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July 2009 Archive

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US Tool Collections: The right to keep and bear tools perhaps?
philip in china - Tuesday, 06/30/09 18:09:21 EDT

US Tool Collections and cultural differences:
I had never thought much on this subject until my Spanish teacher from Chile told me an interesting story.

Louis was from a middle class merchant family that operated a hardware store in Chile. He left Chile as a young man during the political unrest of the 1980's. After a couple years in the U,S. he was invited to a barbecue at a co-workers home. He did not know many people there and his English was still marginal, so he wandered into the garage. There he saw a collection of tools like he had never seen before. There were wrenches, pliers and hammers on pegboard hooks, power tools on shelves, shovels and garden tools. A typical suburban DIY collection.

When he got a chance he asked his host what business he was in? His weak English kept him from properly expressing his question about the tools and it was not understood. Nor would his host understand the cultural difference his question was based on.

In Chile, anyone with that many tools would have employees and a significant business. Even a well off family such as his only had a small kit of tools such as a small hammer, a pair of pliers and two types of screw drivers. And if they lived in a house with a lawn they may have also had the most minimal lawn maintenance tools, an unpowered rotary lawn mower, a spade and a hoe. Anything more would be considered a luxury. The tools he described were less than a U.S. apartment owner might have and more typical of the homeowner of the 19th and early 20th Century.

While it may be a cultural difference my local Mexican mechanic has adopted quite well with both a public and a home shop outfitted to overflowing with tools and machines.

- guru - Wednesday, 07/01/09 00:39:56 EDT

The Right to Keep and Bear Tools:
I am sure you have seen the reports after the discovery of some bomb builder's workshop. The scene of the workbench is always titled "Bomb Builders Tools". The bench always has the same common tools, a small vise, needle nose pliers, a multi-meter and coils of wire.

If this is what popular belief calls bomb builders tools imagine what weapons of mass destruction could come from the average blacksmith's shops.

While limiting tools may seem far fetched we have already seen limitations on many raw materials that can be used to easily make incendiary materials. Will tools be next. ANY shop with a small lathe and a milling machine has the capacity to make a hand gun or a rifle after using the same tools to make a rifling bench. Small rocket motors and launch tubes are not that much more difficult.

During the Vietnam war the Vietcong had shops hidden underground in tunnels all over the North and South. They made and repaired AK47's and a variety of other weapons using hand powered machine tools under the worst possible conditions.

During the American Revolution the rifle was said to have made a considerable difference in the war. Confronted against superior forces American snipers using long range weapons made life miserable for the British who were armed with smoothbore guns that required the enemy to line up in front of their liner and relied on numbers to hit anything. The superior American weapons were made in small gunsmiths shops across several states.

So maybe the "right to keep and bear tools" is not too far from the right to bear arms. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 07/01/09 02:02:06 EDT

I remember that during the Russian adventure in Afganistan, the locals were building very usable copies of British .303 Lee Enfield SMLE's in blacksmith shops. Saw it on the news:) They also were using 90mm recoiless guns, made in the US. They were packed on donkeys. They also were using AK, SKS and every other description of surplus weapon. The world is full of surplus weapons and there are arms dealers that will sell to anyone.
I am fairly sure that the goverment does not at this time have to worry about blacksmiths building arms. The average home owner has tools yes. The knowledge to use them? another story. Just look at many of the popular tools sold and the answer lies there. Battery powered adjustable wrenchs? :)
ptree - Wednesday, 07/01/09 07:43:43 EDT

Tools: I have travelled a lot over the world, and it does seem that the USA has more of a cultural acceptance of average people owning lots of tools.
In places like England or Australia, there is some of this, especially in the outback, but more often only hardcore hobby types there have many tools. Here, on the other hand, its very common in any rural part of america for the average guy to own at least a stick welder, basic construction tools, and a table saw.

We seem much more do-it-yourself about auto repair, too, although that is changing as cars become both better built and harder to work on without specialised tools.
My old 50's and 60's cars NEEDED constant maintanence- but I have had modern japanese cars that went 200,000 miles with only tires, brake pads, and maybe a battery. So if you own a Honda, your need for a timing light, an auto electrical meter, spark plug wrenches, and all the other stuff in my "auto tools" drawer is pretty minimal. My old Falcons used to go 15,000 miles between major trips to the auto parts store- I have changed more generators, starters, clutches, and distributors on old american cars than I want to remember- and never had to touch, or pay for, a single one of these things on any of the half dozen post 1990 japanese cars I have owned.

I HAVE met europeans, and even japanese, guys with huge tool collections- once met a norwegian with 5 Beche hammers- but its much, much rarer.
- ries - Wednesday, 07/01/09 09:45:58 EDT

Back in the pre-web days of rec.crafts.metalworking we discussed several times that the tools that were reported as bing proof of bomb making intent were the exactly the same ones that everyone on the news group owned. And in the days of the Patriot act it's very easy to get on a list you cannot challenge!

Shoot I used to worry as I had short lengths of pipe, caps and plugs for same and black powder and cannon fuse.

I NEVER made a pipe bomb---I had a 100 year old house that regularly scheduled plumbing failures late at night---really handy to be able to turn off the water, plug/cap the bad line, turn the water back on and do the fix in daylight when the stores were open. I also had a smooth bore falconette that we used to fire off down by the federal courthouse; but that's another story...

Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/01/09 11:30:53 EDT

Materials on Hand. . . .:
Somewhere on the stock rack we have lengths of 3" OD 3/4" DOM tube about 3 foot long. . . Could make an interesting large bore.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/01/09 15:18:58 EDT

Needs for Tools:
A lot of the suburban tool guys I've known had big collections of tools hanging on the wall that probably never got used. They may have a full mechanics set but spark plugs, shocks and some stereo work are about all the tools get used for.

But then there are the guys that really build stuff including anything from clocks to furniture to wood stoves and trailers in their home shops. Hobby smiths are in this group as well as the back yard foundry and machinists. There is a LOT going on in those shops. A small network of them could make a LOT of things.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/01/09 16:06:46 EDT

Tools: One factor that probably helps explain the relative lack of tools in developing countries is the low wages. If you can afford to buy tools, you can afford to pay someone $.50 an hour to do the work for you.

That obviously doesn't apply in Western Europe, but there's a related factor that might. Many Western European countries are more crowded than the U.S., and development is often more clustered, without the sprawling suburbs you get here. That means that fewer folks can afford single-family homes, and those that can may be rich enough to pay for work without blinking.

I'm not by any means discounting the cultural factors involved, just pointing out that there may be economic ones as well. Of course the cultural factors may vary from country to country. For example, rich Americans are likely to be proud that they worked their way up from poverty. Upperclass Englishmen may be proud that they didn't have to.
Mike BR - Wednesday, 07/01/09 18:42:06 EDT

Well having seen the difference a line in the desert can make (Mexico | USA) I'd have to say a lot of economic difference have a basis in cultural/political differences. Same folks on both sides and one side is much better off than the other!

Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/01/09 19:31:14 EDT

Tools: Mike has hit the nail on the head I think. Also attitudes vary. Here in China nobody can understand why I do most of the things I do. WHy do I make things when I could buy them ready made or, if for some strange foreign reason I want hand made, why not pay somebody to make it for me? Blacksmiths here are regarded as very low status as well so I couldn't have chosen a stranger hobby as far as the locals are concerned!
philip in china - Wednesday, 07/01/09 20:03:31 EDT

large bore: motars would be a better bet for your pipe.....just ask the ira..
- pete - Thursday, 07/02/09 08:26:32 EDT

Status and Cultural Bias have as much or more to do with it as economics. As Phillip noted the blacksmith is of low economic status in China and is also one of the lowest in India. We have also discussed here that as a manual trade it is looked down upon by many in every culture.

In other cultures the smith is of high esteem, the Greeks made him a God, Longfellow made him a heroic figure and perhaps our pioneer roots give us all the dream of being self sufficient in many ways.
- guru - Thursday, 07/02/09 10:05:14 EDT

Historically the status of the blacksmith seems to vary inversly with the prevalence of iron in the society: Societies where iron was rare the blacksmith had very high status, where iron is common they had low status.

Another example of high status smiths is the Irish tale of Cuchulain: who got his name when a smith invited the king to dinner and he accepted. (The king's smith also had a seat at the kings table as well)

Thomas P - Thursday, 07/02/09 10:42:27 EDT

Status: And then there was the professor from Nigeria where my wife used to teach who would not shake my hand after he found out I was a smith as well as an archaeologist...
Alan-L - Friday, 07/03/09 11:12:17 EDT

Alan L... It was his loss.
- Dave Hammer - Friday, 07/03/09 18:34:46 EDT

Maybe a handshake in Nigeria's a test of strength, and the professor figured discretion was the better part of valor. (Of course, I totally made that up.)
Mike BR - Saturday, 07/04/09 07:53:54 EDT

evil eye: some cultures in africa think smiths can cast the evil eye or have ties to the nether world...
- pete - Saturday, 07/04/09 08:47:23 EDT

The funny part is, I'd known him for over a year before the smithing thing came up and we got along fine. I did a demo at the school for a folk festival, and when he saw me at the anvil his eyes got as big as saucers. From that moment on he would barely even speak to me, much less shake hands.

So of course I had to put the evil eye on him, he left me no choice. (grin!)

Alan-L - Saturday, 07/04/09 10:14:57 EDT

African curses: My father served in Nigeria in the late 1940s. A witch doctor put a curse on my father. Dad died. Admittedly it took until 2003 before the curse took effect. One other amusing story relates to the coast of Gambia. The coast there is eroding for some reason. The local Masonic hall is on the coast. One of the masons who visits there occasionally is a skipper of a freighter. His ship comes down that part of the coast in ballast and he has to dump the ballast somewhere. To help prevent erosion he drops it as claose as he can get to the Masonic Hall. This has meant that whilst the coast all around is being destroyed by the sea the Hall is not. This has given credence to the widely held local belief that the local Masons have some huge occult power.
- philip in china - Saturday, 07/04/09 11:38:03 EDT

In Africa,: the smith and smelter, sometimes one and the same person, was either feared or revered depending on the tribe. Mircea Eliade discusses some of this in his scholarly, Jungian inspired work, "The Forge and the Crucible."

A few years ago, I acquired the video, "Inagina: the Last House of Iron." In it, a group of iron "makers" of the Dogon were persueded to perform an iron furnace reduction by a some French anthropologists. This had not been done in about 30 years, because at that time, 1970's-1980's, it was easier to obtain steel from the auto scrap yards. Enough ironworkers were alive who had remembered the process. It took about one month to complete the entire process, to obtain the iron from the ore. An old furnace was rebuilt; ore was mined; charcoal made. Magical ritual was part of the process. Interestingly, the 'dobe furnace had a number of tuyeres all around near the base, but no bellows was used. Apparently, once the fire was going, the blast was automatically induced. The iron produced by the Dogon was cause for joy and celebration.

In thinking about the early mindset of tribal/village people, if some men could dig up some earth, make a charcoal fire in a built furnace and see the reduction through to completion, they were truly magical: feared or revered.
- Frank Turley - Saturday, 07/04/09 11:49:59 EDT

The Magic:
Before we had science we had magic. Making steel without the knowledge of the science is truly magic. Today when an archeometallurgist builds a primitive furnace and smelts iron he does it with all the knowledge of modern chemistry and his knowledge of metallurgy. Even the simple knowledge of the components air, and the approximate process makes the task infinitely simpler than relying on doing the EXACT thing your father, grandfather and great grandfather did using methods that worked but not knowing how or why. When you know the science you can make adjustments make some confidence. You can also analyze why something went wrong and correct it the next time.

When you relied on magic or the Gods of the forge you could blame failure on the Gods and something you (or others) did to displease them. But there was no definitive reason for the failure.
- guru - Saturday, 07/04/09 19:34:23 EDT

Magic: Was it not Arthur C. Clarke who said something along the lines "that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" (not unlike the spellchecker)
JimG - Saturday, 07/04/09 23:43:15 EDT

Lincoln Buzz Box: A few days ago I was at the dumpster and spotted a Lincoln AC/DC 225/125 arc welder that had been tossed. From the visible damage, the thing appeared to have fallen off a truck speeding down the highway. The case was split, dented and mashed, panels torn completely loose, etc. The leads had been cut off as well. Still, I figured it might be useful for parts so I dragged it home.

Well, after four hours of sheet metal work, fixing a broken rotary range selector switch and soldering new leads in, I tried the thing out. It works perfectly. Not a big surprise, as these things are noted for being pretty robust, simple machines. Now it just needs one more thing to be complete: a control panel faceplate.

If someone out there has one of these AC/DC Lincoln tombstones, I would tremendously appreciate a good photo of the front panel. I need one that is taken from perpendicular to the front so that I can print it out at the right size, laminate it and put it on the machine. (All the pictures I've found on the 'net have been taken at various angles so they won't allow me to do what I need to do.)

If you can help me out, just email me the photo as a 2MP or better .jpeg and I can work from that. I'd really appreciate it!
vicopper - Sunday, 07/05/09 09:35:46 EDT

Distorted Images:
VIc, If its high enough resolution to print the angle doesn't matter. Send it to me and I can take out perspective and wide angle distortion. Curves are tough but angular images are easy to fix.

Doesn't Lincoln have a decal kit for it?
- guru - Sunday, 07/05/09 12:21:04 EDT

Jock: I can easily Photoshop out a bit of distortion if the image has sufficient resolution to accommodate some manipulation. Its just easier if I don't have to go from 30 degrees out of plane in two directions. :-) I can fix curves too, if I really have to, but they take way longer and there aren't any guarantees.

If you can manage to navigate Lincoln's horribly user-unfriendly website and find one you're a more persistent man than I am. I spent an hour and finally gave up - what a crappy parts index! Lincoln is also notorious for not supporting their products very happily. I've had two friends recently get rid of all their Lincoln equipment and replace it all with Miller simply because Lincoln wouldn't help them with repair parts. We're talking guys with eight and ten machines each totaling sixty or seventy thousand bucks worth of welders. That's how pissed they both were at the way Lincoln treated them.

If I have to, I'll wait until I'm in the States for the NEB, Guild and SOFA meets in September and go by a welding store and take a photo myself. The local store has one but they wouldn't open the box so I could take the pic. Guess who I won't deal with any longer? :-(
vicopper - Sunday, 07/05/09 20:21:27 EDT

vicopper- Lincoln parts: Rich, if You want a real Lincoln part, talk to Mrs. Lincoln herself, Kaye Sellon at Bills Welder repair. If the part is available, She will know how to find it. If not, She probably has an aftermarket source who can make the plate or a decal for one.

Phone # (405)232-4799
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 07/05/09 20:54:11 EDT

Service: Lots of resellers provide much better service than the factory. Some have better web sites, better information including all the MSDS and such.
- guru - Monday, 07/06/09 01:30:35 EDT

Spellchecker God: JimG:

The Spellchecker god is a weak deity which fails to share our wondrous and arcane vocabulary; at least Thor is honestly malevolent if he takes a disliking to you, and the Christian's God is forgiving, but this Spellchecker is like Loki: He is too, to, two clever by half! (Not to mention, his spells are weak, and he's lousy at checkers!) ;-)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 07/06/09 08:55:50 EDT

Spellchecker God:
He/she/it also has a poor vocabulary.
- guru - Monday, 07/06/09 09:27:45 EDT

Guru---of coure it is highly humerous to watch such metallurgically knowledgable folks do their first smelting or forging as they *always* seem to goof it up the first time.

Thomas P - Monday, 07/06/09 11:48:19 EDT

"This has given credence to the widely held local belief that the local Masons have some huge occult power. "

If that were true, I would not still be working for a living. :)
- Brian C. - Monday, 07/06/09 21:25:18 EDT

Still looking: I'm still looking for a decent picture of the control panel of a Lincoln AC/DC 225amp tombstone buzz box. If anyone has one of these I'd really appreciate it if you'd email me a picture of the control panel. Thanks!
vicopper - Monday, 07/06/09 22:01:17 EDT

Got one: Got the picture I needed, got all the Photoshop work done and it'll work just dandy. Probably won't fool Lincoln, but it sure will serve the required purpose.
vicopper - Wednesday, 07/08/09 00:46:07 EDT

Magic: So my wife has gotten me into yoga. I was surprised to find that it was a heck of a workout and that it's slowly fixing my back as long abused muscles move back to where they should be. Anyway, in class this evening my instructor (who knows what I do for a living) asked why the sweat on my arms was green. I looked down, saw that they were indeed covered in blue/green sweat, looked back at her and said "Magic." She responded "Ah, something to do with metal" and moved on. I didn't get a chance to tell her that I'd been grinding/polishing hunks of forged bronze all day long and that my forearms probably had some dust on them.
Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 07/08/09 19:56:36 EDT

Chinese pictograms: My brother has a Malaysian friend with a PhD in electronics. I asked Tim to ask Ken what is the Chinese pictogram for 3 phase power. Tim has replied that he will but that from memory he thinks it is a blacksmith with his hair and clothes on fire. So that set me wondering about what would be suitable pictograms for other words. A blacksmithing customer should be a person (probably a woman) with empty pockets, dreams and no ideas. Any other ideas?
- philip in china - Thursday, 07/09/09 04:11:58 EDT

Judson, I'm a big fan of yoga too! My company offers 2 one hour long classes a week free and our instructor is VERY GOOD working with folks who have problems. A bad instructor can make things worse!

You should have told her "Don't make me angry; you wouldn't like me when I'm angry!"

Thomas P - Thursday, 07/09/09 10:50:51 EDT


I am cleaning out some tools I no longer want or need.

I have a 14" Prima shaper. This machine has a 3 phase motor. I never used it, though it was used regularly from the friend who sold it to me. He runs his shop on line shaft and replaced the shaper with a planer. I don't have 3 phase and intended to switch the motor with a single phase unit, but couldn't figure out how to put a singe phase motor in the housing designed for the OEM motor. The motor is 2 or 3 HP and could be run from a phase converter. The shaper will need a good cleaning and the moter will have to be re-installed. Other than that it should be in good shape. It is equipped with a shaper vise.

I also have a 14" Racine power hacksaw. The saw does work and I have used it, but have not been satified with it's performace on larger solid stock. The machine really needs a good overall to work properly. I know the lifter mechanizm is worn the point that the blade does not lift out of the cut on the return stroke as it should. The saw does have the capability to be run with coolant, but I do not have coolant pump for it. I do have something like half a dozen unused blades that go with the saw.

I am located in Beloit, WI (53511). I will be attending the Pontiac regional meeting in Pontiac IL next weekend could bring both units to that event.

I would like to get $400 for the shaper and $200 for the saw. Feel free to email me if you need any additional information.

- Patrick Nowak - Thursday, 07/09/09 18:39:09 EDT

Volunteer Blacksmiths: I am an amateur "volunteer" blacksmith. I volunteer to do demonstrations at the Tallac Historic Site every weekend for the summer months. During the winter months, we spend our time near Tucson, AZ. I am looking for a museum, park, historic place(?) where I can volunteer during the winter months. Does anyone have any information that would help???

- JD Murry - Thursday, 07/09/09 18:44:36 EDT

JD: Contact
- Frank Turley - Friday, 07/10/09 10:27:12 EDT

Restoration: Cute little book I got a while back titled, "Tradin' and Fixin' Western Collectibles" by Lee C. Jacobs of Colorado Springs; 93 pages, 2002AD. The first part talks about restoring bits and spurs and patination. He has a formula in there that I haven't tried yet, of using Sno Bol toilet bowl cleaner vapors to get a patina. There are also sections on leather conditioning, auctions, and trading stories.
- Frank Turley - Friday, 07/10/09 11:26:56 EDT

Fixing a Bumper: I've got a steel bumper on a '88 F-250 that is bent. Slightly twisted and mostly pushed straight up on one end. What would be the best way to pull it down?? First thing that came to my mind was put a chain around a tree as far below the bumper as possible and pull.
- Tyler Murch - Friday, 07/10/09 11:38:50 EDT

Tyler, when my youngest daughter customized my truck's bumper I made her help me take it off and used my large scre press to get it back pretty much in it's original shape.

If it was using the immoveable object method I would do the pulling with something *slow* like a comealong and be very careful of how things might go if there was a failure in the system---I saw a rig hand get hit in the chest with a chain once when it broke while they were making a joint---probably would have killed him save that it was winter and he was *heavily* layered.

Thomas P - Friday, 07/10/09 12:09:44 EDT

Since comealongs have been mentioned, I'd like to share an experience of my own. In my younger days, I caught a comealong handle in the face. I ended up with a broken nose, cracked cheek bone, and two front teeth. They are very handy at times, but, never trust them.
- donnie - Friday, 07/10/09 18:42:28 EDT

Comealongs: My grandfather saw a guy cut in two by a comealong. This was in a coal mine. They used to call them "Sylvesters" I don't know why. Might have been a brand name. A lot of energy stored in ione of thos ethings when they are tight.
philip in china - Friday, 07/10/09 19:53:15 EDT

Bumper Straightening:
I once lowered a hydraulic shop lift WITH the truck on it onto a pickup truck pumper and only sprung it a little. . . But it was a 1950 truck. . .

Still, I think a bent bumper with snap the cable on your come-a-long before you see it move the slightest.

The tool for this as noted above is probably a heavy (20 ton or more) hydraulic press, and NOT one of those cheapy models marked "30 tons" that come with a 20 ton jack and are really only good to 10-15 tons before springing. If you can tip it over using the length of the bumper as a lever then its too light. . .

I also expect heat is going to be needed. So, your dream of not removing the bumper, and not messing up the finish, are dashed. Heat, press, weld platten for holding it down, sledges. . . Serious straightening job.
- guru - Friday, 07/10/09 21:24:38 EDT

Here's a pic of the bumper. Of course this happened right after i painted the bumper. That's rusto metallic finish. hmmmm, what to do.....
the issue
- Tyler Murch - Friday, 07/10/09 22:43:13 EDT

Tyler, This is a common bumper bend and its tough to get out. You might get away with a LONG bending wrench and a bumper jack.

The long bending wrench could be a piece of channel or small I-beam clamped to the top of the bumper with heavy clamps. Then a lifting force applied at the end of the beam. This MIGHT take the twist out.

At least this was the plan I had to straighten a bumper on my old Dodge that I never got around to. .
- guru - Friday, 07/10/09 23:02:42 EDT

More Truck Bumpers:
While it is nice to have everything straight on a truck I consider them a TOOL to be used. The first thing I do on a pickup truck is to put load eye bolts in the bed with heavy backing plates so that I can chain down loads. I also put in a piece of plywood to reinforce and protect the bed as well as provide a better surface for heavy loads.

To go with the eye bolts I put together a set of small load binders and load chains to match. On some of these I put both grab hooks and chain hooks on the same end. It makes their use MUCH more flexible.

Then there is the truck tool kit in an old ammo case.

Dragging chains in and out to tie down loads puts a lot of wear an tear on the truck body paint. . . IF its used for a truck.
- guru - Saturday, 07/11/09 08:57:10 EDT

Trucks: Mt truck's bumper is bent.Has been since I found the bumper to replace the totally bent bumper that it got from rolling down a steep tree into a pine tree. Pine tree ended up in the water pump. found old parts and fixed. The front bumper has weled on tie down loops, and a mount for a passenger side bar carry fixture. I often carry 300+ # of 20' steel bars along the side. I have a headache rack and side rails in the bed, and lots of anchor points there, as well as on the rear bumper. If you can carry 3000# in the bed, you really need to be able to hold that 3000# in its place:)
ptree - Saturday, 07/11/09 13:38:45 EDT

Trucks, Bumpers:
My old 50 Chevy truck bumper which was made of spring steel broke in numerous pieces while pulling another vehicle with a chain. I think the years of vibration had made the entire bumper brittle. . .

I made a replacement with a rusty piece of 8" I-beam. VERY rusted and pitted nearly through in places, the ugliest bumper you ever saw. To attach a trailer ball I just torched a hole in the flange. Never painted it. . .

After installing that bumper I never had anyone tailgate me even though top speed on that old truck was about 45 MPH!
- guru - Sunday, 07/12/09 11:05:54 EDT

^^^LOL^^^ we need to engineer a bumper that swings out when somebody passes you on a double yellow for going the speed limit......
- Tyler Murch - Sunday, 07/12/09 12:35:45 EDT

A bumper that acts like the stop sign on a school bus.

I like it!

- artificer - Sunday, 07/12/09 18:45:24 EDT

Bumpers: The bumper on my shop truck will outlast the truck. 3x5x1/4 tube for the main frame, with 1/2'" plate steps welded on where you can place your feet even when the tailgate is open. Two 1"x12" round bars held off the main tube by 1 1/2" standoffs for rigging, towing, tie-downs. Heavy rings welded on for towing safety chains. A small box to protect the licence plate. A little rusty, but so is everything here.

An interesting legal loophole- in Vermont, it is NOT illegal to pass on a double yellow line, but if you cause an accident, oh boy. You may have the freedom to make stupid choices, but one must be prepared to face the consequences if something goes wrong.
Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 07/12/09 20:07:40 EDT

The one we fixed with my screw press was in much worse shape than that, it had been curled around so much that the bracket had pierced the metal.

As fo bending bumpers with come-a-longs---I've bent several in my life with my bare hands and a boot on a wheel---small import vehicles

- Thomas P - Monday, 07/13/09 13:54:46 EDT

bumper: Tyler I don't see what the problem is ...
That bumper says "I use this for a TRUCK not as some pretty boy toy that never leaves the well groomed pavement and never hauls more than a cooler of beer to the beach!"
Every former truck I owned had a bummper that was twisted a little on bothe ends. If the truck didn't come with the welded construction and galvinised painted work bumper they used to send from the factory as standard, I would go to the salvage yard and get one.
Guru, I have a 51 Chevy 3/4 ton I am fixing up that has that same rear bumper you describe. Mine has a piece of 3/4x2" bar bolted to the frame and through a bracket on the bumper mount for the hitch.
I can lift the whole back end of the truck with a Hi-Lift jack from the hitch point, although balance can be an issue...
- merl - Tuesday, 07/14/09 00:06:26 EDT

Old Trucks: My old 50 Chevy was a 3/4 ton with four speed transmission. The transmission was the type usually used in much heavier trucks. One of those "rock crusher" four speeds that you never put in first gear that had a place for a power take off.. The rear springs were a stack 5" thick with secondaries and the bed was longer than standard but not quite 8 feet for some curious reason.

The other curious thing on that truck was the two piece 8 lug 15" wheels. I had never seen wheels this small with the pull off ring. To make it worse, the ring was not a split ring but one piece with two D notches that let you get it off. When I bought the truck I thought they were 17.5's. . I had to put the tires on the wheels myself.

That old truck would haul anything you could put in the bed. I had it loaded to overflowing with weathered granite one time. . . I also used it to pull my 4,500 pound portable shop trailer.

It had those old vacuum windshield wipers that stopped working going up hill due to the lack of engine vacuum when the accelerator was floored. From the factory it had no heater so I put one in from an old Nash Metropolitan. The old Metro had a optional heater as well so it was a simple unit that included the fan and heater coil.

The old truck originally had a 6 volt system which I had to convert to 12 volt because the 1955 engine I put into it would not take a 6 volt starter. Through a system of ballast resistors and a relay I managed to get 6 volts for the coil and fuel gauge. The relay bypassed the resistor when cranking the engine which gave a hotter spark. The engine always started almost instantly.

The bed had rotted out and so had the plywood nailed on top of that by a previous owner so carrying small items in the bed was a gamble and to be avoided.

I drove that old truck for many years. I hauled firewood, steel and construction materials in it. It was loud and uncomfortable and would only go 45 MPH. But it was very dependable.

After replacing that old truck with a 3/4 ton Dodge (also with 4 speed and split rims) I gave the Chevy to my younger brother. He put a new head on it (the old one had a fine crack causing overheating all the time I had it), and I put a new checker plate floor in the bed. The truck was then given a quickie brush paint job and looked better than ever. My brother drove the old Chevy while remodeling two successive homes hauling all the materials on the old truck. . .

The old truck was finally retired when it was caught in a flood. A few years later a hot-rodder bought it. I suspect the first things to go were the things that made it a TRUCK.

My replacement Dodge truck was a dream compared to the old Chevy. It had a 300HP 360 engine and would easily pass up hill on the highway at 65+ with a full load while pulling a trailer. It was smooth riding (as 3/4T HD PU trucks go) and had a roomy cab.

When the Dodge tired out I replaced it with my wife's old Dodge van. The van was comfortable, had AC and was a much better travel vehicle. But it was not a truck. I should have put a new engine in the Dodge truck. . .

The truck I have now is a 78 Ford F600 with an 8 foot by 12 foot flat bed. It is a lot like driving the old Chevy. It is hot, noisy, has a small cab and is difficult to steer. It will haul 10,000 pounds and you almost cannot tell if it is empty or loaded. Gas mileage is 7MPG no matter what. While this sounds terrible it is the same as my two previous trucks (above) which had much less capacity. But I also have a Dodge mini-van for daily transportation.

The big Ford needs a storage cabinet put under the bed for travel and a step ladder to work under the hood. . . I've had just about everything on it that could be fixed worked on and now it is time for the rear axle seals and brakes. . I suspect SOMEONE will get a great truck when I am finished with it.
- guru - Tuesday, 07/14/09 09:57:44 EDT

old Chev truck: Man Guru, except for the modle year we have the identical truck!! right down to the plywood in the box to replace the rotted out floor!
Those dam solid ring split rims are why I know I can lift the whole back end of the truck by the hitch.
I got a set of solid 16.5 eight bolt rims to replace the originals and when I went to put them on it started to rain wich braught the moskitoes out to intolerable levels.
Because the truck had sunk in the ground almost to the axle I had to use the HI-Lift and raise it more than 2' off the ground to get the new stuff under it.
I have my work cut out for me but, all in all the truck is in pretty good shape and well worth restoring.
I suppose yours was factory blue too...
- merl - Tuesday, 07/14/09 18:02:41 EDT

bigger trucks: When my wife and I still lived in town I traded the last full size PU truck I owned in for a Jeep Cherokee. About a year or two after we moved out to the farm we now live at I decided I needed a truck again.
Realizing that nearly everything I needed to hall was too big for a standerd PU I looked at trailers. I desided that I am not a happy driver with a trailer behind me going down the hiway and with my experience on military cargo trucks I figured a flatbed of some kind was best.
I ended up with a GMC W-4 Turbo Diesel.
Fleet maintained from California, 14,500lb. GVW, short cab-over wheel base with a 6x10'flat bed with a 1000lb lift gate. I get 12 mpg in the winter and 15 in the summer, loaded or empty. A six speed Allison auto trans with selectable shift patterns and an overdrive button on the shift lever. It does take much higher load range tires but at least they are 15" rims. Can't quite take the whole family if we have to go someware as it only seats three but, it is easy enough to drive that either I or my wife can drive it (at least when empty).
An all around good truck for me.
- merl - Tuesday, 07/14/09 18:47:49 EDT

Ole Chevy Trucks: Yep, OEM faded factory blue. . . See the 21st Century page article on Great Bellows. That's the truck.

On my Dodge I finally bought new 16.5 or 17" one piece rims. I had too many problems with with tubes and liners resulting in flats. After I wore out the first set of truck tires I always kept truck radials on the Dodge but I do not think they would improve the 50 Chevy.

The amazing thing on the Chevy truck was the fuel gauge worked. That is the first gauge that usually fails. On my truck the lettering on the odometer had pealed off. So I used wire marker numerals to replace them on the odometer wheels. When Virginia decided that they HAD to have the odometer reading on every vehicle the DMV person would not accept the ~54,000 miles I had put on the truck. So I jokingly said it had at least half a million miles on it. So she put 5,054,000 miles on the registration. A number probably just as inaccurate as 54K I reported. While the truck had been used MANY years the suspension was not worn and most of it was in good shape. I suspect it had set in the barn I bought it out of for 10 years and it had been a low use farm vehicle prior to that. 150K was more like it.

I've got a photo somewhere of my truck buried beyond the rear axle in a muddy drain field. .

The truck I had prior to the Chevy was a 1950 GMC half ton. Those models had a solid enclosed drive shaft that connected to the transmission with a big hollow ball joint. I had that transmission out several times to try to quiet it down by putting in new bearings. But it was worn gears making the noise. Then I put in a replacement "rebuit" transmission. . which also had bad gears. I finally put in SAE 140 gear oil and that killed about 50% of the noise.

The GMC had the 55 engine in it that I put in the Chevy. Don't let ANYONE tell you the old Chevy's and GMC's are the same. They are not.

To be a tool hound ya gotta have a truck!
- guru - Tuesday, 07/14/09 18:57:58 EDT

Internet reference: I think Jock agrees with me on this point. The internet is not always a safe source of information. I was recently looking at something in one of the big online reference sites and happened, when I had finished, to put in "anvil" as a search term. Up came a quite good general article on the subject... but..
there was a picture of a good sized double bick blacksmithing anvil, surrounded by sledgehammers, with a title describing it as a farrier's anvil. Now I don't doubt one could shoe horses using it but it definitely was not a farrier's pattern.
- philip in china - Tuesday, 07/14/09 19:06:24 EDT

Farriers vs. Blacksmiths: The problem is the authors probably did not know the difference between a blacksmith and a farrier. We ALL shoes horses don't we.

Many years ago I had a DEA census form sent to me wanting to know what drugs I administered and stocked as a Farrier or Veterinarian. It was a very long complicated form with many warnings about not responding but no "This does not apply to me". I wrote on it in very large letters with a red marker, "A BLACKSMITH IS NOT A FARRIER, THIS DOES NOT APPLY" on each page and returned it. . .

The only way I could have gotten on their list was through the IRS. So the IRS doesn't know the difference either. . .

- guru - Wednesday, 07/15/09 00:47:09 EDT

Trucks: I have a 72 Chevy 3/4 ton, camper special. Really a 1 ton derated on the side of the fender. Has all 1 ton running gear, and came from the factory with 7.50 x 16 8 ply truck tires. Wifes Fathers truck bought new with a 12' slide-in camper. I got it in 86 with almost 52K miles. It is now up to almost 92K. I almost instantly put solid rims on, as The Rock was handling Firestone split rim defense for the eastern US, and as soon as she noticed, they got replaced. I went to 8.75 x 16.5 radials on solid rims when I had trouble getting the 7.50 x16 bias ply, as the radials in that size had less load capacity. Mine has the 4 bolt 350, turbo 400, and was built with 4:56 gears in the rear. 10 MPH period. Then I put the bigger tires on, had to rebuild the rear end and could only find 4:11's and also put in a timing chain and had the Quadrajunk rebuilt by a local race car carb shop. I now get 14 MPH!, and I can not notice any reduction in pull. The radials are much nicer, since that old lady sits for weeks at a time. In the winter, I used to chew up a couple of wads of gum before I drove her, to put between my teeth for the first few miles till the flat spots worked out:)
Ptree - Wednesday, 07/15/09 06:56:06 EDT

farriers vs. blacksmith: the irs sounds like just about everybody at a demo right? i have only done 2 (as a helper) but at both places people thought we only shoed horses and made knives. but hey, some things make great stories later, like your forms from the DEA
bigfoot - Wednesday, 07/15/09 08:48:46 EDT

Funky bumper: My p/u is not a show piece...a '91 Dodge Dakota. I purchased it, used, and the back bumper had been crushed. I fabbed a diamond-plate bumper w/trailer ball out of two old rusty ones that came from the dump at different times.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/15/09 08:59:03 EDT

hard tires: I used to have a '71 3/4T Ford Camper Special.
It had 8 bolt, 16.5 rims on it and at that time there werenot alot of afordable choices for radial tires in that size. A friend of mine had a set of "Fleet Farm" all season tires from a K5 Blazer. that I could have so we put those on one night.
These tires were known for being a LONG wearing tire because they were so hard and were sold at the local farm supply store. They also howled loud enough to scare deer from the road, just right for a young kid with a ratty old truck . One time during winter I had shovled the box of the truck full of snow for traction and went driving around to see if I could get stuck. As I'm going around a corner in town and spining my wheels a bit I feel a clunk and the back end goes down a little. Then I see this bare tire go rolling by me on the street and, I deside that it must have been laying in the snow and I kicked it up when I went around the corner. Nope. It was MY rear passenger side tire and I had spun it right off the rim!
So now I get to try and put the spare on at 9 at night, in the snow. Did I mention that the spare and the jack are berried under all the snow in the back of the truck? At least I braught the shovle with me...
- merl - Wednesday, 07/15/09 10:16:43 EDT

Truck Tires: The F600 has duals and 7.5 x 20 tires on split rims. Another odd size. . . So far I've replaced four out of seven (the spare needs replacing). The tires looked pretty good when I got the truck but turned out to all be recaps on very old casings that have cracking sidewalls. The spare appeared new and still has the molding tits all around. But on closer examination it was the worst of the lot except for that deceivingly pretty tread. I had not noticed how bad they all were until I got home from a trip and one rear tire had about half the tread missing. . .

I am an absolute believer in radial tires but this vehicle only gets a few hundred miles put on it each year and truck radials PLUS new wheels (if I could find them) would be a big investment that I would probably not see a return on in my lifetime. Just replacing the bias ply tires on the OEM rims has been a big expense (nearly $200/wheel).

I only notice the flat spotting once in a while and its hard to detect over the rest of the noise and vibration. I've had cars with nylon tires that you thought were square for the first few miles!

When I bought my old 72 Dodge pickup it had had a rough life. The tires on it were oversized bias recaps. One on the front was several INCHES out of round. I thought the wheel was bent but it wasn't. The truck bounced and shook and wandered. Impossible to drive over 45. I thought the front suspension needed replacement and I expect the seller thought the same. I checked it and everything was tight. So I put new truck tires on it and was amazed. Later I put truck radials on it and thought it rode like a Cadillac! Good tires can make a huge difference in a vehicle. Radials might make the same difference on the F600 but I can't afford to find out.

Most folks don't know the difference today since the universal adoption of radial tires. But in the 70's cars still came with cheap mushy bias ply tires that had gross understear and a maximum life of 10,000 to 12,000 miles. Detroit and the U.S. tire makers had some kind of aversion to the clearly superior radial tire which had been in existence since the 1946. They tried making bias ply tires with fiberglass and steel belting. Both were a disaster but were still foisted onto the public. It took the import cars which all used radial tires to educate the American public that they could buy tires for the same money that lasted 4 times longer.

That long life is not the only cost savings. You have less tire changes and less flats. Less aggravation all around. Radial tires also roll with less effort than bias ply tires thus saving on fuel costs. All this was known by the tire manufacturers that controlled the U.S. market yet they continued to make and sell an inferior product. . . I don't understand Detroit but the U.S. automakers shot themselves in the foot more than once.
- guru - Wednesday, 07/15/09 10:28:18 EDT

We have friends who run a local tire service---old school they used to do retreading out back and still do heavy equipment, tractors, etc. They talked me into getting commercial tires for my little PU. Quite a bit more expensive but when I make one of my heavy overloaded trips they jack the pressure up to 40 PSI. They are also all terrain tires---a bit loud on the interstate. I had the last ones 4 years only getting them replaced when I pointed out to my wife that while they were fine out here I would probably see rain on my trip to AR and they were a bit slick for that! Never a flat, blowout or getting stuck and the price per mile was probably equal to or less than "standard tires"

Just recently I saw a more modern flatbed version of my little PU for sale; sigh, if only it was time to replace it! Unfortunately it's only 20 years old and 130K miles and so I expect another 5 years or so out of it.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 07/15/09 11:11:59 EDT

trucks: Heck Thomas, my W-4 had 127,000 on when I bought it.
Commercial duty trucks are expected to go 1 million or more and are made to be maintained to do so.
I worked for a year as a mechanic for a class 8 truck fleet. We had several units that ran over 2 million.
When maintained by scheduale the stuff that wears out get replaced constantly so that you end up with "My Grandpa's ax" when it's time to sell it off around 2 or 3 million miles.
Wisconsin does not allow retreads on the steer axil so, when my truck was driven in from California they stopped at the shop in Illinois to change the oil and filters and swapped one of the sets of new tires from the right rear duals with the recaps from the steer axil to get it into the state.
I have had the truck for 9 years (it was supposed to be deliverd on 11 Sept.01 but, something held it up for two days...)and I only put a couple thousand miles a year at most on it so, I end up takeing the wheels off and putting them back on once a year so they don't rust on.
- merl - Wednesday, 07/15/09 12:37:35 EDT

ptree:: ptree, I recently saw a you tube video of you making a split cross for a fella at some demo.
I noticed that even your lawn chair is BLUE...
I like the portable forge trailer too. How many times do you get asked what the little crank handle is for that stikes out the side?
Very nice cross too, BTW...
- merl - Wednesday, 07/15/09 12:51:14 EDT

I don't know how many miles my F600 has on it but I suspect the speedo is correct at less than 100K.

My Dodge PU was a different story. It had over 100K on it when I bought it, I put another 100K on it before rebuilding the engine and then another 150K on that before retiring it. Nearly 400K with most of the OEM parts. The high mileage was due to it being my every day and travel vehicle. It was common to drive 125 miles to pickup a friend, another 700 to pickup and return with a machine in the back and the 125 home again. We drove from Lynchburg, VA to Baltimore, MD to pickup a 2000 pound 10 ton electric hoist and back again on the same (LONG) day. I made a lot of these trips for myself, our family business and friends in that truck. It was fast, convenient and would haul a ton or more with ease.

But for most of the last 12 years I have been driving Dodge min-vans. While they are NOT a truck they haul a fair load (800 pounds of dirt most recently) but is also comfortable. I can visit friends and take them out to dinner and still have room in the back for a load. Behind the middle seats (I leave out the third row) I put a piece of plywood in the floor to protect it. I've had several of these vans over the years and ran them all to over 300K except the last on which was totaled in a wreck. . . They are more convenient than a PU with a camper shell and get better gas mileage.

I would still have a PU if I could afford a third vehicle on the road. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 07/15/09 13:43:14 EDT

Ptree's demo trailer: Merl, as you probably know, I work now as a Safety guy. That is Safety Blue:) I built the trailer as a "do at home" competetion for the IBA hammer-in at Tipton. This was for a homebuilt forge, with non-traditional materials and scrounged parts adding points. That is a Datsun pickup bed, the truck was given to me for dragging off, the tires and paint and EVERY thing except the new lights and coupler were scrounged for free. The paint was out of shelf life from work. I get more comments from smiths about the blue obsession than about the crank, but most WUFO's ask what the crank does.
WUFFO is a skydiving term, that could also apply to smithing. In the olden days, when the barnstormer landed, and the jumper was packing up, the farmers would lean on the wing and ask "Whut Foo" You jump out of that airplane? Could just as easy be Whut fo you beat that hot iron? :)

And yes I won the competetion.
ptree - Wednesday, 07/15/09 17:56:52 EDT

Merl, by the way, more photos over at Farwest forge under Jeff Reinhardt. Show the 72 Chevy with the somewhat infamous "Hood ornement" as well as more of the demo trailer.
ptree - Wednesday, 07/15/09 18:00:57 EDT

photos: Thanks ptree, I'll check those out.
Having this DSL hook up has opend up a whole new world of internet picture and video down loads that I wouldn't have botherd to attempt befor.
I may even post some of my own stuff in the near future.
- merl - Thursday, 07/16/09 01:32:52 EDT

machinist stuff: some recent stuff i made in the little shop where i'm working.

first is helical gears. i did all the turning although i am still learning hobbing the teeth.

second is aluminum air cylinder couplings w/ internal threads turned

third is an aluminum air cylinder piston. plastic ring presses against the shoulder and is held in place w/ snap ring in groove

fourth is a gear box hub. the entire part is sintered metal-i bored it two thousandths undersized for a sweat fit and cut the keyway on an old keyway cutting machine
- Tyler Murch - Thursday, 07/16/09 22:27:41 EDT


Beautiful parts. Are you building something?
- guru - Thursday, 07/16/09 23:30:24 EDT

how big is too big...: i'm planning on making a sidedraft or super sucker style of hood for my forge...was planning on using a oil that to big ???
- pete - Friday, 07/17/09 07:15:47 EDT

nice parts: Nice work Tyler. I would guess that many of the same size gears are going into a web converting maching to drive a set of rollers.
Web converting refering to printing, embossing, laminating, ect...
I've been paying my bills for a number of years making parts just like those.
- merl - Friday, 07/17/09 09:00:12 EDT

Pete's hood: Pete, my forge hood is about the size, volume-wise, of a 55-gallon drum. The only thing you need to be sure of is to make the intake hole a little bit smaller than the exit hole. Then the drum acts as an expansion chamber. Be careful, these things can suck the fire right out of the pot!

The link below shows my forge hood in action if you scroll down to the second picture in the series.
Pics of my forge hood
Alan-L - Friday, 07/17/09 09:35:41 EDT

Tyler: Nice work.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/17/09 20:33:46 EDT

Pete - hood: I used an old 30lb propane cylinder with both ends cut off. I cut a "mouse hole" 10" wide x 10" high in the side and placed it right beside the firepot and closed off the bottom where it overhangs the forge table. 12" stove pipe, the crimped end fits right inside it. This works good and was cheap & easy.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 07/17/09 20:37:59 EDT

those are all just jobs that came to the shop for us. the gears are in fact for a printing press. they said any backlash would cause shadowed letters, so they run tight. we heated that hub that i bored to 3.498 to slide it over a shaft that was 3.5 and found a dirt dobber had apparently put a nest in a hole in the shaft, and boy it stunk. been reading this cnc book by peter smid before i even start the cnc program in school so i can really hit the ground running. also trying to scrape up as much info and learn as much as i can in gear hobbing.
- Tyler Murch - Saturday, 07/18/09 15:58:03 EDT

¡Ojo! in Spanish can mean: "Watch out! Careful!" It also means "eye", among other things. In New Mexico, we have a village called Ojo Caliente, which we translates as 'hot spring.'

What do y'all holler when you're going to strike an arc. My students taught me how to arc weld, and I normally yell, "Eyeballs" or "Cover!"

I wonder whether Spanish speakers yell "¡Ojo!" It seems appropriate.
Frank Turley - Saturday, 07/18/09 19:12:29 EDT

I wonder: whether Spanish speakers holler "¡Ojo!" when they strike an arc. It seems appropriate, because it means, "Watch out! Careful!"

I say appropriate, because it also means, "eye."
Frank Turley - Saturday, 07/18/09 19:22:54 EDT

Puerto Rican welders: and Santo Domingans down here mostly just figure you should know better than to hang around when they're working. (grin) Actually, the few I've worked with usually holler, "¡Cuidado!" or sometimes, “¡Mira, su ojos!”. They’re using the word “ojos” to refer to the goggles in that case, I believe.
vicopper - Saturday, 07/18/09 22:43:33 EDT

Koch modern tower hammer: looking for information on power hammer made by Koch Manufaurting Grinnela IA Feb 9 , 1904 Swap meet find , still works
Gina Newton - Sunday, 07/19/09 00:04:52 EDT

Koch Hammer: Gina- there it a lot of information in Pounding Out The Profits by D. Freund, ISBN 0-9657652-0-2 on Koch and his hammers. Locate a copy by Inter-Library Loan as I think it's out of print and is quite expensive used.

What information are you looking for specifically?
Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 07/19/09 09:49:52 EDT

Koch Hammer:
Like the vast majority of old machines these are an orphan machine. That means that except for a little historical information you are on your own when it comes to parts or even operating instructions.

There is nothing wrong with orphan machines. Most of the equipment in my shop is that class. However, I understand that if I a need a part, no matter how simple OR how complicated I have to make it. This includes reverse engineering the old parts and making drawings (for my own use OR for others).

I'm working on an old lathe that was only sold for about 15-20 years back in the early 1900's. It needs a new tailstock ram and screw. This is an important part with a critical Morse taper, keyway, scale markings and acme threads. The current part appears to be a poorly made replacement so it is not real helpful in making the proper part.

Maintaining these old machines makes you part restorer and part engineer.
- guru - Sunday, 07/19/09 17:53:41 EDT

cnc programing: Remember this Tyler, All the programing knowlage in the world won't help you if you don't know how to machine the part!!
Make SURE that you learn the actual machining prosses as you learn the programing.
When I started in the trade the first shop I worked for felt I knew enough right out of high school to start me as an operator on their cnc turning centers and machining centers. That was fine but, when it came time to learn programing and program editing then I found out just how much I realy didn't know.
They said "No problem, we'll send you to school"
Two years later I still wasn't any closer to starting an apprenticeship so I moved on to a shop that was able to start me right away and I never looked back.
It was there that I was finely able to start putting all these abstract G and M codes together with what they actualy did and was made to learn to make the parts manualy before ever trying to write a program.
Don't end as one of those programers that can make a machine take a cut a .500 depth and 200 IPM in 4350 but, you have no idea why the cutter just blew up and the part went sailing across the room... We have enough of those in the trade already...
Keep up the good work!
- merl - Sunday, 07/19/09 23:10:34 EDT

Gear backlash in a printing press: I would guess these gears must be for an older machine already in service.
When we build a new roll for an application were timing is critical, we usualy put a phasing gear on the drive hub or sometimes an anti-backlash gear on it.
The phaser is used to adjust the timing more for nip rolls or anvil rolls on a new instalation and usualy we'll put the anti- backlash or "split gear" on an older roll set to help restore accuracy and quiet things down some. The timing in a printing line is all fixed. You're either right on or broken...
- merl - Sunday, 07/19/09 23:30:42 EDT

Farrier's Anvil Saga: I was learning farriery and began shoeing horses in the decade of the 1960's, and at that time, many farriers were looking for a Hay-Budden farrier's pattern anvil or something comparable. Then, there came on the market the Multi-Product brand anvil which was designed by Dick Cropper of Chatsworth, CA, and was cast in Japan. Dick took his concept from the HB anvil including the clip-horn, but in my opinion, the resulting MP anvil had some flaws. The base, waist and heel were attenuated to the point where the heel was actually springy. Not good.
The horn was flattened a little on top, and the idea here, not necessarily bad, was to allow the shoer to open a shoe easily, because when the shoe was over the horn, the "flatness" provided daylight between horn and shoe. Later, other farrier patterned anvils kept this flattened horn idea. The MP anvil was relatively light compared to a HB of the same length and height. The MP seemed to have caused a trend, whereby other anvil brands kept coming into the marketplace. Because most horseshoers had traveling rigs, the anvil manufacturers were constrained to make the anvils lighter and more portable.

If one were a cold shoer, the small anvil was probably helpful in shaping the keg shoes quickly at ambient temperature. For farriers (hot shoers) who were hand turning and heating keg shoes, the light anvils would not have been much of an advantage.

At all events, most shoers would move the anvil from tailgate to an anvil stand and back again. My personal shoeing anvil was a 158 pound HB, and I moved it in and out of the pickup without trouble. The incurve on the side of the anvil allowed it to be placed on my upper thigh, and I could swing the anvil to and from the tailgate.

This light anvil concept continues to this day, as one can see by checking any farrier supply catalog. One anvil company has put an aluminum base on a steel top. Other "innovations" trickled in over time, such things a turning cams, tapered anvil heels, and recessed slots on the face for pritcheling. Another was to recess two grooves, near and far, on the anvil heel to open the shoe quarters. In my opinion, some of the marketed anvils began to look "freaky."
Frank Turley - Monday, 07/20/09 09:28:53 EDT

merl, regarding cnc programming without manual machining knowledge, several machinists have told me about this and it's definitely something i'm aware of. one retired machinist i talked to when i bought a mic set from him described those types as having a PhD in machining- PhD standing for
- Tyler Murch - Monday, 07/20/09 19:36:42 EDT

merl, regarding cnc programming, this is something that more than a few experienced machinist have told me about, and it's something i'm definitely aware of. one retired machinist i talked to when i bought a mic set from him off of craigs list described these types as having a "PhD" in machining. PhD standing for "push here, dummy". btw, i see that wind energy is generating the need for some REALLY big that would be a cool job.
- Tyler Murch - Monday, 07/20/09 19:42:05 EDT

TYLER: Tyler that is great looking clean efficient work.
You are doing just fine.
I guess you realize nowadays that a lot of progamming is done at the machine with some kind of "friendly" control. The days of writing lines of G codes and M codes are fast following the blacksmith.
You will find that some of the newest inserts can do amazing things, but guru is right about one thing that will always be true. The 'rubber meets the road' where the tool meets the workpiece. What you are doing now will be invaluable when you get into a lot of CNC.
We are now into hi-speed hard milling. Unbelievable stuff. It is making our EDM machines obsolete!
Anyway, keep up the good work.
- Tom H - Monday, 07/20/09 22:17:12 EDT

Push Here Dummy:
I like that one. . . But it is pretty much what "machine operators" have been doing for the better part of a century. Open the chuck, close the chuck, engage the lever, open the chuck. . . And it is surprising how many operators call themselves machinists.
- guru - Monday, 07/20/09 22:22:14 EDT

new methodes: What has been the most interesting to me over the years is to see how the development of new machining methodes have changed alot of how custom machinery is designed and built. I see fewer and fewer turned parts in an assembly as most any bore or boss can be interpolated on a cnc mill. Not that they all should but, that is certainly the lazy way things are going.
This is also related to decline in the use of cams and the increase in the use of servoes and other programable actuators to make things move in a coordinated manner.
In our assembly bay Kimberly Clark recently set up a tampon assembly and packaging line that used two dozen people to produce the product. On the other side of the isle they had the equivelant fully automated machine that we just finished and did the same work with only two people to tend it.
Efficiency is great but, I feel bad for all the people that will lose their jobs because of it.
- merl - Tuesday, 07/21/09 15:39:25 EDT

Phd, I like that one. At the valve and fitting shop, when I started we had about 600 machine tools, the great majority run by operators. Now running a pair of New Britian Chuckers, or a pair of Coneamatic screw machines or a pair of Warner & Swazey chuckers will teach a little about tooling, sharping same, and so forth. From Operator, those with ambition would train as set-up man. From there move to an apprentice machinst, running a turret lathe. Few years on the turret lathe, or maybe a production mill, and apply for a tool grinder apprenticeship. A couple of years at a Cinc #2 and apply for tool and die maker. And in a short 20-30 years or so an ambitious young lad was at the top rate in the shop, with the knowledge to make anything, on any machine, and to make the tools and the machine as well.
Times change. People stayed at that shop till they retired often with 40 to 50 years. Times change.
ptree - Tuesday, 07/21/09 18:13:24 EDT

Changing Times: There have always been boring low skill jobs. Cutting grass manually with a machette, tending weaving machines, now more and more automated machines.

But the real machinist that can use every machine will always be needed. There will always be a need for machine parts for low production machines. Repair parts for things not made. Parts for custom equipment.

Knowing how to use an Engine Lathe includes knowing how to make the most of the flexible tooling and adapting it to unimaginable things. Same for the vertical mill and its attachments. Between the two almost anything can be made. It takes both skill and imagination. It is also the least boring work in industry.
- guru - Tuesday, 07/21/09 18:52:05 EDT

training: What you describe, ptree, is just what I have been trying to acheive on my own over the years.
In the shop I served my apprenticeship in you were expected to go through all the other aspects of the trade on your own after you received your journymans card in order to make your self a well rounded machinist.
The state doesn't have the same requirement as long as you complete the schooling and the required number of hours of machine time at your employers shop you get your magic little card.
My old shop master always made it clear that if I intended to stay working for him that I would need to be equaly well versed in all the needs of the trade but, if I wanted to focus on one aspect that I would need to move on.
The only exception to this rule was the one old guy on the horizontal boring bar. The kind of work he did was far too expensive to let just anyone come over and run so he did it by him self with a younger kid usualy to help him with the set up and clamp work. It was also my job to rake and shovle chips out of the bores (we had a 36" boring and faceing head for that machine) and to sweep up after him.
Long story short due to some trouble with his brother/business partner the shop was closed and everybody had to move on but, man what a ride!Unfortunatly were I work now they only hire card holders so it looks good on the web site and once you're in you get put on the machine that they need you on and you stay there. Better for work flow and schedualing but, not for developing your skills.
I am the exception to that rule because I can run any machine in the shop, weld and, do assembly work,I am used as a fill in when needed or to expedite rush jobs through the shop. There is one of us to do work like this on each shift but, otherwise guys don't move around much there.
- merl - Tuesday, 07/21/09 19:25:38 EDT

Apprenticeships: When I finished My tool & die apprenticeship I had learned a good bit, but in order to get more than an introduction to any of the specialties like EDM, Jig Grinding or Form Grinding I was going to have to wait for somebody to retire. My choice was to do the "journy" part of a journymanship and work in another area of the trade at another shop to gain more & different experience. Several shops later I got to one that payed well enough that I stayed long enough to get to top rate.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 07/22/09 02:16:52 EDT

Merl, dave et al, The real nice part about the valve shop was that it was part of a 40 acre campus of manufacturing that also made huge boilers, ice making equipment, anf forgings. A machinist there could run an engine, turret or vertical lathe, vertical, horizontal, floor, boring, hydrotel tracers or hydraulic production milling machine, drill presses from 1/2 to 50 Hp, 1 to 8 spindles. There were ram and wire EDM, jig boring, wire edm, 3,4 and 5 axis grinders manual and CNC, cnc turret lathes, We had lathes that could turn a sewing needle to turn a steam drum 12' diameter by 60' long. Turret lathes that could turn a 1/8" rod to turn a 2500# forging in a 42" chuck. We had homebuilt slotters that took a .060" feed on a 1" wide tool that made little roll pins chips on every stroke. We had gear cutting on indexing heads and gear hobs. We had our own spring winder in the Tool shop, about 40 #2 Cincinatti tool grinders and every twist drill sharpner know to man:)
And that does not cover the production machines like New Britian chuckers, W & S chuckers of all sizes, Diedshiems that had 8 stations and 24 spindles that transfered pallets. An Ingersol Milling machine that took 9+ # out of 270 fittings an hour with twist drills. I could go on, but you get the idea.
For me a techno-freak, heaven. To most a huge, smelly, greasy, dark, dangerous place.
But if you wanted to learn about machining or machine processes, it was THE place in this region.
ptree - Wednesday, 07/22/09 18:36:51 EDT

Smaller shops: I served My apprenticeship in a much smaller shop than Ptree described. One guy ran the jig bore, that is all He did. One guy ran 1 of the jig grinders, all the time, one of the tool makers off the floor ran the other one as needed. Another guy did just about all the cylindrical grinding. The asistant foreman and one other guy did the bulk of the form grinding. Wire and plunge EDM had been 1 man's job, they added the apprentice who finished the year before Me to the EDM "department" soon after He finished.

This was a good place to learn about high precision metal stamping, progressive dies & carbide dies, but there is a lot more to tool & die work than that. While I could have learned more if I stayed, the curve was flattening out. The next company specialized in tooling for the computer chip manufacturing field, there was a whole lot more to learn and I was back on the steep part of the curve again.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 07/22/09 22:05:48 EDT

Possible Sales Opportunities: 1. Sinusoidal stakes. Do a Google search. In the first hit an 11" one sells for $158. 8" - $115. I tried making these using Sears' 11" tapered punches/drifts. However, I had to hot form, which created dimples in the waves when jewelry makers want perfect and polished. Seems to me someone with a flypress could whip these out fairly easily once they have the top and bottom dies made.

2. If you have a drum polisher sea glass is used to make jewelry. Essentially it is broken glass smoothed out by wave action on a pebbled beach. From a TV program which included it parts of brand names showing (such as old coke bottles) and red glass sell the best.

3. Snarling irons perhaps made from old single nut tire irons or auto coil spring.

eBay would be a sales outlet.
Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 07/26/09 15:45:58 EDT

Sinusoidal stakes: I make these Ken, and they take too much time to be profitable at less than $200. As you note, they require a mirror polish and that takes time.

I also make snarling irons, but I forge them from 4140 bar stock, not scrap. I sell them to metalsmiths who do hollow ware work. (However, I decline to sell on Ebay due to their continuously changing and arbitrary policies.) There is actually no need at all for spring stock for snarling irons - the deflection is so minimal that mild steel will work just fine. I use 4140 because it polishes better and can also be used on steel vessels.
vicopper - Sunday, 07/26/09 22:39:08 EDT

damascus steel: I'm doing an article on Damascus steel. I'd like to get a perspective from someone who isn't using it for blade making. Anyone out there using Damascus steel for architectural, art, or hardware?
- Jeff Fogel - Tuesday, 07/28/09 10:39:49 EDT

I'm doing an article on Damascus steel. I'd like to get a perspective from anyone who is not using it for blade making. Anyone out there using Damascus steel to enhance architectural, hardware, or art projects?
- bluetick - Tuesday, 07/28/09 10:43:47 EDT

I'm not sure my last post registered. My apologies if this turns out to be a double post. Anyway, I'm doing an article on Damascus steel. I'd like to talk to anyone who is using Damascus steel, but not for blade making. Anyone out there using this material to enhance architectural, hardware or art projects?
- bluetick - Tuesday, 07/28/09 10:48:22 EDT

damascus steel: I'm doing an article on Damascus steel. I'd like to talk to anyone who's using it not for blade making but to enhance architectural, hardware or art projects.
bluetick - Tuesday, 07/28/09 10:50:58 EDT

Damascus vs. Pattern Welded: I take it you're referring to the popular term for pattern welded steel? (Not that I know anybody doing architectural work with wootz, but you never know...)

Ive seen some non-knife implements, but nothing architectural. Still, now that it's a common technique, I'm curious too.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 07/28/09 11:56:51 EDT

bluetick: This is not an online chat page. You'll have to be a little more patient and wait for someone to come along who might have some help for you.
The Virtual Hammer-In page is realy more of a bull session then a place for technical advise.
You should try posting your question over in the "Guru's Den" you might get better/quicker resaults.
- merl - Tuesday, 07/28/09 11:57:58 EDT

I'm writing an article on Damascus Steel. I'd like to get a perspective from anyone that is not using it for blade making but for architectural, hardware or art projects.
- bluetick - Tuesday, 07/28/09 12:06:28 EDT

Sorry about the multiple posts. I'm really bad with computers and having difficulty figuring this format out. I think I've got it now.
- bluetick - Tuesday, 07/28/09 12:08:49 EDT

Well, I've made a pattern welded pizza cuter from the stuff and am working on a spangen help and use patternwelded wedges in some of my hammer handles.

Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork, the original edition had examples or other types of work including a pastry tool.

Manfred Sacshe's book on Damascus Steel had an example of armour made from pattern welded steel

What do you mean by perspective?

- Thomas P - Tuesday, 07/28/09 17:15:08 EDT

Tom Power: I think bluetick is referring in relationship to. Using perspective as an adjective. I hope this helps you out Thomas Power. Tom I would recommend a basic English comprehensive class. Maybe your local college you can pick up a course.

Etymology:Middle English perspectyf, from Medieval Latin perspectivum, from neuter of perspectivus of sight, optical, from Latin perspectus, past participle of perspicere to look through, see clearly, from per- through + specere to look — more at per-, spy
Date:14th century
archaic : an optical glass (as a telescope)

Etymology:Middle English, optical, from Medieval Latin perspectivus
1obsolete : aiding the vision
2: of, relating to, employing, or seen in perspective
— per·spec·tive·ly adverb
- Professor - Wednesday, 07/29/09 23:21:25 EDT

Having met and discussed at great lenght many subjects with Thomas Powers, I would observe that he has no need of a return to college for English Comprehension class. I suspect, that in reality his was a serious question, meriting a serious answer.
I may need that class though, as I too wondered about the use of the word.
Ptree - Thursday, 07/30/09 06:41:42 EDT

Thanks for the help Professor; of course both of my degrees in the sciences required English and I am still not exactly sure what Bluetick wants. Working surrounded by people with Doctorates in Astrophysics in one of the worlds greatest astrophysics research facilities doesn't help much either.

As you seem to understand exactly what Bluetick wants why don't you post an answer to the request?

My "perspective" is that it sure adds a lot of work before you even start making the item to produce the basic materials to make it from.

Thomas P - Thursday, 07/30/09 13:28:26 EDT

I don't know what Bluetick wants, but when someone says they'd like to get a blank, "blank" is normally a noun, not an adjective.

I think that when a journalist says they want to get a perspective, it means they want to interview someone. If that's what Bluetick means, I'm quite certain that Thomas's English would be up to the task (grin).
Mike BR - Thursday, 07/30/09 17:45:06 EDT

Heck ThomasP speaks roughneck, Razorback, Yankee, and scientific english. Me, I barely speak english, am fluent in Central Kentuckian, Army speak, Air Force speak,Can usually get my meaning across to Mrines, and speak heavy industrial very fluently.
My German, Russian, French,Norwiegian,and Sengalese are limited to the "3 B's and cussing.
And I am still a little unclear on the meaning of perspective. :)
ptree - Thursday, 07/30/09 17:50:50 EDT

Perspective:: You have a shop full of tools & raw materials.
Your wife says You have a shop full of junk.
The difference is perspective.
- Dave Boyer - Thursday, 07/30/09 21:14:01 EDT

Professor/Perspective: From my "perspective" it seems to me anyone who comes out from lurking in the shadows and berates some one else for making a simple request of another "What do mean by perspective?" is certainly worthy of the self titling of "Professor"
From the "perspective" of an enlisted service man I compare it to the difference between a newly commissioned officer and a Warrent Officer of any rank.
When you "commission" something you put forth a thing as yet untried, unproven, and untested.
When you "warrent" somthing you GUARANTEE its perfomance the first time and every time there after.
I see "professors" as the commissioned officers of the civilian world. They got a lot 'O knowlage and ome ideas but, they don't know what to do with it in the REAL world and, usualy when they try to do SOMTHING it turns into a bad decision and they end up having to call the cavalry to come fix things.
Now days the Cav. comes swooping in on helicopters.
You know what rank pilots those bad a$$ chopers don't ya?...
Any guy tough enough to blacksmith in a leather mini-skirt isn't looking for your validation or approval.

:Rant Mode: OFF
- merl - Friday, 07/31/09 01:13:21 EDT

Merl, Nicely said! Formerly SGT, wanted to be a warrent flying the early bad a*# Huey Snakes, but the prescription lens prevented that.
You need to come visit at Quad State, and I would be glad to share an adult beverage with you.
Ptree - Friday, 07/31/09 06:35:17 EDT

Wow! you "Can usually get my meaning across to Marines"??? My grandfather was a marine, (3rd wave onto Iwo Jima) and he said your standard issue marine could manage to break an anvil with a rubber mallet.

I'm impressed, (durn Press Gangs!)

Lets let it drop, too hot to get riled up about not important; i.e: something not involving hot metal...or as my boss says "what English lacks in precision it makes up for with it's ambiguity".

Now if the good Prof wants a noble crusade he could take on the common tendency to use rod/rot/wrot iron in classified adds or on craigsList to refer to fabb'd steel work.

Thomas P - Friday, 07/31/09 11:27:27 EDT


A problem with the website if is you don't post exactly it makes it look like your entry didn't take when it did - resulting in multiple posts.

Definition problem:

The term "Damascus steel" originally pertained to steel, in swords in particular, once manufactured in and around the area of Damascus, Syria. From what I gather they were essentially a smelted steel and carbon source made up within an enclosed crucible resulting in something like a hockey puck. Technical term is wootz. It was then forged into length and thickness, finished and heat treated. Legend about, I believe, Sarihan (sp?) cutting a light-weight veil in midair with one.

Today Damascus refers to a process which produces similarly patterned metal. It is produced by alternating layers of mild and hard (tool) steel and forging it into a billet. As the billet is folded and forge welded it results in a doubling of the layers, minus one. Think of 4, 7, 13, 25, 49, 97, 193... The more layers, the finer the graining in the pattern.

I'm going from fading memory here (and it seems like there was an Anvil's Ring article on this by Al Pendray) somewhere in the Middle East, perhaps Damascus, is a rather large column made out of what appears to be wootz steel.

Thus, there is a possibility of wootz usage in architecture, but I suspect is was very limited.
Ken Scharabok - Friday, 07/31/09 13:28:34 EDT

Ken; I don't know of any such columns made from wootz but there are a number of them made from wrought iron or bloomery iron blooms see

(one fairly recent conjectures was to essentially smelt a bloom on top of the end of the column piece and so extend it as you go.)
Thomas P - Friday, 07/31/09 13:58:47 EDT

Wrought Columns of India:
I suspect they were made by the build up process. There are films of large items being made in England where the faggot process using bundles of bar as small as 1/2" were forge welded into a large lump that was kept hot and pieces continuously added. Multiple forges were used to heat the small stock in bundles Up to 100 pounds and these were brought to the work one after another with only occasional trips back to the big forge. This was done mostly with hand power, sledges, chains and multi-man hammers. The hardest part is moving the piece in and out of the forge AND once started you do not want to stop.

The simplicity of this process means that anyone with the financial backing and smiths that know how to work as teams could do it. There is no great technological secret. It is largely a matter of will. It is just hard work and the wherewithal to provide the fuel, material and manpower. Wooden jib cranes with primitive rope hoists extended with chain could handle the load. Any source of air including slave or animal power could keep the forges going. The key is a LOT of manpower and having all the fuel and materials ready.

There are many things that historians consider mysteries that were simply the result of massive wealth, manpower and WILL. AND most importantly, they were a technical mystery to the historians who rarely understood the current technology much less that of the past. IF they did, we would ave a lot more technology in histories. . .

- guru - Friday, 07/31/09 18:33:53 EDT

Quad State/ Adult Bevey/Good Company: Yes Ptree, I will put that on my "to do list".
But, I must beg off for this year. Untill this war is over and they no longer need armour plating for trucks and HUMMVs, I am committed to working the weekend shift to get the production out.
Yes Thomas, as you wish. As I indicated, Rant Mode: OFF
- merl - Friday, 07/31/09 21:33:56 EDT

Merl, its a bummer to miss Quad State, but it would seem you have a higher calling. That armour is indeed very important.
I set up my vacation for Thursday/Friday off before Quadstate to allow driving up early, and I request it in April. Good thing, as the 20th anerversary of my company is being celebrated on the same weekend. I would have been working at the Picnic instead of Quad State except I had the vacation already approved.
I have a home maintenance day today, the wholehouse fan motor bearings gave up after 18 years.
Then to rebuild my washed out driveway.
ptree - Saturday, 08/01/09 07:20:44 EDT

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