Panterafan

Maintaining a coal forge in Portland

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I've had next to no luck trying to find some local coal over here in Oregon, more specifically the Portland area. I've been buying my coal online for at least a dollar a pound! And it's really killing my wallet. Sure I can use lump charcoal for most things but it produces quite a bit of flaming debris, and getting a good forge weld is next to impossible. I've called every stove shop around and they've all stopped carrying, and yes I've called valley farrier (stopped stocking), mountain brook forge (haven't picked up phones in 2 weeks, sucks because they seemed like a real good option), central fuel in up in Chehalis (stopped stocking). I've heard of somebody down in Monroe that sells coal, but haven't got a phone number, nor do I know if he still does it. Ive made really sure to dig through all the forums and old threads before I started this one, I used the iforge iron function and the google :iforgeiron function. So can somebody help me either.....

A- learn to somehow forge weld with charcoal?

B- Find coal locally for a good price

C- Give up and move to a gas forge?

ps- I'm 18 years old and I'm trying to get into blacksmithing, none of my friends are interested which doesn't really bug me, I like blacksmithing because it's of the old world anyways. So I'd really to find some friends to forge with

-Jonas

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Jonas: Call a farrier or farrier supply. The supply either carries smithing coal or know who does. Same for a farrier either s/he uses coal or knows someone who does. A farrier (horse shoer) supplier who doesn't carry coal might MIGHT not know who does or might not want to say. Maybe they sell propane forges or something. Farriers on the other hand back channel and one of them WILL have sources, it might be too expensive but there might be enough using coal they just buy a dump truck load every year or six months, etc. and THAT would keep coal off the farrier supplier's radar. 

Use the yellow pages and phone, be polite and don't waste their time. Most farriers are good folk, it takes a special sort to shoe horses, having someone do strange things to their feet goes against all instinct. Horses survived by evolving FAST FEET! Anyway, most farriers are good folk and aren't hard to get along with. Some do well with horses but hate people, you'll spot them quick enough.;)

Failing that, what's got you about using charcoal? There's nothing wrong with charcoal, gets just as hot and is easier to use. You have to turn the air WAY down but it's a LOT lighter to carry from the truck.

Propane has a lot to say for it but it has it's downsides too. It's easy to light, gets plenty hot enough and when you're done you can turn it off and go have lunch. A solid fuel forge continues to burn for a while so you either have to PUT IT OUT or hang around till it's cold. One of the real up sided of solid fuel is fire size, you can make a tiny fire and heat a very controlled part of the project where propane heats everything in or near the opening.

Whatever you end up doing, let us know we like pictures and enjoy helping.

Frosty The Lucky.

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The thing about charcoal is it has the same yeild per lb as coal but is WAY lighter so....  Yeah. It's tricky to forge weld with charcoal because it burns down so quickly, which adds more to your plate when the steel wants your undivided attention. 

You don't have to find someone 5 minutes away that has coal. Find some GOOD QUALITY coal, then stock up. I got a couple tons of great coal for free. Sometimes coal even comes up on Craigslist when you least expect it.

Be safe, and have fun!

C-1

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Your best bet would have been to attend the monthly Northwest Blacksmiths workshop in Longview, WA this last weekend. Jim vonMosch of Mountainbrook Forge would have likely been there (he has been at the last few anyway), and he usually has a few sacks in his truck and plenty more available. That being said, pretty much all the professional smiths, and most of the hobby smiths here in the Northwest use gas or induction in some combination. Coal is reserved for the oddball parts that don’t quite fit anywhere else, because it is so expensive out here.

Check out the NWBA if you aren’t familiar with us; plan to attend our spring conference in Longview this May. If you need more information, I can probably help.

 

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The biggest problem most folks have using charcoal is that they are trying to use it just like coal and it ain't!

Tweak your forge for charcoal and it will work a lot better than just trying to load charcoal in a coal forge!

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1 hour ago, ThomasPowers said:

The biggest problem most folks have using charcoal is that they are trying to use it just like coal and it ain't!

Tweak your forge for charcoal and it will work a lot better than just trying to load charcoal in a coal forge!

How can I tweak my forge for charcoal?? Using less air? My forge is just a brake drum forge mounted in a oil drum, with 1-1/4 inch pipe, powered by a hairdryer I got from Goodwill. I took Frostys advice and took some photos, maybe they'll help who knows??

IMG_0883.JPG

IMG_0884.JPG

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Add charcoal and bit less air. I would want to add some sides that, maybe cut the barrel about 3 inches down and flip it over and tack it back to the barrel If your fire pot is just sitting in there . I would also take some clay or fire cement and smooth out the transition to the fire pot to make it easier to scoop the charcoal toward into the fire. 

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Wow thats some grate/ tuyere. Mabey you should modify like mine. Makes it deeper.  This works good for me. 

20161005_205011.jpg

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Charcoal needs a deep fire, combine that with the fact that all the charcoal on top of the forge will end up burning; but only that in the stack over the tuyere will actually contribute to heating your metal and you can see that that forge is very inefficient for charcoal.  Look up the Tim Lively washtub forge for an example of how to adjust it to use less charcoal to provide more heat.  A hair dryer will put out way more air than you need; how are you wasting air to keep the flow down?

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Going to stick weld some higher walls onto the brake drum for now. And I am looking into building a charcoal specific washtub forge, or a v forge much like a whitlox. Thanks a bunch guys I'll keep you updated!

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Charcoal and side blast forges just go to gether, that and less air... You will find that a 3/4"-1" side blast tuyere (2/4" gas pipe is about 7/8") works very well, it's not complicated. A hair dryer is to much air, even a pancake fan from an old PC is usualy over kill, so some method of regulation is nessisary. I just use a T and a valve to waste extra air. 

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