Thomas H.

Forge blower and bellows

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I need some help, I would like to purchase a forge blower and all I find are overpriced antiques. I was thinking I could build a Japanese bellow box, but my preference is a hand crank forge blower that is in a $55 to no more than $100. at this rate I am desperate. 

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Get a bathroom fan, a cooling fan from some piece of equipment, a vehicle `12 volt fan, or a buy a new electric fan. A hair dryer will work.

You need to adjust your preference to what is available and what will work in order to get you started. After that make things on the anvil and use the money to purchase a hand crank blower.

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This is the second post I've read from you today Thomas and you seem to think this craft is inexpensive to get into. You're going to have to decide what you can afford, it's rarely the same as what you want. You don't want to pay much for a power hammer, you don't want to pay too much for a blower but you don't want to do what's necessary until you can afford what you want. Sounds to me like you just don't want to BE a blacksmith enough.

I'm not trying to be hard on you but you're going to put on your big boy pants. I hate to tell you this but in the real world you're going to have to earn your tools. Whether that's by making them yourself or mowing lawns till you can afford them.

If you won't use a box bellows it doesn't sound to me like you WANT to blacksmith. Heck, if you won't use a paper bag and garden hose you don't WANT to blacksmith. Having the "Right" tools and equipment doesn't mean anything, NOT A THING. They don't do anything. It's the blacksmith that does the work and a real blacksmith will take a paper bag, a roll of news paper, some mud and MAKE a working bellows and sideblast. then s/he'll find a rock, busted axle old engine block whatever for an anvil. Split a willow branch and peal the bark for twine to tie it around a rock for a hammer. More split willow wands for tongs. Then use whatever necessary to light a fire burn whatever wood can be broken up by hand or smashing with a big rock.

Apply blast, heat scrounged scrap or refine the iron and MAKE. Make the tools the: chisel, punch, then forge, punch and rivet a pair to tongs together, tossing the smouldering willow wand tongs into the forge. Then a hammer and hot cut or maybe a hack or devil, On and on. A blacksmith isn't limited because s/he doesn't have "real" tools. A blacksmith is limited by his/er handling capacity. (how heavy/large the objects s/he can handle) Given time a REAL blacksmith will build the tools and equipment from what's at hand using desire, need and determination. People who need almost anything will come to his/er door for products, or tools to make products. At first they may have to barter: material, goods or services. Before long though there'll be a town, then traders will be stopping by, in a few millenia you and I are typing on keyboards communicating across a planet.

That is how civilization came about. Not by asking but by doing. You've been doing this long enough to be making things that you can sell. If NOT you don't deserve a power hammer, you aren't blacksmith enough.

I don't want to discourage you Thomas I WANT to see you succeed but that isn't going to happen if you can't make your way. You have to want to be a blacksmith enough to do whatever is necessary to become one. There used to be a saying that covers this pretty well. "Champagne taste on a beer budget." It doesn't make you a bad guy, I think most of us have wanted more than we could or were willing to go out and get. Sometimes we really REALLY WANT something but the effort and dedication to satisfy our desires just isn't there.

For example, I've always wanted a 1957 Mercedes 300Sl. Gullwing Roadster. Know where I can get one for not much? I don't want to work long and hard enough to win one at auction or meet the million dollar + asking prices for one. I guess I'll settle for fond memories of the used 62 corvette I COULD afford and it took me 3 years to pay it off WITH my parent's cosigning or I'd still be paying on it.

Keep looking though you might get lucky.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Frosty, i know that rant wasn't meant for me but it is a good reality check for me when I get frustrated by the things I can't afford but I 'need.' I still 'need' and anvil even though my rail works fine. I 'need' a power hammer to help me be more productive but still need to learn the basics with a hand hammer before I can fully appreciate such a machine. I 'need' more of every tool as cheap as I can get them. But, as your post so eloquently points out, what I really need is just a little more time, patience, and probably most importantly practice. Thank you, Frosty, for the reality check. 

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but but Frosty!....oh different Thomas; NEVERMIND!

​Oh you are such a joker Thomas. I have a different rant for your shenanigans.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Please send it I could use a good rant to get my blood riled! 12-14 hour days, then go work on the move, then try to get a few hours of sleep...

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Sure, just as soon as my blood sugar is high and you shenanigate some. I need a little inspiration you know. Maybe when I get back from Anchorage this afternoon. I hate driving to Anchorage, it's a long drive to for road construction and morons in traffic antics.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Here's my first forge, took me 4 months of scrounging, drilling and bolting (no welder) to get to there. DSCN0579.thumb.JPG.6e3ba64cb89f5299a8291Anvil was an I beam, fuel was charcoal.

DSCN0580.thumb.JPG.651a37530f5d96db3be0a

I took me YEARS to find a blower, $80 at the back of a garage sale.

Tried to build a plywood bellows in that time. Didn't work, too heavy, and the naugahyde instead of leather wouldn't seal against the plywood, messy caulk and nails, ended up tossing it after hours and hours of work and pondering.DSCN1929.thumb.JPG.667db72542bffa2ee4f95

Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.

I just saw a box bellows in use at Western States.  Don't discount that route, dead simple, effective and you get a surface to lay your tools on, less stooping.

 

DSCN1929.JPG

DSCN0580.JPG

DSCN0579.JPG

Edited by Michael

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A good working set up. I really like the plaque on the wall.

There are other kinds of bellows too, I really like the barrel in a drum of water bellows. A couple duct tape flap valves some hose and a lever to lift the barrel and you're golden. Remove the end opposite from the bungs from a barrel. Remove one end from a drum and fill it with water almost as deep as the barrel is long. Attach a flap of duct tape over the bung hole inside the barrel, it needs to want to cover the hole but be free to move. You attach the hose to the barrel's top hopefully it has a second bung but poking a hole in the end works a treat and leaves you a place to rig another flap valve to prevent it from drawing air back from the tuyere. The really tricky part is rigging a lever to lift the barrel, you'll need a post, lever and link to the barrel. It might be as tricky as a forked stick jammed into the ground next to the drum another stick laid over the fork and some line, light chain or heavens help us all hand twisted line. If you're not choosy I suppose you could just use the drum and lay a branch on it's top edge and live with a shorter stroke.

That's it, push the handle down lifts the barrel in the drum of water, the intake flap valve allows air to replace the water as you lift it, the flap valve "Checks" (Yes it's a check valve!) the air from being drawn in the hose. Let go of the handle and the barrel sinks in the water forcing the air out through the hose to the fire. Need more blast? Put a couple rocks on the barrel so it sinks faster with more force. These things produce a nice long lasting even blast that's much easier to adjust than electric blowers.

That's about all there is to it. Easy greasy.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Okay, second post in a row on the same thread! :o

Another version of the drum of water bellows works like this. If you have a source of water head. (That's water running down hill so gravity provides the energy, think water wheel) You collect the water as high above you as possible and pipe it down to a drum with a plumbed fitting and a valve. any valve works just fine you just have to be able to shut the water off. A second valve in the top of the barrel is nice but not as important as one in the bottom for a drain though pulling a bung works fine, more hassle but works.

Now you have a drum plumbed so water flows in a closed pipe from a height and a shut off valve. In the top of the drum you have your blast hose with a check valve. An closable vent is a good idea and really speeds up the process. One drain at the bottom of the drum.

Here's how it works. When you open the water valve, water flows into the drum displacing air. The air is forced out the hose to the forge. When the drum is full you shut off the water and open the drain and air vent. when the drum is empty it's ready to blow again. Easy Greasy but more dependent on good conditions.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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In Michigan there was a hydraulic air compressor that worked by bubbling air into a stream of water that went down a "mine shaft" to a larger room at the bottom where the air escaped to the top of the room where the take out pipe was and the water flowed out  a different opening.  Working pressure was about 117 psi and the air pipe was 1' diameter.

They ran the processing plant off it!

See Taylor Hydraulic Compressor Victoria Mine Michigan 

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