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After some failed attempts at trying my hand at Google-fu I've come up with nothing so I'll just ask, sorry if it's a repost.. :lol:

Just picked up my first portable forge with a champion blower tonight after playing around with my old brake drum setup and I'd like to try my hand at using coal as a fuel. I've been using Cowboy charcoal along with my own when I get the wood to make it and while searching I noticed that they sell both bags of coal and bags of coke. Knowing that coke is the bi-product of burning the impurities out of coal, is there any advantage to buying straight coke vs buying the same weight in coal and coking it myself? I've never lit a coal fire myself or forged with it so I'm wanting to give it a shot and figured I'd consult a few experts on the matter before making my purchase.

Thanks in advance, just in my time lurking here I've learned tons of little tips and tricks that has saved me a lot of headaches not having to figure out on my own!

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There are quite a few types of coke out there. The heavier grades require an electric blower. Breeze, which is the stuff you make in your own forge from bituminous coal, can be kept lit with a hand blower fine.

There are also quite a few types of coal, so you might want to find out what is being sold.


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Makes sense.. I was thinking that coal would be the right thing to get anyhow but I was curious, thanks for clearing that up guys.

The info on the coal I've found is that it's bituminous coal from the West Virginia area, sold through one of the blacksmith/farrier supply stores I've dealt with online.

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Good Morning,

Where's that, that you are, when you is?? If wee new where you are, wee wood no who is close to U.

Be Bold, try some!!! Start a little kindling fire and slowly add some black stuff, Snot Magic!! Not enough blow, fire goes out. Too much blow fire goes out. Start with a VERY GENTLE blow, give the commodities a chance the Burn Baby Burn!!

If it doesn't start, fire up your weed burner. Add a little hot spot to the bottom of the coal!!
Rule #1 = START
Rule #2 = If you have a problem with Rule #1, Start again!!
Rule #3 = Take no Prisoners, Enjoy the heat and Play Hard!!
Rule #4 = Continue until dunn.
Rule #5 = Don't try to wash the smile offa da face!!


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I only have burned coal once. That was when I lit off my first fire to make coke. It is PA soft coal (Bituminous). The coal is placed around the coke fire and I make coke all the while I have a fire. The coal nevr burns, really. It just heats up and turns to coke.

I start my fire with the coke and it catches right-off with a (very) small wood fire and a light breeze of air.

I just thought of something............if your forge is not large enough to set the green coal around your coke fire (to make coke), then you have a problem..............I have a small brake drum forge that is thata way. I just use coke in that. But the coke comes from the large masonry forge. It will make more coke than what I can use.

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Dear Tyr,

I have used coke for the last 10 years or so because my supplier (50 miles away) stopped selling blacksmith coal but did sell blacksmith coke. Also, because I am in town coke means fewer complaints about the smell.

Yes, it does keep a constant blast to stay lit. If you have an electric blower you can leave the fire with the blower on low. If you use a hand crank blower you have to eat your lunch off the anvil while giving the blower a couple of turns every minute or so.

The way I start it is that I put in 2 sheets of crumpled newspaper, build a "log cabin" out of kindling, put a fist sized pine cone in the cabin, put a handful of coal over that, soak the entire thing with charcoal lighter. Then I put another 2 crumpled sheets of newspaper over that and cover that with coke. Then apply more charcoal starter. I try to have enough coke on top of the 2d newspaper that it forms a roof over the fire as the fire starting material burns and collapses. Enough coke to cover the newspaper so that you can't see much paper is about right. I then try to light it as low down as I can, including making a tunnel to the first layer of newspaper. I use a medium air blast once I light it.

I think that I may be overcomplicating things but it works and I rarely have a fire not properly ignite.

George M.

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I would have to guess that the length of sustaining an idle fire is more directly related to the size of the fire pot (or forge) than anything. The historical society has a fire pot that is 18" dia and 8" deep. (just the fire pot, not including the entire forge table) It retains a fire for 3.5 hr very easily and is set to go with a blast of air. It will last longer than that if one would cover the fire bed with green coal (to seal it) and open the ash dump (provide a bit of air)

The rivet forge is cold in about 20 minutes. It is 18" dia and 3 inches deep. That works just fine and one must scoop out all the garbage (ash/ clinker/what-nots) about every 2 hrs of operation, otherwise it will be a dirty/ cold fire and will not work effectively.

This is employing the same coke for each forge.

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Thanks for all the good tips and advise guys, got in a 50lb bag of bituminous coal in today to try out. Being in the city it's a toss up on the smell bothering people and I've stuck to lump charcoal this year, but since winter is coming on no one will have windows or doors open so i thought it would be the best time to try it out and not tick off my neighbors. :lol:

I haven't measured my little rivet forge yet but it's probably close to the dimensions to the one you described. Here's a photo of it along with my 100lb trenton I picked up this past spring, built the anvil stand based off of another forum member's plans. When I picked up the forge the blower ran pretty well but it was clogged up and looked to have been sitting for a long time, it had a lot of surface rust and what paint was left was speckled John Deere green and yellow. Got it apart and cleaned up the blower and got it all painted up and running like a top again, paid the guy $100 for it.

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Guest Johnnie

Hey Tyr, I've recentle moved to a coal forge from gas. The gas forge was to small and to expensive to run. I am using Anthracite. Easy to light, easy to maintain (walk away for an hour and it is still going) but seems to fall apart and leaves tiny pieces of Coke. Lots of clinker too!!!

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That is the same forge I use in my blacksmithing class. It works quite well, but I don't use green coal surrounding the fire to make coke. I just use coke and let the guys work the fire. It gets really hot and they burn items to oblivian.

We make the coke on the big forge. I trade then off from one forge to another, to gain experience with a small pan forge and a large masonry unit w/bellows. They all prefer to spin the blower on that small pan forge, by far.



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