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I Forge Iron

Oil query, for the old timers..

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While doing my hammer tinkering project I had to drop in on the old machinist down the block to get him to turn a drive shaft for me from 4142. Whenever I drop in on Jake it's an experience. Stories, information, tool talk, etc. He was a machinist for Hershey for 30 years and has had his own shop now for just about as long, the old guy sure is busy - I know my phone doesn't ring that often! Inevitably while he's punching numbers into the old black and white VGA CRT attached to one of his lathes or mills, he'll start talking and asking questions. He asked me about quenching and I explained my processes, Parks 50, high temp salts, low temp salts, etc etc. He's no metallurgist but enjoys the conversation. So he started describing their hardening process they used at the Candy Cartel (Hershey) and asking me if I knew anything about it. I figured I'd query some of you older guys, maybe you'll know or have an idea and next time I stop down at the shop I'll pass it along, I'm sure it'll make him happy if I get anywhere close. So here's what he described: He said they had a large tub with an electric warmer they had to turn on when they were heat treating (thought it was set for 120F), he remembers that he occasionally had to "make" the quench oil using a few different buckets, there was a distinct smell and on the sides of the tank there would form what he called yellow "icicles" they would break or peel off. I had some thoughts right away and then he said that he thought he remembered two of the ingredients were [raw?] linseed oil and what he thought was fish oil, but there may have been something else they put it as well. They used a lot of W1, Atlantic 33, 41xx and a few other manufacturer specific names I can't remember off the top of my head. Any how, it's always interesting to me to hear how things used to be done (possibly still are in some places). I worked for a time out of high school for the foundations museum, maintaining and restoring exhibits and I know some of the crazy and eccentric things that have been stored in safe places, heck our hand scrub in the shop was a powdered cocoa butter soap made by Hershey in the 30's as a way of dealing with all the extra cocoa butter on hand - we had barrels of the stuff, so it wouldn't surprise me if they had a few barrels of sperm whale oil tucked away either. lol Probably not, but still wouldn't be a shocker. Any thoughts?


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  • 4 months later...

Made a set of 5 drifts in different sizes I used coil spring because I have plenty. Local off-road shop, upgrades suspensions and lets me take whatever from their scrap bin, these aren’t failed springs so a good source! After forging, moved on to hardening probably overkill for drifts but good practice. I have an oil bath of linseed oil in a section of 100mm x100mm square tube. When I quenched I dropped one of the drifts. Decided the easiest recovery was to bail out some and stick my arm in. Took the opportunity to fish out some nails I dropped last week. Arm is still a bit on the nose from the smell but the skin is nice and soft. Might use multi grips next time or better tongs.^_^

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