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CRAFTBENDER

Alternative refractorys propane forge

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I am building a forge that is featured in Michael Porter's book on forges and kilns, the propane bottle forge. I have already finished the burner and am in the process of cutting the propane cylinder. I called Jay Hayes for prices on the lining, floor, and ITC and fiber board and it comes out to a little over 100 dollars. I spent about 50 dollars for the stuff to make my 3/4 inch burner and another 30 something dollars on a new propane hose. I already had a regulator and propane bottle. By the way, the burner works great, easily melts copper. My question is; are there alternatives to the lining called out or do I need to wait for my next social security check and buy the other stuff?

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Check out zoeller forge. He has materials for sale. I've used the plistex and it made an improvement in the forge temps.

Edited by ChrisB
typo

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Hello Bender,

I just finished a freon bottle forge and had sticker price shock when first looking for materials. Luckily the AABA site had a supplier listed in Phoenix and they were close enough to drive to. The amount needed was only $2.00 less than whole roll, no shipping charges and I still have plenty to use or swap.

I could not imagine using something else. It would be handy if you could split the roll price with someone close.

No plans on mine-#30 tank, 3 layers 1", 4" front opening 2" rear, coated with 3000F mortar and ITC. Good luck with yours.

Dave

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A while back I bought a 25' roll of 8 pound, 2' wide fiber blanket from an eBay store and parceled most of it out via flat-rate Express Mail to guys on one of my regular forums at a small markup. My profit covered the cost of the relatively small amount I kept for myself, and it was still a better deal for the other guys (for a small quantity of wool) than they would've gotten anywhere else I've seen. Of course it wasn't as simple as just buying a few feet would've been, but I certainly considered it a win-win.

Just a thought.

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Have you looked through the local phone books for refractories? Try looking under furnace suppliers or try calling a company that services furnaces. They'll know where to buy locally and in many cases will have materials left over from jobs you can buy or sometimes have free for the asking.

These are the guys I buy from locally and they're great. E.J. Bartells

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I have been using the broken ferrules from stud welding machines. I just crush them up with a hammer and pile them up in the bottom of the forge like sand. They seem to stand up well to flux, they are easily changed, and are free. They are made a high temperature ceramic; they are not easy to melt with an oxy fuel torch. Any structural steel fab shop will have lots.

brad

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I'm not sure I've seen the things you're talking about, Brad, but the nozzles for TIG welders are commonly made of alumina (aluminum oxide), which is probably the single most common refractory going. Good to over 3000 degrees if it's pure. I don't think the nozzles are super-pure, but they're still very heat resistant. Alumina isn't much of an insulator, though, so it's not really a replacement for high temp blankets.

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The ferrule is a ceramic ring the is put around the base of a stud before it is welded to a plate.http://www.bikudo.com/photo_stock/992883.jpg After the weld is completed the ferrule is broken off hence they are all over the floor. I have tried to melt one with an oxy fuel torch and the stand up to a full on torch flame quite well. flux does not seem to eat them and the are easy to replace. I put them on the floor of the forge but I would imagine they would make good aggergate for refractory cement.

brad

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There's nothing like that kaowool. It really is worth it. At the local ceramics store, it is 2.40 per square foot, by 2 foot widths. So, a freon tank forge will require about 4-6 sq ft, depending on how you insulate the bottom.

If you really would like to make your own refractory, you can find all kinds of formulas on the www. I used one that I found: 4 parts fireclay, 3 parts grog, 1 part fencepost concrete and 3 or so parts of "fluff". The fluff can be anything finely divided that will burn out. Good choices are grass clippings or sawdust. The concrete will not spall if you mix everything thoroughly. Wear a mask; the fireclay is dangerous if inhaled. Add just enough water so that it holds together. Use a mold to form it, ram it in, and let it dry for 2 weeks before firing. It will not spall, but it will crack and flake off. Just keep patching. I leave my forge outside, and I have patched it 2 or 3 times. The shell has rusted out (on its 4th year), so I'll need a new one soon.

Note that if you buy a bag of fireclay and grog, it will add up. You can substitute clay soil and broken pots, but it is hard digging. If you live in area with hardpan, the hardpan can be used (get the rocks out). Charge somebody $20 for planting a tree. He'll discover that the trees don't grow well unless someone busts the hardpan, and the local gardening help usually is too wimpy with the spud bar. I did this. It works, and the clay is better than free ;)

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I use cat litter to line the bottom o my forge, it just clumps up when the flux hits it and the flux can be picked right out and more litter added.

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I agree with evfreek: there really is no good substitute for fiber blanket in a gas forge. The various homemade recipes are just fine in solid fuel forges. Solid fuel forges really don't need to be insulated, because they're largely self-insulating (charcoal and coke insulate reasonably well) and the work is placed in the heart of the fire. In a gasser you really do want good insulation, unless you want to waste a lot of money on propane and spend a long time getting the forge up to heat. For this purpose, fiber blanket with a hard face of castable refractory or mortar really can't be beat for effectiveness and ease of installation. I say this as someone whose first gasser was lined with a fireclay/sand/styrofoam bead mix. The results were very mediocre.

blafen's disposable floor idea is a good one. My current welding forge has a loose mix of kaolin and vermiculite as the floor. It's mean to be scooped out and replaced when it gets nasty.

Those ferrules are some kind of ceramic, probably something with a high alumina content. If you had a ball mill, you could probably mill them down to a good grog for high temp ceramics. Or you could do it the hard way, with a hammer. :)

Edited by MattBower

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Have you looked through the local phone books for refractories? Try looking under furnace suppliers or try calling a company that services furnaces. They'll know where to buy locally and in many cases will have materials left over from jobs you can buy or sometimes have free for the asking.

These are the guys I buy from locally and they're great. E.J. Bartells

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I decided to us the plastech 85 that Jymm Hoffman uses in his shop. I've already installed the stuff this morning and am curing my forge right now. I think it is the way to go. Expensive though. Thanks for all your answers.

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Frosty is on it. Another place to call around to is any type of boiler parts/services or insulation companies. Open up superpages.com and do a search in your area. We did huge boilers at our coal power plants. 7 massive boilers, and these are the guys that know about heat.


2 more questions, would the ITC-213 product be good for coating your burners, and 8oz, do you mean 8lb?

Cheers,

J.

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I've never used ITC-213 so I can't say. I dip the ends of my burners in kaolin slip to make them last longer and it seems to be working so far.

I think what I buy is 8oz but it's been some years so my memory could be faulty. . . Uh . . . Where were we? Are we there yet?

Frosty

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