Mberghorn

ENORMOUS tongs

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A budding smith friend of mine picked up two sets of these tongs at an estate sale in Virginia the other day and gave me one. Any idea what tongs this big would have been used for?

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Having seen 8-10' long tongs used industrially in the 20th century, I would consider those on the lower end of large.  If you have a powerhammer working down cheaply sourced large stock can be become cost effective.  Of course when I was forging some 2.5" square stock we skipped tongs and welded a 1" bar to it as a handle.  Not an option before cheap easily used arc welding.

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You can hold billets, bearings, thick plate and pretty much anything else with those.  Smith's made what they needed back in the old days and still do.  I imagine some of the guys here could show you two tongs made for bigger stock than that.  Those are cool and I'm jealous to not have them....but I don't think they are that strange.

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I have a friend working for a major industrial forging company now and he's sent videos of how they work 40" diameter stock---their "tongs" have wheels and an engine and a steering wheel....

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Tongs are not "enormous" until they are: taller than you are, crew served and the work is held up by chain hoists and overhead cranes.

I would call those "standard" sized. 

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Come on guys, those are big tongs! what's the matter? 

Industrial meters long manipulating instruments are machines not tongs. :rolleyes:

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I have a similar pair, but have yet to actually use them:

IMG_2771.JPG

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Better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them!  (Or trade them to someone doing large work for tongs more in your size work. Always nice to have trading stock for the next conference you attend...)

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I use larger tongs than that on a regular basis.

I have shown this photograph on here before of some even larger ones than the ones I have made and use, which came from a drop forging factory...beautifully made, worthy of a gallery wall anywhere.

The forging on the ground in front of me is from a lump of 80mm (3.125") square and I have tongs for up to 100mm (4") square. But as Thomas has said I often weld a handle on, or forge two or three bits out of one length before cutting in order to use the other pieces as a handle. 

My larger mouthed tongs are much lighter than the big boys in the photo. I use a hook or porter bar to take the weight between heat source and anvil...the anvil takes the weight thereafter...the tongs and porter bars are then just for manipulation.  

Clifton Ralph has this nice phrase about tongs just needing to be strong enough to keep you on the end of the workpiece.

I do 80% of my forging under a 3CWT hammer, 15% (mainly punching) with hydraulic presses, 4% under either the 1CWT or the 50kG hammer and maybe 1% with a hand hammer, in case you had not realised. :)

Alan

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After seeing that picture I think I should change the title of this post to mediocre sized tongs, lol.

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Perception is a curious beast. When I started blacksmithing I would look at a bit of 1" square bar on the rack with dread and think "oh you really represent some hard work"...As time passed and the projects and the metal and the tools became larger I had a real shock one day. I was setting up some press tools and had grabbed a handy bit of light bar to to test their effect...I kicked this "bit of wire" experiment out of the way and suddenly realised it was a bit of 1" square...no longer hard work. By then I was bending 50mm (2") plate and even 50mm square was not huge.

Somewhere in between my two memorable moments with 1", I was asked to go and meet the blacksmiths at the Brunel Great Western Railway works in Swindon. The town council were hoping that they might be able to stave off the closure of parts of the factory if they could diversify...I was called in to act as designer for some gates the Railway blacksmiths could make for a couple of sites in Swindon. I was a bit full of myself and the non- traditional "New Iron Age" work that I was doing. When the 'smiths asked me what sort of work I did I started off saying rather grandly "I don't work in the 18.C / baroque idiom where you form lots of little bits and join them together...I start with a big piece and manipulate it sculpturally..."

By "big" I was meaning something like 40mm (1.5") square. Just as the word left my mouth I looked down and noticed I was standing with one foot resting on a billet of steel about 200mm (8") square....did I feel a fool. :)

Alan

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8 hours ago, Mberghorn said:

After seeing that picture I think I should change the title of this post to mediocre sized tongs, lol.

Not at all, yours are enormous as in way bigger than normal everyday tongs, and most people would only use them for decoration. The one in the photo at 5' long are truly gigantic and only a few blacksmith with very strong arms could consider manipulating (not lifting)  something by hand with them.

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On ‎6‎/‎9‎/‎2017 at 11:43 PM, Lou L said:

You can hold billets, bearings, thick plate and pretty much anything else with those.  Smith's made what they needed back in the old days and still do.  I imagine some of the guys here could show you two tongs made for bigger stock than that.  Those are cool and I'm jealous to not have them....but I don't think they are that strange.

I wouldn't really say they were strange either but I've just never come across a pair that big before. (phrasing) After posting this thread I thought about using them to forge hammers with or something of the sort.

On ‎6‎/‎9‎/‎2017 at 11:42 PM, ThomasPowers said:

Having seen 8-10' long tongs used industrially in the 20th century, I would consider those on the lower end of large.  If you have a powerhammer working down cheaply sourced large stock can be become cost effective.  Of course when I was forging some 2.5" square stock we skipped tongs and welded a 1" bar to it as a handle.  Not an option before cheap easily used arc welding.

I've never been fortunate enough to see industrial forging done but man would I love to see that!!

On ‎6‎/‎10‎/‎2017 at 4:07 PM, ThomasPowers said:

Better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them!  (Or trade them to someone doing large work for tongs more in your size work. Always nice to have trading stock for the next conference you attend...)

Good point! I'm a long ways off from doing work using tongs that big but it is nice to have a bargaining chip or two.

 

9 hours ago, Marc1 said:

Not at all, yours are enormous as in way bigger than normal everyday tongs, and most people would only use them for decoration. The one in the photo at 5' long are truly gigantic and only a few blacksmith with very strong arms could consider manipulating (not lifting)  something by hand with them.

Here, here.

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9 hours ago, Marc1 said:

Not at all, yours are enormous as in way bigger than normal everyday tongs, and most people would only use them for decoration. Snip...

I beg to differ.

When you say "most people" you need to qualify it, unless of course you have evidence to support?

Maybe most people on this forum, or most beginner blacksmiths, or most part-time blacksmiths, or most hand-forging blacksmiths. 

Most of the blacksmiths that I know around the world are full time professionals using power hammers, and tongs that size are definitely everyday.

For example, here is my everyday tong rack...on the post on the right foreground are a 3/8" to 3/4" set of Off Centre Forge tongs and some Hofi tongs for size comparison. I presume those are the size you consider normal people use. :)  As I said earlier, I generally hold larger pieces by other means, but these tongs are certainly not just "for decoration".

593fe236eea0a_AlanEvanstongrack.thumb.jpg.57ff0e55da5379ba1065d487c6d3dcd1.jpg

The photos below are of a friend's everyday tong rack...he had a 1cwt hammer and worked smaller section than I. But many are in the same league or larger than the OP.

Alan

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1 hour ago, Alan Evans said:

I beg to differ.

When you say "most people" you need to qualify it, unless of course you have evidence to support?

Maybe most people on this forum, or most beginner blacksmiths, or most part-time blacksmiths, or most hand-forging blacksmiths. 

Most of the blacksmiths that I know around the world are full time professionals using power hammers, and tongs that size are definitely everyday.

I'm not trying to start a xxxx measuring contest here, lol, I was more or less just looking to see if the tongs I came across were common or not. I like to expand my knowledge whenever I can.

Also if you combine all the examples you mentioned I'm willing to bet that "most blacksmiths" fall into the former category rather than the latter. Again, I'm not trying to open up a xxxxxxx match so please don't take offense to my comments. I just don't want to let the thread steer too far from the point of the OP.

That being said, You, sir, have some serious tongs there! I'd love to have the space to set up a full time smithy but I'm in the process of moving to start a new job so I have a feeling that I won't be able to turn my hobby into a profession any time soon. Too bad we live on opposite sides of the pond because I'd love to hang out in your shop and learn a few things.

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10 minutes ago, Mberghorn said:

Snip...I was more or less just looking to see if the tongs I came across were common or not. I like to expand my knowledge whenever I can.

snip...

That is what I thought...hence why I shared my perspective/knowledge with you. No competition here. :)

Alan

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Larger work require larger tongs to hold that size work. It also requires larger equipment to handle the larger size stock.

There is a blacksmith in Australia that just purchased a manipulator for his fork truck to handle the stock size he works with daily. Had it shipped from the US to his location. 

Photo below shows a larger piece of stock in a hydraulic press handled with a manipulator.

Elwwod-Forge.jpg

 

Press size is relative also. LOL

hot_die_forging_press.jpg

 

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20 minutes ago, Mberghorn said:

Okay, cool. It's kind of hard to read intent online so I just wanted to clarify.

Faced with the choice of telling you about the size of tongs I have and use, or just leaving you without that knowledge I chose the former.

It was in direct response to your OP question.

I am curious now...what alternative "intent" did you think I might have, especially given my riff on perception of size?

Alan

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Start at 3:11 for some larger tongs, and 4:44 for multiple blacksmiths working on the same piece of steel.

 

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21 minutes ago, Alan Evans said:

Faced with the choice of telling you about the size of tongs I have and use, or just leaving you without that knowledge I chose the former.

It was in direct response to your OP question.

I am curious now...what alternative "intent" did you think I might have, especially given my riff on perception of size?

It wasn't your intent that I was worried would get misconstrued, it was mine.  I bust my friends' chops constantly but you guys can't really pick up on that from just my posts among the 40,000+ members this site has, so I wanted to try and clarify what I meant before it got taken in a different context.

24 minutes ago, Glenn said:

Larger work require larger tongs to hold that size work. It also requires larger equipment to handle the larger size stock. Photo below shows a larger piece of stock in a hydraulic press handled with a manipulator.

I can't even fathom what they could possibly be making trying to forge a piece of metal that big! On the plus side I bet once it gets heated up it keeps it's heat pretty well.

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Once you get your head wrapped around the size of the stock, then ask yourself what size fire do they use to heat that much metal to forging temperature, and how long dies it have to remain in the fire to soak up that much heat?

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