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Need Help! Fixing a an anvil that has poor rebound


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I won't go into how I got the anvil or what I paid for it (#&%$!) but it I just took ownership of it (300+ lbs peter wright) and after cleaning up the face with a sanding disk the majority of the anvil is <50% rebound and my cross pein easily dents the face (just to make sure I went to my shop and test both a 150# peter wright and a 120# WBB and they both rebounded back to my hand from 24"without leaving any mark on the face and the cross pein itself was dented when tested on these). The Heel rebounds most and results in a loud ring (testing with a 1" ball bearing dropped from 12"). I am guessing that at one time this anvil was heavily used on the face and got too hot. The rest of the face when tested results in small divits from the ball bearing. My question is does anyone know of a commercial heat treating place that will re-heat treat the anvil? Also, if I can find a place that will do it should I have the edges TIG welded with 1095 as filler?

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You didn't say anything about the edges, so I can't say.  It's hard to imagine working an anvil so hard it lost it's temper, you'd need to be up around 800-900 F to do that.  Can you imagine getting near enough to get any work done on an 800 degree anvil.  Maybe it's been through a fire?

 

To re-heat treat you'd have to get it up to 1500F and then quench it fast enough to get it hard.  If you built a special forge and a crane and had 10-20 K gallons of fast flowing water, you could perhaps get that result your self.  If I remember the story correctly, one of the big manufacturers (Fisher?) used a 10 k gallon waterfall to harden anvils.  I can't imaging that a pro shop would charge you less than the cost of new 300 anvil, and they would have to know the alloy to even be able to give a 50-50 guarantee on the result, which is going to add to the cost.  You may have to chalk this one up as a loss.

 

Geoff

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Post pictures!

 

It could be that your anvil was a screw up at the factory.  Could have been through an industrial fire in it's life.  Could have had the original top plate removed or welded over by an idiot somewhere down the road....

 

Best way to fix it is to have a thick piece of tempered steel welded to the top.  Cut the holes for the hardy and pritchel, then raise the tempered plate up on some 1/4" round stock.  Use a thin rod to snake into the gap.  Alternate sides/ends regularly to minimize warping.

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The larger old anvils did tend to have a softer face though it sounds like this one was unhardened.  Most commercial heat treaters won't be set up for this job either.  In country blacksmithing Charles McRaven explains how he rebuilt and reHT'd an anvil---as I recall he used the high pressure hose from a local VFD as his quenching source.

 

Testing before you buy is MANDATORY as is being willing to walk away even at the last minute.  I lost my chance at my first large anvil---a 400#'r when I tested the face and it had a nasty buzz instead of a ring---face delamination, not visible but ominously present.  It hurt to walk away...

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Andrew what do the edges look like ?    If the anvil is as soft as you say then I would expect the edges to be maybe a bit rolled but unchiped.   Even with 50% rebound this could be a good serviceable anvil.  The trick is just don't hit it with the hammer.  Often on an old anvil like yours the off side edges are crisper than on the more used side ( the left hand vs right hand thing).  As long as you have fairly a crisp edge on one side you should be able to adjust your work habits to make the anvil work for you.

 

I would suggest that you clean it up and use it without attempting repairs which could cause more harm than good.   If it fails to meet your needs resell it and move on to another one with the atributes that you desire.   I expect that it will give you decent service, as is, if you give it a chance.

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I would advise use as is.  For large hot work only.  you can always make an anvil block that will let you do the other things.  Easier to heat treat too.  I have many anvils some mild steel all the way to my vulcan at 80 to 90 percent return.  All serve their purposes very well.  It may not be what you expected but it is still a really good anvil.  Just use till you find one more to your liking and then you might not want to get rid of this one. I know I wouldn't.  Looks like a very nice anvil.

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That almost reminds me of an anvil I ran across some time back.  The face was perfectly flat, but you could see that the plate was paper thin.  The only thing I could think was that the owners had routinely filed/sanded the top plate as it got dinged and scratched.  Eventually, that 1/4" plate was worn down to near nothing.

 

That yours is dented by a dropped ball bearing doesn't bode well, in my estimation.

 

I'd use it as-is for the time being.  Red hot iron between it and the hammer will prevent marring the face, and 50% rebound isn't that bad.

 

If you still want to do a repair in a year or so, you could hard-face it or add a top plate.

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the grinding is what has seriously damaged it,

the hardened surface can be very thin and the more you take off the worse it gets.

a pitted surface would improve more with use but as it has been removed it would cost a lot in time and materials to put it right

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That almost reminds me of an anvil I ran across some time back.  The face was perfectly flat, but you could see that the plate was paper thin.  The only thing I could think was that the owners had routinely filed/sanded the top plate as it got dinged and scratched.  Eventually, that 1/4" plate was worn down to near nothing.

 

That yours is dented by a dropped ball bearing doesn't bode well, in my estimation.

 

I'd use it as-is for the time being.  Red hot iron between it and the hammer will prevent marring the face, and 50% rebound isn't that bad.

 

If you still want to do a repair in a year or so, you could hard-face it or add a top plate.

 

 

Now that we have the pictures - Looking at three areas I think I see an anvil that has been welded up.  

 

The second picture shows what looks like a crack along one edge .  Hard edges soft plate ??   Maybe milled flat and the edges welded up cold.  Or milled and edges welded direct to the wrought iron base metal without using a WI compatible electrode. 

 

The hardy hole is much to crisp for an anvil that age.  I just sold the brother to this anvil, another 300 pound PW, the hardy hole edges were good but rounded from use.  

 

Can't really see because of the picture resolution but have a close look at that step edge.  There may be a hint there. 

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It is also pretty common when people grind down a anvil face to over heat the face from the grinding friction. Even the large mass of a 300 lb anvil can be over heated from grinding if little care is taken.
And it does look like the face has been ground to thin. Many people wreck anvils doing this. Trying to re harden is almost always a waste of money and time. Just use the anvil as it sits now. Or buy a new anvil that is in better condition.

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It is still harder than hot steel. Just use it as is. If problems develop over time, then think about doing some sort of fix. Until then don't worry about it, and just use it.

The only thing I might do is to smooth, and radius the edges some.

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Thanks for all the input guys. I am taking the majority's advice and just use it and hope I don't miss. I cold hammered a 1/2" hex head bolt and it did not do anything to the surface so I think it will hold up for hot work for the time being. Perhaps one day I will do as VaughnT suggested and weld a plate to the top and use it for the rest of my life. I did notice when I was hammering the bolt that the sheer mass of the anvil is nice in that it just does not want to move even when swinging fairly hard. Out of all the forums I have participated in, I must say that iforgeiron has the best people!!

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The hard part is gone, ground off, plus, as noted big anvils are softer anyway. The diviots are the work hardening process starting again. 

About the time you get it good again, someone else will come along and grind the hard part off again. I would find a big air chisel and work harden the face with a slightly rounded tool. 

 

The edges don't need welding at all, just easing with a sander. Pick your best one and give it the slightest (but some) radius, then vary the radius increasing from there. You will find uses for the various radius.

 

Vaugn, the minimum space for reaching in with a thin wire would be 3/8" square bar on edge. This should be tacked together to form an elongated H. 

Deep extremely narrow groove welding was abandoned by industry decades ago as ineffective. Were one to attempt this difficult, expensive and time consuming repair only air hardening plate would makes sense.  The hardest part would be removing every bit of slag between passes. Even then the old plate could become delaminated in the process, resulting in an even more expensive piece of junk. 

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one last thing---when you see an anvil that's been ground/milled down on the face always tell the seller of it that that has DROPPED THE VALUE.  If they get the idea that they are throwing away money perhaps they won't ruin the next one.

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Robb Gunter still does repairs on anvils. I talked to him a few months ago and he said he had done more than 90 anvil restorations.I don't have his number but it probably wouldn't be hard to find. Do a search in anvils.

It wouldn't be cheap tho, he and his sons are quite famous blacksmiths around these parts and very much in demand. However if you have a big anvil that you wanted to be restored to new it would probably be cheaper than buying a new one.. 

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