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Ragnarok

Looking for good coal in wales

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Hey all,

Haven't posted here in awhile...

I'm after some advise on coal, whats the best stuff to get? I've been trying to do some forge welding, and i just can't get it to work.. I've been using borax that i dried in the oven for a couple of hours, it does get a glossy look, but i can't get the cave type of fire every one talks about, the only coal i can find is what the guy called "soft coal" looks right and seems to coke (it goes porous and the forge pretty much stops smoking) but it's pretty big lumps, the coal merchant had no idea what i was talking about when i asked for bituminous coal, or forging coal, or blacksmiths coal.....

any advice on finding good coal for forge welding would be much appreciated, I'm starting to think about making a gas forge....

Thanks a lot everyone,
Rune.

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North or South Wales? There are a couple of suppliers for Monkton Forge Coke around the South Wales area, or contact Hereford College for their supplier.
Or try Rudrums at Bristol or Mobbs in the Midlands

Alternatively break your existing coal down in size, and try to get someone else nearby to show you how to control the fire.

You should be able to weld with your existing stuff, Just try to see if you can burn a piece away. If you can, then you can forge weld with it.

Edited by John B
Extra info

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South west wales don't mind going 50+ miles to get it if there's some where that sells it in 25-50kg bags or something, the only problem i had was the large size of the lumps made it hard to make a cave in the middle of the fire, should you be able to take the piece in and out with out it pushing past the coals? people say you have to make a "cave" and an entrance to it... first time using coal, only used charcoal before and I've never done forge welding, I'm sure I'll get it next time, or the time after, or something ahaha.
I'd like to get some good forging grade coal/coke though in beans not big lumps.

Thanks for the reply,
Rune

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After soooo many years of watching BBC programs I could have sworn Wales was one giant colliery, everyone was a coal miner called David Jones and there were piles of coal on every street corner. And here you are having trouble locating coal. Good luck with the hunt.

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haha I can find coal.. just not the right type.. and only in big lumps, no one seems to have anything but anthracite in finer sizes and from what I've heard anthracite is no good for forging.. the coal I did get doesn't the blue flame just goes whiteish I did get a forge weld with it last night after smashing it in to little pieces. it amazing the ammount of heat you can get from coal compared to charcoal, I couldn't get welding heat in my side blast forge with charcoal, if you pumped it hard enough to get a yellow heat the charcoal just went flying out ahaha

Edited by Ragnarok

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If its in big pieces then its fairly easy to break it up as it cokes. A quick hit with the poker will cause it to crumble. However, after saying that I wouldn't like to try that with 6" bits of coal :)

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I know the feeling oh so well, Ragnarok, I've got one of the biggest load of brown coal in the southern hemisphere sitting right under me. Brown coal = anthracite. Bugger.
I make home grown charcoal!

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rmcpb, yeah I've been having a go at that when I put the forge out last night, I dumped a huge load of fresh coal in and blew it hard for awhile hopefully it'll have a big pile of coked up chunks in there now :) think I just have to mess about with the fire for a bit and get used to the coal :)

Mick, yeah seems very easy to get anthracite in any size you like, but not bituminus but oh well, have to take what we can get I guess.

however
John B, if you could give me a name and contact number for a supplier of blacksmiths coke in sounth wales it'd be much apreciated :)

thanks all
Rune

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haha I can find coal.. just not the right type.. and only in big lumps, no one seems to have anything but anthracite in finer sizes and from what I've heard anthracite is no good for forging..

Did you try any? I've read/heard bad things about using anthracite too but also a few good ones. Thinking about it most of the complaints about anthracite (difficult to light, needs a constant blast to keep lit, doesn't coke up like bituminous coal) sound just like smithing/metallurgical coke so I wonder just how it really compares. I plan to try some at some point but that probably means buying a 25Kg sack.

the coal I did get doesn't the blue flame just goes whiteish I did get a forge weld with it last night after smashing it in to little pieces.

There you go then... when I used charcoal the only stuff I could get was the rubbish imported barbeque lumpwood and that came in all sorts of sizes up to fist sized. It's well worth your while spending that extra bit of time breaking it to a useful size.

I couldn't get welding heat in my side blast forge with charcoal, if you pumped it hard enough to get a yellow heat the charcoal just went flying out ahaha

How deep was your charcoal fire? You typically need around double the depth as with coal. That was one of my biggest stumbling blocks when I first started.

The 'cave' fire is, as far as I can tell, only possible with bituminous coal; as the tar melts out of the 'green' coal as it cokes the coal basically sticks together. Coal hasn't been sold in smithing grade in the UK for many years largely due to the various Clean Air Acts. 'House' coal (as one might find sold on garage forecourts and in all manner of shops half the year round) is bituminous but it's not guaranteed to be of a quality suitible for smithing, and is likely to be in so large pieces you need to break it up anyway. The standard solid fuel for British smiths is 'smithing coke' or 'coke beans' which comes in 'bean' size (between a hazel nut and a brazil nut).

I'm no expert on any kind of welding and certiainly not forge welding. However as I'm sure others here will tell you the 'cave' fire is not required or even neccesarily desireable for forge welding.

Out of interest where exactly in SW Wales are you from? My grandad and his family are from Llangenny near Crickhowell and Crug Hwyll so I've been around a lot of the little country that would be bigger than England if it were flattened out ;).

One last thing are you planning on coming to the Guild event at Westpoint next month? It'd be good to meet you.

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thanks for all the info, very useful, I really wanted blacksmith coal but I did realize that would be really hard to get, coke would be fine, what I got so far is house hold coal and it's in about 2-3" lumps, I was thinking about joining the blacksmiths guild and posably coming to the event too if I can make some time, sounds interesting.
I live in pembrokeshire near cardigan.
as for the charcoal forging I used free charcoal that I got from a local charcoal maker, and it was in small lumps probably part or the problem, how ever the coal mercent I got this house hold coal from seems cheap at

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