Jump to content
I Forge Iron

(Hopefully) fully repaired anvil!

Recommended Posts

I picked up this well-abused anvil back in February or March, and with the help of this board, positively identified it as a circa 1885-1910 140lb Peter Wright.

It was in terribly sad shape; still usable, to some extent, but in overall poor condition. The horn had been blunted, the table worn and dished to a full 1/4" lower than the top of the horn, all the face edges were chipped, cracked and worn round, there was a spalled crater back by the hardy hole (almost 1/8" deep) the middle of the face was "swaybacked" over an eighth-inch lower than the surrounding face, there were several chipped craters in the middle (one divot was about 3/32" deep) and the whole face was marked by endless dents, dings and scars.

I looked into several different repair methods, including milling (would remove too much of the tool steel face) stick welding (expensive and poor results) and even, more recently, thermite.

I settled on building up the missing metal slowly via TIG. This had the benefits of being very controllable, minimizing the heat-affected-zone around the welds (minimizing the amount of face that would get retempered by the welding heat) and precise enough to repair tiny individual nicks and pits.

I tried commercial hardfacing wire (major cracking problems, and wasn't all that hard, probably low 50s RC) music wire (basically just high carbon wire) and even needle bearings.

I finally found, by blind luck, an excellent wire, in the form of some unplated screen-door springs. Very good quality wire, one foot-long spring when heated slightly and drawn back out, produced some twelve feet of welding wire, for a total cost of $2.25.

Kept to fairly small beads with the TIG, it landed file-hard (file couldn't touch it, hammer couldn't peen it, centerpunch couldn't mark it) and showed very low propensity to crack. (Though it did in one spot, where I'd had to gouge an existing crack out, and filled almost 1/2" deep, though part of that was with mild steel MIG wire.)

Anyway, it took many hours off and on over the past few months, a bottle and a half of argon, and a pile of grinding discs, flap wheels and sanding belts, but it's finally (almost) done:


I built up and redressed the horn, and then did it again a little later, to straighten the upper line and make it even pointier. It's now about an inch longer than when I bought it. :D

I then welded up the table with four or five passes of normal mild MIG wire, and milled it flat, to bring it up to just a little above the top line of the horn. Last, I piled a little MIG on the bottom of one foot, so it'd stand on a flat surface without rocking.

The face is still swaybacked slightly, but the two high "humps"- at the front of the face above the table, and at the back where the "crater" was- have been flattened, which levelled the whole face considerably.

Oh, and I "colored" the newly-ground and polished areas, except the face, with "gun blue", a chemical cold bluing fluid for firearm work. That sort of "artifically aged" it to blend in the modified areas.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am in about as bad of shape as that anvil was.
After viewing the exelent results of your end product (beautiful), I was kind of woundering if there is anything you could do to re-store me! I am Old, and Rusty. And I have been banged on while I was cold causing me to be work hardened and brittle. My table top has sunk to my waste area, and my face is full of pits and dings.
Oh, nevermind, After seeing what I just wrote, I think I will just sit back here on the storage shelf and be a antique show piece:cool:
Thanks for sharing your work.
Be safe!
Old Rusty Ted

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Keep us posted as to the durability down the road.

-That's my last concern, how well all that's going to hold up.

I'm not worried about the MIG, of course, since that's not hardened (though theoretically it should be a little harder than the wrought iron base.)

But one whole side is a mishmash mixture of Stoody hardfacing MIG wire (applied with the TIG) music wire, miscellaneous springs and needle bearings, as I was experimenting trying to find the best wire and method. Places where the Stoody rod was more than three beads thick, cracked several times, which I variously ground out and repaired with other wires.

It's entirely possible there's some tiny internal cracks, almost certainly a pinhole, bubble or other small void, or other fault in the welds that will progress into a crack as I beat on it.

If so, I'll patch it as best I can. Fortunately I don't make my living at blacksmithing- nor have any plans to- so it's only going to get an occasional hobby-level beating. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Doc
Looks great. Far more beautiful than any repare I have done on my chiped anvils. I have used mig and build up rod before but didn't post as I know that this is not my field of skill. However they seem to be holding up quite well. I rarely work cold stock though.
Did you preheat the anvil? if so how hot?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How to get (relatively) high carbon filler rod for your TIG:

One, buy an unplated screen-door spring for $2.25 at your local hardware store. This one happens to have been made by Century Spring, and one of the guys on the Home Shop Machinist board suggested it's probably 1095.

Next, get some pliers, a vise and a small propane torch:


Heat the end- it doesn't have to be red, it'll soften and bend easily well before it glows- and straighten a bit you can grab with the pliers. Then, holding the torch flame sort of parallel to the wire, just pull.

The coils warm and start to straighten, and as the wire moves closer to the flame, it heats more and lets more of the bend smooth out. A little practice and you can pull an 18" section, nip it off, pull another, nip it off, etc, until you have the whole thing unwound into a pile of pretty straight wire.

This spring was only lightly painted, and I took the smut off (after they cooled) with just a few passes of a Scotchbrite pad. After that, they were ready to use.

Did you preheat the anvil? if so how hot?
-I didn't. I'd weld intermittently 'til the anvil got warm to the touch, then set it aside for a while. This has been just a "side" project for a while, where I'll work on it an hour or two, then go on to something else, usually not coming back for a day or two, or even a week or more.

The TIG keeps things controllable, and is much more focused than MIG or stick. I intentionally kept the beads small and fairly short, and moved around a lot to try and minimize stresses.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

so hows your anvil holding, i have a poor old 70lb volcen, that some one did alot of cutting on, only one little chip that goes down deep enough to reach the cast iron, about 3/8 deep 1/2 long on a edge, but all over the anvil theres little cuts no deeper than 3/32 but a lot of them and they drive me nuts, i tig a lot at work, and hope to pic one up for my own shop soon, plan to try what you did to work on my anvil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've only had a few minutes to play with some smaller pieces, nothing serious. Maybe 40 minutes, all told so far.

Current verdict: The screen-door-spring side is holding up very well. Found one crack on the mishmash side that was highlighted by the scale dust. You can't see it (the crack) with the naked eye, but the fine scale must hit some weak magnetic field at the edge, and sticks there, outlining it. I've marked it for a reweld, but I'm waiting to see if others show up first.

The MIG weld on the nose/horn is holding up very well too. I've made a couple of ring-eyes (not welded, just rolled) and left no marks to speak of in the horn.

The welds to the face, however, appear to abrade slightly different than the original tool steel face. After working for a while, the relatively shiny recently-belt-sanded parts dull to a matte finish (due to the abrasive nature of the scale) but the welded portions retain that "shine" a little longer. This is purely and only a cosmetic thing- you can't feel the edge of the welds, they're not "denting in"/peening or falling out, they're not cracking, they just appear to wear slightly different, so they become more visible as a slightly shinier spot against the matte face.

I'll get some photos next time I have it out.


Link to comment
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.

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.

  • Create New...