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I Forge Iron

Welding Chain


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I got a nice large piece of roller chain some time ago and I am feeling the itch to forge it into something. It is not motercycle chain, but off of a piece of heavy equipment, probably a ladder type truck.

My initial plan was to fold it over on itself about 3 or 4 times and wire it in place, then try to mash it with the power hammer and just kind of cut, stack, and work with it until it seems like a solid pice. I plan to use a lot of flux to help wash out the dirty stuff as I heat it.

Are there any things I should partiulaly look out for or avoid doing? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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I usually soak the roller chain in parts cleaning fluid for a day or so and then wash it with hot soapy water to get the chain as clean as I can before I start. For a Harley primary chain, I cut it in half and then fold it over and mig weld the loose ends to a suitable handle such as a piece of 3/8" x 1-1/4" flat maybe 30" long. I preheat the chain in my gas forge to an orange heat and then with light hits under the power hammer I hit the chain on the flat side (with the roller pins vertical) to stiffen up the billet (some fellows will tigweld all the links in the chain). I then go to the anvil and with a light hammer try to knock out as much of the scale and other crud as you can. The billet then goes back in the gas forge to soak and to get hot enough to flux. I then place the billet in my coal forge to slowly bring it up to a good welding heat. (I usually do several billets at one time, thats why I preheat in the gas forge and weld in the coal forge. It just speeds things up!) When the billet reaches a welding heat I begin welding under my power hammer (150lb. Fairbanks) I don't let the billet get to cold (just under a welding heat) then reflux and bring it back to a welding heat and continue under the power hammer. A Harley primary chain takes about 3 or 4 welding heats to get the billet down to say 1/4" x 1-1/8" bar. I hope this info helps......good luck...ken

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  • 1 month later...

Glad I came across this thread. I have reclaimed some roller chains from the sawmill where I work, just in case they were suitable for knives. I guess I have my answer! Now, I've got to see if I can get my hands on more of it (okay, I admit it, I'm a pack rat).

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Glad I came across this thread. I have reclaimed some roller chains from the sawmill where I work, just in case they were suitable for knives. I guess I have my answer! Now, I've got to see if I can get my hands on more of it (okay, I admit it, I'm a pack rat).


COOL MAN! Got any extra?:D
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I thought I would post a little update on my quest to weld some roller chain. I decided to give it a try this week, and was not at all pleased with the results. :(

I had about 4 ft of chain which I cleaned with laquar thinner, then with a power wire brush. I then rolled the chain into a piece about 8 inches long and 4 layers deep. I then clamped that in my vice a tack welded it in several spots so it would stay together until welded.

I got it up to a good red orange heat and used a 3lb hammer to just get things closer together. I then fluxed it and put it back in the forge. When it was up to temp I started trying to forge it together, and that is where the plan all kind of went to pieces, just like the chain. I got some of it to weld, but many pieces fell apart. After several attempts with the hand hammer I took it to the power hammer, and it went bad even faster then.

I did get some of it to weld, but I eventually got po'd and just tossed it all in the slack tub. :mad: I'm not sure at this point when I will get back to it, if ever.

Obviously at this point my ambition exceeded my skills. Hopefully, that will change in the future. In the mean time I will keep working on the stuff I know I can do. I have more than enough to keep me busy for a long time.

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Fred, my advice would be to let it rust until you want to mess with it again, forging angry leads to bad things.

I had the exact same problem, and I found that tack welding AND wrapping steel wires around the billet helps it move less (the individual links like to move around a lot, the wires help prevent this some). Also, I welded opposite ends of the billet and worked my way to the middle from the ends welding one end, then the other, etc. I think it's easier to just let it break, and take the smaller peices, weld them into solid rectangular bars, then take the bars and forge into one billet.

Just takes time and a lot of flux :grin:

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Thanks for the advice guys. What I really should have done was come back here and re-read the answers to my origional question. That would have probably helped more than anything.

Thanks for the advice Julian, that is exactly what I did. I learned a long time ago to put things down and quit for the day when I get mad, because I stop thinking right, and when you're not thinking things through while working with the stuff we do really bad things can happen very quickly. :o

I'll be keeping my eye out for more chain, and will try again later.

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Fredly, my current teacher reckons that you need as reducing a fire as you can possibly get (that is to say a fire with NO oxgen in the spot where your steel is reaching the 'wash' or welding temperature) so that there is virtually no scale build up on the steel. A good way to help with this is to line your fire with a paste made from coal fines and water. It will slowly burn throughout the fires life doing wonders for eating all the extra oxygen in the fire.
The knowledge that you should work to the steel with the lowest melting point of all the pieces your trying to get to stick.
A good fluxing agent to ensure that there are no extra contaminants in the weld.
A lot is just down to time and experience, Glenn has been at it for over thirty years, I'm looking at around two, he can forge weld better than I can as a result! LOL
Keep plugging away, experience is the best teacher

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Thanks Ian. I'm doing this in a gasser though, not a coal forge. I know it will weld though, as I have done cable and normal billits in it with no problem.

Yeah, experience is a great teacher. I will keep plugging away at it, and will eventually make one out of chain. If nothing more than to just say I did it. :)

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That's the main place where I blew it Apprentice Man. I tried to weld up 4 layers at once, instead of two. It went every which way but together pretty much. Unfortunatly, by the time I realized I had blown it, I already had a huge mess on my hands. I don't think I will even try to finish up what I started. It's now going to become some sort of sculpture maybe.

I'll get another piece of chain and do it right the first time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I may set mine aside for a while until I get more experience. I think I'll work on some cable I just cut up this week. I am happy to say though that the mass of chain that I have collected around work has grown into a pretty good pile against the wall of my shop (Apprenticeman, in answer to your earlier question that I didn't see until now). Some of it is different sized. I found a short piece that is only the size of a bicycle chain. I might work on it tomorrow just to get a feel for it. Good idea or bad idea?

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