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Railroad track anvil help

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From it's hiding place in a sloppy scrap pile and in nearly perfectly camouflage in the dust, yesterday, me and a buddy dug out this little piece of track and loaded it in my trunk.


It's been around the farm for decades.  Under the direction of my father in '68 I remember moving it along with a bunch of other stuff from the then "destined to be moved and reassigned" old blacksmith shop (a defunct mule team service center) to the new tractor shed's shop.  I was 13.  I remember being told it had been a secondary anvil.  The primary one was and is still there and is shaped a bit differently - like a 250 - 300# Columbian.  I rather have loaded it but they still use it. Maybe one day:)


So I came home with this piece and spent some time today cleaning it up and exploring its possibilities.  It's got a slight belly along the centerline length (about 1/16 th inch) where the most severe mushrooming is visible.  And the tone is slightly duller in that area.  I've ground down the top a bit to mostly eliminate the pitting at the centerline crown, but there is still significant pitting along the edges.  One of the edges shows significant mushrooming... Presumably some from the rail traffic and some from a hardened smith abusing his favorite spot.  The other edge - not so bad. 


This thing is 6" wide at the bottom, 7" tall, 3" wide at the top and 17" long.  It appears to fit the cross section spec of 133# / yd rail, yielding ~66# for 17".


It seems fitting to spend some effort and $ to make this a more desirable piece for my shop, though I don't want to go overboard on it.  I'm hoping I'll get some suggestions from some folks here w/ know how on how I might improve it.  And I'm hoping to get some technical help from someone who has experience resurfacing rail for use as an anvil, especially on what rods to use, and in what sequence.  It doesn't need that much...  The crown is roughly an 1/8" inch higher than the two edges.  So if I was to flatten the surface, I'm thinking build up the edges... with what rod?  Then grind and cap with what?... Then rinse and repeat with what?  I just don't know.


I've googled hard surfacing and anvil surfacing and read around a bit, so I know what's out there info wise for the most part, but the reading I find is mostly aimed at antique anvil restoration, not rail resurfacing.  This surface sparks while grinding like Chinese Fireworks Manufacturing Co, would during a bombing raid.  Can any of you guys help?  Suggested technique?


My welding machine is a Lincoln "cracker box" AC/DC, so that's what's at my disposal.  It tops out at 125A DC & 225 AC.


Thanks in advance.

John in Baton Rouge.

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"The Complete Modern Blacksmith" by Alexander Weygers has an entire chapter on making rail anvils including heat treating instructions.  You can ILL it at your local public library to look it over but you very well may end up buying a copy for yourself!

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Mount it vertically so you have the most mass possible under your hammer. Heat treating isn't necessary. You'll find having it vertical works much better than it horizontal.
This was my first anvil until I'd made enough to buy something better but still use it.


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Thanks Thomas.  Strangely, I spent hours in that book Saturday night and breezed right past that chapter not having a piece of rail on hand.  After Sunday's unexpected rail acquisition, I didn't even recall it was there. 


Dan, thanks for the suggestion.  I'm sure your point about the mass under the hammer is valid, but I'm thinking this particular piece has been suffering from "wanna be an anvil" for a while and prefers its normal orientation.  Could be just my imagination.  I'm mostly looking for info on how to best build up and then flatten the table and assure its hardness.   Not sure what "phone dupe" means.


In the book that Thomas refers to, Alexander Weygers lays out a procedure for annealing the rail, grinding it to an anvil shape, cutting hardy and pritchel holes, polishing, then hardening and tempering the table and annealing the horn and he closes by saying he has completed four great anvils by this method. It's informative but does not address building up the surface where pitted, bellied and crowned.  I hate to grind off so much mass as would be required to obtain a flat table only by grinding, but the surface needs leveling fo sho. 


If I were to build up with hard surfacing rods, then level by grinding would the heat treating even be necessary?  Alternately, if I was going to go through the heat treating process, would I need hard surfacing rods, or is there a "lesser" rod that might be more suitable, but hardenable?

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You don't need to build it up, its much easier to use a belt sander to make the top level, I had a similar piece of rail I used for years. Weighed exactly the same as yours. Since it was so heavy and wide at the top i assumed it to be a piece of crane rail. I bought some various grit sanding belts off ebay and with about an hour of sanding I had a nearly prefect top. I thought about heat treating it but never did. It had about a 50 to 60% rebound when finished. I kept it for a long time after I got my first real anvil and had it mounted on a nice metal stand. I finally sold it to a fellow starting out in smithing.

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