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I Forge Iron

Heat Treating Large Dimensioned 4140

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I looked over the anvil forum, and this seemed a better place to put this.
I've been corresponding with a good friend of mine for some time now on the relative merits of making your own anvils. It just so happens that several years ago I was the Safety officer on a large industrial construction project, and aquired several small pieces of 4140 plate in 2", 3", and 4" thickneses, in addition to a 6" diameter by 16 inch length solid cylinder of the same material. In our most recent conversation, (which also included ruminations on building a "B" bore (one inch bore) wall gun from high pressure fracking pipe, and the need for a rifling bench if we were to do so,) we were both commiserating over the dearth of a 300 to 500 lbs anvil in our possesion.
Being fellows of a creative and adventurous nature, it was decided that we would go to our respective scrap yards and find ourselves some substantial pieces of steel, work them over and make us some for all intents and purposes, a couple of big heavy hornless anvills or big fat striking plates.
But as they say, the devil is in the details.
Some things are relatively simple, drill a 2 inch hole with a Cole drill from side to side, drill and broach a one inch hardy hole intersecting the 2" hole and another 1/2" one for the pritchel. Milling a radius along one front edge and finishing  the striking face and top inch or two of the sides would complete the anvil.
Now we get to the sticky part - flip the sucker over, drill and tap two large holes in the bottom and put a couple of eye bolts in.  Sling it up on an overhead hoist, and start a good fire in an air fed 55 gallon drum. Get the face portion to non-magnetic, and lift, swing, and dunk in another 55 gal drum of motor oil.
Assuming we don't burn the place down or get ourselves killed, the next step is to wait until the boiling stops, which if I recall correctly is about 600 degrees, and then pull it out and swing it into another barrel, this one full of water.
Would this be an effective methodology?
Or are you guys going to read about the two fifty year old guys who burned themselves to death before burning half a county to ashes?
Thanks Again!
Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles.

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Your quench will be WAY TOO SLOW!!  For such a large mass of steel a different quenching system is needed.  The info is all here in older threads.  A high volume flowing water quench is what's needed.  Industrially  some sort of drench tank has usually been the solution.  I have seen where some small operators have used handy creeks.  A modern solution is a fire hose with hydrant pressure.  The water flow should cool the face of the anvil first and continue to flow over it long enough that the heat level drops below temper heat levels throughout the entire mass.  4140 will hardly crack in water quench even in small section and there is very little danger of that with anvil sized masses... the hard part is getting the face cooled quickly enough to harden and keeping it that way until the whole thing cools enough that it will not resoften (anneal) the anvil face.  Thus the high volume water flow.  A water tank to dunk into will not really do the job as the steam jacket that forms around the anvil insulates it too much.  The tank has to be quite large and be dumped on the anvil at a fairly brisk pace.  Any sort of oil quench will just start a HUGE FIRE!  It would still be too slow to harden the anvil sufficiently.

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I don't think you need to heat treat those large chunks for anvil use, sure you could and it sounds good  and it would in fact be "better" but in reality... Look up brian brazael?  striking anvils on here, pretty sure they are mild steel. Stand the plate on end and you can hammer on it right now. This lets you get to work and use the anvil and if you wish to change it at all no big deal, after you have used it enough to be satisfied then you could heat treat it later. Also if the kid is using it a "softer" anvil is a good thing to learn on.

smith out

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Big, that makes perfect sense. The only way I can think of doing it with water would be to set up a trash pump in the pond, and pump that into the bottom of a drum... I was afraid that a water quench would crack the block, but that's because I just don't know enough. thanks for straightening me out on that.
R, Good point. I have a very nice London Pattern anvil already, but I was looking for something with more mass and less refinement for my son and I to use. I can always revisit the idea when we reach the point that it makes sense to do so.
Or my friend is visiting and we're bored...
Best reagrds,
Albert A Rasch
PS: I downloaded dozens of Youtube videos while I was home to watch while i am here. I have a few of B Bs that are very educational. Love his rounding hammers and the theory behind it.AAR

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