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November 2008 Archive

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J. Dempsey  <webmaster> Rev. 7/98, 3/99, 5/2k, 6/2k, Friday, 04/06/01 16:43:25 GMT

Thing of it is, see, man had already progressed to the point where a commandment prohibiting cannibalism was not felt to be necessary. Or maybe that was on the missing tablet.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 10/31/08 23:24:49 EST

Dead Sea Scrolls:
Many of these, the most readable were on metal, copper and gold sheet. The rest only survived by an accident of nature. The amazing thing is that they are still being translated and the bits and pieces fitted together.
- guru - Saturday, 11/01/08 08:25:28 EST

Truth stranger than Fiction:
If you have a chance check out the newest National Geographic. There are photos of a "crystal cave" in Mexico where the formations are gigantic and look like something from a Jules Vern movie. Amazing and beautiful.

They also had an article on light pollution, one of my bug-a-boos. I absolutely HATE it when folks move out into the country and the first thing they have to do is put in a security light. We can actually see the Milky Way from here on a clear night but are partially blinded by neighbors security lights. We like to soak in the hot tub at night and watch for shooting stars, which we see quite often. But to the West there is a shopping center 20 miles away that lights the sky like a permanent hazy sunset. To the South a truck lot lights the local sky. And then two neighbors at about 100 yards each who are apparently afraid of the dark. . .

The National Geographic article points out that properly designed lights with shades on them are more efficient AND produce less light pollution. Remember when all the old lights had large steel reflectors? They were actually a GOOD thing. . .
- guru - Saturday, 11/01/08 08:37:17 EST

Solder: During a shop cleaning I found two bars of Oatley 40/60 4 in 1 solder. Anyone have a use for these? They're free to a good home.
- Doug - Saturday, 11/01/08 09:48:37 EST

Hi Rustystuff et al, My anvil actually sold to a former customer from Utah that happened to stop by. In regard to donating a portion of future proceeds to Anvilfire I'm happy to comply with any rules they have in place. I'll have a bunch more stuff coming up so keep your eyes peeled.
- Barry Denton - Saturday, 11/01/08 19:29:48 EST

yard lites: We are a ways out in the country and have exalent "seeing" conditions with a vast uninhabited marsh sytem to the North and only small towns on the other horizens so we get an exelent view of the Milky Way. The yard lite gave out early in the summer and I find I like it so mutch better with out it. I'll have to replace it pretty soon or I won't be able to plow snow this winter. It's on the way, I saw the first snow last week Monday for about half an hour!
- merl - Saturday, 11/01/08 21:04:58 EST

Outdoor lighting: Commercial outdoor lighting plans now do have restrictions on the ammount of light that is emmitted "upward", but it reflects up from whatever it shines on anyway.

When aproaching the South Florida coast at night You can see lighter areas in the darkness over the heavily populated areas long before they come over the horizon. One time sailing north off of Florida I saw the light spot in the darkness TO THE NORTH, where there is no land. When I got closer I realized it was coming from a fleet of shrimp trawlers working the area. They had powerfull lights shining off the back of their boats.
- Dave Boyer - Saturday, 11/01/08 22:11:37 EST

Reflectors: These do make a lot of difference as well as reducing the unwanted side glare.

The utilities usually make a deal on "security" lights that homeowners can't refuse. However, if you put your OWN light up you can also put it on a switch and turn it off when you don't need it. Lights on motion detectors are also very handy and save a lot of electricity. Combined with timers they can provide better security than just leaving the light on all the time.

"Security" is a joke when it comes to bright lights unless you make everywhere look like daylight. As kids we used to sneak up on various places by using the shadows between the light. The bright lights blind the looker and make it easier to hide in the shadows. Even a slight dip in a lawn makes a hiding place.

According to the National Geographic article one of the brightest spots on Earth is the fishing fleet off the coast of Argentina.

Flying up the East Coast at night is an amazing light show. A continuous spider web of lights with bright knots and trailing lines along roads and highways. If there are no utility lights there is truck and auto traffic. . . In the Florida and the Carolinas it is a continous mesh but as you travel Northward the lights cluster more around cities.

We have a bunch of solar charged battery powered ground/garden lamps. Just enough light to keep from falling off retaining walls. They are cheap and do not last long, but they are REALLY cheap. . . A dozen cost less than a utility supplied light for two months.
- guru - Saturday, 11/01/08 23:02:43 EST

North Korea dark: I remembered from a news report that North Korea at night is mostly dark as viewed from a satellite due to the lack of industrial development and the lack of city night life. Your search engines can locate the view. Even with light pollution at almost nil, I don't think I would want to move there.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/02/08 06:24:26 EST

I have motion detector lights and love them. Added a couple to the shop to both deter theft of gas from my vehicles and to light my way in and out. nothing works better to scare the pants off a teen looking for a few gallons of gas than a light that comes on and spotlights them. They are already ready to run, and the first impluse is to flee. I have used several brands, with "Heath" being good value, "Lights of America" not worth bringing home. I have Compact flourescent spot lamps mounted in the holders.

When as a youth I flew with my Dad to help him stay awake on long night flights I observed several things. Much of the East was indeed lit up. In the 60's you could often see Chigago, Philly, Pittsburg, and New york on a clear night from 200 miles out at 6000 to 8000'. The light reflected in the smog cap! You could see that smog cap in the day from 100 miles.

Smog got better, and the night distance reduced into the 70-80's.
ptree - Sunday, 11/02/08 08:37:53 EST

Except for a few specialized fishing fleets mid ocean is about the best you can get.

A couple years ago Sheri had little night lights in most of house. But it was a new house and she was learning her way. The lights drove me nuts because I was used to REAL dark. Eventually the night lights all burned out and not been replaced. They were not needed. Between the two neighbors with pole mounted lights and the truck lot 1/3 mile away you can see well enough in all the house without turning on a light.

The demarcation between North and South Korea is amazing. Of course South Korea has more nuclear power per capita than any other country in the world (thanks to us) and the North is very, very poor there being no "extra" power for things like street lights.
- guru - Sunday, 11/02/08 11:29:13 EST

In some youth hostels in UK they have motion sensor lights in the bathrooms. That way the kids don't leave them on after they go. They work very well. Would be good in a roof space or somewhere like that.
- philip in china - Sunday, 11/02/08 21:25:02 EST

dark : My mothers family has a farm on the northern end of Door county in Wis. It is surrounded by the deep waters of lake Michigan and when I was a kid staying there for the summer I always noticed how REALY DARK it was at nite.
That was when all we had was the Guru's favorite kind of tin shade yard lite with a 100 watt bulb hanging from a pole by the tool shed so we could play basket ball after dark.
There was no need for a bigger yard lite as we were all in the house for the nite by 8:00.
I sure do miss those days.
- merl - Sunday, 11/02/08 22:12:52 EST

They make those funky looking tin shades for big street lights as well. . .
- guru - Monday, 11/03/08 00:18:49 EST

We get good sky visibility out here as well being rural and at nearly 5000 feet and the smog of Albq hasn't reached us yet. Then my neighbor had a light installed on his gate and the side of my house that was dark now has a glaring spot off in the near distance. I must ask him about putting up a reflector on the side toward my house.

The best night sky I have seen was at La Silla observatory in Chile, close to 8000' clear dry air and *NO LIGHTS!* All windows have blackout shades and woe be to someone who forgets---the light police will come and give them a talking to.

OTOH once your eyes adjust you can walk most everhwehere on the site by star light alone.

Thomas P - Monday, 11/03/08 11:16:42 EST

anvil in portland,or: where can i buy an anvil in portland ?
- chaosfoundry - Monday, 11/03/08 12:42:40 EST

Portland. . answered on guru's den.
- guru - Monday, 11/03/08 13:24:40 EST

Portland?: Which Portland? The tow most commonly known ones are only a couple thousand miles from each other. Makes it tough to tell you where to look. SOmewhere in between, I suppose.
vicopper - Monday, 11/03/08 20:01:47 EST

Then there is Portland Cement . .
- guru - Monday, 11/03/08 20:23:18 EST

A building I once worked in had fairly big public bathrooms with the lights on motion sensors. The sensors couldn't see into the stalls. It wasn't a good place to be constipated . . .
Mike BR - Monday, 11/03/08 20:32:21 EST

Mike: I didn't know there WAS a good place...(grin)
vicopper - Monday, 11/03/08 22:06:07 EST

Portland: A good place to buy an anvil in Portland is at the next NWBA conference, which is in St. Helens Oregon, in the spring.
Check for info about joining the NWBA.
If you are a blacksmith in the Northwest, it doesnt cost to join the NWBA, it PAYS.
There will be a fair selection of used anvils for sale by private individuals at the St. Helens conference, plus 150 or so blacksmiths, demonstrations, and a lot of free information. And Grant will be there selling tongs and tooling.
There are NO anvil stores in Portland.

- Ries - Tuesday, 11/04/08 00:41:10 EST

if your in a stall when the timed motion lights go out, you have to throw a roll of tp over the wall to trip the sensor back on.
Dave Leppo - Tuesday, 11/04/08 12:20:42 EST

sigh; if you can't find your @$$ with both hands in the dark; should you be on a computer?

Thomas P - Tuesday, 11/04/08 17:18:48 EST

Motion sensors on lights detect moving sources of infra red so you would need to laight the paper before launching it.
- philip in china - Tuesday, 11/04/08 18:44:58 EST

Phillip, I think the cheap common ones use reflected IR. I've seen wind blown trees and snow trip them.
- guru - Wednesday, 11/05/08 00:24:50 EST

Democracy in Action: Well folks it's over by a landslide.
John Christiansen - Wednesday, 11/05/08 00:48:26 EST

I wouldn't call 52/46 a landslide. The theoretical electoral votes make it look that way but the popular vote (which we SHOULD be using in modern times) is much closer.
- guru - Wednesday, 11/05/08 08:38:35 EST

Well. . I've been informed it was a much bigger difference than in past elections. . .

However, to me it was not much difference. Which goes to show that in American politics the people don't see much difference between a rich old white guy and a young comparitively poor black guy. . they are both politicians.

I would LOVE to have a choice to vote for someone that was a real economist and who understood world history as well as understood the responsibility of the government in a Republic (which we claim to be).

I have also come to believe that every elected position in our country should require a special political education that clearly taught the above as well as specialties for national positions such as cultural differences and how they effect the world's perception of the U.S.
- guru - Wednesday, 11/05/08 13:27:41 EST

You don't graduate No. 1 from Harvard Law without having a helluva lot more understanding of economics, world history and the role of government than you could ever hope to teach or test for and still expect people to run for office. The same ought to be true of anyone graduating at any level from the US Naval Academy.
Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 11/05/08 16:42:49 EST

I think that because we are a Republic instead of a true Democracy is why we use the electoral college and not popular vote.
- Tom H - Wednesday, 11/05/08 21:43:49 EST

Gumment: With many people in congress and the senate acting to promote their own self interests rather than those which are the best for the country, it doesn't make a lot of difference how smart, or well intentioned the president is.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 11/05/08 22:31:32 EST

Popular vote: Guru, I couldn't agree more. And paper ballets at that. Well, it is over and to our credit, this site stayed nonpolitical till the day AFTER the election. Which I think really showed some restraint on everybodys part.
John Christiansen - Wednesday, 11/05/08 23:02:09 EST

I think the Electoral College (or at least the way electors are assigned) has more to do with ours being a federal system than anything else. In effect, we have 50 state races for President, not one national race.

The need for state organizations probably preserves our two-party system, and the overall Electoral College system pretty much guarantees that one candidate gets a majority.

If we went to a direct popular vote system, we might end up with multiple candidates and run-off elections. Possible we'd have multiple parties in Congress and coalition rule as well.

All that might be better than what we have now, but it also might be worse. On the whole, I think our current system has worked pretty well for a long time. We should think long and hard before changing it.

As far as I know, the Electoral College itself is now just a formality; I guess you could officially decide the election based on the number of state "electors" each candidate won, but eliminate the College.
Mike BR - Thursday, 11/06/08 07:32:57 EST

Technically we have done just that. The news has announced a winner based on what the Electoral college is SUPPOSED to do. But they ARE permitted to vote their own mind or for what they think is in the best interest of the country.

My argument against the system is that many voters are disenfranchised by the fact that most of their neighbors in their state vote the opposite. I did not vote in a number of elections because my vote would not make a difference. In years prior to that I voted for independents because I do not trust either of the national parties to work in my interest. Yep, that was a throwaway vote but so was a vote for anyone else the majority was not supporting. This year was different.

With a popular vote system I think more people would vote because they knew THEIR vote counted. 52/46 is NOT a landslide if every vote counts.

I think we also need a "no-confidence" vote. Yes, it can result in needing special elections but we do that ALL THE TIME. Obama and Biden are leaving seats open that will need to be filled. It could have been McCain and Pallen . . none gave up their state positions.
- guru - Thursday, 11/06/08 12:11:05 EST

Ah, that's a parliamentary system like most of the British Commonwealth was. You see how well that works, in that somehow the stupidest ideas become law much more easily.

The obvious solution, which I'm surprised none of you has grasped, is to simply appoint ME dictator for life! Problem solved, see? (grin!)
Alan-L - Thursday, 11/06/08 13:58:23 EST

That would seem to work except that perfectly reasonable people go all to pieces with that much power. How's the saying go, Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I'd be happy with a fair tax system and keeping speculators out of the markets.
- guru - Thursday, 11/06/08 15:43:50 EST

Pandas: Going on Panda safari for the weekend. So no access to the internet. Could someone else write any fatuous comments for a couple of days please?
philip in china - Thursday, 11/06/08 17:31:53 EST

Philip: Sure, I'd be glad to. What is the Glorious Peoples' Republic promoting this week? Human Resources Development in Darfour or Nutritional Nitrogen Enhacement of Baby Food?
Peter Hirst - Thursday, 11/06/08 21:08:28 EST

Panda safari?: Good grief! What will the PETA people think? What about all the preservationists everywhere? In this country we work very hard to keep a couple of captive pandas healthy in the zoo, and there you go off willy-nilly, shooting the poor cuddly-looking things! Boy, the Olympics get finished and there goes al lthe politically correct stuff that was happening in the People's Republic. Now they're back to barbarious things like whacking pandas. This is, no doubt, just a way to cut down on the pandas' depradation of the bamboo forests so that they can harvest more bamboo shoots to sell to American-based producers of canned Chinese food. Probably make more chopsticks too - for eating all that succulent panda meat.

Panda safari, indeed! What's next? An excursion to Formosa to slaughter sika deer? Or perhaps a quick trip to take out Takin and river dolphin? Oh, wait - you already wiped out the dolphin, didn't you? Man, you send a guy to live in China and in no time at all he becomes an utter barbarian...

Will that do for fatuous? (grin)
vicopper - Thursday, 11/06/08 21:33:32 EST

Correction: There is a glaring error in my previous post, for which I humbly apologize:

"depradation" should be depredation. I have no idea how this slipped by my editors, but I apologize for it nonetheless.
vicopper - Thursday, 11/06/08 21:38:37 EST

I read somewhere, maybe here, maybe Wall Street Journal, some impeccably dependable source, that a humongous quantity of longs born and bred in the U.S. went into making chopsticks. In China.
- Miles Undercut - Thursday, 11/06/08 23:40:55 EST

Not to mention the shorts.
Peter Hirst - Friday, 11/07/08 01:49:03 EST

And that's the long and short of it!

Thomas P - Friday, 11/07/08 11:22:57 EST

"Will that do for fatuous? (grin)
vicopper - Thursday, 11/06/08 21:33:32 EST"

Rich, I knew that we could count on you to step into the breach. :)
- Brian C. - Friday, 11/07/08 11:58:00 EST

Jock, I resent that you think I'm perfectly reasonable! I think I can handle being absolutely corrupt. Dunno what the rest of you are gonna do about it, but since most of you will be ministers of something anyway you'll be joining in the fun. (grin, again!)
Alan-L - Friday, 11/07/08 12:55:57 EST

Hey, Can I be an international bank and use billions of dollars in bailout funds to buy up my weaker competitors? Then bankrupt the whole after transferring a billion or two into personal accounts offshore? With THAT I will be able to buy my own little island and become a country of my own! Oh, this will be great fun Uncle Bush . . . . . ah I mean Alan!
- guru - Friday, 11/07/08 14:16:01 EST

Good idea! Only after you've done your job as secretary of education, however. ;-)
Alan-L - Friday, 11/07/08 14:50:28 EST

Good plan; we'll need a little island to invade to take folk's minds off what's really going on!

Thomas P - Friday, 11/07/08 15:18:16 EST

No sweat. .

Disallow ALL teaching to the test. Make it a hanging offense or permanent dismissal on moral grounds. The system that made us GREAT was a liberal education, NOT teaching forgettable factoids.

Put a cap on all administrators pay to no more than what teachers make. Set a limit on administrators to teacher ratios in public schools and make private schools report ONLY actual class room teachers in teacher to student ratios (no admins counted).

Remove all reporting to Federal agencies (costs billions plus many unneeded employees). Require the hiring of specialists to teach certain classes at all levels (computerese, art, music, sex/health ed).

Forbid touchy feely psychobabble personal exploration classes that invade students right to mental privacy. They waste time and have not yet identified or stopped a roof top shooter. They also side-step doctor/patient privilege in a way that the courts would probably overturn if it came to it.

Generally streamline education to teaching the basics (which include some art, music, physical education).

And so on. . . Use a take no prisoners approach and denounce all that get in your way Arrrrrg >;(
- guru - Friday, 11/07/08 16:40:39 EST

blasting an anvil: what is the safe proceedure for using gun powder to project an anvil into the air ? thus blowing or blasting an anvil.
- mark schneider - Friday, 11/07/08 17:42:35 EST

Misc. Baloney: Since the new prez is gonna save the world is there a blacksmith bailout on the way? I think it's amazing we have to buckle down and still make money inspite of our government. I'm gonna start the "Regular Workin Folks Party". Our platform would be common sense, maintain an army, and leave us alone.
Hey, Mark great question, I'm waiting for the answer as well. I've been to a number of those anvil shoots down south and they are great fun! Those good ol' southern boys ought to have a great recipe for anvil shooting! CHEERS!
- Barry Denton - Friday, 11/07/08 18:17:59 EST

Anvil Shoot: Mark & Barry

I am waiting for the answer to the anvil shoot as well. I also think they are great fun. I am just in fear if the answer is given the homeland security folks will not see the humor in it...LOL
- Rustystuff - Friday, 11/07/08 20:06:04 EST

Nomination: I nominate Barry D. for prez 2012 "The Regular Workin Folks Party". Jessie Ventura could be your V.P. He will be made to shoot an anvil at anyone who doesn't vote for you!! Grin :)
- Rustystuff - Friday, 11/07/08 20:09:50 EST

No longer recomended: However, there is a description in Bealer's The Art of the Blacksmith
John Christiansen - Friday, 11/07/08 20:15:32 EST

Peter: Are you going to get that forge? If not I might look into it.
John Christiansen - Friday, 11/07/08 20:16:53 EST

Shooting anvils: I was at a Connecticut farriers' get-together some years ago, and they shot the anvil from a level area about 30 yards from the base of a high hill. We viewed the shoot from our positions well up on the hillside. At that time, I don't think they had anvil shooting competitions as they do now, but we had pretty good results by placing a link in between the two anvil bases. The link was like a chain link made out of 3/4" round stock and just big enough that it didn't overlap the bases. The link was filled with black powder before the top anvil was in place. A slow cannon fuse was used for ignition. I would guess that the anvil went about 45' in the air.

However, as to safety, you're playing with fire, playing with black powder, and playing with a chunk of heavy iron coming down in an unknown area. None of that would seem to be necessarily safe. Just make sure the cannon fuse is long enough, so you have time to move away. If you're on or near ground level, protect your eyes and face. Stand way back. It was a good idea the Connecticut farriers had of standing on a convenient hill.
Frank Turley - Friday, 11/07/08 20:18:33 EST

Im using a forklift fork for an anvil and im using the top to hamer on and its a 3x5 inch rectangle and i think its spring steel but i want to make it harder because the hammer is denting the face if im not careful, so in a modest shop how would you reccomend i get it up to heat to harden it?
- Jacob Lockhart - Friday, 11/07/08 21:15:30 EST

Anvil shooting: I'd use a Barrett .50 cal with AP ammo, myself. (grin)

The idea of a link between the anvils to contain the powder charge kinda gives me the willies. I can see piecesof that link being spread in every direction if the charge is just a bit much for the link. I've never shot an anvil, but I've heard that those who did favored the anvils with a wrought body that had a hollow in the base. Two such anvils placed feet to feet would give the necessary volume for the powder charge without the likelihood of creating shrapnel, the way I envision that link doing. Obviously, from Frank's description, there was no shrapnel, so perhaps it is okay, it just would make me nervous.

One thing inparticular to note is that the charge is black powder and NOT gunpowder. Black powder is much slower burning and creates a "push" instead of the rapid explosive expansion that smokeless powder would. The faster the burn rate, the higher the brissance, thus the greater probability of shattering something.

I used to like black powder or ammonium nitrate for blowing stumps, dynamite for blowing rocks and det cord for blowing trees. Probably can't get any of them these days, though. That's okay, since my knees are so bad I probably couldn't get clear in time to be safe. Not something I want to observe up close and personal.
vicopper - Friday, 11/07/08 22:18:50 EST

anvil shooting: Mark
I went outside and did an anvil shoot this evening. All I can say it is not a good idea. My anvil got pissed for shooting it and spit the bullet right back at me...LOL
- Rustystuff - Friday, 11/07/08 22:37:45 EST

Anvil Shooting:
FIRST and MOST Important. NEVER take ANY ADVISE about how to do this (or any other explosive thing) from the Internet.

SECOND Find an anvil shooter and learn from them. Also consult with explosives experts.

THIRD go to the FIRST rule.

There are two type of anvil shoots. The first are the casual funning around on the fourth of July type. These should be done with LOTS of room, lots of safety precautions. Generally the anvil should never go higher than about 20 feet. It makes a HUGE cannon like boom, a BIG cloud of smoke and is relatively safe as using explosives go. Hoping off the ground 3 to 5 feet is a hoot and MUCH safer. . .

The second kind are the high fliers and competition anvil shooters. These guys are NUTS. Every one I have seen traveled far enough that if ANYTHING went wrong and they didn't go EXACTLY straight up they could have landed on someone or something. Drop it on a person and you go to jail for murder. Your estate (family) sued for negligent death and value of a person. . . Drop it on a late model car or truck, a building. . . and you will probably be up on Federal explosives charges as well as you and or your family being personally libel for the damage.

IF an anvil can travel 300 to 500 feet UP it can travel more than that distance horizontally.

I was a proponent for letting ABANA chapters do their own thing when it came to anvil shoots. However, many were in the category of competitive shoots that were MUCH too high for the area they were performed. You don't have to launch an anvil out of sight to have fun.

There are bocu anvil shoots on YouTube. LOOK at the distances, then do the math if that thing is launched at a 30 or 45 degree angle. LOTS of people in the kill zone in most of the ones I've seen. If you don't know the trajectory math or have a good enough handle on trig to learn? Then you have no business in the anvil shooting business.

Anvil Shoot on iForge
- guru - Saturday, 11/08/08 00:31:03 EST

Anvil Shoots are dangerous: And yet they are promoted....
- Hmmmmmm - Saturday, 11/08/08 01:38:04 EST

The most dangerous thing a person does regularly is drive or travel in an automobile.
JimG - Saturday, 11/08/08 09:06:38 EST

Dangers: Lots of dangerous things are promoted. . . Quite a few NASCAR fans have been injured and there has been at least one death that I remember from car parts flying over the fence into the stands. That is why the new fences are so high. And of course drivers are killed and occasionally pit crew. . . Drag racers often have their cars blow up.

Horse and jockeys both occasionally get killed.

WORSE. . Every football season several high school players die from heat stroke or stress (heart attacks). These are children dying for sport. . .

But as Jim points out, the most dangerous thing people do every day is go to work in an automobile.

I decided long ago that no job I had to commute to or drive on a major highway to get to was worth it. Eventually the odds catch up with you. If you are not killed or injured you are likely to suffer a financial loss. Even though I do not commute I lost a van to a collision last New Years. .

I still spend a lot of time on the road for anvilfire. Much more than I expected. I've driven to Madison, GA four times, Birmingham, AL three times, Troy, OH four times, Morganton, NC a dozen times, Asheville, NC a half dozen times, Nashville, TN three times, Bristol, TN twice. Locally (in Virginia) I've traveled to Northern VA several times, to Charlottesville a dozen times, to Petersburg a dozen times, to the Valley several times and to Richmond KY for the ABANA convention. I've also flown to Calgary, AB for CanIron II, to Flagstaff via Tuscon, AZ and Dallas, TX. There have also been personal trips that I didn't count but often returned blacksmithing content such as our 2005 trip to Costa Rica (NEWS 37) and our 2007 trip reporting on the Costa Rican Tire Hammer. If you have seen the roads in Costa Rica you would agree that any extra side trips were definitely added risk. . .

So I guess my travel for anvilfire cancels out the lack of travel to work. . .

There is risk everywhere.

- guru - Saturday, 11/08/08 11:21:54 EST

Gasoline and Price Fixing.:
Locally prices are down to $2.19 and in Virginia less than $2/gallon is common.

Frank asked about who sets the price of gasoline. Prices are set by the big oil companies, who tell their local distributors what the price will be and who in turn tell the retailer what the price will be. The oil companies do the price fix, then take input from their distributors about local conditions.

A retailer can start a price war with a few cents a gallon off his mark up but generally needs permission from his supplier. Since there is only about $0.15/gallon markup on a gallon of gas there is not much room for the retailer to offer a better price. When the local distributor gets involved the price can drop a little lower but THEY in turn must have permission from the big guy. . .

I was a Phillips 66 service station dealer in the 1970's during the "oil embargo". At one time I tried to set my price at something and 1/2 cents instead of 9/10ths . . . The old mechanical pump had the fraction. I caught hell from the distributor.

At that time prices doubled in two weeks from 35 cents a gallon to 67 cents a gallon and have NEVER gone back. We dealers were told the same lies about how long it would take to get fuel moving again in the refineries and pipe lines. The DAY it was ended a truck showed up to fill my tanks which had been only getting 1/10 capacity for months. The fuel had always been there. It was all a big lie.

Today's pricing problems are more complicated. Globally there IS more demand. However, the majority of the high prices were were paying was due to oil futures speculation and pipeline operations interest. The futures speculation is something new that was made possible by changes in U.S. government regulations and was completely out of control due to way too many people being in the market (thanks to on-line trading). This went away with the market collapse but COULD happen again in a short period of time unless it is regulated again. The oil line folks are like a lot of businesses in that they do nothing with their OWN money. . they borrow heavily. So when credit gets tight and the cost goes up so does the price of delivered fuel. Shut down credit altogether and the pipe goes dry. . . literally.

The above problems were created by our "OIL President" and a greedy congress (Yes, Democrats were just as much to blame as the Republicans). An honest chief executive could have prevented it.

So what we have TODAY is prices the way they should have been all this time. Of course there is still the question of the mega profits of the oil companies that was not part of the speculation. And there is also the problem of having less refineries and few much larger ones. . Perhaps $1.50/gallon or less is the REAL price we should be paying.

The problem with letting an out of control market take huge profits on fuel is that it effects the price of EVERYTHING from your morning coffee to the price of steel delivered to your door. The jump in prices in the 1970's took decades to filter through the economy and hurt the profitability of many companies. THIS time however, folks like Dow Chemical announced across the board price increases as soon as the price of fuel went up. Food went up, EVERYTHING went up in order to feed market speculation in fuel.

Will consumer level prices drop? Probably not nearly as much as the market or oil.

What about the market drop of 50%? Was it real? If is was everything would have stopped by now. A real 50% drop in the market should mean a 50% drop in employment, 50% of businesses going under, stores with 50% inventory. . . Or maybe its still coming. Just how much inertia does the U.S. economy have?

OR was the doubling of the cost of everything the result of taking profits in the market that had nothing to do with the cost of production or the value of companies or their product? IF that 50% was the part of the economy that does not make anything real then what is now left is reality.

Economic theory and preventing unrealistic manipulation of the markets is part of our government's job that HAS NOT been done. It is time for someone to take charge at home.
- guru - Saturday, 11/08/08 12:27:34 EST

Oil Wells: I just returned from the National Association of Drilling Contractors Annual Meeting where actual costs of drilling a well were presented. On average, half the cost of a well is in just drilling it. In addition there is the cost of the casing, the mud, the frac job, the Blow Out Preventor, many truckloads of chemicals, the cost of the permit and the lease, the production tubing and the pumpjack, the line pipe to get it to a transporation center, and all the attendant costs for insurance, etc. An average land well at 8500 feet costs a million dollars or more. At $100 per bbl, it takes about 6 months to break even on the well. At the rate of decline in the US today, you get maybe another 6-12 months to make money then the well becomes un-economical to produce. And then you go drill another well. An off-shore well can cost 100 times as much as a land well. Depths of 35,000 feet are now being drilled. An off-shore rig can cost a Billion Dollars and costs $500,000 per day to operate. The cost to produce oil from off-shore is getting more expensive because all the shallow oil has been found. The cost of oil is down right now but it will go back up. If it doesn't you better get a bike or a horse because when those "Greedy Oil Companies" stop making profits, there is simply no reason to stay in the business and gasoline will get scarce as chicken lips. They do not owe us cheap gasoline. In many places, the rest of the world is paying up to $8 per gallon because they have no domestic production. Vent your frustrations if you must, but I think we need to recognize the "Greedy Oil Companies" are a necessity in our society and the only way to produce enough oil is to employ the best technology available. And that costs money.
quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/08/08 14:20:14 EST

Oil Prices:
QC, I don't mind paying a fair price for a product with a fair markup such that the producer can stay in business and get a fair return on investment.

But we do have laws against price fixing which are based on anti-trust (monopoly laws). So it is considered a bad thing. We also have laws against extortion which is what happened in the 70's.

When an industry uses both you can call it what you want.

The group I have SERIOUS trouble with are those that figure out a way to profit on a commodity without benefit to society as a whole. When an investment helps a business and the business does well and profits the investor that is good for society. But many modern financial schemes are setup strictly to siphon money out of the economy without benefit to society.

Consider the rash of billing companies in the telephone business during the early 1990's. The ONLY business these folks were in was taking your AT&T or Sprint account, marking it up and billing you. The phone companies were forced into this by loopholes in the communications deregulation bill. But because these companies did NOTHING for the markup which greatly increased your bill they had to lie to get business. They claimed that people had agreed to changing their "phone service" when that had done nothing of the kind. These folks were ALL crooks and eventually put out of business. But their entire business model (even if honest) should have not been allowed at all.

There is a whole series of "investment" types that do nothing except siphon money out of the economy OR cause price increases without benefit to anyone except the investor. Most of these make money simply by manipulating paper. These need to be stopped. There is a good chance that much of the market losses were these type of "investments". Otherwise the problem would be worse than it is.

The fact IS we need to get off of oil. It is a finite resource that as you noted is growing ever more expensive. Eventually it WILL run out and before that we will be in a REAL world war over who gets to have it if we don't have a replacement. The only way to avoid that coming conflict will be to NOT depend on oil. The time to do it is now.
- guru - Saturday, 11/08/08 16:08:31 EST

Oil Prices: Quench: I just returned from the National Association of Pre-Owned Vehicle Retailers, where I just bought a 2005 Dodge Neon. All due respect, but the last time oil prices depended on production costs, if ever, was back before John D. Rockefeller could spell "monopoly". Production costs on the other hand, are price takers. The value of and therefore demand for such services depends entirely on the price of oil: they don't have any influence whatever in setting it. The wild fluctuations we have seen in the last year above $70 or so have been in part due to speculation, but the steady creep up to 70 in the years before that was and continues to be carefully controlled by OPEC. That price extracts monopoly rent at the production end far above the reasonable cost of investment in production. Saudi may be controlling the process, but the US/International oil companies are reaping the monopoly rents set by the cartel, entirely independent of their actual investment risk. Take a closer look at the "average" well you model in your post. Breakeven at six months and then production for another 6 to 12 months? Depending on your production curve, that's a return of between 50 and two hundred percent per year, my friend. I have never heard one person anywhere posit that oil companies should "stop making profits". And you, know what? They actually DO owe us cheap gasoline. Standard Oil was convicted of anti-trust violations and broken up by the US government for doing PRECISELY what the international oil cartel is doing today. The fact the the US/International companies are merely profiting from the price setters without controlling them (if you believe them) doesn't make any difference as far as I am concerned. They stand in the shoes of the price makers.
Peter Hirst - Saturday, 11/08/08 16:15:57 EST

Oil: Guru, no argument with what you just posted.
Peter Hirst: How much return do you get for a dry well? No, I said prices are subject to supply and demand, not production costs. The production costs are considerable and very risky investments that only subtract from the return. I will add no more to this discussion. As the Honorable David Crocket said to his Tennessee Constituants when they failed to re-elect him: "You may all go to Hell and I will go to Texas!"
quenchcrack - Saturday, 11/08/08 16:54:20 EST

Quench: You're not even listening to your own propoganda. The model you set up is the average well. That means it already accounts for dry holes. I might as well ask about the holes that return thousands of percent. And actually, no, you did not say prices are subject to supply and demand. You did not even use those words, separately or together, in your post. But you did mentions "cost" 12 times. But OK, let's say you recognize supply and demand, why even bother to mention production costs? And no, they don't "subtract from" the return. They don't even float as high as the returns will bear. In your own model, they are fully accounted for and fully returned in six months on your average well. And Guru: Does it makea difference whether Exxon/Mobil is doing the price-fixing, or Saudi is doing it and E/M is riding on the fixed price? Supply and demand don't result in fair compensation for the value of investment or risk when either one is artificially manipulated, as it is now.
Peter Hirst - Saturday, 11/08/08 19:03:36 EST

Crocket in Texas...: That didn't work out very well for him did it?
JimG - Saturday, 11/08/08 19:55:58 EST

I am astonished to hwear all the whining about gas prices in the US. Almost no one else in the world pays so little and yet y'all are whining rape. Wake up and smell the coffee, kids. Oil is running low and the prices is going to get a lot worse in the decades to come. High time to learn to get by on less oil, I'd say.
vicopper - Saturday, 11/08/08 19:58:24 EST

vicopper: Richie

Easy for you to say. You can be on either side of your island on your scooter in 10 minutes. Where I live I am two hours in any direction away from anything like doctor appointments etc... I have feet of snow and subzero weather to contend with. The cold gobbles the fuel right down. Many mountains to drive up and down, so I need power and can't run a 2 cylinder lawn mower engine. I think the US should just give the Virgin Islands to Cuba, so we don't have to deal with those whinney Blacksmith's down there.
- Rustystuff - Saturday, 11/08/08 20:10:43 EST

Equine smiths?: They not only whinney, but they nicker, neigh and whuffle?
Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/08/08 22:01:25 EST

Snow and Cold weather. . .: That is why Rich is in de Virgin Islands mon. .. and I am looking at retiring in Costa Rica where not only can you avoid heating AND air conditioning bills it is out of the paths of hurricanes. . . Avoiding Heat/AC My cost of living would go down by $300/month at current energy prices. That adds up to a lot year after year. A commercial satellite connection about cancels the fuel savings but some of that is offset in other services we pay for here. . . With luck and expansion of services it might not be needed. .

Distances to services is still problematic. Paradise is not without costs.

I PAID the $4.25/gal going to and from Ohio and would do so again. What I do not like is the extra $2/gal (maybe its $3) almost HALF the price going to futures speculators and questionable stock transactions. If it was going to actual costs, to further exploration, replacement technologies. . . then OK.

There have been plans to tax gasoline in the U.S. to European norms and THAT would be fine as long as the money went to what it SHOULD. Getting us off oil. But you cannot trust congress to use tax recipts the way it was intended.

- guru - Saturday, 11/08/08 23:31:48 EST

Fuel: NOW [if not years ago] is the time to get serious about coal to liquid fuel.

We should have already opened up ALL of the US coastline to drilling.

There is a tremendous ammount of methane hydrate to be had, We need to develope methods to harvest it.
- Dave Boyer - Saturday, 11/08/08 23:37:16 EST

Oil, coal, and natural gas are all finite resources; when they are gone, they are gone pretty much forever. Accelerating the
- Charlie Spademan - Sunday, 11/09/08 07:08:11 EST

post.. then POOF: Oil, coal, and natural gas are all finite resources; when they are gone, they are gone pretty much forever. Accelerating the "harvesting" and consumption of them makes no sense whatsoever. Though I'm not sure how I would be able to afford to heat my house, I firmly believe that the tax on fossil fuels for non-commercial users should be drastically raised, such that one would think three times before deciding that any trip in the car is absolutely necessary, keeping the house above 66 degrees is necessary, using a leaf blower instead of a rake..etc. At the same time, I think that the petroleum industry needs to be regulated such that the profit made by them is fair but limited, and that speculation in petroleum products as a commodity should be prohibited. I have mixed feelings about nuclear energy, and do not claim to know what means of sustainable energy production will ultimately prove to be successful. There are numerous alternative ways to produce energy available now; wind, solar, geo-thermal, hydroelectric, and more to be discovered. It appears to me that the real bottleneck now is energy storage and transmission; that is where I think that the tax revenue from fossil fuels needs to be allocated.
Just my 2, dollars
Charlie Spademan - Sunday, 11/09/08 07:09:35 EST

David Crocket: Jim, no, it just didn't work out well at all. I guess Sana Anna heard Crocket complaining about the price of imported Mexican cooking oil.....
quenchcrack - Sunday, 11/09/08 08:33:54 EST

Tom Clark Passes:

Fellow Blacksmiths, it is with a great sadness that I announce the passing of Tom Clark. Tom passed on November 8th, after a prolonged battle with cancer.

I am told that there will not be a funeral. A memorial Service will be held later.

The blacksmithing community has lost a major player and a great supporter of the craft.

- Kim Saliba - Sunday, 11/09/08 14:17:42 EST

Crocket and Pandas: I am now back. Just studied the pandas. They are OK but using colour film on them seems an extravagance.

Re David Crockett please listen to Duvid Crockett on Youtube for a Yiddish take on the theme. It is hilarious.
- philip in china - Sunday, 11/09/08 17:51:54 EST

Oil and such: I'd say you put it pretty darn well, Charlie. We definitely need to tax fuel at a rate comparable to most of the rest of the world and allocate that revenue to exploration of alternative energy sources, developing safe nuclear power and rebuilding our transportation/manufacturing infrastructure which has been largely abandoned in recent decades.

While I don't have to heat my house, and I refuse to squander fossil fuels to air condition, I can't really get across the island in ten minutes - it's more like a hour or more and two gallons of gas each way for the truck. I work at the same place I live, for the most part, a choice I made so as to minimize commuting costs and driving time. If I lived in the States, I'd probably live in a semi-rural or rural area and have to drive a considerable distance to shop, see the doctor or go to the hospital. Here, on a relatively small island, the shopping and doctor are closer, but the hospital is a couple thousand miles away if I want good care. My choice, and I pay the tariff without sniveling when the time comes. When/if gas is taxed at the level it should be, some of those trips may be financially impossible for me and I will be faced with some tough decisions. That's just part of life and I'll deal with it as it comes.

Restricting trading in fuels as commodities and prohibiting price gouging seem appropriate to me. I favor the free market system for the most part, but some things simply need to be regulated for the good of the country and its people. We have all seen the results of oil speculators' effect on prices and availability.

(As for the ad hominem attack, those who actually know me will also know my thoughts on such things.)
vicopper - Sunday, 11/09/08 18:38:36 EST

Rare Books: All 4 original editions of "PRACTICAL BLACKSMITHING" by Richardson FOR SALE. volumes 1-3 in good condition, #4 in fair condition. Books were printed in the 1890's. $300 or best reasonable offer
Dick Rightmyer - Sunday, 11/09/08 19:09:54 EST

Charlie, Rich: Both of you make good points, but for the life of me I don't see how we can trust the Gov. to spend the money how they should. Just look at the so-called Social Security Trust Fund, all that is in there is a bunch of I.O.U.s. That money was supposed to be used for one thing and one thing only. People my age probably won't get squat, like the notch babies, wronged from the begining, and still not righted.
John Christiansen - Sunday, 11/09/08 19:38:16 EST

"Hypocrisy": I can use big words just like carribean blacksmith's. i.e. "Hypocrisy"
- Rusystuff - Sunday, 11/09/08 21:58:01 EST

Is anyone else having problems viewing this page; small font that does not wrap? All other web pages I visit seem ok
Charlie Spademan - Sunday, 11/09/08 21:59:46 EST

Charlie, It is the glitch in Dick's post. I will fix.
- guru - Sunday, 11/09/08 22:14:40 EST

Finite Resources: Geothermal, hydroelectric, wind and solar are all finite too, just a longer timerfame.

We might have already used 1/2 of the easily recovered oil. Coal we have only used a small percentage of the total, as coal to liquid can use low grade western coal and the mine scrap that is all over the existing coal regions.
Natural gas I don't know any figures for, other than there is a lot of it under the ocean off the US coasts that is untapped.
There is supposed to be vast ammounts of methane hydrate, but I don't think the technology to harvest it is developed.

In the US there are few rivers that are suitable for commercial hydroelectric instilations that are not already being used. Smaller streams could of course be damed to provide power on a much smaller scale, but the fish huggers don't like dams, so permiting will be an issue.

Wind power is fine if You live in an area with enough wind, but it does take a lot of wind to make any serious ammount of power.

Geothermal: There are 2 different approaches to this.
1) Use well water as a heat source/heat sink for a heat pump. This works where well water is available, and it does work well. [No pun intended]
2) Go really deep and make steam to power a turbine for electric generation. Don't try this at home Kids. This is viable on a commercial scale.

Solar offers a lot of posibilities. We have been using solar water heating for about 30 years at this house. Our system does require several hours of clear sky sunlight, preferably around mid day for a 1 day supply of hot water. Presently I am using a 75 gallon storage tank, It MIGHT hold 1 day without sunshine if the previous day was a good one.
Solar electric is viable on large scale and small scale depending on location. Cost effectiveness for a home system depends on the price the power company has to pay the homeowner for excess generation, and this varies from state to state. Florida laws and state & federal tax incentives are extremely favorable to a home PV system, I live in Pa. where they are not.

Storage and long distance transmission are a tough problem. Ambient temperature super conducters are still a ways away, but they would solve the transmission loss problems. Storage is a big problem in large scale systems, and small scale home wind/solar systems that are tied to a power grid often avoid it altogether, relying on the grid to make up any difference. This in turn requires that a portion of the commercial generating capacity has the ability to vary output according to demand in short time periods.

An increasing population will require increasing energy production even with conservation.
I am not advocating wasting energy, but I do not want to live the way My Mother grew up either.
Making energy expensive forces people of limited means to conserve, but the folks who waste the greater percentage of energy now will still be able to afford to even if the cost is much higher.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 11/09/08 23:01:31 EST

Free Market:
The problem is that "Free market" should be dirty words. On a small economic scale it means the right to set ones own prices and to sell to or not to whom you wish.

But on a global scale the term "Free Market" has come to mean the right to raid national economies by buying up and then dumping currencies, thus wrecking banks and making them ripe for take overs. It has also come to mean the right to dump goods on a market below cost until all the local manufacturing disappears and then have a monopoly where you can dictate the price without competition. . .

Targeting and wrecking national currencies is a practice that should be abolished internationally but has been decreed to be "free market".

It is the DUTY of a Republic to defend its local market (the businesses of its citizens) from such predatory practices. Our government has not been doing its duty in these regards.

What is VERY interesting is if you study the causes and effects of the Asian financial collapses you will find that at the time they looked toward what the U.S. was doing at the time to solve their problems. However, while on one hand we tried to fix the problems on the other we did nothing about the cause (which was making some people very rich).

The following was written about the Asian economic crisis that has ruined many countries. The problems were well understood.

"..policies that distorted incentives within the lender-borrower relationship. The resulting large quantities of credit that became available generated a highly-leveraged economic climate, and pushed up asset prices to an unsustainable level. These asset prices eventually began to collapse, causing individuals and companies to default on debt obligations. . "

Does that sound familiar? You bet it does. Global economists understand what works and what does not. Our government had plenty of time to observe and adjust policy to prevent the inevitable. But nothing was done.

So far only a small segment of the total U.S. economy has been hit. But the problems can spread. Devaluation of the dollar can result in further price increases and loss of more jobs. Shortages and accelerated inflation can result in the inability of those WITH jobs to survive economically.

A free market is fine and dandy when it works. But when those in powerful positions who care only for short term personal gain and nothing for the health of the economy take gigantic profits at the expense of an entire nation. . . Then something must be done and it is the job of the nation's government to take action.

- guru - Sunday, 11/09/08 23:16:13 EST

Conservation: Dave

Very interesting. I am truely for conservation and alternative energies. Great strides have been made in that direction. I am looking forward to what the future holds for us in that arena.

Myself I limited travels and do not drive my truck or even start it for a few days at a time. I make a circuit to accomplish all important stops. I use many racing products in my engine, transmission and oil that reduce wear and significantly increase efficiency. I always make sure I have proper tire pressure and things of that nature. All maintenance and repairs are made to my vehicle to function at its optimum performance. My foot is not to the floor board when I drive including acceleration. Old worn out vehicles with roughly 80,000 miles and up should be completely overhauled including, engine, transmission, hubs, wheels, bearing, axels, differentials etc. They have significant wear you do not know about and thus use more resources.

I also spend a great deal of time with my Amish friends. I have learned a great deal of their lifestyle and conservations. They are people some could learn things from. We are wasting resources using our computers also. I write letters many times so as not to use a computer. It all helps in some way.
- Rusystuff - Sunday, 11/09/08 23:17:02 EST

second paragraph sentence two should say fuel and not oil.
- Rusystuff - Sunday, 11/09/08 23:18:09 EST

Before CHEAP telephone service and e-mail I used to travel quite a bit JUST to talk to blacksmithing friends. A 125 mile trip one way in an old truck was common. . . But at the time it was cheaper than a phone call. Even driving a 7 MPG truck. . Fuel was below $2/gal at the time. Today I have a $5 fee on one phone that lets us make international calls at nearly local rates.

Electronic communications are a lot cheaper than driving today. I do most of my shopping on-line saving trips to various stores. That is for the things I cannot buy locally. I can also send photos by e-mail and receive same from anywhere in the world at the same cost. I do some of my banking and bill paying electronically but here is one place that I prefer to a stamp in many cases. Altogether my electronic communications save money. AND for the past couple years my monitors have been solid state flat screens that use a very small fraction of the power of the old CRT's.

PC's are still a bit of an energy hog. SEMI conductors do just that, partially conduct electricity and the rest is wasted as heat. . Also costs in summer cooling bills. But in the winter is just part of the home heating.
- guru - Monday, 11/10/08 00:10:34 EST

Blacksmithing Content:
In recent weeks and months we have added quite a few swage blocks to I just added one from Israel (those inexpensive to e-mail photos). And I have another one to try to add tonight. . A special Betty lamp swage.
- guru - Monday, 11/10/08 00:19:30 EST

Seasonal. . :
The Leonids meteor shower is on the morning of November 17, 2008. The Moon will be only a couple of days before full, so its light will overpower all but the brightest "falling stars".

On these cold clear nights we enjoy watching the sky from the hot tub. . . On many nights we see one or more meteors. Even with the bright moon the past couple nights I saw two tonight and one last night. If you have a clear sky and you can see a wide section of it the average should be one every 15 minutes. We have had nights when we saw four or more in half an hour which is about as long as we stay in the hot-tub.

Even when a meteor shower is supposed to be a certain time there are usually days before and after that the activity is greater.

So find somewhere that there is little light pollution and enjoy the show!
- guru - Monday, 11/10/08 00:29:16 EST

Leather Apron Quad State: looking for the contact information for the maker of that leather apron that went up for auction at quad state this year.

thank you
- kim saliba - Monday, 11/10/08 10:25:35 EST

Swage blocks: I think I've mentioned this before, but I saw a huge swage block that may have been a one-off at the Southwest Iron Works Blacksmith Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma. David King is the owner/operator and said that he found it by accident while cleaning up a pile of debris behind the building. It was buried in the pile!

There are remnants of a cupola at the museum, and he guessed that the block was poured on site.
Frank Turley - Monday, 11/10/08 10:35:15 EST

You never know what you will find in industrial locations. I've watched Josh Greenwood move machinery with a loader and a track hoe. It is not surprising what can get buried either on purpose or by accident when moving stuff with heavy machinery. I've also watched as tons of coal was dumped and overflowed onto stacks of old equipment. . .

While excavating old industrial sites you never know what you find. When they reworked our Mill in the early 1900's they used old pieces of machinery including huge gears and heavy forged pieces in the concrete. Worn mill stones were used as stepping stones. Flooding is common and there are pieces of machinery burred in the creek bed and along the dam.

I've seen entire automobiles buried when lots were being "cleaned" up and you never know what you will find in a river bed. Modern disposal regulations prevent a lot of this today but it still happens. .

- guru - Monday, 11/10/08 11:57:42 EST

Near one of the anvil manufacturer's in Columbus Ohio you can find a dozen or so of the huge sandstone grinding wheels, say 4' in dia and 1' wide that were rolled down the hill and into the river when they wore down that "small"

I'd have gone down there with a metal detector; however as an old industrial site *everything* is steel/iron and so as no detector has an anvil discriminator setting it would be useless.

Thomas P - Monday, 11/10/08 13:06:02 EST

ThomasP, that sounds like work for a magnometer.
ptree - Monday, 11/10/08 19:31:10 EST

cheap cut off hardy wanted: Greetings! I am in the nedd of a cheapish cut off hardy....anyone got one cluttering up your floor?

H. Holbrook
- Howard Holbrook - Monday, 11/10/08 22:31:56 EST

Hardy: I've got one but it is fairly heavy (big) so if you are around here by all means call and collect.
philip in china - Tuesday, 11/11/08 01:56:51 EST

Lest we forget
- JimG - Tuesday, 11/11/08 09:07:27 EST

Tools,: Hey i was wondering if any one had any tools that are essential to blacksmtihing that you would be willing to give or sell to me. Im in need of some diffent tools like tongs(i have two pairs both flat stock and realy old) hardies i have two that my friend/ mentor made for me a turnign fork and multi swage. i have like maby 6 hammers, i cut my metal with a floor chisel and any one who has a cut off hardy should give Howard Holbrook the first wack at it. so if any one could help me out it would be appritiated.
- sam - Tuesday, 11/11/08 11:13:37 EST

Sam, When you are desperate for them it is often time to learn to make them. Tongs can be a bear to make the first time but get easier with practice. I find bolt or V-bit tongs the most handy followed by side offset tongs.

For most tongs both halves are identical (NOT mirror image). But for side grip tongs they are different. I find it easier to make them with the jaws forward the grip perpendicular to the jaws then heat and bend them after assembly.

While most professionals avoid making a lot of their tongs for financial reasons it profits newbys to make their own. Generally making your own pays you about $10/hour and gives you a lot of practice you need.

Other tools like hack saws and files can be bought new and used. However used files are usually dulled even if they appear not.

In your list (which may not be complete) I do not see any modern productivity tools like an angle grinder or drill. They make a big difference in what you can get done.

It sounds like you have the basics or more. Other "essential" tools are welders and torch sets which may not be in your budget.

I've found that one GOOD pair of tongs gets used more than any other. Before I could afford a cutoff saw I found that the heavy duty hack saw I made greatly increased productivity over the cheap lightweight ones. One hammer gets used more than any other. Same with punches and chisels. A rigidly mounted vise is often used more than the anvil.

Good tools are often more important than a quantity of tools. I've got racks of tools that rarely get used. But those that get used are used every time I am in the shop. A good work bench (even a wooden one) can cost more than an anvil. If I had to choose between anvil and a vise. . . I would take the vise. A good convenient forge with an electric blower or a gas forge can quadruple your productivity over a primitive forge. Sure, they work but we spend enough time waiting for the iron to get hot and don't need to be fussing with the fire any more than necessary. . .

It is easy to get off track and THINK you need more or different tools than you have. The tools that really speed things up are often overlooked. As I mentioned a good hacksaw is great. But you also need top quality blades for it as well AND they need to be replaced often. This is much more important than a new fuller or bending wrench. Files are expensive and often indispensable. A set of sizes and types can again, cost as much as an anvil.

The basics and the small consumables (files, drill bits, saw blades) are the place to focus your attention. Outside of basics I would look for a bench grinder (or small angle grinder) and power cut off saw.
- guru - Tuesday, 11/11/08 12:59:40 EST

As for hardies, if you can't make one I would buy a good forged steel one such as made by Off Center Products (Grant Sarver) and sold by our advertisers.

When REALLY desperate for a hardy I've used the corner edge of a piece of cold drawn steel. Next thing is to find a cold chisel larger than your anvil's hardy hole and forge it to fit (we ARE supposed to be blacksmiths). A bigger piece of steel such as a jack hammer bit is better but also a lot of work to cut off and forge to fit.

The primitive red-neck way to make one is to start with a square piece of leaf spring stock about 1/4 to 3/8" thick and arc weld it to a shank sized piece of steel bar, tube or angle. . .

All my hardies have been short old ugly things that were hand made to fit by somebody somewhen. . . I guess I should properly tool up one day.

Gotta finish the power hammer project first!
- guru - Tuesday, 11/11/08 13:11:35 EST

Tools: Hey guru thanks for the advice, but i have one more question that is probaly way better than my previous one. what all would i need for a good shop set up, i have some things but not alot and my shop is separated between my garage and basment(basement electric and such garage forge). What point i want to get to is a point of equality, all the equipment i need to work and practice all sorts of things instead of all the big shiny things i would like to have that really wouldent help me, so if you could help me by giveing me a list of things i
NEED so i can save up my money and buy them it would be greatly appritiated.
- sam - Tuesday, 11/11/08 14:27:56 EST

Minimum Tools:
Sam, this depends a lot on what your goals are and the type of product you want to make. There is no good answer to this.

If you were in the nail and hook business all you need is a Forge, hammer, small anvil, one or two pairs of tongs and a small shear or hand saw to cut rods and key-stock. If mass producing these you MIGHT need a vibratory finishing machine to de-scale and debur and a tank system to dip in paint.

If you are in a hobby bladesmith you can get away with a forge, anvil, hammer, tongs, vice and some kind of grinder, maybe a few punches and a drill. But if you want to make blades that are reasonable in cost you need several belt grinders, a disk grinder and buffing setups plus some hand fixtures. You will also need a nice set of files and some kind of heat treating setup. IF you are going to make your living at it then you will need a cutoff saw, possibly a band saw, a small power hammer if you forge blades and a truck load of skill.

If you are a tool maker you will need a power hammer or two sized according to the tools you make, forge anvil, tongs of many sizes, cutoff saw and possibly an ironworker, various general shop tools and heat treating equipment. You will probably also need equipment suitable to do die making for power hammers and presses. This could be a milling machine or small EDM. If you deliver finished goods then a vibratory finisher and paint equipment.

An artist blacksmith ends up amassing more tools than any of the above. You can do with the minimum but tools such as large weld platens (Acorn plates) are common for making gates and fencing. Multiple power hammers for various size work. Multiple types of welding equipment and forges are needed. Space with a hoist to support large work in assembly. A truck to move steel and deliver product. . . possibly a fork lift.

If you are into smithing as a hobby and do a little bit of everything then you end up with more tools than many professionals who usually specialize.

If you are into the primitive aspect of the game then you need less than most. I do a little bit of everything including building machinery so I need more machine tools than most but less than some.
- guru - Tuesday, 11/11/08 15:51:52 EST

tools: Thanks guru im wanting to do a bit of all, and i know now what i need thank you.
- sam - Tuesday, 11/11/08 20:41:44 EST

tools: Sam, if I can add to what has already been said.
I find the hardest thing is were to keep, what tools.
I'm spread out over three differnt shop areas at my place and because I do different typs of work in each I find I need duplicats or triplicates of most common hand tools to aviod running to one place or another to get a particular wrench or such...
I have my machine tools and precision measuring things in the basement shop were it's relitivly climate controled all year a round. In the garage or next to it I do the mechanical and maintenance stuff so that's ware I keep the majority of the wrenches and socket sets, power tools, ect...
My smithy is in a building that is a ways from the house so I keep a small set of hand tools out there to reduce the number of trips to the garage or basement (or visa versa when stuff gets left out there)
Machine tools need to be kept in a fairly clean environment with steady temps.
Forges don't belong in the basement. I have heard of several who do have their forge in the house but, I can think of nothing more dangerous.
One idea might be to get a five gallon bucket (or some other such tool tote) and put the tools you need in the smithy but, can't leave out there, in it and take them back and forth untill you determin what you need in each of your work areas. I have a bucket or tool tote for several different things at my place, electrcal work, plumbing, carpentry, fencing ect... and a 60' length of rope with a clasp on it in case I have to hual something up the silo or up a ladder.
As Guru pointed out, each aspect of the trade/hobby requires a diferrent and similer set of tools and equipment and untill you have some direction as to what you want to do with your shop you could find yourself gathering up alot of stuff that you don't use but has to be kept somewere.

Speeking of getting more stuff...
My local hardware store has a O/A set that includes two torch bodies (one for welding, one for cutting) hoses, bothe gages, for $200. made by Victor.
The torches are a little small, being rated for 5/16 weld and 1/2" cutting but they also sell larger cutting tips and and a 3/4" rose bud for that torch.
Does anyone have any opinion on Victor? They used to make a good product, do they still?
The local farm supply store also sells a couple different torch sets so I'm wieghing them all in against a much more expensive AO Smith rig from the welding supply store in the "big city"
Of corse I would still have to rent some tanks ...
What about accetaline and compressed air? I think I have heard of people doing that, I know we used to run the Belchfire torches like that .
- merl - Tuesday, 11/11/08 23:03:17 EST

Storage and Victor:
Victor has been in business a long time and replacement parts have always been available for old Victor equipment. It is usually quite pricey but good equipment. I wish my first set had been victor many years ago.

One note on the small sets is that they often come with single stage regulators instead of two stage. I find it very annoying to use a small flame on single stage systems where the pressure is constantly changing. Full size sets have the advantage that the torch bodies and regulators are heavy enough for larger rosebuds and cutting tips.

A PLACE FOR TOOLS as Merl noted is always an issue. If you are successful obtaining and collecting tools you can quickly find that you have no place to use them. First it starts with not enough tool chests for immediate storage, then the lack of benches followed by a place to put them as well. Last spring I invested in over $700 worth of (cheap) shelving to help organize tools and it filled up immediately. 32 feet by 2 feet deep four shelves high. . . Being cheap they already are sagging (chip board shelves) and need reinforcing.

When I was working craft shows my portable forge trailer was everything in one, storage, work bench, roof. . and as portable as two tons on wheels can be. It was very convenient in ways but I also had tools and machinery in the house as well. So there ARE advantages to staying small and compact.

The itinerant craftsman who carries all his tools on his back has a certain elegant simplicity. The Chinese pot repairmen carried their tools in two boxes with a shoulder yoke. One box was for tools, the other was his box bellows with drawers and a work surface (bench top) built in. Divided in two they had to balance. If he could not carry it from village to village on his back he did not have it. I suspect he also had a small pack with clothing and bedding.

Storage and shop space is always something to consider and now difficult to focus on in these troubled times.
- guru - Wednesday, 11/12/08 00:51:26 EST

Yokes: They still use those split bamboo yokes. We get women carrying 2 buckets of cement that way all the time.
philip in china - Wednesday, 11/12/08 04:54:16 EST

tool storage: I think Freud said that there were two kinds of anal: retentive and expulsive. I probably lean a litte toward the latter; however I can lay may hands on my most needed smithing tools. My scroll forms are outside in a pile, but being in New Mexico, I don't have the deep, scaly rust problems that one finds elsewhere. I have two, steel, outdoor storage cabinets which really help. I've located two more used ones, one being a tall, square one with a locking handle. I'll make my own shelves. This coming weekend, I'll be picking them up.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/12/08 08:38:09 EST

Cliche': I was in the old forge building, forging some door hardware for the new forge ("rasp hasps" made from old horse rasps) last week when the new owner of the place showed up with his family, loading the last load of hay into the barn.

I wandered over and opened the conversation with: "Still making hay?"

We chatted a bit, as they heaved and rolled bales and rolls into the barn, letting him know that the new forge was almost finished, and ended the conversation with:

"Well, I've got to go now, I still have irons in the fire."

It's not every day you can legitimately employ two tired cliche's!

The New Building for Oakley Forge
Bruce Blackistone - Wednesday, 11/12/08 08:56:35 EST

..and he said to the farmer: "How's your son doing?"

"Oh, he moved to town and set up a shoe shine stand."

"I see; you make hay while the son shines!"
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/12/08 11:15:23 EST

Thomas P - Wednesday, 11/12/08 12:02:14 EST

Merl: I think you meant made for victor. Seems just about every major name brand now has a cheesey chinese version. And they hide the made in china sign pretty well too. Compare the price of that set to the cost of just one true victor regulator and you will see what I mean.
- John Christiansen - Wednesday, 11/12/08 13:10:36 EST

Post vice: Can I show my ignorance?

A lot of time seems to go into telling people how to repair the box on a post vive. Wouldn't it be less trouble just to get a length of acme threaded bar and a nu to suit and replace the whole thing? then you would have a new part of known dimensions and, more importantly, known quality. I would think if you kept that greased it would outlast the owner and probably the rest of the vice. Am I missing some point somewhere along the way?
philip in china - Wednesday, 11/12/08 19:14:53 EST

cheesy...: Yes of corse, I would expect any O/A set at that price to be MIC. However, if I want to move forward on my plans for the smithy for the winter then I will have to come up with some kind of torch set up.
I hate to admit it but, the high gas prices of this spring and summer truly used up any extra money we had and then some. If I want to get a torch right now I'll have to look at some of the cheaper alternetives. Besides the store has a nice selection of accessories most of wich are made in the U.S. So I have to consider the new Victor stuff for my first torch set along with the big doller ones.
I have always been partial to the A.O. Smith but I havn't seen one in over ten years so maybe they have changed too?
In the end I'll probably wait till spring and pop for the A.O. Smith because of the ability to get some realy big rose buds for it.
I'm a diesel engine kind of guy. I would rather spend more money up front on something that will last much longer and get more work out of it rather than the cheap throw away stuff. I still have to justify the expence...

Frank, I didn't know you were a sword smith too... you and your rapier whit...
- merl - Wednesday, 11/12/08 19:19:32 EST

Merl: I have four working torch sets at the moment, they are all american made, I bought none of them new. I personaly prefer oxweld/pureox/line/union carbide, but I will buy and use victor, smith, haris and airco equipment without hesitation. If I only bought new tools, I would not have a fraction of the tools I have.
John Christiansen - Wednesday, 11/12/08 19:44:29 EST

Vice: Philip-Aside from the angle of the screw in relation to the fixed leg changing as the vice opens, thus requiring a crowned bushing/washer somewhere in the mix it would seem to me that you are right. You do need to keep the nut from spinning somehow. Of course there is an immense store of knowledge here that may well know better than I.
- Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 11/12/08 20:24:41 EST

Merl-Torch Sets: The Victor website mentions 3 price ranges for the product line. The torch itself might be [or not] the same in each, but the more expensive ones have larger regulators and longer waranties. The pipeline industry predominantly uses Victor torches, but they are overall about equal to Harris, Smith, Airco/Concoa, and the Union Carbide/Esab brands [Oxweld, Pureox & Prestolite]. All of these proved themselves in industry over the years, and are still available and can be serviced. I too have a bunch of older used torch equipment, and would not turn down a used set, just be sure it works first, or get it cheap enough that You can repair or replace some parts and still come out OK. Tips for Victor & Harris are easy to find, and less expensive, especially if You buy the cheap import ones. Smith is the probably most expensive. GTS gas & welding supply is selling an import torch set, about $150 or less, If I was going to buy an asian import, I would rather buy it from a company that understands how it is supposed to work.

You can get really big rosebuds for any full size torch, but remember the 1/7 rule if using acetylene, You need to pipe several huge tanks together to run one. A #4 145 CuFt acetylene tank will only run the smaller rosebuds like sold in the farm stores safely.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 11/12/08 21:42:50 EST

Vice Repair:
Acme threads work. The trick is the connection to the handle. The original parts have that nice big ball and huge forged shoulder for the thrust bearing. If you cut this off and weld a new threaded section on it would be close to the OEM part. This is a critical weld in a place that should be one piece. But if the weld is good and the alignment straight then that will work.

At the other end the nut has a huge thrust surface as well and the anti rotation method is a key on the side of the tube that passes through the body of the vice. Quit a bit of fabrication here as well.

I have seen large wood working vise screws put into leg vises. Often they have a pipe T forging for the handle to slide through and this is welded to the threaded rod. Pretty ugly and does not provide a thrust surface. The nut is usually cobbled onto the back side of the vice OR has no anti-rotation other than friction. . . also pretty ugly.

Some of the very old European vices did not have a sliding handle. They used a large wrench (or hex drive handle) on the very large not on the front of the vice. The nut was large to provide the thrust surface. I've never seen the screw end but I suspect it was a large shouldered piece for thrust as well.

Anything you do you are going to need to provide a large thrust shoulder (about 3" in diameter). AND as Judson noted, if the spherical washers are missing you will need to make them. However, on one vice I had I just used a stack of large HD washers and it worked very well.

I've got some 1-1/8" Acme rod I bought for an adjustment mechanism. The nuts will fall through the holes in a small leg vice frame.
- guru - Thursday, 11/13/08 00:10:10 EST

More vices. . : I much prefer the difficult to make square threads for vices. . . I REALLY need to get my old South Bend moved and operational. It would cut a nice hefty 4 TPI thread.
- guru - Thursday, 11/13/08 00:12:24 EST

Hammers: I like a ball pein hammer. Is it a viable project to make one? If so how? I have been puzzling over this one now for some time.
philip in china - Thursday, 11/13/08 00:24:12 EST

Ball Peen: I've forged two of them. They are a tough forging at the anvil, I think more difficult than an adze-eye claw hammer. Having a striker is helpful; forging it alone takes more heats. It makes one want to purchase one at the flea market.

1½" square x 4" long high carbon steel might yield a two pound hammer. The eye gets punched first with an undersized eye punch. A few smiths slit/drift. The eye is punched off center, because the finished hammer is "head heavy."

My next step would be to do a preliminary fullering either side of the eye to form a rough octagonal section. I deepen and widen it later on.

The tapered drift would be fairly long, 9" or so. With the drift remaining in the eye, you draw out and thin the two cheeks with either a cross peen or fuller. Flatter-finish them. They will be rough shaped and therefore finished cold with disc sander and hand held belt sander (after normalizing).

Forge the head rounding and hog out the ball end. Do a finish octagonal fullering, trying not to distort the eye. The eye is difficult to drift at this juncture, because it is wider than the parent stock and the edges where it rests may collapse. If I were making many of them, I would have a half round, bottom swage with a hole through the hardie shank. I would drift into that tool to protect the circular eye shape.

Then comes quite a bit of cold work. If the eye is cattywampus, I use either a die grinder or rat tail file inside.

The eye of hammers is not hardened. By taking a hardening heat on the entire head, you run the risk of 1) overheating the eye and/or 2) having the eye cheeks crack because they become harder quicker that the head and peen. You have a difference in the hardening and contraction rate. Not good.

I normally harden the head by heating it horizontally at the near edge of a hot coke fire and rotating it. I quench in water, bring it out when you no longer hear that churning sound. It will be about 150 to 200ºF perhaps. I'm told this helps prevent cracks (?). I remove the face scale and place it in the vise vertically, head up and heat up my tempering tool to a welding heat. My tempering tool is a 7/8" square turned eye that has a snug fit over the head. I leave about 18" extending from the eye for a handle. Dropping the tool over the hammer head will temper it by heat conduction, and I take a forging hammer head to a dark straw temper, 470ºF. The theory is that you get a "rim temper," so that the rim will be softer than the hammer face center to help prevent spalling. In reality, that may happen to a degree (pun intended), but it is difficult to read the supposedly softer color at the rim. When the correct dark straw is reached, I pour a can of water on the head to hold the temper.

The peen is heated to harden at the edge of the fire, but only after I wrap a large wet rag around the head, holding it with a large pair of bolt tongs. This will protect the head temper. After quenching the peen, I leave the wet rag on and place the head in the vise, peen up. I temper the peen to a purple using my o/a torch tip. I chase color toward the ball end by directing the torch tip at the peen's octagonal base.

Then comes the final polish and fitting of the haft. I doubt if I would make one for sale. It might eat my lunch.

Frank Turley - Thursday, 11/13/08 10:40:35 EST

Ball Pien. . .:
I have a huge hand made (well. . . open die forged) ball pien hammer of about 8 pounds made in the Roanoke, VA railroad shops. It is not the prettiest of hammers but IS the largest ball pien I have ever seen.

Making a ball pien is not a lot different than any other hammer. It is just a hard style to reproduce well. The tough part is punching that long hole for the handle. I would be tempted to drill it than drift to shape. The rest is just forging. But you need good fuller tools (top and bottom) to do the necking of the face stems. A helper to strike or a hammer like a KA would make is easier.

A trick is to make it symmetrical. Keep both "faces" long for handling and trim last.

The good old ball pien hammers had beautiful lines with sharp crisp chamfers making the stems octagon in cross section. Most production ball pien hammers are machined after forging to make the flat face cylindrical and to shape the ball end. I suspect that some also had those chamfers dressed by hand as well.

You can tell a lot about the general quality of a ball pien by the crispness of the lines and the shape of the ball. Many poorly made hammers have the same round ended conical pien on every size rather than a true spherical pien. I actually heard a fellow a few years ago arguing that this was the right was to a ball pien. . .

Cheaper ones have a forged ball that is hand finished. Due to the flash lines they often end up out of round or poorly finished. The ones I like the best are those with a ball that is just a little over 50% and the chamfers making a scalloped line when they end.

While I know it does not effect the function of the hammer I dislike those made in washed out rounded dies or with heavy stems.

A few years ago I realized that most of may old collection of ball pien hammers had walked off or gotten misplaced. So I started hunting up a graduated set. I found that many sizes were no longer available new and the only way to get them was to find old ones. I was shocked at the poor quality of many that I found. Ugly shapes had replaced the classic old lines many years ago so most that I found were that type.

I DID manage to find sizes ranging from a little couple ounce hammer to that large RR-shop hammer. I found one of my old hammers and noted that it too had been made in a RR-shop. Sadly the face had a chip and a deep crack. . .

Years ago I took the four ball piens I had and carefully dressed and polished the balls and faces. Now I have 16 and they are a "round tuit" project. . .

- guru - Thursday, 11/13/08 10:44:18 EST

Ball Pein: You have convinced me. I will continue to buy them. Years ago I had a set of Stanley ones which worked well. They were lost in the divorce like so much other stuff.........
philip in china - Thursday, 11/13/08 19:26:37 EST

used stuff: John, 70-80% of my stuff is second hand or has been salvaged from someware but, when it comes to O/A gages and torches I'm hesitent to get stuff at a flea market. The welding supply store I deal with is very reputable and if they have something used on the shelf from a trade in or something then I don't have a problem with it because I know they don't sell stuff they won't stand behind.
Besides, sometimes they have deals on tank rentals to go along with a new torch set.
Like I said, I have to take everything into consideration while this is still a hobby.
Also, I'm still on the fence over accetaline or propaline. I think you can run a much bigger torch on propaline can't you? We used to run the Belchfire's on it.
Thanks for the hammer tutorial Frank, I'll print that off and add it to the note book.
- merl - Thursday, 11/13/08 22:21:30 EST

Merl, If you need a BIG rosebud then propane is the best way to go. However, it is difficult to weld with and not as easy to cut by hand with as acetylene. You can end up VERY frustrated.

You can overdraw a propane tank to run a big torch much longer than on acetylene. The 1/7th rule on acetylene draw starts when the cylinder is full until it is empty. Propane will evaporate at higher rates until the cylinder is drawn down and the warm mass is reduced. It is also easier and cheaper to get larger propane bottles than acetylene.

The best setup is to be sure your fuel hose is propane rated and have both fuels. Normally it is best to have seperate regulators. Use the rosebud on propane. You can also braze with it economically. If you use an economizer valve they make pilots for both fuels and they are not hard to change.
- guru - Thursday, 11/13/08 23:17:53 EST

I just picked up a Victor acetylene regulator at the fleamarket this morning for US$5; no obvious damage; shoot even the dial covers are mint! Cheap enough that a rebuild would still be on the good side of New.

Anyone know if they are rated for all fuel gasses? I know; go look but I'm at work and it's out in the truck...

Thomas P - Friday, 11/14/08 13:02:18 EST

For Sale: New Drill Bits: For Sale

Brand new, mint, never used 29 piece drill index from 1/16" to 1/2" in 1/64" graduations. From Precision Twist Drills, high speed steel, standard length, black oxide finish, in nice looking black case w/ logo.


Contact Tyler Murch by email or anytime at 478 731 3263
- Tyler Murch - Friday, 11/14/08 17:17:48 EST


The reg that came with my Victor SuperRange II set (I it's a CSR350) *is* rated for all fuel gasses.
Mike BR - Friday, 11/14/08 17:21:23 EST

Thomas-- I think it's the hose that has to be specific for one or the other, propane or acetylene, but can't be used for both. (Regardless of what all those cats will say who, like their grandpappys afore them, use garden hose duct-taped to the bottle.) The gauge, I think, is okay for either. This needs a hard check with Victor tech support.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 11/14/08 17:29:31 EST

I cleaned it up over lunch and found a tag that stated that the seating material was rated for acetylene use.


Thomas P - Friday, 11/14/08 18:32:17 EST

Gas Regulators: Miles, gas regulators (reducing valves) are almost always soft seated and have a soft diaphragm. The elastomer used must be compatable just like the hose.
ptree - Friday, 11/14/08 20:49:49 EST

Gas Hose & Regulators: Grade "T" hose is good for all fuel gasses, grades "R" & "RM" are rated for acetylene only.

There may have been regulators that would not be compatable with propane, I have checked Airco, Harris & Victor regulators that I have, and they are all rated for all fuel gasses.

The issue You can get Yourself into is using a propane regulator with acetylene. This is not due to chemical incompatibility, but pressure. Propane regulators will go much higher in pressure than is safe with acetylene. Acetylene should NEVER be used at over 15 PSIG, and the current wisdom is to stay at 10 or below.
- Dave Boyer - Friday, 11/14/08 22:56:32 EST

Yes, thanks Guru. The more I look into this the more it looks like I'll end up getting an acetylene set up first and then the propane stuff when I need it in the future.
I've got one of those 500K BTU propane weed burners now but, it's like bringing an atom bomb to a knife fight for most of what I do now. It gives a big flame but not very hot. If I had a O/A flame roaring like that the job would be done in short order.
There is just no "hot spot" in that weed burner flame on regular propane. On propalene there is a bit of a differance but, thet stuff I got to get from welding supply.
A friend of mine uses ox/Hydrogen to pre and post his alum tig welds, any possibility with this for welding and cutting?
- merl - Saturday, 11/15/08 00:22:43 EST

BOOM!: Jeff-- thanks. My science teacher sister in law has explained to me many times howcum acetylene can't come safely out of the bottle and I can never remember the reason. Something about the inherent instability of the molecules of the gas and their consequent tendency to heat up and melt the regulator. Scary stuff. Keep the pressure well under 15 psig-- 10 works fine for all practical purposes. AND REMEMBER TO BLEED THE DAMNED HOSES AND BACK OFF THE TWISTERS AFTER SHUTTING THE BOTTLES DOWN AND BEFORE OPENING THEM AGAIN!!
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 11/15/08 00:43:04 EST

hoses: The gas purveyors have a website you cannot access any more that covers hoses, and the problem seems to be that acetylene eats hoses that aren't rated for it. Or maybe it's propane that does this. Whatever, this propensity can lead to nasty, noisy, sometimes fatal surprises when you flip the sparky light switch in the shop some morning, and can be avoided by simply insisting that your welding/soldering/brazing boutique supply you with the right gear.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 11/15/08 00:48:59 EST

Hoses: Over the long haul, rubber deteriorates. I have replaced my old o/a hoses which had slight cracks showing up on the surface. Another thing, the hose should be coiled and off the ground when not in use.
Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/15/08 11:41:48 EST

Hoses: Propane causes non-propane fuel hoses to age prematurely (get stiff and crack). Sunlight and ozone also increases the rate of aging. So if you keep them covered they last longer.

In any case, they do not last forever even if not pinched or cut which is their usual fate in a busy commercial environment.

As Dave was noting. One of the biggest difference in acetylene regulators is they come with acetylene gauges which are usually 0-30 PSI and have a red field above 15 PSI.
- guru - Saturday, 11/15/08 12:17:23 EST

Old Moose: Fred McDaniels "Old Moose" of Old National Trail Forge and Anvil passed away yesterday evening. Viewing will be at Eberle Fisher Funeral Home 103 N. Main St. London Ohio on Tues. Nov. 18th from 3:00 PM till 6:00 PM Services to follow and cremation. He was a good friend and blacksmith and will be greatly missed. God Bless and keep him. - from Laura
- guru - Saturday, 11/15/08 21:08:48 EST

Fred McDaniels: Was a remarkably friendly fellow who never failed to have a good word to say about life and smithing. I knew him from QuadStates gatherings and always looked forward to chatting with Fred. QS won't feel quite the same without Fred tootling around in his golf cart and cracking jokes everywhere he stops. A gentleman who was always very generous with his friendship and his knowledge. It was an honor to know Fred, and I'll miss him.
vicopper - Saturday, 11/15/08 22:19:58 EST

Merl: I think Oxy Hydrogen is better suited for brazing. Your friends use for pre & post heating is fine too, it is a clean flame, but not as hot as other fuel gasses.

Gas welding works best with acetylene, because of the reducing atmosphere of the secondary flame. I don't think hydrogen will give satisfactory results gas welding steel without flux, as is usually done.

Cutting requires high pressure oxygen with over 99% purity. If the oxy generating equipment meets these 2 requirements it will work. HOWEVER the flame temperature of hydrogen is low, so pre heating before the cut is started might take a while, and cutting speed may be a bit slower too.

In summary:
Acetylene is the best gas welding fuel.
Propalene is the best cutting fuel.
Propane is the most economical fuel for a rosebud.
- Dave Boyer - Saturday, 11/15/08 23:24:01 EST

Fred McDaniels:: Guru
Could not find his Obituary in the newspaper. Do you have a link to his forge or a photo link. Thanks
- Rustystuff - Sunday, 11/16/08 01:01:45 EST

Fred Mcdaniels was indeed a truley nice guy and a friend to all. I too will miss him.
ptree - Sunday, 11/16/08 08:21:18 EST

summary...: Thanks Dave, that will be a great help. You know if you don't use that knowlage you start to loose it. I wonder if I can still gas weld?
- merl - Sunday, 11/16/08 15:59:05 EST

miles: acetylene is stored in/as liquid acetone (not sure of the real science behind it). if you tip an acetylene bottle on its side to move it or whatever, and don't leave it standing long enough for the acetone to settle in the bottom before using it, the acetone will get into the regulator/hoses and eat away at the gaskets and other rubber parts

there may be other issues you're thinking about too, but tipping bottles is a big one to watch out for
jim coyle - Sunday, 11/16/08 20:12:25 EST

Merl: Gas welding is like falling off a bike, once You have done it, You will always be able too. There are slightly different filler rods for gas welding and TIG welding, It is probably better to have the right ones, but coat hanger wire will work in a pinch.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 11/16/08 21:13:37 EST


I did not get a response.

I was wondering if anyone found Fred's obituary in the newspaper? I would like to read it. Did he have a website to his forge? I didn't find one and assume he didn't, but just wanted to visit if he did.

He will truely be sadly missed.
- Rustystuff - Monday, 11/17/08 00:12:56 EST

Old Moose: Fred McDaniels: Not much more to say. He was a CSI member and a good friend of Paw-Paw's. He was always early to Quadstate and held a place for us in 2005. I do not think he had a web site. I did a fairly thorough search. His email address was always at WebTV.

The number of friends we have lost in recent years is far too many and most did not go of old age. Those that I can list off the top of my head not including some of the famous stalwarts of 20th century blacksmithing such as Francis Whitaker. . .

Ralph Douglas
Jim Paw-Paw Wilson
Dave Manzer
Dona Meilach
Tom Clark

There are many others but I cannot think of them now. As we "boomers" age the list will grow more quickly. We are also the generation that brought blacksmithing back and a great number will be remembered while many more will not.
- guru - Monday, 11/17/08 00:50:06 EST

Thank You Guru

It is so sad, but a normal part of life. Such a shame to spend a life gathering knowledge, wisdom, relationships and skills to only be here for such a brief moment.
- Rustystuff - Monday, 11/17/08 01:48:35 EST

New Shop needs hammer: This Friday, I will begin moving Keziah's Forge to a new location, the forge at the Cape Cod Cooperage box and barrel factory (now "Barn and Barrel") in Harwich, Mass on Cape Cod. Robert S. Jordan ran this forge years ago, and I can only hope to return it to a semblance of its former glory. The only major piece of equipment I am lacking is a power hammer. If anyone has a lead in New England on a 25 lb LG or similar(because of the neighborhood, I dare not go any heavier) please let me know. Good operating condition w/single phase 110 motor preferred. Thanks.
Peter Hirst - Monday, 11/17/08 01:50:09 EST

Fred's obituary: Fred S. McDaniel

Fred S. McDaniel, 67, of West Jefferson, formerly of South Vienna, died at 8:30 p.m., Friday, November 14, 2008 in Mt. Carmel Medical Center, Columbus. Born March 24, 1941 in Springfield, he was a son of Walter Henry and Dorothy (Garmin) McDaniel. Fred was a former president and Director of the Miami Valley Steam Threshers Association, a member of the Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil Association, the Appalachian Blacksmith's Association and the former Harmony United Methodist Church. He retired from Steel Products Engineering in Springfield after 32 years and had been in the Ohio National Guard in Springfield. Survivors include his daughters, Beth (Bob) Cook of Westerville, Amy (Dan) Howard of West Jefferson; son, Fred A. (Toni) McDaniel of London; grandchildren, Sarah Cook, Alex Cook, Tyler McDaniel, Kayla McDaniel, Mitchell Howard, Cole Howard and Kyle Howard; sister, Sara (Merlin) Gill of South Vienna; half brother, Walter Henry "Bud" McDaniel of Springfield; several nieces and nephews, including Jody Whaley and Linda Griffith; and long time friend, David Beekman. He was preceded in death by his parents, half sister Clara Margaret Geyer and half brother John Delay. Services will be 6 p.m., Tuesday in the EBERLE-FISHER FUNERAL HOME AND CREMATORY, 103 N. Main St., London, with Mr. Roger Parker officiating. Friends may call at the funeral home from 3-6 p.m., Tuesday. Memorial contributions may be sent to either the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Mt. Carmel Hospice or the Ronald McDonald House. Condolences for the family may be sent to Sign the online guestbook at

Brian C - Monday, 11/17/08 18:04:53 EST

If any one wants to send a card to Fred's family I have his home address. E-mail me if you want it.
Brian C - Monday, 11/17/08 18:07:47 EST

falling off a bike...: Yes of corse you're right Dave. Even though I have'nt done any gas welding in over 15 years I can still find the moves in my hands and fingers.
I remember I was actualy hesitant to learn TIG welding for fear of loosing my gas welding chops from dissuse. I find that except for aluminum welding bothe types have pros and cons over each other.

...coat hanger wire!?...(shudder)
- merl - Monday, 11/17/08 19:18:38 EST

gas welding: Occaisionally my torch welds end up a little brittle and my tig welds a little soft. What am I doing wrong? The torch welds are done with Hobart specific torch rod and the tig done with designated tig rod.
brian robertson - Monday, 11/17/08 20:26:46 EST

Gas weld problems: Brian, you may be holding the flame back a bit too far on the O/A torch. When that happens, the flame can draw in free air (like a venturi) and produce an oxidized, brittle weld. Acetylene produces a naturally reducing flame so it is important to keep the flame right at the "sweet spot", with the inner light blue cone just about touching the surface of the puddle.

I don't know why you would find a TIG weld to be soft, unless excess time is allowing the high heat of the plasma flame to burn carbon out of the puddle. I'm just guessing at that one though. :-)
vicopper - Monday, 11/17/08 21:28:03 EST

Brian R. & Merl: If the material is plain low carbon steel, and clean, and if the torch is set for a neutral flame or You are using argon in the case of TIG, all I can say is be sure to keep the hot part of the filler rod in the protective atmosphere of the flame or argon. This is easier said than done.

While I will claim to be able to weld with gas, stick, TIG & MIG, I DONT claim to be really good at any of them, but I get by.

For a bit of humor, do a search for "FC 2002" on forum. This is a fictisious "Farm Welding Code" put together from suggestions by those participating in the forum.

- Dave Boyer - Monday, 11/17/08 21:33:04 EST

A welding teacher told my class the tragic tale of a guy who welded the engine mounts onto his hot rod with coat hanger wire....
- Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 11/18/08 10:30:18 EST

Engine mounts: ...and other structural stuff should be welded with the proper rod. However, over the years, I've been using hay wire and coat hanger wire for lots of small welds and buildups where tensile strength is not an issue. I bought 80# of hay wire from CF&I in Pueblo, Colorado, about 30 years ago, and it is handy for o/a filler rod. It's probably about 1010, what we used to call 'dead soft' steel.
Frank Turley - Tuesday, 11/18/08 12:40:48 EST

CF&I-- now, there is a memory. Talk about the death of the American steel industry! Drove by there two days ago. New name, forget what it was just now. But the sign says those big stacks over there have to do with making steel. Yup. Electric furnaces. Trinidad down the road where the men lived who used to mine the coal for coking, pretty much dead in the water.
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 11/18/08 16:34:00 EST

coat hanger wire: Actually coat hangers are made from high quality wire. They are formed on automatic machines (You can see one operating in the movie "Down and Out in Beverly Hills"). Consequently they have to hold their shape and so hard and soft spots are not allowed.
- Loren T - Tuesday, 11/18/08 18:46:17 EST

Then there was the cat I heard about back in the late '60s wired his house's electrical system with TV antenna wire.... ZZZZZZZZZZAPPPPPP!!
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 11/22/08 13:29:20 EST

Firepot: Took possession of my new shop yesterday. It has been used as the shipping room for the retail store that has just about replaced the old Cape Cod Cooperage (some barrels still being made and sold, but no many) and had storage shelves built all around the old forge. Ripped out all the shelves (except for the really old ones made from fish boxes manufactured on the site years ago) exposing the forge for the first time in about 20 years. Fire bricj bed in perfect condition, most of the brick work ok except for the top course or so, which is pretty beat. Thought I was ging to be able to use the old fire pot, but on inspection I decided to order a bran new vulcan from Centaur. The old one looks like a VUlcn, but has those lowered edges on three sides, not just the ends. Long sides are really burned up and cracked about 1/2 way down, and the mounting screws for the tuyere/ashgate assembly are broken off and and rusted in good. Casting has what looks like a raised "88" or maybe "R8" on one top edge, otherwise no ID. Old Vulcan? It is HEAVY. Long term repair project, and I ordered the new one so's I can be up and running ASAP. Soft opening any time after TG next week, Grand opening December 13. Anyone in the area I don't already know personally, please stop by any time especially on the 15th. Goodies and Refreshing Beverages served in the store, and fire in the forge all day. 1150 Queen Anne Road, Harwich, Cape Cod, MA.
Peter Hirst - Saturday, 11/22/08 20:18:20 EST

Railroad tuyere iron?: Peter, Buffalo used to make a big firepot (tuyere iron) which I think they called "Railroad." That might be an RR on the casting.
Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/22/08 23:12:40 EST

Old forge fire pots do not like being buried in masonry as it insulates then and they get hotter than they would in a metal forge where they are air cooled. They used to make what was called a "ducks nest" which was a heavy cast iron tuyeer often with an ash dump to build into masonry forges. Most had a very heavy cast iron flange at the top and a few were water cooled.

- guru - Saturday, 11/22/08 23:45:17 EST

Hey Peter Hirst, Tally Ho! on the new shop and the best of luck in your endevors.
Also I've been meaning to ask you for some clarification on your methode for black oxiding SST.
In your description you refer to a "5 percent solution of washing soda" what exactly do you mean by "washing soda"? Club soda, bakeing soda,...?
I intend to try the methode here in the next month and I need to make sure I have the right stuff
- merl - Sunday, 11/23/08 00:17:56 EST


"Washing soda" is just that -- sodium carbonate used as a laundry additive. It's probably not in as many laundry aisles as it once was. Sodium carbonate is also sold to raise the PH of swimming pools, and probably for other applications as well. It should all be the same stuff.
Mike BR - Sunday, 11/23/08 09:48:41 EST

ANVIL 4 SALE: Howdy! Boy, have I got a neat anvil for sale from an AZ mine. It is a 196lb. Trenton made in their first year of 1898. It is a typical mine anvil with lots of punch & chisel marks in it which to me gives it lots of character and a story to tell. The face is flat and it rings like the Bells of St. Mary's. Rebound is very good as too. I just worked on this for two days making horseshoes. The particulars are: 27" long, 11 1/4" high, 4 1/2" wide face, 1"HH, 5/8"PH,and an 11" horn. Come get it if you are in the west. $575 You can sure have fun with this one! Besides it has a depressed base so you can shoot it as well. I'll email photos to those who request it. My email is : . Cheers & enjoy that turkey!
- Barry Denton - Sunday, 11/23/08 13:52:02 EST

Down sizing: For sale, Manual bridgeport mills, varying conditon, CNC series ll bridgeport mill, Mint, like new, three Kalamazoo horizontal band saws, Leblond Tool And Diemaker hydraulic drive lathe,Drill press selection, DoAll vertical bandsaw with bladewelder, Delta tool grinder, Miller 20kva spotwelder, water cooled, Devilblos Pro 5 hp air comp.,several hydraulic power packs(up to twenty horsepower)Buffalo Iron Worker, NOS buffalo forge blower,Pexto hand roller(2)Finger brake,huge leg vice,selection of beltsanders,big buffing setup, large bench grinders, electro-plating power source/computer, asortment of small presses(air, hydaulic, hand, mechanical,suit case migs(2 miller, 1 lincoln)endless collection of gear reducers, cast iron v-pulleys, smaller stuff too numerous to mention, no reasonable offer refused, location Eastern Mass, U.S.A.
John Christiansen - Sunday, 11/23/08 14:28:39 EST

John: Any of the migs 110v? Also, I think I have the forge that needs that Buffalo. And how about the Hossfeld? Call me.


Washing soda (sodium carbonate Na2CO3) is in the laundry aisle, look for the Arm & Hammer yellow box
Peter Hirst - Monday, 11/24/08 05:08:05 EST

Guru: The firepot was not really buried in the masonry. The hearth is a 1/4" steel plate supporting half fire bricks, in a brick surround, with a side-draft brick chimney. So the firepot mount was more like on a steel forge with a firebrick hearth. It still took a beating from the heat, though. Appears to be ove 1/2 inch tick in places, and probably worth salvaging. Ten bucks worth of nickel rod and a little machining ought to do it. Glad I have the new Vulcan on the way: I plan to fire up next weekend.
Peter Hirst - Monday, 11/24/08 05:46:59 EST

DoAll vertical bandsaw : John, can you send me a pic of this, and are there different models or sizes?
- Dave Leppo - Monday, 11/24/08 08:20:15 EST

DoAll vertical bandsaw : John - I can't see my E-mail in my post

Dave Leppo - Monday, 11/24/08 08:23:04 EST

I have a large old RR forge where the firepot has never really recovered from the previous owner burning a RR rail in two in it. I need to find a replacement but don't use it that often and they are powerful high in cost...

Thomas P - Monday, 11/24/08 12:51:30 EST

Equipment: Dave, 16" , hydraulic feed table, light, chip blower, infinitely variable speed, blade welder/grinder. Truly the Corvette of bandsaws
Pete, suit case migs are just portable wire feeders, you still need a power source.
- John Christiansen - Monday, 11/24/08 19:48:28 EST

suit case migs: John, I happen to have a power sorce that is in need of the mig head. Can you e-mail me some specs and what your looking to get from it?
- merl - Monday, 11/24/08 22:55:54 EST

Merl: e-mail me your e-mail address
John Christiansen - Tuesday, 11/25/08 14:13:14 EST

Pickup Payloads: So the other week I went and picked up 121 12" X 12" pavers for the floor on the "cold work" end of the forge. I loaded them into the pickup truck, piling them about 10 high and distributing them evenly over the bed; and then drove gingerly home on the theory that you don't mess around with loose loads of heavy stuff.

On the way home, I started thinking about how much the entire payload weighed (plus a few other sized pavers for my wife. A "half-ton" pickup implies a payload of 1,000 pounds, after all.

Once home I weighed a block; about 16 pounds.

Okay, 16 times 121 = um, 1,936 pounds; so I had about a ton of stuff in the bed!

The Toyota Tundra manual gives a max payload of 1561 to 1815 pounds, depending upon bumper styles (?) but I was way over weight. Nothing appears to be damaged, and as I said I drove right gingerly over good roads; but is there anything I should watch out for in terms of damage? I figured that (given our proclivities) I'm not the first one here to overload a pickup, but I am curious about the margin of error and overdesign.

Still waiting for the final electrical hookup on the banks of the lower Potomac. Miss Utility came by and marked the front lawn by the house near the transformer today; but the forge is about 200 yards on the other side of our land by another transformer (no markings there). 8-P
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 11/25/08 22:27:48 EST

It's not likely (in fact most unlikely) that you caused any damage to your pickup with a load of 1936 lbs if it's maximum rating is 1561-1815 lbs (don't care what bumper you have). I have no doubt a pickup could easily carry a load 50% greater than it's rated if you drive easy (not recommending it, jut believing it).

If sometime in the future you do put too much weight on it, look for changes in the
- djhammerd - Wednesday, 11/26/08 06:07:56 EST

Atli: If sometime in the future you do put too much weight on it, look for changes in the "feel" of the suspension (like a softer ride or more dipping or swaying). Sometimes (but not always), when shock absorbers or struts are damaged, they will leak. When leaf springs are grossly over strained, sometimes they won't return to their normal shape and your vehicle will actually sit lower in the back.

Don't ask how I learned all this... Thankfully it was ancient history.
- djhammerd - Wednesday, 11/26/08 06:13:08 EST

pickups: Bruce, I feel crtain that if you drove carefully you did not harm. If badly overloaded, and you hit a pothole etc you can break an axle on the type rear end found in most 1/2ton trucks. You can also wreck the bearings. One can distort the springs and frame as Dave notes. Extra heavy loads re also hard on brakes but those get serviced anyway. Another issue is differential and tranny. The differential gets extra wear from the heavy laod and if hauling often, one should pay attention to the differential and tranny oil. Change at the "towing" interval at a minumum.
Jeff who has an ancient 1972 Chevy C-20 (CamperSpecial, really a C-30) and hauls 4200# regularly in the bed, and has very carefully pulled 9000# of trailer.
ptree - Wednesday, 11/26/08 09:18:09 EST

Overloading: Generaly your tires are the limiting factor when overloading a truck.
JimG - Wednesday, 11/26/08 11:51:44 EST

Bruce: You didn't overload enough to worry about, considering that You "drove right gingerly over good roads". You have problems when 1) You blow a tire and the cop sees the load. 2)You have to stop or swerve suddenly, and You can't or loose controll. 3)Going fast over rough roads or hitting bad potholes hits the travel stops on the suspension hard enough to bend something.

An ocasional overload driven carefully won't hurt Your truck, but if You are careless YOU can hurt it.
- Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 11/26/08 22:59:26 EST

Overloading Trucks: My pickups have always been HD 3/4 ton models. What kills the springs is loads too far back on the bed. My 3/4 ton Dodge easily carried over a ton to a ton and a half. But the springs got bent when a fork lift operator got in a hurry at an auction and I did not have time to pull the tailgate off. . . So he set a 4,000 pound grinder right on the back edge of the bed to get a second bite. . . The foot closer he could have gotten with the tailgate off might have saved the springs.

I gave my old 1950 3/4 ton Chevy to my brother and the first thing he did with it was haul a packed bed of wet salt treated lumber that hung off the back of the bed about 8 feet! He had to chain the load down just to keep it in the truck. Not sure about the weight but I know it was way too much and definitely in the wrong place.

As mentioned by others, the killer is dips or pot holes in the road that causes a spine jarring dip.

. . . I'm so glad I've got my 5 ton truck on the road. . . But I do miss a pickup.

Heavy loads are hardest on automatic transmissions.

- guru - Thursday, 11/27/08 00:20:54 EST

I would also point out that a loaded truck, and especially an overloaded truck takes way more distance to stop! Plan ahead.
ptree - Thursday, 11/27/08 08:33:56 EST

Driving Heavy:
This is an art that many do not catch on to until too late. It is not only stopping, but loads tipping on turns, loads shifting and general lack of maneuverability. And it doe not apply to just a truck, ANY wheeled conveyance that you put a load into from a wheel barrow up. It is just as easy to overload or load too high many passenger vehicles reducing their maneuverability by half or more.

In fact, a good truck will stop just as fast or faster fully loaded or even overloaded than empty. Stiff suspension and heavy brakes tend to skid or hop rather than stop quickly when underloaded. The problem is more likely that your brakes may be better than the best load binders and you can find the load trying to join you in the cab. . .

Pickups are especially problematic. If you read the load rating on a typical American 1/2 ton truck that 1000 pounds includes YOU, a passenger, fuel and sometimes a spare tire. . . that reduces the specified load capacity to well under that 1000 pounds. Put a couple bails of hay in the bed and you have maxed it out. 3/4 ton trucks are often the other way around and will easily handle a ton and "ton" trucks are actually good for about three tons. My F-600 flat bed is registered for 5,000 pounds but the factory rated it at about 10,000. This is a case of what tags cost and the type of license required. . .

When driving heavy, drive slow and pay close attention so that you don't have to do ANYTHING sudden.
- guru - Thursday, 11/27/08 11:14:34 EST

Last time I had to fetch a piece of machinery I rented a truck. Called them up and figured the exact one I wanted being the smallest rated for the load and put in a reservation for it.

Got there on the day I had reserved it for and they didn't have it; but were going to give me a much larger truck for the same price and were surprised when I was not happy. The larger truck was going to cost a lot more in fuel, be harder to drive---especially in an *old* section of the city and worst of all I had brought all the material I had needed to fasten in the load I was picking up in the truck I had reserved so the only way it was going to shift would be to roll the truck or violent impact.

Made the trip not nearly as enjoyable and much more worrysome.

ThomasP - Thursday, 11/27/08 15:06:56 EST

Vulcan Anvil???: What can anybody tell me about Vulcan Anvils.
May be going to look at one. How are these made? What material is used? What would be a ratting of them as far as a quality user? Are they American? How long were they produced. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
Tmac - Thursday, 11/27/08 18:37:06 EST

Atli: As mentioned, the first limiting factor on loading a pickup is usually the tires. Unless you overinflate them, they're going to get really squishy (technical term) and cause loss of control issues. I've carried over a ton and a half of rock in my little S-10 several times by inflating the rear tires to 45# (note - truck was equipped with real 4-ply truck tires) and making sure as much of the load as possible was toward the front. Drive very slowly and plan waaaay ahead for stops or turns. Do I recommend doing this? NO. But I do know it can be done, because I've done it several times.
vicopper - Thursday, 11/27/08 21:38:36 EST

Tmac -Vulcan: These are cast iron with a hardened steel top plate, but they are not a particularly high quality anvil of this type. They were American made and produced into the 1970s. They are infanantly better than a soft cast iron anvil, sort of the bottom of the barrel of hard topped anvils, marketed to farmers & hobbyists
- Dave Boyer - Thursday, 11/27/08 21:54:31 EST

Vulcan anvil: Yes, itis American made, with a cast iron body and a steel face. It is similar in construction to the Fisher and NOrris anvils, though of lesser quality and a blockier, less attractive shape. I have a Fisher anvil that I love dearly, as it is very quiet (no ring) and has excellent rebound. A Vulcan will have similar characteristics, just not as nice. They are very workable anvils that don't have the cachet of the wrought-bodied Peter Wrights, Hay-Buddens and others, and thus are usually available considerably cheaper. They are no longer produced, of course, and I don't know how long they were made but it was a few decades, anyway.

The only real issue with the cast iron/steel-faced anvils is the potential of separation of the face from the body. The anvil should have a dull "whack" sound when struck smartly with a hammer, not a ring. If it goes "clack" anywhere on the face, it may be starting to separate and you should pass on it. Fisher anvils have a tool steel cap on the horn as well as the face, but I believe that Vulcans do not.

As to a rating, this is somewhat inappropriate. Most people rate anvils based on desirability, rather than usability. Thus, Hay-Buddens and Peter Wrights rate high, Fishers in the middle, Vulcans lower middle, and all cast iron anvils at the bottom. If, however, you want an anvil to use, but not to brag about, you'll find the Vulcan to be very satisfactory. Not pretty, but workable and solid. In fact, the blocky shape that makes the look clumsy compared to the wask-waisted Hay-Buddens actually makes them more effective as forging tools since it centers more of the mass under the hammer blow and doesn't spring about so much.

The Fisher company used to advertise that "one blow on a Fisher is equal to two on any other anvil." While that was a bit of hyperbole, it wasn't entirely inaccurate. I find that my 250# Fisher is more effective than the same size H-B, again due to the mass in the center. My big Nimba carries this to an extreme by having no waist at all, just a solid mass all the way under body of the anvil - a very efficient forgin tool, and a classic shape, in my eye.

That's my opinion and others may disagree, of course. The best thing to do is try actually forging on the anvil to see how it suits YOU. In the final analysis, that's all that really matters if you're actually wanting to get a tool to work with.
vicopper - Thursday, 11/27/08 21:54:41 EST

Vulcan Anvil??? Replies Thanks:
Well guys thanks! ;))
It is pretty much what I figured.
I just need a tool to use. Iam no blacksmith by any means. But I have done tools and parts am no artist.
I sure do miss the one I had, which was the best I had ever seen. Was an English made all steel forged, No Name that my Dad bought new in 1947. Just said Dudley England Forged Steel 125 CWT It had a lot of use and still had its new shape.
When I was a kid some other Kid hit the point with a hammer my Dad went ballistic. I knew not to hit the Anvil with a hammer.
My Dad could make anything he wanted, except art work at least I never seen any he made. Mostly farm machine parts and tools lots of them. I still have the forge his Dad bought new. Needs some bushings replaced now.
I had a machine shop and had him make many parts for me. He told me NEVER let loose of that anvil. But when I moved a few years ago I did sell it. I know it went to a good home a GREAT smith and instructor. But now I need one. Been using a big round casting of chrome steel that is OK but I need a horn and a hardie hole.
I do think though this offer on the Vulcan has a steep price for a CI Anvil. We will see what happens.

Tmac - Thursday, 11/27/08 22:58:03 EST

Of Trucks & Vulcans: Thanks to all for the advice and cautions on truck loading. As I mentioned, the possibilities of the total weight sank in as I made my way home. Having survived the experience, I am now much more "sensitized" to payload. (Ask me the displacement of our vessels, and I'm right on it; trucks involved a different mental toolbox.)

My eldest daughter required a small anvil for some of her light metalwork and art projects. Diligent haunting of the local flea market led me to a 50# Vulcan in pristine condition; probably one of the last ones cast. The casting was a little rough in parts, but the tool was altogether sound, so I've attached a link of my daughter (The Chief Carpenter for thew Signature Theater in Virginia outside D.C.) displaying her prize. Trust me, it is in firm but gentle hands with her!

Taking a day off from the work of the republic; time to clean up the shootin' arns from yesterday's traditional Thanksgiving target shredding.
Lisa's First Avil (50# Vulcan)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 11/28/08 13:02:54 EST

Tmac, In your situation I would be trying to buy / trade MY anvil back, youve got a sentimental link to it that cannot be replaced.

My anvil was the last reminents of an industrial forges assets I bought, its battle scarred but when I use it I remember the first big hammer I saw working (4000lbs ram) 12 years ago, At the time I was sacred and excited by it, never knew one day I would own it, understand it, rebuild it & sell it, and go on to re-design & build hammers upto 17000# ram.
Im rambling a bit, but basically when I use that little anvil that I found under a layer of dust in the corner after we pulled all the big hammers out it brings back memories of a workplace, atmosphere and people that are no longer with us.

I must be going soft in my auld age!!!
- John N - Friday, 11/28/08 17:38:45 EST

Sentimental attachments:
I let my first anvil get away from me many many years ago and still regret it. But then I regret having sold ANY tools I have ever used. . .

I've got a photo of a little thin faced steel/CI anvil that I gave to Dave-B for his sons to pound on. Same size and shape as the one Bruce's daughter has. The face has broken off in chunks then the CI below it for about 1" (25mm) along the edges. . . there is a very narrow center land that is still flat. This old clunker has a slight "faux plate" line about 3/4" down the aide of the anvil hiding the fact that the face was only 1/8". I only paid $10 for it and Dave's kids are getting a lot more fun out of it than that. AND its saving Dave's good anvils from the over exuberance of pre-teen boys.

When the price is right I buy even the clunkers and ASO's. But the price has to be RIGHT.
- guru - Friday, 11/28/08 20:20:26 EST

Shop floor: Bruce- 121 sq. ft. is an odd shape. You must have had to cut that last block into a LOT of small pieces ;).
Judson Yaggy - Friday, 11/28/08 20:23:32 EST

I'Ill NEVER get that back Unless: John N::
Unless I could pry it lose form his cold DEAD hands!;)) That Anvil has become his prize pet! He (the new owner) he now takes it on his demo,s with him. When he first looked at it, he knew I had it and was using it, never asked but once to buy it. Finally when I offered to sell it, when he laid a hammer on it for a test, he couldnt make the check out fast enough. I tell you it was the best one I ever laid a hammer on, coarse I never tried many others. It really wasnt a high dollar anvil either, but I think all the stars lined up when it was made. I guess that is why my Dad always said "NEVER get rid of it you will never find another like it" he knew something I didnt. So now it is where it is and will always be that way.
Tmac - Friday, 11/28/08 22:24:36 EST

Tmac, the fact that it was marked Dudley means it was NOT a "no-name"
- guru - Saturday, 11/29/08 00:10:29 EST

GuRu"No Name" So what could ::: "Tmac, the fact that it was marked Dudley means it was NOT a "no-name""

So what could it be? I think Dad told me that he paid less than $80 for it in 47. That Anvil really did not a makers Name on it. Just what it was and where it came from.
I do know it was a real ringer, you could hear Dad hammering a 1/2 mile away. It was fastened with feet straps but had to be tightened down every so often, if it got a little loose the ring was really loud. The ring didnt seem to bother Dad, but I think he may have been a little hard of hearing. The block (tree trunk section) it was put on was put on in 59, was the same block I sold it with. Dad went down to the Columbia River and we fished out the log he cut that block stand from.
He used to do all his plow lays every year by hand. But Since where he homesteaded in Wyo there was no Blacksmith shop so he also did all the neighbors lays to. He was the only guy around with welding equipment too. So for extra farm money he done the work there.
Now the forge I have was bought new by his Dad, but it is a small round one. To small for that heavy work, so my Dad built a bigger forge from a old tractor wheel and used the blower off the smaller one. For the coal, Dad and my Uncle would go to the mountains there and get a load of the stuff in his big old Diamond T . We heat the house with coal then and most every one else there too. There was a lot of coal in Wyo. :))
My Dad marked all the stuff he made with BK early marks with a chisel, later marks were -BFK- made with a real stamp. So you find any tools marked like that it was Dad. He even marked the plow lays on the back of each one.

Tmac - Saturday, 11/29/08 02:34:44 EST

Anvil Names:
First, There were hundreds of anvil makers in England over the years and we only know of the few major ones that exported to the U.S. or had a market share in England that was brought here by individuals.

Henry Wright anvils that looked a great deal like Peter Wrights and were made by the same process that all the forged English anvils followed were made in Dudley, England.

Then there were Wilkinson anvils made at Queens Cross, Dudley England.

Dudley was a hot bed of anvil manufacturing in the Black Country of England where iron, coal and coke ruled for a century or more.

Marking on these old anvils was often quite faint and unless cleaned and carefully traced or a rubbing taken are almost impossible to read. Often if you have a part of a logo, its shape and location it can be compared to another. But just because the marking is faint, hidden under dirt, paint (or both) doesn't mean it was a no-name. If it was marked, it probably had the makers name.

There WERE many unmarked anvils. Most of these were made prior to the great colonial period in England when vast amounts of manufactured goods were exported.

In the least, it was a "Forged anvil of Dudley England". . . quite a proud name.

- guru - Saturday, 11/29/08 18:25:37 EST

Dudley: I've seen two Dudley anvils that I can recall. One was in the collection at the Old Chatham, NY, Shaker Museum. It looked to weigh about 200 pounds. The other was in Johan Cubillos' shop in Costa Rica. I believe it weighed over 300 pounds.
Frank Turley - Saturday, 11/29/08 21:39:34 EST

Floor Area: Judson- The forge is 12' X 24', but when you take 6" off on both sides you end up with the "cold half" measuring in at 11' X 11', thus 121 square feet. As it turned out, each block is really 11 3/4 ", so I ended up buying another 11 of them to get me a tad past the halfway point. I'm still lifting and leveling the little beggars; but it's coming along.

Cool and cloudy on the banks of the lower Potomac.
Another View of Lisa's Anvil
Bruce Blackistone - Saturday, 11/29/08 22:01:34 EST

6" Off (Clarification): Sorry, I meant 6" off each side of the total floor measurement for the sills, which are 4" X 6" pressure treated.
The Other Side of Lisa's Anvil (last picture)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 11/29/08 22:11:14 EST

Lisa's Anvil: Bruce

Real nice little anvil you got your daughter. You can always send Lisa and her anvil over to my shop. I promise not to let a hammer touch either one. I will gladly put her to work adding on to the shop. She would be wonderful artistic inspiration. Might have to fatten her up a bit with some good down home cooking though...grin :)
- Rustystuff - Sunday, 11/30/08 01:14:58 EST

NOW I know the difference of CI Vs Real Steel!! ::: .
Now I know the meaning of what a Great Anvil "Vs" a ASO! I went and looked at an old anvil today. It was "cast iron" Old farm anvil a real NO NAME, Had a steel top plate, 1" Hardy, just said 150 # on the side. But as it was offered as 150 lb anvil it was no where near a 150 lbs.
I have now put a hammer on a OLD cast iron anvil, it is NO match for any steel anvil. I can say this that I may never own a CI anvil short of for FREE! I passed on that one. Hammering on that anvil would have been, just to use a bit, like walking in deep mud all day. My steel disc has a better feel than that old one does. Now that I have hit iron I really do know the meaning what my Dad said "you will never find another like it" ;((
A few weeks ago I put a hammer on a 80 lb Peter Wright a farrier has, now that was an anvil!! Sorry guys I needed to learn. And when a novice like me can see that big of difference take it from me as an anvil, CAST IRON SUCKS!

Tmac - Sunday, 11/30/08 01:21:16 EST

CI Anvils: Tmac: you come across any a those crappy old cast iron Fishers in your price range, I'll take em off yer hands fer say a buck a pound.
- Peter Hirst - Sunday, 11/30/08 10:13:25 EST

Anvils: Tmac, There are solid steel anvils (forged or cast), steel faced wrought anvils (that Dudley was one), steel faced cast iron anvils, low grade cast steel mystery metal anvils and cast iron anvils.

The top quality steel faced cast iron anvils are good but have little ring so people like them as a quiet anvil. However, there are odd brands that have faces as thin a 1/4 to 1/8" that will not stand up to use in blacksmithing.

Then there are the old wrought anvils that have weld failures (that is what the ring test is about) or have been "repaired" by machining the face down to where it is now too soft and as thin as the junk steel faced CI anvils. . . There are quite a few of these bad anvils around. However, if anyone catches on to the fact that they are more valuable for the scrap wrought iron than as a junk anvil then the prices on these will sky rocket as well . . .

There are anvils, then there are anvils. A dozen levels of quality without getting into used condition.

On weight do not try to judge by eye. A thin waisted farrier's anvil looks big but often weighs 100 pounds or less. But a good old London pattern with a thick waist and half the length of the farriers anvil may look like a small anvil and weigh 150 to 200 pounds. They also tend to ring less due to the blockiness but are very efficient forging anvils.

There ARE thousands like your old Dudley out there. You just have to look in the right places and be patient.
- guru - Sunday, 11/30/08 11:59:22 EST

Anvils and Area;; : Guru;;
The problem here where Iam at is that this area (WA} is a relitive newly settled area, sparsly populated by eastern USA standards. Since it was settled late, in the tail end of the Anvil era. There are few anvils here, those that are and the ones I have seen have been used to death. The other thing peopled who settled here were really poor so they bought what they could afford, mostly low price stuff and made it work for them. I just havent been looking long for one, and sometimes it has to be a "roast duck" that just happens. A friend of mine in Portland OR just found "roast duck" a nice 125 lb Trenton at a garage sale. It wasnt offered but he thought the place looked like it should have an anvil. So he asked sure enough they dug it out they asked $75. He makes tuned cowbells for drum sets and the long Trenton horn is perfect for them. I know there is a great old Anvil out there with my name on it that just hasnt found me yet ;)) but it will.
I actually know where there is a complete GREAT commercial smith shop not but a few miles from me. With top of the line stuff, Little Giant power hammer included. All just sitting where in place where it was mounted in 1923 when the shop was built. The whole building was recently bought by a Auto repair shop. The guy dont want to part with a thing at least yet.
So I need something now, I think I will finish the horn for my disc anvil, put a hardy hole on it and wait. I have checked out the construction pages on this site and see some good tips. Waiting cant be a whole lot longer though, getting to old to wait things out. I think my relatives are waiting for me to kick, to get there hands on my place ;((.

Tmac - Sunday, 11/30/08 13:04:03 EST

Tmac, ever hear of a reverse mortgage? Let the bank have it and enjoy life while you can. . .
- guru - Sunday, 11/30/08 15:49:36 EST

Lock & Key: I bought some wrought iron from Wisconsin Woodchucks, and I've flattened a big chunk of it to start on a hope chest lock. The chest is an antique New Mexico chest that I bought years ago, and it was missing the lock and key. It's time to quit procrastinating. For this lock, the first thing to do is forge the key, Then comes the escutcheon with the key hole. By inserting the key and rotating it, it shows where the bolt, bolt keepers and drill pin should be located. I'm making the key of wrought iron, but I forge welded some file steel on for the key bit. I'm taking ideas from a small lock that I have in my collection.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/30/08 19:26:24 EST

Lock & Key: Frank, take pictures!

I've always wanted to make a Mastermyer chest with original lock. Much of the extant lock is missing but there are other Swedish locks of the period that fill in the gaps. Its pretty primitive but an interesting side slide key lock.
- guru - Sunday, 11/30/08 21:17:38 EST

What should a Peter wright sell for:
Hi what should a ok surface 125 lb Peter Wright sell for?
I found one.
Tmac - Sunday, 11/30/08 23:52:57 EST

Anywhere from $150 to $550 depending on what you mean by OK, where it is, who is selling and who is buying.
- guru - Monday, 12/01/08 08:32:08 EST

Old Varient Locks: One of my reenactor friends, a former locksmith, declares a number of these old locks virtually unpickable by civilians, since they wouldn't understand the principle behind them. If you don't know what's behind the lockplate, you go crazy. Of course, the fastest way in may be to take an axe or pry bar to it. ;-) I do contend that the prevalence of corner ironwork is to not only reinforce the wooden chest but to prevent sneak theft by the simple expedient of carefully prying one face of the box off.
Medieval Ironbound Chests
Bruce Blackistone - Monday, 12/01/08 14:19:31 EST

Bruce: I agree about trying to pick an unknown mechanism. I have one old padlock, all copper-brazed together, that requires two keys, maybe made in India. Both are barrel keys, one with an internal left-hand thread. The threaded one screws into the narrow side of the case until a shoulder stops it. Then, the front key turns counter clockwise, releasing the shackle. When I received the lock, both keys were tied together with a ribbon. Good thing, too.
Frank Turley - Monday, 12/01/08 20:54:17 EST

Old Locks:
Security by obscurity was a primary method of the early lock makers. On a typical German Armada Chest there is a big estuction plate on the front that covers a dummy lock that does nothing. But an attack on a lock that does nothing could take considerable time and would definitely frustrate a sneak thief. The box also has two shackles with large padlocks. So there are three "obvious" locks, one a dummy.

The actual lock on this box is in the top and the keyhole hidden. A pin must be inserted into a small hole to open the keyhole cover. Then a large warded key operated the mechanism which drew multiple bolts that are as strong or stronger then the rest of the box itself.

I have designed such a mechanism that takes a long "key" inserted from the back or side of the box (who would look there?) and this raises one of many decorative bosses on the top of the chest hiding the keyhole. The lock in the front unlike the Armada chest would be a secondary lock that releases an interior panel of a hidden compartment. If the lock is operated or picked with the lid closed it does nothing. But if the lock is operated while the lid is open then the hidden compartment would open. . . Three keys required.

An option was to have handles on the side of the chest that when lifted would open the secret compartment. Who would lift the handles on an open chest? Other secret compartments are locked when the lid is closed and the interior tray in place. Remove the interior tray, then press the correct fitting and the compartment opens. . .

You can have great fun devising such schemes that work in real life. The trick to security by obscurity is that you never let anyone else see how it works. Secrecy is as important as the keys and their operation.

And in the end, as they say, "Locks are for honest people". Crooks will try to gently open something but if that fails then a brute force attack almost always works.

When a friend had heavy iron bars made to bar the doors of his business the thieves just destroyed the door between the bars. . . In the attack most of the door jamb was destroyed (just to steal a stereo). Locks are puny things when a desperate person with a sledge hammer and a pry bar wants in.
Armada chest
- guru - Monday, 12/01/08 23:37:02 EST

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