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I Forge Iron

Anvil Heel Repair


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About two and a half years ago I got a 213lb (as marked) Wilkinson anvil with a missing heel, using it as my main anvil for over two years until I found another anvil. I had been considering repairing it for a while but I wasn't sure it was worth it. Around a month ago I decided in favor of repairing it, and here it is finished:

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Here's an old photo of it back when I got it:

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The heel was built up from pieces of forklift tine, and I used a piece of 1" ID square tubing as the hardy hole. I preheated the anvil before welding with a wood fire. After capping the WI with weld, I used the square tubing to define the gap between the anvil and the heel so it's full penetration welded and filled in on both sides with weld (a lot of welding!). I then insulated the anvil after welding to cool as slowly as possible. I did not hardface the heel, but the 4140 is reasonably tough as-is, and I could always add it later if I really need to.  I also did not attempt to repair the chips on the edges since I didn't want to push my luck, and after using this anvil for a long time they don't bug me much anyways.

I intentionally placed the hardy hole very close the the body of the anvil so it is as well supported as possible, similar to many German anvils. The heel is almost 6" thick/tall where the hole is. I will probably drill a pritchel hole at some later point.

I'll try to remember to post an update at some point after some use!

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Good looking repair.  What kind of rod/wire did you use? The test will be how well it does in service.  If it is hard enough not to ding up when you miss a blow and if the new heel doesn't crack off you have proof that a major repair like that can be done by someone with the time, equipment, and skills.  I hope that everything turns out well.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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I used 6011 rods, but I think using 7018 would have been better for all the build up. A member here "blacksmith-450" who did a similar repair was kind enough to give me some pointers about the process he used which was very helpful.

Part of me wants to make a hardy tool by upsetting it in the hardy hole just so I never have to worry about it breaking in my "normal" use, but the other part of me does not. :)

Thanks, anvil!

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I would go with the part that does not for now. After using it a while and doing some hard hammering on the heel, then I might take a chance and only size the shank a little while very hot. A lot of good solid anvils have had the heel broken of by trying to size a tapered shank that was too big.

BTW That repair really looks outstanding and I hope it's as good as new.

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Do you have a set of hardness checking files? I would be curious if you drew a temper into the original face plate and if so how far. A comparison along the face with a ball bearing rebound might provide some insight.
 

Don’t take it the wrong way. Beautiful work, it’s just the engineer in me coming out...

 

David

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I don't have any hardness files, but I was really careful about how hot I let it get during preheat and welding. The original main face never developed noticeable temper colors because I did not let it exceed 400F. I'm sure that there is unavoidably a thin HAZ on the face at the point where I had to weld to it, but I used back-stepping beads for this portion and let the heat soak in and distribute between passes. I don't know how high English anvils like this were tempered back to originally, but I would guess somewhere in the 500F range. Anyone know for sure?

From the lack of temper colors I'm pretty confident the main face hardness was not affected, and it still rebounds well as a sanity check. Thanks!

 

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Thank you! I did brush some gun-blue on it so make it look slightly less shiny and out of place, but I think it will take a long time before it is not easily distinguishable from the rest.

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13 hours ago, Chelonian said:

a lot of welding!

This might win the prize for understatement of the week! That's a great looking repair. I'm glad that anvil ended up with someone with the skills to restore it to it's former glory. 

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Thank you Frazer and JBM! I got the anvil on a stump and used it for a while today. It took a little getting used the the fact that it now has a heel, since I'm so used to it not having one.

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Goods: Yes I certainly need to make some tooling for this anvil. The hardy hole on my other anvil is something like 15/16" and is not quite square, so all the hardy tools I've made for that anvil are loose in this one. Luckily 3/4" square tubing fits the 1" tubing (at least in the wall thickness I have) without too much modification so I can use that for making hardy stems.

Thanks again!

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