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Anvils in America, THE book about anvils

Junk Yard Construction

Suggestions for Repurposing Junk

Original EC-JYH
Building from junk is an art, a philosophy and a lifestyle. It also takes imagination, knowledge of mechanics and a love of machinery. Some engineering skills do not hurt but a gut feeling for the strenght of parts and materials can go a long way.

Knowledge of how many machines work is a junk builders most important tool and is usually learned from an early age taking things apart. The change from mechanical clocks and watches to digital, and to autos with electronic controls that are too high tech for a backyard mechanic is adversely effecting the educational climate for potential junk builders. Parents, PLEASE give your children real tools and things to take apart! The Erector Set was probably the most important educational toy of the early 20th Century.

MANY THINGS in these articles are written with tongue in cheek and should be taken with a sense of humor as well as tempered with common sense. Humor IS part of the philosophy.

Truck and Auto Parts:

All Parts
Raw materials, spring steel, sheet metal, tubing, rubber, glass.
See : Junkyard Steels Identifying and using mystery steels

Wheels (plain steel)
Sign post bases, light tool stand bases, pulleys, fire pots, fan hubs.
See My First Forge (made from wheels)

Wheel Hubs with shaft/bearings
Trailer running gear, machine idlers, rotary stands. Supports for auto wheels or wheels with tires such as log rolls, friction clutch drives . . .

Tumbler drums, Band saw wheels, Heavy tread sandals, friction pads, boat bumpers. See wheel hubs.

Drive Shafts (hollow)
Repurposing or thin wall tubing - various uses, art, structural . . . Universal joints as pivots and multi-axis leveling pads . . .

Coil Springs
Repurposed - material for making tools.

Leaf Springs
Repourposed - material (often SAE 5160) for knives, wood and metal working tools . . . art.

Valve and Clutch Springs
Repuposed for die springs and other uses - material for small tools.

Recycled home construction, Seed beds, Green houses, solar panel covers.

Differential, manual transmissions
Repurposed as gear reduction and drives for shop and mill machinery. Differentials can be used as a planetary clutch or governor systems. Note that manual transmission ratios are NOT suitable for replacing step pulley systems on machine tools. Differential housings are often used as structurals, stands and such.

Large Panels (roof, hoods, trunks)
Pre-finished multi-color geodesic dome fillers, roofing (shingles).

Household Appliances

Handy in the shop even if not satisfactory in the kitchen. Components can be used to build other heating devices.

Washer and Driers
Motors, pulleys, flat porceline finished panels, timers.

Dry storage for welding rods. With a heater can be insulated freeze proof storage. Compressors have been used for air pumps. Follow all child proofing warnings.

Industrial Parts

Fork Lift Forks
Often scrapped due to damage these are excellent steel. They can be converted to anvils, used to make hammers, and many things that need a big piece of steel

Fork Lift Wheels
Solid rubber fork lift wheel have many uses including drive wheels and roller. Sander pulleys. Their hubs are extra heavy duty.

Fork Lift Counter Weights
These are huge pieces of cast iron that can be used for multi-function anvils, counterweights for other tools and machines, anchors for leverage tools such as vises and benders. . .

Fork Truck Hydraulic Cylinders
Presses, benders, components. .. Rods are hard chromed steel. The rod ends are often useful for other purposes. Excellent trade goods.

Pumps and valves from the same system can be very useful if you are into hydraulics.

Multi-V Pulleys
These are handy when you need to build a jack shaft or a machine with a lot of reduction like a rolling mill. Most modern multi-V's have taper-lock bushings. These are brand specific thus an important part of the pulley. These are very expensive new, especially the large ones. You cannot have enough of them!

Multi-V Pulleys can have the center ridges machined off and converted to rimed flat belt drive pulleys.

Pillow Blocks
Even if worn out the bearings can be replaced for a small percentage of the cost of the whole pillow block. Most are self aligning making them much easier to use than any other ball or roller bearing. Pillow blocks are used for back shafts, line shafts, buffers, tumbler shafts - all kinds of machines.

Shafting : Any Size
Machine shafts vary from 1/2" to several feet in diameter and is all useful material. Heavy shafting from 4" up is useful for making machine parts, anvils . . . There is no such thing as too big. Material up to several feet can be taken to shops and sawed into useful lengths.

Cranes (jib, monorail, rectilinear), machine frams, shop furniture (benches). Scrap for sale or trade.

Bar Grating
Forge and furnace bases, heavy equipment shelves, down draft weld bench tops. . .

Heavy Equipment

Track Wheels
These are often replaced due to wear and are very heavy. They are useful for bases and stands. Sections are useful for swages and fullers.

Hydraulic Cylinders
Same as with fork lifts but these heavier clyinders can be used for a variety of purposes. Scraped bent of broken cylinders can be cut up into tubing and bar.

Frame, Arms. .
There is a lot of steel plate and tube that can be reused from practically all heavy equipment. Cylinder anchor points are handy for repurposing.


Big scrap means large amounts of waste. Automobiles, light and heavy trucks are loaded with rubber, plastic, foam rubber. . . When scrap yards grind up vehicles a significant portion is what is known as "fluff" that has no recyclable value and ends up as waste that must be disposed of in a land fill. Occasionally the fluff catches fire and becomes a significant problem. Autos also contain lead-acid batteries which are an immediate danger as well as long term environmental hazard. Please responsibly dispose of auto shells once you have stripped them of useful parts.

Other scraped items pose property and waste problems. Either properly store your scrap or sell the stuff that is not obviously useful.

Part 1 : Junk Yard Construction The Philosophy and the Tools.

Part 2 : Junk Yard Techniques Methods used.

Junk Yard Construction Rules The 15 commandments of the Junk Yard Builder.


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