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Suggestions for Purchasing a Coal Firepot


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If you are building the forge you may as well build the firepot as well. It is debateable whether cast iron is better than steel for this purpose. I would/have used 1/2 plate 60 degree incline angle. I even made the clinker breaker from steel 1" plate with a 1/2" diameter stainless steel shaft. No issues over 20 years later, but use gasser most often.

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If I was going to take the time to build a coal/coke forge I would want to do it right from the start and get a good comercial cast firepot. At this point in my life the time spent building one is more valuable then the cost of the firepot. There are several good ones to choose from I have had good experence using the heavy duty coke ones Centar Forge sales. Also the Roger Lorance fire pot seem the get a lot of praise.

 

If you have the cash and this is going to be something you are sure you will stick with for the long term you wont be disapoined buying a good one. However if you have more time than money or will be using primarly gas then building one is a good option.

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1/4" for the table will be very heavy if the table is of decent size. Keep that in mind if it's to be a portable forge.

 

Here's the link to my forge build.

 

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My forge is about as heavy as I can move by myself without the new legs. The table is only 14 or 16 ga. If it was 1/4", there's no way I could move it without complete disassembly. My guess is it's close to 100 lbs as it sits with the blower table and firepot. My table did warp some when I raked out a huge fire onto the table to knock it down fast one year when an unsuspected thunderstorm hit. That small bit of warpage really doesn't effect the usefulness of the forge one bit. The biggest part of the sheet oilcanned some. If I had a brace underneath, it probably might not have happened. I'd raked out dozens of fires onto the table to knock things down in the past when I was finishing up with no issues, but most were small to moderate. I'm betting as big as the fire was at the time, even heavier sheet might have warped some.

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DSW,

 

I rake most of the coal and coke out of my firepot after each forge session and to keep from burning up and wasting the coal if a strong wind is blowing (outdoor forge), I sometimes sprinkle the burning stuff with a water can.  I never have noticed if my table (1/4" sheet steel) has any warping or not (?).  I might clean it off someday and check it out.  Wouldn't make any difference anyway...it's always covered with coal and out of sight!!  ;)

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Robbie-G,

 

First, welcome to iforgeiron.  Great forum!  You can/will learn a LOT here.

 

I pretty much second kubiack's comments.  I built my forge as a portable one similar to DSW's but with a brake drum firepot.  Been working OK for a couple of years, but in retrospect I now wish I had been putting $10 or $20 away each month in a "firepot kitty" to upgrade to one of the Centaur or Roger Lorance cast iron biggies.  In that time, I could have now upgraded.

 

If you have the resources (welder, torch or plasma cutter, source for thick steel) and wish to make a DIY firepot like DSW's, then his is a great model to go by.

 

One caveat on making a brake drum forge:  not all drums are the same size.  I cut out a circle in my steel plate to drop the brake drum into, but quickly realized that if and when the drum either broke or burned through, I might not be able to find an exact same size replacement.  One could easily cut a new plate to fit the new drum and tack it in place over the original hole, but that's another project to mess with.  

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Break drums and disks are more trouble than they are worth. Pots are nice because you set them down in the table for a clean look, but for practical purposes bolting your twear directly to the bottom of a 55 gallon drum or an oil drain pan works out well, frankly for the trouble. Look at the old portable forges, just a pan (cast or sheet) with a grate in the middle. I honestly think the break drum forge comes from using an old model T drum with intrical hub, like a modern electric drum for a trailer. Now if your building a forge table, a fabricated or purchased pot makes sense, but for a cheap, working forge, or a portable, grab a drum or oil drain pan ( clay, sand or ash and clinker will insulate the galvy)
A bolt on drum clamp, 8' of 1x1/4" bar ( 3 legs, spacers and brace) and a drum, plus some 2" exhaust pipe (Glenn's later 55 forge is cheap and elegant) as you can have an exhaust shop weld up a "T" for you cheaper than you can buy pipe fittings (back in the day when pipe was the only way to plum, scrap was plentiful as it was only rated for 20 years) ad an exhaust rain cap and a counter balance to keep it closed. And your almost their. So now a simple grate. I like bullet grates, so take a 2" black pipe cap and drill one 3/4" hole in it. Don't like that, a plate with a hole. Want fancy? Spiral two 1/2 bars to gether. Knock them apart and you have 2.
Or save the bother and go side blast.

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Well, I'm of the build it yourself school, but as the coke pots tend to ne thicker than the coal pots I'd tend that way. Otherwise I'd build a side blast. But I like to be different, lol

 

Like to be different huh. Here is a link to the side blast forge I built. I guess I should have said if I was going to build a bottom blast I'd get a commercial fire pot. However after having used a side blast for a while I don't think you could talk me into switching to a bottom blast.

 

Post #13 shows some pictures of it underconstruction and finished. I had the plate sheared at a local fab shop but did the rest of the work myself. I think the price for the plate and to have it sheared was about what one the Centar Forge coke firepots cost.

 

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Break drums and disks are more trouble than they are worth........

 

I would respectfully disagree with that, and probably lots of folks using them might also.

 

My first forge, and still using it BTW, is a brake drum forge.  Firepot cost = $0.  Commercial firepot =  a bit less than $300.  Pretty expensive for the first outlay.  Mine has been no trouble at all.  Sheet steel table 1/4" thick, cut a hole, dropped in brake drum, hooked up air supply and good to go!!!!

 

Probably when my brake drum gives it up, I may buy a $$ cast iron firepot, but then again I may just get another drum...who knows?

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Based on the work involved to make a break drum or rotor into a functinal fire pot vs. the work to make a functinal side blast or bottom blast with out a fire pot. I'm a cheap (acualy poor) Ol' boy. I would be hard presed to justify buying a fire pot. But a tub or drum, a bit of pipe and some dirt? Less work, less cost. Last forge i built was made from two pallets, an old manual inflatable bed pump, a scrap of 1/2" pipe and a bit of 3/4" heater hose (free from my parts house scrap bin) and a bunch of clayed soil from the yard. No cutting a plate to block the bottom of a drum or rottor, no plate to cut a hole in to drop the drum in, no drilling, no welding, no 2" pipe fitings ect.
Think its a failer to comunicate.

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Building my own forge and going to use 1/4" plate for the table portion and thinking about a cast iron firepot but not sure which ones are best and where you suggest I pick one up.  

 

Hello Robbie-G, a lot of good suggestions on here. For my 2 cents I went with Centaur Vulcan Firepot with Dumping Ashgate

From Centaur Forge. I am 100% pleased with it. 

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Most people end up liking what they get used to...  What might really help is to go to one of the local blacksmiths association meets and get to try out different fire pots.  A few blacksmiths are antisocial trolls, but lots of guys would be interested in helping a new guy out, and letting them try their kit...  It is easy enough to fabricate a firepot, a steel pot wont last as long as a cast iron pot, but you built the first one you can always build another one.  There are several commercially cast pots.    The Laurel super heavy duty fire pots used to be EXCELLENT, but I'm not sure if you can still get them, they certainly AREN"T listed on their website, you would have to call to see if you can still get the blacksmiths line of product???  If your happy fabbing up a pot to try, have fun.  There are several good threads here that even have cut patterns as I remember.  If it turns out you don't like it, build another one, or buy a nice heavy cast one...  Then there is always the option of building a side blast forge.  There are lots of ways to get the steel hot, and then there is the question what do you want to make with your forge, that affects whether you want a small shallow firepot, or a big deep fire pot.  And whether the work would be best suited for a round, or a rectangle, or square fire pot???  If you can test drive a few, and find one that you really like that's great. If you just want to strike out and do some experimenting that's great too, discover what you like, invent something... :-)  Make something!

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