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Hello from 10,000 feet!

 

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Ugh, I never know what to say when introducing myself. My name is Clayton, and I live in the highest incorporated city in the United States (Leadville, Colorado). I'm really new at smithing, and don't have a lot of support as far as teachers in my area. Basically, I've learned a whole bunch from youtube and the black hole that is the Internet.

I got into all this stuff because I simply need a way to relax. My job and family are fairly stressful, and smithing/making stuff is super fun. This summer, I'm working on building my first gas forge. I'm using an old propane cylinder to house everything, insulating it with kaowool and a coating of satanite. I'm hoping two 3/4" burners will be enough for the project. It's so hard to tell because I live at such a high altitude. I may have to construct some sort of blower for the thing to work properly. That's a forum post for another day though.

Please take some time to say hello. I'll try my best to respond to everybody.

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Welcome board Cloudy, glad to have you. It's hard to beat blacksmithing for stress relief it's very meditative. There are thousands of posts archived here organized in categories covering darned near anything you might need to ask or know about the craft. Take some time and do some reading in areas of interest. This will give you a handle on things so you can ask good questions and understand the answers.

You shouldn't have any trouble tuning naturally aspirated burners for your elevation though gun burners are an option.

Don't sweat trying to answer everybody, just relax we're not keeping a word count on you or anything. The guys and gals are generally pretty laid back unless something stirs us up. :o Do you like puns?

Frosty The Lucky.

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Welcome I've run Steve Gensheimer's aspirated propane burner at over 7000' with no issues; I need to take it up to the MRO and try it out at 10K'.

My previous job I was working on a Radio Astronomy Antenna being built at 16400' in the Andes, (ALMA),  and our low site was around 9K. Just a couple of thousand feet can make a big difference!  Biggest thing I would worry about is ventilation!!!!!  Gets cold up there but don't use a propane forge without massive amounts of ventilation!

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I'm mostly going to be using the forge in the parking lot of my apartment complex until I can find a better place to live (hopefully small yard with shed on property). Propane vents down since it's heavier than air, and working outside helps my lungs a bit. The neighbors don't mind the noise as long as I don't do it in the middle of the night. It's still winder up here (probably will get our last snow in early June again). The cold doesn't bother me much. Hot metal cools a little faster, so stuff needs to get thought out ahead of time since every hit needs to count.

I plan to do some more projects after the forge is running. A small metal melter for brass, copper, and bronze, as well as eventually a homemade 2x72 belt sander. I'll need the forge to make some stuff for the later projects though.

Anyhow, I'm super excited to be here. Been reading a lot, and have found some really good ideas already.

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Sorry but if you are venting propane gas you are totally doing it WRONG.  Now 2000 degF exhaust gas is lighter than air at ambient temperature and rises.  You may have seen hot air balloons using propane burners to get lift.  Outside helps a lot particularly if you orient wrt the wind direction to blow across the exhaust and away from you and especially away from the burners!  Nothing spike CO production like running exhaust back through the burner.  

You do realize that a propane forge is a small metal melter right? And if you will be working with metal I suggest going directly to building a belt grinder and skip the belt sander---there are differences!  (yah we tend to get picky with language as mistakes can be painful if not lethal!)

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If you're going to be using it in open air you might want to use a gun burner, they're a lot less susceptible to breezes than naturally aspirated burners. Gun = blown. Naturally aspirated is a burner that uses the pressure of the flammable gas to induce combustion air into the burner.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Howdy Clayton, I used to go through Leadville( i worked out of Rifle) and around the western slope. Used to get coalatMountian Feed and Supply. Welcome to the site, lots of knowledge on here! jimmy

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13 minutes ago, jimmy seale said:

Howdy Clayton, I used to go through Leadville( i worked out of Rifle) and around the western slope. Used to get coalatMountian Feed and Supply. Welcome to the site, lots of knowledge on here! jimmy

The company I work for is out of Rifle. I do a lot of plumbing/mechanical work over in the Vail valley (all the way up to Eagle), and some work in Aspen when Independence Pass is open.

3 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Sorry but if you are venting propane gas you are totally doing it WRONG.  Now 2000 degF exhaust gas is lighter than air at ambient temperature and rises.  You may have seen hot air balloons using propane burners to get lift.  Outside helps a lot particularly if you orient wrt the wind direction to blow across the exhaust and away from you and especially away from the burners!  Nothing spike CO production like running exhaust back through the burner.  

You do realize that a propane forge is a small metal melter right? And if you will be working with metal I suggest going directly to building a belt grinder and skip the belt sander---there are differences!  (yah we tend to get picky with language as mistakes can be painful if not lethal!)

On venting propane gas:

Sorry, I'm still new to the smithing language. Propane vents down since it's heavier than air. Co2 vents upwards, since it is lighter than air. Either way I look at it, the forge I'm building has a rather large opening in front which will serve as a sufficient heated air vent. Because I'll be using it outside (not in some tiny room), I think I'll be ok. I've used far worse in enclosed spaces, and feel fine.

On melting metals:

I know, I know. Propane forges can melt metals. The problem I have is that my forge plans are a little large for the metal melting purposes I have, and I plan to spend some money on fuel while operating it. Because of the cost of fuel, I'll probably make it so I can take one of the burners out of my forge, and stick it in a smaller tool to melt copper, gold, or brass (or, whatever really). It should cost less to heat less space.

On building a belt sander/grinder:

I'm not sure what the difference is between a belt sander or belt grinder. In fact, as far as I know - a belt sander simply has less power than a belt grinder. This shouldn't be a problem. Since I've added the belt sander to my project list for this year, I've been on the lookout for multi-speed motor, which I can use to switch between wood and metal modes with the push of a button. Yeah, this is going to take some rigging, but I'm a creative guy. I shouldn't have to much trouble.

On mistakes being painful:

For my day-job, I do plumbing and mechanical. There's not a day that goes by where I'm not crawling up the side of an elevator shaft, hanging off the side of a scaffolding, soldering on the top of an extension ladder, or having near misses with my fingers against a chop saw. Life is just that. Life. Not to be to grim here in my response, but death is a part of life. Live every day to your fullest, trust in God, and make judgements based on sound thinking. Anybody can have a mistake which can lead to a missing finger, a marred arm, or a coffin. We take that risk every day we wake up. For smiths, it's just another part of living fully. The call to create is more powerful than our fear of harm.

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There is a lot of reading here that will be beneficial to you, check out the gas forge section. Recently there was a pretty in depth discussion of building propane forges to be as efficient as the use permits.

For example a LARGE opening is a bad thing in a "propane forge". Being "regenerative" the steel isn't heated directly by the flame the flame heats the furnace walls and the radiated IR heats the steel. A large opening just allows IR to heat the room and YOU instead of keeping it concentrated inside the forge.

Mikey made an excellent argument for thermal baffles in front of the doors. Not to contain the fire but to reflect the IR back into the forge chamber. We were also discussing and brainstorming better refractories for forge liners and baffles. He's just now started posting again after surviving a stroke. I'm a TBI survivor and understand how exhausting "normal" activities can be so we'll see how often he jumps in on forge and burner discussions.

A well functioning propane forge is more complicated in some ways than seems intuitive but is in truth a pretty simple device. contradictory I know but it's an up and down side thing.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Sorry but we don't vent propane; we BURN it. If your system is venting propane something is wrong.   If your plumbing is leaking is it OK or do you need to FIX it? The forge vents CO2, CO, N2 and H2O at high temps. I usually use firebricks to close in the doorway of my forge as much as possible leaving just enough space to get the workpieces in and out.

I once started to get a headache at a SOFA meeting where they were running a propane forge rich and had closed the sliding doors a bit more than usual as there was a storm going on outside.  This was a good sized room with bleachers in it for the meeting attendees. I tend to advocate over caution as I prefer not to lose any more friends to easily dealt with dangers. You are of course welcome to live your life as you see fit; I will just err on the side of warning folks even if it's perhaps more than I myself may follow...(I gave the farewell toast for Paw Paw Wilson at Quad-State the year he died; you'll run across his story here or over at anvilfire.)

Sanders vs Grinders: speeds, bearings, protection of bearings and motors from dust, types of belts used (though the old garnet belts are not as common as they once were for wood sanding) In general one can grind wood on a belt grinder better than once can sand metal on a wood sanding system...   I've worked in a commercial woodshop and for a swordmaker so I have some experience with both set ups---as well as 35+ years smithing.

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6 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Sorry but we don't vent propane; we BURN it. If your system is venting propane something is wrong.   If your plumbing is leaking is it OK or do you need to FIX it? The forge vents CO2, CO, N2 and H2O at high temps. I usually use firebricks to close in the doorway of my forge as much as possible leaving just enough space to get the workpieces in and out.

I once started to get a headache at a SOFA meeting where they were running a propane forge rich and had closed the sliding doors a bit more than usual as there was a storm going on outside.  This was a good sized room with bleachers in it for the meeting attendees. I tend to advocate over caution as I prefer not to lose any more friends to easily dealt with dangers. You are of course welcome to live your life as you see fit; I will just err on the side of warning folks even if it's perhaps more than I myself may follow...(I gave the farewell toast for Paw Paw Wilson at Quad-State the year he died; you'll run across his story here or over at anvilfire.)

Sanders vs Grinders: speeds, bearings, protection of bearings and motors from dust, types of belts used (though the old garnet belts are not as common as they once were for wood sanding) In general one can grind wood on a belt grinder better than once can sand metal on a wood sanding system...   I've worked in a commercial woodshop and for a swordmaker so I have some experience with both set ups---as well as 35+ years smithing.

To correct you, chemically speaking, burned propane turns to:

  • CO - Carbon Monoxide
  • CO2 - Carbon Dioxide
  • NO - Nitric Oxide
  • NO2 - Nitrogen Dioxide
  • SO2 - Sulfer Dioxide

Propane does not stop being propane simply because it's heated up. The molecules are still there, they just bond with other molecules to form different compounds.

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Propane stops being propane when it's burned.. My propane forges burn propane, none escapes even if it burns at the door with contact with the ambient air.

If the atoms are not linked together into propane it's not propane.  You can have a mix of H2 and O2 gasses and it's not water even if the atomic balance matches H2O.  If you burn wood you don't have wood anymore; right?

I'll double check this with my sister the chemist; my degrees are in Geology/Geophysics and CIS. Hmm I wonder if my daughter, soon to be Dr Powers DVM (graduates in 2 weeks), has a take on this.  She's had chemistry and organic chemistry decades more recently than my old college courses.

Note that propane does not contain any sulfur; that's the odorant added to it.

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Thomas I'm beginning to be convinced neither of us knows enough to be of any help to this young man.

Frosty The Lucky.

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7 minutes ago, Frosty said:

Thomas I'm beginning to be convinced neither of us knows enough to be of any help to this young man.

Frosty The Lucky.

How bout this. How bout I build what I want to build, and you guys can criticize it later. Sound fair?

This is one of the reasons I don't usually like to participate on forums and such. I just get to frustrated with the one or two know-it-alls in the crowd who can't fathom a person who can think outside of their opinion.

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The information provided was in answer to your questions. The site pushes safety and the safety issues mentioned were to keep you safe and healthy.

Negative name calling is against the site rules. I would suggest that calling someone a (positive inference) "know it all" on this site  is incorrect as the site membership is knowledgeable, experienced, and many have written the book(s) that are considered the go to reference material on the subject. THEY have vast amounts of information and KNOW their stuff. If you ask, they will tell you they do NOT "know it all" and they continue to learn and test out new ideas on a daily basis.

You are welcome to build ANY type of forge in ANY configuration you wish. Those that post want you to succeed. Please do not take their suggestions as attacks, as they already have both a lifetime of experience and a lifetime of mistakes and are trying to point out to you a better way based on their experience.

Please, build anything you wish, but do it safely, Report back to us what you did and how it works so we can add the information to the knowledge base of the site for others to read.

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On ‎4‎/‎29‎/‎2016 at 3:10 PM, claytonzeimet said:

probably will get our last snow in early June again

wow our last snow was  a couple years ago.

                                                                                                  Littleblacksmith

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Hi Clayton.  I've bicycled into Leadville a couple times, always like checking out the rock shop.  I just started running my venturi gas forge at about 5200 ft without trouble... not sure how it would work at 10k, though.  

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