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I`m looking at building a backyard power hammer and have pretty much narrowed it myself to either a tire hammer or a pneumatic.I was leaning toward a tire hammer because of the straight forward mechanical appeal and ease of fabrication,also so I wouldn`t have to move my compressor outside so I don`t have to hear it run constantly.Up till now the only power hammer I have experience with is a LG and that may have swayed my thinking toward the tire hammer.
The more I look at air hammers the more adaptable they seem.I have some experience with pneumatics(air logic systems on draw benches and extrusion presses over 15 years ago)and after cruising thru posts here it appears things are becoming much less involved in the controls and hardware for these hammers.

I`d like to hear opinions from long time owners as to pros and cons of both types and why you chose to go the route you did.Guidance from folks who have owned/run both types would be a BIG plus.

Thanks.

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I`m looking at building a backyard power hammer and have pretty much narrowed it myself to either a tire hammer or a pneumatic.I was leaning toward a tire hammer because of the straight forward mechanical appeal and ease of fabrication,also so I wouldn`t have to move my compressor outside so I don`t have to hear it run constantly.Up till now the only power hammer I have experience with is a LG and that may have swayed my thinking toward the tire hammer.
The more I look at air hammers the more adaptable they seem.I have some experience with pneumatics(air logic systems on draw benches and extrusion presses over 15 years ago)and after cruising thru posts here it appears things are becoming much less involved in the controls and hardware for these hammers.

I`d like to hear opinions from long time owners as to pros and cons of both types and why you chose to go the route you did.Guidance from folks who have owned/run both types would be a BIG plus.

Thanks.


Me? I'm a total air devotee. Go air if you've a big enough compressor. The way I see it is your gonna need a good anvil and tup +guide system for either type of PH. With an air hammer essentially all you then need is a sutiable cylinder, valves and plumbing .... less moving parts and things to go wrong than a mechanical. If you want to build a junk yard hammer it's probably not much of an advantage but the "air" side of things are readily available off the shelf; less time rummaging round junk yards.

Other advantages are more control (with appropriate valving) and wider range of height to get tooling under. Use a 300mm cylinder, doesn't cost much more than a 250mm and make the height of the pilot valve adjustable. See my thread on improved control for Kinyons for a few other tips learned through 10 years of experience tinkering with a Kinyon. Disadvantages: exhaust air noise and higher power consumption.

Bear in mind I've never run a mechanical and I'm very biased (and opionated)

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Thanks for the info YD.Actually it was your posts that got me thinking about an air hammer.I`ve got a lot of your info bookmarked.

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Thanks for the info YD.Actually it was your posts that got me thinking about an air hammer.I`ve got a lot of your info bookmarked.



Bob

feel free to pm me if needed

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Its hard to say what is right for you, it depends on the type of work you will be using it for and how much you pan on buying new and how much scrounging you plan on doing. Here are some pros and cons of both types of hammer.

I have only run a tire hammer at quad state for a few minutes but I was quite impressed with the control, I had assumed that there would be less control with the tire hammer than an air hammer but it seemed to be as good or even slightly better for light blows. If you don't have a minimum 5 hp air compressor you will be able to work with more irons in the fire with a tire hammer and the tire hammer is certainly more energy efficient. You can buy plans for the tire hammer that give complete drawings so you are not doing any design on the fly.

However if you plan on using a lot of top tooling the air hammer has all the advantages Youngdylan mentioned above. Energy costs to run either hammer is only pennies per hour so the energy efficiency is not that big a deal. If you use John Larsons control modification you can have the ram always return to the top of the stroke between heats. A friend of mine just bought a 75lb Kinyon style hammer then a couple of weeks later he bought the entire contents of another blacksmith who was getting out of smithing, he ended up with a new tire hammer that the other smith had built at one of the Clay Spencer courses. He feels that the Kinyon hammer hits quite noticably harder than the tire hammer.

Maybe you can see if there are smiths in you area who have built hammers and you can try then out. I think Ralph Sproul has run some air hammer workshops for the New England Blacksmith group so there must be some of them around. The New England school of metalwork has run some tire hammer courses so there must be some of them around you as well.

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LGs and their clones seem to be the favored hammers up here.That`s most of what was used by past industry(quarrys,shipyards,etc)and as a result that`s what most folks seem to look toward.
Smith`s up here are just about like anyone else in New England,they keep to themselves unless you approach them and then,once accepted,they can`t do enough to help you.The folks I`ve met within driving distance I met only because I stumbled across their caves and they invited me in once they saw me poking around outside.
Funny dynamic up here,almost like some kind of territorial dance.You recognize another metalworker,then circle each other waiting for the first word/move to be made.Once the opening move`s made then there`s a flurry or activity while you both take each other`s measure and decide how/if you want to proceed.Once you`ve puffed up and scratched the ground enough to impress each other then acceptance is either offered or denied.
Once a bond is formed then a clan mentality seems to take over and new faces are usually discussed in depth and consensus reached before any messages or invitations are sent.

I don`t really get it and it seems to have it`s origins in the "holding the cards close to the vest" approach to trade secrets that were common in the trades during the early 1900`s.
I tend to be a rebel and favor the open book approach to everything I know so some up here consider me a loose cannon who will readily share all their secrets if they are crazy enough to spill them to me.They`re correct of course.
Be forewarned ladies and gentlemen!If you share things with me I will do my best to pass it on to everyone I can(and some who could care less but pretend to listen anyway).

Thus ends my rather wordy way of saying it`s tough to get in touch with other metal folk up here.The odd metalworker may show up among the WWing crowd and most belong to ABANA or a similar organization but no formal groups that I know of here is Maine.
Maybe if I drove the 4 hours to Boston,but then I`d have to put up with all those "Main-ah" jokes.Like THEY talk normal. :rolleyes:

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Bob- If I were you I'd track down the owner of that rusting busted old hulk of a Fairbanks off of 27 in Edgecomb and make a fair offer, then fab an air cylinder onto it. IIRC (it's been a few years since I drove past there) it's a C or a D, +/- 100lbs missing some parts and would take a LOT of work to run as a mechanical again. Failing that I'll second JNewman and strongly recommend getting in touch with Ralph over in NH, he's got a darn good hammer design and is more than willing to share his knowledge.

At least over here in Vermont I see more Fairbanks (DuPonts) and Champions than I do Little Giants, LGs are tied for third with Beaudreys. All are fairly thin on the ground, I've had my hammers shipped in from points south. As for local groups and inclusion, I couldn't say enough good things about NEB, I highly recommend joining if you haven't already. I haven't noticed the standoffishness that you mentioned, thou I've heard that there was some of that in the 70's and 80's. VT might be different than ME, and I'm a native so I might pick up different cultural signals than someone who's not. Yankees can indeed be curt and prickly at times. Anyway I've heard that there is an informal group that meets in Portland every now and then, the NEB Director from Maine should be able to hook you up. Hope this helps.

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That would be Mr Brown from Iron and Lace.He has a smaller PH inside the shop where that Fairbanks is rusting away.Can`t remember the whole story but that hammer was rode hard and put up wet.He bought it,had it delivered and then found out it was broken in so many places that he felt it was beyond repair.Sad really,Can`t do much with it and he has too much in it to let it go for scrap,so it sits and rusts.
Heck of a nice guy though.
I sort of worked with him on that large sun dial that sits up on the Boothbay commons.Chetley Rittal sold the town on the idea and then got local metal heads to do the work.If I remember correctly Mike Tommaselli rolled the rings,I sectioned that anchor and fit the rings and base to it.Doug Harley cast the bronze Roman numerals and Brown(I want to say his name is Peter but not sure)made the harpoon shaped center piece.We sure miss Chet,he was one of a kind.

Thanks Judson, for all the info.If it`s OK with you I`ll PM you with further questions.
Had you heard about the LGs in that quarry on Deer Isle?supposedly there are a few of them just waiting for someone with cash and a boat.

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Here is my opinion for what its worth.
The air hammer is easier to build. The mechanichal hammer is still worth building though. When you build a mechanical hammer yourself, you can repair it yourself. With the air hammer, there are a few components which must be purchased. Based on your skill level, Bob, I would asume that if you were to build a mechanical hammer, it would seldom, if ever need repair. Freinds who have built air hammers long ago have had trouble finding replacement components as models change.

As to the hammers themselves, some say that the air hammer has more room for tooling. I question that. When I built my hammer, I used spacer blocks under the bottom anvil die, 2 @1.5" each. Additionaly, my pitman arm is a 1" marine turnbuckle off an 80' dragger. I have plenty of stroke and throw adjustment, in fact, properly adjusted, my hammer will strike tooling full stroke, compared to the air hammer which only uses partial stroke over tall tooling. Of course, I didn't build a tire hammer, but rather a spring-helve hammer, with a flat belt clutch, run off a flywheel jackshaft, which I think is not just easier to build than a tire hammer, built offers better response and controll as well.

Finaly, the mechanical hammer is much more energy efficient. A large air hammer requires one or more large air compressors, and even those who have multiple air pumps sometimes run out of air on really big jobs, which, as you know are the most important ones. My 75#, 220 BPM hammer runs fine on 2HP @220 volts. for an equivelent air hammer, one would need at least 5hp.

If you want to make your way down to Mass, you are welcome to try my hammer.

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Bob

One disdavantage of building an air hammer I forgot to mentioned is the costs of the parts. Good quality air stuff isn't cheap. It's designed with production lines etc in mind. It can't fail .... too expensive if it did. You occassionally see some of this kit on ebay but not that often.

Over here you're probably looking from stockists at £100-£150 cylinder (pounds UK) £40-60 for the pilot £75-150 for the main valve (go big, it's worth it) £50 -75 for the filter (regulator) lubricator and depending on how it's done, £25-75 for the plumbing. Arftist said parts become obsolete, I'm not sure about that at all, there is a class of components called VDMA (not a brand) which use industry standard dimensions/spec and are more or less interchangable across brands. They are meant for production engineering after all. ANY delays in replacing them are utterly intolerable. That said there may be some older more obscure stock lurking out there

I think I said in one of my posts make sure it can BREATHE

If you can get the ear of John Larson he's the man for Kinyon based hammers

Having said they don't fail, one point to watch is where the rod connects to the tup. If you do much cold work this can snap.

Air hammers rockbiggrin.gif

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Here is my opinion for what its worth.
in fact, properly adjusted, my hammer will strike tooling full stroke, compared to the air hammer which only uses partial stroke over tall tooling.



Arftist

This is probably right if you're only using a 250mm stroke cylinder. I always recommend going for at least a 300mm stroke for the little additional cost. If you make the pilot height easily adjustable you can always get full strokes for most height tooling.

My Kinyon actually uses a 400mm stroke for this reason and because I've rigged up a circuit where I can use it as a single blow "treadle". The more the tup travels and picks up speed the faster it hits.

I guess air v mechanical is always gonna polarize opinion. I've only ever built or used air ........ and I'm very biasedbiggrin.gif Air hammers rock

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ok for you air hammer guys what cyclic rate are you getting with your air hammer ? cause the one i built was too slow ... cyclic rates in the 120 range ... my current trip hammer is closer to 400 ... one reason to run mecanical versus air in my opinion...

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Bob, I was in the same predictament over a year ago, thinking about building one or the other, so I took a trip up to see James Johnson with Anyang just to get some ideas. After running the Anyang for a while, I did some quick figuring and thought I might be better off buying one of them, so I came home with a 33. For once I made a decision I have not regretted. I have turned out a lot of product since then, rather than spending my time making a hammer and have had zero down time for repairs. Just my thoughts.
Thanks, Bob Howard

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ok for you air hammer guys what cyclic rate are you getting with your air hammer ? cause the one i built was too slow ... cyclic rates in the 120 range ... my current trip hammer is closer to 400 ... one reason to run mecanical versus air in my opinion...



120?

too small a main valve? too small a cylinder? too restricted air lines? too little psi?too small a compressor to keep up with the cfm required? watch John Larson's video to see how fast Kinyon style air hammers can run. Will post a video on you tube of mine when worked out how and you can get your stop watch out.


400???????????????????????????????which hammer is this 400???????????

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120?

too small a main valve? too small a cylinder? too restricted air lines? too little psi?too small a compressor to keep up with the cfm required? watch John Larson's video to see how fast Kinyon style air hammers can run. Will post a video on you tube of mine when worked out how and you can get your stop watch out.


400???????????????????????????????which hammer is this 400???????????

it was probably a combination of valveing and compressor (useing at the time a 5 hp 20 gal tank compressor ) as far as the current hammer its a finigan and mcgowan perfect power hammer. its over 100 years old and does a good job at drawing out ... also runs on a 1 hp electric motor...

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Small mechanical hammers often ran in the 400 BPM range, and for drawing material hard and fast there is nothing better. My impression has been that mechanical hammers have a slightly steeper learning curve, its harder to get the feel for the hammer, and develop the proper 'touch' to get the best results out of the hammer however well behaved someone tells you the hammer is... The utility or self-contained hammers I have used were much easier to get a feel for, and get what I wanted out of. They didn't hit as hard as a mechanical of a comparable size, or as fast, but I could handle them without the hammer eating my lunch;-) I prefer to use tooling under an air hammer.

Christian
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free time, is that like disposable income??? ;-)

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As I freely admit I'm biased to air hammers but kinda curious why no-one makes mechanicals if they're "better" than air? There's plenty of small self contained to be had new (Anyang, Sahinler, Say Mak, Striker). Can it really be cost? Both these and mechanicals have an anvil, tup, guide system, flywheel, motor (bigger and more expensive for air), speed reduction and frame. Essentially (re cost) that leaves a linkage/clutch system versus 2 pistons, rings, conrod (+boring out 2 large cylinders) and valving .... must be similar in cost?

There's been no new mechanicals (that I know of) made for decades. If they're of a similar cost and "better" surely market forces would mean someone would be making them? No-one is..... doesn't that say something?

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Mechanical hammers are cost prohibative to manufacture. The foundry business isn't what it was 150 years ago ! As for new mechanical hammers there is the Indian made Rattan hammer. Kind of a funky version of a Bradley upright, in 80,120 and 280 # sizes as I recall. I just doubt anyone would pay new machine prices for an old fashioned iron banger, but hey, somebody must be buying those $900 Buffalo blowers that Centaur is selling.....

Different hammers are good at different kinds of forging. Mechanical hammers aren't necesarily better than air but do have some advantages. There are advantages to air as well. In fact even old gravity helve hammers had enough jobs they did well that they saw use well into the 20th century! The big advantages of mechanical hammers over air are primarily the power consumption and speed at which they run. I recall Bill Peih trying to convince me that a Kuhn air hammer (150#) was more efficent than my 100# Bradley. Both hit about equally hard though my bradley runs about 350 BPM and the Kuhn about 150. The Kuhn used a 15 HP motor and the Bradley is overpowered with a 5HP( a 3 would work)In breaking down damascus, or drawing long tapers I would not trade. For punching, splitting, or any kind of tool work the air hammer would deffinately win. Air hammers tend to be a bit slow in my opinion, I really hate to have to do any kind of production work on one if it is any were near its capacity. The absolute best hammers I have ever used though were steam hammers. They can do anything but the trade off is they suck a lot of air. The power consumption on a steam hammer tends to be astronomical. And yes the Kinnyon hammers are in fact steam hammers. I have yet to run a home brew that runs anywhere near fast enough though. 300# Chambersburg with 120 hp of compressor behind it has to be the absolute most awsome hammer I have run. Not very cost effective, efficent, ect, but xxxx it was a fun hammer!

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on new mechanicals the reason there arnt any manafactures is because there are so many old ones around at much lower than new manafactureing price .another reason has to do with liabality ... air hammers wernt as common because of macheing costs and tolorancesso not as many around.. and the ones that are around are in the larger range(200-300lbs hammer weight) also like air there are people building theyre own (and always have been!) if a air hammer is setup right they can be real controlable ... but the home made ones ive seen and used dont compare to the self contained ones ! in my opinion if your going to build a hammer to do work and its your only hammer i would go with the one that will be able to draw out the most metal for your time . That is generally going to be a mechanical ..if you want something that does everything ide save up and buy a self contained (anyang ect).

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And yes the Kinnyon hammers are in fact steam hammers. I have yet to run a home brew that runs anywhere near fast enough though. 300# Chambersburg with 120 hp of compressor behind it has to be the absolute most awsome hammer I have run. Not very cost effective, efficent, ect, but xxxx it was a fun hammer!


Jason, thanks for the input. I'm not up on steams but I'm pretty sure Grant Sarver (nakedanvil) describes Kinyons as essentially similar in principle to steams and I can see why. John N (Massey UK) has also said that the best wallop comes from external air (steam) hammers. I'd pretty much stake my house on what these guys say re air hammers ...... sooooo I guess the real question is why can (not do) home brewed Kinyons run slow. ..... I've never used a big BLU but i have their video on power hammer techniques and yeah I've gotta say it does seem to run slow and lack wallop, might be wrong.

My first version did but I'd no reference to compare it to for a few years until I had a go on a "proper" self contained. After this I started to look at it in detail. As standard it simply doesn't BREATHE (any engine tuners know the importance of gas flowing). Many reasons but from my limited tinkering the main reasons are

1. The ports on the cylinders are way too small for the air flow of these hammers. I drill and tap mine out to the next size
2. Some people use way too small a main valve, same argument about air flow. Can't "bore" them out, you have to bite the bullet. BUY A BIG ONE ..... they're not cheap.
3. The main valve is too far from the cylinder. If thin air lines are used this cause a big pressure differntial acrosss the line.
4. Similarly, people use way too long a airline to the exhaust valve. Since the pressure in this line is at a much lower pressure (varies from say 125 psi to atmospheric along its length) and flowing the same amount of air as went into the cylinder, it's so important it's not restricted. (I think this is the same reason the scavage bore in my Triumph sickle oil pump is much bigger than the supply bore). A good analogy with air cicuits is high current electricity flowing across a small resitance can drop a lot of volts.

Take account of the above when doing a Kinyon and it makes a big difference

I don't know what valving arrangement John Larson uses on his ironkiss hammers but they've got a pretty good reputation amongst the more respected in the professional user community. His recent videos seem to show them running pretty fast as well. I'd love to hear his thoughts on airflow, valving etc ...... you listening John?

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Mechanical hammers are cost prohibative to manufacture. The foundry business isn't what it was 150 years ago !



Does this mean bang for buck, air hammers are "better". I use "better" in quotes because I'm well aware there's so many variables to consider what makes a "better" hammer.

I'm no expert on production line economics but there's plenty of small (50kg ish) self contained manufacturers. They have pretty complicated castings (and machining to to tight tolerances) to do. This doesn't seem to make them too costly to produce.

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I am not sure i would say they are better but they have some advantages. Fewer moving parts, and fewer castings for one. While the machining on an air hammer frame is complex, a factory could set up for it pretty easy- quite a pain to do in the field though. A self contained hammer produces its own air so a monster compressor isn't needed and has some of the big advantages of a steam hammer, namely an infinate stroke and control. Fewer moving parts means less maintenance as well. Self contained hammers seem kind of limited on speed so tend to not hit as hard as their mechanical equivilent( somebody will disagree I'm sure) The true advantage of mechanical hammers is the availability of old machines at super low cost. Most require extensive rework but are well within the capabilities of the average smith. Old machines are not nearly as easy to find as they once were, and not everyone wants to have to rebabit, turn , grind, and mill their way into hammer ownership. For the professional production shop the maintenance and ease of operation of the self contained hammer definately makes it a winner, esp since really inexpensive chinese hammers have appeared on the market. Back in the day, the enormous expense of building a good heavy hammer made these machines available only to heavy industry, and therefore they were only built in larger sizes.( A 200# Chambersburg was quoted from the factory for $150,000 back around 1997) For this reason many of us were unable to enter the world of the air hammer until recently. As much as I would like a 300-500# hammer in my shop there simply isn't floor space!

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The true advantage of mechanical hammers is the availability of old machines at super low cost. Most require extensive rework but are well within the capabilities of the average smith.


good point Jason. Over here in the UK we had a few manufactures making smallish air hammers, eg Alldays and Onions etc. Kinda explains why mechanicals aren't that common, other than Wallace and Grommit style (Blackers)

I've got 2 home brewed Kinyons (25kg ish conventional and one 50kg ish sorta like a KA75) and an Anyang 40kg. The Anyang seems to pack about the same wallop per blow as the 50kg "Kinyon" but runs a bit faster so does more work. Despite being slower the Kinyons still do a lot of work and are indespensible. They're really close to another and it's a joy to do a job where they're all set up with the right tooling and you flit from hammer to hammer all in one heat. A mates done a video, when I can work out how to get it off the camera onto you tube I' do so.

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I really like airhammers. I built a airhammer with a kit Ron Kinyon put together for us in the AABA. The kits included the cylinder, valves, hoses, switch and couplers every thing you needed. They were selling for about $450.00 but this was several years ago and I probably had about $900.00 in the whole project. I designed my own but was influenced by the 50lb Bull that was made in the late 90's you can see a photo of my hammer in the thread Show Me Your Shop. I would supply you with a link but haven't figured out how to do that yet. :rolleyes: It has a 85lb head and does 250 BPM at 120 PSI and has good one strike control. There is very little machine work on it. Just tap and threaded some holes It also has an adjustable switch for head highth for tooling.

Ron now has a design for a smaller hammer. A 25lb portable that will run off a 5hp 110V compresor. It is a sweet hammer.

The AABA also did a work shop with Clay Spencer in 2007. They made 15 tire hammers. We sold a few for $2000.00 but I am sorry I can remember the cost of the workshop. Maybe one of my fellow members will chime in and give you the cost if they remember. They are very nice hammers and have good control. I wish I would have taken part in the workshop to build one.

What ever you decide to build you will have fun building it and you will always have the pride and be able to say I built that. Good luck! ;)

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