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Sharpening Plowshares.


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#1 Drq

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 10:55 PM

I seem to have run into an all to common problem with hobbies like blacksmithing; All the old guys are gone. I've been asked on numerous occasions to sharpen plowshares for different folks and I've always had to say I haven't the faintest idea where to start, but if they knew someone who did I would would love to learn. The usual response includes "well there used to be a guy up in (insert small town name) that did them, but he passed away ten years back".

So I thought (in my youthful ways) Google knows everything ! So I consulted the google. And it was useless.

So my fellow ifi'ers. Anyone know how to sharpen plowshares ? Or know of a good tutorial ? Or have a shop somewhere up in western america that might be able to show someone how to carry on a seemingly lost art ?

Thanks again for the help I always find here.

Logan
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#2 781

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 10:17 AM

At the Little Giant bithday party I watched Bob Bergman of Postville Blacksmith Shop sharpen plow lathes. Google postville or old world anvils. His shop is south West of Madison, Wis, USA
Phil Cox who is on this forum had imput. UMBA made a video of the event
BAD Roger in Minnesota

#3 ThomasPowers

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 10:30 AM

We had it demonstrated at a SOFA meeting once Ed Rhodes (sp?) was the smith.

"Practical Blacksmithing" Richardson had lots of tips on it IIRC as it was written when it was still a big part of the typical small town forge's work.

As I recall the exact angle to be used differed depending on the local soil and such knowledge was handed down locally.
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#4 Glenn

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 02:40 PM

Contact Irnsrgn on IForgeIron. He is a 3rd generation blacksmith and has first hand knowledge on the subject.

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Do not build a box, that way you do not have to think outside the box.


#5 Bob S

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 07:22 PM

Anyone know how to sharpen plowshares ? Or know of a good tutorial ?
Logan
(Drq)


some information here...

http://www.lostcraft...cksmith-46.html

more here....

http://www.ntractorc...sages/2096.html

If I had it to do all over again I would do it all over again...


#6 origami roofs

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 08:29 PM

I saw a welding blacksmith shop not too long ago with a mechanical plowshare sharpener. just set the disc in and it revolved and sharpened it. it had two wheels(dies) with bevels on them that just cold forged it sharp.

#7 peacock

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 08:40 PM

Alot more info is needed here. Is it a walking plow, horse drawn riding plow, single or multiple bottom,
or tractor drawn, what type soil. also what type share, chilled, soft center, solid steel?
Also it will be much easier to under stand if you have actually plowed before. Are you going to use a
power hammer or a hand hammer? I know it's a lot of questions but till you know all of this don't even
think of heating or hitting it.

#8 Bob S

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 09:01 PM

I seem to have run into an all to common problem with hobbies like blacksmithing; All the old guys are gone.

Logan
(Drq)


When you notice that 'all the old guys are gone'......

you're the old guy.

Welcome to geezerhood.Posted Image

Bob

If I had it to do all over again I would do it all over again...


#9 Drq

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 11:40 AM

Peacock, the fellow that I talked to this weekend had a three bottom tractor drawn. I will give him a shout and see what he thinks they are and what soil he's playing in. Perhaps I will see if I can get out with him a few times when he's plowing, I think your right that a guy needs to have a little experience in before he really has any clue what needs to be fixed.

Bob S, if I'm the old guy I think we're all doomed.

Origami, I actually have one of those disk sharpeners, never used the thing, but it holds my dirt down.

#10 Frank Turley

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 09:38 PM

I don't know a great deal about the subject. I have dressed two shares in my lifetime, and they did not come back. I had a tractor drawn steel moldboard share that came to me years ago from I know not where. It was in near mint condition and sharp, but without the moldboard. I kept it and used it as a model when dressing the two shares. I think the "I lucked out like Perry Mason." It really helps to have a model to follow. In any event, the moldboard will be unbolted from the share, usually by the owner, before the share is brought to the shop.

Over the years, I've found out a few little things which may be helpful. In the world of smiths and machinery, we're usually confronted with two kinds of wear: metal to metal and metal to ground. The point of the share is going to get lots of wear contacting the ground. You will notice in the one reference that Bob S sent, the point has a sharp angled cut. With wear, the shape becomes rounded. If it is just a little rounding and made of steel, it can be drawn out at a heat and the angles restored somewhat with the hammer. A final hot cutting may be necessary. If it is rounded and worn way back, a steel "overcoat" is forge welded on. I saw this done only one time in my experience, at a shop in Chihuahua, Mexico. A small rectangular flat of high carbon steel was bent in half and placed over the worn point and forge welded. The welding requires some hard hitting with a striker or heavy hitting with a power hammer. It is forged out and hot-cut to shape. At the Mexican shop, they had a small stand with a surface plate on it, so that after shaping they could lay the share down to check the correct throat clearance. The flat of the point has a downward curve which is hammered over the horn.

There is a thick "bar" behind the smooth side integral with the share, and one time I saw at a museum a set of plowshare tongs. It consisted of one unit of two tong jaws and three reins. The common rein to the two jaws has a bend in it so that one jaw grabs the top edge of the share and the other jaw attaches to the bar which is up toward the point. A link through the end of one rein hooks over the other rein ball-end to hold it fast. I made a sketch of it and made one when I returned to the shop. When both jaws are fitting properly, the two free reins come together for a handhold and are parallel.

Hardening and tempering may be a great secret. On mine, I tried to follow an old Arkansas blacksmith's advice. He said that he heated at least 2/3 of the share length and 1/3 the width including the point to a cherry red. He said that he gave it a fairly rapid water quench leaving some reserve heat above quenched portion. Then he let it sizzle downward. He called it "frying." He let it fry until it reached the point. Then he quenched again. I never could get the frying to behave just right; maybe the old boy was pulling my leg. I notice in Bob S's reference link, that on solid steel shares, they simply let them normalize, and that's it.

I inherited a couple of walking plow shares through my wife's dad. He did a lot of horse drawn plowing in the 1930's, 40's, and 50's. Those shares are quite small when compared to the larger tractor drawn shares. By hearsay, I was told that it was more difficult to dress the horse drawn shares than the tractor drawn. If you're walking behind the horse drawn plow, it takes some effort and concetration to "make a straight row." If the share is improperly dressed, it can misbehave by constantly "jumping" out of the ground or continuously going point down into the ground.

When I began work in the early 1960's, I was shoeing horses. I visited a blacksmith shop where the smith had about a dozen shares on the floor waiting to be fixed. He said the farmers always bring them in the Spring and ha ha want them done right away. I knew zip about that kind of work, but now I wish I had investigated it further. Too late for tears.

Nowadays, the use of moldboard plowshares is waning rapidly. There are too many other ways of tillage. There is even a no-till method of farming.

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#11 peacock

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Posted 21 July 2011 - 02:27 PM

If you are reslly interested in learning about plows, plowing, are care of them
I recomend the book the Draft Horse Primer. It has a great tutorial with pics
about plows and there use and care. Next best thing to hands on help.

#12 Frosty

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 03:48 PM

I saw a welding blacksmith shop not too long ago with a mechanical plowshare sharpener. just set the disc in and it revolved and sharpened it. it had two wheels(dies) with bevels on them that just cold forged it sharp.


Isn't that a disk harrow rather than a plow shear? The 50lb Little Giant I picked up a couple summers ago still has the factory plow shear dies on it, not that I have any idea how to sharpen a shear. Heck, it's coming up on it's 100th B'day this January 17th.

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#13 saintjohnbarleycorn

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 05:09 PM

All the ones that I have seen have replaceable parts on them, they are bolted on, or is this one old enough you can';t get one for it?

#14 Frosty

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 01:49 AM

All the ones that I have seen have replaceable parts on them, they are bolted on, or is this one old enough you can';t get one for it?


That'd be a moldboard plowshear. The moldboard is what the blade bolts to, same as a modern road grader, dozer blade etc.

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#15 peacock

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 03:42 PM

No not be critical but if you all want to know. The main fram of the plow is called the beam.
The frog bolts to the beam, the moldboard, share, and landslide bolt to the frog.
Some plows have a replaceable shin ( leading edge of the moldboard) that also bolts to the frog.

When you sharpen a share you do not want the share to warp or it will no longer fit the frog
correctly. to prevent this only heat about an inch to no more than an inch and a half of the edge
to a cherry red in low light then forge the edge to a sharp edge. The point will most likely
be worn thin, this will need to be upset by hammering on the point before it is forged to the
correct shape and sharpened. If done right minimal grinding will be needed. Set the suck, both
down and to the landside. Depending on the type of share retemper, and buff on a cloth wheel
loaded with compound. Job is now complete.

One bottom plows are not to hard to do. Multiple bottoms will test your skill. All the shares
will have to have the same shape and suck for the plow to run right. It helps to work the most
worn share first so you have plenty of steel to work with to match the shape.




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