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I Forge Iron

My gasses is on its way!


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blew what was left of this months hobby budget on brass fittings. $80 (after tax) went into:
4 - 1/4 inch ball valves
4 - 1/4 inch Tee's
4 - 1/4 inch mpt to 1/4 inch compression fittings
8 - 1/4 x 1 1/2 pipe nipples

and I still need a needle valve, 0-30psi gauge, possibly a 90* comp fitting, insulation, shelf, and stabilizer. Using a kit manifold from Zoeller may have cost less...

If I can get the scanner to work I'll post my plumbing diagram. I just haven't messed with it since we moved last year.


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Tried tuning the burner today, I removed 1/8 inch from the end of one tip, then I removed 3/8 inch from the end of another tip. I ground the tip on the drill press then cleaned up the shape with a file while chucked in the press. I used a very small drill bit to remove any burs from the nozzle by hand. The first tip ran exactly like the full length tip. The shorter tip would blow out as I increased pressure. I also had a swirl of flame inside the intake. Here are some pics with the shortest .035 contact tip. I partially closed the garage door for shade just long enough to take them

I don't have a pressure gauge yet. This flame looks neutral or slightly lean to me. I think I have good aim down the pipe, but I may not be perfectly concentric from when I drilled the hole in the Tee.

Is this swirl of flame normal? Will getting a better flame holder help with what pressure I can run at (high and low)? Will the burner perform better in an enclosed forge? The swirl seemed to lessen after a few minutes of operation, but I only let it run for a few minutes.

The muffler mender was a bad idea, and I am glad I used it on only one burner.

Thank you



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Well, I tuned another burner today, and decided to aim it into a small brick pile to act as a forge. (4 hard firebrick and 6 red pavers) After the brick start to glow the burner settles down, becomes quieter and seems to produce more heat. I think it was running rich still. I trimmed about 1/4 inch off this contact tip. I'll try the one I trimmed 3/8 inch off in a brick pile (probably) tomorrow to see how it acts. I measure carefully with a micrometer, but used even fractions.

I even made a leaf key chain using 3/8 square that was the former leg to a chiminea stand. Took me over 30 minutes. So much for a "one heat" key chain. Was probably 20-30 heats, I stopped working when I couldn't see color. I was outside and it was mostly overcast. I am using a 16 oz ball peen hammer, the largest slip-jaw pliers I have, a set of channel locks, and a set of needle nose.

There was almost NO mill scale.

I'll post pictures later.


Edited by pkrankow
I used a micrometer..
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The flame looks pretty good.

The swirl is definately not a good thing. I can think of a ocuple possibilities.

#1. there is a leak between the jet and the fitting. The burner is inducing well enough to draw the leaking gas into the burner and it's apparently burning clean.

#2. There's a burr remaining in the jet and this is causing a little vortex (or something similar) of propane shooting off at enough of an angle it's hitting the inside of the "T" and riding the curve back to near the jet. Again the unit is inducing well enough to draw the gas in and burn it.

Those are the two things that jump out at me but it could be something else.

If the jet's leaking you may be able to cure it simply by tightening it a little more. If that doesn't work try making a gasket from aluminum foil, just a little washer that can be pinched between the jet and the fitting.

If it's a burr or cut left by the drill bit (My bet is an artefact from the drill bit) you may be able to cure it by cleaning it out again. This time use a torch tip cleaning file instead of a drill bit. The tip files leave any scratches longitudinally like you want, while a drill bit leaves spiral scratches like rifling. you do NOT want the gas coming out of the jet with a spin on it.

No scale in the forge means it's running a little rich. I like mine running a little lean for a couple reasons:

#1. Lean produces much less CO and so is safer.

#2. When I need a rich flame it's EASY to choke the intakes down a little with a bit of sticky tape on each side.

The little bit more scale my forge produces running a bit lean isn't a factor most of the time. Heck, it'll even weld easily enough if I take a little more care in prep.


Edited by Frosty
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I need to get a torch tip cleaning file, I don't have one yet. I was removing a burr that formed from metal being pushed in from the abrasive wheel and bastard file as I trimmed and shaped. Completely sealed the tip.

Here are some pics as promised.

My brick pile before it got good and hot, the as-forged leaf, and the leaf finished with 2 coats of white Crisco backed in the oven at 475F (dinner was at that temp) According to a friend who is a chef, for cast iron cookware, shortening builds a better black non-stick finish than oil because it is partially hydrolyzed. Figured I would see how it held up.







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I read an article on how to use torch tip cleaning files, and I think I created a chamfer on the business end of the orifice, a very big no-no, if not *THE A#1* no-no. The sharper the edge the better the separation of gas from the orifice. Basic fluid dynamics.

A set of files are less that $10 at a number of places, so I go shopping tomorrow! I guess I better check the change jar tonight.


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The easiest way to clean the mig tips is to run the file through from the inside.

Nice leaf. Did he tell you lard works better than veggy grease on cast iron? I've never tried either for finishing iron though. Hmmmmm.


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He never mentioned lard, but he knows I don't normally keep lard around.

The chamfer on the tip was barely visible with the naked eye. I made it removing the burr that formed on the outside while cleaning the tip with a drill bit. No spiral marks on the inside.

Took one of the contact tips and cut it back to 3/8 inch removed, filed it on the outside to shape and correct the length. Then I used the torch tip file to clean the inside. After a few passes I was very happy that the edge was clean.

The burner did not act nice in open air, and was hard to keep lit, but no swirl of flame. When I put it into my brick pile it acted very nicely. I think it was even putting out more heat than yesterday. The pile warmed up much quicker and reheat was also much quicker.

I tried to make a smaller leaf, and texture it using the flame cut end of a short piece of RR track. This took a lot fewer heats, maybe 10 or so. Took less than 30 minutes this time too. I like it enough that its going on my keys, but I'm not satisfied with it.

3 inch overall seems a good size as most of my keys are about that size.

Pics are as forged, no finish. I might not put a finish on it and see what happens.




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My burners don't work outside a forge either, I tune them for inside a forge. ;)

I trim my jets with a curoff wheel in my Dremel. I chuck the mig tip in a drill motor and run it in reverse. Then it's just a matter of gently bringing the two together at speed. It leaves a nice clean end and minimal bur.

Sorry if I didn't mention that earlier, I thought I had but . . .


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I do not recall you mentioning that they "don't work" outside of a forge. You did mention that they are tuned for use inside of a forge. I lack a Dremel, so I am using a 4 1/2 inch angle grinder with cutoff wheels. Every time I have cut a contact tip the hole is closed up most or all of the way, no matter how slowly I go. The mill file opens up the hole a little, but leaves a bunch of junk inside of it. Passing the torch tip cleaning tool is not very difficult. The first few tips I cut, I cleaned the hole, filed, then cleaned the hole again. I was also trying to get final dimensions with the grinder.

My drill press only goes forward, cheap HF job. Maybe I should try the hand drill in the vice? I think I need to unpack some moving boxes, because I know I have a mini die grinder somewhere, and that has some small, very thin cutoff wheels with it.

I was expecting the burner to focus heat in open air a little better for some reason. These are definitely not comparable to a rosebud torch, or even a plumbing torch, the heat is much more diffuse. I also noticed that in my brick pile, with the flame traveling along one brick, the hottest spot is a few inches from the flame holder, not right against it. Heat seemed to spread faster away from the burner, though eventually the brick was glowing right up to the burner.

Thanks for all the help so far Frosty.


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Come to think of it I haven't even tried lighting one of my burners outside a forge in a long time so I may be wrong and they may work outside. So to be accurate I should say I don't tune them to work well outside a forge. Or something like that.

Yes, I use an electric hand drill, my cheap Chinese press doesn't have a reverse either.

The maximum temp is right where the inner blue come ends just like any torch. And no, these are nothing like a rose bud but you don't have to buy oxy either. ;)

My pleasure.


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  • 3 weeks later...

I played in the garage tonight and lined my forge with kaowool and applied my home made fiber stabilizer. I made some 11th hour changes that I think will make it better. I made a back wall with a 4x4 inch opening that can easily closed with a brick or piece of stabilized wool. I put a cut cheap fire brick to act as a shelf support the length of the forge. I also closed in the front of the forge with sheet steel, and put an angle iron to support the large firebrick I have to still order.

I wet the wool with water using a paintbrush, mixed my clay to a stiff milkshake consistency, then spread with gloved hands. I aimed for about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.

I did not cut holes for burners yet. I figure the green clay and wool will cut easy enough in a few days using an old steak knife. I also stabilized some 3/8 inch peels of wool and wrapped them around paper tapers. I figured out where 12* that everyone states comes from too, developing a sheet form to roll!

Directions for sheet form, no pics sorry. Take large piece of paper, mark a point near a corner as center, draw an arc 12 inches in diameter and 18 inches in diameter from that center. Draw a straight line from that center through the arcs. Measure a chord line on the larger arc 4.7 inches long. Draw a line to that mark from the center through both arcs. The included angle is about 12*. Cut out this shape leaving one end long and roll into a conic section using the marks. Tape in shape. You now have a 1:12 conic section. Cut scrap paper about 6x6 inches, roll and stuff into conic section neatly to make it rigid. Remember it's only paper and deforms very easily.

Here's some pictures! The front after wool, the back after wool and the inside from the front after clay. Remember that a large firebrick will land inside soon.

My recipe is here on page 3





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  • 2 weeks later...

All my parts from Zoeller showed up! Hopefully I can get them installed this week. Those stainless burners are serious! They are 1/8 inch wall thickness and even though you can see the pipe weld, you can barely feel it. I am surprised by how little taper is in the flare. I can only tell they are tapered if I measure them or compare one to the other!

Straightforward service, very secure packaging with no product damage, I think his prices are reasonable. I would gladly do business with him again.

Canning pickled peppers today.


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You know you like it Frosty!
Here are some pics!
1) the Zoeller flares. Notice the wall thickness. They measure 1/8 inch thick.

2) manifold without last fitting in (much debated) idle circuit.

3) Forge floor installed. I cut the shell and lowered the floor by 1 1/2 inches, the thickness of this brick.

4) This is the back porch, I made a hook to keep the brick from sliding as I move the forge around. I made a similar bracket for the main shelf.

5) View from inside, notice the "zebra stripes" in my coating. Also notice that the "back porch" is higher than the main forge floor. I don't know if this is any advantage, but it does make it easy to completely close off the opening with some coated kaowool. Notice also the severe checking in the thick ceramic coating. As this comes apart I am recoating the wool with my reflector mix, which goes on much lighter and is more stable.

6) Preassembled manifold installed. I tweaked the copper tubes to the burners to make them more equal in length and shape before final assembly, but didn't take another pic. Note the idle circuit is completed with copper tubing.

7&8) start up, notice that the coated areas are showing red glowyness and the uncoated areas are not. This is after a minute or two of operation. The "brick" in the front is the plug for the back door getting cured on all sides.

9) Making steel hot! This is 1/2 inch square stock. It got to red heat in just about one minute at 6psi. I set my idle at about 3 psi which keeps the forge hot and incandescent. Then I had to shut down as my daughter woke up unhappy after half a nap. The forge didn't run long enough to get to full heat. It only ran about 15-20 min total.

My camera didn't pick up any image of the flame itself so I am wondering how better to capture this. There is not a whole lot of swirl as my burners enter rather perpendicular to the body.











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Looking pretty good so far.

To get a better pic of the flame action toss a little sawdust or charcoal dust in just as you snap the pic. Do this somewhere that will NOT catch fire!

If you want a pic of the dragon's breath catch it in silhouette against the evening sky before full dark.

Larry's flares are that thick to lengthen their life, they burn out eventually though I don' tknow how long they last now. When Ron was experimenting with flares he discovered SS didn't last much longer than mild steel unless it was pretty thick.

Better luck with the daughter next time. . . Well, good luck for all time.


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Well, I fired for almost 1.5 hours today. I tried making another set of tongs, and decided to try forge welding. I "cranked it up to 11" and that was all I got. 11psi. my regulator is supposed to go to 60 psi. Would chilling on a 20# tank, fresh from exchange so 15# propane in it, cause my pressure to not get higher, or is this cheap regulator more likely my problem? I think 11psi may be enough to weld, so more may not be necessary. I did not do a static pressure test.


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  • 4 months later...

Well, I have learned a lot about gas forges. I decided to build a smaller forge out of some leftover 6 inch stove pipe, inside being 4 1/2 wide by about 3 inches tall and 8 inches long. Mailbox design, a stove brick for a floor, 2 inches of wool on top, 1 inch on ends and under brick. Almost all the material came out of one 24 inch section of stove pipe. With a little better planning it would have been possible to get all the material out of one piece of pipe. I am reusing the valves, burners, burner holders, and wool insulation.

My chief complaints were:
too much fuel used per session
too long heat time required for high heating and welding attempts.
Attaching the forge to a cart may be convenient if it needs to be moved for cleaning, but is not helpful if the forge has to travel over 20 feet of gravel driveway every time it is used. Being attached to the cart also increases the difficulty in application of coatings.

Things that I learned:

Frosty's burner design is reliable and simple, but has problems in a breeze when working out of doors.
Small work needs a small forge
learning is all about small work (at least for me right now)
2 burner forges suck up a lot of fuel
heating more than 6 inches of material is not very helpful as working that much is difficult
Idle circuits are better on paper than in practice.
Having more than one iron in the fire works better in practice than idle circuits.
Running your forge too hot is a waste of fuel
Having a forge not hot enough is a larger waste of fuel.

***Wear a mask, rubber gloves and long sleeves***
Ceramic wool is nasty when installed, and 10x as nasty when removed to be reused
***Wear a mask, rubber gloves, and long sleeves***

Pop rivets (steel) are nice and effective for fastening a sheet metal body together.
Self drilling sheet metal screws are a lot easier to use than pop rivets.

Expected future problems:
This small of a forge may be difficult for scroll work, but I suppose I can open a slot in the side and make it a "shepherd's crook" forge.

No pics at this time. I'll take some when I fire the new forge.


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