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I'd like to use a 16 gallon Texaco oil barrel I picked on Craig's List as an oil quench tank.  I plan on using canola oil at first because most of the blades I'll be making will be 5160.  I plan on making a lid for it in case of any flash issues and to keep it clean of all the things in my shop that might want to crawl into it.  I plan on filling it up with 12 or 13 gallons of oil so it's not easily sloshed out and also plan on putting it on a mobile stand so it can be wheeled outside for quenching.  I'll preheat the oil by hanging a heated railroad spike in the barrel.  

I see a lot of guys quenching in metal tubes that seem like too little oil and too big of a chance of overheating the oil.  It seems that the steel tubes are just big enough for a quench or two at best.  So my question is if a 16 gallon metal barrel is too big?  What are the downsides of having an oil quench barrel this big?

I've been forging for several years now and want to start making edged tools, knives, and axe heads.  I made my first knife this year just to see if I could do it correctly and ended up with a nice little kitchen knife.  This experience hardly qualifies me to make knives, but I would like to start experimenting in that direction.  

 

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First off look at McMaster-Carr quench oils, or Parks.  if you going to get that serious a sized tank you should be serious about what you are quenching in.

 I have about 7 gals of 11 sec oil in my knife tank which is 14 inches or so diameter. and about 2.5 gal oil for the sword quench tank which is a 4 inch diameter steel tube.  I have never had to HT more than one sword at a time, so its fine tho I do wish it had a larger opening.

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Thanks for the positive feedback Steve.  I'd checked out McMaster-Carr and Black Bear for quenching oil.  Great stuff, but way out of my price range right now.  Parks 50 and the likes are definitely the best choices, but I'll need to wait a bit before taking the plunge.  I can do canola oil at the moment and I was told 5160 likes canola.  I have a quantity of 5160 and can buy it new pretty easily through a spring shop connection I have.  I'll practice on the scrap 5160 I have first so I can get a feel for things.

My barrel is 27 inches tall and 14 inches in diameter so I'd rather fill it up further than with 7 gallons so I don't have to bend over it when I quench so if there is a flame-up I can be standing to the side.  I'm thinking 12 gallons gets me 3/4 full and at a level where I can quench comfortably.

 

 

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place a screen/scoop  in bottom to make retrieval of dropped blades easier

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Sounds like what I have for a quench tank MC. Mine is an old Chevron gear lube barrel 15 gl. maybe 16, 15 was what everybody called them. Doesn't matter, it's more than large enough for what I need. Ditto Steve, I made a basket from expanded steel sheet with a couple 1/4" rnd. handle/hangers. I can hang the basket from the side of the barrel to keep it off the bottom in case I drop something pointy. Or just let it sit on the bottom, the hangers are well above oil level.

I don't know how much oil I have in it, I got it from the local Safeway deli, they change oil often. I told them what I wanted it for and brought a clean 5 gl jug with a tag and my ph #. I found out when they changed oil and brought the jug in the evening before and checked regularly. I probably have close to 8-9 gal. My quench tank has it's lid and is sitting in a cut down 55 gl. drum as a containment. I've never had oil boil anywhere but at the blade but if it did flash over or boil it wasn't going anywhere but the containment and both lids are at hand when I quench. I preheat with a 2" dia. x 5' solid bar, it bring it up to warm to the touch in one dip and soak.

I don't heat treat high carbon very often, I'm almost afraid to drop hot steel in that old oil, it's not going to smell like fish fillets or chicken.:wacko: I wanted doughnut fryer oil but . . . <sigh>

Frosty The Lucky.

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Steve, I'd read about the screen at the bottom and also something to protect the bottom from a dropped knife blade puncture.  Both great ideas.

Frosty, I thought about hitting up some local eateries for their discarded oil but I worry about the seriously degraded nature of it if it has been used for a while.  New canola isn't too bad to buy and comes in 5 gallon plastic containers where I am.  2 and a little of a 3rd should fill it to a safe level.  

Now I've got to find or make a nice top that will keep things out of it and keep it from oxidizing too much and going rancid.  

 

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It is veggie based,  therefore it will go rancid eventually

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MC H,

Putting some vitamin E,  (alpha tocopherol), into the quench oil will slow down the onset of rancidity, that is oil oxidation. The chemical is an anti-oxidant.

Chinese restaurant staff know that dodge and have been using it for years.

The vitamin capsules from the pharmacy or supermarket is a good source.

Using a blanket of carbon dioxide or nitrogen, or argon, (pricier stuff),  over the top of the quench tank oil will also help. (that is, when it is not in use).

I use a shot of gas from my mig welder for that purpose.  You do not much of the gas('ses), because they are heavier than air, and oxygen therein and form a barrier against that oxygen.

Just a few tit-bits for the site members and lurkers.

SLAG.

Oh yeh keep the quench oil container with a lid on it when it is not in use.

 

 

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Yes Steve and Slag, that is the major downside to vegetable oil and canola oil is that it will eventually go rancid whereas the Parks and others do not.  I thought about mineral oils too, but for that price you might as well go with Parks or Black Bear.

Thanks Slag for the tip on vitamin E capsules.  How many do you recommend?

Here's a picture of the Texaco barrel I picked up.  Someone welded a convient handle on it somewhere down the line.  It kills the value of them, but I bought it to use and I'm plenty happy it has the handle.  The welding job was very good too.  I half expected a poor weld and a loose handle when I went to look at it.

IMG_0807.thumb.JPG.1116424deb8db4fa0a584a2274679de4.JPG

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Mister MC-H,

I use between 5-8 capsules per gallon.  You probably could get away with a little less for your 15? gallons. I use usually two to four gallons of quenchant,  But I am not smithing big "creations".

Cut open the gelatin capsule and immerse them in a small amount of oil. You then can stir up the mess, and agitate same. After all of that you can fish out the gelatin capsule coverings if you want.

I,  being a lazy bottom,  do not bother. (I leave them in the bottom of the container). (they will behave themselves,  promise)

Amazon prime has good prices for vitamin E, Walmart is probably worth a price look-up, too.

I do not know what the current price is for the capsules,  but using more will not hurt.

The most effective anti-oxidant measure is to promptly cover the container when not in use, and keeping the quench tank cool, and out of the sun.

If you can use a covering gas blanket,  so much the better.

Have fun with that. 

SLAG.

It is amazing what information one can glean from all manner of sources. Moonlighting at a restaurant, while studying law,

was where I learned the vitamin dodge.

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Very good information SLAG!  The good news for me is that my shop runs out of my basement so it's stable and cool down there all year round.  I will have this tank on wheels though so it can be used outside the building.  No blade is worth a fire accident.  I'm definitely going to come up with a lid before I purchase the oil.  Ideally I'll have a metal lid for snuffing out flame ups, but it would be great to find a plastic lid to put on there after the oil is cool and ready for storage in the shop.  I know they make locking lids, but I for the life of me can't find someone just selling the metal locking lids.  

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Interesting about the Vit. E Slag, thanks. We supplemented one of our dogs with liquid Vit. E oil, he hated capsules but would lick straight oil off the dish. IIRC a pint bottle of E oil was pretty reasonable at the pet supply where we got it. Pet Zoo, or maybe Animal Food Warehouse, I think. 

Laying an inert gas layer gave  me some fun problem solving games. An easy air tight barrier would be a plastic trash bag over the top of the barrel and a bungie cord or line snubbed around to seal it. Carefully dropping the lid on too of course.

MC: Ask at the local Jiffy Lube or truck service shop about barrel lids. I don't believe they are reused, out shop used to just empty and crush them and scrap them. 

Before I thought of the retrieval screen in mine, only took one time reaching to the bottom to get to me to do a LITTLE thinking. Anyway, I knew dropping something pointy can pole a hole in a barrel so I'd cut a disk of 14 ga. steel and dropped it in as a little shield. A grease barrel is I think 20 gauge maybe, you can stab a Bic pen through one.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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That's the advantage of the non veggie oils is that they don't go bad.  Their performance can dip over time if you use it a lot, but let's face it you'd have to be a full-time blade maker to worry about that.  It's an investment in getting the best oil.

I'll have to check with a few of the car dealership garages I know and see if they have any lids.  

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Vitamin E suplimintation (fed to the critters for a month before slaugter) also increases the amount of time it will store in your freezer (vacuumed packing helps too) buy about 50% 

might want to come up with a spill pan that can contain all the oil Incase of a leak. 

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I like the idea of a spill pan.  I'll have to see what I can come up with.  Grease and oil fires are one of the few fires that make me nervous.  They go from nothing to terrible in seconds.  It's why I'll be wheeling it outside to quench.  I shouldn't have a problem with a bad fire, but accidents can and do happen.  

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17 minutes ago, MC Hammer said:

I'll be wheeling it outside to quench

Just remember, MC Hammer.....................the time it takes to go from your forge to the quench tank is critical.  With some steels you can have as little as 1/2 second before the carbon starts moving back to it's original orientation.  The whole idea of quenching is to "freeze" the molecules quickly in place.  That's what hardening/heat treating is all about.  So I'd rethink putting your quench tank too far from your forge.

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A good way to minimize the chance of an oil fire is to completely submerge the piece quickly. Oil can't burn if there's no air on it and it won't stay above the flash point when it has all the oil in the tank to heat first. 

You see lots of flame on FIF because it's flashier, not better. I hear talk about interrupted quenches but . . .? 

Frosty The Lucky.

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14 hours ago, Chris The Curious said:

Just remember, MC Hammer.....................the time it takes to go from your forge to the quench tank is critical.  

Yes Chris, all true but my forge is wheeled outside so my quench tank will be right near it.  My blacksmith shop is out of my basement garage so there is no way I'll be forging inside.  It could be done, but it's so easy to wheel the forge outside and take one step from the forge to the anvil inside the shop.  

14 hours ago, Frosty said:

You see lots of flame on FIF because it's flashier, not better.

It always puzzles me why the guys of FIF have so many flame-outs.  I've quenched things in oil before and yeah, you just shove it in there fast and I just keep moving it up and down until it's fully quenched.  I've never had a flame-out but then again I've not been making 12 inch knife blades either.  

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Concerning your first comment, that's great.  That's why the one I'm building is on rollers.

Second comment. Remember, it's a "show".  Carefully choreographed and there's always the need for something spectacular the judges can perk up and holler "Whoa !" over.  I know a knife-maker who came in second on the show and he said there's a whole lot you don't get to see on the show and a whole lot of things no knife-maker would ever do that are done on the show for........well.......just for effect!

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That's what I've heard too on all accounts.  I still watch the show because, well it's bladesmithing/blacksmithing and there's nothing to watch on this subject.  My favorite part of the show is seeing the finalists' home forges. Seeing this is what makes me content to have what I have because there are many on that show that don't have a lot.  I like to see the smiths that don't have a lot do as well or better than the smiths that have a full shop. 

I think this always drives home the point that is made on this forum a lot........you don't need all the special tools to do well at forging something.  With that said, I do think having an London style anvil, several decent pair of tongs, and some decent hammers is vital when you start out.  How much you spend and how you get that initial equipment is up to the newbie.  All my hammers, with the exception of the 2 HF hammers I bought when I started, are ones I bought cheap at junk stores and on Ebay.  My tongs I got for under $10 each or I made them.   Just my personal belief......if you are serious about forging the anvil and forge are your two major investments.  Do them as cheaply as you can and you won't have a ton invested.  Heck, I'm still making tools I need but it feels great to make them vs. buying them new or even buying them used.  Sorry, got off topic B) 

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