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I Forge Iron

First fire more fire but little heat


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I joined I forge iron today.

This is the same day I lite my first fire in a forge, my Grandfather build. He died in 1950, 1 year after I was born. My father never thought forge worked but I decided to see if I could get it to work.

I got the hand powered blower re connected to provide ait to the bottom of the forge. I am using coal left from 1950 (i think).

When I lit the fire I could turn the handle on the blower and see the change in the fire as air moved through it. 1 1/2 hours later I finely thought I had the fire so it would heat metal. I actually got a steel rod, the size of a pencil, red hot twice. And really enjoyed trying to form the 4 inch length I got this hot.

However about this time I was no longer able to blow air through the fire. So I ended up with a nice coal fire (if I wanted afire in a fireplace) but with not enough heat to heat metal past black hot.

So the two heats I got make me want more, but I must learn how to build a hot fire that will allow me to work metal.

I am glad to find this forum.

Thanks in advance for any comments

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Welcome aboard Bill.

There's a clinker blocking the air grate. Rake it out and try again. Your first project can be forging a fire rake, you need one. It's simply a length of steel / iron with a taper to a point at one end which is bent 90* 2-3" from the point. The other end gets an eye or hook to hang it. A decorative twist in the handle area for a few inches before the hanger is a nice touch.

Look up the local smithing organization and get together with the guys. They'll be happy to show you what's what and probably come over and help get yourself squared away.


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From what i can tell with the pics your fire in first pick is to spread out need to get it more concentrated. use a watter can to wet the coal down a little to keep the fire concentrated to center of fire pot. (this is something that takes practice) do not use to much watter you are just trying to control the conbustion of your fule and keep the fire managed and not so spread out.
from the 2nd pick that forge needs a good cleaning you need to sift your coake and coal get out all the ash and then seperate the clinker out. if your fire is dirty and full of clinker and ash it will rob you of heat by preventing air form coming through depending on your coal you can expect to clean out your firepot at least every couple hours to remove clinker and such if your fast enough no need to relight it just pull the glowing coal back in and crank.
make shure your air pipe is clear with no obstructions and ash dump is empty if it hasnt been cleand out in a while run a rod down into the ashdump with it open coal ash and clinker down there ill get solid and not drop just by opening it. if it gets to full it will also clog your air pipe.

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I will try to look for a "clinker" and go again on sunday adter church.

My grandfather had a fire rake like you describe. (But with no twist in the handle). As I read posts I see that he really had a good set of tools, I just need to see if I can figure out how to use them

Thanks again

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Bill, welcome to Iforgeiron.

If your forge has been in place for a while, all kinds of things can become obstructions to air flow.....a big flake of rust, cinders, mouse nests,

There is one horizontal section of my blower pipe that clogs every month or so. Oil leaks from the blower.....combines with soot and ash, and blocks about half the pipe.
It's not a big deal, but I have to remember to check it.

Oh, by the way, I'm about 80 miles up the road from you in Greenup Co. Ky.
I used to sell burley tobacco in Maysville years ago.

James Flannery

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well looking at picture it looks like you were getting enuf air to run it....ile bet that the fire burned wit a lot of smoke and not much heat tho ... probably not the best coal .... its possable to run with it but not as easy i agree with all earlier suggestions but i would add that you want a fairly deep fire .. so once it is going add coal .. maybee 2 ,3 lb coffee cans worth on top and try that ...if you have any smiths in the area that can help it would be worth checking with them ... it sometimes takes some fiddeling to get the fire to work .I start with a good wood fire (small campfire size) that way you have a good bed of coals then add the coal keep adding air .. dont need to crank real fast slow and steady works better for startup ...good luck!

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welcome aboard Bill.funny that is my best side too.is that anvil you are using from your Grandpa?it is one of the more unique ones i have yet to see.thanks for the pics,steve.

I took a second, closer gander and I think that's a stool on the far side that makes the anvil look so odd.

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The suggestion to clean my forge was I believe the key.

I also learned I had way to much coal in the fire the first time.

Today I tried again (after the I sifted the remnants of the last fire.) and clean all the forge.

It started well and I was able to heat metal ( a 3/8 steel rod) left from my Grandfather. ( I keep understanding stuff that we have been walking around for over 50 years).

I was able to form it and bend it double. Sadly I got it to hot and the bent part vaporized (I had tryed to see how thin I could make it before I bent it double.)

I also worked at putting a point on a 3/4 in bar.

I noticed what the fire looked like when I put air to it and it was making what I took to be good heat. So all and all a much better result.

Again thanks to all for your comments and suggestions

Now more questions

After I finished and decided to read some more, so I actually know what to do with the fire now that I can get it started, I wanted to turn off the fire.

I used my Grandfathers water sprinkler. It looks like a ladle but it has very small holes so the it sprinkles a VERY small amount of water which stops the heat. I then spread the fire. As I cleaned the fire basin I found the bricks hot (They were glowing) Is this normal? Do I need to do anything to protect them?

As I continued cleaning the fire pit and got to where I could see the top of the air inlet, I heard a small pop. I think that there must have been coal gas build up in the ash pit. Is this normal?

So all and all I am glad I found this site. I look forward to learning more for your all.

Again Thanks

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Bill, I have had coal gas build up when I heaped a lot of coal on the fire. If the gas gets trapped, and the top of the fire is not open just a little, it can make a 'bang' loud enough to startle you.
Once it caused the pipe to come off the handcrank blower! It didn't hurt anything, but it sure woke me up!

Also, don't sprinkle water directly on the rocks ( or a cast iron fire pot) when either is really hot. They will crack.

If I'm ever down your way, I'd like to look at your forge.
My dad's old forge was made of field stone and mud......some sheet metal.....and a champion fire pot.

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