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Brake drum coal forge question


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I decided to knock together a brake drum forge, and I started the project without taking the time to research properly... :rolleyes: One problem that I think I will have is with my fire grate. I am pretty sure I made the air holes too large and too spaced out. Fortunately, I have an extra piece of 1/2” steel that is cut into the same 12 3/4” diameter shape. Can anyone help me with the hole pattern/size for this?

FWIW, I ditched the drum top hearth I was playing with in some of the pics and I am welding up a proper hearth that will be added shortly...

(If you are wondering what the heck I did, the brake drum is welded to a brake rotor. The drum was from my Dodge Ram truck and the center hole was way too large. :wacko: )

if you see any other glaring issues with my design or execution, feel free to let fly with the comments. 











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Holes are not too large, they are too spread out. You want a concentrated area around that ~2" inlet. You want a more central concentration of the air. The grate is mainly to keep coal/ charcoal from falling into the inlet tube. It could be as simple as crossed pieces of round stock welded in over that opening. 

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The holes in the pics are 1/2" dia.

Would a bunch of smaller holes, concentrated over the inlet, be a bad thing? I was thinking that 1/2" Dia might let too much stuff fall through.

Any thoughts on the total number of holes (along with the ideal diameter) that I should put over the inlet?

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I found that larger holes/ less restriction worked better on my brake rotor forge. I can't recall the exact size holes I have but sure close to half inch and I barely lose any usable fuel down the pipe. Does your plate fit flush on the bottom? Otherwise you may wind up with ash and clinker taking up that void. I just tacked on a small plate right to the 2" opening and it's been going strong over 3 years just having to retack it once. It's a consumable so I like to keep it easily replaceable. 

Here is a picture of what I use. 


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