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My Railroad Anvil Idea

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My wife has an uncle tha'ts retired from the railroad and I scored some rail off him through my father-in-law over Christmas. I've been coming up with some ideas on how to make it into an anvil. I don't have an anvil yet and want to work the planning out on this one so it might last me a while. It's a little over 3' long and weighs about 130 lbs. So it's one of the heavier rails produced in North America.

I went back and forth on building horizontal or vertical.... back and forth. Talk to this guy, read online... call a blacksmith... yada yada. So I've decided to go vertical and since I have over 3' I can cut it to exactly knuckle height and it be tailored to my hammer blow. The question I'm asking myself now is how to secure it. I have enought material to take the stump out of the situation (oh yeah, got a stump when I thought I was going to go horizontal).

So here's what I'm thinking...

I can fabricate a stand that allows the bottom of the rail to rest on my concrete slab. 2 things, is that solid enough, and will that eventually crack the slab.

I can put it in a bucket and fill with concrete... will this lessen the rebound force of the anvil? And how secure do you think it will be?

I was also thinking I could get an old spare rim or something and use that as a base, but figured that would lose some of the force.

I am up for thoughts and ideas on how to secure it. And if you think a 3' tall railroad anvil is worth it. Should I just cut it down to fit my stump and secure it that way (Stump is about 18" high). Just figured the more mass I can keep the better it would work.


p.s this picture is a mock up of how I want to fab it. I plan to have a hot cut, fuller, two horns and weld some square tubing as a hardy hole. If I use some of my drop I can use the top of the rail for the round horn and the base as the square horn. What do you think?

Oh, and I was thinking of welding this stick with some 7018. WIth proper preheat and post do you think I will have any problems. I also can MIG or run some flux-core.


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Do you have experience blacksmithing? Trying to design and build tools before you know what you need can be frustrating and a waste.

That said I don't see anything terribly wrong with your concept drawing though the horns will interfere with each other. I've found leaving the flange straight keeps the horns clear. The fuller and hardy are workable but I usually put them on the flange too.

What I wanted to do before I found an anvil was to weld rail together as it's stacked to ship or store. Two rails flange down with the third flange up between them. This will concentrate the mass in a smaller area and yield a good size face. I planned on leaving one length longer so the rail would extend about 9-10 inches out of the stack to be the horn.

Making a stacked rail anvil makes a more compact anvil with a larger face and whatever shape size horn you like and has a nice flange base to spike down or build a stand for. It's so much easier to make a stand for a rectangular or square flat base than other shapes.

Rail cuts nicely in a band saw if you clamp it flange up and tilted a little into the blade travel direction. Rail is typically in the 1080-1085 range IIRC and is induction hardened on the wear surface only. If you try sawing it from the rail first all you'll do is make saw blade makers happy, cutting from under the hardened surface allows the teeth to break through the hard steel in chips from below saving the blades.

Frosty the Lucky.

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I have a RR rail standing beside the forge, beside the forge is about 18 inches from the fire. My anvil is 1.4 turn and one step away from the forge. For this reason I feel I can speak from experience about using a RR rail as an anvil.

Vertical in my opinion is one of the better ways to go. That means ALL the mass of the RR rail is under the metal your hitting. Look for a 12-18 inch section of rail to lay horizontally and use as a swage.

As Thomas said, you anvil height will vary depending on the project at hand. In my opinion the RR rail should be adjustable.

Measure the circumference of a circle the rail will fit into. Look for a pipe or large tubing that will slide over the rail with rail on the inside. Or fabricate one. Now that you have a receiver, you can stabilize the receiver by welding supports, outriggers, etc to it. If you make the receiver fit the lowest height needed, you can then fill it with sand, wood, etc to raise the anvil to the new working height you need.

The other option is to leave the RR rail in the receiver, and raise or lower the ground your standing upon. This can be done with wood sheeting, 2 by something lumber, or a pallet.

I would consider building a bracket(s) to hold any top tool you wish to develop. Just drop the bracket onto the top of the rail and you have a hot cut, fuller, etc. A fuller would be a piece of flat bar horizontally from base to bulb of the rail. Add the fuller over the bulb section of the rail. Two supports would hold against the T section of the rail with a 3rd support on the outside of the base of the rail.

I can see the hot cut being made from 3 pieces of flat bar, The center piece would be the cutter and the 2 side pieces would both hold the cutter upright AND slide down over each side of the T section (center) of the rail.

Lots of possibilities.

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Frosty..... Thanks for the cutting advice. That will same me a huge headache.

Glenn... Thanks for the mounting idea. I'm thinking I'll try to fit it in some pipe if I can scrounge some up. Then probably fill it with some sand and pack that in.

I'm starting to think two horns is over kill. Probably just go with the round and then the tube far enough away for tools.

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