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What did you do in the shop today?


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Frazer,  In using your angle grinder to split the RR spikes make sure that you use the thinnest wheel you can find.  For years I used a general metal cutting/grinding wheel (about 3/16" thick) and then I found a 1.2 mm thick wheel and what a difference!  The price was about the same but it only removes about 1/3 as much metal and therefore cuts much faster.

Also, I have heard that the HC ("high" carbon but only about 40-50 points) spikes were used on switches, curves and other applications where there would be more lateral forces.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."  

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George, I use 0.04" wheels so ~1.02mm. I always have my respirator and safety glasses on, both for the dust and so most of my face is covered. Every once in a while when you're not cutting straight or hit a transition (cutting angle iron starting on an edge rather than on the corner for example) they will indeed explode. I'm sure this happens with any thickness, but the thin ones are a little more prone to it I imagine since they have some flex to them and that fiberglass reinforcement is so thin. One should also keep their face out of the line of potential shrapnel in general, but when you're trying to cut a straight line down the length of something, sometimes it helps to get started looking down the wheel.

It has always been my understanding that the high carbon designation just means high carbon as far as RR spikes are concerned, but medium carbon as far as steel goes. Just like you said. However, that makes a lot of sense. Put the tougher ones where they're needed and use the rest on the straightaways. 

I always find it entertaining when I see listings on etsy or whatever saying something along the lines of "High Quality Knife Forged from High Carbon Railroad Spike". I've never made a knife from a spike, but they make nice drifts and tools where I don't really feel the need to heat treat.

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I don't have any data to support it since it's something I learned here, but the HC spikes are somewhere around 0.30% carbon, sometimes less. So yes, right on that border between low and medium carbon. 

I went back and searched for the thread where I remembered someone had provided a link. In the ""MC" Railroad Spikes..." thread, Bob JS does provide a link, but I can't open it on my computer. Possibly because of my networks firewall, but Glenn does thank him for providing reference material so maybe there are additional references on that page.

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I reread the MC thread and the data I got from it was, based on the website linked at that time, their MC spikes were 20 points carbon and HC were 30 points carbon with 100 points == 1% C (30 points is the boundary between low carbon and medium carbon).  So, as is common, a specific industry has their own definitions of terms.

I know a lot of people would like to think that their RR spike knives were high carbon as the term is used in knifemaking but wishing doesn't make it so!  (Or my 100000 sq ft shop with three phase power and ascending size powerhammers in a circle around the forge AND AIR CONDITIONING! would be waiting for me when I got off work today...)

We will gradually see more and more of the new standard spikes show up in the scrap stream; but a lot of us are still using stuff based on the 1968 standard as they get pulled and recycled.  HOWEVER by either standard RR spikes are not an alloy suitable for good knife blades and are sort of a "one trick pony".   (I refuse to make RR spike knives when the & clips are around double the carbon content of a spike!)

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Forged this little knife out of a lawnmower blade. It is probably the most basic design for a knife that I've ever done. Its handle is Black Locust. 

I accully did this in the shop like a week ago so I guess I'm kinda breaking the "what did you do in the shop today" rule.

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Frazer: With the right technique and TPI hacksaw blade you can split a spike literally in a 2-3 minutes. Be sure to wire brush the rust and dirt off or it will dull the blade quickly. Maybe not Bimetal blades but dirt never makes things better.

Frosty The Lucky.

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With a maximum hardness of about 50HRC, I agree they would not make a very good blade. Which is why I've never used then for such. Drifts and some top tools (that you have to redress every now and then) and bottle openers and countless other things on the other hand, they are well suited for. So I wouldn't quite call them a one trick pony. There is plenty of material for a lot of small projects.

Also, as an update, I think you (TP) and John were right (No surprise there) that the "feature" I observed on those older spikes are from the track and not from when they were made.

414740346_IMG_2020-07-24_14-16-551.thumb.jpeg.9b695d1c422881cb9ca67e56fec53e8e.jpeg

 

Virusds,

I like the knife. Nice work on the guard. How long is the blade? It could be cool to add some twisted brass/copper wire in those grooves spiraling up the handle on the next one? 

And no worries, I often post something I made on the following morning. This thread is full of "check out this thing I've been working on" and side conversations and miscellaneous other odds and ends. All 528 pages certainly have not been filled up with people sticking to what they did on one day in particular. Although that is the overarching  theme.

Frosty,

I certainly could! However, the prospect of splitting 36 spikes with a hacksaw still doesn't sound too appealing. A power hacksaw.. or perhaps an unpaid shop minion with a hacksaw.. Now we're talking. 

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As I currently don't have internet access from home; all my posts on this thread are "time delayed".

I think the "trick" is that "It was a RR Spike"  yes there are a lot of things you can make from them; but it isn't a size, shape or alloy that makes it a great stock supply in my mind.  I use them to teach new smiths how to use a triphammer turning them into tent stakes.  I also made one into a spoon plannishing tool; cold,  with minimal grinding.

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I wrapped up work early today and had time to put some boiled linseed oil on my box bellows I just completed.  This is to replace my very sub-optimal salvaged blower I had been using previously.  It puts out far, far more air then the blower does. Have not tried it out yet in a forge - hopefully this weekend.  Very excited to have proper air. 

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97D37AD9-50A8-4F9A-8539-3A9212F4F6CB.jpeg

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Attractive box bellows. The handle end looks like a surprise :o emoji, maybe put a tongue shaped handle on the end and paint it red? 

Nice job, I'll be waiting for pics of a well blasted fire.

Frosty The Lucky.

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PInocchio would be good, I'll see if I can think of a way to make eyes that bug out without disrupting air flow. 

That should provide many times the air you need for a large fire but it'll be incredibly controllable, more so than sipping hot coffee.

Frosty The Lucky.

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We already know that gripping a hammer handle too tightly can result in blacksmith's elbow and while the Box Bellows does not have the impact aspects it sure has the RSI aspects.

Hmm I wonder about two wooden balls mounted on the shaft with the "grip" a space between them...

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A D handle is a good suggestion. I will try it out first to see how I am going to orient it. Right now if it sits on a table it is easier to grab as is since I am reaching down.  If it is higher my arm is more in line I think the D handle will be really nice .

I have hanger bolt ready to go - so I come up with a handle of some sort.

 

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Look into the arm mechanics of using it and adjust it so you get the least strain on your arm.

Both I and another smith I knew used double lunged bellows.  Mine was set up so that I could blow my fire to a welding heat with my pinkie---did it once on a bet.  His was set up in the rafters of the shop where he had to wrap the leather strap around his arm and haul it down with great force---ended up blowing out his shoulder.  (Why he didn't adjust it till it worked easily I don't know.)

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Thomas:  Thanks for the warning.  
 

I tried to reduce the friction and pressure drop as much as I could within reason. I planed down the plunger as so that it doesn’t bind at all.  I then stapled in some slick plastic strips wrapped around the bottom and sides.  The plunger gaskets are actually curtains - so they are not between the piston and the interior surface - they just ride along and the working pressure pushes them into the piston-wall area. 

Definitely need to make some fire and see how much effort it takes and how to best orient it.  There are more things to tweak for sure. Don’t want to blow out a shoulder. 
 

 

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Thanks pnut. They are collared but not my work. 
 

Found at the local used building material recycler. Got all 4 panels (9’-11’ by 5.5’) for $65 each. I figure that comes to about .75 cents a pound!!  I just made the brackets because I couldnt think of how else to mount them and I have a bunch of 1” square

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