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I'm getting interested in a heavy anvil and I'm looking at 450# Nimbas and 460# Ratholes. The Nimbas are cast from 8640 (which I only know for its use in gears) and the Ratholes are cast from H-13, which I know as a hot-work/die steel. I'm guessing the H-13 might hold up better to prolonged hot work, but probably splitting hairs there... Both are about the same price. Both seem to be dressed very well. I really like the look of the Rathole and I like that it has the upsetting block. Everyone raves about Nimbas and I don't hear much about Ratholes, but I suspect it's simple marketing because Rathole has done so little in terms of web visibility. They look good quality and I've heard a few good comments about them. Any opinions? Anyone have a Rathole?

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I have no experience with either but have read positive reviews for both. It is my feeling that either will last a lifetime so I would go with which shape I thought would prove the most useful for the work I intended to do. There are a few others in that size range such as Refflinghaus. For most this would be a once in a lifetime purchase so I would make sure to get what I really wanted even if I had to save a litter longer to do so.

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I have the big Rathole (Fontanini) and love it.  Part time professional use for 3 years now on it, when I use it I use it hard.  Also have a few friends with Nimbas of various sizes and they love theirs.  Only complaint about the Nimba design I've heard from them is the pritchel hole being actually in the horn is a little annoying.

Mine arrived dead flat, crazy bouncy, and so hard I had to use a carbide burr in a die grinder to ease the edges of the holes rather than a file.  It doesn't even dent with a missed blow from a big sledge or the overly hard Peddinghaus hammers that my son sometimes uses.  

The only downside is that it is mildly magnetic (not so much that I've bothered to do anything about it) and it rings like a bell.

I have heard that Steve had some quality issues when he switched foundries a few years back, would be interested if anyone knows anything more about that.  Mine is a great anvil thou and he has the best looking design IMO hands down.  

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I think H-13 for an anvil is the result of a good deal from the foundry and part marketing hype. For what earthly reason would any alloy used for a manual anvil need to maintain integrity at RED heat?

My opinionator tells me the important two factors are how hard is it and will it chip? After that cost counts.

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 11 months later...

I note that Nimba states a Rockwell hardness for their anvils but neglect to say what the scale is they are using.  I have asked them three times by email what scale and they have never answered.  I'm pretty sure I'm not going to buy from them even though I like the shape... if they can't answer a simple  question and use hand waving meaningless terms like Rockwell hardness with no scale mentioned, it seems more like a marketing excercise than a real anvil company.

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Steels would always be in the Rockwell "C" scale. Even annealed.

It is pretty much an unspoken understanding, the B scale is only for soft materials such as brass. You could work in a lab for years and never use anything but the C scale for testing. I don't think that we have changed ours out at work in 15 years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockwell_scale

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Steel is C scale. An old anvil will have significant work hardening of the surface, it's depth will be determined largely by how heavy the hammers used on it were and what the stock's temperature was.

Rebound isn't so much a test of hardness as the depth of rebound. Inelastic rebound is what returns the hammer's force to the work from below. The rigidity of hard steel is important and the thicker the better. Hardness only goes so far where rebound is concerned as a working factor, it's more the depth.

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 2 weeks later...

When I bought my Fontanini, the comparable Reffinghaus was $1,400 more.  Plus it's made in the USA, if that matters to you.  Over 4 years on it now, on average hammering 20 hours per week (got to start saying no to the welding jobs!)  Still flat, crisp, no dings or chips even with the occasional kid trying to abuse it. Abrasion from fire scale is just starting to polish out the faint Blanchard grinding marks on the face.  

Shot of the face after 4 years.  IMG_0993.jpg

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I like my Fontanini "Rathole". If the horn is to my left, the upsetting block is on my side of the anvil; therefore, handy. The horn has some belly to it, American style. I turned my anvil upside down and ground/sanded the underside of the side-shelf to a sharp end; makes it useful for drawing fork tines and suchlike. It's mounted in a box of sand which deadens the ring somewhat. You can have too much loud ringing. Cast of H13 in the U.S.

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