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I Forge Iron


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About Kozzy

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    Butcher of metal

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    Southern Palouse WA state USA

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  1. That's an interesting subject which I never thought about. On the "Oregon trail", what you wanted was oxen, not horses. Most movies show horses because those are easier to wrangle for Hollywood but horses are less food-efficient on the trail and if one gets loose, you are searching for days whereas oxen tend to stay pretty close to their starting place. You wanted 4 or possibly 5 to start and if you were lucky, you came out the other side with 2 or 3 in the worst years. I have a friend who goes on recreation wagon runs on the trail (or similar wagon runs) every couple of years--but with horses. They have a blast but of course the whole thing has a ton of support vehicles and plenty of cold beer. They had to be re-shoeing on the trail..unless they left them barefoot which doesn't seem likely.
  2. It's a bit of a side trip but you might take a tip from the various restorers of old stuff--cars, gas pumps, etc that they want to stay looking old while still proving new protection. Auto clear-coat tends to go bad after a year or so on such things and is virtually impossible to renew without destroying the piece and ruining the original patina. What they use is actually old school "Future Floor Polish". It lasts 1 to 2 years, doesn't affect the actual piece, and can be renewed easily. You just spray it on lightly in a couple of coats. It doesn't leave an obvious goopy finish like some other coatings. I have a friend with a dozen collector vehicles with original patina (he grabs the weird stuff--old moving vans and delivery vehicles) and this is what he uses...also on his gas pumps tin signs etc. There is some online referencing to this which might be worth a little digging. Not sure what the actual coating goal is but if it's just getting through a shorter period of outdoor exposure, this might be an option.
  3. Kozzy

    Cool Pliers

    Leading poorly behaving grandkids around by the nose, of course
  4. Kozzy

    Cool Pliers

    Just tell people they are toe straighteners--convincingly, of course. Used on the old days of "hand-me-down" shoes to make your next youngest rug rat's feet fit that old pair by moving their toes around. Now that I am an old geezer (give or take) Iv'e decided that every oddball tool needs a much better story than its original intent. How else will I earn my "crazy old man" moniker?
  5. The coating you end up with on steel or cast iron pans is polymerized oil. It's a bit of a complicated reaction but oxygen in conjunction with a bit of surface iron which acts a bit like a catalyst basically turns the oil into a tough high temperature form of plastic. Too hot and it carbonizes and breaks down, too cold and it just stays sticky. The worse the oil is for your health, the better it generally polymerizes. Healthy oil bends really suck when curing a pan--lard works a charm. Soybean is interesting: In processing plants which use soybean blends in their fryers, the vapor deposits on everything and the inside of the plant starts to look like it's been shellacked. That coating is really hard to get off the walls, conduit, electrical boxes, controls, and everything else. With healthy oil blends becoming the rage, many food processors are battling with sticking problems now. The healthy stuff just doesn't cure as nicely as the old school oils. It's also harder to get a good coating on stainless steel (especially passivated) because there is not the abundance of free surface iron available to get the reactions rolling well. Carbon steel is nothing but a marketing term. Even "High carbon steel" is darned fluffy. I've seen anything higher than "mild steel" called "High Carbon", even if it was only the equivalent of 1020. In my (food processing equipment) industry, we usually call anything 1035 or above high carbon as the generic term when the actual spec isn't stated.
  6. Vermiculite mining from sources that had asbestos content was stopped long ago. The current sources are tested asbestos free. Now the old stuff----don't be snorting that dust akuz you never know.
  7. Do it once, do it right. There are no savings in short-cuts. Johnson forges do (or did) use vermiculite as an insulator--but as a layer below the actual hearth. I've seen pizza ovens do similar where the hearth and canopy was done in the proper high temperature materials and there was an air gap that was filled with insulating vermiculite..and then standard concrete over that for the canopy and final exterior shape. Even though the oven temperature is only about 1000F, the fire used to bring it to that operating temperature is going to generate a lot more localized heat. You likely want a floor that can eventually be replaced because they do degrade in the long term--so I'd personally go with a tile layout of appropriate materials. Ovens like this are swept in use anyway so I doubt you'd have ash issues due to tile gaps. Set up the opening for more than pizza--they are perfect "beehive" bread ovens also if you make the opening and volume an acceptable height for a rustic loaf.
  8. The wording "advanced" is a bit fluffy--yes, you can go for the gold and get a combo CC/CV pulsed AC/DC welder that includes sequencer programming features for post/pre flow and ramping at both ends of the cycle for keyhole filling with a wire feed, push pull spool gun, etc. It's wonderful...and expensive. If you are talking MIG only, just get something tried and true..an example is a millermatic 252 that can run both a spool gun and standard wire feed. 252 allows both guns to stay connected and you just choose the one you are using that project. One trick is to research spray transfer mode. It varies with the gas used but if you can cross over to spray transfer mode (pretty high amperage required), it's like the welds magically become cleaner and easier. If your welder can handle the amps and voltage requirements for the chosen gas, you might find that the existing machine suddenly performs like a $ 10K fancy welder for the kinds of work you tend to do (not thin stuff..has to be a bit heavier work to handle spray transfer mode).
  9. Broken gear teeth can be a serious issue. Though some gears that can still be purchased have the same diametrical pitch and tooth count, a lot of this old stuff used pitches that are no longer standard so are nearly impossible to get these days. One option in something like this can be to weld back material where the teeth are missing and carefully file that back to a proper tooth profile. Because these kids of gears aren't pushed to their limits, that can often get you by. It's not "great" but it's better than throwing more $ into a blower than it's worth. Cast iron gears can usually be filled with stainless material and not have the cracking issues of welding cast iron...with care. Stainless isn't as wear resistant but it is adequate in most cases.
  10. Now c'mon. That first photo has to be fake because the clamps sitting behind are actually neatly organized rather than spread all over the shop :-) If I had a do-over on mine, it'd be bigger wheels. Small ones seem to always find that one little piece of gravel on the floor which makes it like hitting a brick wall when rolling the cart around.
  11. I'm no vegetarian zealot and still bend for meat once in a while. It's just after not eating it for a while, it becomes a lot less appealing and unimportant. A good ham sandwich once in a long while is enough to remind me that I'm not really missing anything all that important. I've mostly gotten away from animals and won't replace the goats when they reach their normal end. However, seeing the cows develop personalities and relationships and even play..heck, even the chickens developed relationships and had personalities, it was easier to see that meat just wasn't that big a deal to me relative to the pleasure live critters give me. But I've been craving a really top quality steak of late so I'll probably bend and have one. Haven't had red meat for a few years now so we'll see if it's worth the hassle. Some goat porn:
  12. Goat makes great meat for Mongolian Hot Pot meals too--sliced really thin. But I can't--I just love the little buggers too much. After a few years of raising farm animals, I got to the point where I am 99.5% vegetarian these days. Only 3 pygmy goats right now but dang, they are never in a bad mood and always happy to see me. If I could just get them to mow the lawns instead of the stuff I want to keep....
  13. Most chains are hot dip lubed in the factory and remnants of that non-conductive coating remain virtually forever, even if they don't seem to be there. Chain is really hard to clean via electrolysis anyway due to the many joints involved so when you add a bit of non-conductivity, it becomes a losing battle. Even chains that we boil out in hot caustic solutions still have traces of grease in the joints after several hours of boiling (while moving--so the joints are articulating). This is with easy to remove food grade oils too. With some oils they also polymerize with long term oxygen contact--basically turning into what is effectively a layer of "plastic" which won't conduct and is virtually impossible to remove with any chemical. It's similar to the coating one puts on cast iron cook-wear but to a much greater extent and toughness.
  14. I'm a big believer in the seller setting a starting point. That saves the buyer AND the seller wasted time if the item just isn't in the required range. Going further, I find it downright rude to not provide that simple courtesy to buyers. Where this issue really chaps my earlobes is in job listings. For anything other than entry level, the employer should at least put a general range. I've seen high end CNC machinist jobs where they required all sorts of programming experience which turned out to be in the $ 15 an hour range..ridiculously low for the required skill level. Similar with some welding positions where they expect certified welders doing advanced stuff to work for peanuts--but one only discovers that after wasting time. Fortunately I haven't been job hunting in 35 years..but once in a while a friend is in need so I try and do some extra footwork (well, web-work actually) for them--and rude employers who don't give a rough range are a red flag to me that they aren't someone you really want to work for anyway. However, lack of information seems to be accepted practice and a hard system to buck.
  15. Do NOT let pnut's comment about claying this forge slip through the cracks. I recently saw a post from a guy elsewhere who did his first firing without claying and almost immediately heard "boink"--put a huge crack across his similar forge. That hood has a super cool factor. Just keep your fire well controlled as it appears to be galvanized sheet in the photos. Age is a tough one as the years of riveted structures were quite long so people were still using them well into times when welding was more common. Yea, photo of the blower section would help.
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