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David Dix

What type of forge is this?

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I just picked up my first forge. (very exciting!!!) The problem is that the belt (maybe leather) that went around the spin wheel and blower was so old it just fell apart. I set it out straight at it measured 36" long, 7/8" wide, and 1/4" thick. I took a wire brush to the forge to clean it up, and the only thing I could make out was the numbers either 150 or 160 directly underneath the coal pan. Being a beginner, I have no idea what brand or model the forge is. I live in Collinsville, Il. Is there somewhere nearby I might be able to find a replacement belt? I think once the blower is cleaned out, the workings lubricated, and a new belt, it should work like a champ. Here are some photos of the forge:
post-22342-0-37945300-1311269638_thumb.j
post-22342-0-44103100-1311269666_thumb.j
post-22342-0-41257000-1311269697_thumb.j

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That looks like the kind of forge I've been told is a rivet forge. Used to heat rivets for building girder construction buildings in the early 1900s' before welding the beams became the standard in the 40s and 50s. The forge man would heat the rivets then with pair of tongs throw them to a catcher, who had a funnel shaped catch. Who would hand them off to the riveter. The riveter would set the rivet with the help of a man who had a large piece of steel that was used to buck the back of the rivet. I saw some film on that the other day on the history channel. It was very informative.

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Note that pretty much every hardware store sold these things at one time often under their own name and pretty much every general foundry probably made some too.

Unless there is a name on the blower you're down to the basics: the "type" is a coal forge and the model is a rivet/farrier's forge with a ratchet crank for the blower.

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These are sure handy little forges but a lot of the ones I have seen frequently have problems with the pan where they have been left outside to collect water and therefore rust nearly through. They were used in the building of almost every ship, bridge, crane, building or any other item where a light portable forge was needed to heat rivet to the correct temperature for forging into the holes through the steel and iron frames and plates. It was quite the art to throw and catch hot rivets. Bolts and arc welding replaced riveting after WWII in most all construction.

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make sure you line it with clay so you don't burn it out

This forge was in a barn, and I don't see any rust in the pan at all. (maybe a little around the edge, but a wire brush took it right off). Do you really think it would get burned through?

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Eventually. Also lining it allows you to have a deeper fire, which makes heating the metal easier.

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post-22342-0-97754900-1311292043_thumb.j post-22342-0-90104900-1311292145_thumb.j
As you can see in the photo, the center is actually elevated. Do I need to completely reshape the pan with clay so the center is depressed rather than elevated? Should I not even bother with this forge or is it worth messing with?

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I would say its totally worth it. Usually the forge pan has some writing in it if it should be clayed. It say something like "Clay before use" or some such verbage. If it doesn't. I wouldn't bother.

I think what the others are saying is. Make a pan around the tuyere with clay. I would think a round depression is whats needed with a round pan like that.

Also I used a dome shaped air grate and won't use anything else. Clinker rolls right off of it and never sits over the blast cooling my fire. But, then again I built my forge out of a break drum.

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Welcome aboard, glad to have ya!

The elevated part in the center is the air grate and will get hot as blazes without a little something to keep the fire off it. I have a cast iron crank model that's badly cracked from being used without being lined.

While most any decent clay will work, including kitty litter I like fire clay seeing as I have a bag. Mix it with about 1pt. in 4 sand give or take. Add only enough water so it clumps in a hard squeezed fist without leaving your hands dirty and breaks cleanly. By breaks clean I mean without crumbling. By clean hands I mean a little dust is okay but no smears.

If it crumbles add a LITTLE water and mix thoroughly and retest. Letting it sit over night helps the moisture equalize but we're not talking about tempering sand for green sand casting so don't get carried away. If it leaves smears on your hand add some more dry and mix.

Okay, once the clay is right, hammer it into the forge pan with a light-ish hammer or wood mallet or piece of 2x4, etc. till the hammer bounces. Do this in shallowish lifts till there's at least 1 1/2" uniform layer and don't forget to leave a depression that reaches the air grate. This will form a "Duck's Nest" the alternative to a fire pot. These forges don't have a fire pot so don't sweat it.

Once it's how you want it, strike it smooth, striking is scraping with a metal or sharpened wood blade, I find a steel ruler works well as it'll bend to match contours. Lastly after it's nice and smooth use a piece of burlap and burnish it. The smoother it is the less will stick to it and hot clinker is darned sticky. Burnishing isn't necessary by any means but I've had good luck with burnished clay beds.

Now the important part, LET IT DRY THOROUGHLY! If you rush it with a fire it'll shrink check a lot. Shrink checking is why ramming it with only enough moisture to let it stick is my recommendation. The less water in it the less it shrinks and checks. If necessary hang a light close over it to help it dry. After it's dried build a small fire over the entire clayed pan without using the air blast. Let it cool and do it again with a little bigger fire. If it's intact it should be ready to go to work for you.:)

Okay, this sounds really complicated but it's simpler than describing the steps and the whys. Basically minimal water ram it hard, let it dry, fire in 2-3 firings and you'll have a clayed pan that'll last years. IF you don't leave it out in the rain! Even under a tarp it'll absorb water and turn to mud.:unsure:

To answer your questions in the last post. Yes it's worth putting in condition and to work. Yes, clay till the air grate is in a depression! Yes, mess with it, that's what blacksmithing is all about, messing with metal.B) The belt can be replaced with about anything that'll do the job. While leather was probably the most common I'll bet you anything more than one has been run with a piece of rope, baling twine, hand twisted willow bark, horse tail hair, saw grass, etc. Another blacksmith tradition is making it work, whatever it is. The blacksmith was often THE fixit man in town.

Frosty the Lucky.

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Oh wow! Thanks a lot for the imput and information. I'm going to definitely try all of your suggestions. There is a coal and ice place in Collinsville (now about all they have is bricks and sand), hopefully they have some good clay. I found a couple of clay recipes
I'm driving to Tandy Leather Factory in St Louis tomorrow to get the 48" x 7/8" x 1/4" leather strap. I hope they have it in a discount section. smile.gif Now I just need an anvil.

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Welcome to IFI. Good find on the forge! Anything is better than a hole in the ground to start off with. You will learn a lot while getting the forge just right. Enjoy!

Mark <><

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What happens when you have your fire hot, and you have to add some water to the coal. Will the water seep down into the clay, or will the coal suck it all up first?

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well a picture of the front of the blower may help in identifying the make. McMaster has belts of all sizes.

here's a couple more photos of the blower. post-22342-0-07674500-1311295608_thumb.j post-22342-0-07972200-1311295664_thumb.j post-22342-0-29083600-1311295735_thumb.j

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What happens when you have your fire hot, and you have to add some water to the coal. Will the water seep down into the clay, or will the coal suck it all up first?


This is how you learn to put ONLY as much water on the fire as necessary. A sprinkling can really helps limit the hot mud effect. After a while I learned to keep my fire to a size that hardly ever needed water, that and I soak my coal before coking it up. I also coke a days worth of coal before I start forging so I only have ONE plume of yellow green smelly smoke a day.

Of course, those who've been in my shop can tell you I typically use a naturally aspirated propane forge. I have a couple coal forges but rarely fire one up. Good coal is hard to find here without driving up to Castle mtn. and digging your own and that's pretty hit and miss quality wise.

I just remembered a possible trick. If you can buy Sodium Silicate (water glass) you can use it to dampen the surface of your liner instead of water and it should make your liner about as waterproof as a bathtub. I have NO idea how it behaves with thermal shock though but it's commonly used for a binder in molds. Heck, just painting it on the surface might do the trick.

I've never tried it, I'm just brainstorming here. If you give it a try please let us know how it works.

Frosty the Lucky.

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I have a rivet forge exactly like that. Every piece on mine that is cast, has a diffrent part number cast into it but I've never found a name. The wind break is missing on mine, and I have made a new twyere for it. I made the drive belt out of a piece of conveyor belting. Cut it to width and length, and sew it together with heavy waxed thread. Look at at the shaft that goes through the big wheele. The brackets at each end will slide up and down the leg. Put them in the highest position possible before you measure the length of the belt. Exspecially if you use leather. As the belt stretches you can slide the shaft down to keep it tight. I don't use it very often but it is handy and portable.

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I have a rivet forge exactly like that. Every piece on mine that is cast, has a diffrent part number cast into it but I've never found a name. The wind break is missing on mine, and I have made a new twyere for it. I made the drive belt out of a piece of conveyor belting. Cut it to width and length, and sew it together with heavy waxed thread. Look at at the shaft that goes through the big wheele. The brackets at each end will slide up and down the leg. Put them in the highest position possible before you measure the length of the belt. Exspecially if you use leather. As the belt stretches you can slide the shaft down to keep it tight. I don't use it very often but it is handy and portable.

THanks! I went to St Louis today at Tandy Leather Shop and bought a 3/4 in. strip. They didn't have 7/8. Jerks! haha. I'll use your advice on the wheel. I didn't catch that when I was admiring the look of a free forge. ...really lucked out with that one. I'm hoping the same happens with an anvil, but I doubt it.

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Hi David,
There is little I can tell you about your forge, however I have supplied many custom leather belts for these "Little Gems" and believe I may be able to help. Let me suggest you checkout www.LeatheDriveBelts.com or I can be reached at 847 384 1146. Located just North of Chicago IL.. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Best Regards, John

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Hi David,
There is little I can tell you about your forge, hewever I have supplied many custom belts for these "Little Gems" and believe I may be able to help. Let me suggest checking out www.LeatherDriveBelts.com or contacting me at 847 384 1146. Located just North of Chicago IL. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Best Regards, John

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Hi David,
There is little I can tell you about your forge, however I have supplied many custom leather drive belts for these "Little Gems" and believe I might be able to help with your belt problem. Please feel free to get back to me if you'd like. We are located just North of Chicago IL. Looking froward to hearing from you!
Best Regards, John

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post-16075-0-70231900-1311759785_thumb.jnice forge, for the belt, i used the inner tube of a bicycle on my blower,. just smaller than the wheel on the forge, so it stretches tight. Just my input.

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Mind what these gentlemen have told you about lining the pan. Do some searching for refractory clay recipies... fire clay, dug clay, cat litter, sifted ash, adobe, etc., etc. (not rocket science at all). Put something about the shape of a bowl right-side-up and dead-center (a small mixing bowl or cereal bowl might work). Use this as a form for your clay. Build it up level with the top of your pan with the bowl-shaped depression in the center. Only your grate should be showing at the bottom of the "bowl". Let it dry well before you use it and keep some of your material on hand to patch cracks in the clay, because it will crack... no big deal.

In addition to insulating and protecting your forge pan, this is going to give you some actual depth to you fire. This is the #1 fire management mistake I see when beginners get their first portable forge; they are using a pitifully shallow fire, so then they try to make heat by using too much air, then they either can't get to forging heat ot they burn stuff up.

Save yourself a lot of grief and study up on what makes a good forging fire, whether using charcoal or coal. Your fire is as much of a tool as your hammer and anvil. Treat it as such.

Good luck,

Don

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