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July 2007 Archive

First light up!: Lit the new forge up today for the first time.
I lit it to bend the legs for it so it was set on some aluminum rims. kinda redneck but it was real fun! i used western family charcoal, acctually worked pretty well.
- maiers - Saturday, 06/30/07 21:26:27 EDT

first light up: Congratulations Maiers. That first fire is always fun. My first forge was a basket case that I bought at the quad state meet at SOFA. Got it all restored by newyears eve & wanted to celebrate by having that first fire, but wasn't smart enough to get the coal going with newspapers & had to wait until New years day to figure it out....

BTW, you did oil the bearings really good before using it didn't you?
- Mike Sa - Sunday, 07/01/07 08:27:50 EDT

Airborn Express, RPS, FedEx:
I used to do a lot of business with PC-Connection. Then they made a deal with Airborn Express. I ordered a replacement HD that I needed urgently and paid extra fro overnight. Late the afternoon of the expected delivery I got a call . . we don't have enough business in your area to deliver to you until late next week. I said, give it to UPS, they drive by here EVERY day and I'll have it tomorrow morning if you take it to them tonight. Of course the response was "we can't do that". I said, You were paid for next day delivery, you missed your deadline and the extra cost is more than enough to cover local UPS. . Well, sorry we still can't do that. So I asked "where are you?". They were ONLY 40 miles away (by road). SO I rushed and drove the 80 mile round trip to get my package.

This was all relayed to PC-Connection as a complaint and demand for a refund on the extra shipping. For a brief while they then gave folks a choice of UPS. But that went away and so did my business.

About the same time I ordered some furniture. It was shipped by RPS. We got a call wanting to know how to find the nearest major town (Lynchburg) from Roanoke. I said, "You take US 460 one hour North, can't miss it, but that is not where we are. . . We are in Gladys." How do you get there? Do you have a map? No? How can you be a truck delivery service without a map? The state gives them away FREE. . . . Well, we will have to deliver next week. I said, "Give the packages to UPS, they are here every day." The reply, "Well you don't have to be snippy" and he hung up. Later a dispacher called and we asked, "DO you have a map?" Yes. So I gave directions from the town of our address. The delivery showed up a week later. . . Note that RPS stands for Real Poor Service. I've known several business of that acronym and they all met those expectations.

Recently we had a rush order shipped FedEx. At 4:00 the day the delivery was supposed to be made the dispatcher called and said the driver says your road is not on the map. . . Was he in (ourtown)? Yes. Why didn't he call, he was only 1 mile from us?. He drove past the post office twice and they were open. . . Where are you located. . . . ANOTHER 40 mile drive (one way) in rush hour traffic. . .

We complained to FedEx. The driver could have called. ALL brands of cell phones work in our area and we were there. The driver could have stopped by the Post Office. They know where we are. He could have asked at most of the places he delivered to. We are easy to find and get to. We are just not on the current map.

While UPS is not perfect I've never had the above problems with them. The only trouble I've had with UPS and USPS is occasionally we get an address that one or the other does not address to. But no more FedEx or Airborn Express for me.

We have shipped by mail to the Phillipines, Estonia, Kenya, UAE, most of Europe and Australia with good results. The only problem I had was a package going to Malta. The customer said it did not arrive and we could not track it (being mail). The customer DID NOT ask for a replacement order which makes me suspicious.

- guru - Sunday, 07/01/07 14:30:33 EDT

A coworker of mine recently ordered some computer equipment to be delivered by FedEx; as we are not allowed "personal" deliveries at work he left a note on his apartment door asking them to call him and he would be there (less than 1 mile away) to accept delivery.

No delivery, no call but a hangtag on the door stating that they tried to deliver. He called FedEx and was told that employees did not have access to phones.

So he told them to just leave the package and he'd spend all day checking to see if it had been delivered. No notification and another hang tag. he ended up driving 100 miles each way to pick it up at the FedEx office in Albuquerque.

Next my boss ordered computer equipment and asked that it be dropped at his appartment door; he was in apartment "L". We checked at lunch and no shipment at apartment "L" but there was a FedEx box at apartment "A" with his name on it...

UPS has an office in town---probably because of the university here; FedEx delivers everything from Albuquerque---when they deliver at all

Thomas---I generally uses USPS
Thomas P - Sunday, 07/01/07 19:26:42 EDT

ice cream soda: I don't have too many complaints about non-deliveries, except I wonder who made up the address abreviated codes? My street is Chicoma Vista, and most of my printed mail comes to Chicoma Vis.

But anyway, I went to Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors ice cream store today, and I couldn't get a choclate ice cream soda with vanilla scoops, because none of the three clerks knew how to make one. Damned if I was going to explain it to them; they should know better.

Signed: A grump who's entered his seventieth decade.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 07/01/07 20:59:24 EDT

Ice cream soda: The world gets a bit bleaker when you realize the things you grew up loving are now either forgotten trivia or no longer available due to having been declared carcinogenic by the State of California.

Remember the cherry phosphate? Try asking for one of those the next time you're at a soda fountain. Oh, wait - they don't have soda fountains any longer, do they? Gone the way of the drive-in movie, saddle shoes and dimmer switches on the floorboards (where God and Henry Ford intended them to be).

Rich, who still pops his corn in a skillet.
vicopper - Sunday, 07/01/07 22:49:16 EDT

Remember when. . .: Dimmers and SEALED BEAM HEADLIGHTS!

It was Federal law that all head lights would be sealed beam lights FOR GOOD REASON. They were cheap, efficient and universal. Today, instead of a $10-$15 Quartz Halogen sealed beam you have plastic designer light housings that fade and turn yellow just about the time you can no longer get parts for the car. . . It was one of those rare GOOD REASON laws. . . the experiment has failed and they need to tell automakers to go back to a standard.

I have fond memories of my mother buying me my first ice cream float at a drug store soda fountain.

But if you want to talk about remember when. . . Remember when a small Lynchburg, VA company made 1/3 of the free world's shoes? That was as recently as the 1970's. Remember when US Steel makers supplied the world? That was as recently as the 1970's. And remember when US made trucks and automobiles were being sold just about everywhere in the world and where the were not it was English or German cars and trucks. Today there are dozens of countries where once you could only find US and European made vehicles that now the only vehicles are made in Japan. . . THAT has also changed since the 1970's. And remember when the foremost in Nuclear technology came from the US? THAT was also in the 1970's.

All through the 1980's and 1990's the top economists said that it was the US technology sector that would keep us afloat. TODAY Texas Instruments has their largest research lab in CHINA. TODAY what was AT&T's Bell Labrotories, Lucent Technology has also moved their research to CHINA!

Remember when the "best stuff" was made in the U.S.?
- guru - Sunday, 07/01/07 23:36:28 EDT

Grump-- It must be just hell being an anachronism. (The math on this is tricky, 'cause we both, I know, just turned 29.) Other day I rushed to the hardware store to get some plastic tarpaulin (that's tarpoleon to you Balmer readers) rolls and some lath for battening aforementioned tarps against the oncoming gullywasher. Clerk had never heard of lath. I showed him a piece I had bought in the store maybe 20 years ago. Nope, don't sell it. Never heard of it. They DO have the identical stock-- but now only in four-foot segments used as surveyor stakes.
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 07/01/07 23:38:20 EDT

yes it's a very small set up, but it's in a very upscale area, I'm not concerned about making the sales, I'm mostly trying to find suppliers
- Frostfly - Monday, 07/02/07 01:19:30 EDT

Jock's last post: There is a phrase that describes what You were talking about in Your last post. Its not "Information age" or "Service Economy" or any of the cleaver buzz words. That phrase is "Gone to Hell in a Handbasket"
- Dave Boyer - Monday, 07/02/07 01:45:02 EDT

Prostitution is the original service economy and it is all we will have left if we keep going the way we are.

If there was ever a time in recent history when an honest in your face independent could win the presidential election in this country this is IT.

Both parties have sold us "down the river" (this was a threat to slaves to sell them down "south" as plantation workers). However, at the same time they have scraped blue collar industry in this country they have also let "undocumented workers" fill the jobs that are left. There are no jobs for us to be sold "down the river or down south" to.

Someone with a clear vision of what is happening needs to step forward and be willing to face down congress and do what is right for this country.
- guru - Monday, 07/02/07 09:06:58 EDT

State of Affairs: You can blame the poloticians, the large corporations, and the media for the our problems, but it still my fault (and yours) for putting up with all the crap. In the ealry days, when the official goverment was governors appointed by the King, the real government was the orgination of local citizens come together for the purpose of dealing with the governor. Be discontent, (good), find a way to act (better).
- JohnW - Monday, 07/02/07 09:35:03 EDT

Frostfly, SALES are the problem. You will not find suppliers unless you can move their goods. There are thousands of smiths in this country looking for an outlet for their work. If someone came to me and said they would buy every piece of work I could turn out I would be back in the smithing business in a heart beat.

What do you want? Furniture, wrought iron beds, lawn and garden chairs, wine racks? Fireplace tools with woodland characters or colonial reproduction style? Hooks, hasps, hinges? How about custom hand made locks? A single smith, properly set up and doing first class work (not presentation masterpieces but not sloppy hack and tack stuff) could probably provide you with a full pick up truck load every month.

To keep that smith in business supplying YOU, your sales are going to need to move that truck load every month. You are going to need to know what your market wants. There are places moving container loads of imported shelves, display racks and wine racks made of 3/8" square tubing. . with ugly welds and bad forging. (I don't think you can even buy the materials they use in this country). It is HARD to sell people something that looks the same (to their untrained eye) even though it is a better product that will probably appreciate over its life rather than depreciate.

To make a decent living in the US and to properly equip and maintain his shop a smith needs to charge $100/hr for their work. Now, this assumes a 50% efficiency factor. So if you take a normal work month of 160 hours, divide by two and multiply by 100 that is $8000 in product (more or less) that you are gong to need to buy every month. Assuming a full inventory for your shop is going to take a couple months to produce you are going to need to buy $15,000 to $30,000 in product to start then $5000 to $10,000 every month there after. At normal mark up that is $10,000 to to $20,000 in sales each month. In a high rent district triple that at least (300% markup). The smith providing work to you will probably be more than 50% efficient since he/she will not be dealing with customers,r making that next sale or wondering how to pay the bills. . . So, they could probably provide enough product to keep you business with around $600,000 gross in sales. Need more? Sell more? Then you MAY need more than one smith or THEY may need an employee or partner. Now you have over a million in sales a year which is about what it should take to keep your high rent operation afloat.

As a startup business you will need to be able to fund it for at least a year if not two. So that is about a one to two million dollar start up. If you are lucky and have fantastic sales you might make a profit in the first year. But that is beating the odds. Any SBA consultant will tell you the same.

Let me know when you are ready. If we start now you could be open by Thanksgiving. But as they say in NY and Hollywood, "Show me the money".

- guru - Monday, 07/02/07 10:18:05 EDT

Well the big switch with Bell Labs came with the break up of AT&T and the "pure research" pretty much went by the wayside. (a bad trade in my opinion)

Now Bell Labs is doing a lot of directed research in other countries; but more than just China, also India, Poland, etc. Many of these started out as agreements to make a sale to those countries; you offer to start up a factory and or research center there as part of the deal. Much like aerospace companies do to sell planes...

The big problem with such ventures is the lack of intellectual property rights in many of these countries.

Globalization is here. Many companies thought that the US market was insular enough they could always do business as usual and not worry about how things were changing outside the USA. Think about it German and Japan are *NOT* cheap labour markets; on the contrary labour is very expensive over there and they did a pretty good job of eating our lunch even before the cheap labour countries got into the act.

Now we have Japan running factories in cheap labour countries as a sort of double whammy and a lot of traditional industries are on the ropes as they never sunk the money into upgrades to stay competative when they *had* the money and now they don't have it.

Thomas P - Monday, 07/02/07 11:54:23 EDT

The Store Inventory:
As to what you want to inventory, THAT is your job. Look in the Italian books by Giuseppe Ciscato OR the books by Dona Meilach that we list on our book review page (Schmirler is also good). Almost anything in these books could be copied by any competent smith. You will need to tell the smith what you think you can sell and how many. Some things like little hooks you may need hundreds. Other things like garden trellises you may only want to stock one. If fireplaces are a big item in your community then you may want dozens of fire place sets. They may not sell very well at the beach. . . You may want big ticket items. A nice wrought iron bed might retail for $15,000 to $20,000 OR MORE but simple designs or motel type headboards only might sell in the low thousands.

Wine racks are popular these days and often incorporate lots of grape leaves and grape clusters. But they are also nice in traditional scrolls or modern textured and pierced bar.

Your suppliers may be thousands of miles away and no nothing about your market. THAT is your business. It is tough and often a guess but that is why the merchant makes as much or more than the manufacturer. They GUESS, then put up their money. Sometimes they win sometimes they lose. . .

Even style is something to think about. I know guys that make lots of nice horsehead key fobs. They sell well in horse country. Again, this is not a beach item.

To keep you an your supplier in business many items will be in that over $1000 catagory. Really nice andirons wholesale in that range and need to sell for double. Many candelabras are works of art that start in the similar range and go up. But what style is going to sell, modern, gothic, fantasy. . .

There is a fairly good market for wrought iron furniture that is made on spec and often sell in the $5k and up range. Again, you have to know your market. I know guys that could ship you a container load a month but you would have to commit to it.

This all goes back to sales. Knowing what to make and how to sell it has always been the artsmiths big bugaboo. They often sell custom work and that is not too difficult. It is the constant flow of sales one needs to stay in business that is difficult.

What smiths want is a retail outlet that can move work continuously at a price that both can make money. The makeup of the inventory is critical and is often found by trial and error. But it also needs to start right. If you have a market for high end items and you have a bunch of $5 and $10 craftshow stuff then you will miss your market. And the reverse is also true. However, it is easier for both you and the supplier if you have a bunch of high ticket items rather than lots of knick knacks. It is difficult to make small items like hooks at a rate fast enough to make a living. It also requires as much effort to sell a $10 hook as a $1000 candle stand. And the customer MAY spend as much time deciding to buy either one.

You need both high and low ticket items. But the low ticket items need to be the "extras" that go with the high. Buyers of pot racks always want more hooks and occasionally tossing in a couple extra will make the sale. Same with fireplace sets.

- guru - Monday, 07/02/07 12:09:22 EDT

Technology Exchange . . more:
In order for Westinghouse to sell nuclear plants to South Korea they had to enter into a technology exchange agreement. (W) built the first plant and used Korean labor. The second plant was built with some local content (whatever the Koreans could make). The third had Korean engineers trained by (W) doing much of the plant design. The last plants they built were almost 100% Korean including parts we no longer have the capacity to make in the U.S. like the pressure vessel and head for a Gigawatt nuclear plant.

South Korea is a now a manufacturing giant because of their cheap power and much of that technology exchange.

Japan, while still basically a non-nuclear nation (due to us dropping the bomb on them in WWII) they are changing. They are hauling away waste nuclear fuel from Europe to reprocess in the FUTURE. They are being paid to take it. But when energy becomes dear enough, the taboo against breeder reactors that convert old fuel into NEW fuel (plutonium) will go by the wayside and Japan will have a vast nuclear fuel resource. . . Japan is thinking long term while we are not thinking at all.

I am not an advocate of nuclear power. But I AM an advocate of new/better sources of energy. Solar has the best possibilities of being THE solution but what is needed for that is the kind of materials research that only government programs can afford. Currently small solar cell systems are practical but still quite inefficient. Recently it was announced that the 40% barrier had been broken. These multi-connection wide band cells are not yet on the market but the technology is very promising.

Where this type of solar is incredibly efficient is in summer peaking areas where air conditioning is a large part of the power load such as the Southern U.S. When applied to a home that 40% energy conversion is also 40% less solar energy heating the home through the roof thus reducing the air conditioning load significantly. Not only does the house not absorb this extra heat it is also not dumped into the immediate environment. But to go along with such conversion systems there also needs to be efficient storage systems. While much of the time dumping the power into the local grid is the most cost effective storage there will be times there is over capacity or outages and using the power where it is captured but at a later time such as at night would be best.

Increasing the efficiency of the solar cells and the storage systems as well as making them more affordable still needs continued research. Charging and discharging of batteries such as used in electric vehicles is still very inefficient. With increased efficiency and the addition of fuel cells to the mix we may be able to have nearly 100% solar electric vehicles.

If we treated energy research and energy independence the way we do war and our "interests" in the Middle East we might not have the mess we have there now. But for it to happen we must have a plan and a vision for the future.
- guru - Monday, 07/02/07 13:35:57 EDT

Fisher Anvil: I have an antique anvil with the name Fisher on the side. Located in Eastern Pennsylvania.
I would like to sell it but don't know what it is worth.
email for a photo if interested.
- Howard - Monday, 07/02/07 13:49:33 EDT

Anvil price is very dependent on Condition and Size; somehow I missed these essential parts in your post.

All I can say is that an anvil is worth somewhere between scrap metal rate and about 3-5 US$ a pound.

If it a large anvil; say 500 pounds + I might be interested if it's in great shape and very cheap---as I am myself...well the "very cheap" part at least.
Thomas P - Monday, 07/02/07 18:23:14 EDT

Energy Technology: Good old fashoned lead acid batteries like in a car or golf cart ofer reasonable efficiency. You put in 120% of the energy You take out. Production solar cells are about 30% efficient, that doesn't sound real good but I doubt there will ever be more than a 3 fold increase in that. While solar electricity for buildings and the household combined with grid power for nightime and surge loads is an excellent conservation idea, that accounts for about 1/3 of our national energy use[which we might stand to cut in half]. Industrial and transportation each make up another 1/3. Industrial users of electricity use it in large quantities. Solar on their rooftops would make about as much difference as pissing in Lake Superior. Energy has to come from somewhere, the groups that want to limit use of fossil fuel due to atmospheric carbon accumulation are the same who want to undam rivers and prevent the construction of Nuclear power plants. My best friend's parents are some of those people, and they live in an all electric home. GO FIGURE.
- Dave Boyer - Monday, 07/02/07 21:30:00 EDT

The crime is that there is gigawatts of already dammed hydro power that is not in use in the U.S. Small hydro was used primarily by the power companies for peaking and when their impoundments silted up and it became unpopular to create surges in water flow. . . they abandoned the plants. The damage has been done and undoing it often creates more problems than it cures.

The small hydro act was supposed to put that back into production but the powers that be have thwarted its redevelopment. FERC has put requirements for licensing on small hydro that looks like the paperwork for operating a nuclear power plant and many of the properties are owned by the electric companies. Even though they are not using the power they cannot sit on it by law. However, by reporting that it is not "economically feasible" for power to be generated on their dams they keep others from acquiring the properties the same way they did, by imminent domain.

It is not a huge amount of the total but it does represent a huge natural resource that is being wasted every minute of every day. I know, I own such a property.

- guru - Tuesday, 07/03/07 00:07:47 EDT

The Problem with Nuclear:
The current problem with nuclear power is like much of the rest of our society. Problems are fixed too often with a paper fix. Plant running too hot? Recertify it to run hotter than designed. Have a leak you don't want to fix? Just measure the leakage and keep a paper trail on it.

Back when those plants were built the engineering reports sounded like a Star Trek script, "Conditions previously unknown" and "far beyond what engineering knowledge there is today". They recommended that at the end of 10 years operation that plants be entirely disassembled and inspected. Instead, a few sample areas were looked at and the rest ignored. The inspections were paper whipped.

When most of the plants in the US were built in the 1970's the plant managers were usually engineers that had been involved in the design and construction of the plant. The KNEW the details and understood how things worked. When that generation retired they were largely replaced with MBA's. . bean counters. Buying tools to fix a problem was not good business so you regularly through huge amounts of manpower at the problem. . . We were in the repair business and made equipment that fixed the "unfixible" shortened jobs, reduced total radiation exposure to minuscule amounts and saved more than it cost. These are ALL the stated philosophical premises of work in the nuclear industry. But it is only words. There was a small paperwork cost to buying "capital equipment" and our equipment was deemed a bad thing by the bean counters. . . So they paper whip problems and expose far more workers to far more radiation than necessary.

The engineers understood what we were selling and bought our equipment and methods. But the bean counters that took over from them would rather use more manpower because it is a straight expense write off. So you have people making engineering decisions (almost all safety related) based strictly on the immediate bottom line.

The new future nuclear reactors on the drawing board are much bigger and more complicated than those that exist today. Building them and putting bean counters that can't change a spark plug in change of them is a disaster in the making. The whole picture must be looked at much more closely before we go ahead with developing nuclear power again. AND we must also be willing to deal with the consequences of the waste disposal. This is something that has STILL not been addressed. Waste fuel is currently in storage at every plant that produces it. . . in storage pools that were designed for temporary storage of a small amount of waste fuel until it could be shipped off site. . . We still have not taken responsibility for it and there will NEVER be a new plant built until we do.
- guru - Tuesday, 07/03/07 00:36:46 EDT

Thanks everyone for sharing your opinions regarding auto-darkening welding hoods a couple of weeks back. I ended up going with a Speedglas. The difference in performance between it and my older Sellstrom is subtle but noticeable; less awareness of a flash when initiating an arc, and a 2-Advil headache at the end of the day, rather than a 4-pill. (Did I forget to mention...2 of those are for my knees...) Now my next question; does anybody have any experience to share using the low-end cold saws available, like the Evolution Raptor. I have never seen or used one, and I am more than a little dubious about blade life and performance, but would love to hear otherwise.
Charlie Spademan - Tuesday, 07/03/07 07:22:54 EDT

Cold saws: Charlie,

My guess is that you pretty much get what you pay for on those things. The quality of the blade will have a big influence on its life. The best ones have automatic feed for consistent feed rate, a plus on any saw.

That said, if you use it carefully and don't over reach its capabilities, a lower end one would probably be fine for hobbyist use. For commercial use, stick with commercial grade tools. I've used a good one that a friend has in his shop, and it is a really fine tool. It probably cost ten times what the Evolution Raptor sells for, though.

You might check across the street at, as I believe John Larson uses a cold saw regularly in his power hammer building business. John could give you some good advice, I'm sure.
vicopper - Tuesday, 07/03/07 08:26:34 EDT

Cold Saws: The ones I've seen and used were small dedicated machines built like a milling machine with a very rigid frame, power feed and a coolant system. The carbide blades were good for many thousands of precision cuts.

Rigidity is critical in this type machine. Any flexibility in the frame and the blade suffers. Any backlash in the spindle or gear train and the blade suffers. Any jumpiness in the feed and the blade suffers. I would seriously doubt the value of a light duty cold saw.

- guru - Tuesday, 07/03/07 09:55:20 EDT

Cheap 4x6 saws:
We recently gave DaveB the old 4x6 Taiwanese saw that Paw-Paw had. The gear box had failed.

On inspection of the gear box we found the worm was loose on the shaft and had no shoulder or boss to attach the worm gear to the shaft and no keyway to prevent it from turning. The gear is merely tack welded to the end of the little 1/2" shaft. The tack weld had broken. The worm wheel was also displaced on its shaft. Again there is no key. A round pin rides in a slot in the gear which is held onto the shaft by a very thin retaining clip. The gear trys to cam off the round pin putting a heavy load on the small clip.

The original that all these saws copy had a shoulder on the gear that did two things. It positioned the gear and allowed for a substantial pin to hold it in place. The high torque worm wheel had a little woodruff key. These very minor changes to save pennies is what make junk out of cheap machinery and valuable old tools out of others.

Dave got the saw running temporarily but it will need new gears. The little use the saw had seen it should not have had a failed gear box.
- guru - Tuesday, 07/03/07 10:18:44 EDT

The "Good Old Days": I warned people about the 21st century, but nobody would listen to me! So here we are in another fine mess, confirming that the '90s were "The Good Old Days". (After all, it did see the foundation of Anvilfire!)

On the other claw, every age has its hazards, advantages, problems and solutions, so I'm glad to see Rich taking steps to inform the dunderheads that the USVI really are US! Also, if they're not, do I have to take the parks back and relocate them to the non-states of New Mexico and Wyoming?

My mother used to bemoan the current age, and how, somehow, the Depression (!) was harder but more virtuous. As an antidote to her praise of yesteryear, we got her the book: The Good Old Days--They Were Terrible! by Otto Bettmann. A sometimes flawed but hard-eyed look at the late 19th century; which was her parents' generation and even more coated with nostalgia.

It's what I call boot camp nostalgia: we tend to forget the pain of the actual, miserable experience and remember the weird and different and unique. It was sort of neat to grow up back in the '50s and '60s, but childhood gives a golden glow to the experience that it frequently didn't deserve.

As for the medieval period, when somebody tells me I should have been born back then, I disagree. It's a fascinating period to study, and a nice place to take a renactment "vacation," but in Viking years- I'm already dead!

So, the best we can do is try to learn from the past, apply it to the present (...with a 2 X 4 if need be!) and work, hope and pray for the future. Remember, most of the tragedy of human history (and politics) can be summed up with the sentence: "It looked like a good idea at the time!" We just need some better ideas.

Waxing philosophic on the banks of the Potomac, planning for July 4th. (Thank [the] God[s] I don't have to account for all the porta-potties on the mall tomorrow!

Visit your National Parks:

Go viking:

USVI Parks that would need to be relocated. ;-)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 07/03/07 11:57:59 EDT

Wanted - Anvil: I am looking to buy a 150 - 200 lb anvil. I live in Winston Salem, NC but would travel anywhere in NC and VA for one.

Missy - Tuesday, 07/03/07 14:22:32 EDT

John Lowther: As I understand it, the French have been building fast breeder reactors for years, and have been reprocessing all their nuclear fuel into new fuel (what didn't get siphoned off for their nuclear arsenal) pretty much since their first reactors.

Reprocessing fuel rods into new reactor fuel vastly reduces the volume of nuclear waste generated by a nuclear power plant and enormously shortens the average half-life in the waste stream. Look at what you have in a spent fuel rod which is still radioactive: U-238, half life @4.5 billion years; U-235, half-life 704 million years and Pu-239 half life 24K years, so by taking these out of the waste stream you get rid of the vast majority of the stuff you have to store forever. Except for Iodine-129, the other radioactive elements left have much shorter half-lives and decay away in about 300 years: Sr-90, half-life 29 years; Cs-137, 30 years; Tc-99, 6 hours which leaves only a small quantity of I-129 (half-life 15.7 million years) which will still need to be controlled darn near forever.

On the other hand, I did buy eight old Geiger counters this week. . . Maybe I can get some of 'em to work. . .
John Lowther - Tuesday, 07/03/07 15:31:14 EDT

That should be: Nuclear Power.
John Lowther - Tuesday, 07/03/07 15:34:13 EDT

Missy-- go a bit further and check with Bob Swenson at The Front Porch, nee Iron Age Antiques, in Ocean View, Delaware. I think the store is listed in Yahoo yellow pages under one or the other. He used to have scads of anvils down in the cellar.
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 07/03/07 15:44:24 EDT

Winston Anvil: Missy, we are nearby and have a so-so 224 pound anvil that the owner may part with. more via mail.
- guru - Tuesday, 07/03/07 17:54:04 EDT

Charley S.: Is that Evolution saw a hand held like a "Skillsaw" for woodworking, or is it more like a chopsaw? John Larson has been using a 9" hand held saw to cut 1 1/2 to 2" stock & plate for His powerhammer parts, He says it cuts faster and cheaper than a large bandsaw, and bu cutting with a guide the cuts don't require the machining that was required when He flame cut them. One of the guys in Our Pensylvania guild has a chopsaw type carbide saw, He likes it alot, and it is easy to bring it to the shop at R&T or any other site job.These dedicated carbide blade saws run a lot slower than a Skillsaw or abrasive chopsaw, but there are carbide blades sold as retrofits for the skillsaws and chopsaws. A friend used a carbide blade in an old slow speed worm drive saw I have to scrap out a large boiler. I think the welds wrecked the blade, but it cut for a while.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 07/03/07 22:11:41 EDT

leg vises: What would be the best way to dress up a vise's jaw
- maiers - Wednesday, 07/04/07 01:25:44 EDT

Vise jaws: I like to put little hats on mine, and Tom Powers dresses his in little Lederhosen.
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/04/07 08:06:41 EDT

Seriously: The best thing is to do as little as possible. They should be smooth, NOT crosshatched, or they'll mar your work. They should be parallel to one another when the jaws are about 1 to 1-1/2" apart, unless you usually hold stock that is smaller or larger. If that's the case, then you set the jaws parallel at the most useful distance. They're not going to be parallel at anything other than one distance, so pick the one you need. Check first to see that your vise arms are not bent; if they are, straighten them before dressing the faces. Remember not to work wrought iron at a low heat or you may split it. when heating the arm, keep a wet rag on the jaw, so you don't draw the temper in the tool steel face overlay.

For the actual dressing of the jaw face, I start with a blending disc and then go to wet-or-dry sandpaper on a sheet of heavy glass for the final leveling.

DON'T try for perfection, or you'll wind up removing too much metal. DO put a very small (.05-.07") radius on the top edge so you don't cut up you work.
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/04/07 08:20:54 EDT

Vice Jaws:
NEW blacksmith leg vices come with a very light fine knurl that should wear off in not time. The knurl is a waste of time and should not be there at all.

New machinist/bench vises come with coarse heavy knurls cut by double pass milling. I would remove the jaws, grind them flat, radius the edges and replace them. On the two I have the knurl is worn to where you can just barely tell it was there. Perfect.

New milling machine vices come with finely finished smooth jaws. Very often the vice jaws are aluminium. Here is a manufacturing group that knows what they are doing.

Cut off saw vices have perfectly smooth jaws.

Wood workers use vices with flat smooth wooden jaws and luthiers (stringed musical instrument makers) use wood jawed and cork covered clamps. I make my own.

Somewhere along the line a vise stopped being a work holder and became a gross material mangler. Or perhaps it was when people stopped making things by hand and vices were used primarily by plumbers and mechanics working on parts that did not want to come apart.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/04/07 08:53:09 EDT

One more. . :
Then there are copper vise jaw covers that are recommended to cover the teeth on vise jaws. These have wings that wrap around the jaws or tabs that require drilling and taping holes for screws in the vice. Once installed these are almost never removed . . . so the teeth were a waste of the manufacturer's time and your money.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/04/07 08:58:56 EDT

Vise Accessories:
There are simple tools that will help you hold work much more firmly in a vise and blacksmiths commonly use them.

1) Angle block. These are a triangular block of steel that sits on top the vice jaws with a bar or wing that goes inside the jaws to hold the block in place when work is clamped. The angle block prevents work from rotating in the jaws (a common problem).

2) Spacer-blocks. These are a set of different thickness bars with piece welded to the top of them that makes a T shape that can rest on the open jaws of the vice. These are placed opposite the side where work is being clamped to prevent twisting the jaws and damaging the corners of the work.

3) Angle clamp. This is a narrow clamp that fits in the vise and has angled jaws for doing small work. They are often cast aluminium.

4) V-blocks. These can be horizontal or vertical with a ledge that keeps them in the vise. Normally used on one side they provide better less damaging clamping on round bar and pipe.

5) Spring dies. These are used for heading bolts and nails. They have a ledge to hold them in the vice, the spring hangs down. They have fitted gripping grooves for the specific bar to be headed.

Each smith has their own needs and I do not think I've met a smith that had ALL the above vise accessories. Many have none at all or even know about them.

When setting up machines such as drill presses or lathes in the shop I usually assemble (make or buy) a complete set of furniture and accessories for each. I've never done this with my vises but it would be a good idea to setup each with the tooling that would be most commonly used with each.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/04/07 09:21:58 EDT

vise jaws: I have to agree with the smooth jaws on vises with some particular exceptions.
All my blacksmiths vises have smooth jaws.
At the valve shop, I had an 8" Wilton machinists vise made in perhaps 1982. Came with soft steel knurled jaws. These marred the work, and since I was often torquing threaded joints when they slipped, they really marred the work. I had a set of 4140 jaws made in the tool and die shop, with lovely 1/4" knurls and heat treated to a nice tough and hard condition. While these did dig in, no more slipping and cutting. I just had pushed in depressions with a little displaced metal at the hole rims. Much better than the burred up torn metal from slipping. I of course had several smooth caps, from several materials for other work.
There are those who disdain the tubular style Wiltons, but this monster was abused daily for about 20 years and never failed. We often had a big threaded item in it that would by torgued by placing a 60" wrench, with a 13' cheater, and me and two big strapping co-op students on it. I also often used a spring scale on the cheater at a known distance and reached 2300 ft# regularly. The bench was built for this and was bolted to the floor. The lab was laid out around this torgue bench to allow swinging that cheater.
ptree - Wednesday, 07/04/07 09:25:29 EDT

Angle Clamps #3: I have three of these, one hinged, one of spring steel, and one purchased from Kayne at the Depot. I reforged Kayne's to give me an angle and gripping thickness that I liked. It was made of mild steel.

These are wonderful tools for edge-filing designs on architectural hardware, tools, etc. You can SEE what you're doing. Otherwise, you almost have to work on your knees to see what's happening. These clamps date way back. Diderot's encyclopedia shows them.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/04/07 09:52:04 EDT

Bottom of Hay-Buds from the Guru's Den: This may be beating a dead anvil, so I'm bringing it over to Hammer-in.

I took another trip to my shop to look at the four Hay-Buddens. I'll number them for points of reference. All have shuts which gives evidence of faggot welding the bases.

#1 may be the oldest. Serial number and weight are illegible. My coal dealer's scale said it weighed 225 pounds. No numbers on waist under horn. 5" wide face. This anvil is blocky in appearance. The bottom is nearly flat; no evidence of a lip. Three handling holes.

#2 has the weight stamp of 223 pounds and has a 1 stamped on the waist under the horn. The serial number is illegible. It has a broader base than #1 anvil, although both of them have 1 3/4" thick bases; ie., the corners are that thick in height before the in-curve begins. The underside of #2 is "rougher than a cob". It is probably a roughly done faggot weld of scrap iron. It has pockets and shuts. There is a rough 3/8" to 1/2" wide lip fore and aft, but none on the sides. 4 1/2" face width. To my eye, a beautifully proportioned anvil. Three handling holes.

#3 is a farrier's clip horn anvil, stamped 140 pounds with serial number of 20109. It has one pritchel hole and no swell to the horn. It has the basal lip fore and aft, but not on the sides. The forge welding is cleaner than that of #2 anvil. Three handling holes. According to Postman, it dates to 1895+-.

#4 is a farrier's clip horn pattern stamped 211 pounds with the serial number of 194148. The anvil has a 2 2 stamped on the waist under the horn. It has two pritchel holes and a 5"D swell to the horn. It is an incredible 36" long and 12" tall. The base bottom differs from the other three in that it has a 1" lip all around and a 1/2" deep recess. It has a bottom handling hole and one handling hole in the waist under the horn. According to Postman's chart, made in 1912+-.

Hope I didn't bore y'all, but I love my Hay-Buds and I don't mind prying them loose from their moorings to look at them more closely.

In summary, the bases are all different and in my judgement, all were forged and faggot welded. Full or partial lips are in evidence on the bottoms, except for #1 anvil.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/04/07 13:06:57 EDT

Hay-Buddens: The anvilfire logo is a 350 pound Hay-Budden taken from a true scale CAD drawing. However, for graphic purposes it has been squeezed a little narrower but not much.

My 200 pound Hay-Budden is a long pattern early farriers type with two pritchell holes and one half the shelf ground off. I haven't looked under the base but I THINK it is flat with a lozenge depression. Since it is a 3 hour trip to my shop I will not look today.

Hay-Budden was much like Mousehole Forge in that they made anvils pretty much by hand. Every one looks a little different to the trained eye. However, Mousehole sold to an export market and most of their anvils were to a standard, Hay-Budden on the other hand made custom anvils on demand. Need one short, long, or with some extra feature they would oblige.

The lip around the edge appears to me to be flash from around the punch that forged the bases (when they were forged under a steam hammer). This was trimmed apparently by hand because I have never seen two bases that this edge was the same. It could also be the result of forging different bases using the same upper die/punch. Thus each size would have a different appearance.

In any case, they varied a lot and there are few absolutes you can say about them other than they were a fine anvil MADE IN THE USA!

Happy Birthday America!
- guru - Wednesday, 07/04/07 13:38:50 EDT

I once cad'd my 165# PW and printed out the results at various sizes till I found one I liked and used it to cut out an 1/8" thick plastic positive to use to sand cast a belt buckle; sigh gave it to a friend of the family whose father had been a smith and now I don't know where the positive is anymore...

Thomas P - Thursday, 07/05/07 10:54:41 EDT

Anvil, schmanvil-- I have a Sharpie that is so baroquely programmed that it can draw any anvil known to man: Paragon, Peter Wright, Hay-Budden, Nimba, Rathole, you name it. I'll lend it to you, Thomas. Works great on silver, brass, stainless, ferrous.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 07/05/07 13:24:37 EDT

You have not seem my scrawls---I can tell! With that sharpie I could certainly draw an anvil---one that looks like it was at ground zero at the Trinity site; but could never get "my" anvil doe good enough for mold making.

Thanks for the offer; BTW I head up near Los Alamos next week for an SCA campout---lets see how well I forge at 9600' elevation.

Thomas P - Thursday, 07/05/07 14:46:25 EDT

Thomas-- be SURE to bring some BIG non-osmotic tarps and a camp cot. The monsoons have arrived and are upon us big time. (The result no doubt of the fact that we have torn the tin shell off from over the original porous roof of the house. Not that I believe in an egocentric view of the uinverse or anything like that.) Fall by, why doncha, as we useta say back in the '50s. You can't get there unless you come right by here-- well, actually, you can, by going through the Jemez Mtns, but....
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 07/05/07 15:37:13 EDT

Thomas-- also, it gets damned chilly up in them thar hills once the sun sets.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 07/05/07 16:09:08 EDT

Hmm I had been thinking of leaving the cot at home since last campout it tore my set for my insulin pump out or me *twice* in the same day and I was displeased with it. However not enjoying sleeping in a pool of cold water I will re-consider.

Maybe I can duct tape my set on this time...

Thomas P - Thursday, 07/05/07 17:52:51 EDT

Hay buddens: is $395 a good price for a 200 lb hay budden?

i actually havent seen pics of it but sound like it might be a bit high
- Maiers - Friday, 07/06/07 14:59:41 EDT

US$2 a pound is a good price if the condition is good; It's a great price in some anvil poor locations of the USA; not knowing where you are at all I can do is guess.

Thomas P - Friday, 07/06/07 15:03:20 EDT

Maiers, I paid $325 for my 200 back 20 years ago or more. It was at an auction with other smiths bidding for it and a 50# Little Giant. After someone's initial bid or a couple $10 bids I bid in $100 increments to scare off the competition. It worked. I got the anvil for $325 (a good price even then), the LG for $450 and a sweet geared head drill press with a rack load of drill bits and chucks for $225. The drill bits alone were worth at LEAST $1000. I also bought 14 heavy duty steel "saw horses". I doubled my money on the LG and traded some of the saw horses for a weld platten and a antique bickern.

The Hay-Budden is not perfect, it had a couple torch divots. But it is worth much more than $2/pound.
- guru - Friday, 07/06/07 15:16:27 EDT

That is stealing that anvil even in only fair condition. If you think it is high tell me where it is and I will triple my money in a week.
- Burnt Forge - Friday, 07/06/07 19:06:02 EDT

Maiers,: Yeah, where is it? I'm heading for my pickup.
Frank Turley - Friday, 07/06/07 20:32:12 EDT

hay buddens: ok ok ok ok, nope, i think after that ill buy it.
- maiers - Saturday, 07/07/07 13:42:41 EDT

hay buddens: ok ok ok ok, nope, i think after that ill buy it.
- maiers - Saturday, 07/07/07 13:42:56 EDT

mousehole: how about $400 for a 134lb mousehole in great cond.
- Maiers - Saturday, 07/07/07 15:12:46 EDT

OK but getting a little high. For that it would need to be in mint condition.
- guru - Saturday, 07/07/07 16:23:26 EDT

mouse hole: what would be a good price?
ill see if i can post a pic.
- Maiers - Saturday, 07/07/07 16:37:41 EDT

mouse hole: here it is :
- Maiers - Saturday, 07/07/07 16:40:58 EDT

Mousehole: I wouldn't pay that for it, unless I could see it persnally and determine that it had not ever been "repaired". The edges look too good for an anvil that age and light weight so I'm suspicious. Of course, I would never buy any anvil sight unseen.

In any event, $3/lb is too high for a Mousehole anvil, in my opinion. Might as well buy new for that. And why would you want that little mousehole when you're already going to buy a decent-sized Hay Budden? Doesn't make sense.
vicopper - Saturday, 07/07/07 16:51:29 EDT

Yep, can't tell anything from the undersized photo.
- guru - Saturday, 07/07/07 18:08:30 EDT

anvils: well im just keeping options open just incase one falls through.
- Maiers - Saturday, 07/07/07 21:00:33 EDT

maiers anvil : The mousehole is just a touch high. If in good condition still a fair value. A mousehole is a fine forging anvil. I find many folks without experience using one rate them poorly because of the old english styling. I think they are rather beautiful when you look at how they are put together.
- Burnt Forge - Saturday, 07/07/07 22:47:49 EDT

hay budden: yep looks like ill have a 200 pound hay budden this week, just got the pics, the face was a little beat up but very well managable and the edges around the hardie hole were pretty chipped up but other than that a great looking anvil. the horn almost looks like it was un touched. it looks like a third generation hay budden with the more robust horn and steel top half.
Mouse holes: i agree burnt forge, the mouse hole has a nice look to it, personally i dont think it is as practical as a haybudden or a peter wright style because there horn is short and body is a little to tall and makes for a smaller face, though i would take one any day, older stuff is always cooler.

how do you post pictures on this forum from your email?
- Maiers - Sunday, 07/08/07 16:42:04 EDT

OTOH the mousehole puts the most Mass of the anvil right under the working face so it "works" like a larger anvil. The elongated american anvils put a lot of mass out in the "bouncy" ends where is doen't count as much for "weight under the hammer"---also tens to make them *LOUD*.

So in many ways they are more practical. BTW I find it a bit strange that you need to ask about anvils but then are talking about usability aspects: usually if you know enough about using them you don't need to ask...

Now esthetics is a free for all...

ThomasP - Sunday, 07/08/07 19:51:13 EDT

anvils: well ive never worked with a mouse hole never really seen one for sale before

on usability aspects i just take general assuptions about the anvils and plus im not telling anybody how it is, im just saying what i think.
yes it is true,im not the god of anvils that knows all, i try to know all i can about somthing, but nobody is ever going know every thing about somthing
so let this be a forum of learning, and not be accusing somebody of thier knowledge.
- Maiers - Sunday, 07/08/07 20:25:31 EDT

Links: Do not post long URL like that, as they tend to break the page code for the forum.
vicopper - Monday, 07/09/07 02:31:15 EDT

Anvils: If you want a useable anvil, you forego the American andlondon pattern anvils andgo with a double horned european pattern. I personally refer the Nimba, but the Habermann and the Hofi are good patterns, too.

As Thomas said, mass under the hammer is what really counts. When you take the American pattern like a Hay Budden, to the extreme, you get a farrier's anvil, with its oversize horn and thin heel and skinny waist. Great for making noise and turning shoes, but not nearly as good for general forging as an old Mousehole or colonial pattern.
vicopper - Monday, 07/09/07 02:38:47 EDT

Mousehole Anvils:
These are one of the most common anvils in most of the U.S. They were imported by the uncounted millions in the 1800's and well into the 1900's. Many unmarked earlier anvils also have distinct features that hint that they may have been made at Mousehole.

Because of their high quantity sold you see a LOT of really bad Mousehole anvils but you also see a few nearly unused examples. AND you also see a lot that have been repaired. Close examination is always suggested.

Most Mousehole anvils have a lot of mass under the face (a thick waist) thus are much more solid than PW's and American pattern anvils which were both developing toward the wagon and farrier trade more than heavy industry.

With the exception of farrier's anvils most modern anvils are tending toward the heavy waist (or no waist) type making a much better forging anvil. Farrier's anvils on the other hand have gone to the extreme with so much mass in the horn that they almost tip over.
- guru - Monday, 07/09/07 11:17:53 EDT

ViExCopper is just smug cause he bought a beautiful Nimba at a outright steal and we're all jealous...

If you are just making assumptions and not posting from experience; please let us know. Lots of new folks here who might not recognixe that.

My second anvil was a 193# swell horn Hay-Budden farrier's anvil, the face was about 1/2 the width of a "normal" anvil with a long tail and a great long horn.
LOUD LOUD LOUD and not nearly as effective as a lighter but more compact anvil. I finally traded it off for a medieval styled stake anvil and some boot.

(my first anvil a 200#'r was stolen and I was forced to use a CI ASO until I could find another real anvil---25 years ago I wasn't such an "anvil magnet"...)

Running out of time on a project due next weekend so I took the forge to a party Saturday night.

Thomas P - Monday, 07/09/07 11:20:01 EDT

Anvil Magnet:
HA! So you admit it! ;)

I am far from an "anvil magnet" but I have had my share of anvils over the years. Had over a dozen at one time then sold off all but four (one stake anvil) and now I am back up to 6 (two with broken horns as examples). But now I also have a collection of stakes including a blow horn, beak horn, edging, large half round and two mushrooms. And also a steel ball collection from 6" down. Focus changes. But these combined with the anvils add much more flexibility.

Collections of tools like this do not just instantly happen either. It takes years, lots of travel and or money. It helps to put yourself in places that are likely to be the right place at the right time.
- guru - Monday, 07/09/07 12:14:25 EDT

I've reforged 4 chisels for my current project; I usually pick them up for students who want to make knives; but they sure come in handy as stock when you need a custom sized slitter, punches and drifts and at 50 cents a piece they are a lot cheaper than buying stock. of course you have to spark test them to get an idea of what they are WRT C.

Thomas P - Monday, 07/09/07 15:13:42 EDT

what is wrt c?
- maiers - Monday, 07/09/07 17:02:00 EDT

With Respect To Carbon
Thomas P - Monday, 07/09/07 17:44:15 EDT

And junkyard steel rules apply. . . (except that you KNOW they are some kind of tool steel to start).
- guru - Monday, 07/09/07 22:52:40 EDT

For Sale: Priced as a pair.

Big Blue retail $5,295
asking $3,995 with three sets of dies

Ingersoll compressor 7.5 horse, retail $2,300
asking $1,600

Total is $5,600, a savings of $2,000 plus no shipping if you pick up.

Location. Princeton, KS 66078

Reason for selling. New job, no time.

Mike H. - Tuesday, 07/10/07 12:44:54 EDT

borax: what brand of borax is best, ive seen the 20 mule team borax 76 ounces for $4.99, also where can you buy it.
- Maiers - Tuesday, 07/10/07 15:35:52 EDT

I buy borax at the local grocery store in the cleaning material section. I've used 20 mule team for over 20 years now.

Some folks like the anhydrous borax they purchase from ceramic supply companies.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/10/07 16:24:00 EDT

arm & hammer anvils: saw one on ebay today, they are just the most gorgeous anvil on the planet, at my school shop we have a 302lb A&H, uh, a dream to work with.
- maiers - Tuesday, 07/10/07 18:22:22 EDT

My 93# travel anvil is an A&H; it has more hours on it than any of my other anvils as when I travel with the forge I get to work all day on it and when I'm home there is always something else I should be doing...

Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/10/07 19:00:25 EDT

mounting anvils: you know how the fisher anvil has those bolt hole tabs on the base, i was thinking of forging some and welding them to the base of my anvil, what do you guys think.
- maiers - Tuesday, 07/10/07 20:25:31 EDT

Mounting anvils: Maiers, I'm afraid if you start welding on a Haybudden anvil, some of these fellows will track you down for a sock party while you sleep.....
- Mike Sa - Tuesday, 07/10/07 22:10:23 EDT

special anvil: I have bought an anvil that has a milled out dove tailed section in the face of it.the tool that is in it now is a flat tool that is raised above the face about one inch. It is held in by the dove tail and a drive pin. Anyone having information on this type of anvil and the history please send me the information.
- dwayne Kent - Wednesday, 07/11/07 00:25:32 EDT

maiers: While I have nothing intrinsicall against welding on an anvil *base*, I have found a mounting method that is superior and easier. Make a stand from stout plate (3/8"+) with 3" pipe legs. Weld a piece of 3/4" or 1" by 1/8" flat bar around the outline of the anvil base and then apply a caulking gun sized tube of Geocel silicone construction adhesive to the area enclosed by the strap. Set the anvil down in the goop and wait 24 hours. The result is an anvil that not only stays wher eyo uput it, but is tremendously quiter than any other mounting method. My 250# Fisher, which has the mounting lugs, is mounted this way, as is my 500# Nimba. The NImba was painfully loud before that, and now is almost as quiet as the Fisher.
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/11/07 01:05:22 EDT

TRENTON JACKPOT: I feel like I just won the jackpot at the local Indian casino. I was out shopping at the yard sales and just bought a complete unimat lathe for $25, I didn't even try to dicker on the price on the tag. I then asked if he had any old visea which he replied "NOOOO, but I have this anvil in the back yard, its too heavy to bring out front, would you be interested?" Now he has my attention, "YES". We walked back and when I saw it, it was Love at first sight. It appeared to be approx 30" long. I asked how much he wanted for it to which he replied, "Give me $10 (TEN) dollars and its yours." I think the $10 bill came out of my wallet without even opening it, I was kind of in shock. Then he replied "I'm glad you want to buy it, we thought we were going to have to pay someone to haul it away." You don't think I should have charged him to haul it away do you??? So after placing the anvil in my Honda CRV, I took it home for closer inspection. Not really knowing much about anvils, I tried to idenify it without much luck. I started to dig on the internet, Anvilfire included and from the information I had gotten, I concluded it may be a Trenton. Oh, yes, I did weigh it when I got home, 246#. I then ordered the book Anvils in America, hoping to gain more information, WHAT A SUPER BOOK, though it cost more than the anvil!!! After reading about the Trentons, I went outside and looked for the serial number, there it was, barely visible through the thick paint that covered the anvil, which actually preserved it quite well. I removed all the paint, carefully, did not hurt my prize, revieling a 250 for the weight, a serial number that places it around 1947 manufacture, and the Trenton logo, in a diamond consisting of dashes, on the side with the horn to your right. The Trenton logo appears to have the X where the N should be in the middle, the logo only shows the top half, appearing to be light strike or partially ground off when the anvil was made. The antil has no repairs and only slight edge ware. The horn looks un-used as does most of the anvil. I love yard sales!!!!
- Charlie - Wednesday, 07/11/07 09:31:54 EDT

Tennessee & Kentucky Iron Furnaces: In the June 8, 1967, Eddyville, KY, "Herald Ledger", a full page article appeared celebrating Kentucky's 175th year of statehood. The emphasis was on iron and steel, apparently an interest of the author, Dr. M.H. Moseley. He mentions a number of iron furnaces by name, some of the names coming from a plaque in Stewart County, Tennessee. A quotation from the paper:

"Furnaces were, with few exceptions, located along the Cumberland river from Tennessee, on through Kentucky to the Ohio River. At Dover courthouse in Stewart County, Tennessee, can be found a geographic plaque which details the early sites and a brief history of iron manufacturing in ante-bellum Tennessee. The iron trade of Tennessee was intimately connected with iron and steel production in Trigg, Lyon, Crittenden, and Livingston counties in Kentucky."

Another portion of the article mentions a "rolling works":

"The Tennessee Rolling works are gone -- having been on a site in present Lyon county inundated by Barkley Lake, Over one hundred years ago.

The Rolling Mill was built by Dr. Thomas Tennessee Watson, Daniel Hillman, and others in 1845 just across and down river somewhat from Watson's Empire Furnace.

My tenuous connection to all this resulted from my acquaintance with the great-great granddaughter of Watson's, Charlotte Wilcoxen. I worked with her briefly at the Museum of New Mexico History Division, and she gave me the article. I found the piece the other day while going through my old paperwork.

Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/11/07 09:48:35 EDT

maiers: If you weld on the base of the hay budden you will significantly decrease it's value and desirability. It is a quality useable collectible tool. Why wreck it? Us one of dozens of tried and proven mounting methods.
- Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 07/11/07 09:55:22 EDT

Gorgeous is in the eye of the beholder: I have an Arm and Hammer, and right next to it a Nimba Centurion- and I personally find the Nimba to be a LOT more gorgeous. Part of that is because I like using the Nimba so much more- and part of it is that it reminds me of my old friend Russel Jaque, who is sadly no longer with us.
- ries - Wednesday, 07/11/07 10:14:45 EDT

Dwayne; your anvil was modified for some industrial use; I have seen several modified in this manner, even a couple where the face was altered to make it a swage for a speciality use.

Without any information on the anvil it's like asking "I have a modified car; please tell me how old it is"

So look for a maker's mark on the sides, weight indications, shape of indentation on the bottom, serial number on the edge of the foot below the horn, etc. If you can post a picture of it over at it would help as well.

Unfortunately this type of modification tends to *lower* the value of the anvil as it can interfere with general use of it and the specialized use it was modified for is probably not done that way anymore.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/11/07 11:49:18 EDT

Tennessee iron furnaces: Frank (and others who are interested), there is an excellent publication by Sam Smith of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Archaeology called "A Survey of the Western Highland Rim Iron Industry" published in 1987. I don't know if it's still in print, and the relevant website is down at present.


for more information.

Incidentally, Sam and I are in the early stages of beginning a similar thematic survey of iron production sites in East Tennessee, if anyone has any info.

I can be reached at , hint hint!
Alan-L - Wednesday, 07/11/07 12:28:44 EDT

TN iron, again...: I sit corrected, I finally dug out my copy and it's "A Cultural Resource Survey of Tennessee's Western Highland Rim Iron Industry, 1790s-1930s,"
TDEC-DOA Research Series #8, 1988.

It's still pretty good, though...
Alan-L - Wednesday, 07/11/07 13:18:27 EDT

Anvil Stands:
Maiers, We have a VERY complete iForge article titled STANDS. It covers every type of anvil stand from stumps, wood box types to several metal types. They are all proven and work.

- guru - Wednesday, 07/11/07 13:32:09 EDT

Alan; I attended an IronMasters conference the year it was held in Athens OH and we toured the Hanging Rock area of OH and saw a lot of furnaces. You may want to try to hunt down that association as they had lots of knowledgable people and access to a lot of scholarly resources.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/11/07 14:33:17 EDT

Thanks, Thomas, we'll follow up on that, but what we're really after is locations. In the various censuses (censes?) and manufacturing schedules there's lots of info on who was doing what in what district, but they aren't very helpful when it comes to the exact location said activities took place.

We have much stuff about how, who, what, and where within a mile or so, but being archaeologist-types we want to find the exact spots, in other words. We've got most of the ore bodies located thanks to, and we usually know which furnace/forge used what ore body and who hauled it, even. The ultimate idea is to compile all this info into a single source, with pictures of any remaining structures associated with the industry. Not many left, and we lose more every year.

The funny thing is, we just about have to limit ourselves to the brown ores and magnetic ores ca. 1770s-1930s, since if we added the red ores the geographic area and timespan gets positively unwieldy even in the digital age!
Alan-L - Wednesday, 07/11/07 14:57:16 EDT

There is probably someone associated with ironmasters that has already done a lot of what you are looking for.

I had an interesting chat with probably the leading authority on 19th century nail making machines when I attended and the tour of furnace remains was marvelous; many of them "unknown" and out in the woods.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/11/07 18:05:20 EDT

AlanL : I can't point you in any specific direction in your researches. I'm just happy that such survey work is being done. Excelsior!
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/11/07 20:22:46 EDT

Anvil Beauty: I'm definitely with Ries on this one. I have an excellent Fisher, a no-name American pattern with European kilo weight mark and ground side faces, a Peter Wright, and a Nimba. That Nimba Gladiator is far and away the most beautiful and functional of the lot. That I got it at half price has nothing to do with my opinion, as it was still three times as much per pound as any of the others...and worth twice that, easily. A true joy to work on.

Russ Jacqua was not only a world-class smith, he made a beautiful and eminently functional anvil when he designed the Nimba. His passing is a real loss to the smithing community. Fortunately his wife Jolene is still running the anvil business, as far as I know, and Nimbas are still the finest anvil made.
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/11/07 22:46:04 EDT

Thanks, Thomas and Frank.

I'll hook up with Ironmasters after the immediate crisis season ends (start of fiscal year in state government means everyone wants everything last week even if it isn't scheduled until next year).

I know what you mean about furnace remains. There's just something about walking through a 100 year old forest and seeing a vast furnace stack rising out of the undergrowth kind of like a Mayan pyramid.
Alan-L - Thursday, 07/12/07 10:08:58 EDT

There was one we visited in a forest where one of the arched charging ramps was still intact. I have a picture of it with a small fir tree growing out of it---only the "small: tree is about 50' high and is about 80' off the ground...

Thomas P - Thursday, 07/12/07 10:36:30 EDT

Early Furnaces:
What many people do not realize is that many of these furnaces did not produce a finished product. Some made cast iron pigs, other made wrought blooms that were roughly worked by hand. These raw materials were then taken to a larger more substantial furnace that had a good water power supply running tilt hammers and rolling mills. These larger furnaces often converted cast to wrought by puddling or made finished castings. They were also often on water ways where they could be supplied with charcoal and iron economically from long distances.

The distant back woods iron furnace was often a rude, crude place for reducing raw materials into less raw materials. Workers lived in huts or rude shacks. They were often run until one of the raw materials ran out or became to dear to haul such as charcoal or iron ore. Then the furnace was shut down and a new one built in the next stand of timber that had water and an ore source.
- guru - Thursday, 07/12/07 11:02:48 EDT

Pontiac IL : Taking off tomorrow for the get together in Pontiac this weekend. Hope to see some of your there! Should be lots of tail gate stuff to snoop thru!
- Mike Sa - Thursday, 07/12/07 13:21:10 EDT

anvils: i keep seeing these smiths using 500-800 pound anvils
can you really over use a 300 pound anvil? our a&h at the sshop is 300 pounds and solid as a rock just keep your blows toward the center and you could wack that thing with a 12pounder, so honestly, is an anvil that big really neccesary?

Nimba anvils,
im sorry, but(just my personal opinion)the nimbas are ugly,though im sure that they are truly a great anvil to work with, it just wouldnt give me the experience like an old style anvil.
but again just my personal opinion.
- Maiers - Thursday, 07/12/07 13:58:03 EDT

I am not crazy about the Nimba style myself but they are a beautiful design and made as well as they look.

Really big anvils can easily be felt under the hammer. A friend that was a full time smith upgraded from a 350 Hay-Budden to a 450 German. He said that he could tell the difference between the two at the end of the day when he was much less tired.

Really big anvils have two problems, lack of portability and length. Most are made the same general proportions as smaller anvils. This makes them very long and actually difficult to work around as you change positions.

Once you reach that weight where a crane or hoist is necessary to move an anvil it might as well be a ton instead of a few hundred pounds. My "mega anvil" designs come in at 1,000 to 1,500 pounds with the base integral to the anvil (see anvil making designs). Now THAT is an anvil! They have integral sling points for hoisting and the working area is no larger than a 400-500 pound anvil.

I know where I can latch on to some 16" round. . . sure would make a NICE stump to anchor a vise to. . .
- guru - Thursday, 07/12/07 17:37:10 EDT

Big anvil: I have a 452# anvil, just outside the shop door. We use it for sledging on as my shop anvil is only about 125#. It is a near perfect sledging anvil. It is a straight 5.5" round shaft, with a 22" flange at the base. Long enough to bury the flange in the ground on hardpan. One can get up close and personal, ALL the mass is in the right place and its 4140, and it was free to me! I may try some hand forging to see if it changes how I feel at the end of the day.
ptree - Thursday, 07/12/07 18:33:44 EDT

NIMBA: I bought a Gladiator from Russell in Sept. 1998, and hauled it back to AZ in the back of my minivan. I walked it up a plank onto a stand that I had made for it. A couple of months later, I realized that what was wrong, I had it facing the wrong direction. It was on dirt floor, so spinning it around wouldn't work. The next weekend My 2 sons were visiting, and they just picked it up and walked it around 180 degrees.

At the time I bought it, Russell said that I would notice a difference in forging, even though I was using a 300# Trenton. He was right. I dearly Loved that anvil, and a couple of years later when we sold out and hit the road, I put the word out at ABANA in Flafstaff, and sold it to the first person I saw, for the same price I paid for it. (I didn't realize that The price had gone up $300. )
- Loren T - Thursday, 07/12/07 18:33:54 EDT

maiers nimba: Maiers nice myspace. I am a little boozed up at the moment.

I have regular anvils and a Nimba Titan. They are all nice. Just get that Hay budden and start banging some metal. It is big and heavy enough to do the job. It will not matter what you have.... just enjoy.
- Burnt Forge - Thursday, 07/12/07 20:42:48 EDT

Several of the large forests in SE OH now owned by paper companies or state parks were once owned by iron furnces who coaled the wood on a regular basis and so needed enough forest that the first area would be ready to harvest again when the last area was done---and we are talking sq miles per year per furnace...

Maiers, the Nimba anvil is based on designs several *centuries* older than your "old style anvil" so perhaps you should say you like the "johnny come lately design" better.

Of course the proof of the anvil is in the working and the most georgeously designed cast iron ASO would still be a lousy anvil compared to a couple of feet of 12" steel shafting.

I sometimes work on simple fairly light cube anvils or on Renaissance styled stake anvils and so am always *very* happy to get back to the squat toadlike 500# Fisher---it may be one of my ugliest anvils but it sure knows how to move hot steel!

(I must remember to hold a dinner party sometime using it as the "table")

Thomas P - Thursday, 07/12/07 22:14:08 EDT

Anvil Size: At a recent PABA hammer in the featured demonstrator brought allong his 500# shop anvil. He touted the benifits of the big anvil continuously during the demonstration. At another event Dave Fisher brought His favorite shop anvil, about 130-140#. His shop is His livelyhood, and He prefers the size of the face horn & heel on this one to larger anvils in His shop for hand forging. He has a 90# Iron Kiss utility hammer for doing the heavy work. I think there is more than just physics involved in these choices.
- Dave Boyer - Thursday, 07/12/07 22:45:54 EDT

fishers: somthing about fishers, they seem bigger, i saw a 400 pounder and spanned the width of the the pickup bed
yes, there is a large difference between good looks and good design

- maiers - Thursday, 07/12/07 22:46:16 EDT

big anvils: speaking of huge anvils, have you seen that huge refflinghaus, its 1247 pounds or something.

plus, are there any plans for a side draft forge on the internet.
- maiers - Thursday, 07/12/07 23:44:37 EDT

Real Huge Anvils: Hecky Darn maiers, refflinghaus anvil is a tiny baby. LMF made a 2500 lb anvil for Lee Liles. Ray built a 5,000 plus fabricated tool steel anvil that is a real beauty.
- Burnt Forge - Friday, 07/13/07 00:08:18 EDT
- Dave Leppo - Friday, 07/13/07 07:10:18 EDT

Anvilfire Plans Page, that is, for Side draft Forge Hood Designs
Dave Leppo - Friday, 07/13/07 07:11:19 EDT

Anvil size:
I knew someone that hauled 350# anvils to demos. . . but now he has more sense and no minions to do the schlepping so he has learned common sense and uses a more portable 100-125 pound anvil for demos.

A number of years ago I liquidated all the smaller anvils in my collection. When left with only the 200 and 300 which are not in the portable range I realized my mistake.

Most of my productive career I worked on a little 128 pound M&H Armitage Mousehole anvil. Before that I worked several years on a 100 pound Kohlswa. I turned out tons of work on them. But when I started using a larger anvil I realized how much of my time and technique had been devoted to working on a moving target. However, I still preferred the solidity of the Moushole even though it was lighter weight than my 200 pound Hay-Budden.

When I obtained a 300 pound anvil I found that it was nearly the immovable object that a shop anvil should be. It was overkill for the scale of work I was doing at the time. And THAT is a key point. As work grows heavier so should the anvil. In most shops 200 to 300 pounds is a huge anvil. About the only place you used to find the really big 500-600 pound anvils and the larger cast 1500 pound bridge anvils was rail road shops and heavy forge shops where these looked tiny compared to much of the work.

The important thing for a newbie is to GET an anvil! Any "real" anvil from 100 pounds up is great. Time wasted looking for a big anvil is life and learning wasted.

I've had folks say that they wanted to get started "right" and ignored good smaller anvils. But there is no reason to feel stuck with ANY tool. Tools, particularly anvils are easy to sell. Once you have one others will come along. I've even had people that wanted to trade DOWN for portability!

Big anvils are great if you make your living hand forging. But you can learn just as well on a small anvil.
- guru - Friday, 07/13/07 07:39:16 EDT

Furnaces, forges, and forests: Yep, all good points. In Carter County, TN, for example, in the 1820s there were about 20 furnaces producing pigs, 4 or 5 forges (Catalan) producing wrought directly from ore, 5 or 6 fineries producing wrought from pig, two rolling mills, and a nailery with a cut-nail machine. Most of these operations will leave a mark on the landscape if you know what to look for. LOTS of water power in the mountains.
Alan-L - Friday, 07/13/07 09:47:29 EDT

Side draft hood: I would caution againist placing much faith in the plans on the beautifuliron site. For one thing, they show a smoke shelf, which is a complete waste of materials and time in a forge hood, and the opening is too big, and other problems.

The author of that site has some very strong opinions about a vast number of things, and is not at all hesitant to denigrate the opinions of others who do not agree with him. That attitude, combined with bad advice such as his hood design, make me wary of believing much of anything on his site.

The side draft hood on the Anvilfire Plans Page is a very simple, and very effective design that doesn't waste materials or effort. Jock notes that a smoke shelf is optional, but my engineer/blacksmith friend has a very well-reasoned argument against them, so why go to the trouble?

You'll note that Jock specifies a 10" diameter flue. If you can get 12", use that. Bigger is better on flues. Smaller is better on the opening; don't be tempted to increase the size of it or you'll adversely effect the draft.

If you can scrounge some stainless steel for the hood and flue, that would be best. Coal smoke is corrosive and gobbles up thin steel flues pretty quickly. If you can't find some cheap stainless steel, then use the heaviest flue material you reasonably can.
vicopper - Friday, 07/13/07 10:16:13 EDT

Anvil size: I use a little 96 or 97# Peter wirght for demos, since that is about all I can reasonably hump in and out of the truck. Every time I use it though, I am reminded how much I love my 450# Nimba. The extra mass makes a real difference, even when working relatively small stock, and having an anvil that sits absolutely still is way better than a little one that walks around or bounces with every blow. So for demos, I restrict my work to nothing bigger than about 3/8" stock and use my little 1.5# hammer.

Sticking with small stock for public demos is pretty much a good idea anyway, since people have short attention spans and you need to be doing things that you can finish in one or two heats. If I was going to demo for a group of blacksmiths, I'd get help and move the 250# Fisher so I could work stock up to about 1 to 1-1/2", as I doubt they'd have much interest in seeing me demo hooks and nails and such. (grin) Better still, I'd have them come to my shop where I could use the big anvil and the power hammer or flypress, and I wouldn't have to move anything.

For learning purposes, you should be working fairly small stock so you can concentrate on technique and control rather than tire yourself out or damage joints using unperfected techniques on stock that takes several heats to forge. So a smaller anvil is fine for getting started, as long as it is 100# or bigger, and a decent anvil. Like Jock said, you can always trade up later, though Jock is about the only guy I know who ever actually got rid of a good anvil. The rest of us mostly manage to come up with some rationalization for keeping al the anvilswe have while still getting bigger, newer or better ones. Some of us, like a certain guy with adisreputable red hat, have whole harems of anvils that have been dragged all over the country. (grin)
vicopper - Friday, 07/13/07 10:32:39 EDT

Side Draft: No personal experience YET, but I been researching this for a little while, and expect to build something soon. When I do, I will test it outdoors on my portable forge before installing it permanently in the smithy.
I agree w/ Vicopper about the smoke shelf. I just like the look of the exterior of the Beautiful Iron hood. BUT.. The angle frame is structural overkill, the smoke shelf is dubious, and arrogance is sickening. As discussed recently wrt anvils, functionality is beautiful. There are many different plans & pics on the net. Check BP0460 “Anatomy of a Forge Flue” for one other man's opinion.

Seems like the main thing is to keep the opening small and the flu big and tall, so that the stack has plenty of draw, and the intake velocity at the forge is as high as possible. One can probably get by with a 12” dia pipe, capped @ the bottom, with a 10” hole in the side. The “Super Sucker Side draft forge hood,” also in Anvilfire Plans file, is basically a fabricated reducing elbow with a 10”X10” opening entering into a 12” flu pipe. Not sure about the function of having an expansion chamber of larger volume than the stack itself, since the gasses must slow again when they get to the top of the chamber, entering the flu pipe.?
- Dave Leppo - Friday, 07/13/07 11:44:34 EDT

Smoke Shelf Truth: We have a couple designs with them that were derived from others designs. The "super sucker" hood is very good as it uses little material. The plain hood in the sketch (left side) is the one Centaur Forge has sold for many years. I would slope the floor from the back AND from the sides (two bends or two seperate plates) to the opening so that condensation runs out and ash can be easily swept out. This also reduces a rolling eddy which impedes flow. So does the angle iron on the back of the opening. A short extension in front helps when the fire is cool and a tip down "hood" is even better for any time you do not need clear space above the fire. The advantage to a steel forge front is you can weld things to it. . .

One thing I need to add to plans is something Frank Turley keeps reminding us of. . you can put TWO pieces of stove pipe together to get a larger diameter (two seams). So two 6" makes a 12" and a 6" + 8" make a 14". This is handy for making low loss stack caps which require that large size.

Note that stove pipe comes in different gages and only the heaviest galvanized pipe should be used with coal.

Smoke shelves have a long history that is supported by some very questionable logic and lack of fact. They are more of a trash collector and "weather" shelf than anything else. They are the result of making a sloping back wall of a fireplace. This, being sloped into the rising heat picks up and then reflects more heat (a good thing). The smoke must then be directed back and funneled into the stack which is for a number of reasons set back from the front of the fireplace. The smoke also need to expand quickly to keep a good draft as it cools. The logical construction in brick is a simple pyramid shaped enclosure. THIS results in the "smoke shelf", not for reasons of flow but of construction. It also provided a good place for dampers which came later. The biggest benefit of smoke shelves is preventing debris, bird droppings (and the birds themselves) from appearing unwanted in a household fireplace. Nothing like bird droppings in your stew cooking over the fire. . . So perhaps it should be called a "sanitary" shelf.

In the Colonial Williamsburg brick forges they have a "smoke shelf" but again it is a result of construction techniques. In these forges the small side draft opening slopes upward at about a 45 degrees or more angle. This in turn opens into a large pyramidal chamber that slopes up to make the chimney opening. The symmetrical pyramidal shape supports the weight of the chimney. The pyramidal chamber does two things for the draft. First it is a large volume for the smoke to expand into. Second it smoothly funnels the flow into the (large) chimney. In this case the shelf area has nothing to do with creating a draft or preventing down drafts, it is only the result of construction.

DOWN DRAFTS are one of the so called reasons a smoke shelf is needed, but on the other hand the folks that sell smoke shelves with bad logic claim that down flow in the chimney is created by the smoke shelf and increases the draft . . . Self defeating logic.

Down drafts are the result of wind and bad location and cannot be stopped by any contrivance. We had a wood stove on a short stack in a location where if the wind blew to the East it was blocked by our building and trees in the narrow point of the valley we were in. The wind had nowhere to go except THROUGH the building. Any opening on the West side including the chimney was where the wind went. There were times when wood ash (not just smoke) blew out of the fine gaps around the wood stove door! If a tightly closed door will not stop a down draft nothing in the chimney will either. Tall stacks DO help and the force of the draft CAN help defeat down draft but if you are in a bad location then there is no help. . .

So there are reasons for smoke shelves, but not the ones given by many "experts". There is no purpose in making one in a forge.
- guru - Friday, 07/13/07 11:53:44 EDT

Iron Furnace: If what I have read is realiable, and maybe Phillip in China can comment, during one of Chairman Mao's Great Leap Backwards, he decreed China would have 10,000 backyard iron furnaces. This decree was a flat statement, not regarding sources of ore, fuel, etc. To meet the quota in some places, iron agricultural tools (at least semi refined iron, if not steel) were used as "ore" in crude furnaces fueled by wood from houses, sheds, furnature, forests, producing crude cast iron pigs that were not usable without additional refining. Result was less housing for a rapidly growing population and less food production, meaning more starvation in the countryside with the disposable population (the cities were supplied with food, that is where the comrades lived). I wasn't there, so I can't say for sure. Phillip??
- David Hughes - Friday, 07/13/07 12:04:42 EDT

In the case of the Super Sucker hood the reduced opening helps increase velocity (suction).

Expansion chambers are primarily to be sure the smoke has extra room to go into AND to give the smoke time to funnel itself into the stack.

In a number of old timey stone fireplaces I have studied the flues had no abrupt changes. They were smooth natural looking or "organic" shapes. They followed stream lining rules that would not appear anywhere else for centuries. They smoothly went from rectangular to oval then round slowly tapering to their termination. It was not simple easy construction. It worked very well. Modern brick chimneys are a step backward in design sophistication.

If you want to think about the "best" construction then think along the lines of smooth unencumbered flow and gentle expansion and contraction. It can be built in steel plate but only with a great deal of effort. . .
- guru - Friday, 07/13/07 12:13:52 EDT

side draft: well i wasnt exactly talking about the hood, ive seen the side draft tue irons at vaughans, the forges seemed to blow air in from the side instead of the bottom?
- maiers - Friday, 07/13/07 17:53:49 EDT

Maiers, these work two ways. One is just a pipe in a pit the earliest most primitive forge there is. For millinia the tubes/pipe were ceramic IF available. cast iron and steel have been used. Even clay covered green wood will work for a while. . They all burn out.

The modern English forges use a water cooled tuyeer and they often burn out when the water runs out. They also freeze and break in the winter. When they work they produce a cloud of steam or large quantities of hot water.

In the typical English forge there is a water tank on the back of the forge. There are hole in both sides of the tank. The tuyeer has flanges that bolt to the tank with gaskets to seal. The center pipe goes all the way through and air blows through it. The outer pipe is open to the tank. Water fills the gap (about 1/2" between the two pipes which are closed on the end. The whole extends about a foot into the forge a few inches above the bottom.

There have also been water cooled bottom blast tuyeers. All the problems of the above.
- guru - Friday, 07/13/07 20:02:12 EDT

Dave Leppo - sidedraft: I have a really simple 12" sidedraft that is much like You describe, but I used a 30# propane tank with the ends cut out and a 10" wide x 10" high round topped opening cut in it. 12" stovepipe fits inside, crimped end down, and the open end sits on the forge. There are tabs where it bolts to the forge, but I could have welded it if I didn't want to remove it. The diameter of the tank/hood overhangs the forge, there is a filler welded to the tank to close it off. This is dead simple and works. If You were working inside a building a good idea from John Larson is to run the large diameter stove pipe from some blocks set on the ground outside the wall to full hight with a tee going in to the forge at the proper elevation. this gives a way to keep rainwater outside the building and penetrates the wall rather than the roof, easier to deal with in most instances. Transition from the 12" round pipe to 10" square, and the square end is Your sidedraft opening. Hofi's school setup is similar to this.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/13/07 22:10:15 EDT

I've done more work on my 93# demo anvil than on any of the large ones; in fact it wasn't till I moved out here and built a real shop that I was able to put both large anvils on a baulk and use them. The "light" demo anvil gets a lot of use as when I'm out with it I usually forge all day and only get odd hours in the shop at home.

I do notice a big difference in how much gets done using how much energy though---and the Fisher is *QUIET*.

As for wanting a big anvil and finding a small one, my second largest anvil, 407#, I got by trading a fellow a 125# PW, a vise screw and screw box, and US$100. He needed a smaller anvil to travel with and I wanted a big one for the shop. Small anvils are often worth more per pound than large ones as large ones are a PITA to move around.

Now what I have begun to appreciate is using my large screwpress to dress tennons, with a stop block I can take a roughed out tenon and have it beautifully dressed to shape and size in 1 heat---my current project has 24 tennons...

Thomas P - Friday, 07/13/07 22:40:11 EDT

The bigger the tools you have the bigger the projects you can take on profitably (or physically).
- guru - Saturday, 07/14/07 00:09:00 EDT

Switching from gas to coal: After seeing the live earth concert this past weekand and realizing how bad things are with all the carbon going up into the atmosphere and causing global warming, i have decided to build a gas forge and will be dividing my work between the gas and coal forge in order to burn less coal. For the last ten years i feel a little guilty everytime i light the forge and see all that green smoke going up to the sky. I guess i am thinking more inviormentally minded lately and am trying to make a difference. To me lighting the forge has always been and will always be a part of the trade as it has been since the beginning of time. But i feel it might be time for a change and if i can do a large percentage of my work on gas and a smaller amount on coal, it might make a difference somehow. I would like to hear your thoughts or advice ( good or bad ). I would be interesting to see if i am the only crazy person out there that feels this way. Happy blacksmithing
Len - Saturday, 07/14/07 01:25:56 EDT

Gas vs. Coal Heating - Being GREEN:
Coal is definitely not as clean as gas. However, the smoke you SEE is not CO2 (AKA "carbon emissions"). Both fuels are complex hydrocarbon products that when burned produce CO2. AND for a given BTU both are pretty close to the same.

To reduce carbon emissions from these sources the best you can do is be more efficient. For doing odd no production work a coal fire is generally the most efficient. For production work where the forge is kept full to its most efficient capacity feeding a power hammer a gas forge is most efficient.

If you want to reduce carbon emissions then a hydrogen forge would produce nothing but H2O vapor. However, the total effect would depend on how that hydrogen was produced. If coal or oil is burned to produce electricity to produce the hydrogen then the process is VERY energy inefficient and would produce more emissions than just burning the fuels locally.

IF (big IF) you produced your own hydrogen from solar or wind power then you MIGHT be producing less carbon emissions IF the total used in producing the steel in the equipment was less than the amount you saved in a lifetime of use. . . If you built your plant from ALL scrap then you have a good chance of beating the balance.

The most efficient use of that electricity would be to power an induction heater like the Kaynes sell OR even using a resistance heater. Any conversion from the electricity to other fuels is a huge loss in efficiency and the total carbon emission balance is reduced.

the IDIOT actors taking longer showers by brushing their teeth in the shower are NOT reducing carbon emissions. However, if EVERY sunny California household starting with the "green" actresses had solar hot water the gains would be HUGE. Did anyone ask if she had a hot tub that is heated 24/7 as most are (she probably has). Is IT solar? If only the hot tubs in California were converted to solar assist it would probably be a bigger gain than all the domestic hot water. . . AND most of the folks with them can probably afford it.

Do you use solar hot water? Wind power? Small hydro?

Most of the prominent asses that have made a big deal about their alternate fuel vehicals could do a LOT more good spending their money in other places that have immediate high returns on the investment.

Want to save billions of tons of carbon emissions? Make it illegal to build the under insulated homes that are being built everywhere in the US inlcuding "modular" homes that generally do not meet the standard building codes.

I recently moved out of an uninsulated drafty leaky "ram-shackle" place that had VERY expensive resistance heat and window air-conditioners. I am now living with a friend in a new modular home . . . We are more comfortable but the heating bills are exactly the same using a modern "efficient" heat pump. The only gain is that there are two of us in one house instead of two in two separate houses. You can fell the heat streaming in through the attic-less roof on hot days and the so called "efficient" plastic framed double insulated windows that do not conduct heat are too flexible to resist winds in the winter. . .

Want to save fuel? Live like migrant laborers with 4 or 5 people to a room. DON'T commute. Take a lower paying job walking distance from home. WORK at home. Use solar hot water. It works almost everywhere even though it is seasonal in norther climates. SHOP LOCALLY. Do not drive 20 miles to WalMart while passing the local hardware, grocery and furniture stores.. . .
- guru - Saturday, 07/14/07 09:34:02 EDT

GREEN Forge Fuel:
If you use charcoal from waste wood that is slated to be burned or composted you are ahead.

IF you plant a tree for every truck load of charcoal you use you are ahead.

There is no getting ahead when you burn coal or oil. These are products that converted atmospheric CO2 into permanent solids/liquids in such great quantity that the permanently changed our atmosphere and climate. Burning them in large quantities is a reversal of the process. What took nature millions of years to do we will undo in a few hundred.

Note that the U.S. temperate rain forests (most of the East coast to the Mississippi) is just as important as tropical rain forests and is disappearing at a greater rate. I suspect the same is true in China and other places. Plant TREES. They bind the carbon they absorb into the wood and hold it for generations. Eventually it is released UNLESS we convert the forests to coal again. . .

You can send money to Central and South America to "save the rain forests" but you can do just as much here by buying land and planting trees HERE. Think about it. But don't do goofy feel good things that make no difference.
- guru - Saturday, 07/14/07 09:49:56 EDT

propane: i thought propane made water when burned? thats what pa always said when the windows got drippy in the motor home.
- maiers - Saturday, 07/14/07 14:06:40 EDT

planting trees: very good idea! i see all these sub divisions plant little iddy bitty chinese maple trees.Why? plant a pine tree or a cedar or a fir, hell if you plant enough of them maybe you could justify burning coal.
- maiers - Saturday, 07/14/07 14:11:33 EDT

Solar works as well as YOU work it. We have a solar house, super insulated. Thats R-60 in the attic, R-30 walls, and R-48 in the crawl. Windows are sungain type, triple glazed, and a realistic R5.7. The windows in our solar house are the main energy loss point. If we put insulating covers ALL the time the windows are not gaining heat, we could probably get by with heating the house through the winter for about $300 in electricity. Since we do not like living in a cave, and in fact greatly enjoy the view of the woods, I burn wood from a pallet mill and heat the house nicely to 72F for about $500 a year.

The very large roof overhangs that keep the summer sun out do the job, and we cool through the summer by shutting the house up when the outside temp rises above the inside, and open in the evening when it flips. A 1/4 Hp whole house fan assists. In 20 years we have run the aircon maybe 300 hours total, and do so mostly to exercise it so it stays lubed etc.

In my area of the country, S. Indiana, I would build a super insulated house in a heartbeat, but the solar is iffy. Doable? Yes, but it takes some trades.
ptree - Saturday, 07/14/07 14:41:01 EDT

Costs: Ptree, Our electric bills run $230/$250 month year round. This is cheap compared to SOME but about 3x what it should be for the size of the house and the fact that it is NEW. That is a crime.

Active solar has some problems that mass production would cure in a heartbeat. The amount of hot water produced by a small collector is amazing. If it is well insulated it can last all night or several non-sunny days if need be.

Currently solar cell technology is getting pretty good and many states now allow any domestic source to "bank the grid". This is reversing the meter at full retail then when you need power you get it back. The hardware to do this is simple and there is very little paper work involved. While you cannot make money with this system you get dependable power from the grid when your system is not producing AND can possibly have no utility bill at all. We are looking into it because $3000/yr could go a long way toward paying off a solar electric system.

The banking on the grid applies to wind as well. I kind of liked the big S style vertical shaft turbines. They turn slow and are omni directional. I've built small models that worked quite well. Make nice yard art as well as making electricity. . .
- guru - Saturday, 07/14/07 22:22:45 EDT

More energy rant: We put on a solar water heating system in the early 80's when there were tax credits and Dad's boss was a dealer for Heliotherm. The 2 pannels and 80 gallon storage/exchanger tank work well, but the tank has been leaking for quite a few years and is jury rig patched. I have a replacement on hand but havn't hooked it in yet. We have a second tub/shower water valve that is solar hot and cold from the well, the rest of the solar heated water is the feed to the water heater tank which is oil fired from the hydronic heat boiler. The bitch is that in the 20 years following the instalation of these systems energy got cheaper and was plentyfull, the systems needed repairs, and everyone We know of including the school system who had one for heating the pool has junked them. NOW energy costs are high enough again to make these systems worthwhile.
You want to stop global warming? MAKE ALL THE SMOKE YOU CAN. In the late 60's & early 70's they thought We were headed for another ice age, they were pretty sure the earth was cooling. What is different now? We made great reductions in particulate emissions without reducing greenhouse gasses, even increasing them. The shade from the particulates reduced the heating of the earth JUST BECAUSE THE SUN COULDN'T SHINE THROUGH THE POLUTION. So cleaner air actually caused global warming, put that in Your bong and smoke it AL GOORE.
REVERSING THE METER AT FULL RETAIL ? Will YOUR power company allow YOU to do this? MOST WONT. They buy power back at the grid rate, and that is all the law requires. Is this "fair"? Yes it actually is, as distribution costs are the majority of what You are paying for electricity, and actual generating costs are really pretty low.
How much power do You get from Your small wind turbines? I have a wind generator on the boat, it makes 18 amps at 14 volts in a full gale, but only about 5 amps at 12.5 volts in a 12 knot breze, a whopping 62.5 watts. This is a 50" diameter 3 blade horizonal shaft unit, and that is about as good as any marine unit up to 60" diameter. There are some 72" marine units, but they get hard to mount on many boats, better on land mounts.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 07/15/07 01:19:19 EDT

Solar energy: My solar house is the system know as passive. The entire house is the collector. The windows are all on the south exposure with the exception of 5 windows required by code a "escape" windows for fire escape. I have a 42" roof overhang that allows the sun in the windows when the sun declines about 28 degrees in the winter. The shadow stops just at the bottom sill in the summer. The big overhang also protects the siding, and keeps most rian from the windows. The downstairs in on slab, and the slab is insulated from the earth. The slab is 8" thick minimum, and up to 18" in places. This slab is the thermal mass that makes the system work and evens the temp change.
In S. Indiana, the sunny days are few enough to make a passive house, purpose built work, but the solar add-ons, with out storage will NEVER pay off.
We manage to keep the house 72F in the day, and set the thermostat back to 62F at night. Most nights it the temp drops to about 68F.
My wife has a thyroid issue and I have to keep the temp up to keep her moving. In the summer we do not run air, and she is happiest at perhaps 78F.
By all means, in most any climate, super insulation works and is a great investment. It also will keep out the noise of neighbors when the windows are closed. As I sit here, the windows are open, the whole house fan is on, and the temp is just getting to be the same in/out. I will shortly close up and the house will probably increase from the current 73F to about 75F by the time the temp rises to the predicted 89F and then falls back and open up and start the cycle again.

Every electrical utility must buy Cogenerated electricy at the "least avoided cost" under the PURPA act. Least avoided cost is the lowest cost in the system to GENERATE the electricity. In the Louisville area they have a 1930's era hydro dam on the Ohio, and so that sets the least avoided cost.
ptree - Sunday, 07/15/07 09:22:10 EDT

Selling Electricity:
To sell electricity to a utility you must have a Federal license to do so. Part of the application is to have a period of public comment, have all interested environmental government and NGO's notified among other things. Then you must also meet the utilities requirement for an interconnection. This is a MUCH stricter standard than "banking on the grid" requires. AND some utilities have instituted bill processing requirements. In my case at the old mill that was $450/month. In months that you did not generate, which is common in small hydro, you would owe the utility for power used PLUS the $450. It was very easy for a micro generator that MIGHT make $15,000 a year to end up owing the utility or making nothing from their investment.

In modest operations like a number of my friends have the Fish and Wildlife requirements (allowed by the Feds) made the business un-profitable. One built a million dollar fish ladder. It had to be designed by the hydro operator to Fish and Wildlife requirements which were vague and changed over the years. This was NOT the classic fish ladder you see that was designed for jumping fish like salmon, it was a very long long gentle slope for lazy fish. . . It had to have filter screens for intake water and special "attractant" flow jets that made it more attractive to the fish than trying to go into the turbines. . (you need a fish psychologist). Oh, yeah, did I mention it took an act of the US congress to get the Fish and Wildlife folks off their ass and make ANY recommendation at all. . . Their plan was to stall until the developer went away, went broke or died. . .

Then Fish and Wildlife wanted to direct its operations at the cost of the operator AND they wanted annual fish run censuses and reports ALSO at the cost of the operator. This meant having an employee set in front of the count window and count fish for many hours over a several week fish run identifying all the fish. Afterward the data had to be compiled, graphed and a report assembled. I did that the year I was plant construction manager. It took a full week of my time. These are all things that you would expect the Fish and Wildlife people to do. . . but they have the small hydro folks by the balls so they dump any expense they can on the hydro operator.

At other sites they have to shut down twice a year during the prime water periods which just happen to coincide with eel migrations. At dams that are too high for fish ladders they are being directed to build fish ELEVATORS! We wanted to know who was going to train the fish to press the UP button!

This was all on existing hydro dams where the environmental damage was done 200 years ago in many cases. Many have not been in operation for 100 years, all that power going to waste. AND because of governmental regulators the power is STILL going to waste. It is a huge national asset that is going to waste because there is NO common sense been applied. That million dollar high tech fish ladder I mentioned above. It is doing NOTHING because the plant has been shut down due to rising costs largely to meet changing and continuing regulatory costs. . . All a waste. . .

AND, that so called "avoided cost" of electricity is not a simple number that the utilitys will divulge how it is calculated. They usually use the actual cost of coal per ton per KW ignoring all the other costs. This comes out cheaper than Nuclear which is by far the cheapest power. But the contract for selling power to the utility must be negotiated with the utility without government involvement (including cost audits). So in Virginia they offer 1.5 cents per KWH while they sell the power for ten times that amount. (Nuclear used to be 2 cents per KW). AND they are also allowed to apply dependability factors (up and DOWN).

THINK about that. In banking on the grid you get a full retail credit. A small business that uses electricity to manufacture a product can take advantage of it and have NO utility costs while making a profit via their product. You have to be a fool to give away 90% of your power value due to flim flam avoided cost numbers.

Small hydro has died because of all of this. Even though the law says the power companies MUST buy their power. . .
- guru - Sunday, 07/15/07 11:45:12 EDT

Banking on the Grid: The Virgina banking on the grid law requires no special meters and no adjusted rates. It is designed for the homeowner and small business and is simple as possible. Many other states have similar (new) laws.

If this law had been around 20 years ago I would have been up and running on our mill dam.

- guru - Sunday, 07/15/07 11:52:27 EDT

Why Alternative Energy:
If you FORGET the environment possibilities. Think of the political reasons. The ONLY reason we are in IRAQ and Afghanistan is the OIL. The only reason we have any interest in ANYTHING in the Middle East is the OIL. The OIL and our interference in Middle-East politics is why there are people there that want to kill us and attack us using terrorism.

China will very rapidly be needing more coal and oil than we have ever used. THEY will have an increasing interest in the declining oil reserves in the Middle East. You think we have global political problems with oil NOW, just wait until China states that they think they deserve as much of the world's oil reserves PER CAPITA as any other nation are are will to go to war for that "right".

Our becoming energy independent is the only thing that will keep us from being one of the primary targets in WW-III, the OIL war. It is coming. The numbers are simple and obvious. But political stupidity, blundering, money buying votes, personal vendettas by top government officials. . . will not do what is needed to avoid the coming disaster. So it is up to the people to force it. Even if the science of global warming is wrong the politics of oil are VERY clear.

- guru - Sunday, 07/15/07 13:40:19 EDT

Bankingon the grid: I need to check up on the new laws. I remember in the '80s there was a law passed nationally I think that the utilities HAD to buy back surplus power in these systems, but not at retail rates. There were seperate meters that would turn in one direction only to measure and bill this way. The system/law that You are citing, Jock does a lot to make a home system cost effective for the homeowner at the expense of the power company. Here at Our house We have been getting the shaft from Philadelphia Electric [PeCo] for Years now, a little turnabout would be nice. I need to check out Pa.'s status.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 07/15/07 21:54:17 EDT

IVBA hammer in: Had a nice time at the meet in Pontiac,IL this weekend. The demonstrators were very informative (some of them very attractive too...). Bought a few small treasures from the tail gaters too. Several anvils for sale & a little giant for only $1750. The iron in the hat included a "mystery box" which wasn't supposed to be opened until the winner got home. As a result, they were half way thru the drawings before someone picked it. The crowd threatened to do the guy harm unless he opened it on the spot. Turned out to be a nice new abrasive cut off saw. Wow. My tickets were all duds thou....

I was a little dissappointed in that there was virtually no "public" in attendance. They have the meet at their local Thresherman's Park (which is a nice place), but it's in the middle of nowhere about 4 miles from town. If you aren't in the smithing trade already, you'd never know about it. It's hard for the new people to find equipment to buy if they don't know where the gatherings are.

My other dissappointment was in losing a 5 foot long piece of copper. I had set it out where the fellows had been doing a copper vessel class, in case any flower making came up, I was going to donate it. When I came back for it later, someone had walked off with it. It's a sad day when you can't trust people. If we'd been in a more public place, I'd would have said it was my fault for letting it out of my sight. Guess I'll know better next time. I thought it was curious that very few tail gaters had coffee cans set out for collectin money this year....
- Mike Sa - Sunday, 07/15/07 22:35:54 EDT

Public Attendance:
Mike, Etal, The local group must ADVERTISE locally and invite the public if they want them to come.

We are already planning the 10th Anniversary Anvilfire/CSI hammer-in for next year. We would love to invite the public (and will invite the nearest folks) but have a limited space. It will be here in NC. Vendors and demonstrators are already lining up.

Organizations that have sufficient parking/facilities should invite the public for a SMALL entry fee. ABANA has failed grossly in their public education at their events in this regard. At Kentucky they wanted $80 for a day pass. Imagine a family of four that just wanted to come and see what the blacksmiths were doing for a few hours. . . .

Lost copper. . . it may have just been "cleaned up" by a helper. I lost my favorite tripod at the NOMMA convention 2 years ago. It was near a bunch of video equipment being torn down by the hotel employees and it got packed up with the rest. . . I miss-identified the brand when I asked about it. . . (my stupidity). But their picking it up was an honest mistake.

On the other hand. Their has been a local rash of thefts of outdoor heat pump condensers for their copper. . . A VERY expensive item for a little bit of copper. . .

At several recent blacksmithing events there were announcements of thefts that were then retracted. Someone had moved something for safekeeping because they were worried about it. . .
- guru - Monday, 07/16/07 09:58:55 EDT

Co-Gen, Net Metering, banking on the grid: See link below to find about your state.

Currently the Net Metering laws are a rat's nest of complexities when looked at state by state. Virginia's is dead simple and applies to all users. However, in North Carolina it only applies to the three investor operated utilities (NOT our coop) and you must go on peak metering with a variable rate. The retail power rates apply but not equally during the day. It would benefit NC solar systems to have large battery banks and dump power at peak usage times. However, there are amperage limits (2% of local connection capacity) unless approved by the utility.

You can tell that Duke Power wrote the NC law. In Virgina the law is simple and is a definite incentive. The limits are 10kw residential and 500Kw commercial. However there is a total (for most states) of 1% of total utility generation. Connections are based on first come first serve. But so far there has been no rush.

In PA you can have up to 50Kw but at the utility's "avoided cost". There is also some very negative legalese about 10% annual savings and "the customer must pay for its share of stranded costs to prevent interclass or intraclass shifting." Sounds like Con-Ed wrote that one. . .

There is also Federal tax incentive and local property tax incentives. If you have both soar electric and solar water the federal credit is a total of $4000 max.

We've calculated that we could have a near zero utility bill in this house IN VIRGINA (not NC) using a system that the power offset would pay for in about 10 years (probaly less with credits). After that it would be a zero bill for power OR system except for maintenance. However, in NC where we are the coop is not required to use Net Metering and the rules are so complex it is difficult to tell if there could be a payback in any amount of time. We could move 25 miles North and have the Virginia benefit.

Complications are why people do not jump onto these things.

Imagine if every new building was required to be oriented properly and have a 100% solar roof. . . In large urban centers it would not make much difference but in the vast majority of the US and our single story strip mall culture the benefits would be huge.

Laws forcing utilities to accept domestic green sources at net metering is good for the country as a whole and does not hurt utilities. Most electric utilities have growth in demand that out strips their production capacity in a short time. ALL (100%) of the new capacity is now burning gas, coal and imported oil. We are not building any new nuclear and new hydro is out of the question due to population density in most places. So we use coal and oil.
- guru - Monday, 07/16/07 11:29:10 EDT

Alternate Fuel Gas Forge: Tangent Topic: Anyone ever heard of, saw, tried, or considered a Wood Gas fueled gas forge? Wood gas has been used with limited success, I believe, in internal combustion engines, and there's a fella who built a wood-powered gas turbine, aka turbocharged wood stove.

- Dave Leppo - Monday, 07/16/07 11:51:41 EDT

Dave, Wood gas generally results in charcoal being left over (I think). Folks that do charcoal efficiently recycle the wood gas into the firebox to reduce the cost of cooking the charcoal.
- guru - Monday, 07/16/07 13:24:55 EDT

Charcoal is the by-product of the gasification process, which can then be used in a charcoal forge. But if I specifically want a gas forge, can wood be the fuel?

Coal can be gasified, too, with the by-product being coke. The burning gasses are what create the flames above my coal forge hearth, and the heat goes out the stack as waste. Observing this is what gets me thinking, perhaps I can somehow sit an insulated box over the coal forge, and use it as a gas forge.
- Dave Leppo - Monday, 07/16/07 14:32:45 EDT

One problem is those volatiles contain a lot of the *bad* stuff---like cresote and tars that you don't want around your metal. particularly with coal where the sulfur cooks out. I'd go for methane generated from livestock waste as a first try...

Thomas P - Monday, 07/16/07 15:27:42 EDT

aint got no livestock, how about from the septic tank? :)
- Dave Leppo - Monday, 07/16/07 15:34:42 EDT

"Grid Banking": In Kansas we still have the two meter system: IIRC, on the Co-op it is $0.10/kwh for the incoming meter and $0.015/kwh outgoing. Needless to say no one with a lick of sense does a grid-tied alternate energy project around here.

On the other hand, the Bowersock Mill and Power Co., which has been wholesaling electricity to KP&L for decades (and since the dawn of the electric age to a few nearby users) has proposed building a second power house to double their peak capacity from 5 to 10 MW.

They are a "flow of the river" set up, and the sole surviving active hydro power installation in Kansas.

The Bowersock dam has always been something of a political project: The dam was bankrolled by Cyrus K. Holiday, of Santa Fe railroad fame, to kill competition from the riverboat industry. Construction began within hours of the legislature declaring the Kansas river to be "non-navigable," leaving several river boats stranded upstream. More recently they have cried the city into heavily subsidizing repairs on the dam because it guarantees the water depth at the main water plant intakes.
John Lowther - Monday, 07/16/07 18:17:43 EDT

In Louisville the hydro plant was built in the 20/30's as a flood control project and to keep a depth of pool for navigation. Recently there have been proposals to upgrade, but the enviro's have fought this and tried to restrict usage to protect fish, go figure. Cleanest powerhouse from environmental concerns and the greenies want to curtail it! The other fuel of choice around here is coal! I suspect the fallout across the baord from coal kills far more fish.
ptree - Monday, 07/16/07 19:39:53 EDT

Setting up a methane-fired forge is an expensive and hazardous nightmare. I have a documented study on file here at Entropy Research from the 60s or so, the Golden Age of Holistic Endeavour, and the conclusion by the researchers was, as I recall, forget it.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 07/16/07 20:38:03 EDT

Producer gas (wood gas) forge link: Dave, go over to Don Fogg's forums to see the results of a long experimentation on the subject. The link below is the beginning, there are others. The final verdict is that it's possible if you are determined, and dried chicken poop works better than wood.
wood gas forge discussion
Alan-L - Monday, 07/16/07 21:39:52 EDT

Alternate fuel forge: Sure, you could use wood gasification to fire a forge, but it would be sort of self-defeating. As noted, the by-product of gasification is charcoal, a nice clean hot fuel for forging. Wood gas, on the other hand, is composed of volatiles that burn at a much lower temperature than charcoal and there is also a lot of steam present too, robbing Btus from the process.

I thinik the better plan is to use the wood gas to help the heatin gof the retort for making the charcoal and just use the charcoal for the forge. Even with the most efficient process imaginable though, you're going to need to fell a lot of trees to run a forge full time.

If you want an alternative to a coal or gas forge, look at solar. A hefty bank of tracking mirrors or focusing lenses will get you forge-welding temps easily on a sunny day. Or geothermal; a volcanic vent would do the job, but may be high in sulfur. Exciting, though.

If you want to be truly "green", cold-forge copper nodules you dig from the ground. No fuel used to mine, process or forge the product, that way. Not much product, either.
vicopper - Monday, 07/16/07 21:55:14 EDT

Faith Restored: Just about the time I finished hauling a very heavy machine base up to the loft of the barn (I'm putting in a wood shop there) with a block & tackle (I was too lazy to go get a chain fall from one of the other buildings), up pulls a good friend who also smiths. He & the wife stopped by to drop off the missing piece of copper sheet I lost at Pontiac. Seems someone had merely moved it out of the way next to a bush hog & tractor where we didn't see it while looking. He had been demonstrating making glass beads at the conference & noticed the copper while packing up his own stuff at the end of the meet. He only lives a few miles from me so he brought it by. His wife told me the finders fee would be a rose....go figure :)

I should not have lost hope in my fellow man so quickly.
- Mike Sa - Monday, 07/16/07 22:13:41 EDT

Industry from scratch: At the pace industry is disappearing from the US, I don't think it's going to take a holocaust to require people to rebuild an industrial capacity (almost) from scratch.

As it is, when/if the rest of the world figures out what the dollar is worth, we are going to find ourselves trying to barter agricultural products for the tools to rebuild industry (if the greens will let us.)

The guru's elderly friend had a wooden band saw he'd built in the depths of the depression and never replaced 'cause it worked. I can easily imagine an economic collapse which would have many Americans re-inventing and improvising power tools of all sorts, simply because most of the existing stock of machinery had gone to scrap, and we couldn't afford to import stuff 'cause no one would accept dollars any more.
John Lowther - Tuesday, 07/17/07 15:28:07 EDT

National Crime:
The crime in this country is the export of tools and machinery at scrap prices OR AS scrap. Even old machine tools have a productive value to SOMEONE much greater than their scrap value.

Iron and steel of all types has had its "blood price" (actual lives, environmental damage. . ) paid and should never be exported as long as we have industry.
- guru - Tuesday, 07/17/07 19:24:43 EDT

Obsolete Machines: The problem with much of these older machines is they are only productive enough for a tinkerer. I know because I have a shop full of them. I am presently trying to find a new home for a '40s era Landis 10"x24" cylindrical grinder. The problem is this is a pretty big machine for a home shop, and not productive enough for a commercial shop. I have spoken with some machinery dealers, and have been told that while some years ago these older machines were being shipped to Mexico, the demand is way down now. Many old machines have been and will continue to be scrapped for this reason. Anybody want to buy a cylindrical grinder cheap?
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 07/17/07 22:42:45 EDT

Industry decline: My company builds fuel pumps for cars. We are one of the leaders in the US & our name is known around the world. Of the nearly 200 suppliers we have, I track 40 of them for quality performance. In the first half of this year, these 40 have shipped over 50 million parts to me (think of the grand total of all of the vendors together!).

Our corporate fathers are pushing us hard to source more parts, and complete pumps, from china. Think of the ripple effect on the economy when we will no longer need all those parts from domestic sources. Indeed, this has been playing out all over the country.

Some of you may be familiar with Acme Gridley screw machines & Bullard rotary machine centers. When we sent a lot of our work to Mexico & china, we sent many of these to the scrap dealer due to the glut of old machinery on the market, even thou these machines were very well maintained & provided better accuracy than when new.
- Mike Sa - Tuesday, 07/17/07 23:05:28 EDT

Mike, tell your bosses, as soon as the Chinese are making 100% of the product (or can) they will sell them direct to YOUR customers and even your bosses will not have jobs. . .

Cylindrical Grinder. . . I had a smaller Brown and Sharp and traded it off. While it might have been handy now and then it was a nightmare to setup. It is the only machine tool I owned that I never completely understood all its functions. . . Now, my surface grinder, THAT is another story. It gets used as often as any other tool in the shop and makes VERY slick parts.

AND there is a whole generation of semi-automated (CNC) machines that the controls cannot be maintained nor are they efficient to setup. They indeed are scrap.

The reason so much good machinery is going to scrap is the exporting of production. For every large manufacturer there are dozens of small shops supporting them in one way or the other. Those small shops depend on affordable old machines that may not be good for high production but can make the parts to outfit an entire factory with tooling, special tools and special machines. Years ago I used to make odd parts for a local factory. Any time they had a short run OR parts so odd that most job shops refused to bid so I often got their work. I made a LOT of money (while it lasted) using antique machines and lots of ingenuity and craftsmanship. That ended with a trade embargo and the eventual export of the whole business.

The tons of cheap import saws we talk about are made in shops with machines no newer than 1940's designs and some that old. For a few dollars more they could be made HERE, BETTER and hundreds of folks would have jobs making them.

IF our leaders (political and industrial) do not take charge of the situation there will be no-one left in the US to sell those cheap import tools to. IF we do not take control of our borders and employment laws our government will be dictated from Mexico City.

There is a serious problem in your economy when there is no demand for ANY operating machine tool of ANY age. A healthy economy has many tiers of production and tools that start at the top trickle to the bottom and are used until they really ARE scrap. THEN that scrap is used locally, not sent to foreign competitors. . . who avoid the blood price by buying OUR scrap.
- guru - Tuesday, 07/17/07 23:42:29 EDT

Debtor nation-- check out this grim analysis. Keep your powder dry.
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 07/17/07 23:48:26 EDT

Looking for information on a # 0 swage block. Weighs aprox 160lb.
also info on an anvil with ROCO stamped on the side with a number 100 under it.
- Dwayne Kent - Tuesday, 07/17/07 23:52:44 EDT

Some company made it and stamped it #0 has no relation to anything else. It might have a relation to that one companies other sized blocks.

Ken can you field the ROCO question?

Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/18/07 16:09:51 EDT

TN Furnaces: Alan- Have you checked "The Iron Manufacturers Guide" by JP Lesley, first published 1859? The first 263 pages of this 770 page book are simply a listing of the locations of all the furnaces, bloomeries, forges, and rolling mills in the eastern half of the US, including many that were already defunct at the time of writing. A quick glance at the copy I am lucky enough to have lists 25 or 30 furnaces in Tennesse, and 10 or so bloomeries or forges. Check the rare book rooms at your nearby universities, etc. If you can't find it contact me, I can list what it has for you. But you'd probably like to see the whole book. BTW my secret interlibrary loan trick is to go to the University and tell them you're an alumnus, they'll get the book for you.
- Lee Sauder - Wednesday, 07/18/07 18:55:46 EDT

old anvil on stump: I have an old farrier anvil mounted on a stump, it has some letters or letters and nunbers one above the other on the side of the anvil. I would like to know what this is valued at. I can provide pics. Thanks for your help.
- Jude - Wednesday, 07/18/07 20:12:20 EDT

#0 Swage block: Jude, anvils vary a lot in value depending on size, condition, brand, location. You can mail photos to me if you need.

We have some information on Swage Blocks number 0,1,2,3 by hardware houses. However, the numbers were assigned by the hardware house NOT the manufacturer and there are discrepancies in what is shown in different catalogs.

So what do you want to know? They were cast iron, heavy, have holes and almost none can be attributed to specific manufacturers and they are also difficult to date.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/18/07 20:27:36 EDT

TN Furnaces: Thnaks for chiming in, Lee! I am lucky enough to have a photocopy of Lesley, and it is gonna be invaluable. So far in the eastern regions of Tn I've got 48 bloomeries/forges vs. maybe 15-20 furnaces.

I'm really lucky on ILL, as my wife is a professor. Not only can I get stuff, I can usually keep it for six months or so.

I have gotten in touch with a few of the "ironmasters" Sir Thomas mentioned, including one who has attended a few of the smelts you and Skip have done.

So far the biggest mystery I've run into is in terminology. I can figure out most things by context if nothing else, but this term has stumped even the industrial archaeology guys: "Drumbum and Robit." This term appears in deeds and the 1820 census manufacturing schedules with reference to bloomery equipment. Not furnaces, interestingly, just bloomeries. Whatever it is, is listed along with the usual complement of stuff, as follows:

The machinery used at the Roan Creek establishment was typical of that used by all the other iron manufactories in the area. In 1820, there were one hammer wheel, one hammer and anvil, one stamper wheel, and four stamps, two water blasts, two bloomery fires, and one drumbum and robit (Johnson County deed book 1, pp87, 111, and 233)

The general consensus is that maybe it's an ore washer or charcoal crusher, but it's impossible to tell. Any ideas?
Alan-L - Thursday, 07/19/07 12:10:10 EDT

Further info: I should add, lest anyone else be curious, the hammer and anvil mentioned above is a water-powered helve hammer. I missed a set of head/anvil blocks for one at an auction a few years ago as I didn't know they were there until a newspaper article showed them. The buyers didn't know what they were, just that they were big cast iron blocks with a 6" x 10" hole through the middle, weighing about 500 lbs each. The previous owner, who had bought the ca. 1840 house of one of the old ironmakers, found them out back and was using them as vandal-proof flowerpots on the front porch...

"Stampers" above are ore crushers, and water blasts are cylindrical blowers that ran off water power.
Alan-L - Thursday, 07/19/07 12:17:15 EDT

"Ironworks on the Saugus" (ISBN: 0806109572) has a picture of a set of helve hammer head/anvil recovered from that site IIRC. and a reproduction of the complete hammer system as well.
Thomas P - Thursday, 07/19/07 18:26:26 EDT

Alsos picture in American Iron 1607-1900 by Robert B. Gordon, Johns Hopkins U. Press of a big set, now quietly living on as lawn ornaments on the Hewitt estate in Ringwood, New Jersey.
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 07/19/07 23:13:31 EDT

drumbum and robit: Would they have had a winch or some sort of a hoisting engine in a bloomery?
JimG - Thursday, 07/19/07 23:17:59 EDT

I looked in the Oxford English Dictionary (compact edition) with no luck.
- guru - Thursday, 07/19/07 23:35:41 EDT

helves and books and drumbums; oh, my!: I didn't say *I* didn't know what they were, I just didn't go to the auction because they were not listed. I have not been able to find out what became of them since. I have those two estimable publications as well, but thanks for the references, you never know what I may not have!

The name drumbum and robit does sound like it might be soemthing that rotates, but that is probably just us reading "drum" as a round object.

I haven't had a chance yet to examine the 1820 census manufacturing schedule for other parts of east TN, so I don't know if the term was ever used anywhere but here... I did ask an English industrial archaeologist from Lancashire if he'd ever run across it, as most of the ironmakers here came from the northern midlands and border counties, but had no luck.

This (purely local terms for iron technology) is apparently not an isolated problem, as one of the scholars I've consulted has his own unknown one: "Burrow and Transhere." From context it seems to have something to do with tuyere angle in a blast furnace to promote gray iron over white iron, but he's only found it in one reference for colonial Virginia.

It's possible only one person ever used/wrote down these particular names for an unknown-to-him/her contraption, which then got enshrined in writing by later folks who assumed this person knew what they were talking about.
Alan-L - Friday, 07/20/07 08:42:32 EDT

power hammer questions: Jock,

I'm a reasonably smart guy, but I'm no mechanical engineer (nor an engineer of any other kind). So can you explain the following blast from your past in a little more detail, for those of us who don't habla the Mech-E?

"Torsion springs of this type are easy to make AND design.

"As ends of spring move there is no angular component changing the rate of the spring. [What's an example of a design in which there would be an angular component? It might help me get my mind around that last sentence.]

"Since the spring diameter shrinks as the arms move inward the spring should be mounted on something resiliant. Rubber or leather. That in turn should have a center bearing bushing. A true scale layout will likely indicate a large steel bushing with a bronze bushing inside of that.

"This design still requires toggle link vector calculations." [Where can I find information about how to make those calculations, and what exactly will they tell me?]

Have you had occasion to try the torsion spring design out on a JYH, or have you seen one that used it? How does it compare to a Dupont or bow spring linkage?

Matt B - Friday, 07/20/07 12:18:59 EDT

Alan, *you* know what they look like and *I* know what they look like, (and have seen them in use); but we are not the only two people reading this forum and many smiths without a solid historical background may not know what they look like.

I try to answer questions such that a wide range of people will profit from them. I also try to list my sources; or at least the most easily found ones.

The internet is a great melting pot of jargon and while it will make things easier in the future we do lose some of the flavour of the language if everyone is using the same terms the same way---I've even lived places where the term cattywampus was not understood by the locals!

Could robit be related to rabbet/rabbit/rebate---the wood working term that I have even seen spelled as "rabid"

I was thinking of the drum that lifts the neck of a helve hammer with replaceable contact spurs in a rebate on the drum... A bloomery would need shingling hammers for shingling blooms.
Thomas P - Friday, 07/20/07 12:22:12 EDT

Thomas, good points all. I sometimes forget about the other folks when I'm neck-deep in a project...

Also good speculation on the robit/rabit/rebate etymology. Dunno, though. In that census list for the one county that counts (pardon me!), the furnace sites also had helve hammers but not the dreaded D&R. They had the helves bacuse they also had finery and chafery fires. Unless they were just producing unconsolidated blooms from pig, which I doubt. No mention of squeezers, but.. HEY! Gotta go check some books for bloom-squeezer designs to see if they could conceivably have a drumbum or a robit on 'em...

For those of you who are really interested, go download the following 700-page tome from 1850:
The manufacture of iron, in all its various branches. Also, a description of forge hammers, rolling mills, blast machines, hot blast, etc., etc. To which is added an essay on the manufacture of steel (1851)
Alan-L - Friday, 07/20/07 14:15:11 EDT

1850 is modern times to me; I'm more into "De Re Metallica" from the mid 16th century so much ingenous water powered machinery!

Now to see if work will allow me to print 700 pages if I buy the paper and toner and do it out of hours...

Thomas P - Friday, 07/20/07 15:51:25 EDT

Last reference book I bought was 300+ dollars (The Night and the Blast Furnace); don't think I can ask SWMBO for another anytime soon.

Hmm reprint available for about $30...
Thomas P - Friday, 07/20/07 15:56:10 EDT

1850 IS modern times, but it's still before they figured out carbon was the reason steel would harden. I like Theophilus and Birunguccio (sp?) myself, but they don't tell you how to run a charcoal blast furnace and then refine your pigs in an open forge...

Overman (the author of the aforelinked tome) is considered a bit less than great by some of the industrial archaeologists, but it's got some good illustrations and the crusty old so-and-so had entertaining opinions he wasn't afraid to share. For instance, he considered hot blast to be an abomination with any fuel but anthracite, and as for coked bituminous coal, well, don't get him started. If cold-blast charcoal was good enough for him, then by golly it was good enough for anyone! Good empirical observation of what ores and fuel combinations caused hot-short and cold-short iron, but no idea that phosphorus and sulfur were to blame. There's a heck of a lot to be gleaned if you have a good grasp of ferrous metallurgy to provide the why's to his what's.
Alan-L - Friday, 07/20/07 16:17:12 EDT

correction: Seems I sold Old Frederick short. I was re-reading to look at ore-washers, bloom-squeezers, and blast machines to see if I could get my terms out of 'em, and saw that he did indeed know that phosphorus caused cold-short iron and sulfur caused red-short iron, he just didn't care that much.

...And it's also only 436 pages or so, making it substantially cheaper to print.

A bloom-squeezer is what we now know as a lever press. Hydraulic presses have replaced them for forging purposes, and they don't look like a drumbum or a robit. I found a type of blast machine called a "trompe" in French, which if pronounced with the correct degree of lip-curling, vowel-swallowing frankification can sound like "drumbum," but I can't think of why one would be needed if you already have a separately listed thing called a water blast.
Alan-L - Friday, 07/20/07 18:04:10 EDT

Ahh hate to correct you there but knowing that carbon was the magic ingredient to change iron to seel dated to the 18th century. It's all there in " Sources for the History of the Science of Steel: 1532-1786" (ISBN: 0262190419) Cyril Stanley Smith. (translations of excerpts of works on iron/steel starting in the 16th century and ending when they metaphorically slapped their foreheads and said "it's carbon!"---in 1786. Very interesting to see how strong Platonic Idealism was back then---steel being considered a more refined-perfect form of iron.

Also "Steelmaking before Bessemer; vol I Blister Steel; vol II Crucible Steel"

Thomas P - Friday, 07/20/07 18:28:50 EDT

Yes, SOME people agreed with that in 1786 (good year overall), but the esteemed Mr. Overman was not one of them. Read and see. For a guy with the apparent understanding of chemistry he had, he did not apply what he preached. I did err in saying "they" did not know, what I should have said was "it was known but Mr. Overman either did not believe or did not care."

The addendum to that volume, titled blah blah blah "on the making of Steel" blah blah, continues the Platonic ideal. He dances all around carbon being the magic, but in the end it escapes him, some 65 years after the definitive fact. This is one reason among many he's not held in the highest regard.

I have to have a grudging love/hate relationship, though, as he was too hard-headed to accept evolving practice in anything but foundry work. I appreciate the hard-headedness of empirical observation, but have to slap my own literal forehead at the wilfull ignorance of some of the crustier generations. This is spoken with a somewhat rueful grin, as at the ripe old age of 37 I am considered somewhat of a codger by many slightly youger people I know. It comes of living in the past as a profession, I suppose. (grin!)

Now then, I can't believe that you, Sir Thomas, being a good Irish lad, can't convince NASA that your printing of this volume could do anything but help the VLA; and that not only should they let you print it on their paper and toner, but they should in fact pay you for the privilege!

One of these days I WILL have a copy of all the volumes of "Steelmaking before Bessemer". I just don't at the moment.
Alan-L - Friday, 07/20/07 21:39:27 EDT

Rosetta forge: Now I'm certain smarter minds than mine have thought of this but if bloomery inventories were compared a drumbum and robit may be narrowed down to what is missing?
JimG - Friday, 07/20/07 22:42:11 EDT

drumbum and robit: Have any of You speculated that drumbum and robit might have been the manufacturers of whatever thing this was, and somebody wrote that down because those were the words on it or what it was called? Sort of like calling a forklift a Towmotor ?
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/20/07 23:35:30 EDT

Jim, the trouble is the inventories are identical in the census and in the deed books in the 1820s-1840-ish. I need to get hold of the 1840 and 1850 censuses, at least the manufacturing schedules. That means a trip down to Knoxville and some hours in front of the microfilm reader, unfortunately. I'm doing this project on my own time, so that's out for a while.

And Dave, all the bloomeries produced was wrought iron bar. If it had been the furnace inventories, I could see it being something more related to casting. Whatever it is, it's listed as a machine in the census schedules and deed books of the 1820s, not as a product. There's a separate column for product, in this case bar iron and hoop iron. Speaking of hoop iron, maybe it's an early version of a ring roller for wagon tires? That would be something the bloomeries made that the furnaces did not. Hmmmm, you may be onto something, thanks for the metaphorical whack upside the head!
Alan-L - Saturday, 07/21/07 09:12:50 EDT

I was thinking of checking inventories of bloomeries from other places and countrys and comparing them against the inventories you have. Form follows function and I think there would be similarities in equipement needed. I keep hearing drumbum as drumpump like a chain pump used on ships in the same time. Not sure why it would be together with a rowboat though.
JimG - Saturday, 07/21/07 10:29:16 EDT

Many did not travel well or become adopted right away. Often it was lock of education and ignorance (still a lot of that around) and often it was just lack of transferal and broad publication, thus acceptance. And there is the tradition and being stuborn. . . new discoveries rarely replace what people learned in school and continue to teach to others . . .

Today with better communication information spreads faster than it used to but bad information spreads just a fast as good. Look at how often our public news media, History Channel and other public sources of information are WRONG, much less what you find on the Internet . . .
- guru - Sunday, 07/22/07 11:02:24 EDT

I lucked out with "Steelmaking Before Bessemer" I was Ric Furrer's gofer when he did the 3 ways of making steel at Quad-State one year and he mentioned it as a source. When I got home from Q-S I went online and ordered the only used copy of vols 1 & 2 that was available---still wearing my coat from my drive home.

Books can be addictive as forging and are good for too hot/cold/wet/tired times when forging is contra indicated.

Thomas P - Sunday, 07/22/07 14:23:13 EDT

Plato argued that writing would destroy the peoples ability to memorize. But little did he know that knowledge would outreach the memory capacity of most and that books would be the intelligent person's memory back-up and source of education. Books have also made Plato imortal. They also transmit information from one generation to another more accurately than by word of mouth and let that knowledge skip generations in many cases.

I'm constantly buying books, often on tangential subjects or the subject of the moment. The other day I ordered several books on Ancient Greek literature and last night a couple on Holtzapffel lathes.
- guru - Monday, 07/23/07 09:12:38 EDT

Books and lathes: Dover reprinted the five volumes on turning written by the Holtzapfels a few years back; I have the first three and sold the last two. They should still be available cheap, I don't think I paid more than $8 new or used for any of them. I sold the last two volumes to a used book dealer because they were not written by John Jacob. Charles couldn't write his way out of an open paper bag, and if there's any subject that is not improved by incomprehensiblely poor instructional writing technique it's gotta be ornamental lathe work.
Alan-L - Monday, 07/23/07 10:07:21 EDT

But how many books on Holtzapffel lathes are there written in Ancient Greek?

I'm currently trying to talk my wife into getting rid of our duplicate books to free up some shelf space for the stuff still in boxes.

When I was packing up for the last move I realized that for a lot of my research library I was looking at about US$1000 per shelf to replace the books if anything happened. I had got them *much* cheaper; but over a 30 year span of library sales, used book stores, garage sales even some given me by a metallurgist who wanted his older texts to go to someone who would use them.

Luckily only your friends ever steal your books; theives only trash them when they find out you own *nothing* *they* consider of *value*.

Thomas P - Monday, 07/23/07 10:23:43 EDT

Books: With books the only thing I worry about is fire, or natural disaster . . . especially since many cannot be replaced at any price (some might at ridiculous prices). AND insurance companies will generally NOT pay more than original cost. I've stopped loaning books years ago. If you want to use my library you have to use it here.

The prices of many out of print and rare editions has skyrocketed. Books I paid what I thought was an outrageous $50 for just a few years ago are now going for four and five times that IF you can find them. A lot of my books are also hardback editions that are harder to find in many cases.
- guru - Monday, 07/23/07 10:50:14 EDT

Books: Alan-L, the last time I checked both volumes of Steelmaking before Bessemer were still available from TMS - The Metallurgical Society in Great Britain. As I remember, their web site was a bit funky, but doable if you were persistent. I went there to buy copies after Thomas beat meet to the used ones after Quad State. As I remember, the new ones weren't that much more than the used set. Of course thatt was several years back before the pound & Euro started appreciating against the dollar so much.

Thomas, for the latest book to drool over, (figuratively, definitely not literally) check out and The Churburg Armoury - 200 close-up photos of objects, mostly armour, from the armoury. Not quite as pricey as The Knight and the Blast Furnace, coming in at around $190 with shipping. Limited edition printing of 2000 volumes - gorgeous photos. The only complaint, is that sometimes the photographer set the photos up for aestheic purposes rather than what a reenactor might have chosen.
- Gavainh - Monday, 07/23/07 12:26:07 EDT

Gavainh, at the moment they only have a few of volume 2, at 54 each. At today's exchange rate of 1 = $2.05, that's $110.70 not including shipping, etc. I think I'll just call Ric F. if I need to know anything specific from said books...

Dang, the pound hasn't been this high since the late 1970s. The Canadian dollar is worth 95 cents! And with the Euro at $1.38, some friend who just got back from a European trip said it's no fun anymore because the dollar is so weak.
Alan-L - Monday, 07/23/07 15:17:17 EDT

Alan-L, that sounds about right for the price in British pounds. I've noticed though, that books of the type we're discussing tend to linger out-of-print for extended times - frustrating when you discover them and then find they're out-of-print and you can't locate a copy. Almost as frustrating as having finally located a copy and gritted your teeth and paid the high price to discover that it's being re-issued 2 months from now.

Makes me envy Yosemite Sam's method of expressing frustration:)
- Gavainh - Monday, 07/23/07 23:18:13 EDT

Something different: Sorry if this has already been brought to the anvilfire community, but I have recently been enjoying the entries for "blacksmith" etc. on It's some pretty interesting stuff!
- Dan P. - Tuesday, 07/24/07 10:44:23 EDT

in particular: particularly enjoying the flip up hardy;,M1
and the drill'n'tongs (just what i always wanted!);
Dan P. - Tuesday, 07/24/07 11:23:44 EDT

Hmmm any "oliver" or treadle hammer patents?

Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/24/07 19:34:06 EDT

SW Ironwork book: A book which I co-authored with Mark Simmons, "Southwestern Colonial Ironwork" will be newly printed, and Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, says it will be out in October of this year. It is a history with photos and drawings, first published in 1980.

Demo for the general public.

I just returned from five days of County Fair blacksmithing near Denver (they paid me). It was a bit grueling, at my age anyway. 94º to 98º daily. They put up a shade for me. I hauled my forge, anvil, leg vise, and hand tools up there.

When I was whaling away on a wienie fork, a guy came up and asked me what time my act was going to start. Got a kick out of that.

A large percentage of the crowd walked on by, not noticing me at all. Part of it may be that my equipment is rusty and looked unimpressive. Some folks might have thought that I was doing har de har roadwork. A guy asked me what I was cooking. He was serious.

I think that some of what we use and do is unrecognizable to the general public. Even the anvil is like something dropped on the roadrunner. It's nobody's fault. We are removed by at least three generations of what the smith stood for.

And I was sandwiched between a large petting zoo and a face painter. Hard to compete with that!

Frank Turley - Tuesday, 07/24/07 21:19:05 EDT

Public Demos:
Frank, you should know by now there are places and there are places. Food and entertainment events are a dead end for craftfolk doing demos. Shows in parking lots are also generally dead ends unless they are high class craft shows. Any place that has stuffed animals as "fabric arts" and molded ceramic pieces from commercial molds are also non-hand craft focused. And at flea markets you get flea market prices. . .

There is a large segment of the population that just plain don't know and don't want to know and its getting worse.

Today to get the general public's attention doing a blacksmith demo you are going to need "an act", dramatic lighting, fire eating (well, at least big fires in a darkened arena and smiths that look like Chip and Dale dancers or "professional wrestlers". You are going to have to show them something they have never seen before presented like it never has before. It will also have to be fast moving and BIG! Blacksmithing as Circus. . . well . . maybe the fire eating and sword swallowing fits. . .

It could be done. I've designed the shop/stage for the purpose. Actor/demonstrator/stuntmen would have to be trained. Maybe Nippulini would consult on fire eating and showers of sparks routines. . . And yes there would still be forges, anvils and power hammers!

Kind of a blacksmith's ***dream. Fireworks (sparks) for the little kids, sweat glistening half naked men for the ladies, and some real iron to boot for the men and to keep it legitimate. And outdoors in the light of day a display of real first class ironwork of every type you can imagine.

Dazzle them with theatrical circus while educating them.

It would probably only work as an act in LasVegas. . . . But I was thinking of Williamsburg, VA.

Many years ago Beau Hickory put on demos for blacksmiths with his "golden handmaidens" made up like Hagar the Horrible's daughter in theatrical viking gear with horned helmets (that he made). They brought his drink and struck for him as well.

It will come eventually. Call me if you have the money to make it happen and need a "screen play".

- guru - Tuesday, 07/24/07 23:39:11 EDT

Blacksmithing as Circus: I'm sorry, but I cannot keep silent, and must protest! Your notion sickens me, sir.

“Craft” shows where they sell crappy birdhouses made from snow fence lathe is not the place people go to get a history lesson. There are still some historic and art shows where demonstrations hold attention because of the audience that chose to attend. There is a local Apple harvest festival, the former, where people don’t even bother to stop to watch them press fresh cider; then there is an arts festival, the latter, where a guy demo’s glazing pottery w/ copper, and the effects of the oxidation thereof – three deep all day log!

A really good place to see early PA history and culture linked below, comming up soon:
Goschenhoppen Folk Festival
- Dave Leppo - Wednesday, 07/25/07 07:32:43 EDT

Frank's book and demos: Glad to hear it's getting reprinted. Maybe I'll be able to afford a copy now! (grin!)

I quit doing demos for the general public years ago. Too much trouble to haul heavy equipment around only to stand in the heat answering uninformed questions all day while never selling a thing. I will and do demo for other smiths.

Frank's comment about the guy who asked what's cooking reminds me of one my wife got while weaving at a historic house museum: She was sitting at the loom, weaving away, when this family of three came and stood at the rope for several minutes without saying a word. She smiled and kept on weaving, pleased they were interested and knowledgeable enough to know what was going on. Then the father asked "When is the music gonna start?" Turns out they thought the loom was some sort of primitive piano/organ hybrid.
Alan-L - Wednesday, 07/25/07 09:05:09 EDT

Frank's demo.: Re the fair demo, there was a plus side. I like horses and was able to witness lots of 4-H horse activity in the riding ring while forging. Got to see some big draft horse activity (non 4-H) with lots of shiny, chromed tack.

I enjoyed the kids and the petting zoo, and gave the owner a pony shoe, the first thing that I made. The petting zoo was run by a woman who had three teenage female helpers. They did everything, even sledge hammered, roustabouted the tent.

The fair furnished an air conditioned lounge (not a bar), a room where we could go at will, and take our turn at watermelon slices, sandwiches, bakery goods, water, and soda pop.

I was able to see some of the stage acts, such as a comedic hypnotist, a comedic juggler, and a kung fu martial arts demo.

I didn't go on any of the rides, praise be.

My old horseshoer friend, Lloyd, got in touch, so the last two evenings I got to spend with him, his wife, and their chuck wagon friends. I was invited to a BarBQ that turned out to be a largely Dutch Oven meal. That was larrupin'! I gave the host and hostess a BarBQ fork and spoon that I had made at the fair.

On the second day, I chalked an ad for Turley Forge School on the side of the hood. I got at least three bites, where the folks were very interested in my brochure and the school.

I understand where Nip is coming from, but I think there can be a happy medium. I probably won't do this again, but if I do, I'll wear a neck mike and tell 'em to "Get it while it's hot", etc, give 'em a little corn to crack. I would also paint my equipment, maybe silver colored. A nice display board with prepared stuff for sale could work.

Finally, I don't think that I'm going to sell many fireplace tools in 98 degree weather.

Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/25/07 10:10:52 EDT

SWABA does a demo at the NM State Fair; we're set up on a nice shady street on the way to the livestock barns. The SWABA large demo trailer is very nice with two forge stattions and a "back room" to store stock and stuff that the crowd does not have access too. Between the two stations is a counter and around it and on the two large swinging doors is display space for items for sale.

I think the "livestock" crowd is a bit more Blacksmith oriented than the "rides" crowd and there are enough people going by that even if the interested fraction is small it turns out to be a lot of people.

I enjoy doing demos and bantering with the crowd; the first year I participated I didn't have anything to sell but what I made on site and it still worked out pretty well for me. The second year I more than broke even including renting a hotel room for me and my wife and gas, food, etc---not bad for a hobby smith.

I hope to go this year; not much stock again but I may have one high dollar item for display/sale.

The fair has a "no knives" policy which cuts into my strong suite heavily and I guess would include the pattern welded pizza cutter...

Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/25/07 10:58:28 EDT

Power Hammer School Drawing:
The Power Hammer School is holding a drawing for a 2 day class. Just send a 4 x 6" post card to enter. Its a $575 value. Click link for details.
Win a 3day Power Hammer Class
- guru - Wednesday, 07/25/07 11:18:56 EDT

You can have anything in the world-- except understanding. Lotsa people go their whole lives and never learn to see what they are looking at. I think Kris Kristofferson did a song about this. But at least you got some of 'em to look, Frank. Maybe the light bulb switched on later.
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 07/25/07 11:24:02 EDT

Power hammer for sale: 200 lb Beudry in very good condition. 1924 model with speed reduction pulley on the side. Three phase low rpm motor, new belt and new wedges. Pictures on request. Located in Charlottesville, VA, Assistance with loading available. Asking price $5500.
- Dale Morse - Wednesday, 07/25/07 18:13:19 EDT

Dale, it helps to leave some kind of contact information when selling something.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/25/07 19:44:30 EDT

Anvilfire 10th anniversary Hammer-In:
2008 will be anvilfire's 10th year on-line and we are going to celebrate! We are already lining up demonstrators and have commitments from Big BLU hammers and Josh Greenwood. If you are interested in demonstrating please let us know. We will expand demos/classes to 2 days if there is enough interest. There will be sufficient forges and equipment on-site to support numerous activities.

This event will be held in Boonville, NC. The location is very convenient to several Interstates (I77 10 miles, I74 15 miles, I40 30 miles) and numerous motels and restaurants.

We have space for vendors and tailgaters however, it MAY be limited to about a dozen. Please let us know if you are coming so we can reserve space and advertise that you will be here.

On Sunday Morning we will have a "Poor Widders" auction of some of Paw-Paw's tools, books and military memorabilia.

anvilfire/CSI hammer-in
- guru - Thursday, 07/26/07 11:44:05 EDT

Hammer-In APRIL 18-20, 2008!:
Whoops! Left off the date! Its on the flyer and CSI page.

Note that there is a PDF flier that prints well. Feel free to distribute them. The flyer will be updated as details are set. A schedule and auction list will be added as a second (back) page.
- guru - Thursday, 07/26/07 11:52:54 EDT

CSI Hammer-IN: I might actually make it to this one. I think my brother is going to be moving to the Chapel Hill area around the end of the year, so I might schedule a visit with him to coincide with the Hammer-In. I'll know more around Thanksgiving, I suppose.

If I can make it, I'd be willing to demo anything within my scope, as long as the necessary equipment is on hand. Since I'll be flying from here, I'll be rather limited on what I can bring with me, besides te Cruzan Blackstap rum, of course.

It should be fun!
vicopper - Thursday, 07/26/07 12:52:44 EDT

We've got multiple sets of tools. Spare anvils (no Nimbas. . ) Big BLU brings most of what they need. We may have more mechanical hammers on site and even another air hammer. I will be moving and setting up equipment fairly constantly between now and then.

We have about double the indoor space that Ken has (40 x 60 with about 40 x 40 open). There is also a (16 x 20) covered car port and an acre of graveled drive. There is overflow parking on a neighbor's lot so we can make the best use of our space. The big indoor space will be setup for for the three primary demos and we should have room to seat 75 indoors plus standing room for another 30. Rain is the big unknown. With the crowd divided in thirds (1 part at demos, 1 tailgating, and one coming/going/talking) we should be able to handle 300 with parking being the tight spot. If more come we will setup forges in the driveway. . .

We are asking for RSVP's so we can plan. But have thought about advanced registration with a small fee for that. The big difference in planning is if demos need to be concurrent and repeated or sequential and only repeated on demand. Lots of details to work out but we have thought about this for some time.
- guru - Thursday, 07/26/07 13:31:31 EDT

Thomas' no-knife fair: For small stuff to sell in a no-knife venue, how about drawing down some bits of pattern welded billet down to about 20 gage or so and shaping them into curious shapes polishing, etching and attaching earring studs or ear wires? Seems like it wouldn't be too hard to make interesting pattern welded earring danglies. (At least once you've got the billet.)

You'd probably have to include a card telling them to wipe 'em down with mineral oil when they take 'em off, so they won't be ticked next year. . .
John Lowther - Thursday, 07/26/07 17:24:01 EDT

Fairs: A few years ago I was traveling down I-35 in Iowa, when I spotted a sign for historic blacksmith shop. My wife and I pulled in and were shown the Quasdorf Blacksmith Shop, in Dows, Iowa. I answered questions on what some items were, as the historical society didn't know. After they found out that I had a full time shop for 10 years, they invited me to be the town blacksmith for their "Corn Days" the following weekend. We parked our trailer behind the shop in a little park, and opened up for business. The building was built by Frank Quasdorf's father in about 1899. It is a dandy 2 bay shop with a basement main floor, and upstairs. When his father had a heart attack in the '30s, he came home and ran it, even though he was an electrical engineer. He ran it up until he died in the '90s, and literally handed the keys to the historical society, the day before he died. What is unique is that nothing has been taken away, as is so many times the case. If you could find a customer base, you could earn a living out of the shop from day one. The upstairs was for making wheels, and then passing them down where the wagons were built.
I looked through the stockroom, and he had drawers full of repair parts for crescent wrenches.
I had a good time, and went back the following summer again. A lot of locals visited the shop, as they remembered when it was still open.
There are pretty good pictures in
- Loren T - Thursday, 07/26/07 19:02:44 EDT

No knife fair: Tai Goo, in his early days of forge work, told me that he made "executive paper weights", pattern welded.
Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/26/07 19:04:29 EDT

Hey this is a hobby---I want to do things I want to do not what I can do! I do take billets with problems and creatively reuse them---some of my hammers have patternwelded wedges in them...

Thomas P - Thursday, 07/26/07 19:21:57 EDT

repair parts for crescent wrenches!: Loren T, I have been looking for the 'guts' to two old Crescent wrenches I have. They are perfectly good tools, and I hate to throw them out. That shop sounds like fun just to stand in and look!

- Mark Singleton - Friday, 07/27/07 00:58:26 EDT

Mark, The industrial hardware dealer I used to buy from was a Crescent(tm) brand dealer and had parts for their wrenches. The same place stocked replacement springs for Vise-Grips(tm) as well.
- guru - Friday, 07/27/07 10:26:05 EDT

Thomas: It was just a suggestion. . .

Since the idea wandered past, my imagination has been conjuring up images of pattern-welded earrings and bracelets and broaches and. . . I might actually have a go at 'em, though I think I'd use pure nickel & mild steel, rather than something appropriate for knives. . .
John Lowther - Friday, 07/27/07 14:00:20 EDT

Earrings and Vice Screws: My original interest in blacksmithing came from research into color case hardening to use on jewelery. I had thought I would make some little twisted rainbow colored earrings for my girlfriend. Never did. But you never know where research will lead you.

In our recent discussion into vices and vice screws we discussed various thread types. I just bought two wood working vises (like the old Record brand) with the quick adjustment action. They use a half nut and a ratchet thread that is much like a buttress thread except it is sharp (45 and 90 degrees). Another example of non-standard vice threads.

One odd (cheap) feature of the Chinese vices is the screw handles have a threaded on end. The end is threaded through and glued onto a long set screw which is then threaded into the end of the handle. This technique is used in two places where most manufacturers (since the 1800's) would have used a little screw machine part.
- guru - Friday, 07/27/07 16:16:57 EDT

Chinese vises and Pattern-welded joolry: Our Asian brethren include a few other features in their vises that swivel and rotate. The fixing bolts that hold the vise in the horizontal position you swiveled it to are cast, and crack like peanut butter cookies. The weld that secures the front jaw to the barrel is made of Silly Putty and that jaw will crack off at the slightest stress. The prong in the aft end that makes the whole thing spell Mother when you rotate it in the vertical axis and tighten is not the forging it should be but instead is a casting made of papier mache and will snap at the slightest stress. The "anvil" is a separate thin plate cotter pinned and Bondoed to the thin cast iron shell, which will crack at the slightest impact. There is a reason these things sell for $35 instead of the thou or so they would cost if U.S.-built.
There abounds a trove of pattern-welded jewelry in the craft art world. Guy in Laramie, Wyoming, forget his name, is doing beeyootiful stuff, moku game. Also, see:
Miles Undercut - Friday, 07/27/07 23:11:20 EDT

wrench parts, again...: yup, years ago when I worked in a 'real' hardware store, we sold replacement parts for crescent wrenches, right next to new ones. the old timers I ask know they USED to be available, but no one can seem to lay their hands on them anymore. I had a real cooperative tool store here in my city look into it for me, and they were told they are simply not available anymore. Of course, they ARE out there somewhere, but finding which dusy shelf has what I need is the hard part!!
Mark Singleton - Friday, 07/27/07 23:15:00 EDT

Sounds like you are building a vice out of brazing or Ni weld; but don't hold it in tell us what you really feel about the chinese vices!

Thomas P - Saturday, 07/28/07 14:07:43 EDT

Thomas-- I am not making vises. The Chinese, however, are pretending to, and have captured the market with their fake-believe tools. I defy you to find a new U.S.-made vise on the shelf in a hardware store or on line. I left out an ingredient in that cast prong in the aft end: test results are not yet in but I suspect it's JB Weld. Suggestion: let's set up a lab and put this junk through some stress testing a la Consumer Reports.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 07/28/07 19:16:47 EDT

Chinese "crap": The people who should be tarred & feathered arn't the chinese, but those who speck out and decide the price range they are willing to pay the chinese to make it. That vise that would cost a tho if made in the US, would probably cost 400 to make here. The chinese could make it equally well for 75 bucks and it could retail here for $300. Good profit and good value, but they know they couldn't sell a lot of them. So they pay the chinks $7 for a piece of shit and sell loads of them for $35 and make plenty. It is probably a good thing that few importers are specifing high quality products, it would take the profit out of quality production for everyone else.
- Dave Boyer - Saturday, 07/28/07 22:27:47 EDT

Chinese Vises (vices):
The woodworking vises (I bought two) are replacement versions for the British 'Record' brand which made some of the worlds finest woodworking tools and is now out of business. Now I wish I had bought that beautiful set of chisels I was drooling over in the Garrett-Wade catalog 20 years ago. . . In fact I just looked at their current catalog and it is a ghost of its former self. . too many quality manufacturers gone forever.

The vices I bought were being sold by a woodworking specialty store and seem to be very high quality except for the couple little minor shortcuts. There is no shortage or iron or steel and no evidence of the caseing being puttied up. I do not think you will EVER see a vice handle with both ends upset ever again unless you make it your self.

Some things made in China are made quite well. However, others that LOOK identical can be absolute junk. It is a real gamble and a problem the Chinese will have to sort out before their products are generally respected.

Remember when "Made in Japan" meant "junk"? I KNOW Miles is old enough. Then there came that 1980's pop-culture line in the last Back to the Future movie, "All the best stuff is made in Japan, Doc". And they were right. . . US quality had not improved but Japanese quality had skyrocketed to amazing heights.

This happened because the Japanese government MADE it happen. Products HAD to be good. Products could NOT be an embarrassment to the nation. And they knew that high quality products SELL. Still do, always will.

It is something the US needs to re-learn.
- guru - Sunday, 07/29/07 09:15:30 EDT

Guru, I would offer that American products are very nearly at the quality of the Japanese stuff, and sometimes the Japanese stuff IS American made. Just because the car has a Japanese name does not mean it is made in Japan. Also I look for the Japanese to have fits as they are moving huge amounts of production into China.
Ptree - Sunday, 07/29/07 09:29:14 EDT

Japanese Chinese-made: Jeff,

I think what will happen with the Japanese moving production to Chinia is that youwill soon see a marked rise in the quality of Chinese manufactured goods.

In the US, our automobile industry sat on its collective ubtt and did nothing to miprove, ini fact slid downhilll ini terms of quality of both engineering and manufacture, until the Japanese took a major share of their market away from them. Tis was because the Japanese enforced quality standards much higher than Detroit's, and the buying public IS willing to pay for quality. With the US auto industry in decline, it made sense for the Japanese to move Productio nto the US wherre there were traiined workers who only needed to be shown wnat quality was in order to do a quality job. Now we have US-made Japanese cars of high quality, and better quality American cars than we had for years.

When the Japanese move production to China, they will begin to enforce their quality standards, and the Chinese, no slouches at learning, will quickly adapt and begin to produce quality products to compete with anything that the Japanese produce. That will spread to more and more of Chunese manufacturing and the low-price crap will fade form the market to some extent.

There will always be a market for crap, though. There are too many people who look only at price when shopping, and the manufacturers will always be willing to pudt their least-qualified workers to operate their most out-dated equipment to produce crap for morons who want crap. There is something for everyone in this world.
vicopper - Sunday, 07/29/07 12:36:15 EDT

Guru-- for the record, I am same age as I think Frank is, 29 on our last birthdays-- same as before and, I hope, 29 again next birthday. Picasso, not to liken myself to him in any way, mind you, said you can be any age you want. He chose to be 30. Me, I like 29.
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 07/29/07 15:50:58 EDT

Miles, my mother had her second 29th birthday about 60 years ago, and is still able to out garden most first 29th'ers I know :)
Ptree - Sunday, 07/29/07 17:08:38 EDT

Vicopper,I agree that the japanese can teach the chinese what an American named Deming taught them right after WWII. The big difference is that there is no rule of law in China, and counterfit parts will be the big problem. Along with junk knock offs of everything that is made in China.

I get an interesting e-mail update on recalls from the CPSC almost daily. Most are for childrens toys and jewerly with lead or chocking issues, but aut also a fair number of counterfitr items that were poorly made and hurt folks. Friday it was lithium batteries, marked as Panasonic, and like 95% o0f the total recalls, made in China. Imagine a flashlight that explodes in your hand with enough force to cut you! Also counterfit lithium batteries in R/C airplanes that explode just as you are launching them, right by you ear! Both brought to you by the fine folks in China Inc.
Ptree - Sunday, 07/29/07 17:14:30 EDT

True age: I kinda like 18 is you are going to pick a number.
- guru - Sunday, 07/29/07 21:03:41 EDT

The china syndrome: One thing you have to realize about china is that there is every conceivable level of quality available in that country. Most of our experiences are with the junk tools that are mass marketed, but don't think they don't know how to make good stuff.

I saw many state of the art factories while I was there. I saw factories still using 50 year old machines too....and I've seen photos of dirt floor shops beating stuff out on tree stumps & using crude rotary tables & mig welding with no eye protection. I've watched the latest robots using lasers to trim & mark parts & in the next room watch women using tooth brushes to clear parts from punch presses (their hands right there in the works as they punched out parts).

The bottomm line is the quality is already there in china. Time & the market will ferret out the lesser shops selling the true junk one of these days. Then the really poor stuff will be flooding in from India & pakistan insead of china & china will join the ranks of japan, korea, & Taiwan as being known as quality tool providers.

I got told the other day I'll probably be going back to china in september. I'm not exactly thrilled.
- Mike Sa - Sunday, 07/29/07 22:56:16 EDT

China: I have a Phase II brand rotary table made in china in 1984. That is a while ago. True it isn't as good as the best ever made hear, but it is a good middle of the road quality tool, at a really good price, and I know MSC marked it up plenty.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 07/29/07 23:07:33 EDT

Dave, I believe that table was made in Taiwan. . not positive. We bought several pieces of machinery and tools during that period and I think the stuff was all Taiwanese. But I could not swear to it. Sure came in beautifully fitted exotic wood boxes.

Now I DO remember that the collet set for the mill was made in Spain. So I could be wrong. I did not unpack all the equipment.
- guru - Monday, 07/30/07 08:19:54 EDT

Miles; I will try to always think of you as being one year younger than Picasso.

Unfortunately I too remember when "made in Japan" meant junk---and when people used to brag about getting 100,000 miles out of a car. Then imported cars started churning out 200,000 milers on a pretty regular basis and it was catch-up time. One thing a lot of folks don't realize is that labour in Japan is more expensive than labour in America, they had to figure out ways to increase productivity and quality to compete.

Being an Ex Bell Labs guy I have a copy of "Statistical Quality Control" and know Deming's story well.

Counterfitting is a major issue with China and the mind set that "if I didn't get caught it's OK" goes with it. I've read of counterfit airplane parts that had run of the mill steel bolts stamped as special alloy, special heat treat, bolts. They made a mint on those and who cares if an airplane or two falls out of the sky...

We may be back to 100% inspection and careful tracking of parts from start to finish---puttting the expense back on us rather than the counterfitters.

Thomas P - Monday, 07/30/07 11:54:12 EDT

US Vises: Landmesser Tools actually featured US made vises in the last flyer I got from them. They were pricy but they do exist. Two different brands offered yet! I tossed the flyer as there was nothing I needed from it at the time (last month)but they do have a website. I tend to buy old US vises when I see them and clean them up as time allows.
- SGensh - Monday, 07/30/07 12:54:30 EDT

Counterfeit Products: Thomas P,

I've had the misfortune of seeing the aftermath of this type of counterfeiting. Last year there was a massive failure in one of the steam lines in a power plant in China that a licensee of my company had built. The failure resulted in at least 2 deaths as well as several people being critically injured.

Subsequent investigation determined that the pipe was counterfeit. It had been produced at a Chinese pipe mill, who then sent it to a second Chinese "pipe producer", who allegedly did some type of heat treatment before selling it to a third Chinese "pipe company" who polished the OD and sized the ends.

The pipe was the shipped to a company in the US that then certified the pipe as "Made in USA" and then sold it to the fabrication shop that formed it into the steam line for the power plant. Unfortunately it appears that some companies even in the US are willing to falsify all of the origin and tracking data on a part in order to make a quick buck, sometimes with tragic results.
Steven Galonska - Monday, 07/30/07 14:08:50 EDT

It seems as if in the near term, the quality stuff from China is going to have to come from vertically integrated companies.
Caterpillar, for instance, has a good dozen factories now in China, including their own hydraulic hose factory. That way, they keep tabs on the hoses from start to finish, and keep counterfeits out of the factory new stuff, anyway. Replacement parts are another story, although I would guess if you bite the bullet and buy em at a Cat dealer, you can usually get the good stuff.

The japanese are actually keeping a lot of their R&D, and their high end, specialised manufacturing, in Japan, and only doing the lower end, easier stuff in China, unlike us, who are content to send everything over there.
For instance, Hitachi makes their most expensive machines only in Japna, but churns out lots of the little, construction site excavators in China.
Similarly, Honda is keeping production of its high end cars in Japan, and starting a new, yet to be named brand of cheap, small cars, to be built, and, hopefully, sold, in China.

I wonder about Boeing, myself, which is changing from a company that made airplanes to a company that assembles parts it buys from others- while there may be short term profit in this, I see Caterpillar's model of keeping production inhouse, world wide, as much smarter in the long run- but hey, what do I know? I am sure no CEO- my wife is the president of our company.
- ries - Monday, 07/30/07 14:39:06 EDT

The keeping it "in-house" does not necessarily work with the Chinese. They built at least one "clone" automobile plant of one being built by the Japanese. This included ever part, piece, machine and the automobile design, dies and molds. A lot of folks were upset when the very slightly modified Chinese version was unveiled. WHAT Chinese sales?

- guru - Monday, 07/30/07 18:12:54 EDT

Vise Grip Springs: When I first got into this racket, replacement springs for 11R vise grips were $.15 each (the 70's). The last time I bought one it was $.85. The price of the vise grip itself has gone from $1.95 to $16.50.

On another matter, I have Comcast Internet, and when I go to Anvilfire at home, it shuts down the internet connection and disconnects it. I don't have any problem at work, where we have Verizon. Any Ideas?
- Loren T - Monday, 07/30/07 19:31:31 EDT

Jock: Phase II was to original line of Chinese tooling that MSC and the other tooling distributers carried in the '80s. As far as I know it was the some of the first machine shop gear to come from Mainland China.
- Dave Boyer - Monday, 07/30/07 22:09:20 EDT

Lorn T - Comcast: I don't know what is the matter, I am posting this on a Comcast hookup. I havn't had a problem like You described.
- Dave Boyer - Monday, 07/30/07 22:19:39 EDT

Loren, I suspect you have some odd ball security settings that do not allow the banner refresh or Javascript. There is only about a 100 settings and a 100,000 combinations.
- guru - Monday, 07/30/07 23:02:58 EDT

Side Draft hood: All the talk on here a couple of weeks ago finally got me off center and I built a side draft hood based on the "super sucker" plans on this site. After 30 years of using various hood arrangements, this is a real pleasure to use. I added a flip down hood, but not really sure it is necessary. I had an existing 10 inch flue, so I modified the plans by decreasing the hood opening to correspond to the area of the 10 in flue. Here are links to a couple pics of the hood in action.
Bernard Tappel - Monday, 07/30/07 23:36:26 EDT

Bernard, could I post your photos with the hood article? It is hard to convince folks how well a side draft hood works.

I had been telling a good friend of mine about them and he just kept building bigger and smokier funnel shaped hoods. . until he saw a brick side draft work. He couldn't believe how wrong his logic had been all those years.
- guru - Tuesday, 07/31/07 07:43:07 EDT

SPC and automotive: Thomas P said "Unfortunately I too remember when "made in Japan" meant junk---and when people used to brag about getting 100,000 miles out of a car. Then imported cars started churning out 200,000 milers on a pretty regular basis and it was catch-up time."

I was a manufacturing/automation/test engineer (I held several different titles at different times) for the automotive controles devision of Eaton from the late 80's untill the late 90's. We designed and built a range of automotive controles including under the hood components like water valves, EGRs, cruise control servos and engine knock sensors as well as interior controles like switches.

The specifications for these devices are still loosly based on 100,000 miles translated to time (usually ten years)or number of cycles (a swag at the number of cycles in ten years).

SPC or not, most final assemblies are still funtionally tested on a 100% basis and you would be amazed to know how often "100% audits" (yes it's a contradiction in terms) are put in place.

Some components inherently last longer but many others come in pretty close under the wire. So, maybe they are building engines and transmissions to last for 200,000 miles but I can pretty much guarantee that after 10 years (or much sooner if you drive a lot) you're going to start having a hard time turning your lights and stuff on and off or rolling your windows down in your "big three" auto.

We also built some switches for Mitsubishi(sp?)and the specs for those were comparable but the designs and tooling were junk.

And wouldn't you know it?...I have an 2004 Dodge and the backup lights don't work when the vehicle is warm (probably the switch) and the O2 sensor keeps going out and my "Check Eng" light is always on because they tell me that it's "losing ground" someplace but they haven't been able to find it yet...Oh and the air condition went because they say the fan motor is shot...and they had to replace the whole drive shaft at about 50,000 miles.

I replaced my last vehicle (a chevy van) at just over 100,000 miles. It ran fine but if you drove on wet roads in the winter(salt), the speedometer would go crazy and then the transmission would stop shifting. Three dealers, an auto electronics place and a transmission place and NO ONE was ever able to fix it. After racking up a small fortune in motels and rental cars, I finally gave up.

If there has been any meaningful quality improvements in the automotive industry I don't see them either as a former engineer in automotive or as a consumer.

SPC and related fads have done a great job of creating jobs for people who don't really do any work though. LOL so six sigma that.
Mike Ferrara - Tuesday, 07/31/07 09:39:30 EDT

side draft: I've built a few side draft hoods based on Randy McDaniel's plans in "A Blacksmith's Primer." I eliminate the extra height and smoke shelf. The lower portion dimensions are the same as his.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 07/31/07 09:42:41 EDT

Use the photos for whatever you want.
Thanks for making this site available.
- Bernard Tappel - Tuesday, 07/31/07 09:42:59 EDT

More automotive: BTW, the Eaton devision that I worked for has since been sold to Delphi. When I left in 99 or so, there was no longer ANY US based manufacturing on the switch side of the business. It was all in Mexico with many of the fabricated parts coming from elsewhere like Korea and China.

Most of my experience with manufacturing in Mexico is that it was usually completely out of control. If a piece of automation (assembly or test) broke down, they would just shut it off and put a bunch of people at the end of the line doing manual inspections. BTW, our labor dollar content was about the same in Mexico. It just took ten times the number of people.

I spent months trying to troubleshoot some pretty severe quality problems on a blend door actuator once. The problem was two fold. The functional problems were due to contamination on a screened on potentiometer. The faulty units were boxed and shipped because the test equipment failed to catch it.

When I finally got on a plane and went to Mexico I found that the contamination was because they had stopped using lint-free applicators to apply lube to the pot (they just didn't want to) and they tossed the hair nets and other controls that they were supposed to be using (they didn't think they needed them). The test equipment wasn't working because they had assembled it wrong. Once down there it took me all of about 15 minutes to get everything squared away.

In fact, in the many dozens of quality problems that got me all expense paid trips to Mexico, only once did it take me more than about 15 minutes to solve the problem and that was because their techs had actually fried some boards in a piece of test equipment and had taken a bunch of stuff apart that they shouldn't have while looking for the problem at the wrong end of the machine.

Oh, the stories I could tell...but I don't think the Guru's server has enough memory. LOL
Mike Ferrara - Tuesday, 07/31/07 10:00:48 EDT

Jock, the chinese car you mention is a copy of a Korean built GM car, not a japanese car.
But it was built in a totally different country, by different factories and companies, than the original- so its just a simple copy. It was reverse engineered from a Korean made car, not a case of industrial espionage or suppliers selling product on their own- not that both dont happen over there. And the chinese company that built this copy sold something like 1.6 million cars last year, IN CHINA.
So chinese sales are very real, and Honda, GM, Ford, and every other car company is going after them big time.

Buick makes, and sells, more cars in China than here in the USA- aside from the rental car you got, almost none of those Chinese Buicks are coming here- fleet sales only, no dealer retail sales in the USA- the vast majority of them, including the Buick Park Avenue, which sells for $65,000, are chinese only. GM will not admit, publicly, to any chinese Buicks coming here, even though you have driven one personally, and know there are a few.

This is not to say that chinese companies dont knock off western designs all the time- of course they do.
But when a company like Cat builds Cat excavators in China, for Chinese consumption, they have found ways to keep their suppliers relatively honest, and they are doing gangbuster sales there, with a bunch of models built exclusively for china, not for export.

As the chinese market becomes more mature, they will be making better and better stuff- right now, most of the higher quality chinese products are for home use only, as we here are too cheap to buy them- for instance, the chinese make quite decent geared head drill presses in the 2 to 5hp range- but they cost from $3500 to $10,000 landed here- and we dont buy em. Instead, we buy $50 pieces of junk.
The chinese also make very nice Deckel copies- a german design of a horizontal/vertical milling machine with universal table that is generally considered the finest mill ever made (the german ones, that is) The chinese copies run about $30,000 and up- and no one, to my knowledge, has ever even tried to import any here- instead, we get $800 Rong Fu benchtop mills.

In many many categories, there are independant chinese companies making decent, if not stellar, products, that dont get sold here. Then, there are american companies, specifying and importing the cheapest, shortest life span stuff from china they can possibly get away with.

We have met the enemy, and he is us.
- ries - Tuesday, 07/31/07 10:28:38 EDT

Ries: Ya gotta love a guy who quotes Pogo!

Also, I agree with whatyou've said. I've seen some VERY high quality Chinese mad equipment, but it wasn't imported to the US,it was brought here by a couple of people who went to China on business trips.

The run-of-the-mill Chinese factory making and selling cheap knockoffs will continue to do so as long as there is a market. The same way that shoddy American manufacturers continue to put out crap that people buy. Only when the consumer refuses to buy crap and is willing to pay what quality really costs will the quality emerge.

Those who underrate the Chinese intelligence are destined for a rude awakening one day soon, just as those who underratedthe Japanese intelligence were caught unawares when Japan captured a major share of the electronoics and automotive markets.

The hubris of the average American knows no limits, I'm afraid.
vicopper - Tuesday, 07/31/07 11:39:52 EDT

looking for an anvil in Colorado: I'm looking for a small anvil for a starter in Aurora Colorado. I have my brother looking for a mini forge, he has one and knows of a few others, also looking for a line on forge fuel and iron stock.
- Les J - Tuesday, 07/31/07 12:07:27 EDT

Les what do you consider "small"?

Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/31/07 12:33:32 EDT

vise wedge system: anybody know anything about the wedge system to hold the bracket and the spring on?
- maiers - Tuesday, 07/31/07 14:23:56 EDT

Maiers, Look at our Vice FAQ. There is a photo of the U bracket and wedges. There is a stationary wedge with nubs or steps on the ends to keep it from moving. The other is the wedge. Both have tapers so that the other pieces do not.
- guru - Tuesday, 07/31/07 14:57:54 EDT

Chinese Quality: I'm just thinking out loud here, but it seems to me that Chinese companies won't be able to export quality equipment until they can establish recongizable brand names. No one's going to pay extra for quality -- or likely buy a major piece of equipment at all -- unless they know the brand.

It's got to be hard to build a brand in a country where anyone who feels like it can sell any piece of junk with your name on it. I also wonder if the still supposedly Communist government has other policies that keep companies from growing big enough to be known internationally.
Mike BR - Tuesday, 07/31/07 19:18:34 EDT

We are our own worst enemy:
THAT I whole heartedly agree to with "us" being the corporate US and the government US.

I don't WANT to buy a Japanese or Chinese made computer, camera, VCR, shoes or clothing. But that is what is in the stores. In some cases they are the best, some the worst and many there is no choice of manufacturer.

I bought American made shoes until the store I bought them from changed hands and lines of products. I have not been able to find a dealer that carries my size since. . . We TRIED buying American made cars but they had Japanese engines and Canadian bodies (no problem there). That GM rental car was ASSEMBLED in the US but most of the parts had big "Made in China" stickers.

Most Americans no longer have a choice even IF they want and look.

Soon the dumping and putting US manufacturing, and US owned manufacturing out of business will stop. Why? Because there will be none left. Watch prices THEN. Skyrocketing steel prices are just the tip of the iceberg.

- guru - Tuesday, 07/31/07 19:22:42 EDT

Colorado anvil: Les, I'm heading for the conference tomorrow morning in Carbondale. There will probably be some tailgating there, and you might find something. There will be four demonstrators at this conference.

P.S. A brochure is on the way.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 07/31/07 20:17:28 EDT

Mike, the chinese are hip to your idea already- they are building brands, both at home and here in river city.
The biggest shoe brand in China is not Nike or Addidas- its Li Ning- and they are signing world atheletes right and left to endorse their products, including american basketball players, and many olympic gold medalists.
And they will be selling Li Ning shoes, under their own name, in the USA soon enough.
Haier is one of the biggest names in appliances in China, which means it makes more reefers than any american company, more washers than maytag. And they now have 3 factories in the USA, and I see Haier advertised in my paper as a brand name nowadays.
So they are starting to build recognizable brand names, first at home, which, considering that means 1.4 Billion customers, is no small potatoes- but then exporting to third world countries, and finally to the USA and the EU.

As Satchel Page used to say- "dont look back- they may be gaining on you".

I dont believe ALL american manufacturing will leave- but many american money men are selling out for the quick buck, to Chinese, Korean, Mexican, and other foreign owners, who keep the factories, and employees, here in the USA, but take the money home.
Many many japanese, korean, and european companies have lots of US employees. The chinese are not far behind- a chinese guy is buying american driveline producers like crazy- he already is the biggest U joint maker worldwide, and american investors are happy to take cash now, instead of steady profits later.

Where I live, I am surrounded by many small american manufacturers of all kinds of things. Not giant factories, or steel mills, but small, nimble, high tech niche producers, who may employ fewer people, but who make more stuff, and more money too.

American manufacturing is changing, and the old, 100 year old model of a giant smoking block square factory, with thousands of employees, is indeed going fast. But I wear mostly american clothes, eat all local food, drive made in america cars (hondas) and have lots of other american made things- all of which cost more, and are worth more, than Walmart crap.
You pays your money, you makes your choices.

There are lots of choices out there, if you look.

To me, the bigger problem is how venture capitalists and quick buck buyout CEO's are looting american companies of cash- they take em private, by borrowing huge amounts, then pay themselves off, and leave our companies saddled with huge debt payments.
These leveraged buyouts are weakening american companies as much, if not more, than cheezy chinese imports.
As energy prices rise, and chinese wages go up, chinese products will be less competitve- but if we have bankrupted all our companies so executives can buy private jets and third and fourth houses, we wont be able to take advantage of that.
Of course, those same new billionaires contribute heavily to the political campaigns of the lawmakers- surprise, surprise, surprise.
- ries - Tuesday, 07/31/07 21:07:18 EDT

I think the question of branding was more pointed at rampant chinese counterfitting and their lack of controls/will to stop that.

Would you be willing to pay extra for quality? Yes in general; but if there was no guarentee that the "brand" being sold was the high quality version or a low quality counterfit you might be much more hesitant to fork over the money for it.

Example: I might be willing to pay large ammounts of money for a Rolex watch if sold by top of the line jewelry store; but would not buy it for much much less if offered at a fleamarket. Here I trust the store rather than the brand name.
Thomas P - Wednesday, 08/01/07 12:36:08 EDT

Two reporters working for the Philadelphia Inquirer won a Pulitzer some years back with an exhaustive series examining the vulturization of American companies and the toll that has taken on U.S.workers. The series became a book, America, What Went Wrong. Authors are Barlett and Steele. To be fair, I have had several Armitron watches that say Japan on the case but that have Chinese works. They keep excellent time, vastly better than my sons' (genuine) Rolexes.
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 08/01/07 15:00:18 EDT

Even though the chinese are the world center of counterfeit Gucci handbags and Rolex watches, they are also one of the largest markets for REAL Gucci handbags and Rolex watches.
They are currently the 3rd largest market in the world for most imported luxury goods- swiss watches, french designer clothes, Italian sports cars, and so on.
Individual chinese dont have much problem telling the difference between real and fake, as they would not be buying so much real expensive stuff if they did. I would bet they, too, trust retail stores, such as flagship Rolex and Gucci stores in China.

Most counterfeit consumer goods are not actually that hard to spot.
Its counterfeit grade 8 bolts, or nuclear grade stainless pipe, or replacement airplane parts, that are trickier, and potentially dangerous.
And the only way to ensure quality in those kinds of markets is the same way it always has been- paying attention, not expecting something for nothing, knowing who you do business with, and inspecting your purchases.
The chinese didnt invent this racket- you can go as far back as you want, and find american and even before that, british companies selling cheap imitations of military goods, industrial parts, and so on. War Profiteering, it used to be called, when the British Navy or the US government bought canned meat full of worms, or tents that leaked.
Plenty of american companies have tried to sell ordinary bolts for ten times the price as aircraft certified.

As the individual chinese companies realize the value of branding, first at home in China, and then overseas, they are demanding controls to stop it- which is the same way it happened here. Most of current US copyright law is a direct result of Disney protecting their rights to profit from Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse, not some magnanimous gesture of the US government, or some natural high moral conduct of american citizens.
Similarly, in China, big businesses, mostly homegrown chinese these days, are starting to demand brand protection, and, to some degree, getting it.

I am not a "china defender" per se, just a realist- I recognize the reasons we have the civil structure, and business based law system we have here- because there is money in it. And the basic principles apply there as well- when money starts to get big, the government hears about it. They just executed (yeah, shot in the back of the head) the head of the Chinese FDA, over the tainted toothpaste and cat food scandals. If that aint "will", I dont know what is.

Dont underestimate the chinese- they are changing faster than any country ever has in the history of the world. They want to be a player, on every level, and have the national will to do so. Even if it means shooting a few bureaucrats along the way.

The entire population of the USA is about what the rounding error is in estimating the current chinese population.
- ries - Wednesday, 08/01/07 15:47:25 EDT

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