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I Forge Iron

Yanni Rockitz

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    Southern Maine, USA
  • Interests
    Blacksmithing, bladesmithing, vintage tools, axes, Vikings and tales of ribaldry...

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  1. LOL - If his is haunted, mine is an absolute nightmare. I'm keeping it, though. The only way to appease the Ghosts of Smithies Past is to pound hot metal on 'er -- return the old girl to her divined purpose. That pill-shaped depression in the base and the shape and numbers all point to it being of early American manufacture. GREAT excuse to order yourself a copy of Anvils In America -- which is in its seventh or eighth printing now(?) - I need to get a copy... Most places sell it for ~$75, but I want to say I found it somewhere for about $60(?) That book should tell you what year it was made, based on the numbers.
  2. "WTC" has to be the initials of the world renowned Blacksmith Woolard T. Carrington, of Boston -- famed Smith of the Commonwealth! Just kidding - I have no idea what it means, but it does look kind of hand-stamped, like someone did it post-factory -- maybe a former owner. Nifty historical value there -- maybe investigate who owned it in the estate you bought it from -- perhaps there's a great grandpappy with those initials. She's a right purdy anvil -- good score! I'm jealous of how smooth and flat and pristine the face of yours is. You should add a photo of the underside -- the shape of the cavity (or lack thereof, in my case) is one of the identifying characteristics. The numbers will likely get you to a positive ID -- you just need one of the guys in here who owns Anvils In America to look up the Trentons and see what your numbers mean. P.S. - the "H" is for "How the HECK is an anvil this nice just sitting in a barn?!" ;-)
  3. I love the history. Interesting perspective on "old" -- so it's not officially old until its 200th birthday?!? Jeeze, man -- rough crowd. And there I was, thinking I was in some elite club of artifact owners ;-) The world of anvils is on a whole other scale. I fully agree about the relative emptiness of the terms "rare" and "unique" -- at least when used by sellers as buzzwords. I described this Trenton that way mainly in relation to my own personal search for a decent anvil for a good price, which has been a challenge. From my experience, if you have $800, or more, you can find a nice anvil, these days, barring the odd unicorn found digging up the garden. I already had a little old 80lb no-name anvil with a good face, so I told myself I would cap my "real anvil" budget at $400 -- more out of principal than anything else. This search has gone on for several years now, without success, then I found this one -- and the guy threw in several chisels and two nice pairs of tongs and a wooden base, so I felt like it was money well spent. One fine day, I'm going to get a huge double-horned beast, but this old girl should hold me till then. Thanks again!
  4. TPowers and TwistyWillow -- you're officially my heroes -- thanks for the info! So great to have good people out there who just help a fella out like this. I'm thrilled to know I've got a really old, fairly rare and unique anvil in such relatively good condition. As I understand Trenton manufacturing history, now -- so far -- Trenton is an American brand from Ohio, but some of their earliest anvils, way back in this 1878-1898 timespan, were actually manufactured over in Europe -- I've read Germany(?) -- and maybe the UK(?) -- and these are identifiable by the flat / non-hollowed-out base, as well as the absence of any kind of lettering / numbering on the feet, which was started when they began to make them in the US. Why were they farming out the manufacturing to Europe, if it was an American company? Same reason we do that with China today? Like, maybe it was cheaper then, where Europe was all set up for it and we were still young and relatively underdeveloped here, in terms of infrastructure? It's such an odd phase in Trenton history... It's interesting to see how they copied the 'stepped feet' design element of the Peter Wrights, clearly trying to benefit from that popular brand's success. My inner anvil nerd is all excited over the fact that the youngest this anvil could be is 123 years old (1898) -- and just might be as old as 143. Wow... A real piece of living history. These things are such time travelers... The wear on the face could only have shaped it that way through many hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of hammering -- and now I have the honor of picking up the torch and taking my turn on a tool that has seen a huge amount of human creative effort over more than a century. You've made my month. :-)
  5. Additional pics attached -- it's actually not hollowed out on the bottom at all, with the exception of a square hardie-type lifting point(?) hole. Appears pretty much flat and rough. I also took pics of the two 'ends' of the feet where that Peter Wright-style 'step' is forged onto the feet where the weight and serial numbers are usually found on American-made Trentons. No numbers there at all -- on either foot. Does this mean I have a German production early-school unit? What years were those made? (That's pretty cool, methinks.) What about thoughts on the curvy face -- will it be a problem?
  6. Here's my 'new' Trenton. Any thoughts on its birth date? No serial numbers or stampings of any kind on either side of the base, where the serial number should be, so I'm looking for help dating this baby. There's a fairly clear "Trenton" diamond logo with a properly shaped N in the center (not the one that looks like an X) and a partially obscured "SOLID WROUGHT" round stamp below it, with what I think is the word "PATENT" in between them and a "159" below that, near the base. Nothing on the feet... rough concave in the base, underneath. I haven't had a chance to get 'er on the scale yet, but I'm guessing she's 159 lbs or thereabouts -- looks and hefts about twice the size and weight of my little 80 lb anvil. Also looking for advice on the face -- there's a fair amount of cupping in the center and around the hardie (hardy?) hole, showing very clearly that a TON of work has been done on this old beauty over many years -- clearly by people who knew enough not to damage it, as there are very few dings or chips out of the edges. They're in remarkably good condition, given that amount of work that could put that amount of work-pounded curvature into the face. The front, by the step, is like a little ski jump and the hardie hole is quite dished out around it. I really wish I could have it ground or milled perfectly flat again, but I'm pretty sure that's a really bad idea with this particular specimen. I doubt there's enough steel plate (maybe 1/4" to 3/8"?) to sustain that and it would have to be water-bath milling or grinding to avoid ruining the temper. Even then... I'm thinking the main section over the waist is wide enough (~6-7") and flat enough that it'll work fine for hammering stuff flat -- and top tools in the hardie should be fine. I'll make a custom set for this old girl that will nestle into her welcoming bosom. ;-) There's a very dished out depression next to the pritchel hole, which almost looks like it was ground out as a rounding spot, though I don't see any grinder marks. Literally could've been deformed that way over thousands of strikes with a ball peen... and it's kind of a neat little rounding "swage". The face, despite it's curvaceous undulations, is remarkably smooth. Curious to hear thoughts from folks who've used old curvy anvils on whether these curvy areas will be an issue or can they easily be lived with. My little 80 lb travel anvil is perfectly flat, if I really need something to sit 100% flat, I guess. Gotta figure out a spot to put it as a second anvil in my little 12'x12' smithy...
  7. Yanni Rockitz

    First anvil

    You can definitely use a gas forge inside a building -- even a small one -- just make sure there's good ventilation and you have REALLY good heat shielding and fire extinguishing capabilities. If you have power to the building, a good setup is to mount an exhaust fan high up in the wall above the forge and crack a window or door across from it so you get a cross draft that flows across the shop and carries the forge fumes out the fan.
  8. More receiver 'slots' / 'bays' - whatever just gives you more options on where you can align the various attachments, contact wheels, etc. You might have one that contacts the belt with a smaller wheel and needs to be in the top receiver 'bay', while another with a platen or large wheel pushes out more belt and so has to sit lower, etc. Each manufacturer has a different setup - most common has two, I think -- not sure, as I'm also pretty new to them, but that's the general idea.
  9. DangerDood: Curious to hear your feedback on this Ameribrade grinder after a year or so, now -- are you happy with it? Is it sufficiently powerful for the various tasks you need it to perform -- knife grinding, general grinding/sanding, etc.? Have you / would you change anything? I'm asking because I'm looking for a cost-effective 2x72, trying to identify the best bang for the buck. My house has 220 because it used to have electric heat, so I believe I could get a 220 circuit wired up in my garage / shop, but it would certainly be easier / cheaper if it ran on 110/120 out of the box with sufficient power. My little 1x30 just isn't good enough, of course... As I am gathering, the imperative behind the variable feed drive is to slow it down to reduce heat in certain situations, right? I'm sure the way longer belts also help there, and last longer and there's a greater variety of higher-quality belts available. I'm into bladesmithing, axes and general fab / blacksmithing, so this tool seems highly important to add to the the shop. Trying to figure out if I need a VFD and how many HP the motor should be etc. Anyones' thoughts / links to any supporting discussions are greatly appreciated -- I'm sure there are loads more in here that I haven't seen yet. I'm pretty sold on a 2x72 -- just want to identify a platform I can get the basic setup for at the best price/quality point to start, but which can be added onto later with the small diameter / fine radius wheel, other attachments, etc., as funding allows. Any info is appreciated!
  10. Wow - I come back a week later and the whole gang has chimed in. ;-) Good info all around! I didn't mean to hijack this thread -- just looking to do the same thing and there's obviously tons of experience here. I'm wondering if my explanation was maybe causing some false alarms... The "roof jack" (flashing boot that holds the stack to the metal roof panel) I originally got is a Dektite #7 "Hi-Temp" unit. They state that the 'boot' part that you cut to size to fit the pipe is made of 'high temp' orange (rubber? ...silicone?), but it's clearly not rated for what I would consider anything close to truly high temps -- only for continuous contact with 392F, which is not high enough at all for single-wall -- maybe not even for double-wall, though I suspect that may be okay. I doubt an open-air super sucker off a coal forge firepot would cause the flu to exceed 392 six feet up. I know I can hold my bare hand against the 6" double wall stainless on my house wood stove flu when it's running hot and that pipe's outside is only warm -- doesn't burn the hand. The only reason I got that roof jack with the orange rubbery boot was because it had the bendable aluminum strip that would form to the wobbly ('corrugated?') galvy roof panels on my building and I'd seen some others had used them and liked them. I (thought?) I was having trouble finding 12" stainless double-wall/insulated pipe sections to go up and out, but have since found them online. It's still easily $300 for the top two sections I'd need to go up and out the roof, so it will be a lot cheaper and easier to just replace a section of plywood wall with hardiboard or some other 'cement' non-combustible and go out the side, then up with single-wall. Maybe sandwich in some rockwool or other fireproof insulation like leftover kaowool between the two layers of cement board wall inside the frame with an air gap around the metal and go out the side above the forge. I am indeed thinking of a Hofi-style side draft with a 13"x13" duct (fabricated out of 3/16" sheet about 4' to a box end that has a collar to seat the 12" round single-wall stove pipe going straight up from there. I'd plan to space it at least 19" off the side of the building so it's well clear of the 18" to combustibles code. I know the sulfurs and weather will eat up that pipe in a few years, but to get up and running on a budget, this is many hundred$ cheaper than doing double-wall. the black pipe sticking up off the back with woods behind it should also be less conspicuous than having that orange thing on the roof with stainless. Knock on wood! I noticed the Hofi side draft is 13" square opening at the fire. Would a 1" lip around it (to reduce it to 11"x11") create more of a super sucker effect? I'm personally REALLY paranoid about fire safety, and the new smithy is out by the woods, so I'll probably only run the coal forge when it's wet and/or snowy -- which is a fair amount of the year here in Maine. Gas forge the rest of the time. We'll see how that goes. ;-)
  11. So what did you end up doing on this forge hood / flu thing? I'm installing one right now and keep going back and forth about whether to go out through the wall then up, or straight up. It's going to be a side-draft super-sucker, either way. I know straight up is the best draft, so I got a "High temp" Dektite #7 red silicone metal roof flashing / boot to put my 12" single-wall pipe straight up through the curvy/wobbly corrugated galvy metal roof panel, but then I realized my roof rafters are too close (24" total, so only like 6" either side) for code and I saw some guy's pics of one of those silicone boots in flames and realized I can't be sure it will definitely withstand the heat of a single-wall flu pipe coming up off the forge at full welding heats. I REALLY don't want to risk any kind of fire out there near the woods where I built the smithy. The Dektite red silicone is rated for 392F 'continuous' temp contact and I'm not sure the single-wall black flu pipe won't go higher than that ~7' above the fire. So yeah, I know -- "Use double wall insulated for the roof penetration", but that stuff is EX$PENSIVE! Like hundreds of dollars, at least. I've answered my own question: Much easier to just cut a big hole in the plywood side of the building, frame in sheet metal or hardiboard / cement board (some less costly non-combustible) then go out the side and up, keeping the standing stack 18" away from the side of the building, with some metal bracing to support it against the weather. That way, you don't xxxx with the roof and there's no sillycone risk. I've seen some designs for those that look good -- just have to fab up a 12.5" square 'duct' for the bottom to go out the wall. Angled face with a 10"x10" opening to create the 'suction' into the larger 12" pipe. Weld a collar on the outside hole for the round stove pipe to seat into, make sure it has a slight down-angle for rain to drain off to the outside -- good bracing to the side of the building, a custom rain cap a good 12" or higher above the top, a ~1/4" galvy critter screen / spark arrestor around the top -- "Bob's your uncle." (Maybe?) Anyone else done this? One example I saw in here had four of them coming out the back of his shop and said the draw was plenty strong.
  12. Dooodz - the Turbo Encabulator! HA-HAAAA! Haven't seen that one in years. I mostly agreed with what was stated, with the exception of the values he stated for the logarithmic bypass quotient. Clearly, his calculations failed to account for the encabulatory fibrillation caused by the fluxion generated when chrome plated knippling pins are incorporated into the design. A few tweaks to the inmolation intake settings on your defrundus valve will correct that. ;-)
  13. Reaper.IWP -- That's a heck of a story. Glad you're ALIVE, brother. ;-) As someone who has used track for an anvil, I'll tell you it works just fine. You probably know this, but the whole buzz about needing to have a hardened face on your anvil is a fairly modern phenomenon -- and kind of a fallacy. Most RR track is about 1085, as I understand it. If you use it right -- i.e., only lay HOT (thus soft, in its hot state) stock on it and only hit the stock with your hardened hammer -- never hit the face of the anvil with the hammer (bouncing lightly is okay) -- then the only thing that 'hits' your anvil is softened stock that deforms. As long as what you're forging is softer than the anvil, it works and holds up. All the old-school anvils for many many hundreds of years going back in history were "soft" wrought iron and the most amazing iron work ever done (think European cathedrals, castles, etc.) and the very highest level of mastery attained in sword making was done on 'soft' anvils. One good thing about softer-faced anvils is that they're easier to re-dress with grinders and flap wheels when they get beat up -- or just cut a quarter inch off and start fresh. You can always get a taller stump or block to mount it on, if your piece of track gets shorter. Personally, I think everyone should squirrel away their pennies for the really nice classic 'real' anvil purchase some day -- a secret coffee can they never tell anyone else about and NEVER touch until they have enough for their dream anvil one fine day -- and use a hunk'a RR track in vertical orientation like this in the mean time -- or any of the twenty other things Charles mentioned -- like big chunks of 2" plate or shop 'drops', or just go get the biggest sledge hammer you can find, remove the handle and mount the head in a carefully-carved out recess in a good hardwood stump -- works fine. Hearing your story, I want you to get your smithy built, man -- take your time, slowly re-acquire what you need -- DO it! ;-)
  14. I think THAT 'green' is the original color! There's significant debate out there about what the original factory color of the Champion blowers was -- no one seems to really know, definitively and all the old catalogs are black and white. My Champ 400 has a very faded-out blueish-green around some of the lettering and in the crevices -- 90% surface rust, but a teeny bit of what looks like this teal-green color in your pics. Can anyone confirm? Is that the ORIGINAL Champion / Lancaster factory color??? I'm asking because I'm going to resto mine back as close to original as possible and really wanted to get the original color identified.
  15. A reasonable price is the lowest price you can find one for in a reasonable amount of time. Online sellers are going to be twice (or more) what you'll find a decent / old, but functional Champion 400 blower for from a blacksmith's event. There are some smithing associations that have annual events where they do tailgate equipment sales for far less $$ than you'll find this stuff selling for online. I looked for the past couple years -- couldn't find anything under $400 -- almost always with issues and missing important pieces -- then I connected with another smith who had one he was willing to part with for $275 -- all original, 100% complete -- with the tripod post stand which is often missing -- and everything works -- gears in good shape, just the typical surface rust and worn wood handle (all restorable) -- so I gladly gave him the $275 he was asking. I'd suggest you do your best to connect with other blacksmiths in your area and find local events where they sell stuff -- probably going to be your best bet. In terms of cost / value perspective, these things sold between $28 and $35 back in 1905. Adjusting for inflation, that money today is between $800-$1100 USD -- so imagine that's what one would cost new -- take half off for the age and wear -- this suggests $400-$500 is 'reasonable', but you can do better. Most of the established guys who got their gear back in the day will be horrified at those prices, but a thing is "worth" what someone will pay for it and if people are paying those prices, you've got a challenge finding one for less. When you do eventually find one, inspect the gears first, if possible -- especially the bronze gear that interfaces with the spiral worm gear on the shaft -- that one wears quicker than the rest. You want good full, sharp teeth. Be reeeeally careful taking it apart, if you decide to clean it out and fix it up. "Blacksmith Joey van der Steeg" has a good video series (long, but worth it) on how to do a full restoration on one -- as does Hand Tool Rescue, but watch out for people who stop the gears from turning by putting a screwdriver through them -- the bronze gear can bend and then you've ruined a nice antique. Also -- no heavy grease in the gears or bearings -- light oil works fine. Good luck!
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