Glenn

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I bought a bag of charcoal today to play with. It heated fine. But it left a lot of ash on the metal. I'm not sure that even if I could get it hot enough it would be clean enough to weld. 41BB1227-2FD7-4954-BED9-089842BA5877.thumb.jpeg.3c52b2618c0c95ed0a793e6164f217d0.jpeg

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People have been forge welding with charcoal for centuries. It’s just a matter or technique. 

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Using the wrong charcoal. The BBQ briquets will work but like you experienced are not ideal because they contain a lot of fillers and glue to hold their shape. Pick up a sack of lump hardwood charcoal. Most stores sell it.

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Cannon Cocker

IDF&C is right. Get simple lump charcoal (just charcoal, no briquette, no accelerant) and you will see a world of difference. Actually, lump charcoal gives you a very clean fire and less scale on your metal when compared to coal.

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I've actually thought about using a 55 gallon drum and digging a fire pit to make my own charcoal to tryout. I've watched some extensive videos on the process and read about it. Doesn't seem too difficult to do in small quantities at least.

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3000 years of folks using charcoal to forge weld; for example: viking pattern welded swords, Japanese Katana, Javanese Krisses. Ash from real charcoal can be used as a flux for forge welding, much like the Japanese use straw ash. And most important charcoal is probably the most clean fuel until you get to the gas forges.  It doesn't contain sulfur which damages blades (or steel in general...)

Now trying to use it like it was coal is a major mistake.  It takes a much softer air supply and a deeper firepot---when I use real charcoal in one of my coal forges I like to set a couple of firebricks to make the firepot more of a trench fire and deeper and use a hand crank blower or bellows.

Bituminous and charcoal have about the same BTU content BY WEIGHT; but charcoal is much less dense!

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I use charcoal and I believe my firepot is about five inches deep plus a red brick sitting on either side. I don't seem to be able to re size a pic to upload or I'd post one.  briquettes are horrible for ash and fire fleas. I think it's the additives. Coals straight from a wwood fire work fine but it's a little warm right now for that.

Pnut

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Thanks for all the advise fellas!  I'll burn up this XXXX playing around then give it a try implementing what you all have told me. 

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Cannon Cocker, use it for grilling burgers instead of heating steel.

Sorry I wasn't more clear when I suggested charcoal.  When I get low on coal I use scrap wood. I don't even make it charcoal first, just toss it on and put the air to it. It burns down soon enough.

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I found "Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel"  very readable and a good starting place for research as there is a bibliography and footnotes.

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There is a large junk pile on our land, donated by "helpful" strangers over the years; i have found some potentially useful items so far. Yesterday I dug out this old truck axle and a piece of hard surface blade from a dozer or grader. I have been planning to make a leveling blade arrangement for my yard mower, so the blade is perfect for that project, while the axle will make hammers and drifts. Good score!

junkhaul.jpg

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Steve, the pry bar just needs to have the handle straightened out, and that will be handy to have around. 

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I have had that prybar along with its brother for about 25 years:) It was formerly used prior to WW2 for tunnels above Pearl Harbor. One of these days i might get around to straightening it.

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We kept a bar like that in the bustle rack of my tank when i was in the Army. We called them tankers bars. Mostly used when working on the track. 

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I also used one of those bars working on the road wheels and tracks of M48A5’s. 

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M48, i saw one of those in a museum. 

I too served on an M1A1 and A2. 

This has to be the most tankers i have seen gathered on the internet in 1 place. Or at least on things that have nothing at all to do with tanks or military. 

I will tip a cold one to my fellow tread heads. Slante!

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Tanks like dozers are made of anvils.

Frosty The Lucky.

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On 7/8/2019 at 4:09 AM, pnut said:

I use charcoal and I believe my firepot is about five inches deep plus a red brick sitting on either side.

 

On 7/8/2019 at 12:07 AM, ThomasPowers said:

 deeper firepot---

I have been puzzling over this for a few days now. My fire pot is about two and a half inches deep with a brick laid flat on each side to form a trench. I can weld and easily work up to one inch square in it. I have tried deeper with very little luck. What gives?

Laynne

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It's right as it is now is what gives. I've always preferred a duck's nest over a fire pot and do fine with a total depth of maybe 3.5" but on occassion I need deeper I stand the bricks on edge for about 5.5" deep.

Don't get caught up in what "Should be." You see that often with newcomers for example the belief in the myth that damascus steel is better blade steel than modern steels. It rarely if ever is.

What is is. If your forge is working well for you just use it, play around and tinker but don't sweat it not being what someone else thinks is right. If it's not broken don't fix it and your's doesn't sound broken to me.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Depth needed is also a function of air supply, shape of the firepot and size of fuel too. If yours is working as you have it set up; why the puzzlement?  Git to forging!

The problem is when we get folks wanting simple answers to complex questions and not providing the necessary information. My analogy is: Tell me what vehicle I should buy?   Without mentioning that it needs to hold 22 people or 22 tons of gravel; or be economical to drive 200 miles a day; or it needs to cross open water; or reach the International Space Station...Tell ME!

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Fair enough. Three quarter inch tuyere hooked up to a buffalo 200. Blower speed depends on whether I'm using hardwood or soft wood charcoal. Thanks for the input.

Laynne

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My forge is a side blast jabod.  The bricks hold new charcoal over the burning coals on top of the stock. if you're set up works for you thats all that's important. I use a double action mattress pump or an electric matress pump. I went out and measured it From the center of the tuyere it's about 3.5 inches to the top and an inch and a half from the center of the tuyere to the bottom of the trench. Plus the bricks. The bricks are only needed for getting up to welding heat really but I like having the extra charcoal on top so it's not so quick to run out of fuel.

Pnut

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