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Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question. He or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from July 15 - 30, 1999 on the Guru's Den

New to blacksmithing? Check out our FAQ Getting Started.

The Guru has four helpers that have been given a distinct colored "voice".
  • Bruce R. Wallace of Wallace Metal Work (purple) as of 12/98.

  • "grandpa" Daryl Meier of MEIER STEEL (green).

  • Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson, of Paw Paw's Forge and official demonstrator at Bethbara Historical Park, Winston-Salem, NC (OD green).

  • Bruce "Atli" Blackistone, of the Longship Co., color "ink" to be determined.

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    Your input, answers and comments on questions to the Guru are welcome.

    -- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
    Dear Guru,

    I'm NEW to blacksmithing. This will be a hobby for me. I want to make blades. Good belt sanders are very very costly. Are there any plans for a good belt sander. (1hp/1 1/2hp)
    Thank You

    Bob Tjostelson -- randd at Thursday, 07/15/99 21:59:58 GMT

    Do you know where I can get plans for a charcoal forge which has a blower into the side? I have read on a news group this is the best configuration when using charcoal.

    Thank you in advance.

    Steve Kennedy -- shk2762 Friday, 07/16/99 12:23:29 GMT

    Steve K.

    A side blown forge is fairly simple. All you need is a box(make an hearth out of wood and line with clay) run a pipe (3/4 or 1 in) in from side. Attach air supply(bellows hand crank or elec blower) add charcoal or coal and light!(grin)


    Ralph Douglass -- ralphd at Friday, 07/16/99 14:43:03 GMT

    SHH!!! Ralph, you're giving away all my secrets! (actually, you missed one -- line the hearth with a mixture of grass clippings and clay. The grass clippings bind the clay together so it doesn't crack). You've described, exactly, the forge in my trailer. Worked fine on it's maiden voyage, getting ready for second try this weekend.

    Morgan Hall -- morganh at Friday, 07/16/99 15:10:38 GMT

    Bob, Look UP^ a few postings. The same was asked a few days ago.

    CHARCOAL FORGES: Practical Blacksmithing by M.T. Richardson has numerous forge plans including charcoal. Many have water cooled Twyeers due to the long length of the pipe out into the fire bed. See also my article Blacksmith of 1776 for more on charcoal forges.

    Morgan, I think the Ancient Mesopotamians originated the "bricks with straw" method. . . I remember something about the Pharoh punishing the Hebrew slaves by forcing them to "make bricks without straw"

    A modern alternative that is a little more fire resistant is fibreglass "chop". Add some

    -- guru Friday, 07/16/99 18:07:13 GMT

    Roger of rognolter at, you have acces to one of the greatest living smiths...LOCALLY! Check into Philip Simmons. Most of the iron in Charleston was done at one point by him. He is a true master.

    BRIAN ROGNHOLT -- brognholt at Friday, 07/16/99 18:08:37 GMT

    Brian, Thanks for jogging my brain! Phillip has a book out, The Blacksmith of Charleston. I spoke to him at the Southeast Conference. A very nice gentleman.

    -- guru Friday, 07/16/99 20:07:02 GMT


    WILLIAM L. BROWN -- wlbrown at Friday, 07/16/99 20:20:44 GMT

    William, S-7 IS an air hardening steel and one of the most common alloy steels used by blacksmiths. The problem is HOW the plate was welded on. The tool steel plate on wrought body anvils was FORGE welded on. This means that the entire joint is welded not just the edges. Welding tool steel is problematic enough but welding a plate on top of an anvil is not the same as the way anvils are manufactured (there ARE several different methods).

    1) The earliest method, forge weld a steel plate to a wrought body.

    2) The Fisher method, weld a steel plate to a cast iron body in the mold as part of the casting process. You either love them or hate them.

    3) Forge the top half of the anvil from tool steel and the bottom half wrought iron or cast steel and weld them at the waist. The BEST anvils were made this way and still are by Peddinghaus.

    4) Cast the anvil from 100% steel. Great anvil when properly heattreated but not as good as forged.

    5) Cast iron anvil. Not really an ANVIL but I mention them here because a lot are made and foisted off as anvils. They ARE doorstops.

    Welding any tool steel is tricky. It is especialy tricky when arc welding dissimilar steels and heavy masses. Unless a LOT of preheat AND post heat is used the weld boundry chills and can be more brittle than glass.

    -- guru Saturday, 07/17/99 03:20:36 GMT

    Aldren A. Watson, in The Village Blacksmith, Thomas Y. Crowell Co., N.Y., 1977, gives detailed instructions for building a brick forge, making a bellows, a hearth, etc.

    john neary -- jneary at Saturday, 07/17/99 05:11:32 GMT

    wlbrown at

    WILLIAM L. BROWN -- wlbrown at Saturday, 07/17/99 15:51:20 GMT

    William, It all depends on the person who did the welding. Arc welding tool steels requires the greatest knowledge and skill of almost any type of welding. The point is that done perfectly the anvil is still not anthing like new. Yes, if done poorly, pieces can spall from the edges but most likely the plate would seperate from the anvil. Heat treating S-7 can be a little tricky. See our NEWS article about CanIRON. I have a little of what Frank Turley had to say about the subject.

    -- guru Saturday, 07/17/99 17:56:32 GMT

    Sorry for the inconvienence on the Slack-Tub Pub. The oversized log is cleared now. Those of you having problems getting bumped off or crashing will no longer have that problem.

    -- guru Saturday, 07/17/99 19:01:59 GMT

    ANVILS in HISTORY: A U.S. Civil War story has been bouncing around for a while about Union "Sappers" destroying anvils in the South. Since small shops were significant industry back then and horseshoeing was important to the war efforts it kinda makes sense.

    Now the interesting thing about this "legend" is that it is just modern folklore. I know the guy that started the story. He said he could find no written evidence and that it was just an idea. . . and
    that he was looking for evidence. Then HE told a few more folks and *I* told a few folks (that like to repeat stories on the net) and now the whole world swears its the truth!

    So the question is, "How do you destroy an anvil?"

    Easy, just like cutting railroad rail. A couple good chisle notches in the base of the horn, set the thing on a rock and wack the horn with a sledge. The South is full of old anvils with missing horns. I have a couple. Of course the fact that the REAL old anvils had the horns welded on in a piece didn't hurt either. . .

    MORE GRIST FOR THE MILL: Many got tossed in the nearest pond or river to boot! I had a guy bug me about coming to see the bunch of "BIG" anvils he had. He thought he had a real treasure. I finaly made the 30 mile trip when I had a little cash (just in case). Well, this fellow leads me back to an old garden shed and moves some junk around to expose two old 100 pound mousehole anvils. They were the saddest things I've ever seen. . . They were split down the middle of the horns and body, faces cracked on both! The splits were swollen places where the slag in the old wrought iron had absorbed water and expanded and then rust it done the same. You could see daylight through both horns! One was swollen and split over and inch! I aksed if he had found them in the nearby river. He said, Yes! How did you know? I told him those anvils had been under water for a LEAST one hundred years. . . and that they were useless except as curiosities. He still wanted a dollar a pound for both (and thought they were AT LEAST 200 pounds each).

    Did Union sappers toss them in the river? Or did a blacksmith shop get flodded or maybe a cargo wagon?

    -- guru Saturday, 07/17/99 23:24:00 GMT

    I've got some shiny steel which I would like to get a thin even layer of rust forming on it, to get that black stained look when I wipe the rust off with oil. I think there's some formula using hydrogen peroxide, but that's all I know. Anyone have any suggestions or solutions? (No caustics, please. I'd like to use something simple and safe.) Thanks.

    Bob Rackers -- rackersr at Saturday, 07/17/99 23:25:11 GMT


    Mix some regular clorox fifty fifty with tap water. Put it in a spray bottle. Lay the steel in the sun and spray it till it's good an we , Keep an eye on it. When it's dry, if it's rusty enough, wipe it down. If it isn't rusty enough wet it down again and let it dry. Corox is "instant rust", Old antiquing fraud.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 07/17/99 23:51:31 GMT

    Hydrogen Peroxide is an oxidizer. In low dilution it will remove flesh about as fast as anything! In high dilution it does a nice job of bleaching hair and killing germs. . .

    Even rust requires absolutely clean. This generaly means cleaning in hot caustic soda. Then a clean boiling rinse. Afterward handle with cotton gloves. A damp box (box with wood pins or shelves for work, rags to keep air moist but not in contact with work) will rust with plain water. Let is rust, then wipe of the loose, rinse and put back in box. Repeat until a complete even coat of brown is achieved. Oil as is or it can be boiled in. . . . (I forget) to get a "plum" brown. This is the oldest of the gunsmithing finishes and replicates what takes generations naturaly.

    NOTE: All oxide finishes (including nitre blues and Parkerizing) require oiling to prevent rust.

    -- guru Sunday, 07/18/99 00:27:19 GMT

    guru i have a 1,200 shaft with a snap ring grove an it groov is about.040 wide bottom of grove is aprox. 1.120 is thear a snap ring aney whear close????????(goes to the ver.speed on my mill)

    Bill Epps -- B Epps at Sunday, 07/18/99 02:07:21 GMT

    Bill, The first reference I checked was McMaster-Carr. They list a ring for a 1-3/16" (1.188) shaft with a groove diameter of 1.25" but a width of .056. You would need to check the groove width carefully. The OD is not too critical. It was their part number 98410A138. The problem is the package of 50 for $30.00. They may come in other widths. You would want to check with a local power transmission (bearings and motors) supplier. They often inventory these things and can sell you one at a time.

    I'll look in other references but YES, IT IS a standard size. If you can't find one in your little town. . . :) I can probably get you one locally and mail it too you.

    I hate those variable speed drives on the Bridgeport clones. They are noisy and we've rebuilt ours several times without any improvement. I've come to the conclusion that I'd rather change belts. . .

    -- guru Sunday, 07/18/99 04:00:05 GMT

    OBTW - If it is NOT a standard width, I can put one on the surface grinder and make it as thin as needed, but you would have to wait until after next weekend to get it. . . Check that groove closely. There is a type of ring made for tapered grooves. . . I KNOW, I've specified them.

    -- guru Sunday, 07/18/99 04:02:59 GMT

    Mr. Rackers;

    As you said, nice and safe. If you are in a rural area or in an urban area that has stables, I would suggest a visit to the nearest pile of horses**t that you can find. I have 'browned' a couple of old side by sides this way and the depth of finish is nothing short of spectacular!

    Prepare your metal by boiling it out or with a good water soluable degreaser (Brownells in Montezuma, Iowa) and place the metal in the warm part of the pile (you can figure out how to find the 'warm spot') and leave it for about three days. Mark where you've placed it unless you're like some folks on this page that enjoys poking around manure piles :). Remove the metal, card with some 0000 (extra, extra fine) steel wool and replace for another couple of days. The end result is worth the wait and the final depth is more or less up to you. The more you card the lighter the tone but whatever result you want it's there for the making.

    Before anyone gets the idea that I'm a professional 'Poop Poker', suck back, reload and try it. The results may just make you ponder the wonders of 'Olde' science.

    All the Best

    Dileas Gu Brath

    Dav Langstroth -- altnlang at Sunday, 07/18/99 04:38:00 GMT

    Bill, I misread the catalog. . .

    The groove diameter above should have been 1.118. Just a little tight. The next size up ring may be too loose but the size is for a 1-1/4" shaft, groove diameter 1.176", width still .056". The part number is McMaster-Carr 98410A137. Again, a power transmission specialty place may have a better listing. I can check a snap ring catalog tomarrow.

    -- guru Sunday, 07/18/99 04:44:41 GMT

    My shop is at approximately 5000 feet altitude. I am considering purchasing either a Bull or a Kick-Ass hammer. Does anyone know about the compressor capacities required for this altitude? Also I am looking for a place to purchase compressors at a reasonable price.

    I am an intermediate smith working in a vacuum. There are no smiths in my area which is the southern Black Hills of South Dakota.

    paulduval -- paulduval at Sunday, 07/18/99 14:03:49 GMT

    I am looking for info on tooling for the Little Giant. I would like to see a good plan for a guard that has a door so you can lubricate it.
    Also I am looking for plans for a tool holder so I can make tenons, etc. on it.

    I am an intermediate smith running a business in The Black Hills of South Dakota.

    paulduval -- paulduval at Sunday, 07/18/99 14:08:36 GMT

    Paul, The air compressor should not be a problem. The slightly reduced capacity of the compressor will be balanced by the higher pressure differential at the cylinder. The biggest problem is that most of the manufacturers of the "new" small air hammers under rate the necessary sized air compressor. Piston air compressors generaly have a duty factor of 50%. If the machine needs 20CFM and the compressor makes 20CFM you are under rated by 50%! Department store air compressors are not rated like industrial units. The Department stores assume you will only run the machine a couple times a year so they don't give a hoot about durabulity or duty factors. Even industrial units don't advertise the duty factor. But a least it IS in their fine print. . .

    At 5,000 ft (1,524m) the air density is 86.5% that of sea level. However, most of us don't live at sea level, the average down in the "flatlands" being about 1,000 ft (305m). That differential is more like 10%.

    Now, the air compressor is not a problem but a forge is an oxygen breather just like you and me. At high altitude your forge may not perform nearly as well as at low altitude. The recuperitive gas forge plans from ABANA were designed to overcome this problem. You can also preheat the air going into your coal or oil forge and get significant improvements in them too. At the last ABANA conference most people marveled at how well the gas forges performed (about 3,500ft I thnik). However, they overlooked the ambient air temperature of 100F (38C), unusualy hot for Asheville, NC.

    NOTE. DO NOT. I repeat, DO NOT recirculate exhaust gases through your forge! Recuperative means heat scavanged from the exhaust by fresh air via a heat exchanger. Recirculating exhaust will create huge amounts of carbon monoxide.

    Most small power hammer tooling is either hand held or clamp on. You rarely change dies. A tennon tool for a power hammer looks just like any clapper die used by hand on the anvil. See the one for making grapes on our 21st Century page. The one shown can be bolted to the anvil but used hand held under the hammer or clamped on with a little bracketry designed to fit around your lower die.

    Tooling for under hammer use is exactly like tooling for use on the anvil with the following exceptions.
    • Keep it short. Punches and hot cutters for hand held use tend to be long to keep both the holding hand and the striking hand away from the heat.
    • Keep it flexible. Most hand held tooling should have flexible handles to prevent shock from being transimitted to the hand. This rule is more important for tooling used under the power hammer.

    For examples see our NEWS articles showing Josh Greenwood using the Junk Yard Hammer and the AFC conf coverage.

    -- guru Sunday, 07/18/99 15:13:05 GMT

    went to NAPA store gave them the number you gave me he handed me the snap ring I needed it was the correct one mill is back on line Thankes a lot Bill Epps

    Bill Epps -- B Epps at besmithy,com Monday, 07/19/99 06:02:26 GMT

    Do you know of a source for 1 1/2" wood grained round bar or tube?

    John Simms -- jsimms at Monday, 07/19/99 13:30:57 GMT

    I have a Double Pipe Forge with single blower going into separate chambers. Separate gas lines for each side. I can get one side to light, when I try to light the other side it appears to be starved for gas. I am using natural gas. I have (2) 3/4" jets on each side, with 1/4" gas lines in 90. Any ideas?

    Joe lavely -- JLavely800 at Monday, 07/19/99 13:59:40 GMT

    I retired a table saw this weekend due to motor bearings...while I was assembling the new one, I got to thinking about the cast iron top on the old saw, and what a great router table top that would be if I installed a router where the saw blade used to go. Only problem is, the casting has a rib around the throat opening that would interfere with the router. Question is, can I grind down this rib to make a flat area on the bottom of the casting to mount the router, or will that introduce stresses in the casting that would lead to cracks, etc. If I can't use the old top in a router table, it would still make a fine surface plate, so I'd hate to ruin it...

    Thanks for the site. I stop in most workdays.

    Steve Alford Monday, 07/19/99 17:14:55 GMT

    I found your website and hope you can help me out or point me in the right direction.

    My wife has many pieces of copper cookware, some needing retinning. Do you know of a US source that can supply a couple of pounds of pure tin so I can try retinning the copper pots and pans?

    Thnsk for your time.


    Mike -- mb0830 at Monday, 07/19/99 18:09:09 GMT

    I am refinishing a steel medicine chest, and want to get the "brushed steel" effect. What tools do I need and what do I do?

    Thank you,


    Brad Kimmelman -- bkimmelman at Monday, 07/19/99 18:46:32 GMT

    Jock hi, I've just completed my gas forge using the "simple gas burner" on the plans page. It works pretty well, but I have a cold spot in the front of the forge. Would it be possible to stick on a T and have two orifices? secondly the piece of pipe between the bell reducer and the T starts to glow after about 20 minutes use. Is this normal? This forge cost me about $20 to build. I used insulated building blocks called Y-tum For the forge chamber. Works great! They are rated at 1500 degrees celsius. If these are available in the states check them out! It may revolutionize the D.I.Y forge industry.
    Once again thanks for the great forum & advice.
    P.S. How did you enjoy Hoffi's demo's.
    Mike the Israeli smith

    mike -- manzie at Monday, 07/19/99 20:00:43 GMT

    Mike, I enjoyed Urri's Demo. He put on quite a show. I KNOW, I need to get the pictures posted!

    Your burner is burning in the pipe and this is bad. Several things can be done. Put a "fire getter" at the opening of the pipe. This is a little "tooth" of metal that sticks out in the flow. It glows red and ignites the gas there. Increase your gas velocity. This can be done by necking down the end of the pipe OR using a smaller pipe. What happens is that the fuel/air mix must be moving faster than the "flame front velocity" to prevent flash back. OR you can increase both the air AND gas flow. As long as the flame stays IN the FORGE. You are OK. If you increase the flow too much then the fire will jump out of the forge. Forges need some back pressure to get really hot but this reduces the fuel/air velocity. With too little back pressure the flame burns up in your vent or out of the forge.

    All these things are a matter of balance. Sometimes you hit it the first time. Other times you have to play with it.

    -- guru Monday, 07/19/99 21:13:02 GMT

    BRUSHED STEEL: Brad, This is just done with a power wire brush of adequate coarsness. You can also use a coarse sanding belt. Normally brushed finishes are done on stainless or aluminium. Be sure to use a stainless wire brush on stainless and aluminum. A carbon steel brush leaves little bit of itself on the work and will leave rust tracks. Carbon steel will need to be protected with a clear finish or it will rust. The slightest hand print will show up so a great amount of care in handling is required.

    You will want a perfectly even finish on the steel before starting. If there is any rust you will have to sand out all the bad places and then use the same sandpaper to finish the whole. 180 Grit Wet-or-Dry works well for this. The abrasive holds up longer if used wet. Just be sure to carefully wipe off all the water, grit and powdered metal when finnished for the day.

    The power wire brush would have to be used in a heavy angle grinder, or a bench mounted buffing setup. To use a belt sander you would want a 32-40 grit belt.

    The big problem is that most sheet metal items with a brushed finish have the finish put on before the item is manufactured. Doing it afterward presents the danger of trying to hold the (sharp) object against a turning wheel that is likely to grab the part and throw it across the shop of worse take part of you with it. The sander works better but if the metal is less than 16ga (.073" - 2mm) there is a strong possibility of grinding a hole in it.

    -- guru Monday, 07/19/99 21:57:49 GMT

    MORE ON GAS FORGES: Joe Lavely, Is this a home-built forge or a commercial unit? Natural gas is very low pressure and distributing it is a little tricky. If you have a balance of fuel/air the forge should fire and burn. If the burners are pointed directly at each other it is possible that one is blowing out the other. If one side is closer to the fan it may be running higher pressure. This type of design must be very symetrical. Although propane forge often use seperate lines for each burner the gas can be injected further up the air pipe at a single point. This assures that a more even mix is achieved and removes the question of unequal supply piping.

    -- guru Monday, 07/19/99 22:07:34 GMT

    TIN: Mike, many platers, jewlers and silver plate repair folks can provide you with a little ingot of tin. You can also order it from McMaster-Carr (see their web-site on our links page). A one pound bar of 99.92% pure tin is $9.63 US. Part no. 8886K11.

    I've failed miserably at this the couple times I tried it, but I can tell you the little I DID learn. Order several bars, it takes a LOT more than you would think and there WILL be some waste. DO NOT use steel wool to spread the tin. You just end up soaking up all the tin in the steel wool and having millions of little steel burs stuck in the tin. DO NOT do it in front of the customer (and especialy NOT your wife!).

    -- guru Monday, 07/19/99 22:19:41 GMT

    Table saw as router table (Steve Alford): Will work great. Cast Iron is very stable and machining a little off should not hurt. Especially on an old casting. If you check it before and after with a dial indicator you might be able to tell but the change won't be significant enough to matter.

    I thought about making a vertical drum sander fron the one I have. Use the fence and mitre bar to square blocks of wood. I'd rebuild the saw but there is a single zinc casting that does EVERYTHING and it is worn out and there are no replacements.

    -- guru Monday, 07/19/99 22:26:51 GMT

    I work as an artist with sculptures and photography, sometimes connected sometimes not. I have made, for my photobased work, frames from steel plate for some years. These I usually burn with oil and old paper, sometimes with a welding torch sometimes on a fire.
    But to my problem/question, I have now made a pair of steel constructions that are not well fitted to this method as they will "warp" and change form if I heat them but I want them to have that "burnt" BLACk and old finish. So I wonder is there a way to get this finish with chemicals? I have used chemicals befor to make the steel to rust quicker but now I need info on how to make it black!

    Thanx, Bertil.

    Bertil Lindgren -- bertil at Monday, 07/19/99 23:59:19 GMT

    Bertil, There are a number of methods. I'd recommend taking the frames to a gun shop and let them do it. The chemicals are nasty and you need large (sometimes heated) trays. Parkerizing is the name of one fine flat black finish.

    There are several references to go to. MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK is the easiest to find. It has a number of methods. The first recipe includes Bismuth Chloride, Copper Chloride, Mercury Chloride and Hydrochloric acid. The EPA would have a fit!

    Another method calls for a salt bath (Salt Peter melted at 750F) with a Manganese compound.

    Then you might want to check gunsmithing references. However, these recipes almost always call for Nitric acid and bioling the parts to clean them or to set the color.

    I can get more specific but it really would be best if someone else did it. NOTE: Even though these finishes are supposedly to prevent rust they all require oiling (or sealing) to prevent rust.

    Its too late now but another way to go is with aluminium frames and have them black anodized.

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/20/99 03:25:49 GMT

    hello i have been wanting to learn how to make swords and armour but can't find any books or videos on it could you please send me a list of some that you know of that are good so i may order them...Thank you for you time and help......

    George Simpson -- nightmarestudios at Tuesday, 07/20/99 12:03:38 GMT

    George, For sword making you need to start small and work up. There is little difference between making a first class kitchen knife and a sword. Most important to learn is heattreating.

    You can get books and videos on the subject from Norm Larson or Centaur Forge (see getting Started for more info). I highly recomend the bladsmithing books by Jim Hrisoulas. His videos are a bargain but a little long. The Dona Meilach book, Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork covers the wide range of techniques you are looking at. See our Book Shelf for reviews.

    When you combine swords and amrour you will find that you need very broad metal working skills. Most of the tools are relatively simple. The work is hard. If you are not already an accomplished smith you will need to start with basic blacksmithing then work up from there.

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/20/99 12:41:22 GMT

    Goodmorning. Jock, I guess I need a lesson on electric motors. My old blower motor is about worn out so I rigged up my standby...a champion 400...however, none of the used motors I have will run correctly on a rheostat. Full speed is fine but when I attempt to slow the speed they don't work right. So, before I go buy a new motor, I need to know what kind of motor is designed to operate with a rheostat? Also, what rpm motor would you recommend for the champion 400 blower? Thank you....great site

    Ken -- kyndylforge at Tuesday, 07/20/99 14:13:44 GMT

    Where can I find someone located in southeast Michigan to do some work on an 1800's fence and gate? The work would be to clean, repair and update to allow installation as a bannister and gate over a stairway. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    Sandie Parrott -- RSBIRDY at Tuesday, 07/20/99 16:44:30 GMT

    Ken, I believe that simple speed controls can only be used on shaded pole motors or series wound AC/DC universal (brush type) motors. Centaur Forge sells a controller for those type motors that is good up to 1/5HP.

    Large diameter blowers do not need to run very fast 1800 RPM should do it although some run at 3600. There should be a rating plate on your old motor or the controller. The slower motor will put less wear and tear on the controller.

    If the motor is hooked up through the gear train you will need a slow high torque motor AND reduction pulleys.

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/20/99 16:58:03 GMT

    Lot of old (or new) power tools have brush type motors. Drill, angle grinder etc. Can use either a reostat or the variable control on the tool or a gate in the air line.

    grant -- nakedanvil at Tuesday, 07/20/99 18:02:33 GMT

    One of the best setups I've seen used an old sewing machine motor. They seem to be better designed for continous usage at low speed.

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/20/99 19:07:58 GMT

    Rob -- curry at, Your post did screwy things here. I've fixed the page but your post was cyber trash. Please repost again.

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/20/99 21:12:20 GMT

    Motor Controll:
    Resistive Controll is often not a good idea, you will decrease the tourque of your motor as it slows and often the motor will stall.

    There are several great ways to controll brush type motors, if you are keen, a brush type motor will opperate on DC and will last longer and perform better.

    DC can be controlled easier than AC, and unlike resistive controll it is possible to decrease the volts and leave the current high, Volts in a way controll your speed and the current controlls your tourque.

    Most "Store Purchased" drill speed controllers use a divice called an SCR, "silicon Controlled Rectifier", this device is configured to alter or controll the phase or wave formation going to the motor, you will loose a small amount of current but not as much as a resistive controller will loose. (also called a Phase Clipper).

    Depending on how electronic minded you are, I have a few sate of the art motor controller circuts, if you need one, BUT.. you need a good understaning of electronics!. (yes they will work on 110 and 240v).

    Motors: heres a good supply of motors that many people over look, go to your local car wrecking yard and find an old car with an generator, this will opperate on 12V an has 2 modes when beibng used as a motor. They last really well, and 12V dc is easy to controll and less haszardous to your health, another motor is a Starter for a car, you would not beleive what I have seen these used for, Milling Machines, Drilling Rigs and benders..., the only limitation is the current they require.


    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Tuesday, 07/20/99 21:42:55 GMT

    I understand your not wanting people to insist on copying 18th century methods, but.... Sorry... I live 20 miles from Colonial Williamsburg, and I got interested in blacksmithing at least in part by watching the smiths there (and at Jamestown and Yorktown, VA).

    I saw you article on making a great bellows and would really like to try it. You wouldn't happen to have or know of a source for dimensioned drawings of same, would you??


    John Young -- young at Tuesday, 07/20/99 23:05:26 GMT

    For a lot of applications what Andrew is saying is important. In the case of a blower it's not that important. The power requirement for a centrifugal blower goes up at somthing like the square of the r.p.m. so the reduced torque at low r.p.m. is not a problem. The same motor rated "dimmer" switch used on overhead fans will work fine. 'Nother saLvage yard motor is the fan from a car heater. I used to run one on a forge using a toy train controller.

    Bridge rectifiers and s.c.r.'s ARE pretty cheap stuff nowadays though.

    Andrew: How much horsepower can you get CONTINUOUSLY from a starter, do you think? Interesting ideas.

    GRANT -- nakedanvil at Tuesday, 07/20/99 23:10:48 GMT

    How can I change and keep the colors in metal for metal art? Such as your blues and brown colors? What heat propane vs. Torch? Thanks for your time .

    JR Howell -- zhowell7 at Wednesday, 07/21/99 01:08:54 GMT

    Can you please give info on annealing mild steelsheet and stainless steel sheet.

    Richard J. Westwood -- riod at Wednesday, 07/21/99 04:11:12 GMT

    What is the best plasma cutter for detail work,with the finest kerf-width? Also can you recommend a cnc system that doesn't break the bank!

    Richard Bergin -- info at Wednesday, 07/21/99 04:35:32 GMT

    Grant: Not to sure about the horsepower, But i know that a starter under load can draw up to 250amps but on average draw about 60 to 80 amps, When you consider that a starter motor has no problmes turning over you car or truck and that they rareley require maintinance or repair they could be considered a real work horse........
    there is one other problem with running these motors continuously under load, they get HOT!!!, short duty opperation works well..

    Light Dimmers for controlling fans and blowers are OK, but most are only rated at 10 to 15amps if you are lucky, any dimmer packs now days are solid state.

    Car Fans are a good idea, they usually have several settings that allow speed controll, if you are not lucky enough to get one that has a speed controll setting then I advise running it at its optimal speed and gating the air flow, A motor is designed to run at an optimal speed for several reasons, the brushes last longer due to the make/break ratio and the air flowing over the motor keeps it cool.

    Change the speed and you increase the heat that builds up on and in the motor, this can shorten the life expectancey of the motor.

    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Wednesday, 07/21/99 04:57:12 GMT

    Hello guys, Bertil;
    You can get a fair black using one of the phosphoric acid preps often marketed as "rust killers" and it isn't so nasty...there are other ways as well but the above is cheap and easy. Pete

    Pete Fels -- artgawk at Wednesday, 07/21/99 06:17:21 GMT

    to Dav who wants to make a forge with a 45 gal drum. Stand the drum on it's end and the other end will support a good pile of fire brick. Make the pile of fire brick with a floor, brick on their sides for the sides and brick across the top for the roof. A piece of 1 1/2" - 2" pipe for a burner, hair dryer for a fan, 20 lbs bottle of propane (mounted in water in the drum, part of the side cut out for axcess), propane regulator and you have a fire as long as you would like.

    In the "Flyin' Forge", for the tuyere, we used a piece of 3" pipe (lying horizontal). 5 - 3/4" pipe, 3/4" high, 3/4" apart,(can plug any of the holes to control the size of fire) welded to stand upright. It seems to work very well for an adjustable size fire (see anvil's ring,spring 1990). Works real good, Colonel Klinker falls around the pipes and doesn't upset your air as often as an "official tweer".

    Had a ball at Caniron, glad to finally meet some of the "NAMES". It sure is easier to talk to someone without having to type it out, makes a person think we really have a handicap (like we don't - "GRIN").

    I am looking for a calibrator for my "VICKERS ARMSTRONGS" hardness tester. If anyone has a source or suggestion, please let me know.

    Neil Gustafson -- swedefiddle at Wednesday, 07/21/99 07:35:16 GMT

    ON BLACKENING STEEL: John Neary writes,
    Birchwood-Casey the gun-patinating people, make a liquid for blackening steel, Presto Black, works wonderfully: fast, no mess, not too much hazard. Downside: cost is about like finishing your work with Chivas Royal Salute. Their number is 612-937-7931, address 7900 Fuller Road, Eden Prairie MN 55344.

    ON 18th CENTURY METHODS: The basic methods today are no different than 3,000 years ago! However, some people insist on handicaping themselves by doing EVERYTHING the hard way. Blacksmiths were always on the forefront of technology but today we have some romantic notion of the blacksmith being a primitive. As a hobby you can afford antiquated tools and methods but as a business you can not.

    MY BELLOWS: I keep intending to make a set of drawings, however, the original was made with nothing but a few hand sketches to determine the material needed and was then laid out directly on the wood. A paper pattern was made to fit and used to cut the leather. As in my article on the same I used dimentions from Bealer or Slone, "about five feet long and three feet wide" There is a small booklet titled "Making the Great Bellows" (I think). I couldn't find it in Centaur's catalog but I'm sure Norm Larson has it.

    ANNEALING SHEET STOCK: Various metals are annealed differently. Most non-ferrous metals such as brass, copper and aluminium are heated to a dull red and then quenched in water. This HARDENS steel! Steel is heated to a low red (just a hair above the non-magnetic point) and then cooled as slowly as possible. The part is burried in lime or dry vermiculite to insulate it for slow cooling. Plaster of Paris or Portland cement will do in a pinch. Stainless steel is usualy treated as a non-ferrous material but there are different types so you need to know what type you have.

    PLASMA and CNC: I haven't used plasma and don't know much about them. I usualy trust my welding supplier in these matters. There is an outfit that retrofits a PC based CNC system to new Bridgeport clones. The system including the mill runs about $15,000 - $16,000. You can spend that much on a sign engraver! If this is in your budget range I'll find the supplier.

    COLORING METAL: I DID notice that Centaur Forge has a book on patinating. Please note however, oxide coatings are not rust or weather resistant and don't even stand up well indoor unless constantly oiled or waxed. Clear laquer is best. If you want truely amazing temper colors use titanium sheet! It is a "white" metal that takes on temper colors like steel but they are more or less permanent as the metal does not readily oxidize or corrode at normal temperatures.

    AUTOMOTIVE STARTER MOTORS: Only problem with these series wound motors is that they attempt to go an infinite speed! When I was 3-4 my dad built me an electric car using a starter motor. It ran too fast (faster than HE could run) so he belted it down. SAME SPEED. So he but in a back shaft and belted it down again! Still the SAME SPEED! Blelting just reduced the load and the motor sped up to produce the same results. . . Friction, arcing at the brushes and the speed of light are the only limiting factors for these motors.

    -- guru Wednesday, 07/21/99 12:22:49 GMT

    I am working on an air hammer project using mostly scrounged parts however I haven't come up with a good valve arangement. Is there anywhere on the web that I can go to get a "pluming diagram" ?

    Any ideas on valve arrangements or people to contact?

    John Hockaday -- Hockaday at Wednesday, 07/21/99 14:25:30 GMT

    Richard Bergin:

    Check out

    grant -- nakedanvil at Wednesday, 07/21/99 15:15:03 GMT

    Neil Gustafson:

    We have a block of known hardness used to calibrate our machines. Not sure were to buy them. Talk to a local heat treater, they should have a supplier for such things. They will also know of someone who can calibrate the machine for you. They usually have to have their machines calibrated by an independant supplier.

    grant -- nakedanvil at Wednesday, 07/21/99 15:40:51 GMT

    Hey, Jock! I just got a new roll forging machine. Wanna have a fast-draw contest? One pass through the rolls takes ONE SECOND(60RPM)! 47% reduction in area possible each pass. Has a big diaphram air clutch on the flywheel, twin-disk air brake. More fun than I'm usually allowed on a school night! As there is only 3/32" adjustment, you need custom rolls for everything. Now I need a 4 axis CNC mill to make rolls.

    grant -- nakedanvil at Wednesday, 07/21/99 16:45:24 GMT

    I am trying to find the value of a large antique bellow that I
    have obtained through an estate sale

    Stephen -- Bustoff95 Wednesday, 07/21/99 17:14:36 GMT

    Guru, I was asking Steve Alford to keep me informed as to how his router table conversion turns out, as I've wanted to do that for some time. Also wanted to ask you for tips about welding to cast iron..I've never tried it and understand it ain't easy. For starters, will temperature variations bust out the welds (or crack the iron? What kind of steel would mate well with cast iron? What kind of rod? Or is this endeavor doomed from the getgo?

    Rob. Curry -- Curry at Wednesday, 07/21/99 19:06:01 GMT

    John who is looking for the air hammer plumbing diagrams, check out

    Phil -- rosche at Wednesday, 07/21/99 19:17:05 GMT

    Roll Forging is every architectual smiths dream! Josh always wanted to make top rail and then on the last pass make a big helix out of it for spiral stairways!!!

    Rob, If you need to attach something to a cast iron part drill and tap. It CAN be welded but you generally plan on remachining the part afterwards. Brazing is not quite as bad. With C.I., if you don't absolutely have to weld it, don't. It is also one of those subjects that if you have to ask how to do it, you shouldn't be doing it (at least to anything important). Preheat on cast iron is used to counterbalance stress that will break the part or joint. Generally you preheat on the opposite side of the part! So when the weld shrinks so does the other side, in parallel. The general rule is that CI can't be welded with a torch but I've seen it done sucessfuly. I can't do it and I'm pretty handy with a torch.

    ANTIQUE BELLOWS: They are getting to be quite the collectors item. However, if they have been turned into a table or lamp they are just so much garage sale material. Then there are hand made bellows and factory made ones (Yep, millions were turned out in factories). Price is strictly dependant on buyer, seller and geographical location. Put them on E-Bay if you want a top price.

    -- guru Wednesday, 07/21/99 22:36:23 GMT

    Re variable speed blower. A friend has offered me a foot pedal from a sewing machine that I would like to control my blower with. I'm unsure of all the details but its an AC motor to the best of my knowledge. What type of controller is a sewing machine pedal. What type of motor will it work on?

    jdickson -- TheIrony at Wednesday, 07/21/99 22:45:46 GMT

    SEWING MACHINE PEDAL: The old ones are resistance units (rheostats). Can't tell you what they use now. The motors are brush type universal motors. The control should work on a small shaded pole motor. Small sub fractional fan motors are generaly shaded pole (low torque, no starter winding or capacitor). It should say so on the motor.

    -- guru Thursday, 07/22/99 00:19:47 GMT

    I am trying to give low carbon steel a brass patina. I know that there are paints but I have heard there is some formula's that can do it from a chemical reaction. Do you have any resources that would give me the formula? Thank you

    Mike Rizzo -- marfreed at Thursday, 07/22/99 02:57:15 GMT

    Super site with great info. I am beginner just starting to assemble some the key tools to start some hands on hammer learning. I am a mechancial engineer, certified welding inspector, and emergency horse shoe repairer for my wife. I picked up an old power hammer at scrap price and am would like to determine if restoration is worth while or if I have a large paper weight for my shop.

    Markings cast into the base read, "Champion Blower & Forge Co - Lancaster PA - No. 1 - Patd. July 1". I can't find a year or any other markings.

    It is missing the contecting linkage between the hammer and the drive hub. Additionally there is some damage on the anvil adjacent to the machined slot to recieive the lower die (I have seen pictures where dies are held in place with wedges - maybe someone got carried away).

    I would appreciate some help/direction to identify the size of the hammer and where I can locate additional information to determine if a restoration project is worth while. Key questions follow; one how to assess the severity of anvil damage/repair potential, two how to locate information for hammer drive linkage replacement, and finally what what speed the drive shaft should be driven. The power hammer page has a good chart to establish motor horsepower once I obtain the other information.

    Thanks to anyone who can help or point me in the right direction. Kudos to all for their efforts on this site to support us wannabies.

    David Saylor -- dsaylor at Thursday, 07/22/99 03:00:53 GMT

    Mike, you can dip clean iron/steel in copper sulphate solution to get a copper "flash". Many smiths just heat the piece to something just short of a red heat and then polish with a fine brass brush. The brass adheres to the surface and is fairly permanent. The piece is power wire brushed just prior to make it clean. The brush is one of those small cleaning brushes that sort of looks like a big toothbrush. Be sure to get brass. Bronze or copper do not seem to work.

    CHAMPION HAMMER: David, Order the book Pounding out the Profits by Douglas Freund if you need pictures and history of the Champion hammer. These hammers used a leaf spring and toggle linkage. It is not too hard to make and less buggy than the Little Giant coil spring type. You will find pictures with good detail on pages 6 and 8 of the PABA Edition (vol 5) of the anvilfire NEWS. Dovetail damage is common on all size hammers. James Nasmyth the inventor of the Steam Hammer (1839) insisted on hardwood shims in dovetails to prevent breakage. . The Champion is a fine hammer and worth putting some effort into. I'd love to have parts drawings and photos of the repair. :)

    -- guru Thursday, 07/22/99 03:37:50 GMT

    hi, i am new to blacksmithing, very new, at 53 i just bought a forge and some hammers and will be getting an anvil soon. what i was wondering is how to lay the fire brick in the forge. it is a coal forge about 2 feet square and the fire bricks i have are about 1 foot square. how do i lay the brick, brake it up into small pieces or larger pieces. then how do i keep the coal from falling thru the grating? seems silly but i have never worked with coal. i have the complete blacksmith book and will get the others that you suggested, but i really want to just work with some iron, us old timers get inpatient too. thanks for the help richard

    richard Dillon -- prospector at Thursday, 07/22/99 04:33:58 GMT

    Richard, Most commercial steel or cast iron forges do not need a brick lining. Claying is recommended for heavy applications but for general work just start with a clean forge and toss in some coal. Good coal coalesces or melts together and makes bigger lumps of coke that do not fall through the twyeer in large quantities. For most newbies starting the fire is the biggest problem. Coal burns well once you get it going but THAT is the trick. The best coal can be started with a few sheets of newspaper. Lesser coal needs some wood chips and coke needs an oxyacteylene torch.

    (from Frank Turley) "Ball up 5 standard sheets of news print and give it a twist to form a stem so that it looks like a large mushroom. Light the end of the "stem" and put it down in the throat of the twyeer". Apply a gentle blast of air and shovel on a thin layer of coal. Fill the rest of the forge with fresh coal if you haven't already done so. Viscous yellow smoke tells you that the coal is getting new the burning point. After a short time the smoke should turn to flame and you should shovel on some more coal as the center of the fire colapses (the paper burns up pretty fast). Don't heap the coal on the center push it in from the edges. When you get a clean burning hot fire you can heap coal on to coke down.

    As mentioned, this works on good coal, others may need a little pile of wood chips.

    -- guru Thursday, 07/22/99 12:17:01 GMT

    Champion Hammer- I used a 50 pound Champion for about 15 years. They are excellant hammers and as Guru says less buggy than a LG. The linkage to the hammer is pretty simple and could easily be made if you can locate the right spring configuration. They use a slipping belt as the drive and clutch mechanism. I ran mine with a 1.5 horse motor & I think I had a pulley ratio to give me about 300 RPM's at the hammer shaft. I would say its worth rebuilding site unseen as hammers are getting harder and harder to find, especially ones at scrape price. You rolled in the right pile of manure.

    Guru- Where can I get some tool steel to make single point lathe and shaper tools. I want to forge some special shapes. I guess W2 with 95 points of C would work. Any other suggestions?
    Also has anyone seen a copy of Power Forging (circa 1920) by Googerty??

    John Careatti -- john.careatti at Thursday, 07/22/99 13:17:39 GMT

    David Saylor, Champion Hercules "patented" power hammers were made in three sizes: #0 with a 30 pound ram, #1 with a 65 pound ram and a #2 with a 125 pound ram. It's recommended to run a #2 off a 2HP motor at 300 RPM.

    I might be able to offer some additional information for your hammer's drive linkage if you contact me privately at my e-mail address. I'll be gald to send you, by snail mail the info I have. It's not much but it might be a help. I do have a scanner for my puter but I can't quite figure out how the use the *^~`ing thing. So much for modren technological. Somehow the space (between my ears)age has not meet the iron age.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Thursday, 07/22/99 15:14:17 GMT

    Has anybody figured out just what it is in some innocent-looking mild-steels that makes them so impossible to weld? Forge-weld, that is. Im not inexperienced and most of my welds will stick good, but now and again i run into this length of "wont" iron. I know Im not perfect, but Im not THAT bad either. Any ideas on what causes this?

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet,se Thursday, 07/22/99 17:14:59 GMT

    Olle, The only thing I can think of is lead. A LOT of mild steel is leaded for ease of machining. All screw machine stock (brass and steel) is leaded. The lead acts as a lubricant and makes machining so much easier it is almost unbelievable. You can run HHS tools at carbide speeds and get super smooth finishes.

    At forging and welding temperatures the lead bleeds out of the iron. With brass and bronze the metal seperates and crumbles making it very difficult to forge.

    -- guru Thursday, 07/22/99 18:47:35 GMT

    Whats Up?

    Vince McCandless -- vince at Friday, 07/23/99 21:34:56 GMT

    Vince is an old friend. Sold me a ton or two of British car parts back in the 70's. . Man! That seems like a LONG time ago. If you need imported car parts, especialy Volkswagon, check out:

    -- guru Friday, 07/23/99 22:19:32 GMT

    I just bought a champion blower and forge number 1 powerhammer and I need to get a motor to run the hammer properly.

    dave -- bklsmith at Saturday, 07/24/99 00:38:33 GMT

    My father is a retired blacksmith and is turning his old forge into a small museum - his forge is the one featured in Seamus Heaney's poem "A door into the dark" - and he wishes to make some horse-shoes. He tells me that the proper iron to use for horse-shoes is "Dundarvan Iron" which used to be made in Scotland. Unfortunately all the ironworks there are closed down and we cannot find a supplier for it any where. Dundarvan Iron is, we believe, a pure form of iron ahich was hard wearing for horses. Can you help locate a supplier in UK?

    Kieran Devlin -- kierandevlin at Saturday, 07/24/99 12:01:58 GMT

    Dave, A 1-1/2 or 2 HP motor should run that hammer OK, 2HP would be best. It is a 65 pound hammer and should run aprox 300 RPM. Champions are a GREAT hammer. Keep it well oiled, don't abuse it and it should run forever.

    Dundarvan Iron: I expect this was a favored product from a region or a specific works. The old bloomeries and forges generaly produced an iron product called "wrought iron". Wrought has no carbon in it so it cannot be hardened and tempered. However, it does have significant slag inclusions that form a grain structure like wood. Coarse wrought iron is stringy "red short" difficult stuff to work. Multiple refining (forging, folding, welding and forging again) produced a finer product. This finer product was used for any work that required supperior material. I suspect this is what your Dundarvan Iron was.

    As far a "hard" or "long" wearing goes any wrought iron product would be inferior to modern steel. What is commonly used today is "mild" (low carbon) steel. It is a much more uniform product that wrought. There are numerous modern abrasion resistant steels that would hold up much longer than wrought OR mild steel.

    Currently one of the last (the) maker of wrought iron is located in the U.K. The U.S. distributor is The Real Wrought Iron Co. I tried their main number and it was disconnected, I left a message on the second. They may tell me who their supplier is but I doubt it. You could also try:
    British Artists Blacksmiths Association, web site. Member services.
    Links to other metals sites and British Blacksmiths Magazine.

    -- guru Saturday, 07/24/99 15:30:50 GMT

    I would like to know abuot the process of using a press to make Damasscus. Or If anyone has any experience in this

    Fred Harrison -- James.Harrison at Saturday, 07/24/99 22:45:31 GMT

    I would like some information on using a press to make Damascus- Do you havw any knowledge of this method?

    Fred Harrison -- James.Harrison at Saturday, 07/24/99 22:57:55 GMT

    Fred, The expert is Don Fogg. See the link to his web-page on our links page.

    The advantage is making large welds and in drawing out the billet in a controlled manner. Uniform drawing is important in producing clean patterns. Don't under estimate the HP required. I think Don uses a 10HP hydraulic unit. There is no substitute for HP when is is required.

    -- guru Sunday, 07/25/99 03:29:31 GMT

    I need help in identifying an old forge and blower I have. While Tring to research this forge on the net I came across your site....Truly impressed....I get a kick out of "old world craftsmen" also being experts at high tech....what better way to preserve and promote a truly skilled profession.
    Anyway back to the was made by the champion forge and blower co. the only info I have found was a advertisement in the Library of Congress , dated 1910 for a champion forge and blower..Model 400 ..... This one appears to have a 401 on the bottom of the blower..I have the forge and working hand blower...any info would be appreciated...I have considered selling it, but I have no idea of its value, if any..or of a interested party. The more I read here of your trade the more intriguing this becomes....again any info would be appreciated....

    Steve Conmy -- sconmy at Sunday, 07/25/99 05:53:46 GMT

    Good morning. I am trying to peace things together for my own shop. But I don't have a set of tongs what would you sugest for a first pair?

    Heath Lindholm -- flippside at Sunday, 07/25/99 12:08:12 GMT


    Vice grips work well, so do slip joint pliers. If you buy Taiwan slip joint pliers, you can take them apart, re-shape the jaws as necessary, and put them back together easily.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 07/25/99 12:14:17 GMT

    Heath, Paw-Paw is right, slip joint pliers such as Channel locks work pretty well. Vise-grips were invented by a blacksmith as universal tongs. The problem with Vise-grips is that the little spring in them goes all to pieces when over heated. Luckily a good tool dealer will have replacements!

    It is HARD work for a beginner but every blacksmith should make at least SOME of their own tongs. I suspect that if you put your mind to it to make a dozen pair in different sizes and shapes you would have fair blacksmithing skills when you were finished. Check out the method of making tongs on our 21st Century Page and then on the iForge page.

    -- guru Sunday, 07/25/99 14:07:22 GMT

    OBTW- The blacksmith that invented Vise-Grip pliers was William Peterson a Danish immigrant to the U.S. His family owned the business from 1924 until sometime in the corporate buyout crazy 80's.

    CHAMPION FORGE: I don't have a history on the company but they made that style of equipment from the 1880's (or earlier) until they went out of business in the 1960's (I think). Since these old pieces of equipment are still being used their condition determines the value a great deal. THEN is depends on who's buying and who's selling. The 400 or 401 is the blower model. They were attached to everything from little sheet metal rivit forges to huge railroad forges. There IS a reprint of their catalog available that might help with identification. You could also send us a picture (e-mail or snail mail).

    -- guru Sunday, 07/25/99 14:20:23 GMT

    You mentioned an article you wrote called Blacksmith in 1776. Where may I read this article. Thanks.

    Barry Myers -- bmyers647 at Sunday, 07/25/99 14:54:00 GMT

    Barry, Its at the top of the 21st Century Page, which reminds me. . . I wrote another piece of historical fiction titled "A day in the life of an apprentice". Its burried in the archives and I'd better dig it out before I completely forget!

    -- guru Sunday, 07/25/99 15:42:09 GMT




    joe -- THEGINT at AOL.COM Sunday, 07/25/99 18:12:57 GMT

    ANY FORGE, FURNACE or ENGINE burning any fuel (except hydrogen)! High temperature devices that are starved for air and or fed CO2 will produce CO (Carbon monoxide). Preheat air must be produced with a heat exchanger.

    -- guru Sunday, 07/25/99 19:17:57 GMT

    Nice demo the other night, Guru! That's a pretty cool feature you got going there. We'll always be "real-time" creatures I guess.

    grant -- nakedanvil at Sunday, 07/25/99 21:39:49 GMT

    Grant, Thank you! However, the kudos for the "cool feature" goes to my chatmaster Andrew "Kiwi" Hooper of New Zealand. Currently it is a prototype system. We are looking at making a cleaner interface (for both instructor AND student).

    Tested the famous "screen chalk" today. All it needs is $$$$$$

    -- guru Monday, 07/26/99 00:35:05 GMT

    I'm looking for some help in the finishing dept. It seems my hot paste wax parts are rusting in my house, my laquered sheet metal parts are cracking(very fine spidery craks that make it look white) and the stuff I've put acrylic clear on are turning white under the paint. Can you help me out?

    Blackening steel: Jax Chemical Co. in Floral Park, New York has all kinds of chemicals for metal work that are really easy to use and are very safe. The steel blackener (oxidizer) works great if you can find a way to keep it from rusting after three weeks!

    Ryan Blessey -- Rustboo at Monday, 07/26/99 02:47:51 GMT

    Kieran Devlin: "Some" wrought iron was being made at "Blist Hill" ( a restored mid 19th cent village ?) near "Ironbridge".

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Monday, 07/26/99 04:17:00 GMT

    Hi, I'am 15 years old blacksmith from finland... I have been blacksmithing almost two years. Could you tell me how to forge rose?
    I have seen many forged roses but I just can't figure out how it had been done... Pictures how to forge rose step by step would help me a lot. Thanks...

    Juhani Jaaskelainen -- juhani.jaaskelainen at Monday, 07/26/99 08:40:57 GMT

    Ryan, I keep telling folks this but they insist on their "artistic" finishes.
    They must be cleaned and OILED regularly. Even RUST finishes! All burnt oil and wax finishes are temporary.

    If you want that lovely just forged finish make it out of stainless steel and forget about it! Otherwise see the first article on our 21st Century page. Also see the article on my stainless Norfolk latch.

    If you are doing insustrial type sheet metal work you can buy prefinished sheet with a protective plastic cover that you peal off after forming. You have to design without raw edges which means rolling edges and then hiding the return lap.

    There is almost no ironwork left from before 1000 AD and absolutely none from the milinia BC (except for some really rare pieces mostly reconstructed chemicaly from rust). Ironwork from as recent as 150 years ago is often nothing but rust. If you want your great grandchildren's generation to see YOUR work then do it right! Sandblast it, zinc powder paint it, neutral prime it then put on a top coat of your choice.

    I'm tired of hearing professionals whine "but it destroys the texture". Well then, HAND FINISH IT! Rust does more than destroy the texture, it just plain destroys your work! Assuming that your client will maintain your work is naive wishfull thinking. It is also unprofessional in my opinion. I know its a pain, and its expensive, I've been there. 150 years ago there was no choice but to put on a marginal finish. Today you can put on a finish that will never need maintence in your lifetime and will help protect the work for generations more. However, it is almost cheaper to use stainless steel. . .

    -- guru Monday, 07/26/99 13:19:54 GMT

    ROSE: Juhani, I'll see if I can get one of the guys to do one for the iForge page. However, I'll give you a hint. Most are not forged from one piece.

    Today most roses are made from laser or plasma cut blanks. Either 16 or 18ga (1.9mm or 1.5mm) steel sheet. The outer ones have 4 or 5 petals, then the inner ones have 3 and then 2. A hole is drilled in the center of each blank so that the pieces can be rivited to the stem. Then each leaf is started with a blow of a ball pien hammer near its base (where the petals join). This should be done on a slightly dished place in a block of wood. Stretching the steel in a spherical section (round) at the base causes the petal to start to turn upward. You can then round out the rest of the petal to suit by using the same technique and then slightly roll the edges over. For this you may want to make a stake or anvil tool with curved and rounded edge (like a quarter section of pipe with a rounded edge). After each group of petals is done then they are assembled on the stem. The stem can be made with an upset shoulder (or forged down stem) with a short tennon that is riveted over. You can also use a long tennon that is split to form the "pistal". There are a lot of ways to make the attachment including welding. The same techniques apply to copper and brass.

    In the U.S., Rose Blank kits are available from Kayne and Son or Jere Kirkpatrick's Valley Forge.

    -- guru Monday, 07/26/99 14:00:36 GMT


    There are several folks who have a pictorial on rose making.
    Here is the url to one of them. http:\\

    Ralph -- ralphd at Monday, 07/26/99 14:50:40 GMT

    Ralph, Your link is hot now. :)


    Does anyone know what happened to these folks? Their page is no longer posted. Please contact me at guru at if you know anything about this page.

    -- guru Monday, 07/26/99 15:43:02 GMT

    Fred: Re Forging press for Damascuss. Dr Jim Batson did a small book on the subject. It sells for about 25$ & I beleive can be obtained from both Don Fogg & Norm Larson. Good reference as it deals with the forumlas which allows you to build a bigger or smaller press.

    Bob -- robert_miller at Monday, 07/26/99 15:47:04 GMT

    Re-circulating Flue gases- Guru you are absolutely right about the need for oxygen to support combustion. I wonder if Joe is thinking of some Buffalo coal forges that have a smoke burner on them. The inlet of the blower can be directed to the stack to pull in smoke. The blower is pulling smoke from an open hood and there is plenty of oxygen for combustion. This is a different situation than recirculating flue gas from a kiln like enclosed forge.

    John Careatti -- john.careatti at Monday, 07/26/99 15:47:16 GMT

    I'm trying to make some things out of worn out tines from a roto-tiller. A letter and subsequent call to the customer service department of the tiller company, and they tell me they are made of a high-carbon, tungsten alloy but they don't know the astm number or any other information about it. Any thoughts on what I need to know to work with this stuff, or should I just experiment? I've never heard of such an alloy before, although I saw it mentioned briefly in one book.

    michael matthews -- mmatthew at Monday, 07/26/99 17:38:36 GMT

    I made a flying trip to Tannehill this weekend I left Sat. morning and made it there after the park close. Stayed at Hover Al. and went to Tannehill Sunday. Saw most of the park but my main prepose was to go to the Blacksmith's place. To my disappointment the Resident smith Bill Shoemaker was off. He had a heart attack and the lady at the Visitor's Office wasn't sure when he would be able to return.Will the September event be held at the forge or across the creek. Are you familar with Bill's forge area there are a pile of simular pieces of equipment two of which he is useing they are made by CHampion Blower
    company they are mounted on a stand and they have a foot lever. Looks like they are use for holding maybe. Exelator I think is another name on them. Hope Bill gets to feeling better,went through the iron muesam
    very impressed.

    Bobby Neal -- nealbrusa at Monday, 07/26/99 17:49:56 GMT

    Bobby, At the back of the park there is a large "picnic" shelter with a fancy wrought iron sign hanging off it (see the AFC edition of the news). The AFC keeps equipment stored in store rooms and drags it out when they have a meet then put it all away afterwards. They have a big steel forge, power hammers and such. Of course they drag in a few more truck loads for the conference!

    I suspect the devices you saw are "caulking vises", a type of farriers vise. Modern farriers use lighter weight vises for portability. The old heavy ones wer used in city shops where the horses came to the shoer.

    -- guru Monday, 07/26/99 20:02:32 GMT

    TILLER TINES: Michael, Tines are usualy abrasion resistant but not super hard. If the fellow you talked to didn't know the actual spec then I would also doubt anything else he had to say about them. As with all unknown steels. . . test, test, test.

    -- guru Monday, 07/26/99 20:06:09 GMT

    FORGING LATHE TOOLS: John C., I'd almost forgotten your cutter steel question. What you are doing is what was normal to make lathe cutter bits up until the early 1900's. Machinists had to forge, harden and temper their own. At that time the best steel would have been "crucible steel" of unknown carbon content. However it would have compared to SAE 1095.

    Today I would pick a high working temperature alloy with a high carbon content that is still forgeable. Your high speed steels are much too difficult to harden and temper. A7 looks good with A3 close close behind. A bitch to forge but hard to go as soon as it cools!

    -- guru Monday, 07/26/99 20:46:22 GMT

    BLACK OAKS FORGE is just having some confusion with the folks that bought out their server company. They are still in operation!

    -- guru Monday, 07/26/99 21:02:53 GMT



    joe -- THEGINT at AOL.COM Monday, 07/26/99 23:53:04 GMT

    My grandfather was a blacksmith. I know virtually nothing about blacksmithing, but was recently given a box with what appears to be a tap and dye set with "Champion Blower and Forge" stamped on each piece. It belonged to him and I believe it to be from the early 1900's. The box says "Easy 605" on the outside. Question: What should I do with this? Is it worth anything? Would it be of any use to anyone in the blacksmithing business or should I just put the box on a garage shelf as a momento of my grandfather?

    Mike Stanfield -- mike_stanfield at Tuesday, 07/27/99 15:16:48 GMT

    Mike Stanfield,

    Just my two cents worth, but if you grandfather and you were close keep them! Perhaps you might even think about learning a bit about blacksmithing. That could be an incredible link to the past for both you and your kids later in life.

    As to specific data about your tap/die set I am sure one of the othere folks here know much more than I, grandpa? PawPaw? Guru?

    Anyway good luck.

    Ralph -- ralphd at Tuesday, 07/27/99 16:34:36 GMT

    Mike, Your tools have mostly collectors value. There is nothing wrong with them but modern taps and dies are much better than they were even 30 years ago. Champion Blower and Forge was one of the most reputable manufacturers of blacksmiths tools and machinery. They have been out of business for a long time and the tap and die set is fairly rare. I know of only one other set although I'm sure there are plenty around. They are a lot less common than forges and blowers with the Champion name.

    -- guru Tuesday, 07/27/99 22:08:38 GMT

    I am trying to locate a source of good quality coal near Billings, Montana. So far the closest I've found is in Colorado. Any sources in Montana or Wyoming would be appreciated!
    Thank You,
    Kim R.

    Kim Roccoforte -- KRoccoforte at Tuesday, 07/27/99 23:56:28 GMT

    hi guys, thanks for the info on setting up the forge. now here is another good one. i want to make knives and swords. i can get a used anvil from the internet there don't seem to be any used ones around here. i can buy a new one, but 400 - 500 lb anvils are very costly. i can get some plate steel 4140 or 4150 and get it heat treated, but what size should i get? i am leaning toward the steel in the size range of 5 x 10 x 22 to 30 inch range. what do you think. a saw in your drawing that one end had a hole what size is it? also at what level (height) should the top of the anvil be? thanks much for your help

    Richard Dilon -- prospector at Wednesday, 07/28/99 14:21:59 GMT

    Richard Dilon,

    I assume the drawing you refer to is of an anvil? If so Then the hole you are asking about is the hardie hole, used to hold anvil tools such as a cutoff hardie(hot cut chisel) or any number of other tooling. Most of the anvils I have seen have hardie holes of about 7/8 to 1 inch.(mine has a 1 inch hardie) Also many anvils have a smaller round hole next to the hardie. This can be used in punching holes etc. In any case remember the anvil is your work bench, you will find that some folks seem to only use just a few parts of their anvil and others use the whole thing, the face, step, the sides, even the curve under the heel, and of couse the horn. Sometimes as I am working on a new project I find that as I look for 'just the right spot' I will, as I am hammering, move around the anvil til I find just the correct spot. Which I am sure looks odd to others.


    Ralph -- ralphd at Wednesday, 07/28/99 14:41:28 GMT

    Kim Roccoforte --

    I'm assuming that you want to collect your own coal? If so, the nearest place is just north of the Montana border, about 60 miles north of Fernie, BC. The name of the town is Elkton, and the name of the industry is coal. That said, it's incredibly hard to make arrangements to visit a working coal mine. In the US, it's probably impossible. In Canada, I did manage several years back to arrange a visit, pulling a trailer. It took several months to set up, and was the centerpiece of that summer's vacation. (grin) Of course, to some folks, parking alongside a berm of metallurgical grade coal about 40 feet high and 1000 feet long wouldn't be much, but to a blacksmith it's right about close to heaven. About 2 tons went into that trailer, most in lumps so large we could barely roll them. Good thing that berm was high, or they'd never have made it in the trailer.

    Oh, to top it off, when I asked how much I could pay for it, I was told that it was mine with their complements. I did forge up a bunch of coat hooks and sent them up to my contact to distribute.

    Turns out that all of the high-grade coal is shipped out to Japan. It travels down a 5-mile conveyor to a crusher, is crushed to powder and put into open, bottom-dump freight cars. To keep the powdered coal in the car, the loaded car runs through a large overhead arch where it is sprayed with a layer of latex. Then, about 2 miles of cars are hooked together and run to Vancouver, BC for loading on ships to Japan. None is for sale in either Canada or the US (from the workings I visited).

    Morgan Hall -- morganh at Wednesday, 07/28/99 15:22:56 GMT

    Guru there seems to be a problem with the Tub it doesn't let you leave

    Bobby Neal -- nealbrusa at Wednesday, 07/28/99 16:59:10 GMT

    Thanks to Morgan Hall for the great story about collecting coal straight from the source! You did mention that "it is incredibly hard to arrange a visit" to a working mine. Could you please furnish me with a contact name at the Elkton Coal Mine? Also- I am interested in locating a retail source of high quality coal closer to Billings, Montana (South-Central). All of the sources I've found to date (i.e. Kentucky, California, etc.)charge $8 per bag of coal and anywhere from $15 to $50 per bag for shipping! I'd even be willing to pay the $20 per bag if it doesn't require a minimum of 20 bags to receive this rate.
    Thank You,
    Kim R.

    Kim Roccoforte -- kroccoforte at Wednesday, 07/28/99 20:18:39 GMT

    Richard, My drawing of a "block anvil" was left with minimal detail for a reason, to let the maker figure it out. The "punching" holes I drew were left undimensioned because if I said, "drill a 1" (25mm) dia hole through the 4" (100mm) plate", you would think I was crazy! However, I do it ALL the time. It only takes about 3 to 5 minutes including setup and tool changes. The hard part is getting the slab on the drill press! The average do-it-yourselfer would be lucky to drill a 1/2" (13mm) through that thickness in several days of worrying away at it. Its a good job to farm out to your local machine shop.

    OBTW - The stand shown with that anvil (article on 21st Century page) is the type I build for all my anvils. It is relatively light weight, as sturdy as ANY stump and doesn't rock back and fourth because of its hollow center. With a little wear and tear it looks like a "traditional" base.

    COAL from most Eastern U.S. mines is heading to Japan too as well coal from Siberia. Something to think about.

    -- guru Wednesday, 07/28/99 23:13:08 GMT

    first, sorry for my bad english.

    Please..... in the name of humanity and all good old things, help me!!!....

    I have 3 years finding a metod for making a sword... please tell me how i can do it or were i can found the information of the process.

    Tanks in advance....

    A Friend who love the art of make swords

    Alberto -- triad at Thursday, 07/29/99 00:23:03 GMT

    Alberto, Try our Links page and the Web-ring page. There are many Internet sites that deal with swords and sword making. Centaur Forge and Norm larson have many books on the subject. The bladesmithing series by Jim Hrisoulas is very good. Start at the beginning!

    In general making a sword is no different than making a small straight knife. Practice the techniques of making a dagger then work up. The basic techniques of making a sword are the same as other blades. The difference is size. Of prime importance is the study of heattreating (hardening and tempering steel).

    -- guru Thursday, 07/29/99 01:16:27 GMT

    from Richard, thanks for the info on the hole in the steel, the shop said they would drill a 1 inch hole for $184.00 seemed high. what about using the plate 4140 or 4150 in tne 5 x 10 x 22 inch size, good idea or bad?

    Richard Dilon -- prospector at Thursday, 07/29/99 02:51:27 GMT

    5x10x22 = 312 pounds. Nothing wrong with that. OBTW - The correct height for an anvil is "knuckle" height or there abouts. Generally +/- an inch or so (See the iForge demo on hammer handling). However, as our eyesight changes some of us need a higher or lower anvil to SEE what we are doing. Preferably this is a second anvil. For heavy forging or daily work there is only one correct height.

    The price for drilling the 1" hole IS high. Apparently the shop you contacted has $1000/hr rates - was charging YOU for the cost of the drill -didn't want your business - were not capable of doing the job OR all of the above. Its a $50 (US) job including extra for it being a nusiance job.

    -- guru Thursday, 07/29/99 12:17:20 GMT


    If you recieved an email with the aboved named attachment from a member of our group you may have been infected by a virus/trojan horse program. If you recieved it and did not execute it than you may not have passed it along. Please see the following link for details:

    Jim PawPaw Wilson recieved it from one of our corespondants. He sent it to me and a number of others. Luckily my e-mail program did not accept the attachment (the way MS products do) and I could not forward it further.

    When you recieve "cute" attachments to e-mail, consider where they came from AND where THAT person got it from. In this case, like the famous "Mellisa" virus, once executed the virus sends its own mail. The sender may not know they sent it to you! Think about it before you forward "cute" or "neat'o" stuff to ANYONE.

    -- guru Thursday, 07/29/99 13:22:14 GMT


    The only thing the guru forgot to mention is that I didn't know that I was forwarding the durn thing. It sends itself!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 07/29/99 14:05:07 GMT

    Aparently I have a Champion Trip Hammer. I am in the process of rebuilding the leaf spring assembly. It would be a lot easier if I had reference material to help adjust and set the hammer. Can you help me?

    Loren C. Roper -- roper at Thursday, 07/29/99 20:07:20 GMT

    Loren, even when these machines were new there was almost no literature. For reference:

    When the hammer is adjusted for the lowest stroke the toggle arms should be nearly horizontal and the dies seperated about 1/2" to 1" (13-25mm).

    Under most operating conditions the toggles should be nearly horizontal when at rest. They can never be perfectly horizontal so over tightening the toggles, or making the springs heavier, does no good. Its a rule of physics, it would take an infinite force to hold the the toggles perfectly straight.

    At rest the die clearance should be close to the thickness of the work being done.

    See the Little Giant specs chart and use 80% of the max RPM for your size machine to setup the drive.

    For parts details the images I pointed out in the NEWS are about as good as you are going to get.

    -- guru Thursday, 07/29/99 21:04:25 GMT


    Here is a small application that will remove and clean your system
    of happy99 and many other trojan's.
    download and install it from......


    Andrew Hooper (kiwi) -- andrew at Thursday, 07/29/99 21:54:18 GMT

    HAPPY99 Trojan,

    The Happy99 Trojan did NOT come from the blacksmithing community.
    Someone sent it to Sheri yesterday. She remembers getting it, won't tell me who from. (probably a wise decision on her part) But since we both use the same computer for Internet access, it still passed to
    you guys.

    She's not happy either, so I expect someone is going to get an earful! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 07/29/99 22:49:48 GMT

    Hi everyone! its me again.

    Raz -- trasmussen at Friday, 07/30/99 02:55:16 GMT

    Hello,I am producing a very smooth oxidized Zinc pendant and want to glue small silver pieces to it .I am having trouble finding the right glue.It has to be able to glue two relatively smooth surfaces permanently and without mess.The pieces are no more thah 1/8 inch in diameter so the glue has to be easy to work with.Any suggestions would be appreciated.I can be reachead at pra at thnx Bill Leithead

    Bill Leithead -- pra at Friday, 07/30/99 04:20:26 GMT

    I would like to get into smithing for hobby and possibly career oppurtunities. What do I need? Should I pursue a college metallurgy degree? Any help or advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    Kip Nichols -- manofcourage at Friday, 07/30/99 06:03:03 GMT

    Bill, There are a number of problems using zinc. It is a great material for some things but not for others. Smooth and oxidized do not generaly go together when describing zinc unless it is chemicaly applied on purpose. The normal grey as die cast surface does not count as oxidized. It is the equivalent of a raw surface. I just wanted to point this out in case you expect it to stay the same. Over time it will turn dark grey and then white.

    The only glue I trust for this type thing is epoxy. I don't think there is a glue that isn't messy except the hot-glue gun stuff. I'm not crazy about it but that is another option.

    -- guru Friday, 07/30/99 13:17:47 GMT

    Kip, Most blacksmiths are self employed. Currently the business end of blacksmithing is difficult at best. A carreer in a related field is a good idea. Engineering, metalurgy, welding. . . Basic metalurgy is good to know if you are in any blacksmithing field. However, if you go into knife or sword making you need to know a lot more than just the basics. Many of today's blacksmiths are artists with art degrees. Most need to learn some basic mechanics or at least to oil their machines! Any specialty in the blacksmithing field will eventualy lead you into operating machine tools, lathes, milling machines . . (power hammers). Lots to think about.

    -- guru Friday, 07/30/99 13:32:45 GMT

    Kip, Do you want to a Metallurgist or a Blacksmith? You making things far to complicated for yourself. It wouldn't hurt to take a few metallurgy courses, but it's a bit over kill to pursue a metallurgy degree if you want to be a blacksmith.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Friday, 07/30/99 13:49:21 GMT

    Loren Champion Hammers- As far as I know there was only a height adjustment on the original hammer spring mechanism. The adjustable toggle arms are an improvement added by rebuilders. Not only do the adjustables change the spring tension but they make it a lot easier to assemble the hammer.

    John Careatti -- john.careatti at Friday, 07/30/99 14:00:20 GMT

    Sorry about last post !I was tired and not thinking.I am trying to find a glue to put small ,smooth,Silver cutouts on to a polished,oxidized Nickle surface .I am working out of Mexico and the agent I was using left town taking the "glue secret" with him.The one we tried seemed to work for a while but after three weeks changed character and the silver pieces started coming off with the flick of a finger nail.We cannot rough up the surfaces because of the small sizes involved. Hope this clarifies it a bit .Thnx Bill

    Bill Leithead -- pra at Friday, 07/30/99 15:42:15 GMT

    Bill: Will the cutouts be countersunk?, I used to work with gold plated silver and inserted tri coulour gold and silver strips into grooves that were eiter filed or machined these strips went down to about 2mm wide to give a multi colour look, this can be done using a product called easyflow solder, on some older items i have also had to use lead solder, not reccomended but works. all the above require heat, depending also in the size of the item and the quantity it is also possible to mass produce using binding wire solder and a furnace.

    (the trick with solering is to direct your heat and flow the solder away from the surface of the metal.)

    I have worked on some very old pices of jewellery and NEVER had to resort to glue, there is allways a way to solder/braize the pices together... however i am also told that there is a cold solder that works, i also remember a technique that is dangerous but works to, it involces murcury and your base metal, this was often used to paint crockery but i have heard of it being used to join metal together.

    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Friday, 07/30/99 20:44:11 GMT

    I don't know if this is the place to ask but will try the shotgun method. I am on the west coast and am going to put togeather a rear axel power hammer. My Question is what weight hammer are you shooting for with the round dowel and the peice of wide flange? 60# or 100#? or does it matter?

    Tom Laman -- tlmn at Friday, 07/30/99 23:20:31 GMT

    Tom, you found the RIGHT place. There is an illustrated article about the EC-JYH in the anvilfire NEWS (Volume One) including drawings and a blow-by-blow of the construction. AND This is the home of the ABANA 2000 JYH Event. We are the official sponsor!

    The EC-JYH was designed as a 40 pound hammer but the shock absorber linkage needed more mass so I upped it to 66 pounds. The linkage works but there are some problems in the dynamics of the linkage, it doesn't hit very hard. Its advantages are that it is easy to build (compared to other linkages), easy to control and has great height compensation. Check out the articles and then ask some more questions. That's what we are here for.

    -- guru Friday, 07/30/99 23:52:21 GMT

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