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I Forge Iron

Anyone else have trouble lighting a fire some days?


Pancho07

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Lately I have been using the coal forge more than the larger propane forge and the last couple days no matter what I try I can't get the fire to light. Haven't been doing anything different it just won't light. Don't have any orders or anything so I'm not missing out on any inportant work just practice but just getting really annoyed. What does everyone else do when the fire doesn't cooperate?

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If the wind is at a certain direction, my fire is hard to light. Same if it is rainy, humid or if a pressure system is moving in, it seems. 

 

I just go for a different starting method; mostly I add some dry pine lumber bits and more shavings and newspaper.

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I only ever used a coke fire rather then coal, and that was sometimes awkward to light. Establish a good heart of heat with the kindling and make sure the air from the tue blows through that heart and on towards the coals. The heat won't travel towards the tue. So therefore:- most intense heat closest to the air supply and the unburnt coal downwind...

For the first few years I always considered the process of splitting the wood, laying and lighting the fire as a sort of ritual...put you into the right frame of mind for focussing/concentrating on forging...

I reckoned if I could light it with one match then I was going to have a good day.  Not from any superstitious belief...but if I was focussed enough to get the fire alight first time, then I would be focussed enough to avoid making mistakes.

After a decade or four and with the advent of gas furnaces I have lost that little bit of "me time" at the start of the day. 

On the rare occasions I need the coke fire now, I find it catches first-time every-time with an oxyacetylene rosebud!

Alan

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At the first forge at which I worked I was taught the manly art of lighting a coke forge with a 6mm gauging rod. Har-har, but it does actually work (not recommended).

These days one the odd occasion I use the coke forge I light a little charcoal heart with the gas-axe before piling the coke on. It's a bit of a lazy person's kindling ritual. 

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With my coal forge using bituminous I usually have some coked stuff left over from the last fire. I'll move that to the edges and clean out the fire pit of ash, coal dust and clinker, then add some crinkled up paper then some ripped up cardboard strips and set my coke on top of that then some fresh coal. Get it lit and slowly crank up the blower till its roaring. Every so often I'll use some small splits of wood Over the paper if it's around. If that fails I just get out my map gas hand torch and dig it down towards the sweet spot and that'll get it going. Usually never fails to light when I use the small wood strips tho. 

 

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if you move the coal/coke around before it is fully lit it can go out. I light mine (I burn coke) typically by lighting a paper towel with some vegetable oil on it making a little "tee-pee" and adding a few pieces of charcoal and then adding the coke. some days if I have the time and am feeling adventuress I will use flint and steel to light some tinder (dried grass) and then and my sticks, charcoal, and then coke.

                                                                                         Littleblacksmith

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If you've got coal rather than Coke, make sure everything is cleaned out of the fire pit and toss about a handful of coal dust and small coal pieces into two pieces of newspaper. Fold the edges in and make a sort of pouch. Light the folded in corners and lay it fire side down over your air inlet. Start cranking your air slowly until the fire burns up the sides and around to the top. Then give the crank a good push so it keeps running while you pour some more coal into the fire pit covering the paper pouch. Now get back on the blower cranking about twice as hard as before. She'll start smoking pretty good at this point. Keep it up until you can poke it to let the flames out to oxidize the smoke. Then she's good and lit. 

60% of the time, it works every time. 

Just my two cents. I'm also inside so the elements aren't much of a factor. 

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I use a single paper bag from the grocery store. I roll the edges in to make a ball then light 2 sides and add a little air till it gets goin good then pile on left over coke then crank the air and wait. I get forging in less then 5 minutes. :-)

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My go-to firestarter is a handful of dryer lint stuffed in the toe of an old sock, though I use old socks only because I have them and cotton catches pretty fast.  I stole this idea from someone who stuffs dryer lint in a toilet paper tube as a fire starter.  There's a reason they tell you to clear out dryer vents routinely, that stuff is definitely flammable.  It burns long enough to get the fire going every time.  

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I suppose the method varies with the type of forge but in principle I start a small fire in something that is easy to ignite and when that is going well get coals in from the sides and finally on top and start with small blast. I am indoors nowadays so wind is no matter.

I always start the fire first thing. I clean out the fire pot down to the tuyere and open the bottom valve. Then I build a small bonfire. First some wood shavings from hand planing crumpled to a ball two inches across. These I cover with small (1/8 to1/4") wooden sticks and set fire to the shavings usually using one of those propane burners chefs use since that reaches the bottom of the "bonfire" but a match works fine. As soon as the shavings are lit, I start raking coal in from the sides so that the small bonfire is burning in a "coal chimmney". That done, the fire is going well in the wood and I cover the bonfire entirely with coal, start the fan and close the valve to minimum blast.

After that I get the stock and tools out to the work bench close to the forge and when that is done the fireball is lit but small. The whole process takes five minutes and always works. I did the same when being outoors and moderate wind was no problem since the fire, once started in the wood, is protected by the not yet burning coals.  

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