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It followed me home


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I found my first swage block a month or two back for a $1.50 a pound In Woodall,

but it still kills me when I ask someone and they have blacksmith stuff and they reply they hauled it off….

Grrrrrrrr, sorry for ranting its still fresh on my mind, regardless of weather or not I need something I’ll buy it anyways because someone else will need it and it keeps good tools out of the scrap yards

 

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I got my Lancaster pattern swage block when a new heavy duty shop foreman wanted the junk cleaned out of the welding area. I got a call from one of the mechanics saying they were tossing most of it in the scrap bucket. The bucket off the large loader, when full it got loaded in a dump truck and hauled to the recycle center. 

Anyway, the mechanic said he thought it was some blacksmith tool and if I wanted it come get it. It took two of us to lift into the pickup. I've never weighed it but it weighs considerably  more than my 200lb. Trenton.

It's a rescue. The best kind of good stuff. I  may not use it very often, it may take up space on the shop floor but I'm very happy to keep it safe till it's time for me to pass it along. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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That's similar to my swage block. 

One of our customers was closing a site down, a dolomite quarry and paid us to remove the compressors and overhaul them before they shipped to the new site. 

I found the block and a couple of tools buried in the mud whilst I was clearing a path to move the machines. 

This was in the 80s and the site manager said it was at least 50 years since the blacksmith on site closed down. 

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In the early days, before Alaska statehood, the Alaska Railroad and the Road Commission were part of the same department. The railroad still maintains a pretty impressive foundry but in territorial days it was pretty much a full time production foundry and made steel castings for all the sections of the transportation department.

A swage block was the jouneyman test for foundry men and every road maintenance shop has or used to have a Lancaster pattern swage block just like mine. I'm betting from the same pattern. 

There used to be mandrel cones with the tong groove in every shop too but they've been long gone, I've only seen one and I had a job that took me to almost every road maintenance shop in the state.

I've heard rumors the 250 lb. Fisher anvils still in road maintenance shops may not have been genuine. They do however sound just like a Fisher but in it's hayday the railroad has as good a foundry as anybody. Cast and machine transmissions, gears, casings, drive trains, etc. good.

Sorry for the wander down memory lane. Back to your regular reading.

Frosty The Lucky.

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4.5" jaws, 4" throat. So it's not particularly large, but it'll do just fine. It's the only swivel bench vise I have which I think will come in handy. Once I have the new top for the bench I'll probably swap this one with the 4" fixed vise at my cutting/grinding/filing station.

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Ran over to my steel supplier during my lunch break to pick up 1” square tube for my biggest commission yet. 

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Also grabbed ten pounds of drops, which was less than I'd wanted. The price on drops has gone through the roof!

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The other night while dumpster diving I visited the Fastenal dumpster. I painstakingly dug out a 80-100# roll of 1 1/4" x about 1/6" strapping (average size spray paint can for reference) and a lot of stainless and other bolts. The ones in the bucket are different sizes and types but layered. This was not in a metal hopper but in their regular garbage hopper/dumpster. 

 

Debating on saving the strapping for pattern welding or scrapping it for cash. Being a nice neat roll to store, it's a tough decision. 

Either way, their dumpster will be a regular stop from now on. 

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Nice score, Das! I foresee a lot of smiths dumpster-diving at their local Fastenals in the very near future!

On 9/7/2021 at 1:57 PM, Frazer said:

What do you have planned with the 1"tube?

A friend has commissioned an ornamental arch (7' tall x 7' wide x 8" deep) that will hold floral decorations for her son's wedding and then will move to a permanent location in their garden. The 1" tube is for the frame, and there will be scrollwork (in 1/4" x 1/2" flat bar) connecting the front and back frames. 

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BigGun, I'm convinced. I'll hang onto it for now. If I had the tool it would be a nobrainer. Never know, the tool might end up in there next I look. I've been told they throw away thousands. My friend had given me hundreds of pounds in bolts from his scavenging there and said it was a regular thing. He was right. Just think, those bolts would at least be $1. Or a half each to buy them. 

John, thanks, and it is deffinately worth checking out. I've found out all places are different. Depends on how management acts. Some places pitch stuff while some recycle. 

Best of luck with your project. Sounds like a big build but you can do it. 

That is a good "other use" for the strapping Glenn. For the amount there and fact it is neatly coiled to tuck away, it is deffinately a keeper for project material.  Free with a little labor getting it at that. If BigGun is right, which I wouldn't doubt,  that is a free $200. in material. 

 

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Got a call at work today asking if I was interested in a double burner forge and an ASO that was left behind at a local machine shop.   The price of free couldn't be beat.   I need to reduce the volume on the forge to get better heat and then use it for longer projects.  The aso is really loud and I've set it off to the side for now.  I'll figure it out later. 

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It is an improvised anvil,  my mistake on the wording.   Either way the steel they used to make it is soft enough that I can tell they used hammers that weren't dressed to work their steel,  and they weren't very accurate...

Edited by Chad J.
Fat fingers
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I was referring to hammers that were not dressed correctly: "they used hammers that weren't dressed to work their steel" .  Using such tools tend to leave nasty dings that most new smiths can't remove from their work save for excessive filing/grinding that leaves the item too thin!

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