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Steel fire pot or cast iron???


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I am upgrading from a cast iron rivet forge to a larger steel table side blast forge.  I have the steel table and material for the legs, but I don't have a fire pot for it.  I was going to buy a complete premade cast iron fire pot with ash dump and clinker breaker, however the price on such a beast is ridiculous!  I will pay the big bucks if cast iron is the better material, but is 1/2" thick steel a better choice for longevity, or what do you all suggest???  Thanks my friends

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A side blast forge doesn't need a clinker breaker or ash dump. Charles R Stanley has pictures somewhere here of a good steel side blast firepot build that he did but I can never seem to locate them. 

Pnut

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The main advantage to cast iron is that clinker doesn't stick to it as much.  It was used a lot back when it was cheap and easy to come by; almost any town of any size had a foundry in it here in the USA. It is a more fragile materials and can crack with thermal shock.

Not knowing what you plan to do and how much of it makes it hard to give good advice; but steel will probably do quite well for you.

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Two more advantages of cast is that heat will warp steel. Cast will not warp. The other is that steel will "flake off" (scale) where cast won't do this. A good cast firepot is a good long term investment. I'd go for cast. 

Another consideration concerning the differences is how much time will you spend at your forge? If you are contemplating a business or are a very active part timer/ hobbiest, then  cast is the way to go. If you spend a few hours a month at your forge, then go for steel. 

 

 

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(What I was hinting at), also if you can make your own steel firepots then replacing them every couple of years may not be a big issue.

Warping happens but doesn't affect usability much in my experience.  I had a cast iron forge with a round firepot that was trashed.  I finally replaced it with the axle cover from a Banjo rear end from back in the 1930's---they were often made into jack stands and I bought a pair at the fleamarket for US$3. Removed the inside ribs with a grinder and the first one has been my primary solid fuel forge firepot for over 30 years now...still have the other one as backup...Like a good solid body blow: "Boxing outside of the think!"

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>>>Guys, my apologies!   I ment to say "side draft" NOT "side blast"<<<  I feel like such an idiot :wacko:

I plan on using multiple fuels over the years according to availability (charcoal, coal, and coke) so I want to plan for the very hottest pot temps whether I use coke mostly or not.  This forge will be for making a lot of small and medium size projects such as fireplace tools, hinges, lanterns, frying pans, fire pit irons, garden tools, small shovels, hammers, etc. etc.  However, I want the capability (for larger projects) to use very high heat when I must forge new parts for machinery or weld heavy material for machine and equipment repair.  In other words, I need a "Universal do it all" homestead shop forge.  

I plan on using the forge almost daily once I get up and running if that helps with your advice.

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Posted (edited)

Thomas, this is why I am on IFI, so experienced people such as yourself will call me out on unrealistic or even idiotic ideas I may have.   You are probably right, I am asking for too much out of one multi fuel forge. I am super Green at all of this and trying to compile as much good info as I can as quickly as I can...  Maybe too quickly?

I am listening to you all and keeping my mind open to all of you folks advice.  Judging by this new info given, I will discard the idea of Charcoal with this new forge, unless others say different.  Lets just figure on coal and coke with this forge...  I am learning!  Thanks for your patience and advice so far...

Edited by Mod30
Excessive quoting
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Well what I do when I want to use charcoal in my round coal firepot is to make it into a trough using firebricks to get a deeper and narrower "slot".  Adobe can work as well, or both adobe and firebrick.  (Why a JABOD is so easy to switch around.)  Charcoal uses a lot less air than coal and so works well with a hand crank blower, especially as you would like the air to cut off when the piece is at the anvil.  Pretty much all charcoal will catch and burn on the forge table and so using a trough keeps you from wasting charcoal to the sides of where you are actually working.  If you are forge welding a deeper charcoal fire helps control oxygen getting to the billet as well. Charcoal has been used as a forge fuel for 3000+ years; it just profits from forges designed to use it.

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IMG_20210310_143324313.thumb.jpg.ff34b9c8eb111b6dfab83588bf1f50f4.jpg

IMG_20210310_143503920.thumb.jpg.47c19a2d10556583560d36dfe6f99377.jpg

The first picture is of the standard coal/coke firepot that was my grandfather's. The second picture is what I have done to use charcoal in it. Two pieces of angle iron and two bricks. It performs as well and is as economical on fuel as the sideblasts I built. Charcoal does like a trench.

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