Railroad Iron Anvil
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  1. #1
    cutter Guest

    Railroad Iron Anvil

    Since the subject of homemade anvils has come up a couple of times so far, I decided to take some pictures of the best one I have seen. I found this little feller under unusual circumstances at an invitation-only estate sale; I was the only one invited to attend because the family was all gone from these parts & the next door neighbor of the deceased was asked to liquidate what she could of the little guy's remaining stuff, stored in an unlighted garage. It had no windows or outside doors that would open, pitch dark inside. I first went in with only a flashlight; it reminded me of those documentaries about the Egyptian pyramid tombs. Okay, that's being overly dramatic, but it was kinda spooky. Wound up stringing a long extension cord to the neighbor's house so I could have a couple of clip lights. I only found a few things worth keeping in the entire jumble of junk but I was very pleased with this.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    N. TX.
    Posts
    73
    Good find! Looks like a little machine work was done on it.
    I made one not too long ago for someone,but it didn't look that good.

  3. #3
    cutter Guest

    Top View

    It stands about 6 3/8 inches high x 13 5/8" long, The top is 2 5/8" wide & 1 1/4" thick. It weighs about 27 pounds according to my
    not-necessarily-too-accurate bathroom scales. Somebody told me this was 60lb rail I believe, but I really don't know. Seems to me it
    should heavier than that (per yard) though, unless those scales are way off, more like 30lb's per foot.
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  4. #4
    cutter Guest

    last picture

    Ain't he cute? It's a pretty useful little anvil, too.
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  5. #5
    cutter Guest
    Originally posted by John C
    Good find! Looks like a little machine work was done on it.
    I made one not too long ago for someone,but it didn't look that good.
    Say John, where in N. Texas are you located?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    West central Florida
    Posts
    153
    Nifty find Cutter. Somebody had a good idea and took the time and effort to do a nice job. I'm sure it will serve you well.
    "All that is required for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing"

  7. #7
    cutter Guest
    Originally posted by 1911Man
    Nifty find Cutter. Somebody had a good idea and took the time and effort to do a nice job. I'm sure it will serve you well.
    Ah, I neglected to make it clear but I've already had this thing for five years or more. It has served me well. I always get a little caught up in that story because of some of the background & what happened later. All I really know about the original owner I learned from the neighbor lady who let me in to the house & who took my money. She said he was such a nice little guy, that she grew up in the same house she still lived in so he had been her neighbor all her life. She talked about how he had loved his two little dogs & sure enough, he had buried them side by side in his back yard & he had put up grave markers like the cemetaries use until headstones are ready. They said "Charlie Brown" and "Penelope Ann".
    About 6 months later, she had a bad car wreck over in New Mexico - headon with a truck on icy roads at night, and she had her two dogs with her. All of them were killed.
    So you see, it's more than just a little homemade anvil to me.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    60
    I too have a railroad anvil. Does anyone know what type of metal it is? I would guess cast steel, but I am an idiot.

  9. #9
    Paychk Guest
    In this thread trackwelder talks about the RR steel;

    http://www.weldingweb.com/showthread...d&pagenumber=2

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    60
    Thanks man. I told ya I was an idiot.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    deep south, southern Illinois
    Posts
    7
    I know this is an old post, but I also have an anvil made from railroad iron, only I made mine. I was working pipeline construction in New Jersey, rieght next, to the amtrack lines, within feet of those tracks, several of sets running side by side. Kinda nerve racking, You'd here the train, look up there it would be, and then gone. bam like that. They finally put a spotter out there with a horn and schedule to warn us. Anyway, there were several peices of old bent track laying around, and I hit one with my hammer, and it rang like a bell, and I remmembered my grandfather having a small anvil made from some track, and thought about it. I asked later If I could make an anvil for myself out of some of it. 42 anvils later, I finally got mine. I was going thru two full bottles of ooxigen and one bottle of acceteline every day, using a number 4 tip in the torch, and just barely able to cut the stuff. this was some of the biffest track I had ever seen. Every once in awhile , I hit it, just to here it ring, and smile. I don't know if the making or the ring makes me happier. I hope the others enjoyed theirs as much as I have mine.

    Rich
    Sure hope I get to them golden years I keep hearing about. The ones I'm living now, hurt like the devil. Youth is wasted on the young.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Edison Wa.
    Posts
    788
    Even though they look real purty, and have that "I made it myself" charm, anvils made from railroad track are crummy for real blacksmithing.
    The no. 1 thing you want in an anvil is mass. Railroad track doesnt have it- its actually really wiggly in the web. A piece of 4" round bar 2 feet long is a lot better anvil than any railroad track will ever be. But it doesnt "feel" right.
    Nowadays, old anvils are getting pricey, but new Czech made anvils are getting cheaper- go figure. Old world Anvils and EuroAnvils both sell brand new, big hunky anvils, cast from tool steel, hardened to a decent 40-50 rockwell, for from $300 to $1000, depending on size.
    http://euroanvils.net/
    http://www.oldworldanvils.com/
    My favorite, however, are the classic Italian style anvils, made entirely in the USA, by my friend Russell Jaque- these things kick serious butt. They are expensive, but will easily last 100 years.
    http://www.anvils.nimbaforge.com/
    Once you have used a real 200lb or so anvil, especially working something like 1" round bar, you wont wanna go back to railroad track.
    Here is a picture of my anvil- a 250lb Nimba, with a little pinstriping and paint added.
    Last edited by Ries; 01-05-2005 at 02:05 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Hamilton, Ohio
    Posts
    8

    Re: Railroad Iron Anvil

    I have a piece of train track, approximately 6 feet long, and yes, it weights a "ton." I wanted to make a few anvils out of it, and was wondering what would be the best way to cut it. Any ideas? If I'm not mistaken, the rail is made out of a very high quality steel alloy (which doesn't make cutting it any easier). It is the flat-bottomed type of rail. I was thinking about a carbide-tipped blade. Any help wouldbe greatly appreciated!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Carnegie, PA
    Posts
    152

    Re: Railroad Iron Anvil

    I agree that rairoad rails are not the best. There is not enough mass and they are not hard enough. I have a 300# Fisher which in my opinion is the best anvil ever made. The Fisher has a 1" thick tool steel top which is very hard. To test the hardness of an anvil, take a 1" steel ball and drop it on the anvil top from a height of 10". On a good hard anvil, like my Fisher, the ball will bounce back 90% or 9". Try that on a piece of cast iron and the ball won't bounce hardly at all. I also have a 70# cast steel Kohlswa anvil from Sweden which has a heat treated top and the ball bounces back 7". If you use a good anvil for a while you will come to the conclusion that the homemade rail anvils don't even compare but they serve a purpose and are fine for the occasional user.

    I would be curious to see what the rebound is for the ball test on the rail.
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    Last edited by WFM; 03-19-2009 at 01:32 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    3,745

    Re: Railroad Iron Anvil

    Posted by Dana Harris:
    I have a piece of train track, approximately 6 feet long, and yes, it weights a "ton." I wanted to make a few anvils out of it, and was wondering what would be the best way to cut it. Any ideas? If I'm not mistaken, the rail is made out of a very high quality steel alloy (which doesn't make cutting it any easier). It is the flat-bottomed type of rail. I was thinking about a carbide-tipped blade. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    The railroads use huge gas-driven chopsaws. A carbide blade made for steel cutting in an appropriate factory machine with great stability and very controlled feed might work well, but for using in a standard 14" 'chopsaw' machine, the blade wouldn't likely survive long.
    I think the alloy used tends to work harden so top surface of a used rail is harder than you think.
    I would either cut the rail with an OA torch or a larger chopsaw, preferably one with a rocking action so that it has a smaller surface the blade is working on at any given time. Use the coarsest available grit possible.
    A large capacity plasma torch would also be nice but......

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