Sign in to follow this  
blackleafforge

Badly ventilated forge

Recommended Posts

I know there are already a few posts about the dangers and solutions to a badly ventilated forge, I was wondering however if anyone has info about or access to any scientific study carried out in a forge or similar. 

I ask because I work in a 17th century forge owned by a charitable group that keeps it open to the public - the main draw is the water powered trip hammer, im just a sideshow. 

The problem is that it all collapsed a century ago and was then re built, they however ran out of money so the roof is just solid asbestos sheeting, There are 2 open forges both burning coke ( there are plans to switch to cola soon), one has a very badly designed hood that is not original and does very little to draw any fumes and smoke away. The other one ( the one I use ) has no extraction and vents straight in to the room. 

I have been working there for two years now and in that time have had un explained headaches and come home covered in dust and coughing. I know this is a problem but I don’t have alternative premises. 

I have mentioned the issue to the managers but as always with charitable organisations money is very tight and they seem very un motivated to do anything in the short term.

They have made the concession of installing a carbon monoxide sensor in the room that has not been triggered but I think the many holes and doors in the structure would stop any massive gaseous build up. My concern is more the particulate matter thrown up, like ash and dust and my exposure to the hot gasses and rubbish coming straight off the fire in to my face as I lean over it. 

I have organised a meeting with the area manager and was hoping to back up my argument for investment in some type of extraction by talking about the potential impact on elderly and young visitors and staff that spend a long time in the forge, like me. I know you guys are very knowledgable and I wondered if you are basing it of any studies? I wanted to be able to make an non emotional presentation with black and white proof that it its dangerous and very poor practice, helping to bump up extraction installation to the top of the to do list. 

Thanks for taking the time to read all that. 

Andy 

 

p.s the first pic shows my fire in the bottom corner and a view of the old machinery, the second is a closer view of my fire when starting it in the morning. 
 

 

IMG_1381.jpg

IMG_2086.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, that's pretty smokey, especially for a coke fire but I don't burn coke and it may be normal. Here's a solution they'll almost have to agree to.

First, yes sulfur is hazardous to breath as is the particulates, especially vitrified silicates. All are present in your shop and NO you don't need scientific evidence, call a fire station and have them inspect it if necessary.

Here's my idea for a practical solution. A chimney doesn't need to be masonry, sheet steel stove pipe is cheap and easy to install. A roof jack, sheet metal screws and a side draft hood behind the fire and you're smoke free. If they don't want to spend the money to buy the stove pipe have them buy sheet steel or find scrap yourself and make a smoke stack in the shop.

I'm sure you can find scrap sheet steel at a scrapper or hidden in illegal dump sites, etc. It's out there all you need do is find enough to stick up a couple meters above the highest part of the roof. 

You know it's possible that when word gets back to the guys in charge that you're making a smoke stack out of scrap, ego will make them have a period chimney built. That or you'll be hopelessly trapped having to do everything with scrap. But what the hey, life's a gamble.

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any power in there? If so first thing I would do is get an industrial fan to blow clean air over your work area.

Second, looks like some sort of window to the right in that last photo, build Frosty's suggested chimney up and turn right and go out of there (need some height of stack outside to keep the draw working). Going up through an existing asbestos roof not a great idea. Best to leave that well alone.

If nothing else, get rid of all that timber inside the window frame to at least let some natural ventilation happen.

Toss the coal / coke and use charcoal if you can get no other relief. A lost less stinky fumes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having that much smoke at startup and your using coke, wait till you start using coal. You'll get choked out and won't be able to see in the shop. 

I'd be looking to build my own stack in that situation like Frosty mentioned. Look at it as donating your time and expenses to the charitable group and probably claim the donation on your taxes. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did try offering to build something myself but they have to go through a planning process because of the buildings protected status before anything can be changed. Using charcoal is a good idea, I may pay the extra myself if they won't go for it if its significantly better. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Daswulf said:

Having that much smoke at startup and your using coke,

That sure looks like green coal to me. I thought coke had all the smokey stuff cooked out of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

look at this ‘little guy’.

https://www.plymovent.com/en/welding-cutting-fume-removal/products/welding-cutting-fume-removal/mobile-filters/mfe

If it’s not possible to place a permanent solution as you describe, use a mobile device (at least as you start up the fire place). You can hide the body behind a wooden cask and paint the suction arm black so the apparatus disappears in the background.

I used this ‘suction olifants’ many times and also organised measurements with personal meter (like radiation meters for medical staff doing X-rays) to determine the daily doses of heavy metals and toxic substances our stick welders respired in the past.

About green coke/coal, gents you have to start somewhere <_<, and yes every blacksmith kiln and pre-dry the coke hi want to use the next day the afternoon before.

Cheers, Hans

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, that's a cute little fume extractor Hans, like something from Star Wars. A couple blinking lights and a beeper and it'd be perfect. Well okay, I'd probably put googly eyes and antennas on the fume sucker arm thing, maybe paint a face too. I just never know. I'd love to have one wandering around the shop sniffing out fumes to extract. I wonder how it'd react if I were gassy, might be awkward. 

On a serious note, I'm happy to see things like this out there. Having a fume extraction system you don't have to plumb into the building would be a treat. Roll it where you need it and not have to breath fumes anymore. I love it, thanks for the heads up Hans.

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Charity or not they owe a duty of care to you as regards your working environment and to the customers, as mentioned above,  What is your arrangement with the charity? Do they pay you,  or do you hire from them or is it a mutual benefit senario, ie you supply an attraction for free and they let you use the forge. What steps you would want to take will depend on your status.

If you are going to start using coal then the problem will get worse. not only are the fumes more noxious, but the dust and soots are much worse.

If you can't come to some agreement with the area manager, you could contact the Charities Trustees, they may be unaware and are ultimately responsible under Health and Safety.

Local Fire Brigade inspection as mentioned is another possibility.

If all else fails you could contact the Health and Safety Exec.

But it could mean what ever your agreement is could be brought to an end. So it's in everyone interest for you and the area manager to work out a suitable solution to prevent the inhalation of fumes, dust and soots by staff and the general public. You have plenty of 'levers' at your disposal. Good luck with your meeting and let us know how it goes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A maker here in the States for fume extraction is Smog Hog, and I saw a lot of their units at welding shop auctions.  Some had a large main unit with long hose arms that you could position near your working area. Even if the ventilation system is not period correct it could just be easily explained as to why it is there and the bad conditions that the workers in the past had to endure if they wanted to stay employed. Maybe also mention life spans for workers back then.  Even some big fans pushing the fumes towards the window - if it opens would help a lot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would imagine the original building has some kind of hood/chimney. Certainly you have to go threw planning to get it set up.often older buildings also had coupulas as ventilation aids. Infact this is how Steve Sells set up his shop, he has a classic brick forge with a side draft hood and a coupila. One might have to go back and research the original building. Many early “restorations” were not based on good archeology.  

As mantioned, modern ventilation may be an option (particularly from OSAH’s point of veiw. Perhaps one can camouflag a in floor system.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Health issues aside, I just have to say what a beautiful building! Heritage stuff!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i would second Ausfire with that really stunning venue. a small word of caution however, should you elect to involve local officialdom ie. fire dept. that is one genie that will not go back into its bottle.thinking outside the box for a moment "temporary structures fall outside of the ambit of historic protection. so if it can be removed easily with no lasting/permanent effect you can get away with it ie. if you get sone spiral duct and suspend it via light chain over the forge rising upwards toward the window it will "extract much of the hot/contaminated air. so whilst in an ideal world you would want it to go above the highest point of the roof as previously noted any improvement is better than none. spiral duct is cheap and if you are not size specific you might find a local "duct shop/a/c installer that will donate or some-such  . if painted Matt black it will not be very noticeable and once covered will your dust etc. it will take on a timeless appearance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like Ian’s suggestion, and would add to it that adding a wooden shroud around the spiral duct (similarly painted etc.) would mitigate its anachronistic appearance. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this