prefer people in small groups and honestly resent any obligatory holidays. So I generally just fade into the woodwork a few days in advance and let others have their fun, poking my head back out only after the smoke has cleared. This year, however, events conspired to make me actually feel thankful just to be around and have a few good friends.

For the past couple of months I've felt a bit under the weather from time to time 'oh, nothing bad enough to go to the doctor for, just enough to feel cruddy and have no energy. I kept telling myself it would pass, and it would, for a few days. Up and down, up and down, so I went.

On Wednesday, November 10th, there was a tour group booked for the museum, despite flash flood warnings posted by the National Weather Service for the island. Of course, the museum is located in a valley, with access by a bridge over a runoff gut. Despite seeing rising water in the gut and knowing its propensity for flooding, the tour bus driver saw fit to come into the site. Within twenty minutes the rainfall rate had risen to more than 5"/hr and floodwaters were raging over the bridge at the rate of nearly 2000 cfs. Shortly thereafter, the floodwaters had undermined the driveway on the Museum side of the gut to the point it was unsafe for vehicular traffic of any kind. Great we now have fourteen Danish tourists and their guides trapped on-site with no way of knowing when the waters might recede sufficiently to extricate them. Even better, three of them, all over 70 years old, are in critical need of medication they neglected to have with them. Fine planning, I say.

I reached the Rescue Group headquarters by telephone and let them know the situation and that I would attempt a lifeline extraction as soon as the waters fell just enough. That plan actually came together and I got all of them out of here without incident. Using alternate transportation they were whisked away to their cozy hotel rooms, I suppose. I was just glad to be shut of them, quite frankly. I was cold, wet, exhausted and miserable and only wanted to bathe and rest.

On Thursday I was feeling more than just a mite peaked and running a moderate fever. I attributed that to the stress and wet of the previous day and ignored it. By Friday, the fever was up to 102.5° so I decided to err on the side of caution and go to the doc. By the time I reached his office an hour or so later, the fever was now up to 103.6° and I was feeling pretty low. The doc did the customary poking, prodding, peering and listening and said he thought I might possibly have Dengue Fever, a mosquito-borne nastiness nobody wants. He drew some blood to be tested and sent me home to rest. That "rest" lasted until Sunday afternoon when Sally insisted I go to the Emergency Room. I really don't like hospitals, but I had to agree that I felt pretty poorly. Off we went.

Upon arrival at the ER, they took one look at me and ran me straight into Triage. Within minutes they'd done a chest X-ray, determined I'd had a spontaneous pneumothorax (collapsed lung), and shot me half full of morphine. The ER doc was a very engaging fellow and tried his best to give me a snow job about how the lung re-inflation procedure was very routine and nearly painless. No sale' I know better, unfortunately. So we spent a few agonizing minutes while he struggled to ram a sharpened tube between my ribs and I screamed and whined like a frightened little girl. He finally prevailed and the chest tube was in and I was in line for admittance to the hospital proper. Sounds simple, right? Not for me, it wasn't.

Oh, they got me admitted to a room on the Progressive Care Unit (think Intensive Care Lite) and started tests to see what all else was wrong in there. No surprise; I had a raging case of pneumonia at that point, so they jacked me full of IV antibiotics in an attempt to deal with a white cell count somewhere north of 27,000. That was good for a day or so until I started running a way bad fever and becoming delirious. Add more antibiotics, of course. No change. Pack my bony body in ice packs - damned uncomfortable, that. Somewhere along in there the heart rate suddenly leaps up to 155/min. Then 165/min. When it got to 177 on the third day they finally decided there was no other choice than to do a "cardioversion." That's a delicate way of saying, We're going to electrocute you to stop your heart completely and then we'll try to re-start it, hoping it comes back in at a righteous rate like 60-75 or so. That was another of those "simple" procedures. Zzzzzzap! About 20,000 Joules front to back with the super bug-zapper and I was back to ticking like a well-oiled Swiss watch, I'm happy to report. Couldn't have told you squat about it at the time, however, as I was out to lunch both mentally and physically.

A brief note here for prospective pneumothorax patients: hooking your chest drain to the IV pole and then walking away is neither the recommended removal procedure nor is particularly comfortable. To say nothing of the fact it really annoys hell out of the guy who is responsible for it. I owe someone an apology for that bit of delirium-induced drama.

At that time, somewhere around Wednesday the 17th, I think, they acknowledged I was going into sepsis and not doing too well, in fact. Medical shorthand for, dying unless we get damned lucky somehow! Out to lunch or not, I already knew that at a very intimate level. I could actually FEEL myself dying. I wasn't happy about it, either. I couldn't express it, since I was incapable of making a coherent thought come out of my mouth. No surprise there, I guess. I had hallucinations, too. Not everything I saw was a hallucination, unfortunately. Looking at Sally's face and seeing the look of abject terror there just about ripped my heart right out of my chest. I've never seen her so totally, unreservedly terrified. I vowed then and there that I would NOT let this shit kill me, no matter how much of a relief it would have been to just let go.

More blood tests, sputum tests, tests of every nasty thing that comes out of a human body from any possible orifice, in fact. More bad news, my lungs are not only infected with pneumonia, but also with pseudomonas, a particularly virulent and drug-resistant gram-negative bacteria. (I probably picked that up from the flood waters in the gut while getting the Danes out.) Add another couple antibiotics to the stew they're dumping in me. Of course, the effect of all these radical antibiotics on my guts was nothing short of nightmarish. Suffice it to say I really, really didn't want to be me right then. Finally took more than ten days to feel like I could cough without danger of embarrassing myself. In the meanwhile I was embarrassed - a lot. Enough said about that.

Days and days of continual IV antibiotics, one after another, likewise oral antibiotics. A total of five different ones, I believe, in an effort to kill what was killing me. An endless nightmare of tubes, hoses, needles, pills, tests, X-rays, and each morning hoping that the damnable white count would be down from the day before. On or about Saturday the 20th it finally started to drop - not far, not fast, but definitely a drop for the first time. The next day a bit more, then a slight rise, then another drop, and so on. It began to seem as though I might actually be released someday. Finally, on Wednesday the 24th, I was able to leave the hospital; achy, shaky, sore, tired - and immensely grateful just to be alive.

I came home and spent almost thirty-five minutes in the shower, repeatedly soaping up and then rinsing, trying to scrub that whole experience off me. That failed, but I did smell better for it.

There are those who say that health care on St. Croix is sub-par. They are wrong. All the doctors who attended me were consummate professionals and did their very best for me. My nursing care was variable, from fine to superlative. The hospital food really and truly sucked, I'd probably have been disappointed if it hadn't. (Would you really trust a hospital with good food? Me neither.) In the final analysis, the medical professionals at the hospital here beat some long odds and saved my life - the result of damn good medicine, not good luck. I owe them my life, but I'll probably cheap out and just pay the bill.

With terrific medical care, an absolutely wonderful wife/nurse/Rock of Gibraltar, and a small group of friends without peer, I came through what was undeniably the most terrifying episode in a rather long and most checkered life. I have much to be thankful for and I truly am.

While it may come as a disappointment to some, the estate sale has once again been postponed indefinitely.

- Rich - Friday, 11/26/10 01:37:01 EST

Rich: Welcome!
Frank Turley - Friday, 11/26/10 07:48:15 EST

Rich my friend, I am so glad to hear you are better. It may take a while to get back to 100%, so go easy, and relish the delight of care by a true loved one. Your Sally is to be listened to and allowed to care for you until you are 100%. And then sonner or later you will get a chance to repay the wonderful women who was first in line of those who saved you.

And, after being packed in ice, you should be fine at Quad State when it is below 70F :)
ptree - Friday, 11/26/10 08:56:29 EST

Rich, Close call. Glad you made it. We don't need bad news. . . I guess I should cancel the freight container ;o)
- guru - Friday, 11/26/10 15:42:30 EST

Welcome back Rich. Glad you are much improved. You scared the heck out of everyone. Just know I am sorry for any time I have pissed you off. I am really thankful you recovered.
- Burnt Forge - Friday, 11/26/10 16:07:32 EST

Ptree... I think Rich may be listening to Sally well beyond the time he needs to get to 100% :-)
- Dave Hammer - Friday, 11/26/10 19:33:29 EST

Rich: Good to hear You are recovering.

Even tho You have some really nice stuff, it would be too far to go for the estate sale anyway.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/26/10 21:10:19 EST

Rich: Holy cats, man; welcome back to the land of the living! I guess we were righteously worried about you. If I ever actually get down to our USVI unit (some issues still unresolved), I will try my best to look you up. Hang in there and stay healthy.

Smokey Bear vs. Ranger Rick; Frank: The U.S. Forrest Service, a bureau of the Department of Agriculture, gets Smokey Bear. The National Park Service gets Ranger Rick (a raccoon). Usually someone at the historic site knows all there is that's known about the history, but some of the newer rangers (some of them move around, from park to park, quite a bit) aren't clued in yet. Ask for the cultural resources person or an "interpretive" ranger. I've been disappointed, from time to time; not all of the parks are as good at the history as others. If you have some specific questions, I can probably (time and workload permitting) put you in touch with the right people.

Valley Forge National Historic Site (All valley, no forge!)
Bruce Blackistone - Friday, 11/26/10 21:19:08 EST

On Valley Forge, I had a friend in Ohio who insisted it was derived from Valley of the Forges (indicating multiple forges). From what I was able to research then and now, the Forge consisted of a single one on the Valley River. Hence, either Valley River Forge or Valley Forge. I can find no mention of it on the various stories about Washington't encampment there in the winter of 1777-78.

Bruce: In your tour did mention of how the valley got its name come up?
- Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 11/27/10 09:21:46 EST

Smokey: Hey, if they're in New Mexico wearing a campaign hat...
Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/27/10 17:13:46 EST

Forges in Valleys & Smokey: Actually, I'll pick on a cople of our historians after I finish next week's training; or call the NHS directly.

Frank: Good point. I never argue with "bears" of any variety. :-)
Hopewell Furnace- it's all about ironwork!
Bruce Blackistone - Saturday, 11/27/10 20:14:01 EST

rich: keep your chin up brother!!!!
- pete - Sunday, 11/28/10 08:31:33 EST

Loren T and All; Borax wagons: I did get in touch with Doug Thaemert about the borax wagons. He built one of the large wheels at one time. A railroad machine shop in Tucson rolled the tire.

Doug says, "I did some repair estimates and some appraisal work for the US Borax Co. some years back and the research I came up with was that the hardwood and the steel came by train from back East. The tires were rolled and welded in big steel shops in the East and the hundreds of feet of chain needed was also ordered from Eastern shops, as were the axles. This material was milled and assembled in Mojave by a wagon shop there (I used to know the name of the shop) and the rest of the iron work was forged there as well."

Doug has had 52 radiation treatments for an insidious bone cancer which keeps recurring. He could do with our good thoughts and prayers.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/28/10 11:03:33 EST

If anyone ever gets a chance to visit the Ringling Circus Museum in Sarasota Florida, USA; when I was there they had an exhibit about a blacksmith that circuses used to love as he was a self taught wagon builder and would "beef things up" and so his wagons ended up twice as heavy as other ones; but wouldn't breakdown!

Thomas P - Monday, 11/29/10 16:51:31 EST

Thoughts and Prayers:
Our good friend Dave Baker, Former CSI Treasurer and my power hammer project partner, is going in for cancer surgery today. Dave had gone to the doctor for another reason and they discovered the cancer. Being that there were no symptoms and the cancer is clearly defined the doctor's are giving a good prognosis.

So lets all hope for the best for Dave. We will let you know how it goes in a few days.
- guru - Tuesday, 11/30/10 11:25:44 EST

DaveB: My very best wishes to Dave for a speedy and complete recovery. Keep us posted on his status, Jock. While it does sound as though it is confined and should respond well to the surgery/treatment, just the knowledge that you have cancer is very distressing and frightening.

- Rich - Tuesday, 11/30/10 15:02:32 EST

Dave's surgery went exactly as expected with no complications. The doctors are saying the cancer has all been removed and that everything is fine. They will do regular scans for the next couple years.

Dave is expected to be home Friday or Saturday and have a couple weeks recovery. . . I suspect that will be torture when he has so many things he wants to do.
- guru - Thursday, 12/02/10 10:58:35 EST

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