Alcueso

Vinegar or grinding to prep a railroad track anvil

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Greetings all. I am working on getting the components for my forge together and I had a question on getting my lenght of railroad track prepped. 

One choice to is grind off the rust.  But the head of the track appears pretty smooth with little pitting.  I want to avoid the risks of my inexperienced grinding causing a less flat surface for hammering.  I understand that working the grinder carefully is probably a better learning experience though.  

Alternatively, I could use a vinegar bath, followed by a baking soda / water rinse, followed by some oil/wd-40 to help avoid insta-rust.  Is this a better  alternative? Perhaps followed by a light grinding?

id post in the anvil forum but I can't create anew topic  

Thanks

 

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Welcome Alcueso

I am sure lots of opinions from those in the know will be forthcoming.  It looks pretty flat on the top, not sure if it might be crane rail.  I have a small rail anvil I carved up to replicate a London pattern for my grandsons to use.  but If I just wanted it to use, I'd probably leave it as is on a proper stand.   If it were mine, I'd probably hit it with a flap disk on top just to clean it off with an eye towards keeping it flat with lightly radiused edges.  I am sure it will do a fine job for you as a first anvil.  Good luck. 

 

there are some "read this first" threads that we are all encouraged to eye ball.  Helpful in getting the most from the forum.  

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Hammering hot metal on the working surface will make it shine. When finished do a light wipe with a little ATF (auto transmission fluid).

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What Glenn said.  He beat me to it.  A quick touch up with the flap disk wouldn’t hurt but isn’t necessary.  You may want to consider setting the rail up vertically and using the narrow end.  It would be ideal if you set up your stand so you at least have the option to do so.  There are a number of threads on the topic.  The member CTBlades posted one about his design a while back.  

Use a respirator if you remove the rust mechanically!

Lou

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Wire brush the loose rust; hot steel the rest! I have one anvil that spent 50 years in a shed in a swampy area in Ohio and had condensation pitting all over the face. I did the aforementioned and the sweet spot is shiny and smooth---you can still see the fine pitting back on the heel that doesn't get as much attention from the hammer and hot metal.

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That anvil doesn't need any prep except grind a radius on the ends so it doesn't cut into the work when you set shoulders.  Some wire brushing won't hurt a thing but no need to do any serious grinding. A flat anvil face isn't that important, if you really need one for a project you can flip it over, the base is all flat surface. 

Rail is a lot more useful than it's popular reputation says.

Frosty The Lucky.

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If you are using it in a horizontal orientation, I prefer old worn rail without the crown as the crown makes piece slide around more under the hammer if you are not working them 90 deg to the axis.  I once demo'd welding up a billet using charcoal sieved from desert bonfire remains,  a chunk of crowned rail, a claw hammer and a improvised sheet metal firepot with a decent hand crank blower.  And noticed that when working the billet longways along the longways it wanted to slip sideways.

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Thanks for the tips everyone. Looks like the answer is leave it alone, forge the rust off and be able to mount the rail in different orientations.  Next comes the forge itself =)

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