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I Forge Iron

railroad knuckle pin

Jacob s

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3 pounds is on the *heavy* for a real sword. Factor in about 50% loss for scaling and stock removal means that slightly over 4 pounds should end you up with a typical northern european long sword.

Now what does the pin spark out as in Carbon? I wouldn't think they would be high carbon; but may be medium carbon as they need *TOUGH* not brittle.

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I do not believe so as tool steel would be too brittle for what they use it for. My guess would be medium carbon at the highest---as I stated above.

However I don't have an official spec on them in my RR steel file like I do for spikes, rail anchors and rail.

I used to have one and gave it to a friend who's a hobby machinist and he had no problem cutting it with his bandsaw or turning it in his lathe---so definitely not hardened in as found state.

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If you have then, how about sending them east where they can be put to their original use. We are always looking for spares.

IIRC, I have an old spec sheet on them, I will have to see if I can find it. I think they are just mild steel, maybe with a touch of manganese for strength. The shear forces acting on them is not extremely high, only about 3-400,000 tons shared at 2 points ;<()


Rich Cizik
MoW Foreman
Blacksmith Shop Co-Head
Ct Eastern RR Museum
Willimantic, Ct 06226
Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum

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Thanks Frosty,

The reason there are no pictures is that we are in the middle of converting a temporary restoration building into a 2 man shop, with the forges on the end walls and a walkway in the middle. The building is 16x24 with a double slider on one side and a standard door on the other. I currently have about half of the exterior done, and another member has about 1/3 of the tin roof done. The building on the left edge of this photo shows the back wall of the shop:http://www.cteastrrmuseum.org/images/gallery/ashclear.jpg This one shows more of the building http://www.cteastrrmuseum.org/images/gallery/ttlead5308.jpg In the Spring we have an event that we call the Heritage Metal Festival to kick off the season for the museum, at the event we have multiple smiths and metal workers set up around the museum to demonstrate their skills. Next year will be our fifth annual HMF, usually we hold it the first Saturday in May, but we are discussing moving it back one week as it conflicts with older events for some groups we would like to come and demonstrate. Also in the fall we have an informal get together after the end of the season, that we call our Bring a Friend Blacksmith get together, where we ask anyone that is interested in learning about smithing to come on in also if you are a smith (hobby or practicing) we ask you to come join us to talk about methods and tricks. A bunch of smiths with portable rigs also show up, so the day ends-up being a relaxing day of smithing, talking, BSing and eating.

Thanks to Bill Sheer who runs the blacksmith shop over at Mystic Seaport, we got in contact with a lady that wanted her husband's/father in law's tools preserved. Mystic Seaport took some of the items and we got a Champion 203 belt drive post drill (almost production size), a belt drive grinder, drive motor, belt sheaves, belts, and tooling for the drill. Probably the nicest thing we got was an Union Mfg punch shear. It has 3 shear holes in the back for 3/8" & 3/4" round rod and 5/8 square rod, an 8" wide plate shear and a 4 position turret punch head on the front, basically it is like a small ironworker. Main difference is that the power source is from 2 drive crosses that accept the handle bar, one is direct drive and the other has a large reduction drive gear. As a test I punched a 3/8 square hole through a 1/4" steel plate using the direct drive and didn't realize I was through till I saw the plate lift as it was extracting the punch. On a side note, does anyone have more info on these machines, the punch was manufactured in New Britain, Ct, model #3, serial #2127, and it has a patent date of may 14, 1912.

Like farriers, RR Blacksmiths were a very specialized group of smiths, as they had to be able to make anything that the RR needed. Everything from utility & finish hooks to brake rods to nails and if they were in the mountains they would also need to know how to make and resharpen star drills. Surprising enough the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transit Agency) still employs smiths to make parts for their Trolleys. They got rid of them for a few years thinking they could just send the parts out for bid but shortly realized that it was cheaper for them to make them the old way. Also IIRC there were some lead time issues.

Rich C.

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We are doing the Mason/Dixon Steam show this weekend, so I asked some of the other smiths there. One thinks the pins may be of higher carbon content due to the amount of stress they take.

The best way to check is to put it to a grinder with a higth carbon spike or a pc. of coil spring. If you get more sparks with bursts of sparks from the ends, you'll know you have tool steel grade. Compare it with the other pcs. of metal.

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From: `Locomotive Cyclopedia of American Practice'
Seventh Edition, 1925
Compiled and Edited for the American Railway Association – Division V, Mechanical
Published & printed by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Co., NY. NY.

Coupler Knuckle Pivot Pins
A.R.A. Standard Adopted 1917; Revised 1924

1. Process: The Steel shall be made by the open hearth process.

3. Chemical Composition: The steel shall conform to the following requirements as to chemical composition:
Carbon – 0.55-0.70%
Manganese, not over – 0.60%
Phosphorus, Not over – 0.05%
Sulphur, not over – 0.05%

Could not find anything other then see ARA Spec# in my 1952 Locomotive Cyclopedia.


Rich C

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  • 8 years later...

Sorry to bring back a literally dead post, but, I found some information regarding this...


"C10 Knuckle Pin. They are made from AISI C1060 or equal steel, tensile strength (ksi) 135, yield strength (ksi) 75.2"

It might not be the best for a blade, but it should work for a hammer!



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  • 4 years later...

That sounded like a good idea. I have one I made from a bolt used with the fish plates, but it is too light to use for more than thin copper.  The pin piece I have weighs 2.248 pounds after I smoothed the dome and ground down the other end to eliminate any  visible cracks. I should be able to draw it out a bit, then punch and drift the eye without it dropping in weight too much. 

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