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Hello, 

This will basically be my first post on here, and I had a question:

I've acquired a Trenton 152# anvil made in 1823, from a family member for free. I can use the anvil only if I refurbish it to function and look like brand new, if not better.

I would like to clean ALL the rust off of this anvil, and build up and clean up come chips off the tool plate on top.

What is the best, most efficient and thorough way of going about this? My budget to restore the anvil is around $300-$400, I have plenty of connects with machine shops and fabrication shops around here, I have an angle grinder and various tools of my own as well as some common sense and patience.

Any pointers are welcome, here is a picture I took for reference, forgot to take more detailed photos.

15078825_1385451998184918_5286365437193024537_n.jpg

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DO NOT GRIND, WELD OR MACHINE THE TOP UNLESS YOU WANT IT TO BE ONLY GOOD AS A GARDEN ORNAMENT. One thing you dont want on an anvil is sharp edges as they cause cold shuts and the edges are more likely to chip. if you need a sharp edge make a hardy tool for it. rust can be removed with a hand wire brush or better still by using the anvil, you will soon find the anvil is shiney if user regularly

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Mate hit it with a wire wheel on a grinder and wipe on some cooking oil and it will look like a million $. Buff out any sharp edges from breaks and the use it. 

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Brand new, anvils looked pretty rough. Some very good anvils looked like they were formed by banging with rocks.  Remember, they were all about use and not cosmetic perfection.  The only thing you need to do is derust and that can be done gently with with a wire wheel. 

I'm confused about your comment "I can use the anvil only if..."  Is that implying that the person who is letting you use it is doing so only if you make it pretty for them?  If so, that's a losing proposition. You don't want to do the work and then have the thing yanked out from under you.  The "giver" also probably doesn't understand that anvils weren't/aren't polished chrome plated ornaments.

It appears to be welded to that pipe which is the one of the first things that needs to be un-done.  Not that a pipe stand (filled) is a bad thing but the current one is likely not the right height for you and would be more of a chore to "fix" than the anvil itself. There are other shortcomings I won't go into.  Careful work with a cut-off wheel in an angle grinder would do the trick.  

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My advice is to just start using it. The scale that falls off the workpieces will polish it up in no time. As noted above, that anvil is in good usable condition as is, don't mess with it other than MAYBE dressing the edges down with a sanding disc to smooth them up. But in all seriousness, I wouldn't mess with it at all, just get forging. 

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You mean made in 1923?  Please post a close-up picture of the side logo stamp, and of the serial number on the front foot under the horn.  Trenton had several different logo stamp styles through their history.

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Welcome aboard Max, glad to have you. If you'll put your general location in the header you might be surprised how many of the Iforge gang live within visiting distance.

Please don't do ANY grinding on the face, the steel you remove is gone for good and represents decades of working life. For sure take a wire brush to the sides and oil or wax them to keep it from rusting back up. What the face wants is hot steel beaten into submission on it to bring a shine to that fine old lady's face again.

Sharp edges are NOT desirable, most of us ground a radius on the edges as soon as we discovered sharp isn't a good thing. Neither is a flat face particularly useful, doesn't hurt but isn't much of if any advantage. When you need to straighten a piece a block of wood and a mallet does a better job and doesn't damage the surface features of the work. If you need to straighten on the anvil's face you'll discover having a swale (depression) in the face is a benefit as you  need to bend the work a little past straight so it rebounds straight.

You should get it off that pipe stand too, break the welds with a sharp chisel or cutting wheel, heck a hack saw will do it. The chances that stand is the right height for you are slim and there are much better stands to chose from.

If making it "pretty" is a condition of use keep looking. However I THINK you're stepping into the same trap a lot of new folk in any craft step into. Perfect tools are NOT required, they don't do anything, it's the human and thumbs that do the work, tools are just refined dirt we've shaped to our will. Give using it a couple years before you try "repairing" or "restoring" it once you've gained proficiency you'll have the knowledge and experience to know what you really need from an anvil. Trying to repair it before then and you'll do more damage than good. More anvils have been destroyed by well meaning guys with a preconceived notion of what an anvil should look like than Sherman destroyed on his march to the sea.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Welcome Max, there is a lot of information on IFI, most times, if you have a question, its been answered at least once, most of the time its about 10 times. Don't worry, we all ask "dumb" questions, or frequently asked questions. I'm guilty of it too sometimes.

Here's a good place to start reading-http://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/48833-read-this-first/#comment-510702

please, please, don't do anything more than wire wheel it, and forge steel on it. Trentons are fine anvils, I use one myself, and the only thing that comes out of grinding, welding, and milling an anvil, is as someone already stated, a nice garden ornament. Well, that is unless you do it properly, which would mean finding someone who has done it before, successfully, and specializes in anvil repairs. But yours doesn't need repairs. Even if you, or someone you know is a experienced welder or fabricator, it doesn't mean that they can make that anvil any better, and most times, just make it worst. On your anvil, there is a high carbon face that was forge welded on, and the more you take off of it (grinding, milling, etc.) the more you shorten the tools life, and give it less rebound. And when you weld the edges to build them up and make them sharp, you will end up loosing the anvils temper, resulting in less rebound. There is no reason to have sharp corners. I have never had the use for one at least. the only thing a sharp corner is good for is making cold shuts. You don't want cold shuts.

 

Don't take this comment or any of the others personally, we just don't want you to destroy a perfectly good tool. You do want to use it as a tool, and not a door stop? right? when the anvil was made, it was meant to be a tool; It's no less a tool now, than it was then.

                                                                                                                              Littleblacksmith

 

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Best anvil polish there is: is to hammer red hot steel on the face.  It will smooth the face and polish it nicely!  (For Real!)

Wire brushing the sides and then rubbing it with some boiled linseed oil will make it purty

If you absolutely MUST repair the face look up the Robb Gunter anvil repair process and follow it to the letter!

If you feel that milling the face would be a good idea; first mill your own face to the same depth.  If a machinist tells you it would improve the anvil to mill it; ask if you can hammer on their machine tool ways with a sledge to improve them by work hardening them.

And that date is over 50 years before Trenton's were made which is why folks are asking...

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Okay got some more pictures, my apologies for the misleading info, I should have done some more looking into details and preparing before I posted this thread.

 

I've only wire wheeled the anvil and its base, and applied some lacquer on everywhere but the face and horn for now, to preserve my progress while I wait for more information to come in through here. I'm hesitant to remove the anvil from it's 10" pipe base, as that was assembled by my late grandma's father, and may have sentimental value to my grandpa.

Thank you for all of your input, I want to do this the right way as I've decided to simply return the anvil to my grandpa, restoring the anvil for free being a Christmas gift to him. Someday I'll either inherit it, or buy it from him. Hopefully you'll take a look at the attached photos, and understand why I mistook the manufacture date to be 1823, instead of what is probably 1923.

The face is remarkably flat and smooth despite being outdoors for the better part of 50+ years, I have Bakersfield's astonishingly dry climate to thank for that. Aside from some little raised spots that appear to be leftovers from a welding or torch operation done near the anvil, which I can take a stone to and gently bring back down level with the surface or as many have mentioned, forge on it. It's in a lot better shape than I had originally made it out to be.

Thank you again for all of your valuable insight, this project has been really fun for me thus far.

 

Here are the pictures:

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20161129_135428.jpg

20161129_135422.jpg

20161128_083254.jpg

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Okay got some more pictures, my apologies for the misleading info, I should have done some more looking into details and preparing before I posted this thread.

 

I've only wire wheeled the anvil and its base, and applied some lacquer on everywhere but the face and horn for now, to preserve my progress while I wait for more information to come in through here. I'm hesitant to remove the anvil from it's 10" pipe base, as that was assembled by my late grandma's father, and may have sentimental value to my grandpa.

Thank you for all of your input, I want to do this the right way as I've decided to simply return the anvil to my grandpa, restoring the anvil for free being a Christmas gift to him. Someday I'll either inherit it, or buy it from him. 

Your heart is in the right place. This are difficult issues to contend with. 

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Ah yes you didn't know they didn't date stamp Trentons and confused the serial number with a date. 182XXX was made in 1922. The other side is stamped with the weight in pounds 

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9 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

Ah yes you didn't know they didn't date stamp Trentons and confused the serial number with a date. 182XXX was made in 1922. The other side is stamped with the weight in pounds 

Okay, thank you very much!

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That anvil will do everything you want from it. It's crying out for work! I hope you inherit it. :)

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Max,

I have a Trenton anvil very similar to yours, only it is about 120 pounds.  When I bought it, the edges were very similar to yours.  Although there is controversy with repairing an anvil, it has been done very successfully by lots of blacksmiths.   However, I agree with Mr Powers, if you must repair it, use the Gunter Schuler method.   I used the Robb Gunter and Karl Schuler method to repair the edges and bad arc welding divots in the face of my anvil.  After building up the edges, I put a radius on them to suit my needs. I am very pleased with the way the repair turned out.  I used an angle grinder with an abrasive sanding disk to clean up the face, fix the horn and put a radius the edges.

Don't mill it.  The carbon steel plate on a Trenton is not that thick to begin with.  Just clean it up a little and don't worry about any sway in the face of the anvil.  Little divots and pock marks will not hurt your forgings at all.  

Anvil Restoration

© Robb Gunther and Karl Schuler 
The Forgery School of Blacksmithing
published in ANVIL Magazine, April 1998

http://www.anvilmag.com/smith/anvilres.htm 

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27 minutes ago, Matthew D said:

I thought we all wanted our anvils to sing.. er is that ring?  :D

Well, one way to deaden an anvil's ring is to put a magnet under the heel, and I'm told Maestro Schuller had a magnetic personality. At very least, he was no heel.

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I bet some chains and those thick rubber tie downs would work well with dampening a loud ring, or mounting the anvil on top of a thin bed of cork, sand, or modelling clay.

Any other tips? I forged on it a little recently (some brackets for a friend's workbench project) and I've fallen in love with this anvil but still plan on returning it, my uncle who lives with my grandpa to take care of him does more metalworking and woodworking than me, and he expressed interest in having it officially installed in his shop for use, he even made a nice corner spot for it and a side draft forge, and has invited me to come over whenever I want, to have a proper place to do some work.

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Yes and No; anvils that should ring should ring when tested and then be muted for use. If it should ring and doesn't, (and is un-muted), then there is a hidden flaw; often face delamination starting in a hidden area!  Leaving it to ring in use is just damaging your ears; hearing aids can be very pricy in later life.  (My wife's cost more than the minivan she is buying this weekend.  Money that would buy a good powerhammer!)

Anvils that shouldn't ring, won't.  Knowing which types are which is a part of the learning curve for blacksmithing.

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