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December 2008 Archive

WHY THREE FORUMS? Well, this is YOUR blacksmithing forum to use for whatever you wish within the rules stated above. It is different than the Slack-Tub Pub because the messages are permanently posted and archived.
This page is NOT a chat - it is a "message board"

Our chat, the (Slack-Tub Pub), is immediate but the record of it is temporary. DO NOT post permanent messages there. We refresh the "log" every 24 hours now and your message will be lost.

The Guru's Den is where I and several others try to answer ALL your blacksmithing and metalworking questions to us.

Please note that this forum uses an e-mail encryption system that prevents spam harvesters from collecting your e-mail address.

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

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

: I believe that, to my possible detriment and likely to contribute to my untimely demise: That I have inadvertantly discovered the identity of Miles Undercut. While perusing back issues of the Anvil's Ring I found an article, humorous and entertaining. While laying on my pillow and enjoyimg a mint I noticed an unlikely simililarity to a lot of his postings, that I follow closely and enjoy mightily. I will be willing to disclose my theory to the highest bidder. Post your interest here and I will respond with the dead drop details.
- Anvilblock Forge - Monday, 12/01/08 23:13:19 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

Please don't. His friends know who he is and publicly he prefers to remain anonymous for various reasons.

Others try to be anonymous but as webmaster/sysop and root user of our server I have access to IP addresses, logins, passwords, server access records. . . It took about 10 seconds to find your Bellsouth DSL account. If you want I can tell you where you entered anvilfire, what pages you visited and how long you stayed.

Then there are simple Google searches that often turn up the answer in milliseconds.
- guru - Tuesday, 12/02/08 00:01:17 EST

Anvilblock forge: Do Tell. Which issue?
You have freedom to disclose authors and participants of published works. We all enjoy the ramblings of Miles Undercut.
- Rustystuff - Tuesday, 12/02/08 00:02:55 EST

Anvilblock forge:: Guru is right. Let sleeping dogs ly concerning Miles
- Rustystuff - Tuesday, 12/02/08 00:41:32 EST


You know who I am.

If I didn't want someone to know who I am I can cloak any broswer I use and your server would not be able to tell you who I was.

There is no reason for most people to do such a thing on a site like this, however.
- Rustystuff - Tuesday, 12/02/08 00:47:08 EST

Not a secret; just a nom de plummet sort of thing and respecting the wishes of an author is a good idea lest they take umbrage and excoriate one in the media!

A lot of medieval locks seem to be just to prevent random pilferage. Having people around was the major security method and just making it so it would take time or cause noise was sufficient deterrance.

The heavily ironed, massive chests are a special case for highly valuable items where the size and weight help prevent it being moved to a place where the bad guys could break it open undisturbed and the ironing prevented smash and grabs in place. Unfortunately these chests tend to get preserved prefferentially due to their massiveness and ironwork.

However hiding stuff was still very much used at least in viking times as the many burried silver finds show...

Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/02/08 11:10:05 EST

Henry Wright anvil: The only Henry Wright anvil I have seen, I purchased for a friend of mine. Yes, it looks a lot like a Peter Wright EXCEPT it didn't have a (chipping?) shelf where the horn attaches to the body. Haven't seen another in California. The guy that sold it said it came from the midwest, it is now in Ohio so I guess it sorta returned to its home.

Fog season here in the Central Valley of CA. When fools drive too fast and the Darwin Effect improves the breed (except when they take out innocents with them). The hated and feared Tule Fog, when you can't see 20 ft in front of you, yet you can look up and see the stars
- David Hughes - Tuesday, 12/02/08 12:35:09 EST

David, When I was working in the Sacramento area I learned back routes on small roads to avoid the fog on the Interstate South where everyone just kept moving 70 MPH when they suddenly couldn't see the hood ornament on their car! In that fog the truckers were above it and could see each other and only detect 4 wheelers by the faint wake in the fog. . . if ANYONE chickened out. . everybody would crash. So I started taking the "long" route to the plant.
- guru - Tuesday, 12/02/08 15:46:30 EST

Fireplace Poker: Received an e-mail from they are looking for someone to make them a basket handled fireplace poker. Beyond my current capability. If you do such, please contact them directly for their requirements.
Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 12/02/08 17:43:09 EST

Change of name: I read the post that said that "somewhere there is an anvil with my name on it". So I am going to change my name to Peter Wright. That way my name should be on hundreds of anvils. Or would Dudley be better? Maybe would for if ever I end up back in UK. (Horrible thought).
- philip in china - Tuesday, 12/02/08 19:38:00 EST

Mea Culpa. I'm probably mistaken and I did not mean to poke a hornets nest. Just me being intractable. I have always enjoyed his humor and had no intention of "outing him". Just misplaced humor; Mr Undercut, I apologize. His secret is safe.
- Anvilblock Forge - Tuesday, 12/02/08 20:38:57 EST

And Mr Dempsey, please abort the hit squad.
- Anvilblock Forge - Tuesday, 12/02/08 20:46:18 EST

Mr. Undercut is deeply shocked and has asked me as his administrative assistant to post the following notice: Nothing whatsoever to out. Undercut exists only as a transient configuration of pixels on this screen.
Chastity Dangerfield - Tuesday, 12/02/08 21:05:58 EST

Chastity D: How positively refreshing to see you again! It has been far too long you have been absent. I trust that you, Swarf and all the rest at the Institute are doing well in your self-imposed seclusion. Perhaps we'll hear from you again in another six or eight years. Until then, fare well.
vicopper - Tuesday, 12/02/08 21:24:11 EST

Manufactured Horseshoes: Just a bit of trivia. See!!NCKREEGP2A. Apparently commercially manufactured horseshoes (key shoes) began about the time of the start of the Civil War.
Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 12/03/08 01:43:38 EST

Guru: What's a "hood ornament?"
- Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 12/03/08 03:44:35 EST

I have a lovely hood ornament on my blacksmith truck. Barbee riding a dragon:)
ptree - Wednesday, 12/03/08 07:28:20 EST

Hood: I think what the Yanks call a auto hood, the Brits call a bonnet.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/03/08 07:35:36 EST

Hood Ornament: Peter, like the famous SPIRIT OF ECSTASY or "The Flying Lady" found on the bonnet of a Rolls Royce or the Chrysler and Mercedes 3 point star emblem. Then there is the famous bulldog on Mac trucks.

If the fog is so bad you can't see you hood ornament then its time to park.
- guru - Wednesday, 12/03/08 11:08:28 EST

Phillip; or should I call you Harbor?

evil Thomas
Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/03/08 11:40:28 EST

I think Peter's just calling us old, seeing as how hood ornaments went out back when cars still had carburetors.

Thomas, Phillip's chosen last name is already on *those* anvils. (grin)
Mike BR - Wednesday, 12/03/08 17:16:34 EST

Mike BR,
I may be old, but the truck that has the lovely Miss Barbee riding the dragon has a carburator! A wacking great Quadrajet, 4 barrel (Choke for you Brits) on top of 350 cubic inches of Detriots finest.
Hauled home a ton of scrapped pallet racking today as a matter of fact.
ptree - Wednesday, 12/03/08 18:27:01 EST

Old?: My backyard mechanic friend says, "When I look under the hood and can't see the ground, I won't work on it."
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 12/03/08 19:00:23 EST

See the ground??: That's what I liked about my '64 Plymouth Belvedere 2-door with the 225ci slant six. In a car designed to accomodate up to the legendary 426 hemi, you could see not only the ground but also anything else between the front wheels! Even if equipped with an aftermarket Offenhauser intake manifold with a 4-barrel Carter AFB 750cfm carb and header. If only the previous owner had ever deigned to change the oil between 1964 and 1984, I wouldn't have had to have sold the thing before the crankshaft predictably fell out.

Would have been even better if the guy I sold it to had bothered to rebuild the engine before he took it to time trials...
Alan-L - Wednesday, 12/03/08 19:53:11 EST

Detroit's finest: I didn't know that they made a carburated 350 in a diesel! Surely anything called "finest" must be diesel ;).

The hood ornament on my diesel shop truck is a sheet metal silhouette of a pig (cork screw for a tale) mounted on a pivot. The one cop thats ever pulled me over didn't think it was that funny till I explained that it represented how much fuel the truck burned. Then he laughed, told me to slow down thru town, and said to have a nice day.
Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 12/03/08 21:09:56 EST

I share the VI cop's attitude, so good to hear from the staff. Seven years is way to long. So, I can answer my door? Ignore the alarm?

Mr Guru,
You failed to mention that I have been posting here for 5 years plus, a prior CSI member; and I met you at a Madison conference.
- Anvilblock Forge - Wednesday, 12/03/08 21:12:27 EST

Mike BR: What's a "carburetor"?
Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 12/03/08 22:49:57 EST

Anvilblock, I didn't want to give away everything. . .

A carburetor is something that will let an internal combustion engine operate without a computer or high pressure fuel pump and will last almost forever if you keep dirt the size of grains of sand out of it and don't remove the hood (bonnet) and leave it open to the weather. It is also something that a kid with a screw driver and high school education can repair and adjust WITHOUT plugging the engine into yet another computer.
- guru - Thursday, 12/04/08 00:33:58 EST

And the Carb on top of my 350 cubic inch, 4 bolt main Chevy small block (no Judson, Not all "finest" are deisel) has been working since 1972 without a computer of any sort. Heck the spark plugs are fired by a primitive thing that uses a switch, opened by a cam that rotates in time with the engine, and when I need to adjust it I slide a little sheet metal window open on the switch mechanism and insert a hex key and twist to adjust. A well tuned set of ears can get very close on that adjustment, and if I want to be even more perfect on the adjustments, I have a neighbor who has a magic meter and light, very old and arcane that I borrow that lets me do magical adjustments. (If I remember how to hook them up after this lo many years)
ptree - Thursday, 12/04/08 06:09:49 EST

AH! Its all coming back to me now: like a dream, magic flashy light gun, nail polish mark on a belt pulley, butterfly valves, lots of little brass parts, knurled adjusting screws, yes, yes, and a number - 283 - figures in there somewhere . . .
Peter Hirst - Thursday, 12/04/08 09:15:57 EST

carburetor: An honest question. When someone asks what a carburetor is you suddenly realize how old you really are.
- Rustystuff - Thursday, 12/04/08 09:41:58 EST

Auto Trivia: Distributor adjustments. . . The old British sports cars had an external spark advance to adjust for various qualities of gasoline (petrol) which were often not available at home but was kind of funny here in the U.S. where "Ethel" rained supreme.

I always thought the perfect distributor would be a combination of those old Lucas distributors and the GM Delco. Timing and point gap both externally adjustable while the engine ran!

But later I found that the perfect distributor was the early 70's Chrysler solid state units. I had one on a Dodge pickup that was still working without maintenance or adjustment other than a new cap when the truck was scrapped at over 300,000 miles. The reason the truck was taken off the road was the idiot driver was showing off hotdogging it on a gravel road and overreved. . breaking rings on a couple cylinders. Great truck I still miss it.

The old British sports cars had more mechanical adjustments than anything else on the road at the time. Owners (and unskilled mechanics) couldn't resist fiddling with things they didn't understand that were almost never the problem. . . I made a living off their ignorance by simply reading a couple manuals.

Classic Automotive Trade secret of the day: Ever have trouble adjusting an idle mixture screw on an old car or motorcycle carburettor? The trick is that "turns" are 180 degrees, not 360! So that initial 1-1/2 turns adjustment is 270 degrees. Most run perfectly within 15 or 20 degrees of this setting. But if you start at 540 degrees (1-1/2 full turns) rotation you can go nuts just keeping the engine running long enough to find the right adjustment! I think I've found this true on lawn mowers, chainsaws and other small engines as well.

- guru - Thursday, 12/04/08 09:58:51 EST

Ahh yes the oldies where you could have 4 people sitting on the fenders, 2 per side, with their feet hanging down inside discussing the chunk of greasy iron in the middle.

The new ones are a lot harder to work on; but I've owned several that *never* needed any work on them for the years I've owned them! (and that's generally from 70-100K to scrapper)

Thomas P - Thursday, 12/04/08 10:40:53 EST

Choke: Remember the choke pulloffs on the Cryslers. They were heated by the intake manifold. The manifold ports would always carbon up and plug up. I always had the bonnet off my 71 van and a screw driver stuck in it. I was always bending the rod to the pulloff and even put a new one on it. The carbon build up would eventually foul the plugs. You guessed it I carried extra plugs and tools to change them on the road. I was to lazy to install a manual choke pull. The next owner did and fixed the problem. I could not image going through all that trouble to drive around now.
- Rustystuff - Thursday, 12/04/08 10:44:53 EST

You think ca. 1960 adjustments are tough...: On my dad's 1923 Model T Ford all the adjustments are made at the driver's fingertips: Manual spark advance and throttle on either side of the steering column, pull choke on the dash, carburetor needle valve adjustment right next to it to allow you to burn anything from kerosene to pure naptha (they don't like anything heavier than kero), plus a set of magnetos and coil boxes to burn your fingertips if you open the wrong lids. Well, there are a couple of adjustments to make under the hood, but once you have the commutator (primitive distributor also known as the timer)working and the carb float full that's about it. Add to that an "automatic" transmission consisting of two forward speeds and one reverse controlled by friction bands around a set of planetary gears and you've got yourself transportation! If you could only get the #@$@#@! things to STOP without hitting something they'd have been perfect.

The "brake," such as it is, is another friction band on the transmission. There's a little finger on the side of the brake pedal that's supposed to disengage the high/low range pedal, but if that particular band is a bit tight it never really disengages. The handbrake controls a pair of expanding shoes inside a 6" drum on the back wheels. In practice the only way to stop a T on a downgrade is to hit the brake and reverse pedals at the same time while simultaneously feathering the hand brake just enough not to lock the wheels...

Kinda reminds me of my '77 International Scout in that regard, minus the optical pickups in the distributor that would fog every time it rained.
Alan-L - Thursday, 12/04/08 11:02:06 EST

Tool Dressing in the forge:
Got a blacksmith question:
Tool dressing in the forge, I seen my dad do it but I never watched close enough.
Ok so I have some "old" hammers, chisels and the like,
that have mushroomed out. You know, with bits sticking over the sides. My dad would dress as needed in the forge when replacing the handle. I have a nice straight pien that Dad made that needs dressing and the handle is out. I have dressed it back to size on the hammer face, but it left me with a cupped face. I quit there. How should I deal with the cup. The cup edges are nearly 1/4 inch high. I could just grind the face to correct. But I would like to finish in the forge.
Myself with round hammers such as ball pein, I used to dress in a lathe, I even had at one time, a lathe big enough to clean them up with handles it them. I always kept hammers and the like clean in my machine shop. Any tool can be dangerous if used with mushrooms on them.

- Tmac - Thursday, 12/04/08 13:11:49 EST

Dressing Mushroomed tools:
Tmac, Once they start cracking the mushroomed material should be cut off with a grinder. If you forge it back to shape all you have is a reshaped tool with lots of dangerous cracks. In severe cases the entire end of the tool should be cut off in a abrasive cut-off saw.

Normally if you only have minor cracking then grinding off the mushroom and back to a heavy chamfer takes care of it. Struck tools should have a crown (like the face of a hammer) and a heavy chamfer so that it is impossible to strike a corner at an agle that will accept any significant force.

On that cupped hammer you need to cut everything back to flat plus a little with a grinder. Then you need to chamfer the edges (a lot), then crown the face. The edge between the crown and the chamfer should be wekk radiused (about a 1/8" to 3/16" [ 3 to 5 mm] radius).

Tools that wear down, plows, jack hammer bits, mason's chisels and picks can be dressed in the forge. But mushrooming should be cut off for safety reasons. A small piece of shrapnel flying off a tool at bullet speed has resulted in groin wounds that have been fatal. Most are lucky to just have to pull a piece of sharp hot tool steel from their leg or arm.

I have a collection of old tools that were used until the mushrooming was curled around on itself and large pieces had started flying of. I like to think that these were from the era when folks did not have cheep convenient grinders. But I have also seen modern tools in similar condition.
- guru - Thursday, 12/04/08 13:47:55 EST

My 72 chevy has a manual choke now. My 68 Scout had a delco window distributor on a V-8 cut in half to yeild a 196 in inline 4. Had the V-8 crank and both the crank and distributor had 8 eccentrics, but only 4 did anything. Factory engine:)
ptree - Thursday, 12/04/08 13:49:24 EST

Blacksmith Question: Do we allow Blacksmith questions in this forum? I thought this was automobiles only...GRIN...LOL.
- Rustystuff - Thursday, 12/04/08 15:43:17 EST

Hey! I'll have you know that the frame and upholstry are about the only parts of a Model T that can't be fixed in the average blacksmith shop! Except for the block and transmission case there's very little cast iron on the things. One of thier ads showed the front axle tied in a knot to prove its superiority to a cast axle.

Of course, if your blacksmith shop includes a wainwright's, you can also work on the frame and wheels, and quite possibly the upholstry!
Alan-L - Thursday, 12/04/08 16:26:12 EST

OK, I owned IHC Scouts, too...2 of 'em. Is there something genetic; some blacksmith/pyro/scout gene? Just a hunch, but I bet that the proportion of previous Scout owners here is higher that that of the general population. My first Scout needed so many parts that I can still recall it's VIN. My second Scout had the front universal joint on the front driveshaft fail, at highway speed. the driveshaft caught on the pavement, and came up through the floorboards directly behind my seat. I can still taste the adrenaline....
- Charlie Spademan - Thursday, 12/04/08 16:30:04 EST

Carburetors: If you were born after the baby boom (just), a carburetor is a device that, when connected to more vacuum hoses than an Electrolux factory, meters about the right amount of fuel, most of the time.

A friend's lawn mower wasn't running right once. I went to set the mixture and found that the screw had been backed out four or five *full* turns. I asked him if he'd adjusted the mixture -- no. So I asked "did you ever turn this screw." "Only like the manual said."

I made him dig out the manual, which said to turn the screw 1/8 turn CCW if the mower was hard to start. He'd done it every time the thing didn't start on the second pull!
Mike BR - Thursday, 12/04/08 17:38:32 EST

Another Scout owner: I just bought an F 150 (used) from the son of the man I bought my first new car from, and paid exactly the same price. That first car was a 1970 Scout. Conventional manual 4x4, power nothing, manual locking front hubs, AMC 232 straight six. The dealer warned me about the front drive shaft thing: happened a lot, apparently, chronic u-joint problem. Never happend to me, but I did have t replace the clutch linkage - a cable with a swaged ball end -- a zillion times. That always failed shifting into first gear, usually at a light. Did you know you can drive a synchromesh transmission for hundreds of miles without using the clutch?
Peter Hirst - Thursday, 12/04/08 18:07:13 EST

Peter Hirst,
My 68 Scout had a 3 speed manual, no synchro in 1st. That was my daily driver when I broke my left knee. Had a cast from my ankle to my ... And I drove that beast daily. Put a steel beer can in the left front corner to rest my cast on, and I looked like I was playing a Wurtlizer when shift time came:)
That thing has a solid rear axle, as in NO differential. Interesting in a tight corner, especially in the rain.
ptree - Thursday, 12/04/08 18:17:19 EST

model T front axil: I remember watching a movie in high school history class about the industrial revolution and of corse the Ford model T assembly line was one of the features of the movie. In that segment they showed a line of workmen moving front axil blanks that were suspended by a chain way to a very larg drop forge.
Each man would sling his axil into the open die and while still on the chain it would receive 5 or 6 big hits and then move on all in an endless procesion of workers. I would see this same segment in other history films and usualy anytime mass production was the topic(it was usualy seen with the segment from the Ford factory of the guys riding the little wagons to keep up with the assembly line)
Many years later I happen to see the same two segments on some program on PBS and for the first time I noticed a couple of signifigant details.
In the shot of the axil and drop hammer line we see the hammer being loaded by one man and operated by another and I understand now that this is the common methode. I also noticed that the third or forth guy to feed his blank into the machine didn't quite get all the way in and settled befor the hammer driver droped the peddle and piled up the whole machine right on camera!
If you see a long enough segment you will see it happen and see the chain support pulled down from the track and part of the blank sticking out of the die.
I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of people have seen that same segment over the years and never relised what actualy happend?
Charlie Spademan, I do believe there is something inheirant in grown men that persue a hobby or occupation that is as dangurous and labor intensive as blacksmithing and, the strong attraction to things that are well built and very rugged. One of my personal favorites is the M35A2 2 1/2T truck that the military has so sadly replaced. Ohh Well, lets not dwell on the past...
- merl - Thursday, 12/04/08 20:14:01 EST

I, too, owned a Scout, a boyhood fantasy-- there I am one day and this guy stops and asks if I'd like a car-- come true. Sure enough, local doctor, a friend, got irked when his Scout died and stranded him back in the boonies once too often. He asked if I'd like to have it and he thereupon gave it to me, free. Problem was a gasket or some such on the accelerator pump. Under $2 to fix. I liked it, embodiment of entropy, rust in motion, or not. But the CEO here hated that machine even more than she hated the Land Rover that preceded it. Too bumpy, noisy, etc. Gave it to youngest son who turned it over to second-oldest son, who traded it to a cabinet maker....
- Miles Undercut - Thursday, 12/04/08 21:25:09 EST

Now a Pinzgauer or a Unimog....
Miles Undercut - Thursday, 12/04/08 21:26:44 EST

Scouts: Yep, I owned three of them. A 66 Scout with the half a V-8 and manual everything. Terrific little vehicle! Also a 68 Scout with the whole V-8 - too much power for the drivetrain. And finally, an Indian Scout, a one-lung flathead bike that I barely got running after finding it abandoned. I was fourteen at the time and that fueled my lust for a motorcycle, so I wound up getting a 47 Indian Chief, the big 80 cubic inch flathead with suicide clutch, hand shift and the "death grip", as I called it.

I'd learned to ride motorcycles on old British bikes, mostly Triumph Bonnevilles and the like, and had the "Amal carburetor starting drill" down pat. Unfortunately, when you applied that drill to the Indian, that sudden wrenching of the right hand grip just as you leaped on the kick starter was NOT the thing to do - it advanced the spark about fifteen or twenty degrees. I was a skinny little kid who barely had the mass to turn over that flathead if I jumped down on it with my knee locked, and it hoisted me over the bars several times until I unlearned old habits. Damned embarrassing. Wish I still had that old monster.
vicopper - Thursday, 12/04/08 22:07:00 EST

Pinzgauer or Unimog: Now that would be a tough choice Miles.
I know were there is a M911 tractor(no trailer)complete with the two rear 20,000lb recovery winches, the tag axil and, exallent tires all around.
Now if I only had some M60 tanks to haul...
I wanted to mention a good read if anyone was interested. The title is "Truck. A love story" The author is Michael Perry. A well writen book about the authors efforts to restore his 1951 L 120 International pick up and, his life along with it.
- merl - Thursday, 12/04/08 23:11:22 EST

Merl, You really miss the M35 A2? Check this out:

I have to say, I am tempted myself
Peter Hirst - Thursday, 12/04/08 23:22:16 EST

Merl, i too have many miles in a M-35, and the multi-fuel was MY version. The straight 6 Cummins 5 ton tractor with a 30' COFT van for the Shilliegh Missile system was what I drove in Germany. Hard to start in the cold, but once running, almost nothing could stop it:)
ptree - Friday, 12/05/08 07:29:50 EST

scouts, again: I had to get rid of mine due to the CEO as well. She kept getting a headache (or claimed to) from exhaust gasses coming up through the cleverly designed climate control system, aka rusted out floorboards in the back seat footwell. Well, that plus the fine spray of water that filled the cabin if one got it running in the rain. It was the long wheelbase edition with the hatchback. I always wanted one of the 1960s half-8s, though. Trouble is, like the 1960s Broncos I'm too tall to drive them if they have the top on.

Been trying to talk the CEO into an old Unimog, but she's not impressed.
Alan-L - Friday, 12/05/08 10:50:55 EST

Unimogs: I told my wife I need a Unimog to haul around the weld/gen. unit and by the way it would pull her horse trailer without even working hard. She was not impressed. She then reminded me of our old deal- she can have as many horses as I have power hammers and we are not currently equal. I countered that the 23# Little Giant was worth no more than a pony and she had a perfectly good Quarter Horse equal to my bigger hammer. She then pointed out that not only was I ahead but that the big fly press and the treadle hammer added up to at least a Morgan. I don't think I'm getting a Unimog anytime soon.
Judson Yaggy - Friday, 12/05/08 14:08:24 EST

Oops should have typed 25, not 23. Sorry.
Judson Yaggy - Friday, 12/05/08 14:10:41 EST

There is another, maybe earlier (c. 1971) memoir also entitled Truck, by John Jerome, I think, about his battles with an old Dodge. Only problem with it is that dreadful "helpless little me, how do I confront this complex and mysterious machine" point of view so many writers seem to feel they have to adopt to get readers to identify.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/05/08 17:47:32 EST

Alan-L My CEO rode many miles in my half 8 Scout, with the top off. She NEVER drove it:)

She has driven the 72 Chevy once since we got it, even though she drove that very truck as a teen! It was her Dad's, and we bought it from him in 86.
ptree - Friday, 12/05/08 18:44:24 EST

Miles Undercut
I do not understand the point you are trying to convey.
- Smiles Underwood - Friday, 12/05/08 18:49:06 EST

Earth: Respecting the Guru's request do move from the Den, zero gravity at the center of the Earth is the correct answer (either that, or I'm wrong too).

If you really want a brain teaser, what would atmospheric pressure be at the center? I'm not sure how to work that one out myself.
Mike BR - Friday, 12/05/08 21:31:19 EST

Smiles-- Okay, here it is again: Lotsa mass market writers like Jerome, dealing with how-to and other tech-heavy subjects, disingenuously adopt a helpless little me, babe in the woods pose to enhance reader empathy with themselves as the central figure in the piece. It's a bit presh, cloying.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 12/06/08 00:19:54 EST

That is, I am not just merely going to tell you how to fix an old truck, nor about how I wasted a year of my life that I will never have to live again fixing an old truck, nay, but how I picked up my wrenches and crawled under this rusty piece of worthless crap and brought it back to life. Moreover, I am going to take you along for every laugh-filled minute as I recount my bumbling adventures in the strange and foreign land of throw-out bearings and piston rings and timing gears and how I single-handedly confronted-- and conquered-- the daunting mysteries of internal combustion. etc., etc.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 12/06/08 00:29:05 EST

Miles: That's exactly how the much revered "Zen/Motorcycle Maintenance" strikes me. People tell me I just don't get it. I get it. I just think its bull. Kind of like the therapists who kept telling my ex and me we just weren't communicating. We were communicating fine; we just didn't like each other.
Peter Hirst - Saturday, 12/06/08 07:44:24 EST

It's part of a dark plot by OmniMedia to portray the American male as a pitiful but ever so darling klutz seeking satori and epiphany in the hardware store and the greasepit. The sissification of America.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 12/06/08 10:24:11 EST

Yes Miles, that is an apt and accurate descrition of the book I refer to.
Sometimes it's OK to read books like that to help establish a base point.
Some might think the book just had some hummor in it and read it for that...
- merl - Saturday, 12/06/08 11:28:36 EST

Hey, I enjoyed the Jerome Truck book a lot, and look forward to reading the later truck book as well. I just feel the pose is hokey, is all-- and think it's sad that editors and publishers feel that such persiflage is necessary so as not to frighten off readers from buying books.
Miles Undercut - Saturday, 12/06/08 16:45:04 EST

I have to agree with you there Miles. Why can't a book be sold and, become popular on its own merrits?
I happen to hear the author of this book reading a passage from it on a public radio program and thought it sounded like my kind of subtle humor so I checked it out on his website and orderd a copy.
I admit to being a little biased because the guy is from Wisconsin and actualy lives not too far from me but, it certainly was not a life chainging read. Just some gentle humor without the obligitory sex scene like you offten find used to sell books.
The book wasn't on "Opra's list" either so that was a big mark in its favore.
I hope you do find time to read the book because it sounds like you already have by this other title. It would be iteresting to see how close they run together.
BTW Guru, I know I promised a short blacksmithing story by Holloween but there have obviuosly been some hold ups,one beeing the mis-placment of the note book with the story bord in it. It has finely been found so I will continue.
- merl - Saturday, 12/06/08 22:57:57 EST

Air pressure in psi would be AT LEAST the weight of a 1" sq column of air about 4,000 miles long of increasing density along its entire length, up to the point where it liquifies, then the weight of liquid air for the rest of the 4,000 mile column. Just because gravity measures zero, that doesn't mean there's no no pressure. The magnitude of gravity at the core is huge: it just measures zero because its omnidirectional.
Peter Hirst - Saturday, 12/06/08 23:47:27 EST

Actually, I have read or heard that plain old word of mouth is indeed the most powerful force behind best sellers. All those kids telling each other about those great books about wizards are what made J.K. Rowling a zillionaire, ditto teenage girls raving to their friends about Judy Blume have sold all those millions and millions of her books.
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 12/07/08 00:13:54 EST

Peter Hirst: Persig, Zen & MM: Read that again sometime, but forget the bike, the trip & His kid. The story is about the re-emergence of His former personality, the one suposedly destroyed by electroshock therapy after His nervous breakdown, and how He deals with this personality away from home, without professional help. The rest is just to fill in the spaces.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 12/07/08 00:16:16 EST

Gravity and Air a puzzel to think about:
Peter, the pressure of the surrounding gas is caused by the same gravity that would be zero (or omnidirectional) at the center of a large body. When there is a hole through that body it becomes topologically a torus. Generally gravitational are toward the circular axis of a torus. I postulate that the pressure in the hole would be about half at some point.
- guru - Sunday, 12/07/08 09:34:35 EST

Literature vs. Manuals:
If I want to fix a truck I want clear concise directions and plenty of accurate legible diagrams and charts of the needed data. The manual I recently bought for my Japanese forklift is neither.

If I want to read about someone's daily life and tribulations I'll pick a biography of someone who interests me. Whether you like his art or not, Picasso led a very interesting life.

- guru - Sunday, 12/07/08 09:41:01 EST

I *think* Peter and the Guru are both right about the air pressure. A particle of air at the center adds nothing to the pressure because no gravity is acting on in. But there's a huge column above that that *is* subject to gravity. Roughly speaking, the mass of the column increases exponentially with depth while gravity decreases linearly, so the pressure at the bottom is very high.

I see it as being a little bit like a vessel with air at the bottom, water at the top, and a piston in between. Even though the trapped air has very little weight, the pressure at the bottom of the cylinder is no lower than the pressure at the bottom of the layer of water.
Mike BR - Sunday, 12/07/08 10:18:07 EST

Technical writing: My ex-father-in-law, another Frank, developed and taught a technical writing technique at McDonnel Douglas. He developed the methodology, because the engineers and other tek-heads used sentences that were often too wordy, convoluted, and abstruse. He called it SVO, "Subject Verb Object."
To simplify and set an example, he would tell them, "I see the dog." He encouraged them to try to stick to SVO in their writing realizing that the entire report or manual couldn't be done that way. It might become stilted.

Frank had many other suggestions, one being to avoid dependent clauses. He also encouraged them to eschew adverbs, meaning words that often end with "ly." For example, what may be "heavily riveted" to you may not be "heavily riveted" to the reader. It is better to say that the pieces were riveted and to say how many rivets were used. Frank tried to help with punctuation, especially commas and semicolons. He would help his students with agreement in sentence structure. He couldn't stand overly long sentences. He encouraged students to read Ernest Hemingway to help them understand the directness of SVO and how it could even be used in some fiction writing.

Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/07/08 11:05:51 EST

Anvil Horn?: Is there a best size:
What would be the best size and shape of an Anvil Horn for general shop use? I have seen many shapes of them. Of coarse horns vary in size according of the size Anvil. Could anyone post the dimensions of a good universal size.
Thank You
- Tmac - Sunday, 12/07/08 11:35:30 EST

What gets my goat is fiction writers who go out of their way to describe a technical subject -- and then get it wrong. If the writer describes only what's necessary to the plot and makes a mistake, he writes about something that couldn't happen. But then it *didn't* happen; it's fiction after all. If he gives unnecessary detail though, he's trying to teach the reader something, and had better get it right.

For example, there's a Robert Janes that gives the analysis of the steel in traditional Laguiole knife the main character buys -- and the analysis matches that of 440C. I know 440C existed in 1942, but it could hardly have been "traditional." I figure the author looked up the analysis for a modern knife and didn't realize it was for stainless. (Of course, the thing I resent most about Robert Janes is that he seems to have stopped writing (grin)).
Mike BR - Sunday, 12/07/08 11:45:13 EST

RE: McDonnell Douglas:
I have used and own many McDonnell Douglas books. Those books are all well written and straight to the point.
I thought aircraft maintenance for years, and used many of those for my class room studies. Some of the early MD books have been incorporated into the basic FAA maintenance technician manuals.
- Tmac - Sunday, 12/07/08 11:47:03 EST

Truck by John Jerome: Miles? If that is the book I'm thinking of, it has the best line in it that I can ever recall reading "the emergency brake, faced with an emergency, promptly broke"
JimG - Sunday, 12/07/08 12:16:34 EST

Horn Size:
Do you have a choice? Horns are usually the width of the anvil and a little taller where they join. The bigger the anvil, the bigger the horn.

There ARE choices. Shape varies. CW says that conical horns are not as useful as those that are ovoid on the top and nearly round on the bottom creating a greater variety of curves. Conical horns are a late invention designed to be machine finished. If they are not, then they are poorly applied.

There are anvils with both square and round horns. I've never used a square horned anvil a lot so I cannot expound on their advantages or disadvantages. I do believe that the more shapes available the better.

The big difference is length proportional to the base. A long slender horn has different uses than a short steep angled one. You also find old anvils that have had the tip of the horn broken off (or upset) and reground. I find these difficult to work on. I prefer a slightly longer horn as it is easier to find and stay on a specific radius.

Most early anvils were hornless or had little stubby horns. To augment this smiths had stake anvils with proportionately long slender round and square horns.

Then there are those very weird duck billed anvils made in the Orient where they don't have a clue about Western anvil design.

The modern anvil with a horn is a universal tool deriving from farriers anvils and the stake anvil. Like any universal tool they are a compromise. On farriers' anvils they put much of the mass in the horn which makes the anvil poorer for forging. In old Colonial anvils the mass was in the body which made them much better for forging but not quite as handy a tool. Modern anvils with proportionately slender waists need to be heavier than their earlier counterparts in order to give the same forging mass under the hammer.

So, you get the best anvil you can. Then augment it with stakes and cones if you really need them.
- guru - Sunday, 12/07/08 12:17:33 EST

Technical Fiction: Technical fiction needs to be absolutely correct OR use fictional inventions that cannot be disputed by known reality.

The problem is when reality catches up with science fiction. Who would have thought that by the end of the 20th century almost every teenager in America and about half of the rest of the planet would have Dick Tracey video telephones?
- guru - Sunday, 12/07/08 12:23:00 EST

Dick Tracey video telephones: I'm still waiting for my Shoe Phone, though.

Oh, and my flying car.
Rob Dobbs - Sunday, 12/07/08 17:07:46 EST

Not that I'm coming to his defence but, this Michal Perry that wrote the book I refer to obviously dosn't have a clue when it comes to wrenchin' and restorin' and by the end of the book he's not much further along on that score.
It's just a book writen by a guy who can wax poetic about a delapitated old truck and still not take him self so seriously that he doesn't see the humor in what he is doing. He also has a good descriptive and naritive style that makes it easy to visualise what he sees and has experienced. Yes, the fact that he is just a couple of countys to the west of me does help but if the book wasn't of interest I wouldn't have given it a second thought even if my own brother had writen it.
There is nothing technical in my story. It's suposed to be a ghost story inspired by an old, old farmstead in a part of the county were I spent most of my summers when I was younger.
BTW I saw a good size anvil yesterday at the shop of someone in the engine modeling club I belong to.
He claims dy dementions it works out to between 400-500lbs. and I would say it went an easy 400. We couldn't get any name or markings from it as it has a thick coat of black paint on it. I'm trying to talk him in to scraping the paint off of it to find a makers mark of some kind. It looks like a PW at the feet with the cast in ledge for hold downs but, Iknow that probably means very little.
It has the holes for the porter bars so I asume it is forged wrought iron at the base with a 1" thick table plate of tool steel. It looks like he tried to clean up the top face with a disk grinder at one time but, gave up. It is in realy exalent condition and it apperantly came from a factory out on the west coast were he and his father bothe worked and, his father used it from time to time. When this company decided to throw it out (!!!???) he took it home and has had it ever since.
He claims not to be a blacksmith of any kind and keeps it for sentimental reasons.
- merl - Sunday, 12/07/08 21:06:45 EST

Foreign Tech Manuals: If you think your Japanese forklift manual is pretty useless Jock, you should read (or rather, try to read), the manual that came with my Chinese tractor. If I hadn't been pretty much capable of reverse engineering a lot of mechanical things, I'd never have been able to assemble that tractor using the provided manual. What a comedy of errors and ommissions that thing is! Most of the tractor has been developed further and re-designed since the manual was published, and no updates are included. Only about 50% of the drawings actually match what is in front of you, and the translations are incredibly, wildly erratic. I must say though, that the machine itself is well built and works like a champ. It has the virtue (for me) of using engineering mostly from about the 60's and 70's so I can actually understand it and cope with it.
vicopper - Sunday, 12/07/08 21:49:19 EST

These truck books are not fiction and they are not technical writing in the sense of how-to or manuals. They are real-life non-fiction adventure stories, personal accounts of journeys into the strange and foreign land of old machinery. As the man said above, the writers re-discover themselves along the way. That's fine with me. I'm all in favor of people writing books about their lives and better yet, selling them. Just spare me the disarming self-deprecation hooey.
Miles Undercut - Sunday, 12/07/08 22:32:42 EST

Grapes of Wrath: It's been a looong time since I read that book, but I'm minded of a segment where the Joad family has their Hudson Terraplane break down. Of course, they're on their way to California. I believe they had to pour their own babbit for the bearings. One family member barked his knuckles to bring a little blood, while he was wrenching. He remarked that he never really felt like he was into a car repair until he had a little accident like that.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 12/07/08 23:19:59 EST

Painted Anvils: Merl, You can never tell. One thing though, all PW's are forged, there is not a cast mark, line or texture on them anywhere. You also need to be aware that many foundries over the years have used the nearest anvil as a pattern to make a cast iron one. . . Generally these have raised lettering or numbers on them somewhere but not always. Some even have machined faces removing the parting line. But parting seams can be easily recognized as well as sprue or riser locations. Raised lettering on old anvils is always an indication of being cast. On late anvils a number that have been forged, especially small ones, that have raised lettering.

Terminology, forged vs. cast is very important in identifying an anvil. Then there is hand or blacksmith forged (large shop with power hammer) vs. drop forged in dies like a Peddinghaus.

Paint makes it difficult to tell about surface texture and repairs. It has been said, "Beware the Painted Lady"
- guru - Monday, 12/08/08 00:26:47 EST

Peter Wright "ledge": Over the years, I've seen a couple of Kohlswa anvils that had the PW ledges, and I've seen a couple of Kohlswa's that did not have them.
Frank Turley - Monday, 12/08/08 07:07:32 EST

Come to haha think of it, though, and harking back to an issue of Country Journal Magazine that had a piece re: the tools needed for living in the boonies, replete with instructions on how to use a wheelbarrow, maybe the bewildered helplessness is not a pose. Who else but a sojourning wayfarer from a land where such was necessary could find drama under an old truck?
Miles Undercut - Monday, 12/08/08 11:02:53 EST

The Mysteries Under the Hood:
For SOME things I have a fantastic memory, especially about childhood. The first time I looked under the hood of an old car I was about eight or nine. It was an old Buick with a flat head straight six. A big black mysterious rectangular thing. But it was fairly simple even then and there was not much else to look at other than an old 3/4" wide fan belt and the spark plugs. I changed the plugs in that old car once. I cannot remember if it ran afterward. . .

I learned a lot about mechanics helping a buddy that had English sports cars that were always in need of something. Triple carbs and enough parts in the linkages to make any tinker-toy or erector set crazed kid happy. Lots of mysteries there. We learned from trial and error as well as after market manuals. We did some amazing things with very limited tools.

In later years I had old trucks from the 1950's with slightly more sophisticated engines than the old Buick. Still pretty simple and lots of space to work. On these I swapped engines, rebuilt transmissions and just about everything else you can do to an old truck.

In the 70's electronics started to creep into the engine compartment and vacuum hoses ran riot. Every manner of odd part sprouted out of every surface of the engine, firewall and fenders. I worked on quite a few of these but was never as confident as working on the old 50 and 60's stuff.

For a while I specialized in British Sports car repair and did everything from engine and transmission rebuilds to adjusting voltage regulators and instruments.

Today looking under the hood of a car is more bewildering to me than when I was eight years old. Far too many parts doing who knows what. I no longer work on my cars other than changing a battery or a head lamp. The rest I leave to experts.

I feel sorry for young kids that want to buy an "old" car and fix it up. Many things on modern cars just plain cannot be fixed when they get a little age on them. The high tech becomes outdated so fast that those keeping up with it can only afford to be sharp on the recent. Parts become unavailable much too soon and there are far more to go bad. Today a 15 year old car is from when they were just as complicated as today. You have to go to a late 60's or early 70's car to find something that you can learn mechanics on but those are now into the "classic" category with rare (expensive) parts.

While I enjoy the dependability of modern cars I still miss the "good old days" when you could work on them your self.

So goes to world. . .
- guru - Monday, 12/08/08 12:09:08 EST

Over the years, again: Miles, You may have something there. I've had a handful of students who have probably never had a hammer or screwdriver in their hands. When I broached the subject with them, they SWORE that they had used tools before. You can't fool the old man, though.

We are taking manual arts out of high school curricula. In my classes, when we go to the drill press, I have to explain the Jacobs chuck and accompanying key. We spend time explaining proper hammer swing.

We're living in a strange era, one in which two thumbs depress keys on a mini-keyboard while attention deficit continues.
Frank Turley - Monday, 12/08/08 12:14:48 EST

Old vs new cars: I have been working on cars since I first owned one a 1952 Plymouth with a flathead 6. I have had a succesion of fun cars such as several of the poorly understood Corvair, a pair of Plymouth(mitsubishi) Champs, an IH, An NSU( that was a nifty little oddball) and others.
I basically do not electronic or vacumn work. I do exhaust, brakes, front and rear axles tie rods etc. Those are still mechanical work, and ripe for money savings. I can put a pair of front axle half shafts in in a afternoon, for $150 VS $800+ at a shop. Not an electronic item in sight there, except maybe a wheel spin sensor for antilock.
Good thing as I have 4 kids with junkers, and I get to repair on a regular basis:)
ptree - Monday, 12/08/08 18:23:32 EST

I'm lucky that I've found a local mechanic that is both good an inexpensive. Cost me less to let him fix things than to look for the parts. Replaced a broken axle including tow for about $100. Repaired Sheri's nearly totaled 4 year old car plus earlier dings for enough less than the insurance company estimated that we had no deductible costs and got it back in 10 days. Often you cannot beat a man at his own game. I've got more work for him.

However. . the last dealer that worked on my Ford truck didn't do the job right (wrong master cylinder) and charged $800 for the cylinder and a piece of brake line. . . Why did I take it to a dealer? Brakes failed entirely on the heavy truck in front of the dealer that was on TOP of a hill. If they had failed a minute later I probably would not be writing this. . It was also suspected that it might be a brake booster that I know NOTHING about . . So the dealer won the lottery.

I used to do it all including replacing windshields (not recommended).
- guru - Monday, 12/08/08 19:55:17 EST

big anvil- big fake?: I have to say I do have my suspitions about this anvil.
exibit a.-- no disernable makings of any kind. Even with the heavy paint I would think I could see the logo or something showing through.

exibit b.-- at the feet on the front and back side I can plainly see a round boss sticking out slightly from the surface. They are about an inch around and very reagular and symetrical, not like a sprue or riser that has been ground off but, like the marks left by an ejection pin on a diecasting or, the ejection pin marks left when you mold a core from that terrible smelling lost foam prosses.

exibit c.-- Why the porter bar holes in a casting? (one on in the front and back and one on the side)

The table is clearly hard from the evidence of the grinding and giving up on it about 1/3 of the way through. There also seems to be a distinctive line showing the thickness of the table (1"+)
It has a 1 1/4 -1 1/2 hardy hole and probably a 1/2" pritchel hole.
The darn thing does look for all the world like a much bigger version of my 100lb PW...
I'm trying to talk him into bringing it over to my place so we can try some heavy striking but, I think he's afraid it will get hurt some how... Daddy's anvil and all...

BTW Miles, I love that word "replete" . It's rather a chalange using it in a modern machine shop setting without drawing the inevitable round of dumb looks from the slack jawed yokles hanging around.
- merl - Monday, 12/08/08 22:36:20 EST

Mechanicin' and such: I, too, grew up with old cars and the smell of leaded gas on my clothes. I had old Fords, Mercs, Dodges and even a Corvair, plus a succession of GM products that actually worked, which the Corvair didn't, most of the time. The old 35 Ford PU and the 40 Merc sedan were both flathead V-8s that were a snap to work on, once you got past that first trauma of splitting a number of the special thinwall 5/8" sockets for the headbolts that were frozen. As I recall, the clerk at Sears finally just gave me a box of a dozen of them to save me having to take the bus down every day for a new one. :-) I learned a lot from those old cars, bu tprobably not nearly as much as I should have.

Liek the rest of you, the new computerized, vacuum-hose jungled cars of today are not something I can do much with. I do have an OBD reader so I can decipher what the stupid little warning lights are telling me and then ignore it, but that's about all I can do these days. That's why I bought a Chinese tractor the other day. That thing is right out of the sixties as far as engineering and design goes and I can understand it. Well, the hydraulics are something I'm working or learning more about, but the rest is old hat, fortunately. The more I piddle around with that tractor, the more I appreciate it. Not a single bit of solid-state Zen required, as long as the voltage regulator holds up, but can live without that if need be - diesels don't need electricity to run! (grin) And it doesn't even have a windshield, either. To be fair, it also doesn't have a syncromesh gearbox, so I had to re-learn double-clutching and slip shifting, but that came back pretty quickly. All I need to do now is make it a nifty hood ornament as nice as Jeff's "Barbie on the Dragon."

vicopper - Monday, 12/08/08 22:54:28 EST

When our oldest son, who had been a foreman on a subdivision development in town and had designed and with his brothers and their girlfriends built an addition onto our house, got to Rice architecture school, no one else in his class had ever built anything, had ever used a hammer or saw.
Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 12/09/08 00:35:31 EST

Rich, tractor hydraulics have been pretty sophisticated ever since Harry Feurgeson invented the 3 point hitch system with mechanical draft control. The hydraulic side is usually pretty simple, the mechanical feedback can be a bit interesting:) Trying to maintain cheapness, has many of the makers using "power beyond" controls that are also a bit interesting.
Best suggestion, keep that hydraulic oil clean, and watch for water in the oil. Those mobile systems breath in a lot of moist air and it condenses. Probably more mobile systems die of water contamination than dirt.
ptree - Tuesday, 12/09/08 07:25:46 EST

Grand Opening: Thanks to a lot of help on this forum and the Guru's Den, Keziah's Forge is open for biz at its new location, 1150 Old Queene Anne Road in Harwich MA. Stop in anytime yer down the Cape. My landlord, who runs the old barrel and fish box factory that this forge once served (now Barn and Barrel Fine Yankee Goods) is throwing an open house and opening for me this Sattidy, Dec 5, all day. This forge is one of Bob Jordan's former locations, and proudly bears his mark in the slab and a couple of fixtures. Yesterday, I installed the LG 25 pounder in near mint condition, thanks to the talents of Sid and the gang at Little Giant Hammer and Bob Kluge of Anvil Artistry in Morris, Connecticut. How I love a machine with leather parts.

Thanks again to all here.
Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 12/09/08 09:46:23 EST

Note that many old anvils had very light striking for the trademark and it's fairly common to find them obliterated; so much so that Postman gives a series of methods to guess what brand an anvil is that has no markings readable---the indentation in the base can often point to the maker for example.

I know of no modern casts that have had porter bar holes added to them for verisimilitude.

I can quite picture the bosses you are speaking of but several brands of anvils have had bolt down lugs on the feet, Fisher is one of them. Is the heel fairly "fat" rather than long and tapered?

Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/09/08 10:51:14 EST

Anvils, Machines and Paint: Thomas, I have seen cast anvils with the porter bar holes carefully cored!

But Thomas is right on point about the markings and paint. Old forged anvils were hand stamped albeit with a sledge hammer but the stamps were huge and probably wore rapidly. Even on a good clean anvil they can be uneven in depth, missing characters from the uneven (hand forged) surface and very faint. A coat or two of paint will completely hide them. AND most of the time old tools and machinery that get painted do not get cleaned very well. They get wiped down with a bit of kerosene on a rag and painted as-is.

SO, take a 100 to 200 year old anvil, let it rust, collect scale and coal dust in the markings from use, oil it, wipe it off, do it again between periods of rust and generations of users, use it as a table for your paint can (possibly making those round marks) and then slop a coat of old thick paint on with a brush. . . THAT is the life of a typical "painted lady". And they often get more than one coat of paint.

You just have to see a machine shop painting session to believe it. Most of the time commercial paint crews are hired that are given terse instructions. "If it doesn't move paint it grey (or the color dejur') and if it moves paint it red or safety yellow, and if it looks shiney and well oiled don't paint it". Most of the crew are typical painters and know nothing about machinery. Everything gets a heavy coat of hand brushed enamel often including the machine slide ways. The decision about what moves and what doesn't is often arbitrary or based on the last paint job. Cleaning is usually the routine with a kerosene rag.

I've had old machinery were oil cups had gotten buried in the debris that accumulates around it and the dirt AND cup was painted over more than once. . You had to chip through thick layers of paint to find the oiler.

I had a drill press that chips, dirt and debris had built up in the base T-slots which were then painted over maybe a half dozen times. Except for a broken T-bolt sticking up from one of the slots you could tell there were 5/8" wide 1" deep slots in that base!

I've also had machinery that was painted with sea-foam green water based latex paint.

- guru - Tuesday, 12/09/08 13:35:46 EST

Why the sloppy paint jobs:
You may be asking yourself WHY would anyone hire painters to do such a lousy job when all the machinery needed was a wipe down and good oiling.

Money and Politics. Like many businesses machine shops need to secure loans on occasion OR impress a possible investor new partner or local government officials. So, one weekend here comes the paint crew. . . On Friday the worers are told to clean their machines and put anything away they didn't want painted. On Monday the painters are finishing up and asking which part to paint yellow? On Tuesday the shop is back in operation and HOPEFULLY the inspection by visitors is that week . . .

The idea is to make 40 year old machines look new to the untrained eye and to give the shop an aire of prosperity with nice uniformly painted equipment. . . If the shop had an anvil. . . it got painted the color of the walls too.

- guru - Tuesday, 12/09/08 13:48:20 EST

Machine paint jobs: When we moved the Valve shop from Louisville Ky to Indiana, about a 22 mile distance, We ended up draining all fluids prior to loading, Pressure washing and painting with a high grade polyurathane paint in a very nice deep blue.
Many of these machines had been in long industrial service for almost a hundred years. Amazing what we found when they came clean:) For about 450 machine tools cleaned and painted we shipped about 5 tons of solid waste and I have no idea anymore how much oily water. We only had a couple of water ingression issues from the pressure wash as they were real pro's. And since the polyurathane was a 2 part cure, not solvent dry, it actually stood up to the coolant and did not wrinkle and slip off like plain solvent dry enamels always did.
ptree - Tuesday, 12/09/08 19:13:12 EST

Oops, thats December 13, not Dec 5.
Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 12/09/08 21:29:30 EST

Machine tools & paint: In the late '80s I was working in the tool & die shop of an auto & truck frame manufacturing plant. All of the machinery had been painted the light green that had been popular for the prior 50 years, They finally cut loose some money and got 2 new Series 2 Bridgeports, one for the machine shop and the other for the tool & die shop.

The superintendant was rather taken with the light grey paint scheme on the new machines, and corporate was pushing to get the plants "World Class Clean". A company was hired to prep and paint the old machines to match the new Bridgeports.

They wiped them down with naptha, walnut shell blasted where needed and painted them. They did a good job with the paint, but the worn out machines were still just as worn out.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 12/09/08 21:37:49 EST

Painted lady: I have to paint my anvils. Not to hide any problems but simply because otherwise they would just rust away. Warmth and humidity are a dangerous combination.
philip in china - Tuesday, 12/09/08 22:24:38 EST

Mobile Hydraulics: Jeff,

Yeah, the draft control is a real intriguing invention. My tractor has both position and draft settings, though I have little use of the draft control for mowing with a bush hog or dragging a box blade. Maybe if I want to really drop the scarifiers into soft soil...

Most people don't even realize that 3-point hitches usually have no power down, just gravity. And some draft controls work one way and others work the other way. As you say, the mechanical linkage to feather the hydraulic valving can get pretty interesting. Mine appears pretty simple, but I haven't checked to see how well it works yet. On one old tractor my uncle had, you could just push on the top link with your hand and the draft control would respond.

Water in hydraulics is just as welcome to me as water in diesel fuel. My tractor has breather vents for the lift box that have rudimentary filtering on them. I'n cogitating on ways to improve on that. It also has open breather tubes for the front axles and gearboxes, to which I've added simple fuel filters to keep out dust and dirt. A cheap and easy fix.

The loader controls on my machine are pretty poor, and I don't much like joysticks anyway, so I'm going to change them out one of these days. I just have to find a cheap source for a Brand PLV22RFSTKLWB 2-stick valve and I'll be in business. I'm beginning to grasp the concepts of "open center" versus "closed center" systems, power beyond, and other intricacies of mobile hydraulics, bu tI have a good ways ot go yet before I'll feel comfortable that my knowledge is sufficient to cope with issues that may arise. I'm really thankful to have people like you I can ask about these things. It is definitely a learning experience!
vicopper - Tuesday, 12/09/08 23:15:25 EST

Rich; in your environment couldn't you just use a flamethrower to trim the greenery?

Where I'm at doing so would take care of the entire state and perhaps the next one over as well; but I hear tell that in the VI you have to sleep with a machete in hand so you can hew your way out through what grew overnight every morning.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/10/08 10:56:29 EST

Rich, That brand part # should be able to get crossed over to another maker. I am fond of Gressen for mobile valves. Try Baily Sales in Knoxville TN 1-800-800-1810.
I think if you use the single stick for a while though you will become very adept and never want single levers again.
All of the little excavators etc are pretty much joystick, and once mastered, very easy.

As far as keeping the water out, a water trapping filter subb'ed for the breather is a good start. Another way is to use a water trapping hydraulic filter. I built up several filter carts using a 6" x 18" "Lubrifiner style" canister filter. The elements were pretty reasonable and they make one that will trap and hold a quart of water. Just suck out the oil thru the filter, dumping into a container and then irculate for a bit, say half an hour. The pump thru the filter back into the tank. You get pristine clean, dry oil. If you can find the canister on a junked truck, I believe the plain elements run about $6.00 each for plain and about $30 for the water trap. You just need a little 1 GPM pump, and it only needs to make about 20 psi.
Or just change the oil alot. :)
ptree - Wednesday, 12/10/08 18:10:57 EST

Thomas P, no the feet do not have anything like hold down lugs. As I say they look more like something left over from the casting prosses but who would cast in the porter bar holes?
Also, the heel is about 2" thick at the end and it developes from a long arc coming up from the base rather than a tapperd or wedge shape.
I'm waiting to see if the club newsletter has any usable pictures of it I can post.
- merl - Wednesday, 12/10/08 19:15:36 EST

dew point: It's not just heat and humidity. We just had a 50 deg.F upward temperature swing in less than 24 hours (starting at -10) and everything in the shop is dripping with condensation.

Rich- If you already have a hydraulic power set up in your shop disregard this, but I set up the power beyond port on my tractor hydraulics to mate with a coupling that feeds into my shop. My occasional usage of cylinders in the shop is fed by the tractor. Would be a PITA if you needed lots of hyd. power but suits my needs.
Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 12/10/08 19:49:18 EST

Hydraulics: Jeff, thanks, I'll work on those suggestions.

Judd, I've been thinnking of ddoing something on that order myself. If I scrounge up a cylinder for a press, I'll probably run it off the tractor at least initially. I built a parking place for the tractor that is on the other side of one shop wall for that reason, among others. The OEM loader valve doesn't have power beyond, but any replacement will. It does have a set of quick connects near the 3-point though, come to think of it.

Those radical temperature swings can drive you nuts, I know. In Boulder, CO, we'd frequently get them where the temp would swing fifty degrees in an hour or so, either way, depending on whether the wind was upsloping or downsloping at the time. You could watch a foot of new snow disappear before your eyes. Fortunately, those radical swings happened in the winter when the humidity was in single digits, so no condensation. Not so when I lived in Phoenix, though.
vicopper - Wednesday, 12/10/08 22:26:51 EST

Hydraulics and wet. My old landrover had the original breathers. They were just a breather with a ballbearing in the tube. The weight of the ball sealed it but excess pressure would lift it and vent out. Just cleaned them up every year or so by taking them out and rinsing in paint thinners until the ball rattled freely. If you were going to do quite a bit of wading you could replace them with plugs. There are probably newer ideas now but newer doesn't necessarily = better!

Re. flamethrower- they can be a lot of fun. I have diagrams on how I made a very effective one but I don't think Jock would welcome me posting them here.
- philip in china - Thursday, 12/11/08 00:34:06 EST

Flame Throwers: Some forge burners are pretty close. Some even squirt liquid fuel. . I often thought the solution to small propane cylinders was a burner that worked like a hot air balloon burner. Liquid fuel going through a coil at around the burner nozzle to evaporate and preheat the fuel. Of course, this is also how rocket engines manage to dump thousands of gallons of cryogenic fuel through the engine in just minutes. It is also what keep the nozzle from melting.
- guru - Thursday, 12/11/08 00:58:43 EST

Fuel Prices:
Regular gasoline is 1.499/gallon in Boonville, NC. Only a few days ago it was 1.639/gallon. How LOW will it go?

They are still charging $1 more for Diesel!
- guru - Thursday, 12/11/08 01:02:42 EST

Fuel: Here on St. Croix, within six miles of the largest refinery in the Western Hemisphere (Hovensa), the gas prices have recently changed radically. Down from a high of $3.90/gal two weeks ago to a low of $1.46/gal last week and now up to $1.56/gal today. And yes, diesel is still $2.95/gal. I don't understand that at all, but then I know almost nothing about petroleum product pricing. Across the water 45 miles on St. John the gas prices are still over $3/gal and diesel is right at $4.50/gal. I guess all the jillionaires over there can afford it.
vicopper - Thursday, 12/11/08 02:36:14 EST

Diesel Price: If I'm not mistaken part of the reason for the continued high price of diesel is that years ago at one of their world wide summits on pollution and emissions the nations involved agreed upon a tax on diesel since it emits more pollutants. The tax didn't go into effect until years later based upon their agreement. That future date just happened to occur at the same time as the latest rise in prices.The information was published in assorted environmental magazines and given limited press in other sources but was not widely publicized.Just another instance of taxation without representation.
- Robert Cutting - Thursday, 12/11/08 04:17:13 EST

horse shooeing: looking for shoorer in Lafayette, opelouses, Ville Platte LOUISIANA area
- ron cortez - Thursday, 12/11/08 08:42:38 EST

Ron Cortez: You might try and click on "Find a Farrier."
Frank Turley - Thursday, 12/11/08 09:48:54 EST

Fuel Prices:
At the current price, if they were to rise back to the previous high just under $5/gallon we figured we could afford to buy a 500 gallon tank, have it filled and be ahead in a year to 18 months. That included the cost of the tank and a good hand pump.

No, that doesn't help when we are on the road but it covers all our local driving which is mostly going to the post office daily to ship packages with about 15% going to the grocery store and to eat out occasionally. On out of town travel that fuel from home would usually get us where we were going at least.

Of course, if even a small percentage of us were to buy a year's supply of gasoline in advance the prices WOULD skyrocket back to where they were. . . probably while many were just getting delivery of their tank. . .
- guru - Thursday, 12/11/08 11:25:57 EST

What is this condensation you speak of? We very often have 40 degF temp swings but I can't recall a sweating anvil in the 5 years I;ve been out here in the desert.

Thomas P - Thursday, 12/11/08 14:35:39 EST

Flame Throwers: From time to time, I read in the paper that they'd use troops with flame throwers to clear the inauguration parade route of snow if necessary. It's almost got me hoping for snow on January 20th.

But I expect the papers have it wrong -- it's hard to imagine folks spraying napalm on Pennsylvania Avenue. Does the military even *have* flame throwers still?
Mike BR - Thursday, 12/11/08 18:05:02 EST

Mike BR, i believe that flame throwers have been outlawed by a amendment to the Geneva Convention. To my knowledge, there are no flame throwers in the military arsenal today save for mueseums.
I do not believe that flame throwers could be used to clear snow in a built up area, the wind would blow the napalm about and the city would burn. They also held little fuel in the backpack mounted ones, a flame thrower tank holds more but those are also long gone. Would not a mordern snow thrower or plow make just a little more sense:)
ptree - Thursday, 12/11/08 18:36:00 EST

Thomas's lack of water: When you put a swamp cooler in your smithy you'll find out all about condensation on tools, unfortunately. I had one in my sign shop in Phoenix and had to cover the table saws and other heavy tools at night or they condensed water from the cooled air and rusted like mad. Renaissance Wax helped a lot. A/C was not an affordable option, unfortunately. Neither was living with the heat during the summer months.
vicopper - Thursday, 12/11/08 19:04:41 EST

Snow clearance: The RAK used to have a device on some airfields which I can best describe as a jet engine on a forklift. The heat from the engine quickly cleared the snow.

When I worked in Tomsk (maybe -50C) they had amazing snow clearers. 2 trucks. One had padles that pushed snow onto a conveyor belt. The belt dumped the snow onto the other truck which then went and tipped it into the river Tom. No big banks of snow like you get with ploughs or blowers!
philip in china - Thursday, 12/11/08 19:09:07 EST

Hmm sounds like I need to run the swamp cooler outside and make up a heat exchanger to run cooler air into my shop. Or let the damp air flush out before night fall.

Thomas P - Thursday, 12/11/08 20:01:13 EST

hammer finish: Back in the early 70s I learned from a retired Canadian Air Force smith. I would buy my bar stock in the spring from the bottom of the pile that was stored out doors.
It was evenly coated/pitted with rust. It had to be dug out but I still got a discount. I would heat it to dull red, flat hammer to knock the rust off. the result looked like a ballpeened finish. Very nice.
PS, I'm new at this site so send an e-mail so I remember where I was.
Now working out of the Seminole tribe res. Fl.
ken - Thursday, 12/11/08 22:02:48 EST

Thomas: I htink if you simply shut off the swamp cooler about an hour before nighttime temperature drop and then ran a fan to change the air in the shop and dry it, you'd be fine. In a commercial setting I couldn't economically do that very well, so I dealt with the issue other ways. But for a home shop I think it would work out fine and be easy to do. Shut off the swamp cooler, turn on the fan, clean the shop. eat supper and then turn off the fan and call it a day. You could maybe even leave a small low-wattage fan running all night inside the shop to inhibit settling of condensation, too.

Let me know how it works out for you. Down here I just wax everything or Vaseline it and then still have to deal with surface rust on some things. The joys of island living, I guess.
vicopper - Friday, 12/12/08 01:04:41 EST

I have found that a small oscillating fan, aimed up at the ceiling of the shop greatly helps with the condensation inside my tin shop. I leave it on 24-7
ptree - Friday, 12/12/08 07:21:55 EST

chimney temperature: Does anyone know how hot the chimney gets on a coal forge? I'm in the process of building a new home with the shop attached to the rear of the house and the building inspector wants to know what material I can use. We've moved to Northern Michigan and I didn't want to wade thru the snow to far when I was in the mood to play.
- Bud Williams - Friday, 12/12/08 10:10:02 EST

Bud Williams, to have a flue that will make the inspector happy you will need a high temp all fuels flue. These can be masonary or there are triple wall prefab. The prefabs are not cheap, but are cheaper than a hand built masonary flue unless you are a mason or have a friend willing to trade.

The all fuel prefabs are rated to 2100F I believe, and are a stainless outer and inner with high temp blanket insulation inbetween. They are a system and if installed per instructions are sure to make the building inspector happy.
Look up Dura-vent ETC
ptree - Friday, 12/12/08 12:12:07 EST

The Simpson Duravent tech support people are terrific, extremely knowledgable, have infinite patience, helped enormously when I did a relining of our masonry house chimney and extended it up through a new roof last year. There are other products out there, but after looking, we chose them. (Unsolicited testimonial.)
Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/12/08 13:27:12 EST

Miles, My wood stove flue, installed about 23 years ago was Dura-vent. All that you note about them is true. The wood stove was replaced in the house with an outside wood burner, but the flue was removed, and works on as the flue for my col forge, and for a woodburning furnace in the upper shop.
ptree - Friday, 12/12/08 20:50:07 EST

Only caveats I would add to the above: Simpson makes several quite different lines of piping for different applications, but with confusingly similar names. Be SURE you are getting the right stuff for your job, because it is damned expensive. Also, their flex piping for getting around smoke shelves ain't all that flexible. in my case this meant cutting out the 3/16 plate inside lining of our prefab fireplace with an angle grinder. Ptree and Vicopper helped enormously with advice re: respirator, etc.
Miles Undercut - Friday, 12/12/08 22:27:50 EST

Being that #1 I am cheap, and view waste from the perspective of growing up in a large underfunded household I tend to reuse make do etc. When it came time to put in the wood stove flue, I went with the best, highest temp, best material system I could buy. It was a good investment. As noted, two sections now exhaust my side draft coal forge hood, and two are on the wood furnace in the upper shop. The wood furnace in the upper shop is going to be moved and re-installed, using that same flue.
I was recently given 3 section of galvanized double wall 16" pipe, with storm collar and roof curb, and a much abused cap. It will NOT be used on my coal forge as I planned prior to getting a good look. Not rated for the temps or service. Now to find a good use for that item. :)
ptree - Saturday, 12/13/08 09:02:58 EST

Ptree's piping: That double-wall stuff would allow you to cobble up a make-up air induction where you pre-heated the make-up air by piping waste heat between the two walls of the twin-wall stuff, Jeff. You could spend several hours fabricating the heat exchange plenum to fill your spare time, and probably cut your heating load by as much as one or two Btu's. (grin)
vicopper - Saturday, 12/13/08 09:37:52 EST

chimney temperature:
Bud, the normal operating temperature is not the problem. Wood stove flues should run about 450 F but the occassional chimney fire can run it up to the melting point of many flue liners. . that is why they have a triple wall.

Coal forge gases generally run cooler than a wood stove or fireplace EXCEPT when building up a big welding fire OR doing a large piece of work. Then the flue gases easily run 1,000 F at impingement points and more at the center of the flow. Coal fires reach 3,200F.

One reason for a good stainless liner is that coal gases are much more corrosive than wood or charcoal. Galvanized pipe has an acceptable life as easily replaceable parts and plain steel evaporates in the face of coal fule gases.
- guru - Saturday, 12/13/08 11:11:48 EST

Nomenclature trivia: The key, along with its wedge, that holds the leg vise in place, I have often called a key. It turns out that IT IS a key, but more properly a gib head key. Some gib head keys have a single head. Our vise key has two heads, one either end.
Frank Turley - Saturday, 12/13/08 12:05:23 EST

Vicopper, I already have too much makeup air as it is:) the shop is tin sided roofed and as such has many air leak points. I have begun a program of stuffing fiberglass in the daylight points, and in another year or so should have all the leak points fixed:)

I did a good long test burn on my shop built waste oil heater today. I am dialling in on the burner plate and should have a viable heater soon. Even so, for it to make much of a difference I will need to insulate some and stop the air leaks.
ptree - Saturday, 12/13/08 14:59:53 EST

A Moving Report: I couple of the crew came by after we hauled the ship out for the winter, last night, so we got a head start. We moved out the Sears stacked tool chests, the little gas forge and the main workbench and associated anvils, vises, swage blocks, mandrels and tools.

Today, I had five HS/College kids come by (two had worked with me before on personal and class projects in metalwork, and they brought their friends) and we moved the main Russian anvil, the coal forge, the "multitool" giant pecan stump, the Beverly, both post drills and the tabletop drill press, the belt grinder... Just about everything except the giant govt. surplus drawing board (Anybody need one? Free to good home. You haul.) that all of the other stuff is stacked upon. More folks, both from the Longship Company and students, plan to come by tomorrow for the wrap-up.


The primary objective is to get out of the present building so that the new owner may have the "quiet enjoyment" of his property. To this end, I may have to be pretty ruthless as to what is stock, what is junk, and what is trash (SJT). By tomorrow night I need the building to be "broom clean" (a little tricky with the sand floor, but I hope to get it close enough).

The secondary objective is to have the new forge at least operational so that I can complete a number of Christmas gifts over the next two weeks and art pieces for MarsCon in January. Looks like I'll be operating off the gas forge until then, then take time to finish the Hofi-style chimney system for the coal forge.

The dilemma is the large amount of stock, junk and trash that I've accumulated and the amount of storage shelves that I need to tack between the studs. Hinges, hardware, handles, as well as various springs, strips, bars, rods, and nuts, bolts, screws, hooks, eyes... I'm determined not to clutter up this forge (despite having more total space) so a lot of odd hardware needs to go to the barn, or go away; and a number of chunks, bars and rods will get the SJT review. Some special stock (4140, 1040, 1017, smaller WI) will be kept inside, but a bunch of stuff needs to go to the tumble-down corn crib, the barn, the "down by the fens scrap repository" or off to the recycle section of our landfill.

Also I have a large stack of wood- cherry, black walnut, teak, mahogany, holly, salvaged from here and there for small projects like caskets and sword grips and such; better off out of the forge, but what to do with it?

Other Oddities:

Despite tossing the clinkers out the back window on a regular basis; when we moved the coal forge there was about a 2' accumulation of clinker and ash under it. Quite a drift, but it accumulated slowly enough that I really didn't realize how deep it was.

There is a goodly number of bits, pieces and tools hidden behind and under table, shelves, benches and other furnishings and equipment. Many surprises and "....oh, there it is!" moments. Memory lane! ;-)

Mice are at work under your stuff, as well as around and over it. The little beggars are everywhere, despite the efforts of the forge blacksnakes.

Hot chocolate and hot apple cider go a long way with the work crew; and one woman will embarrass/inspire further efforts from the guys every time she decides to prove herself. (Plus, she was very charming!)

Stevedores are good to have when moving anvils. Not to mention a good neighbor who loaned a low trailer, and then came over in his tractor with a front scoop and moved the millstones and the 300# anvil for the Renaissance Power Hammer (now that I finally have a place to build it in).

Camp Fenby should be a lot of fun this year!

I seem to be a little tuckered-out. More adventures tomorrow.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 12/13/08 20:50:45 EST


Did you make your Daughter work off the little anvil and help out too?
- Vulcan - Saturday, 12/13/08 21:19:41 EST

Too funny not to share: So the wife and I take my 5 year old daughter to see Santa Claus. She gets up on his lap
and starts telling him about all of the things she wants for Christmas. Very traditional and very cute. Then Santa starts asking her if Mommy and Daddy have been good. Very seriously, she looks right at him and says "Oh no, Daddy has been very naughty. You should bring him lots of coal." Then she looks at me and breaks out in the biggest grin. She then said, smiling, "Just teasing. Daddy has been good" then another serious look, "..but you should still bring him coal for Christmas."

I'm so proud.

Rob Dobbs - Sunday, 12/14/08 10:20:34 EST

Minions, Bruce, *minions* are good to have when there is hard dirty work to be done. I've actually started having students drop by to help with such things; they seem to think that it would impact their studies if I had a down time accident. Now if they only had the 40 years or so experience I have in moving objects that weigh more than I do...

Thomas P - Sunday, 12/14/08 17:50:46 EST

Hired Help: I finally figured out what those quarter size pass through holes young people have in their ears lobes these days are for.

See, I hired a bunch of young adults to move all the equiptment in my shop yesterday. I had several tow chains. I would wrap it around and anvil or heavy tool then snap a hook in each ear. Then said gidup and snapped each one in the rearend with my horse crop.

Lickity Split everything was moved. GRIN
- Vulcan - Sunday, 12/14/08 20:59:18 EST

ear lobe holes: HA HA HA !!! Is that what they're for?
Here I thought it was to thread the Ipod ear bugs through so they wouldn't loose them...
- merl - Sunday, 12/14/08 22:53:59 EST

Hey, you guys watch it- out here in the West, whenever you get a gathering of blacksmiths, there are always a few with those big grommets in their ears.
In fact, I have found that, of the folks under 30 who are serious about blacksmithing, both male and female, they are MUCH more likely to be tattoed and pierced than not.
At one of our NWBA meets, pretty much all the crew is decorated in one way or another, even the old guys like me.
I dont have any big grommets, but I do have a few holes I wasnt born with, and I was 53 this year.
- Ries - Monday, 12/15/08 10:00:52 EST

Moving: Bruce, last time I moved,almost 15 years ago, it was 2 semi's, and 70,000lbs total.
Now, after sitting still for all those years, my natural magnetism has attracted at least another 50 tons of stuff. And I am not just picking a number out of the air- I have bought quite a few large machines, each of which weighs thousands. Not to mention the "too good to toss" scrap out in the machine shed- at least a few tons of stainless and aluminum.

So you should feel very happy that a few helpers can move your whole shop in a couple of days.
It would be a week with forklifts to load my pile- but, of course, I aint planning on moving it.
You gotta leave your kids some challenges...

- Ries - Monday, 12/15/08 10:05:41 EST

The Moving Saga: I had three other folks from Markland and the Longship Company yesterday so the shop is now moved and I have enough room to actually put up the peg boards and the hammer and tong racks. However, the barn has two more tables of unstored hardware and non-smithing tools that I will have to pick and chose and store. Meanwhile at the now empty old building I have great piles of SJT which will require another day's work. These include doors and windows for the future woodshop, wrought iron fence sections, the last 1/2 dozen pieces of Thomas Power's watertank WI on the East Coast (Fred stashed some down here, so when his were stolen, he still had some left) and lots of planks of various woods. It's going to rain all week, so I guess it all gets wet. Another friend is planning on coming next Saturday, so this should work out well; and I'll spend the nights this week getting the shop back up to running order.

As for the daughter- I'm suitably reimbursed with precision welding as needed (if she has the time, of course. She's been working hard as Master Carpenter on a new version of Les Miserables).

So far, I've run through seven minions on the move, and I've used-up about another half dozen during construction! ;-)

The Daughter at Work (un-named, of course)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 12/15/08 11:22:58 EST

My hobby shop move 4.5 years ago took more than a flat bed semi as I had 3 pallets that got shipped common carrier and of course this was *after* giving away tons of stuff to friends and fellow smiths; some of which I have greatly regretted after I got here.

I sure hope that was my *last* move!

Move often or not at all!

Thomas P - Monday, 12/15/08 12:28:46 EST

Moving (in general): Next, I get to move a major government computer room from and to undisclosed locations in the lower 48! What fun that should be.

One of my friends at FCC has a saying:

"Two moves equals one fire." Stuff gets lost or jumbled or packed in the wrong files and you never notice until Congressperson Blivet needs an answer to the procurement boondoggle from five years ago.

On the other claw, folks really need to throw stuff out or recycle it on a regular basis. Nothing worse after a move than to see boxes of paperwork that we just paid to move sitting in the hallway labeled "trash" the next day. 8-(

Thomas: God(s) willing, this should be the last move "...'til the icecaps melt." Everything else will be just shuffling and rearranging (unless, of course, the wif hits the lottery, and I get a bigger shop; no, deglaciation is more likely). :-)
Bruce Blackistone - Monday, 12/15/08 14:00:37 EST

Ear Grommets: Yeah Merl,

I even hooked some of those young people up to my wagon to help move heavy items from the shop. I ran the cables from the bull nose ring through the ear grommet holes. Real tight steering giving lots of control over the wagon.
- Vulcan - Monday, 12/15/08 15:15:57 EST

Computer Moves:
When the local elementary school moved they thought they would save some money using their own people. Janitors and general laborer types were brought in with little supervision.

When I got there to help my wife move some her stuff I met a line of guys with hand trucks stacked with desktop PC's. . . Wham, wham, wham they went down the steps. . . I headed straight for the office and asked if those were scrap computers those guys were moving. No. they are moving the computer lab today. . . I just shook my head. What's the matter the secretary asked. Well, they are probably scrap now I said. They were. Not a single hard drive survived. They also trashed a couple dozen monitors and all the wheeled classroom storage furniture after being rolled down the steps. All the same day. . .

If they had hired movers with insurance the move would have cost less.

- guru - Monday, 12/15/08 17:48:22 EST

Moving: A couple of weeks ago I was faced with the possibility that I might have to move my shop - it was several days before I could sleep properly after contemplating that ordeal. Where my shop is situated I could only get a 20' container in nearby, so it would take two. Probably would anyway, as I'd break the max on weight before I used up the cubes. Too much of my equipment was built inside the building or out back, neither of which is forklift accessible, either. What a nightmare!

The house stuff would be relatively easy and would all fit in a third 20' container. Then comes the pain of writing a twenty-five thousand dollar check to ship three containers - not sure if I would ever recover from that trauma. Fortunately, the issue that might have precipitated a move has passed. Whew! Dodged the bullet one more time, I guess.

vicopper - Monday, 12/15/08 17:53:24 EST

Grommets: I was just at the corner store and saw a young man with grommets so big you could get 1 1/2" black pipe through them. All he lacked was having one in his lip...and I would had had a special shop moving project just for him...Grin. ;)
- Vulcan - Monday, 12/15/08 18:05:22 EST

I guess I've been lucky. My good wife decided we were possibly aging and should move closer to children. This was about 3 years ago so we worked on a plan; found a place; and a contractor to build our dream 1 level home with attached shop. We have been at this project for about a year since I closed on the couple of acres last December.

About June We put the travel trailer on the property and once a month spent several days watching; meeting the contractor; etc. We bought a 16 foot opebn trailer and then each month made a load, some stuff to storage some just piled at the back of the property. The first load was the scrap pile and the travel trailer. I didn't believe that the few small piles of might need down the road would fill the whole F250 box to overflowing. Thank God for superduty diesel.

Second last load was the trickiest...Stryker hammer in the truck and a whole bunch of shop on the trailer. Couldn't get the trailer jack up enough to break over the curve out of the drive and ultimately took off the jack. Fortunately we had a tail wind for that load. The contractor had the foundation poured and the shop though mostly finished secure. We used a gantry and put the hammer in place.

Oh by the way I had sixty feet of deck rail to finish snd instsll before we could move in.

The last load 1st of November was the beds and other necessities. The 18 inches of snow came with the placing of the last box in the garage. Naturally we then had several quiet days to organize and settle in.

My favorite friend and wife though not much of a striker was a big help and for two pushing 70 retirees pulling off this 765 mile move we think is really great.
- Tinker - Monday, 12/15/08 18:51:33 EST

Tinker: Thanks for relating that. I think I'll copy that and save it to re-read when I again contemplate moving. Being as I'm a bit younger, only pushing sixty (less than 2 weeks away), I take heart from your experience. Maybe I could do it after all. Of course, 750 miles would land me in the drink, but it isn't the horizontal distance that causes the issues so much as the vertical. :-)
vicopper - Monday, 12/15/08 20:27:23 EST

The "Scrap Pile": My stock of steel collected over 30 years includes 24" down to 10" I beam, a bunch of 2" mill shafting, various bar stock and boxes of non-ferrous and misc. plate. We spent a day loading some 1/8" plate and short easy to lift I-beam. The rest is going to take helpers to move and will be a full load on the flat bed. . .

As Vicopper mentioned its the VERTICAL that is tough. In this case the 48" to the back of the truck bed by hand. None is under the hoist. I have a fork lift on the receiving end. But even that worries me because it may die and go to fork lift heaven and leave me in heavy stack 7734.
- guru - Tuesday, 12/16/08 11:24:09 EST

Guru---just back up fast and slam on the brakes to unload...

Folks: No matter what you use to load and unload stay out from *UNDER* the load!

I was using a tree to unload a trip hammer once; good strong branch but I noticed that the trunk had split in two and was opening up. A true pucker up moment.

If I use a truss in my shop for lifting I will beef it up with a couple of lolly columns and an extra crossbar.

I hope to build a jib crane in my shop extension and get the rolling chain hoist installed as my lifting days are slowly catching up with me.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/16/08 11:32:06 EST

About 20 years ago I built a gantry to change out an engine on the daughter's truck. I made it from 4" tubeing probably because that's what I had. I have a love hate relationship with it as it's invaluable when I want to lift something but I'm forever tripping over the legs as there just isn't any easy way to store it. At one point I had it on wheels which were about 6" dia. Then I really tripped over it.

Never ever get under a load should be gospel to all of us, especially those of us who never throw anything away.

- Tinker - Tuesday, 12/16/08 12:49:33 EST

Gantry Cranes:
We have had two large Wallace gantry cranes in our family shop. Both were 10 tons and on track that was shop fabricated. They were a pain in the neck but they did the job. We still have the 23 foot tall monster in the high bay. The tracks take up a huge amount of room. Their advantage is that they do not rely on the building structure (no engineering). Small ones can be put up without machinery.

I had thought about putting a gantry hoist frame in the current shop as they are much safer to unload certain things than with the fork lift. But cranes take up a lot of overhead height and in my current location it would kill about 5 feet of needed overhead space due to the roof slope and curved corners.

As Tinker said, they are a love-hate tool.

I unloaded that 24" 75 pound beam in 700 to 800 pound hunks by chaining to a tree and accelerating down hill fast.. . I've used some of it but most is where I unloaded it 25 years ago. If I get it home where I can get the folk lift to it I'll probably make something out of it.
Wallace Cranes
- guru - Tuesday, 12/16/08 14:05:22 EST

Where there is a will...: Compared to some shops, mine might be considered primitive. I have a homemade tripod gin with a slip hook welded at the inside top. With that and a chain fall, I've hoisted anvils onto their resting places.

My layout table is not all that large, but it was heavier than I estimated. The top is two wide channel irons bolted together. The four legs are thick tubular steel with properly placed welded stretchers. It was assembled laying on its side. The chain fall wasn't going to do the job. After a little head scratching, I opened the shop side door and drove the pickup to the door outside where I hooked a tow chain onto the table, I made some long, heavy spikes that I drove into the dirt floor in front of two of the legs, hoping that the legs would not slide. I drove forward slowly and uprighted the table. From there, it could be levered into its proper place with a digging bar.
- Frank Turley - Tuesday, 12/16/08 14:46:54 EST

Frank; I'm not going to share any stories of the damn fool stuff I have done when I was younger. lets just say that a vehicle played a part in a number of them.

NOTE: I have always tried to do dangerous stuff as safely as possible and so ended up with a pile of heavy duty chain, large ammounts of cribbing, a wall of screw jacks, etc and so far while having had some pucker moments I have not had to make that embarassing trip to the ER---and I hope to keep it that way!

I had a fellow worker in a wood shop teach me to use the tools so that failure modes would have my hands travelling *away* from the blades if anything happened. Good advice when translated to metal work too!

Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/16/08 15:47:14 EST

Book Wanted: Looking for a copy of the currently out-of-print "POUNDING OUT THE PROFITS" for less than $100 dollars US. (Laugh if you must) I asked Santa (Wife) for it for Christmas, but she can’t find it; the author told her they’re not printing it right now but he hopes to in the future. I’m in York County, PA

I guess I could wait…if I Have to!
Dave Leppo - Wednesday, 12/17/08 08:02:36 EST

Book Price:
Dave, I thought I would look around. The used prices are NUTS ($150 to $250) and new for $177. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 12/17/08 08:46:24 EST

Pounding out the Profits -- If you'd been smart or lucky enough to buy a few copies when it was still in print, I guess the title would have proved itself pretty accurate (grin).
Mike BR - Wednesday, 12/17/08 09:36:01 EST

POTP: It's out of print? Great book. Given that price I'm going to move it up a few levels on the bookshelf!
Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 12/17/08 17:54:09 EST

Ageism: Just read up a little way and have to say that ageism works both ways. The people with holes in their ears may be the ones spoon feeding you soup in the retirement home some day. Best we all try and be civil to one another. The personal affectation that really bugs me is mustaches, but in the grand scheme of thing I know that neither mustaches nor tattoos nor being painted purple matter one bit so I would never let it bother me especially in public.

For the record I'm closer to 30 than 60 and have no mustache, piercing or tattoo that I know of.
Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 12/17/08 18:40:45 EST

Well I'm 52 and you should see me with my beard braided! I try to keep the moustache trimmed a bit as it gets in the way of eating.

Frank Turley has a pretty good pony tail too.

However I would think that hardware would be too good an IR collector and heat conducter for me, I have managed to trim my facial hair with coal, charcoal and propane forges so far.

Thomas P - Wednesday, 12/17/08 19:08:49 EST

Smithing Books For Sale: Poor College Kid Need Money

All book are in good condition

New Edge of the anvil, Jack Andrews $15.00

The Art of Blacksmithing, Alex Bealer revised edition hardcover $5.00

The Blacksmith's Craft, Charles McRaven $10.00

The Pattern Welded Blade Artistry in Iron, Jim H $15.00

The Complete Bladesmith Forging Your Way to Perfection, hardcover Jim H $15.00

A Blacksmithing Primer, Randy McDaniel $15.00 especially good condition

Knives 2006 26th Annual, Joe Kertzman $15.00

Payment by check or mo

respond or email tymurch at
- Ty Murch - Wednesday, 12/17/08 19:25:13 EST

Ty's Books:
Ty, Lets make it easy. I can put a check in the mail tomorrow for the lot. They will go to another student smith.
- guru - Wednesday, 12/17/08 19:36:59 EST

That's REAL easy. i sent you an email.
Ty Murch - Wednesday, 12/17/08 20:19:03 EST

hair: Thomas- Beards I'm ok with and one of my best friends has braids as well (he's SCA too), and I'm pretty much ok with other hair as well, I was just illustrating a point. In the interest of full disclosure I should have added that I do have long hair.
Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 12/17/08 21:15:03 EST

Help-Pricing Dad's Blacksmith Tool: My father recently passed away and he was a collector of antique Blacksmithing tools. I was hoping I could get someone's thoughts on the value of these tools as they need to be sold for my Mom. I've attached a link to the pictures. Each picture is marked with a number underneath. I was hoping you could tell me if there's anything rare in there, price or what I should look for to determine either? Any help from the experts would be greatly appreciated.

Feel free to email me @
- Pete Strauss - Thursday, 12/18/08 06:08:46 EST

Pete Strauss & Dad's Blacksmith Tools: Having gone through this with my parents' estate, a late friend's blacksmith tools, and a whole house full of family 300 years of heirlooms, I can offer you my sympathy. The things that we value have different values in different contexts. What we value for their family associations hold other values as antiques, tools, or even scrap. What the photographs show is a nice assemblage of standard blacksmith tools; certainly old, somewhat worn, a few odd wood splitting wedges and older chisels thrown in, some farrier's tools, but nothing of unusual interest or value. A beginning blacksmith would find them very useful as a head-start kit.

They lie in the fuzzy area between flea market and antique shop. In the flea market they would sell, retail, somewhere between $10 to $25 each. In an antique shop they might sell for $20 to $35. The dealers will, of course, pay you far less for them. At an auction, I could probably pick up the entire set for $100 to $200, depending upon the interest of other bidders and the phase of the moon. At a Blacksmith's Guild auction to "benefit the widow" they would probably fetch a little more.

These prices are from rural Southern Maryland, so if you're, for instance, on the west coast (with a dearth of blacksmithing equipment of an antique nature) the prices may well be higher; in Ohio, where every farm seems to have had a complete shop, the prices might be the same or lower.

These are more tools for using than for hanging on walls, or sending to a museum.

I'm sure others here will chime-in with other estimates and values to give you a feel for the market. When it comes to antique tools, there is a wide variation depending upon time and place. It's a hard process; and always hard to let go of things that were used and valued by a friend or family member. You have my sympathy and best wishes.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 12/18/08 08:35:12 EST

Tool Prices: Bruce, I wrote about the same. There are a lot of junk pieces and unidentifiables that look possibly like sheet metal crimpers.
- guru - Thursday, 12/18/08 10:54:46 EST

I'd just add that old nippers tend to go for quite a bit less than tongs do as in general there is not a lot of them re-used by smiths save as stock to forge into tongs and as stock they go for "scrap rate" with a slight bonus for the preform shaping.

Thomas P - Thursday, 12/18/08 12:28:52 EST

Oil Prices: Anybody noticed that the price of oil has dropped to $36 per bbl? Wonder why those greedy oil companies started selling the stuff so cheap? And gasoline prices fell too! Now why would any company intentionally reduce their product price 70%?
quenchcrack - Thursday, 12/18/08 17:10:50 EST

Oil Prices: Locally gasoline was less than $1.50 a week ago but it has creeped up 10 cents (that is UP 8% while crude has dropped). The problem I see is that its going to "creep" back to $4/gallon next year while crude is still selling for less than $50/bl.

For the past decade there has been talk of a huge gasoline tax of a couple dollars or more to be used for energy conversion and conservation. If it was ever to happen NOW is the time. Otherwise the price is going to go up that much and a few rich get richer rather than it going to weaning us OFF the stuff.

I hate to say it but I would rather the government get it in taxes than the oil companies.

Some financial genius figured out that the current "bailout" is going to be like giving EVERY man, woman and child in the U.S. $100,000 each. Now THAT would fix the economy! People could pay off bad loans, buy new cars (in cash), go to school and have a spending spree that would support every level of the economy.

It would beat the heck out of continuing to give golden parachutes to the crooks that made the mess.
- guru - Thursday, 12/18/08 18:00:27 EST

For Sale: 6" post vise $150.00 the one jaw pictured is the worse of the two- a little rough, i used it just like that though

Ladles $85. each

Peter Wright anvil $50. original weight 112lbs. good horn, edges of face are bad

36" V-bit tongs $85. vise overall vise screw vise jaw ladles tongs anvil

respond or email tymurch at
Ty Murch - Thursday, 12/18/08 18:17:10 EST

Ty, good fair prices. Tongs are a little high. I've got two "de-horned" anvils that would go well with yours. Most recent cost $50.

Feel free to relist if you need. But I'm always sad to see folks selling such hard won tools.
- guru - Thursday, 12/18/08 20:27:30 EST

Guru: Who is this financial "genius" and what could his/her reasoning possibly be? 100,000 times the population of the US (about 300 million)is 30 trillion. We have seen something like one trillion so far. What accounts for the other 29?
- Peter Hirst - Thursday, 12/18/08 22:12:25 EST

Peter, someone must have slipped a digit or two (unless they were talking about the real projected costs which are a lot more than a trillion). I should a done the math myself. Lets see. . @ 10K it would be 3 trillion. . . so 3K per person. Still better to give it to the people.
- guru - Thursday, 12/18/08 22:49:19 EST

Bailout and giving it to the people... where does this money come from? No matter how the talking heads spin it, that money is *taken* from the people... even if it *were* given back, why bother with all that work. Just let the people keep more of their money in the first place.
Marco/Mike - Thursday, 12/18/08 23:02:00 EST

If you count the Federal Reserve's lending, the total's a lot more than the $700 billion legislation. Still nowhere near $30 trillion, though.
Mike BR - Friday, 12/19/08 08:40:47 EST

The Economy: Yep, I know, the money all comes from "us" in the forst place. But if there is going to be a huge giveaway it should go to everyone, not the select few that created the mess.

However, many of the problems can be laid directly on the government's door step. Several major cases of fraud, mainly Ponzi schemes have gone on far to long and the Securities and Exchange commission did nothing. The big warning was Enron. Accountants not reporting the truth and who SHOULD have gone to jail but were just put out of business. Now we have Madroff with a 50 billion Ponsi that was reported as suspicious numerous times and has now ruined many charities who trusted him and individuals as well. Who looked over his books? Neither the accountants OR the government overseers did their jobs. Combine these with the heads of Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac and you have years of malfeasance in high places.
- guru - Friday, 12/19/08 11:18:07 EST

STEEL PRICES: FYI, after a 5 month upturn in steel prices, we finally are starting to see a down swing in prices. Foam that we use in our seating is also dropping. Both are slowly moving in the right direction.
daveb - Friday, 12/19/08 15:14:45 EST

Wanted: Shovel Pans: I am looking for a source of shovel heads. Say 6" wide by 8" long by 1 1/2" high. Square corners fine. Material needs to be about 3/32nds or so as these are intended for outdoor wood furnaces. Mild steel and welded corners are fine. Initial order would be one dozen. If interested please give me a price quote included delivery to 37185. Ken Scharabok -
Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 12/21/08 17:40:37 EST

Oakley Forge is Moved!: I had two friends come over Saturday, and we finished stowing the stock and scrap. I cleaned up the last of the trash and really useless junk at the old forge site today. (Alas, the dump and metal recycle is closed on Sunday, so I'll have a truck-bed full of "stuff" out in front of the house for Christmas. That should amuse the family and bewilder the neighbors!)

Counting them all up tonight, it was an even dozen folks that helped me move over the last two weekends. It looks like it takes a village to move a forge! (Or at least a small longship crew.)

I actually did some cold work on Christmas gifts tonight, and I'll be using the gas forge before the week is out. The coal forge will probably have to wait until after MarsCon for me to run-up the smokestack, but shelving and stowing will continue throughout the winter.

I am no longer a Tenant at Sufferance; hurrah!

MarsCon, my favorite art venue and a nice place to hang-out with friends:
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 12/21/08 21:02:13 EST

Sculpture?: What is sculpture supposed to do? Sculpture that is figurative, abstract, or i'm sure a plethora of other words there probably are in the art world to describe sculpture that doesn't depict an actual something the way it is to the eye. Why do people make it? What does it do for anything?
- Nine - Sunday, 12/21/08 23:28:44 EST

Federal Reserve's ARE Private Banks.: The Federal Reserve is ONLY CONTROLLED by the government it is NOT a government Bank as could be indicated by that Name. The Federal Reserve Banks are Private Corporations owned by the member banks of each reserve bank. I think there are 5 Federal Reserve Banks.
- tmac - Monday, 12/22/08 00:38:55 EST

Nine, asking about the purpose of sculpture is the same as asking about ANY art, music or poetry. It is one of many forms of communication humans use that do not require words and often communicate things that are difficult or impossible to describe in words. Art can convey emotion and mystery, ones personal sense of beauty or ugliness.

Art more than toolmaking separates man from beast. An appreciation of art may be one of the things that seperate higher species from lower.

In the event this is an art appreciation class discussion question I will stop here and ask others to do so as well.
- guru - Monday, 12/22/08 00:43:21 EST

sculpture: thank you guru,
just a young metalworker in creative confusion, not homework
- Nine - Monday, 12/22/08 01:34:28 EST

Sculpture: Is not "supposed" to do anything. What is a painting supposed to do? What is a musical piece supposed to do? For those who who enjoy any of the foregoing, they bring enjoyment, pleasure, wonder, and a whole host of other feelings and sometimes, insights. For those who don't or won't enjoy them, I can offer no real help, for I am of the opinion thagt one is either born with a sense of the aesthetic or not, and no amount of training can instill it. If present but unformed and under-exercised, it can be nurtured and will grow, but if not present it cannot be transplanted or replaced with a clever prosthesis.

I ealize this does not answer your question as posed, but how can a sighted person describe color to a blind man? Without the referents, the dialogue would be meaningless.
vicopper - Monday, 12/22/08 03:03:29 EST

Sculpture: Sculpture does something and does nothing depending on who is looking at it or feeling it. That is what makes it art and why there are so many different forms.Sculpt what you like or just whatever makes you feel good. Just remember when criticizing someone else's apparently ugly and pointless sculpture they may feel the same way about yours. It's all about opinions.
- Robert Cutting - Monday, 12/22/08 09:08:50 EST

Usefull vs Decorative Art:
A LOT of sculpture has a definite use. Every tool, machine and device made by man generally has some artistic design in them. In some cases the design is strictly "form follows function" but then look what happens when you stream line a car for the least air resistance or make a tool handle that grips well yet is smooth enough that it does not hurt to use bare handed.

Look at the old Craftsman screw drivers with the red, clear and blue grips. While not a thing of great beauty it has a distinct style that comes from well applied functionality. The ball end is easy to push on when axial force is needed, the side cuts are just deep enough to get a good grip and rounded enoug not to hurt, the bottom flare is a hand guide or bearing for spinning long screws. Those side grooves that give grip also provided a place for the company name as well as a place for people to engrave their names. All these features are "artufully" blended together in attractive proportions, fillets and a few decorative lines.

Going back to MUCH earlier tool design look at a blacksmiths leg vise. The graceful shape of the jaws with chamfers that accentuate the shape while terminating in symmetrical duck tails is art that has been standardized and copied for centuries. The bulge or giant "frog eye" is the result of good practice in working wrought iron but was not changed in the bulk steel era. The chamfers on the jaw shanks and hinge plates and the taper of the leg are all art. The whole is a combination of mechanical need and organic design.

Then there are less plebeian devices such as the violin. Stradivarius and his violin making predecessors created a visual work of art that no one has dared change in hundreds of years. But it has been proven that many of the features of the violin shape are not needed acoustically. The side cutouts and terminating points, the shape of the F hole have nothing to do with the sound produced. On the other hand the graceful arch of the body is purely mathematical and necessary for strength. A completely styless oval bodied instrument would still need this shape and mathematically determined sound holes would not be round but long graceful slits that gives freedom of movement to parts of the sound board. The shape would not be so stylized but it would still be graceful without the artistic sensitivities of mankind.

For a maker to make good tools he must have a sense of balance and proportion that is not only pleasing to eye but functional as well. Many of the earliest stone tools such as spear points are things of grace because they had to be strong, sharp as well as penetrate animal flesh easily AND retract. The best shape is not round or square it is a long lens or leaf shape that is a work of art.

I disagree with Vicopper that fine art or sculpture in not supposed to do anything. Good art communicates. It communicates what the artist thinks is beautiful or how they feel, or how they want YOU to feel. Art is designed to provoke an emotional response. While a graceful Madonna and child is supposed to convey love and warmth a distorted cubist painting like “Guernica” by Pablo Picasso conveys the violence and gut wrenching emotions of war.

Probably the most sculpted shapes made by man represents woman. Figures of women represent and communicate everything from love and lust to curiosity. They tell of woman as the fertile Earth Mother or The goddess. They speak of the ideal as well as tortured. Nudes of men or women often evoke an emotional response. This response can be everything from desire to disgust, awe to jealousy.

In pure symbolic art a work can express joy of spirit or ask the viewer to discover the artist's secret.

Sculpture, unlike 2 dimensional art can be enjoyed by the blind. Feeling the shape, the texture of the surface, the proportions. . . IF a sculpture is properly scaled they do not need to SEE the shape to know it is graceful or ragged, smooth or rough. And as humans we know the human body as well by touch as we do by sight. A figure that is muscular is different than one that is well rounded or one that is gaunt and bony.

Art as sculpture is not just in museums or public places. It is everywhere that humans have been and everywhere they will go. It is in the shape of the pocket knife you carry and the chair you sit upon. It is in the light switch on the wall and every bathroom fixture. Sculpture is also in a simple tool handle or kitchen utensil. Art is in almost every finished product man makes.
- guru - Monday, 12/22/08 10:47:59 EST

"Practical" Sculpture: The Guru put into words some of what I was thinking far better than I. I cannot resist, however, mentionaing the clasically awful combination of sculture and practicality: a-statue-of-a-lady-with-a-clock-where-her-belly-used-to-be. Well famed in old Mad Magazines, satirical songs, and other (low) cultural references. I swear I've actually seen a few, laden with either obtuse symbolism or bad taste.

On the other claw, figurative sculptures around fountains, back when people actually used them as a water source in cities, provided mental amusement and proclaimed civic wealth, power, ideals and virtues. (The same goes for endless commemorative statues of various statesmen and generals littered across the capitols of the world.)

Working in Washington, I can hardly spit without nailing a Civil War general, and the Park Service is in charge of maintaining most of them. By golly, it doesn't take too long to figure out who won THAT war; and that's part of the point.

Back to the work of the Republic.
Just a sampling of the statues in part of the city:
Bruce Blackistone - Monday, 12/22/08 12:13:44 EST


If you studied the statues in Richmond, you might come to a different conclusion on who won (grin).
Mike BR - Monday, 12/22/08 18:23:50 EST

Federal Reserve Bank: Sorry to disagree tmac, but the Gov. does NOT controll the Fed. The Fed is governed by its own members(heads of the regional Federal Reserve Banks) and only 1 government apointee. The reality is closer to the Fed running the Gov. Than vice versa.
- John Christiansen - Monday, 12/22/08 19:36:32 EST

Reputedly there is a pair of statues on Du Pont Circle just up from Rock Creek. They appear to be wistful youth looking at each other. Again reputedly a good fairy was so enthralled by them that she made them come to life. Immediately they ran toand began climbing a tree with him slightly ahead. She was heard to say you hold that pidgeon and I'll %#%&* on it's head.

But I digress. After your earlier encouraagement I went to Duravent tech support about my coal forge chimney. Today they wrote me back that having studied the mechanical codes none of their products applied...sorry.

Now I'm sort of trapped...where do I go from here???any suggestions..

- tinker - Monday, 12/22/08 19:37:04 EST

Maybe you should call Simpson Duravent on their 800-835-4429 numberand ask the techie, without mentioning this written kiss-off, what he thinks. I can't believe a coal forge is going to present problems, even going through wooden partitions, etc., that a rip-roarng 2,000 F. woodstove chimney fire would not. Maybe they did not understand your presentation of the problem, or they are simply chary of putting their advice in writing.
Miles Undercut - Monday, 12/22/08 23:57:35 EST

sculpture: Nine, you should check out the web site of Arthur Ganson ( and see what highly engineered "art" looks like. Arthur Ganson is a mechanical engineer turned sculptor and makes some pretty inspiring stuff.
For all of the work that goes into his pieces, they don't "do" anything but, attempt to convey some kind of mesage to the observer.
Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.
I have three different anvils, each one is highly fuctional and each one is in some way better than one or bothe of the others. That is the strictly funtional rational that drives men to purchace "yet another" of something they my already have enough of.
Each anvil has an astetic appeal, some feature or combination of features that make it eye catching to the owner/user or maybe just pleasent to use, what I refer to as a "good soul".
I am discovering my own hidden eye for the artistic and am learning to apply it to my blacksmithing efforts. I find that the more my blacksmithing skills develope the more artistic my eye becomes, alowing me to add subtle whimmsy to the most mundain objects.
I would say that this could be your path as well.
Going on 4 years ago when I first took up blacksmithing as a hobby I was asking established smiths the same question as you are now. I was told that if I wanted to be a modern blacksmith I would have to explor the artistic side of the trade to see if I "had it" or not.
I think it has been said here befor that almost all tool and machine making that was done by a blacksmith in the past has been superceeded by "modern" manufacturing techniques. So don't try to confine yourself to an unrealistic vision of what it is to be a blacksmith. The knowlagable people here will tell you all about the endless type and veriety of methodes they use to get things done.
Carve a head and face into the nob on the end of your old Craftsman screwdriver... try a little "whimmsey", you my like it and find you're good at it.
To end a long babble with one of my favorite lines, "Use the Force, Luke!"
Good luck...
- merl - Tuesday, 12/23/08 00:50:28 EST


Classic problem, There really nothing in the codes about coal forges, so fire marshals, insurance writers and tech firms all either make something up, or you have to make up something for them. Try telling em its a coal grate fireplace or a coal stove insert in a really small fireplace. I told my agent it is like a charcoal grill with a chimney vent, and got a business owners policy no sweat.

Finished the mounts on my Little Giant 25 today. The entire system constists of one layer of 4x4 timbers and Four 6x6"x 3/4" thick natural rubber pads from McMaster Carr on a conventional 4" slab. The foot on the hammer treadle feels like an earthquake is going on, the foot on the floor doesn't pick up a hint of shock or vibration. Best of all, I ran it all afternoon and never heard a thing from the neighbors. The last power hammer in the same site (75 lb Dupont on a 4-yard footing, timber base and punch press pad) ran for exactly 3 minutes before the neighbors screamed that their wine cellar was rattling.

Even this little 25 pounder is a great improvment over my right arm.
Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 12/23/08 21:59:50 EST

Cast Welding; Fisher Process??????:

When cast Iron anvils were made using the Fisher process: ie Cast Iron with steel plate tops.
How well did the steel stick to the Iron?
How thick is the plate usually? How thick can this plate be?
Does that work with any steel alloy?
Was this plate a rolled steel or cast steel?
Was the cap plate heat treated before or after installation? Or even at all? If it was heat treated, how was it done?
Was the Horn installed in the mold as a piece of steel or is the Horn, Iron on these type anvils?
Can anyone tell me what a cast metal called Ny-hard is? Also what is different about cast Iron that is called "Chilled Iron".
I would also like to know exactly what is Wrought Iron meaning the TRUE IRON as in the alloy of this Iron. Can real Wrought Iron be arc welded as steel is? And what properties makes it, able to be wrought meaning hammered as compared to cast Iron?

- tmac - Tuesday, 12/23/08 22:45:24 EST

tmac: Fisher anvils don't have a problem with the top plates coming loose, as a rule. I'm sure they must have had some defective ones, but I haven't seen any that came off.

The plate on my 250# Fisher is about 5/8" thick on the face and the plate on the horn is about the same or maybe a shade thicker. The hors on most Fishers are plated like the tops.

The thickness of the plates is probably limited by the size of the cast iron charge and the preheat of the plate, but I don't know - Fisher used a proprietary process that I haven't ever read anything specific about.

I am certain that the process will not work with any steel alloy - think of stainless steel, a steel alloy, and you'll see why.

The plate on the Fishers was rolled plate, I'm fairly sure. The grain is too fine to be as-cast.

The cap plate wold have to be heat treated either after casting, or as part of the whole casting process. The temperatures involved would render any prior heat treating pointless. No idea how they did it - as noted, the process was proprietary.

Chilled iron is cast iron that is chilled immediately upon being cast, resulting in a harder consistency.

Wrought iron is the product produced by the bloomery process, basically iron plus silicious inclusions from the slag. It can be arc welded, but it isn't easy or often real pretty as the inclusions burn out and leave a funky looking weld.

Wrought iron can be hammered because it is low in carbon, unlike cast iron which is high enough in carbon to be very brittle. It is not only wrought iron that can be hammered though, so can most any of the steels, provided that the temperature is appropriate and the method also appropriate.

vicopper - Wednesday, 12/24/08 00:00:55 EST

OK vicopper?? Fisher CI Anvil:
Just how does your Fisher CI anvil compare in use, to a all steel Anvil of any type steel process or wrought Iron. I have hit one composite cast iron Anvil, old unmarked cheapy and I could see it just wasn't as good as a steel one. Pounding that one would have been kind of like walking through mud all day, to get there!;((

One point on steel alloys it is actually easier to get SS to stick to CI than steel. In some cases I have arc welded SS to CI so that I could weld a piece of steel on. In a sense most SS alloys joins well to either steel or cast. As a matter of fact all those cheap chi/com pots Wal-mart sells only has a SS outer layer bonded to the core. The core is a low grade of steel.

- tmac - Wednesday, 12/24/08 00:46:16 EST

Fisher Anvils: tmac

I will start off saying i really don't like Fisher anvils. Personal preference. I have owned and used many. 100-600 lb. They are lively and have great rebound. To caompare them with a steel or wrought anvil is apples and oranges. They are every bit as durable and useful as the other types of anvils. The face tends to stay flat and not sway as compared to wrought spongy body anvils. The larger Fisher anvils have a very hard face. The larger wrought anvils have a softer face. They are among the best anvils. I just think they are thick dang ugly suckers.
- Rustystuff - Wednesday, 12/24/08 01:39:46 EST

Fisher: In addition to my above post. The Fisher is hands down a better quality anvil with a cast iron body and steel face/horn than any new cast steel anvil today.
- Rustystuff - Wednesday, 12/24/08 01:41:46 EST

AH, Fisher anvils!: A favorite subject. I really got a chuckle out of Rustystuffs rant on the Fisher. Lists six reasons why the Fisher is superior in just about every respect to any other anvil and then comes the rub: Ugly. Forgot to mention that they are quiet, no small consideration in a production shop. Rusty, you need to check out the later models, 1895 and later.They got rid of the squat profile and adopted the slim waist London pattern and they are gorgeous. I have three of these virtually matched, from 100 to 160, and they are all going in the new old Brewster Historical Society forge in the Spring. Keziah's forge has amatched pair of 1881's a 300 and a 100, in the clunky old fat profile. This is actually technically superior in one respect: more mass at the COG, lmost like a Nimba. My show anvil is a 140 Hay-Budden, which has some of the technical advantages of the Fisher, hardness, durability, but it rings like a PW and draws the crowd. Anyway, to answer TMAC a little further, the genius of the Fishe was the patented casting/weldind process. The top plate, which includes the face, table and horn, all in one piece, was forged, and dripped in the bottom of the mold at welding heat. The cast was immediately poured and instantly welded to the top. As it cooled, it was withdrawn from the mold and then finished more or less like a wrought or forged anvil. That is why, unlike other cast anvils, you have the handling holes in the Fisher. On my new 160, dated 1895 the patent dates are embossed on the bottom of the anvil, as if a stamp was applied while the casting was still molten. Since it was cast and aelded in a single process, the top plate only satans out if you look really hard. I founbd my 160 last week sitting outside with just a little surface rust. the line between the top plate and the cast stood out because the two materials rust at different rates and different textures. The face is a sold invh thick. The top plate not only includes the face and table but the top and the whole nose section (about 2-3 inches) of the horn. YOu may have seen Guru's picture of the catastrophic failure of a large Fisher, with hlf the plate. All of the table, and the top and nose of the horn gone.

WHen I opened my shop last weekend, I had among the many visitors a master smith of national reputation come by. As he was leaving, I half kidding asked him for his blessing on the new forge. In the presence of one other master and a couple of pretty good hobbyists, he smiled, picked up my 2 1/2 lb cross-pein and smacked it hard - and I mean hard - dead center in my Fisher 300 not once but five times. Then he gently lay the hammer back down on the anvil, turned and left the stunned and silent room. Not a dent in either hammer or anvil. I am still puzzling over what else the gesture meant, but it sure as hell said something about the Fisher.
Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 12/24/08 08:40:39 EST

Fisher anvils, W I: Something like 10 years ago there was an article in the Hammer's Blow about a guy that found and bought a couple of rooms full of Fisher patterns and parts from the old factory. IIRC there was a photo of some steel faces with high relief on the underside (perhaps for better embedment?) I took a quick look thru my back issues but didn't find that particular one.

Electric welding wrought iron is a little silly since it forgewelds so well, but if you have to the best method I've found is to TIG weld it and watch like a hawk for when you get porosity (when, not if). This will let you grind out the bad spot right away. Of course if it is low grade WI it might be ALL bad spot.
Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 12/24/08 08:53:41 EST

The KEY point: The faces on Fisher anvils are welded IN THE MOLD during the patented casting process. They cannot be replaced or significant repairs made afterwards.

Beside the process being patented there was also a LOT of trade secrets to the process such as preheat (cannot be very hot or set hot in the mold in the sand mold or the mold will collapse), surface conditioning (texture helps and some CI to steel bonds had pins and bolt heads, other mechanical fixing), fluxing (did they or didn't they). AND it is known that how the metal entered the mold to heat the plate and wash the surface as much as possible was critical.

It was not a simple easy process. However, joining CI and steel in the mold was also done on other devices such as rolls. My old tire bender had 1" shafts with 3" diameter rolls casted on. One got broke due to abuse in our shop. . . so I got a good look at the spiked texturing of the shaft.

I've seen a LOT of Fishers with failed welds and huge missing parts of the plate, loose horn inserts and broken heels. But to be fair I've seen just as many old wrought iron anvils with similar failures. However, most are not a dramatic as that on a Fisher AND it is possible to repair them, while it is virtually impossible to repair a Fisher.

Merry Christmas.
- guru - Wednesday, 12/24/08 09:00:02 EST


My 100 & 600 lb were made in 1919. My friends 350 lb the same year. I still think they are fat and ugly in the late models. Just like a Vaughn Anvil. I also owned a Nimba. The look like a fat old sow. I think all three of these anvils are ugly suckers.

I will completely agree the Fisher and Nimba are among the best made anvils. They are a pleasure to use. I forgot the Fisher is quiet and many times that is nice. I rather play a melody and let my anvil sing.

I am glad my post gave you a chuckle. I think it was an insult to call it a rant. I have to remember you are from the land of asses out on Cape Cod.
- Rustystuff - Wednesday, 12/24/08 11:24:25 EST

Well miles you pretty much hit it on the head. The Duravent Techie doesn't care what I do with the pipe. He is just not going to bless it. However I did find out a couple of other things. Their duct so called 2100 is rated for an occassional flash at 2100. It's constant temp limit is 1000. This is under a UL103. However he did give me another company Van Packer. I got to there website and they have a product that's rated 1800 continous and another 3100. They are also closed for the holidays so I can't get any more info.

By the Way....All you guys have a great Christmas.
- tinker - Wednesday, 12/24/08 11:34:08 EST

Fisher Anvil Lovers: There is a near perfect 20 lb Fisher anvil on ebay item #140290491691

I will be bidding on it, but mention it so all will have equal oppertunity to own it. I would enjoy some healthy competition. It is a real beauty.

By some slight chance I were to win said anvil it will be mounted on 2" tubing and locked into my hitch receiver for mobile use.

- Rustystuff - Wednesday, 12/24/08 16:55:37 EST

Rusty: Sorry the tongue implanted in cheek doesn't project over a web post, but I thought the irony in the use of "rant" was obvious.
Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 12/24/08 18:28:33 EST

Peter, It is ok. Sorry for the comment I made. We are good.
- Rustystuff - Wednesday, 12/24/08 19:57:15 EST

T/tinker-- one must read the Simpson Duravent catalogs with great care. The products are confusingly similar in the names they have, and the differences are subtle, sometimes. One factor in what they can claim in writing is what tests have been done, and although something obviously can handle a certain thermal stress, if it has not been specifically tested and certified for that application, they can't offer it as such. I suspect that is what is going on here. I have run wood stove flue pipe through sheathing boards at various heights, and as long as the thimble has been stainless double wall packed with asbestos (ewwww!) or its contemporary equivalent and the clearance to combustibles there has been 2 inches minimum, I've been okay. Coal forges don't lend themselves to producing creosote, so they don't have much propensity for chimney fires, which is the real danger and thus the necessity for super-duper pipe.
Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 12/24/08 23:09:11 EST

Tmac: You must have used a really crappy anvil that certainly wasn't a Fisher. Fisher used to advertise, not without some justification, that "one blow on a Fisher equals two on any other anvil." I wouldn't go that far, but I will say that my 250# Fisher, made in 1928, will outwork most equivalent-sized cast steel or even wrought-bodied anvils. The face is very hard and the rebound is excellent. The silence is wonderful. It is one of my two main anvils in the shop the other being my 450# Nimba. As Rustystuff noted, both are squat compared to a London-pattern anvil or the wasp-waisted Hay-Buddens so many favor, but those squat, blocky anvils are more efficient forging tools. I also have a PW anvil and a no-name wrought-bodied anvil, bu tthe Fisher will outwork either of them, and the NImba, by virtue of its greater mass and more effective shape, is a magnficent tool.

As for welding SS to cast iron, don't bother trying it during the casting process, the way Fisher anvils are made. It ain't gonna work. Yes, you can do SMAW with SS or other high-nickel rods to butter CI for later welding with wear-resistant rod or other steel, but thatis a very different process than casting SS onto cast iron.

SS cookware is primarily made by either explosion welding or friction welding, not casting. All that I have seen were one of the two, never cast. There's a reason for that, as I noted earlier.

vicopper - Thursday, 12/25/08 00:10:54 EST

Peter Hirst: As a guess only, I would think that maybe that master smith was doing a couple of things with his demonstration. One, indicating his admiration for the Fisher anvil and two, demonstrating good hammer control. I often stand and bounce my hammer very vigorously off the faces of either my Fisher or my Nimba, just because I find the rebound and cadence highly satisfying. Little things please little minds, I guess. (grin) Now, if a newbie walkedinto my shop and did that, I'd probably flip out, knowing that they would amost certainly have an errant blow that either dinged the hammer or anvil or both. But a properly crowned hammer face won't hurt anything if it lands squarely.

There is talk that old smiths used to have their apprentices hammer all day long on the face of a new anvil to work-harden it. I tried it on my Nimba, in one spot, and could tell no effect, but old anvils didn't use 8320 for their faces, either.

It sounds as though you have some very nice working anvils in your new shop. Enjoy!
vicopper - Thursday, 12/25/08 00:17:29 EST

Barry Denton - Thursday, 12/25/08 00:22:28 EST

Peace on Earth: Maybe in our children's lifetime. . .
- guru - Thursday, 12/25/08 13:01:36 EST

fire screen mesh: Does anyone have any good ideas for attaching mesh to fire screens? I have .028" woven mesh and I am looking for a "clean" method to attach it to the doors. Also, is there a way to stretch the material to make it tight, or will it always have a little slack in it. thanks in advance, and happy holidays to all!
- Jay in SC - Thursday, 12/25/08 13:14:46 EST

Fire screen: Jay- There may be better ways of doing it but the method that I have seen and used is to sandwich it between two frames. The inner frame is usually thinner and slightly smaller than the outer but no thinner than 1/8 x 3/4 stock. The frames are held together with rivets. Cut the screen oversize and trim after assembly.

As for stretching Francis Whitaker shows in one of his books some tongs that look like big bolt tongs with swiveling pads riveted onto the jaws. Clamp one edge of the screen assembly to your workbench with the opposite edge overhanging. Grip the screen in the swivel jaws with the bits going around the frames and lever the tongs sideways using the edge of the frame and inside of the bits by the tong rivet as the fulcrum. Insert a temporary nut and bolt into the rivet hole (poke the screen out of the way with an awl) in the frame and tighten. Repeat. Work from the sides toward the center of an edge alternating as you go as you want the screen to pull on the frame evenly.

There is also a 3-way clamp that I have seen pictured in use but have never tried it myself. The bigger the screen the bigger the frame material should be (up to a point) to resist bowing from the pull of the screen. You can also put in a pre-camber to compensate for this.

An easy way to trim the screen after assembly is to use a small welding tip from your A/O torch and cut/burn back the screen with it. This is fairly fast and has the advantage of making the wire end ball up a little, thus preventing burrs. You may have already noticed that screen is a PITA to cut without making it painfully sharp.
- Judson Yaggy - Friday, 12/26/08 10:50:14 EST

Fire screen: Sorry, I also should have mentioned that you should take extra care to start the screen square and strait to the edges as if it is not it will "read" as if the whole thing is out of square and crooked.

Some openings are not square to start with and others are irregular or formed with rough stone so I strongly suggest making a tracing of the opening. If the fireplace is too small to have a helper get inside to make a tracing then cut out an arm hole in the center of your pattern so you can reach inside. Cardboard works well for a pattern, big sheets can be had from appliance places for free.
Judson Yaggy - Friday, 12/26/08 10:58:48 EST

I have two anvils at plus 400 pounds in my shop, a Trenton and a Fisher. The Fisher is the main using anvil. Silence is *golden*! The Fisher also has the thickest face on it too, about double that of the Trenton IIRC.

As for "looks" I kind of like the "brutish" force of the Fisher, (or Nimbas, Mouseholes, etc). If you extol "form follows function" then some of the slim graceful anvil shapes definitely don't look right for heavy use with heavy hammers!

Now I keep a small arm&hammer (91#) close by to have a thin heel to work some items on---like forks; but I could have forged a massive bridge for the hardy of the Fisher instead. (and probably will after the triphammer is back on-line---1.5" hardy hole takes a lot of hammering!)

My last Christmas gift, finished Dec 24, pm, was a small dragon forged from a electric fence pole---3/8" round stock with a triangular piece of sheet metal down near the point. Forged the bottom section of the rod into a long tapering tail and then coiled it up and then grabbed the small tip in the middle and pulled it sideways. Cut off a proper length for the top and forged the dragon's head on it and necked down the neck slightly and bent the head down a bit. Worked over the sheet metal "wings" a bit and punched (cold) to mounting holes in it. As it was an inside piece I hot finished it with some wax. My daughter sure seemed to like it and it was an afternoon well spent!

Thomas---at Las Cruces NM until Saturday
ThomasP - Friday, 12/26/08 12:04:17 EST

PW Broke Anvil: Repair ???: anvil

Is the steel in these PW Anvils good enough to make a decent weld? Is there a separate steel top plate in these anvils? What if anything could be done with the top of this one? Is this PW a real old one? I notice the feet are shaped different than other PW's. Just looking at the economics's of buying this broken anvil? I am all ears so let the opinions come ;)) anvil
- Tmac - Saturday, 12/27/08 20:39:54 EST

Smithing Tools For Sale:

All tools that I posted for sale here on Thursday 12-18 are still for sale.
Prices negotiable
- Ty Murch - Saturday, 12/27/08 20:50:57 EST

tool sale, broken anvil: Ty- Where are you located?

Tmac- It might be me, but your photo link doesn't work. P.W.'s are steel faced, wrought bodies. Some welding might work, lots of welding might not. Depends how you do it. Search this site, especially the Guru's Den. There have been lots of posts on repair welding anvils.
Judson Yaggy - Saturday, 12/27/08 21:42:05 EST

Ty, folks are picking up the trailing "anvil" in your URL's and they are getting an error. Don't know why the one above is not "hot" . . AH, you put the "title" where the address should go. But that trailing "anvil" still breaks the link.
- guru - Saturday, 12/27/08 21:53:57 EST

Jud, Macon, Georgia

Links to pictures. the word following the link is just the title of the pic the link goes with, do not copy it when copy pasting.
Ty Murch - Saturday, 12/27/08 21:59:13 EST

Repairing IT:
While you could repair this old anvil it is a pretty nifty old piece as-is. There is enough face to forge on and a great big horn to make bends and scrolls.

The body of this old anvil is wrought iron. It CAN be welded to but the slag tends to run out and you are left with about half of what you started with so you must use a LOT of filler rod to make any weld on wrought using modern methods.

The steel face on this anvil is worn thin and mushroomed as well. If most of it is tight it could be cleaned up. To repair the entirety (replacing the heel, rebuilding the face) would cost as much as decent old anvil. Investing in this one as a "fixer-uppper" is not practical. However, it is a great tool AS-IS and with a little clean up could be better.

Now then. . . IT COULD be used as a piece of functional art. Building a vise into the back end using old English vise parts of the same era.

The wrought in the body, if converted to bar. . . Worth a lot more than the asking price. I expect to see a lot of old anvils go this route in the near future when someone with the right equipment and finances figures it out.
- guru - Saturday, 12/27/08 22:04:29 EST

TY: What establishes the broken anvil as a PW? The feet are all wrong, and the pic doesn't show a mark.
- Peter Hirst - Sunday, 12/28/08 13:27:03 EST

the pw mark is on the other side
Ty Murch - Sunday, 12/28/08 14:46:55 EST

Ty: So the feet are wrong and the mark is on the wrong side? Can this be authentic?
- Peter Hirst - Sunday, 12/28/08 23:09:14 EST

are you calling me a liar?
- Ty Murch - Sunday, 12/28/08 23:32:02 EST

Anvil ID's: PW and many others including Fisher went through MANY MANY style changes. If you haven't throughly studied the subject beyond Postman's book then you really cannot say.

Besides, it does not matter a twit. It is an old English forge wrought iron anvil in pretty lousy shape and selling for exactly what broken anvils of this type of any make are selling for. I've offered to buy it if nobody else does in the time it needs to be sold. Its about a 4-5 hour drive on-way from here but that is always part of the deal unless you trip over one in your back yard.
- guru - Monday, 12/29/08 00:29:15 EST

I noticed Christmas night in Lynchburg, VA that there were VERY VERY few lighted Christmas decorations. I thought it might have been just the neighborhoods I drove through so I called some friends and relatives and asked what they saw. All agreed that there were about 10% of the normal lights. That is a HUGE drop in one year.

So, how about your area? Is this perhaps an ominous sign of depression due to the "recession"? Or people trying to save on power bills? If it is the mood of the country, it is a pretty low and possibly dangerous mood. It may say things that the general populace is afraid to say out loud.
- guru - Monday, 12/29/08 00:36:24 EST

TY: Why in the world would you ask that? The anvil has uncharacteristic feat and the mark on the opposite side from the usual. I am just asking whether these unusual characteristics occur in authentic Peter Wrights. There are forgeries out there: I have seen one recently that many agreed with me is at least highly suspect. I haven't seen as many anvils as many on this site have, but I have seen perhaps a couple hundred PWs, and don't recall ever seeing one with the mark on that side. I have just never heard of both these anomolies occurring in a single piece. If yours is unique, it may have additional collector value, even historic value, sort of like the airmail stamp with the plane upside down. It may also be a forgery, which also makes it at least a little more interesting than just another beat up anvil. Neither one of these possibilities implies anything about the owner. Sheesh.
Peter Hirst - Monday, 12/29/08 01:29:55 EST

fisher 20# anvil: I see matchlessantiques won the cute 20# fisher anvil on ebay no. 140290491691
- Clint Kodiak - Monday, 12/29/08 02:10:13 EST

Christmas Lights and National Moods: Lights:

Last year, at the new Grey Havens house, my wif cut back on the decorations (which were quite extensive at the old house) to a single flood and (battery) candles in the windows. I thought it looked pretty good, but the neighbors complained that they missed the old display! This year she uprated to garlands and bows and lights along the back rail fence and over the Gothic iron archway leading to the back bridge, and various lit wreaths, snowflakes and candy canes* on the front of the house and along the walk. Not quite as classy, but the neighbors like it, the younger daughter likes it, and the wif is happy. One interesting note is that the newer lights, combined, draw less than the high-wattage, high intensity flood I used last year.

* The candy canes glow red, and then green, and back to red; on each side of the walk. Of course they phase in and out of sync just to drive me crazy, but the daughter is amused.

Around our neck of the tidewater there doesn't seem to be any major diminution of lights, (plenty of displays to entertain Amanda) but we haven't been hit too hard by the mortgage and economic crises- yet...


What I have noticed is that folks on the internet are a tad quicker to take offense, a little more "tetchy" in reading and responding; and not just here. As has been mentioned before, the internet is not the best medium for nuance. It is easy to misread intent, and the boundaries between good natured joshing to light sarcasm to heartfelt insult is not always that clear. Further, some of us do not have the skills or practice to express ourselves in text as well as we would do verbally; gathered around a real tailgate as opposed to an electronic one. The wink, the nod, the head-shake, the shrug, the raised eyebrow that are the only loosely (and somewhat rarely and erratically) implied by the limited range of "emoticons." I have always found Anvilfire to be among the more civil websites that I indulge in. Part of this is due to the watchfulness and influence of Jock; but part of this is also due to the maturity, earnestness, patience, and good horse sense of the contributors. People are under a lot of stress these days; many of us are involved in life-changing events. But all of us can afford to be civil towards each other, the give each other the benefit of the doubt, to picture a message delivered with a smile instead of a sneer. We can make it a New Year's project; patience, forbearance and gentle persuasion. (Hey; occasional miracles do happen!)

Pax vobiscum (...or else we;ll have our bos'n pay you a visit!)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 12/29/08 09:19:26 EST

anvil feet: Ty's anvil shows the kind of feet that are on early forged English anvils, as viewed from the side. Each foot has a rough triangular shape instead of a squared up shape. Postman pictures one pre-1852 Peter Wright with such feet, and the narrow ledge or shelf is missing. See page 109.
- Frank Turley - Monday, 12/29/08 12:03:44 EST

ASO hype from an "industrial" tool catalog we just got:

"These brawny cast iron anvils" they also call them "classically designed" though they don't look like any of the traditional "name brand" anvils either.

The picture seems to indicate a flat topped horn and they go up to a 300# version with a 2" hardy and thats for only US$1.50 a pound delivered.

Funny I have anvils in the 400-500 pound range and their hardy holes are only 1.5"

Thomas P - Monday, 12/29/08 12:23:13 EST

Thanks, Frank. There ya go, Ty, a useful answer to my question. Yes, it could be authentic, in fact probably is and is also likely rare. Maybe in the early days, PW or an apprentice got a little careless about which side of the anvil to stamp. If there's some information on the mark on that early PW in Postman, you can compare it with yours.
Peter Hirst - Monday, 12/29/08 16:20:16 EST

Melting Temps of;???:
What is the melting temp of Wrought Iron? Cast Iron?
Mild Steel?
Where early RR track made from Wrought Iron?

What is Ribbon Iron? My Dad showed me a piece of what seemed to be a piece of steel, he said it was Ribbon Iron. It was so soft it could be bent with bare hands. It also showed no cracking after bending back and forth many times. He said it was an old kind of Iron and wasnt made any longer that was in the mid 60s.

- Tmac - Monday, 12/29/08 16:34:55 EST

2730F, 2500F, 2700F, yes, probably SAE 1008 - maybe wrought.

You can show some initiative and look all these up in Machinery's Handbook ($15-$20 used), most encyclopedias, a few dictionaries and in our FAQs.
- guru - Monday, 12/29/08 17:44:55 EST

GURU Thanks: And I have :
Thank you for the info!

And I have several of the Machinery's Handbooks. But ALL the books I have are in storage and packed away. 100's of metal working book's. Had I had mine available, I would have used it! So I dont plan on buying any more of them.

- Tmac - Monday, 12/29/08 18:18:44 EST

rr rail: I forget the source, but I read long ago that the small mine rail was made of wrought iron. It did not prove too satisfactory in use.

An odd rail used by the French when beginning to build the Panama canal was termed bridge rail, kind of like an inverted U shape. I believe it was made of wrought iron.
Frank Turley - Monday, 12/29/08 19:34:55 EST

RR Rail Lingering Question;???:
Way back in the 50s when I was just a little kid, I watched my Dad cut a Rail into several pieces. He never sawed or burned a bit of that rail either. He cut it as clean as if it had been sawed. He used a chisel hammer and a Sledge. He cut a line all around the rail with the chisel. The cold chisel had the shape and size of the radius of a quarter. He put a piece steel under the rail a little back from the cut line, slammed it on the piece he wanted to take off, it broke as clean as if it had been cut.
The reason I asked if old rail was Wrought Iron, I have tried to make this cut as he did then, for me it never worked. Then after reading this board for a while I got to thinking that this rail he cut, may have been Wrought Iron. I could never duplicate the process. Now my Dad had worked on the RR in the 30s depression era, so he may have learned some tricks there.
Has anyone else ever cut a rail this way?

- Tmac - Monday, 12/29/08 20:01:49 EST

Cutting rail by notching:
Tmac, rail is still cut in a similar way today. It only works on hard modern rail. Once the notches are cut at the stress points (edges of the flange and sides of the cap) the rail must be supported and enough load applied to flex it. It will break at the notches. A clean cut requires notching all around. If you have just a couple notches the rail will break like a brittle hard (glass) part with long jagged break.

It works but there are tricks to applying the load and is not quite as easy as it appears when you are just watching. The devil is in the details.
- guru - Monday, 12/29/08 20:35:43 EST

Tmac, I seem to remember that my 8th grade chemistry teacher had pure iron (reagent grade, I guess) that came in a ribbon form. Maybe that's the "ribbon iron" you're thinking of.
Mike BR - Monday, 12/29/08 21:41:53 EST

Xmas lights & stuff: There seem to be pretty many here in southeastern Pa., but maybee not as many as usual. There are quite a few of the inflatable decorations, which leads to the following question:

Is the blower from these decorations suitable for a forge blower? If it is, keep an eye out for discarded ones when the decorations come down.
- Dave Boyer - Monday, 12/29/08 22:20:59 EST

Cutting steel, blowers, etc.: Tmac,

I have cut a considerable amount of steel by notching and breaking as you describe. No wrought iron, though; it is far too soft to cut that way. The technique works well for high-carbon steel, rebar, and some (but not all) A-36 structural steel.

Inflatable decoration blowers - Those should work for a forge, Dave. They have to be able to maintain some pressure head to hold one of those dumb Santas up, so I would think they'd be fine. A forge would be a MUCH better use for one than those stupid snowmen and reindeer and such. I'll bet that most of the scrapped-out Santas are due to blower failures though, rather than leaks or a sudden infusion of good taste.

Have I mentioned that I think those things are ugly? (grin)
vicopper - Tuesday, 12/30/08 01:18:03 EST

Good Electric Blowers::

Older Kirby vacuums work great. These have a brush type motor, that can be used with a speed controller. several types of speed controllers will work. The foot pedal type from a old sewing machine, a variac transformer or a SCR type that is the small plug in dial type. Old Kirby vacuums can be found on Craigslist or garage sales. Mostly for around $10 to $25. The ones from the early 50s to the mid 70s work the best. Another vacuum if you run across it is one called Royal, looks just like a Kirby. I have used old Kirby's for all kinds of blowers. Now if you want to move a lot of air with one just add a venturi tube of some size you can triple the volume air moved by them.

- Tmac - Tuesday, 12/30/08 07:15:33 EST

Metallic Glass Titanium: Something (relatively) new under the sun; tough and ductile...
Science Daily
Bruce Blackistone - Tuesday, 12/30/08 11:37:05 EST

RR rail; the museum in Manassas VA has several examples of wrought iron RR rail including some with that inverted U configuration that date to the American Civil War period.

Snapping rail: much more unlikely to have worked with WI than with steel.

Snapping steel: I was watching one of Clay Spencers DVDs last night where he demonstrated using a small powerhammer---his was a 100 pounder---to "snap" cold steel using a couple of square cross section pieces of steel to act as shearing sets---his were loose pieces and not in a spring or hinged swage set up.

Thomas P - Tuesday, 12/30/08 11:47:26 EST

PH snapping steel: Yep, you don't want the snappers hooked together. The bottom one just sittng on the die and the top one on a thin rod handle. It works just fine on a hammer of sufficient weight. Not nearly as much joy on a 25# LG, though. That's when you get the snappers flying out all over and the stock kicking out the ceiling light.

A snapper is also a very handy PH tool for hot cutting. Use a regular hack to make the cut, all but the last 1/8" or so, then turn the work over and use the snapper to finish cutting through the little (now cooler) web that is left. It will pop right through, shearing off the web cleanly and the snapper is shallow enough the it can't get into contact with the dies, marring them.

Clifton Ralph can use a snapper on stock thinner than the snapper without marring the dies, but I wouldn't have the nerve (or control) to try it.
vicopper - Tuesday, 12/30/08 20:03:07 EST

Snapping, n.b.: I should have noted that both snappers can be handled as well. I use an un-handled one on the bottom only because I'm generally holding the stock with one hand.
vicopper - Tuesday, 12/30/08 20:04:47 EST

Posting "sticky" at bottom. Look UP for new. - guru
LOST! My Little Giant Power Hammer:
My name Is Ralph Andrew Kessler, my phone number is 770.214.1951 and I am looking for my power hammer that was left at Mr. George Herron (deceased) of Springfield S.C. I left my hammer with Mr. Herron about 8 years ago. I had been injured and it has taken me that long to heal (my back) to where I am able to start to work again.

I left the hammer with Mr. Herron with the instruction that if someone needed to use the power hammer they were more than welcome. But with the one condition that someday I might come looking. Well that day has arrived, if the person who moved the hammer would
contact me I will make arrangements to pickup the hammer. If repair and improvements were made I will gladly pay for any expense.

On a personal note this hammer means a lot to me. Coming from Sharky Tipp of Fairfield Ill, sent to William Gordon DeFreest and in storage at Mr. George Herron. I was very close to all three of these men and all three have since past away.

Thank for your time and consideration, R.A. Kessler, Knifemaker, Bladesmith and Blacksmith.
RalphAndrewKessler - Tuesday, 12/16-30/08 19:09:08 EST

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