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Bmallen77

50lb little giant, or just build a hammer??

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A guy I met has an uncle with a 50lb little giant hammer in good working condition he is wanting to sell. Said he'd take $3000 and no less.  I do not have any specifics on the hammer. Comes with a 3 phase converter.  I am going to look At it this week.

       My question is.....

     For $3000 is this hammer worth purchasing. I know I have the tools and fabrication ability to make my own mechanical hammer as I do not have a sufficient compressor for running an air hammer.  Should I just build my own hammer?  As far as time is concerned I do not need this hammer right now however as soon as I get it I know it will speed up my work efforts.   So I'd say If it took me a couple months, hours here and there making it that wouldn't be a concern for me. 

So I guess it's a question of the value of it. In my mind if I'm going to spend a couple grand building a hammer I want to know its going to last long term and stand up to near daily use. From the hammers I have been looking at I really like the 'super rusty' Appalachian style hammer. However I have read lots of reviews on hammer builds and can't decide on what I want. Has anyone built their own hammers or personally use a homemade hammer??   

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I built a Super Rusty.

I spent $4500,  (not including 1000 pounds of steel and many other parts I already had) plus way more time than here and there for a couple months.

If a 50# little giant had been available at the time I would have leapt on it, even though the hammer I built is significantly  superior.

I happen to be a machinist with my own machine shop and over 35 years since apprenticeship.

You could conceivably spend much less,

 

But you get what you pay for.

If you have lots of time,

lots of steel on hand and love building

machines go for it.

The best thing about my hammer (for me) is that I can make any part which ever wears out.

Not so much for a little giant.

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Well thanks I appreciate it. That is exactly what I wanted to know. 

On a side note, if you were to build a hammer again, would you build another super rusty? Or gone with a different style hammer?? For $4500 was your machine mainly all new parts and steel or still a lot of mix and match? 

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Bmallen,

I am building a MUCH smaller Rusty jr (20# ram) and I can tell you that is no small project. I can afford $3000 for a LG even if there was one around but even if I did have $3000 I could spend I think I would like the bragging rights or "Hold my beer, hay y'all, watch this!" story over something ready (mostly) to run.  

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Much to be said for "plug and play" though and LG is unusual in that there is a supply of parts for them.  Does it have a sow block?

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I have yet to see the machine in person I am going Wednesday to look at it, but as far as I have been told it is completely assembled and running. Sow block included and said there was about a dozen different dies for it. But who knows?

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Sow block in good working order and extra dies are a big plus as it's being in working condition.  Are you familiar with powerhammers or have a friend who knows what to look for on them?  (Note that since they generally used a "flow through oiling system", unless recently cleaned a "good" powerhammer may be thoroughly encrusted in old oil---"too much oil is just barely enough!")

So want the fun of building your own and willing to put in the time vs moving it on Saturday and forging with it Sunday...personal choice.

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Let's assume that this little giant you are looking at is in perfect structural, and mechanical condition. 

When you get it home, how will you repair it if parts break down? Do you have machining equipment to make dovetail dies for it? Do you have the skill or access to someone who can weld cast iron? How mechanically inclined are you for working on the clutch system? 

 

$3000 for a 50 pounder in fair working condition is a good price. 

 

However, for $3000 you can purchase a brand new, 50 pound tire hammer. All the parts on it are new, easily accessible, inexpensive, require very little maintenance, the dies are easily made in shop or comparatively inexpensive to have custom made, and if anything breaks, it is easily repaired by anyone with decent mig-welding ability.

When I build a tire hammer it costs me about $1500 in materials buying everything new. I do buy enough pieces to build a few at a time, so I probably pay a little less, than if you were just building one. But if you wanted to buy all new material, are good at price shopping, are good at fabrication and making things move together and fit, and are good at following instructions, you could build one for under $2k without difficulty. 

The Little Giant is a nostalgic piece of american blacksmithing history. But practicality wise, the tire hammer wins every time.  

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Yes I do have the equipment and ability to repair or build a hammer from scratch. My reservations to building a hammer is I don't have lots of full days I can devote to building it. i dont like the idea of piecing together a tool, I will use daily,  in my free time. I'd much rather go at it non stop til it's done.

i went and saw the little giant yesterday and to be honest I was pretty let down. It's missing parts, the sow block is not there. Needs new belts. Quite a few makeshift parts that look like they were welded together by someone who didn't know what they were doing. On top of all that getting it out of the building its in would be a massive and expensive undertaking. I really don't know what I'm gonna do now. I like the idea of building my hammer, knowing the ins and outs of it and knowing how to rebuild the parts so I'm leaning that direction.  

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look at the cost of buying the missing/botched parts from the LG parts supplier; take that off the asking price and you will probably have them paying you to haul it off...

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Built a Ray Clontz style hammer in a Clay Spencer workshop in Oct, 2007. It is used 2-4 hrs a day, 5-6 days a week, every week. Has paid for itself many times over. 

Any parts that have to be purchased are available, mostly the next day.  

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On 6/23/2016 at 6:14 PM, Bmallen77 said:

Yes I do have the equipment and ability to repair or build a hammer from scratch. My reservations to building a hammer is I don't have lots of full days I can devote to building it. i dont like the idea of piecing together a tool, I will use daily,  in my free time. I'd much rather go at it non stop til it's done.

i went and saw the little giant yesterday and to be honest I was pretty let down. It's missing parts, the sow block is not there. Needs new belts. Quite a few makeshift parts that look like they were welded together by someone who didn't know what they were doing. On top of all that getting it out of the building its in would be a massive and expensive undertaking. I really don't know what I'm gonna do now. I like the idea of building my hammer, knowing the ins and outs of it and knowing how to rebuild the parts so I'm leaning that direction.  

At least as far as that hammer is concerned , that answers that. The fifty has negative value, costing much more to fix than it will ever be worth.

Do a ton of reseach before deciding what hammer type to build.

Read this entire forum (powerhammers)

Read everything at anvilfire

Artmetal (.com)

Can't think of any others right now but I know  there were/are.

As you go through ALL the material the best design for you will materialise in your head.

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In addition to reading go and see as many different types of powerhammers in use!   Most smiths will be glad to show you theirs; ask around at a local affiliate meeting.

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I think you guys are all right. Since I do not have the immediate need for one I think my best bet is to keep studying the hammers and trying out as many as I can. Maybe a complete hammer for a good price will come up or I find the hammer I "have" to make. From what I have seen I still am very partial to the super rusty. It just looks like a hammer with very little that can fail if built heavy duty and very easy to repair or build new parts.

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I can definitely recommend building something new.  It might take longer, but you end up with exactly what you want and don't have to worry about a lot of the issues that come up on the vintage models.

My current project is in the "collect parts" stage, but I'm planning on building a Preston hammer.  While I'm not enamored with the tire hammer design simply on an aesthetic level, I can't deny how wonderful the adjustability of this thing is.  Small footprint, plenty of hit, easy to adjust for thicker stock.... seems like a win for everyone.  And I just might have found a 400-pound chunk of steel for the anvil!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tM_8AbnKLs

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$3000 for a good working 50 pounder is not bad, if it comes with extra dies that's a big bonus..Check the sow block and babbit bearings. The tire hammer is a fine machine if its built right..My only complaint with the ones Ive used is that the dies were small. 3 1/2" or so. That's tiny for our work.The dies on our 50# are 6". Ive got pics of the very first tire hammer built that belonged to a friend of mine who sadly is no longer with us. It cost him almost nothing and he used it for years..

 Not all hammers are created equal or tuned equal. Ive seen tire hammers that run great and ones that run like a crap..Ive seen 50# Lgs that wont work 1" square because they are so out fo tune and then Ive seen them that will work 2" stock no problem. Ive seen a lot of homemade air hammers that are PAINFUL to watch..So slow you can fall asleep while running one..Ive actually seen 25# LG's outwork some of those homemade 60 pound kenyons before..Not all of them mind you as they have gotten significantly better than they use to be..

 Id like to make a upsized tire hammer one day as a side project. Something in the 100 pound range. I think that would be a great build.

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Moving a 50# Little Giant should not be a problem. I have moved mine several times with no more than some wood for skids it and some pipe to roll it on. If you have a pry bar, 2x4s, pipe, and a hand winch that small of a hammer should not be a problem to move.

If the hammer has several sets of dies that are in good shape to go with it and he will reduce the price for the missing and cobbled parts the hammer could still end up being a good deal. You say you have all of the equipment to build a tire hammer so you should have everything you need to rebuild the Little Giant. That with the parts availability of the Little Giant hammers I think you would end up time and money ahead by getting the LG and rebuilding it compared to building a tire hammer. A die block and key is going to set you back $750 to $900 depending on the hammer. In my area $3,500 to $4,000 is the going price for a rebuilt hammer in good working order. I’d figure up a price based on all that is needed to make the hammer right and then take the parts price list from Little Giants site with you to show him and make an offer.

Did you take any pictures of the hammer? If so post them and we can give you a better idea of the needed repairs and perceived value.

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I really don't think a normal person can make or engineer the quality found in a Little Giant.  A lot of people have tried.  Pounding Out the Profits is full of them.  You sure can't come close to it with three grand.  

You might also think about resale value.  If you make a hammer and later decide you don't want it, will you be able to get what you need out of it?  I'd be willing to bet you could sell that Little Giant in ten years for quite a bit more than it's worth now.  

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I agree with Sanderson Iron you will not come close to building a hammer of the quality of a Little Giant at 3k or resale value on a homemade hammer of any kind,  you can rebuild a Little Giant faster and cheaper than building a hammer when you factor your time and what you are loseing in income building the hammer and then workin the kinks out as you go, guess its all in what you want ,a old hammer or new hammer you built, its up to you IMO.

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