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Over the time I have been visiting this forge I have seen a lot of people come through and ask about all sorts of designs of forges. Most of the people posting such threads are actually new to using a gas forge and often new to smithing. I have advised many of these newer smiths to first build a brick pile forge, use that a while and then go to something more serious once you figure out how big you will need. So now I wanted to make a definitive post as a guide for these people. The forge will have an internal size of 9" x 4.5" x 6.5", or 263 cubic inches. It is, however, easily reconfigured to be smaller, shorter, wider or whatever you need for your particular tasks in the shop. That is the beauty of a brick pile forge, it can be reconfigured at will and allows the smith to see what size they need in the end. This forge is not the end all-be-all of smithing forges. It is a starter forge and as you work with it, you will learn a ton about how forges work and will grow into more efficient systems. The brick pile forge is so versatile that occasionally I will toss one together just to do some specific task that doesn't work well in my main forge. Forge Materials: About 10 to 15 Soft insulating bricks, rated 2300 degrees farenheit. 3 Hard firebricks. Metal Table Burner Materials:1" to ¾" Black Iron T fitting (1" across the top and 3/4" on the leg of the T) ¾" to to 1" Black Iron reducer ¾" x 6" Black Iron Pipe Nipple High Pressure Propane Regulator Propane Pressure Gage ¼" Propane Rated hose with Fuel Threaded ends (available at welding supply stores) ¼" Propane Rated Flashback Supressor (available at welding supply stores) ¼" Fuel to normal pipe thread converter (available at welding supply stores) ¼" Ball Valve ¼" Brass Pipe Nipple (4") ¼" Brass pipe Nippel (smallest) ¼" Brass Pipe Straight Connector ¼" Brass Pipe to 1/8" Copper Compression Fitting (2) ⅛" Brass Pipe Compression nuts 24" flexible copper pipe ⅛" Compression to normal pipe Nipple .025 MIG Tip Propane rated thread sealant. Tools (Basic):Copper Compression Hose Flare Fitting Tap for your MIG tip thread (varies by the tip brand) Tap for ⅛" pipe thread Couple of Crescent Wrenches Drill 2" Hole Saw Hacksaw Reducer for ¾" to drill bit size for the tap. Plumber's torch with click starter Tools (Best): Drill Press rather than drill Dremmel with Cut-off wheel Propane Supply Assembly First tap the 1/8" compression to normal pipe nipple with the tap for your MIG tip. The right tap to use depends on the tip brand that you are using. If you ask a welding supply store they can supply you (or at lest tell you) the right size. Then cut about ⅛" off of your MIG tip and put propane sealant on the threads and screw it into the tapped fitting securely. Next attach the copper flexible hose to the compression fitting by putting on the compression nut and then flaring the tubing and finally screwing the compression nut on the fitting you tapped. The goal of the flexible copper tip is to get a good nice gas tight seal without constraining yourself with rigid pipe. Next put the compression nut on the other side of the tubing and flare that. Take the ¼" pipe to compression fitting and attach the other end of the flexible copper tubing to this fitting. Then attach the converter fitting to a small pipe nipple then to the straight connector and then to the longer pipe nipple. The extra parts make this assembly easy to use on other burners and other projects in the future. Finally attach the 4" brass pipe nipple to the ball valve, then attach the ball valve to the fuel to pipe thread converter. use propane sealant on all threaded connections. Fuel hoses are backward threaded. You learn "Righty tighty, lefty loosey" to understand normal threads. Fuel threads are the reverse of that and this is a safety feature that you don't want to violate. The converter changes the normal pipe thread into fuel threading. This should be screwed right into a propane rated flashback suppressor. This device will keep a flashback from reaching your bottle if something should go badly wrong. You can potentially skip this device but when it comes to exploding propane bottles, I prefer to play it safe. Attach the flashback suppressor to your propane fuel hose and then the other end of the fuel hose to the regulator. Screw the pressure gage on the regulator and you have the jet assembly done. Again remember to use propane sealant on all threads, if you didn't, go back and take it apart and do it right. Burner The burner is a standard "Frosty" T burner so named after the forum user Frosty who created it and has a propensity for wrestling large trees. To tap the back of the T, get a reducer that will screw into the ¾" side part and reduce it to just barely the size of the drill bit you will use for the pipe thread tap. If it is smaller, that is fine, if larger that isn't optimal. This reducer will serve as a guide to the drill to position the jet exactly in the middle of the T leg. Drill out the burner and then tap it for the ⅛" pipe that the MIG tip is attached to. Next attach the black iron pipe nipple and the ¾" to 1" reducer to act as a flare. If you don't know how to drill and tap, then you should probably research that and practice before embarking on this project. Now screw the burner jet into the burner and then test the burner. Testing the Burner Check for leaks using dishwashing fluid mixed with water or, even better, child's bubble solution. If you see bubbles that is a leak. Twist it tighter, make sure you have a good amount of propane sealant and so on. Light the burner with a plumber's torch (this is the safest way to light your forge). Another great trick for checking leaks is a cheap medicine syringe used for children. Fill it with bubble fluid and squirt on your junctions. Note that while I am testing my son is sitting there with his hand on the bottle valve and watching what is going on. His job is simple, if something goes bad, he cuts the propane at the bottle. Forge When we say brick pile, we aren't kidding, its literally a pile of bricks on the table. Use a metal table and you can fabricate one if need be. Mine is fabricated to hold forges. Start with three bricks in the center of the table configured as shown Add a hard firebrick in the middle. This will heat up in the forge and serve to regulate the forge temperature. Make sure the brick is at least the width of one brick from front, back and sides. Next add vertical bricks to the side of the hard brick. Now we test out the roof bricks. We want to make sure that we have the right width. Now we add some hard bricks to the side to support the vertical bricks from falling. We also set up a couple of bricks to serve as the back door. Now we have to drill out one brick for the flare. These bricks are very soft so be careful or you will shatter them. We use a hole saw to drill the brick. Put plywood under the brick to support it and make sure you can drill all the way through without hitting the table. When you drill, go very slow and steady. Don't press hard or the brick will shatter. Now we place the flare brick on top of the pile, stick the flare through and clamp up a support for the burner. The bricks won't be strong enough to support it. Now we seal up the roof using a brick on edge to serve to give a roof over our front door bricks. Finally turn on the burner to about 5psi and open the ball valve while the plumber's torch is in the forge and enjoy the glow. Enhancements: The bricks can be coated with ITC-100 wherever they are exposed to heat. This will make the forge hold a lot more heat. You can also make a quick form the size of a brick and pour half an inch of castable over the brick (like Kastolyte 30) and then coat that with ITC-100. Make sure the first time you fire the castable you go slow. This will allow a much hotter face. You can put in blown burners, change the configuration and a dozen other enhancements. Comments and questions are welcome.
I was going to amend another thread but I simply couldn't find it soooo I built this forge a couple years ago or 3 and I guessed then it would weld but never really tried til today. The pic shows the burner with a diferent T but I found I didn't need so much air so I went with a same-size T. Yeah I know 1" is overkill but I wanted to ensure it would weld. The billet started with 17 pieces of banding and 17 pieces of band saw. I still need to draw it out but ran out of time (and steam ;) ) did some other forging prior to the billet and first forging I've done for some time. My arm and related muscle groups are going to be sore tomorrow LOL Scott Edit: I rotated the last pic in my files every direction and it still won't post right. Mods; any help here?
It's been a LONG time coming, but I finally scraped together enough time to make my forge and the cart for it! Please ignore most of the Sharpie markings, this was a huge learning process for me lol. The last image is a link to a video of it running; it's not great quality but I thought it was still pretty cool :) I'll try to take a better video next time! Link to the video (the forum wouldn't let me post it directly) If there are any improvements you can see, I would love to hear feedback! :)