Bob McRee

Any details on how the plate was welded to Fisher-Norris anvils?

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Thanks Pulse, I just typed a long response but decided not to post. I 100% agree with both points of your post. The economic situation is what it is and lets talk anvils.

 

I think rediscovering the proper methods of accomplishing what Fisher did would take a large amount of  time and money in experimenting and playing around to get it right. Even if you get the weld to hold, I think the questions is, for how long? Once again we are back to the issue of quality and consumer confidence. If an American company were to attempt this, I think anvil buyers would take a wait and see approach.  However, a quiet anvil has its advantages.

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I know I love my Fisher for it's quietness, but I've been able to silence all of my other anvils to the same level as the Fisher using silicone caulk.  Cast steel or wrought w/a face plate, they both quieted right down!

 

Still, I wouldn't mind seeing someone try to bring the Fisher style back.  Reverse engineering the process can't be that difficult for someone familiar with casting on a big scale, especially with the advancements we've had in metallurgy and general science since Fisher closed their doors.

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I think rediscovering the proper methods of accomplishing what Fisher did would take a large amount of  time and money in experimenting and playing around to get it right. Even if you get the weld to hold, I think the questions is, for how long? Once again we are back to the issue of quality and consumer confidence. If an American company were to attempt this, I think anvil buyers would take a wait and see approach.  However, a quiet anvil has its advantages.

I think in the long run could be promising considering todays technological advancements with robotics, and sensory equipment... The issue that chews in the back of my mind is, there's just too much R&D involved. You and I might see mediocre as something to improve upon, but an Chinese investor/manufacturer might see it as "mediocre= good enough lets ship 100,000 to the states"...  In all honesty, if they made something a smidgen better than the grey-iron junk contracted out to harbor freight, they would own the majority of the market in no-time. As most people don't really utilize the anvil as we do, and really don't care about the "smithing quality" it lacks. 

 

The key here is oversight. That someone at the top, whom serves as a liaison of comfort to the American smiths,  making sure standards are enforced and that a "quality final product" is held at the highest priority. Individuals like Steve McGrew (Incandescent Ironworks) probably busted chops on the daily, making sure his product met the standard... I bet he worked his tail off establishing that relationship, and worked harder trying to maintain it.

 

Steel is just a better medium, less of a chore to get right, and even if they have issues with heat treatment, it's still a lump of something you can work hot stuff on, as exemplified by that Harbor Freight russian steel duckbill platypus... 

 

I'm down to be a beta tester regardless... I'm a calls em like I see's em type of reviewer, and I would fork up some $$$ at first dibs... ;)

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If I can ever find a foundry to do Fisher anvils, they would probably be cast Steel in the Koloshawa? style of material.  The process that Fisher invented and used required very specific flasks and techniques that would be cost prohibitive in todays world.  Even when they were in production, they had very specific time/motion studies and tasks to keep costs down.  Fisher factory over the years gave employment to many and made the owners rich, not wealthy, it was never a huge profit center.

 

I am proud that I rescued what I did and have a place to store and study it.  Come on down and visit sometime.

If the Fisher had a rebirth, even if it were a modernized cast steel form, I would be first in line at your front door...

 

I know I haven't been around long in the smithing world, but there's just something about my Fisher that warms my soul, I've already promised myself that I would never get rid of it. So proud to own one, and am amazed by the rebound qualities it produces... Magic... I'm budgeting my way into dropping some money on a bigger anvil here shortly, I wouldn't think twice if a Fisher made itself available... not even a flinch.

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When I was at QuadStates this year, I spoke to the officers of SOFA about recreating a Fisher anvil pour.  I am not sure if it is possible.  It will depend on if they can do an iron melt.  What might be more feasable is to do a bronze Fisher anvil with the steel top plate, and maybe horn.  I have not heard anything from them since QS, so I do not know what will come of this.

 

I find it interesting of the talk of reverse engineering, and metal testing.  Remember that Mark Fisher figured this out in 1847, and by the Civil War, was the largest anvil producer in the country.  By the end of the company's run in 1979, they had produced over 500,000 anvils, countless swage blocks, parallel screw vises, rail joints, and other custom castings.  Fisher is the #1 anvil producer of all time, and probably will be forever.

 

Hopefully, after I retire from teaching in June, I will begin production anew, and see where it goes.  Kind of like the second coming of Fisher....

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I am in Dongguan City, about half way between Guangzhou and Hong Kong. I am the director of International Studies in a private high school. We have a college prep program and send most of our program's graduates to US universities. I grew up on a Mississippi Delta cotton farm in Sunflower county and lived 12 years in the Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks then in the Hill Country of Texas. This ain't Kansas for sure! 

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Bob, 

 

I have been to China now 4 times...I will be visting the Hainan area in the next couple of months.  If time permits can I stop by and see your shop?

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I think i will start a new topic on the new anvil. Have been in communication with the factory and it is being shipped to me tomorrow.  Edit: I received some photos today after heat treating and they will keep it three days to watch for any problems. So, arrive in a week or so.

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Bob McRee said:

The key here is oversight. That someone at the top, whom serves as a liaison of comfort to the American smiths,  making sure standards are enforced and that a "quality final product" is held at the highest priority. Individuals like Steve McGrew (Incandescent Ironworks) probably busted chops on the daily, making sure his product met the standard... I bet he worked his tail off establishing that relationship, and worked harder trying to maintain it.

 

Bob is right.  It is very difficult to maintain good quality on products made in China unless you can set up a quality assurance system at the factory.  I did find a reliable manufacturer for my anvil stakes there, who uses a very sophisticated lost wax process to cast steel.  But anvils are another story.  I wasn't able to QC the anvils at the foundry in China, and ended up losing money because I had to reject some of the anvils that arrived here. Quality guarantees from the factory don't mean much when shipping costs as much as the product. 

 

So early in 2011 I moved the anvil manufacturing to a foundry just a quarter mile from my shop in Spokane, where the quality is perfect and if there ever were a problem I could just have them melt down a reject and re-cast it.  These folks fully understand metallurgy and my specifications for the alloy, heat treating and finishing.  It costs a bit more to get the anvils made here, even when shipping is taken into account, but this way I can actually oversee production and ensure that every one of the anvils meets my quality specs.

 

By the way, Rhino anvils are made from a white chrome steel widely used in making the liner plates for rock crushers.  The alloy is designed to be hard, tough and wear resistant.  It's an air-quenched steel, so heat treating basically consists of a few days of letting it cool to room temperature after casting, then raising it to tempering heat in an oven and letting it cool again. As a result, the anvil is uniformly hard (HRC 52) throughout.

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Unlike anvils that have a tool-steel face plate, a homogenous, through-hardened anvil can have the face dressed without worrying about thinning the work surface.  You can only grind away so much of the face on a Fisher before you run into the base metal.  With a solid steel anvil, that's never a problem if the hardening  goes all the way through the body.

 

Are there any advantages to having an anvil which is hardened throughout?

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1 hour ago, Richard Furrer said:

Any Progress on the Fisher anvil or swage block castings? This thread is from 2013.

 

Ric

As to remaking Fisher anvil in the way they originally were made....NO.

I am working on the core boxes for a Fisher swage block pattern that I have.  When finished, I hope to get it to a foundry and try to have a few cast.  I want to see what it takes and what the final costs are.

The Fisher & Norris Factory Museum keep growing its inventory.. If you are ever on the East coast, near NJ, it is worth the detour to visit.  There are things here that do not exist anywhere else.

Josh. 

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2 hours ago, Richard Furrer said:

I rather like those chain vise. Will you be making them?

Ric

No.  They were very difficult to make, and require a large horizontal boring mill, plus the ability to cast iron and weld the jaws during the cast.  There is a reason no one ever made them after Fisher.  When they last sold, the large #6 sold for over $1500.  Not many were made toward the end.

If you want one of the Fisher chain vises, your best bet is to search far and wide and just buy one.  They are getting rarer every day.

 

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Anyone know if Bob McRee is still around? In an earlier post he said he worked with Ike Doss from Berryville AR. What a small world, Ike Doss was my mentor and got me interested in blacksmithing from 1984-1991 when he passed away.

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17 hours ago, Irondragon Forge & Clay said:

Anyone know if Bob McRee is still around? In an earlier post he said he worked with Ike Doss from Berryville AR. What a small world, Ike Doss was my mentor and got me interested in blacksmithing from 1984-1991 when he passed away.

Why don't you just send him a message here on IFI?

 

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On 3/20/2017 at 2:37 PM, Irondragon Forge & Clay said:

I sent a message but so far no reply hence my question, hoped someone might know him.

You should start a new thread.  Not many people will see a question buried in this one.

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