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buffalo (?) forge purchase/repair advise


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Background: A couple of years ago I purchased a solid fuel forge with a brand new fire pot and a old working Champion blower.  I've finally moved to a (temporary) location where I can use it. Unfortunately, the fire pot is almost 5" deep which seems to be impractical for a coal fire and I'm not really keen on going to charcoal. For some reason, I have a real hard time controlling/maintaining a good coal fire in this. [i got all this for $150 so I don't have a lot invested.] 

 

I've decided to track down a smaller forge that I can use for small to moderate size stuff like bottle openers, animal heads, sundial parts, etc. etc.  I ran across what I think is a Buffalo treadle forge. (Let me add that I have lusted over this style forge for a long time. Some childhood memory of catching my fingers in my grandma's sewing machine no doubt) I ran across this forge at a flea market where the owner indicated that it had been in her living room as a plant holder for a dozen years.  The forge seems to be in relatively good condition (new belt, a new tuyere, and some minor cleanup). 

 

However, as you can see from the pictures there are two cracks on the table. The first is in the tuyere area and another crack is on the side. I don't know much about forges in general and even less about these 'rivet' size forges.  

 

Any advice on the impact of these two flaws on the usability of this forge would be greatly appreciated.

 

[FWIW - I know it doesn't mean much but the price is likely in the area of $150 with some room for negotiation.]

 

Thanks in advance, 

Dave  

 

https://flic.kr/p/p47Px4

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I can't give you any advice on fixing the cracks, I'm not a welder.  There are plenty of those here and they will help with that.

But I find myself in the opposite predicament.  I have a rivit forge and want a firebox so I can get a deeper fire.

I use fire brick now to get deeper coals.  I do strongly suggest that you line it with clay.

 

I need a deeper fire to cut down on the oxidation.

 

Bill

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Good Morning,

 

The crack in the bottom will not be a bother. Add a layer of clay, clinker or whatever to the bottom, that will help spread the heat from the crack. Heat goes up.

The crack on the side can be brazed, can use a cutting torch to get enough heat to braze it. If you don't have torches, bolt a patch onto the outside.

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The cracks aren't too much bother, as others have said.  A lining with some clay (kitty litter) to better distribute the heat and create a shallow fire pot will make a rivet forge really work wonderfully for small work.

 

Your bigger forge with the fire pot isn't problematic, it's just a matter of learning how to use it.  The deep pot means you have a nice bed of coals between the air coming in, and your iron.  This makes for less scale developing.  Ideally, you'd have a similar amount of coals above the iron, creating what's called a "neutral environment".  The NE is that sweet spot where the air coming in to the fire has plenty of time to burn off before the O2 hits the metal and forms scale.  This is especially important when working thin metal, like a knife.

 

It sounds to me like you're heaping the coal on to the forge table and watering the perimeter to maintain shape and size of the hot zone.

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Thanks to all for the suggestions. I'll do some digging on the kitty litter while I track down a more rigorous solution.  Regarding the comment by VaughnT. 

 

 

It sounds to me like you're heaping the coal on to the forge table and watering the perimeter to maintain shape and size of the hot zone.

 

 

I don't want to get too far off topic (probably because i want an excuse to get this other forge), but I really do want to figure out my original fire pot. My first classes were intentionally with coal so this has been a bit frustrating. This isn't rocket science and I've never had problems with a coal forge before. However, I'm sure that the major problem is operator error coupled, perhaps, with a bag of grumpy coal.  The coal is pea-sized which is a bit smaller than I'm accustomed to; I cannot seem to get a good bed of coals to develop beyond an inch or so of the grate.  As you say, I actually am 'heaping' the coal on the forge table and building a perimeter of wet coal (soaking the coal before I put it on).  From your comment it sounds like I shouldn't be doing that? (I've actually purchased some fire brick to potentially help control the size.) 

 

Meanwhile, I'm going to grab a bag of charcoal from the store and give that a try. And pick up a couple of new bags of coal... just in case. 

 

Thanks again. 

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TP, it could easily be an air issue. I'm going to borrow a blower (and maybe a full forge) and see if that makes a difference. My tuyer (and entire fire pit) are pretty standard, maybe an older Centaur. (Don't have access to it right now). I'm still leaning toward operator error with a black shadow of a coal issue.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As far as the depth of fire comment and the wetting coal.  I use both a rivet forge and a fire pot with coal.  When I use the fire pot, the coal is about 2 inches above the flange, and I splash water on either side of the pot to narrow the fire and create a coke layer between the fire and wall of the pot.  If the coal is relatively clean, I will burn a cave out of the coke which creates an oven to heat the metal quicker.  With a Rivet forge the pan is filled to the rim and I create a 3 sided volcano about 5-6" tall, sometimes it will become a narrow valley.  I tend to find people keep their coal too thin in a rivet forge. 

 

I don't believe (found it to be to troublesome) in soaking the coal unless it was stored in a heated building for a year, and if I soak it, it is allowed to drain for a week.  If the coal is too damp it will be hard to start, and if it is dripping wet then there is too high of a possibility of quenching the fire pot/pan as water flows through the coke when added to an established fire (this is what usually causes the cast iron to stress crack).

 

With the forge in the picture, as mentioned above drill a 1/16 hole about 1/2" beyond what looks like the end of the crack (crack tends to go further than it looks even after wire brushing).  This will release the stress in the metal, the cracks around the tuyere should not be a problem because of the bolts on either side.  The one on the rim, I would take a strap of steel 1/8 x 1" and bolt it through the rim with either a second strap (preferred) on the other side or thick fender washers.  Drill the bolt holes a little on the close side, so that you can pass the bolts through, but they rub against the holes in the forge.

 

As far as the first forge, if you place a piece of tissue paper or newsprint (4-6" square) over the tuyere and crank normal, there should be enough air coming through the tuyere to launch the paper.  If it doesn't then you probably have a clog or impeller problem.

 

Rich C.

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Rich C, thanks for the additional suggestions, all good points about wetting the coal. As much as it sounds like an excuse, I think my problems were exasperated by a weak bag of coal and a tired blower. The rivet forge purchase is on hold while the seller decides if she wants to fill it with plants again. Sigh.

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