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I expected this grate to last longer than one session


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Half inch, mild steel, square bar. I don’t have a before pic, but imagine the bars in a old west jail cell.  I had two bars forming the side and 5 more bars laid on top of those running perpendicular to the sides. I arc welded the pieces together. 
 

Prior to this I had used just two random junk pieces across the opening. Or sometimes pieces cut from a cheap charcoal grill. I could get several fires out of each of those before they became unusable. This one had its center burned completely away in just a couple hours. 
 

I had been running the fire at a welding heat for much of that time. Was that the likely cause of the failure?

4E9BC839-3580-4C01-9D27-C7B3131FCBF2.jpeg

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Looks like that has been resting IN the fire.  Mine has been in use for over 12 years, it is still like new but it is also 2 inches below the burn in the air pipe, S shaped clinker breaker/grate combo of 3/8 in A36

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Mild steel doesn't hold up very well to heat. Cast is far better.

I use a clinker ball. It is more efficient, but takes a different setup to make it work.

Do a Google search for other forges and check out how they are setup. 

I had pretty good luck using square cast welding rod for the grate on my first forge.

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My very first grate was made from sucker rod. 3/4” I believe. It lasted a year and a half, but I wasn’t forge welding much if any. Just leaves and s hooks. 
 

I have sucker rod. I may try it again. Or just continue on with the scrap. 

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That is probably why what just the odd scrap bits I normally use seem to las longer. That one covered the entire bottom. The scrap bits are just large enough to sit over the tuyere. At present I am using three small pieces of 3/8” round bar I had used as a drift. 
 

They actually seem to function better as a grate than they did as drifts. The holes I was drifting grew progressively larger the more each piece was used. Drifting out the holes seemed to disrupt the 3/8” drifts and they would get thicker with each use. 
 

I know how to put a traditional clinker breaker in the pot, but my Dad’s shop where I fabricated the pot is a little over an hour away. It was running a little late on a Sunday and I decided to skip it.

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The difference in a grate and a clinkerbreaker is like night and day. Worth the hour drive.

Lol, with our inexperience and ego we all make mistakes like that. When I first started I got my coal from a sand and gravel place. Anthracite. I met a real working Smith and he asked about my coal. He indicated smithing coal was a magnitude better. He told me where to get it. About a 4 hour drive and free at the mine. He gave me about 50# to try. With a combo of inexperience and ego, I decided to mix the two, figuring it would give me a larger amount of better coal. Nope, still burned like second best Anthracite.  I just knew that guy gave me bogus advice! Took me almost 6 very frustrating years to learn the truth! 

Oh, and I had a grate in my homemade forge during that time as well.  It took me going to a blacksmith school to learn the difference between both coal and clinkerball in your daily work.  

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I usually run my forge for an hour at a time. Clinker is usually not a problem unless I go longer than that. I assume because of the coal the Saltfork Crafters makes available for members to purchase. I believe it comes from a mine near Vinita. It is of pretty good quality.  
 

It is only on a weekend when I might run the forge for 3 hours or longer that I have to remove clinker that it is a problem. With a grate like my brake drum forge had it was manageable. Removing the clinker requires I break up the fire, but that is a minor thing. It isn’t so minor with just pieces of scrap placed over the tuyere. The grate in my old pot was removable, but I could still scrape the clinker out with my poker. With just random scrap bits I cannot. All I can do is just poke holes through it. I could fix it by welding the bars to the inside of the tuyere or add a clinker breaker.  Both would require a trip to my Dad’s. When I eventually do that I will go with a clinker breaker. If they weren’t the ideal solution, you wouldn’t see them in every old original pot. 
 

 

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Clinker is a part of fire maintenance, you remove the clinker when it builds and starts to affect the fire.  This removal can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.  Turn the air off for a short while, this will cool the clinker so you can hook onto the clinker and pull it out of the fire.  You are interested in removing the large pieces of clinker.  If you need to tear the fire apart to get them, then tear the fire apart.  When the clinker is removed, put the coals together, add more fuel, add air and get back to forging.  

I use 2 ea 3/8 inch bolts across a 2-1/4 inch hole as a grate.  Welding heat is not a problem as the air under the bolts cools the bolts.  Just empty the ash dump to keep the ash away from the T and the bolts. 

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I get small amounts of loose ashy clinker using the good coal; nothing to hook too---unless I am forge welding billets and then I get flux to glue it together.  Hard to make hard fast rules when everyone may have differing experiences!

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On 9/20/2020 at 12:48 AM, DHarris said:

it comes from a mine near Vinita.

If it's the same mine the BOA gets our coal, which was almost clinker free, they have opened a new vein and this last batch we got produces a lot of clinker comparatively. Once they have been mining it a while I hope the vein improves. When using the forge for about an hour today with the new coal, the clinker was about the size of a tennis ball.

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I'm having the same clinker problem with the Vinita coal from the new mine location.  I still haven't called Sandy at the mine to get info on why we're getting more clinker.....different coal seam or dirtier coal from the same seam as years past.

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At one point the club coal was from Texas, but that was a long time ago before I became a member. I believe most Texas coal is lignite, but I could be wrong. Steel was actually once made in Texas. The Lone Star Steel company was/is located in NE Texas near Longview where I once lived for many years. 
 

I am down to about half a barrel now. With cooler weather here, I should be out there more now. Hopefully they are still on the same pile, but I expect not. It may be the same clinker producing stuff you guys are getting now. 

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