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500lb Fisher - is this damage inconsequential, or did I make a big mistake?

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Hello all,


I recently purchased a 500lb Fisher anvil made in 1914. According to the seller, until recently, it was in use in a shop in Rhode Island. This is the first massive anvil in decent shape that I've found, so I jumped on the opportunity.

While the face, edges, hardy hole, and other important parts are in decent enough shape, I only just now realized that there's some missing chunks under the horn and the heel. Under the heel also has some significant pitting. Rebound is in the 80-85% range and fairly consistent over the whole face. After taking the pictures, I've started working on removing the old paint, smoothing damaged areas underneath, and dressing the edges to prevent future chipping.

I'm not worried about this being a show piece, as I intend to put it to good use. Would this damage concern you at all, or should I use it with confidence? My main worry is the horn breaking off or large chunks of cast iron deciding they don't want to be part of the team anymore.

The attached pictures show it compared to a 140ish lb Peter Wright, and various angles of the face and damage under the horn and heel.


Fisher 500.jpg

face 1.jpg

face 2.jpg

face 3.jpg

heel 1.jpg

horn 1.jpg

horn 2.jpg

horn 3.jpg

horn 4.jpg

horn 5.jpg

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Welcome aboard... If you put your general location in your profile, you might be surprised how many members are within visiting distance and can have a look at it in person.

I don't think I would worry about what I see. Lets have a look after all the old flaking paint and crud is removed.

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Definitely just me, or perhaps one helper with a single-handed hammer on rare occasions. My concern was more for the fact that I haven't seen this kind of damage on any anvil before (underneath wasn't somewhere I would have thought to check), so I wasn't sure if this was a major warning sign that bad things were on their way.

For the $2200 I spent, I'm hoping this will last more than just my lifetime. 

Thanks for the assurance!

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I remember seeing that one for sale a while ago. If I remember right it was originally on Craigslist for $500, disappeared quickly, and reappeared on FB marketplace for the increased price. I guess someone made a pretty good profit flipping it.

Looks like an excellent anvil! I imagine the damage is just some slight casting defects that won't be an issue.

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Welcome aboard, glad to have you. Interesting login, do you have something easier to remember we can call you? 

Until or if you clean the paint off we can't really tell if those little defects mean anything. From what little I see they LOOK LIKE casting defects, probably loosened in a long life of hard hammering. That's just a possible, not a firm evaluation. 

Personally I'd be happy to have her in my shop though hopefully at a price earlier in it's recent sale history. I hate paying flippers that do nothing to improve an item.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Frosty thanks, glad to be here. Curse The Sky is a song by my all-time favorite band, Iced Earth, and a tribute to a friend of mine from many years ago. Call me Curse or Brian. Whichever you'd prefer ;)

I spent about 45 minutes attacking the anvil with a sandblaster and coal slag media. Good xxxx that black paint is tough stuff. The gray paint or primer that shows in spots was fairly easy to take off, but the black stuff might as well be a suit of armor. I'm going to pick up some kind of paint stripper later to see if it'll help make headway.

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arkie I don't have a needle scaler at the moment, but I'll definitely keep that one in mind. My current plan is to try paint stripper, then more blast media (primarily for the pits with rust), and finally some angle grinder work to smooth any sharp edges as seen under the horn. I've started dressing the edges a bit as well, with the goal being to prevent future chipping.

Does anyone know if the handling hole in the waist is supposed to go all the way through from under the horn to under the heel? Right now it's packed with years of debris, but if it is a continuous tunnel, I could put a piece of square stock through it to help with handling, if I ever get brave enough to try that again.

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If you have any specific questions about the anvil, I will try to answer them.  So far you have gotten good advise.  Remove the paint, wire wheel it, then let's see what you have.  Do not get too aggressive with a grinder or sanding disc.  Slight casting flaws under the horn and heel are of no concern.

Eventually if you want to learn about the history of the company, look up fishernorris.com to get the link to my new book.

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Thank you, I appreciate your time - and everyone else likewise.

How thick is the top plate realistically? I've read everything from 1/4" to 7/16" to 1/2" to 3/4". I'm guessing 7/16 to 1/2" is probably the most likely case, as the 3/4" estimates are likely fooled by the casting "shelf" on some models.

Do the top plates vary in thickness by anvil size? For example, would the 100-200 lb anvils have a thinner plate, and the 300+ lb anvils thicker? What about by era?

Finally, are there any notes as to what type of tool steel would have been used for the top plate? I'm guessing something in the medium carbon range, probably .5 to .6% carbon.

Thank you.

Whoops, just saw the warning about the @ tags. My bad. Reading the rules now.

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Updated pictures after partial cleaning. So far I've taken a drill with wire cup, angle grinder with sanding discs (lightly), sandblaster with coal slag media, angle grinder with heavy twisted wire cup, turpentine, acetone, mineral spirits, and full on paint stripper to it. I'm starting to wonder if the black "paint" isn't paint at all, but some kind of rust converter like POR-15. Then again, it could just be the 100+ years of baking in a shop, getting covered with grease and grime and who-knows-what-else. Either way, it's a royal pain in the nether regions to remove.

The pitting and chunks missing below the horn and heel still make me a bit uneasy. The sides, feet, and edges of the face all look how I'd expect them to after many years of service. I just can't imagine what would have given such a beating to the horn and heel, especially only underneath. I suppose it could be numerous casting flaws, or perhaps the previous shop had it mounted in some strange way, or moved it with chains under the horn and heel a dozen times. But hey, it's mine now - as long as it holds together, I won't complain.

Thanks again for all the time and help everyone. I'll post up more pictures after I get it to the point where I'm happy with it. Still a long road to go yet.

Oh, and excuse my mess in the background of some of these - I'm still working on organizing and building racks for tongs and hammers.

logo cleaned.jpg

date cleaned.jpg

side cleaned 1.jpg

face cleaned 1.jpg

face cleaned 2.jpg

horn cleaned 1.jpg

horn cleaned 2.jpg

horn cleaned 3.jpg

heel cleaned 1.jpg

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My first thought when seeing the paint was that this might have been a gravestone anvil.  That black looks like field applied "japanning" which is usually a linseed oil based goop with carbon black and some other things to thicken and cure the oil.  There was a time when anvils were almost worthless so the Smith's own anvil would be used---or an old used anvil acquired.

If that sat in one place in the rain for decades, one would expect the underside to collect moisture between the coating and anvil and result in heavy corrosion.  Graves rarely get dry weather because the sprinklers keep the lawns watered also.

Are there any clues on the bottom?  Peg holes drilled in?  Some line that might imply grout mounting?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Do not worry about what it looks like under the horn.  Fisher anvils are cast upside down.  It looks like some slag floated to the top and stayed there while cooling.  It will not affect the anvil.

The indestructible paint has appeared on a few of my anvils.  I have soaked for over a month in Simple Green, and the paint is mostly laughing at it.   If some remains, so what.

The face of the anvil looks OK as a good user anvil.  It will give you years of service.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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