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I Forge Iron

Identifying wrought chain...?

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Local fellow has an old (and very large) boat anchor, we figure roughly 2,500lb including the chain. It has about ten or twelve feet of badly rusted chain (much of it is rusted and scaled to about 2/3rds of it's original thickness) of loops some six or eight inches on the long axis with the old style spreader bar in the center.

Is there a "nondestructive" way I can determine if these are wrought iron? I might be able to buy a couple rings off the owner (it's all sitting in his yard as a decoration) but I can't "cut first, pay later". :D


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You ought to be able to see the wrought pattern in the rust. As for a chemical test:

From "Formulas for Profit", Bennett, copyright 1939, 4th printing

"To identify iron from steel"
"Mix 5 drops nitric acid with 10 drops H2O", (remember acid into water *NEVER* water into acid),"File a clean spot and place a drop on it.

If it is steel it will turn black immediatly. If it is wrought iron or malleable
iron it will stay bright for a considerable length of time."

Use at your own risk!

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  • 11 years later...

Rather than creating a duplicate, I'm going to do a little thread necromancy here.

Was visiting the scrapyard yesterday and there's this giant pile of anchor chains, and that I spotted there's at least three different types.20190612_114409.thumb.jpg.26da8cfe06389de4d4e95ba55d532c50.jpg



Do any of these look to be worth going back to investigate further for possible wrought?  I couldn't see any rusting that showed obvious grain/striation, appeared to be more pitting than anything else.  Is there anything else I should look for in terms of how the chain is made that would be unique to a Wrought Iron process?  For example, from what I've found online, process-wise this cut link is more than likely steel (inserted and welded spreader):


I should note that unless I want to pay for the yard to do the gas cutting of these, getting a sample would be limited to whatever could be done with a hacksaw or battery-operated powertool.  I think the smallest cross section was close to 2 inches in diameter.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The only group that looks like any of the wrought chain that I've seen is the second one (single picture where the crossbars look like the same diameter as the links).  I have heard that the crossbars are sometimes different material as well, so if you are going to spark test, do both.

For example, here is a photo of an anchor I came across while on a recent vacation on Cape Cod.  Both the anchor and chain were clearly wrought iron, as can be seen from the wear pattern.  However, the crossbar, the one that remains, didn't show the same wear and may have been cast...


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