Recommended Posts

And the search goes on. 

 

I just got off the phone with David, one of the owners of Alaska Feed.  He can get blacksmiths coal from Mountain Brook Forge in Oregon.  But the cost is rather prohibitive at $56.50 per 50# bag.  Another detail is. he needs payment in Advance.  So that works out to: $ 2260.  I just can't afford to pay that much in advance for coal.  We would need to collect the money from the various people in the interior who want it and then make payment.  Wait until the coal arrives then divide it up.  I don't know that sounds like a lot of work for little gain. 

 

As I was talking to David he went over his coal sails and was telling me how little he sold.  It worked out to about a bag a month.  Which for him doesn't make it worth it.  I can certainly understand.  That's why he wants all the money in advance.  I wouldn't want a ton of coal sitting around in inventory just taking up space either. 

 

I have a call into the Usibelli coal mine office here in Fairbanks and left a message with their purchasing person and am waiting for a  call back on that. 

 

I'll keep plugging away.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IIRC, on one of those "The Last Frontier" episodes on Discovery Channel, people were going out onto a beach in an ATV and busting up big clods of coal that wash up from the ocean.  The chunks can weigh several hundred pounds and folks use them for heating during the winter.  Not sure about grade and BTU content but might be worth trying.

 

I thought it was bad enough having to go 10 hours from here to Oklahoma but I can imagine getting coal into Alaska would be a real chore.  Y'all might also consider having a whole truck load or train car brought in straight from a mine then dump on a siding and let people come shovel what they want.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Y'all might also consider having a whole truck load or train car brought in straight from a mine then dump on a siding and let people come shovel what they want.

This would probably be the best course of action.

Like I said before with the demand I see out there I think maybe opening a coal yard on the west coast might be in my retirement plans :)

George

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually those lumps of coal erode from the cliff and wash down to the beach.  And we are only about 800 miles from there.  So that won't work. 

 

I can get coal.  Its just not ideal coal.  Sub bituminous, Moisture 29%, ash 9%, 36% Volatile Matter, 26.5% Fixed Carbon, 0.20% Sulfer, Heat Value (But/b) 7560 (4,200 kcal/kg),  Initial Deformation Temp (red) 2,150 F (1,175 C),  T250 Temp 2320F (1275C), Grindability (HGI) 42.  So its not ideal.  You can weld with it.  It will not coke.  But you have to strip out the fire and clean the fire pot after each weld.  Very time consuming.  On the plus side its cheap.  $120 per ton.

 

Buying a car load of blacksmithing coal and then getting it here to the state would be ridiculously expensive.  Not even worth looking into.

 

Not to mention there is no track link up to the lower 48.  Everything that large has to come by barge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IIRC, on one of those "The Last Frontier" episodes on Discovery Channel, people were going out onto a beach in an ATV and busting up big clods of coal that wash up from the ocean.  The chunks can weigh several hundred pounds and folks use them for heating during the winter.  Not sure about grade and BTU content but might be worth trying.

 

I thought it was bad enough having to go 10 hours from here to Oklahoma but I can imagine getting coal into Alaska would be a real chore.  Y'all might also consider having a whole truck load or train car brought in straight from a mine then dump on a siding and let people come shovel what they want.

 

Cute joke,  the problem is if there were any tracks and siding it is under many feet of snow most of the year.   OR were you serious and missed this is alaska section? Bryan is in North Pole Alaska ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cute joke,  the problem is if there were any tracks and siding it is under many feet of snow most of the year.   OR were you serious and missed this is alaska section? Bryan is in North Pole Alaska ?

Nah, I was up there last September and it was a regular Eden - absolutely some of the prettiest country I've ever seen...I was serious about some sort of bulk load - but maybe rail or truck are out of the queston and as he stated, it would have to come by barge.  Obviously, anything from the lower 48 costs more to ship and I understand that much of the country is only accessible by plane.

 

People considering large loads also need to gauge the level of serious interest among the smithing community.  I have found over the years that it's easy to get a bunch of smiths shouting "Amen!" when someone starts talking about bulk loads then they get scarce when it arrives and the money is needed to pay for the load.

 

And I really did take a trip from central Texas to eastern Oklahoma many years ago to buy about 6 tons.  A buddy of mine and I bagged it between dawn and lunch right at the mine, weighed out and left for home.  The miners sat around and laughed at us because those loaders they use would have held my whole truck and trailer.  IIRC, we got it home for about $7 per 100 lbs.

 

 

Bryan, have you thought about using charcoal?  You might also try a side blast forge - they are reputed to work better with dirty coal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The beach coal is down Homer way, sure there are other beaches you can pick coal off but getting to them is . . . an adventure.

 

If we could get the interest we could barge a container load after shipping it to the west coast. My experience barging stuff is air freight was cheaper by a considerable margin. things have changed since then though so.

 

Charcoal is always a potential but I don't recall how much of the interior in Bryan's neighborhood is hardwood. As I recall it's mostly poplar, of the cottonwood and aspen kind. Willow and alder are brush, not trees here. I've used charcoal, did it for years but unless I was sitting around a campfire it was a lot of hassle.

 

A major bummer being, as I sit typing I can see out my living room widow the south end of the Talkeetna mountain range, a formation some 75mil years old, give or take a million which is mostly one huge coal formation, 450miles long, 100 miles wide and 20,000' +/- deep. We just can't have any.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Check these guys out. http://www.blacksmithcoke.com/      They ship to all 50 states and this is some great stuff. I like it because there is no smoke and I can use it even if someone is selling food next to me when I am demonstrating.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you Lyle!

 

I'm getting a weird response when I try the link and almost as weird after googling the name. Something from "site info beta" and am wondering if Windows 8 has done it to me again!

 

With the tip, I'm sure we'll get the info pretty darned quick.

 

Thanks again.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you Lyle!
 
I'm getting a weird response when I try the link and almost as weird after googling the name. Something from "site info beta" and am wondering if Windows 8 has done it to me again!
 
With the tip, I'm sure we'll get the info pretty darned quick.
 
Thanks again.
 
Frosty The Lucky.


Try searching for "L brand coke" - might get some additional hits.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Frosty, ya we have plenty of hard and soft woods here.  Tons of Birch and tons of Spruce.  Spruce has about 1/3 less btu than Birch.  Birch is a hardwood, the stock of my Mosin/Nagant rifle is Birch.  I'm not sure that spruce is a hardwood however.  I googled the btu chart and for the varieties we have here that's what it shows.  So, I could get a chord of Birch and charcoal it.  It would take forever and would be a mess but it could be done.  I just need to set up a retort system.  I really would rather use coal.  IF it comes down to it I'll just go straight propane and be done with it.  But I love using coal.  Its half the fun of forging for me.

 

Lyle, I couldn't get that link to function.  But, when I googled it, it popped right up and I'm emailing them right after this.  I'll see what they will charge to ship up say 500 lbs.  Worse comes to worse.  I'll have them USPS 50 lb boxes.  IF its under 70 lbs it ships with USPS.  Anyway one at a time couldn't be terrible on the pocket.  I'll contact them and find out.

 

HWooldridge, It is pretty country up here.  I love it.  The idea about a side draft is a good one.  I haven't used any of the Usibelli coal in my break drum forge so I don't know how it will act.  I plan on getting a bag of it from a local coal supplier for home heating units.  Its about $6.00 a bag for 100#.  So may as well for that price. 

 

I'll keep plugging away.  See what I can find out.  Worse comes to worse I'll just convert to propane.  I have a propane forge.  I just don't like it.  Its a stupid reason.  I just love the romance of coal.  The way you have to manipulate the fire.  How you have to tend it and care for it.  With propane you just turn it on and light it.  Done.  There is no challenge.  I know its not a good reason or a practical one, but its mine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I couldn't remember how much birch you had in the interior, it's been a long time since I visited.

 

Have you considered a propane chip forge like the Brits use? I've been thinking about one again but need to come up with what to make the chips from. Shipping them from the UK is kind of. . . Using one is a lot like using coal, coke or other solid fuel except for the flames, smoke and keeping close watch. Turn it on and when it's hot go to work.

 

I'm thinking you're discovering why I'm a propane forge guy. I can see mountains of coal right now I just can't have any. Making charcoal is easy enough just time consuming and for some funny reason I get jumpy around chainsaws and birch trees.

 

I got the stupid "site info beta" page when I tried opening L brand coke too Howard. I'll try again tomorrow and see. Maybe try the 800 # if Bryan doesn't hear back. You don't get near the runaround on 800 #s. it's their dime after all.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the L Brand Coke, there is a 20 bag (1000 lbs) minimum order.  I have a call in to their Washington contact and am waiting a reply.  I don't know.  This sounds expensive to. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes coke does go further.  I just got off the phone with the L Brand Coke gentleman and we had a nice talk.  Turns out he's the same person that David from Alaska Feed was talking to.  I just didn't know it.  And he's not in Oregon he's in Washington.  Neither here nor there.  The problem is of course shipping and minimums.  If David can get a pallet, his shipping cost is fixed.  It goes in the container and weight isn't an issue.

 

For the smiths here in the Golden Valley that want to get coal or coke, the issue is having to prepay.  David told me he won't do an order unless he has the money in hand.  I can understand that.  But I can't pay for an entire shipment on my own.  I would be more than willing to be the front and get it done.  But I would need others to pony up.  In advance and be willing to wait until it arrives.  So if any other smiths in the interior want to do this let me know and we will get together and make it happen.  But interest needs to be shown or this is a dead deal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Guys,

Before making a firm decision on anything I'd suggest checking out these people as well:

http://www.penncoal.com/

They'll ship anywhere as much or as little as you want. Give them a call and see what kind of deal you can get.

Knowing a bit about the area it's being mined from I can tell you it's the best quality smithing coal you're going to find ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks George, that's the same coal.  Its Pocahontas.  The same stuff Mountain Brook Forge is selling.  Anyway I'll figure out if we have enough interest, if not, I guess I buy a 100# propane tank.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used L brand coke (still have 3 bags) and can attest that it is good fuel. Burns cleanly and very hot. The only problem I have ever noticed is that it usually has enough retained moisture to pop from steam buildup if you throw it on top of a burning fire. Solution is to mound it along the side of the fire and let it warm up slowly - or store it in a dry, low humidity place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spoke to someone from the Usibelli mine today.  Usibelli has been getting a good amount of interest in bituminous coal and are aware of the blacksmithing community in Alaska. They indeed have a lease near Palmer that they are going to open up as soon as they get the mining permits taken care of.  All the other permissions are done and its just this last hurdle before they begin operations.  It is bituminous coal, about 12,000 btu and does coke up.  So that's great news.  But will be in a year or two before we can see any results from it.  In the mean time we will continue the hunt.

 

I also talked to Jeff Coe from Fox and we are still trying to get people together to make an order and will keep working on it. 

 

So, good news for the future.  I will keep my eyes peeled for any news of Usibelli opening up the new seam and when they do.  I will get as much as I can afford.  Which for local prices for coal could end up in the several ton range.  Heck, if its anywhere near the Healy mine prices $500 would be around 4 tons.  At those prices I may just get in to the business of selling coal for blacksmiths.  Something to consider for the future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is encouraging Bryan. I imagine if they open the mines at Castle Mtn. they'll refurbish the RR line to connect to Seward coal loading facility. You might be able to get a gondola delivered close.

 

I'm hoping I'll be able to buy a ton without having to go to the interior.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They must be thinking about the wishbone hill mine as I am sure anything up castle mnt. would be a longer time frame.

 

Right you are Mark, Castle Mtn. just comes to mind first seeing as it has all those mines and wishbone hill is pretty clear.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, just got off the phone with L Brand Coke and I can get the pallet delivered to my house for $2045, that's for a ton and a quarter.  (2250 lbs)  in 50 lb bags of Pocohantas 3 blacksmithing coal.  That price would be good for the next month.  So that's how long I have to gather together the money from smiths here in the Golden Valley.  If anyone is interested in getting some of this let me know and we will gather the money and make it happen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this