Forge and furnace
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  1. #1
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    Forge and furnace

    I was going to wait until I had this finished, but now's as good a time as any to get started. It's been quite a few years since I did any forge work or casting and a few weeks back I decided I'd finally throw them together. The burners will be the same for both, so I'll start there and test it in the forge before setting up the furnace.

    The burner design is based on Larry Zoeller's modified REIL burner. I'll use it in a forge very similar to his fire brick forge.

    http://zoellerforge.com/sidearm.html
    http://zoellerforge.com/firebrickforge.html


    The 1/8" schedule 80 nipple came from MSC. Drilled with a #3 bit and tapped 1/4" 28 to take the Tweeco tips for my mig gun. The 3/8" x 1/8" reducing bushing was drilled with a Z bit to .4130 for a slip fit inside the bushing then cut with the hacksaw to create a compression fitting. I need to pick up an 1 1/4" to 3/6 reducing bushing. The multiple reducers I had on hand are to long for the nipple I've got I believe. I may save these for the next one and just use a longer nipple. Sanded the side of the 1 1/4" x 3/4" x 1 1/4" and drilled and tapped for 10 -28 since I've got a bunch of loose hardware that size. Still need to make up the choke plate.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    I had to look a couple places to find the Ward reducing T that's suggested for this. I've got a propane line and reg that was originally intended for a propane hot water heater for my buddies old shop, so I'll try that 1st. If that doesn't work, I've got a spare reg somewhere I can throw on, I'll just have to dig it up and get a line made that will fit.

    The design calls for a tapered nozzle at the end. I needed a turning project last term so I bored and tapered one. I should have probably used the 1 3/8" SS I had on hand rather than the 1 1/4" I chose. It may be a bit short with the taper. I also roughed out a mandrel to flare tube, but I ran out of time in class before I got the finish I wanted. If the turned one doesn't work, I'll heat and flare a piece of 1" thin wall SS I've got some where. As soon as class starts again in Feb, I'll polish up the mandrel.

    All that's really left right now is to dig out some 3/4" black iron pipe from the scrap pile and cut it to length and finish the assembly. All I could find the other day was either galvy in short pieces or the long stuff for my big pipe clamps. I may need a few misc elbows and so on as well to link up the gas line. I think I have an 1/8" female to 3/8" female reducer and a few elbows in the parts bin.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    I built my furnace out of soft fire brick with an oil burner fan and injector. Never changed any thing except the jet for the oil to come out. Made it about 1/16th inch. It already had the automatic spark lighter. I just turn it on and when the fan is up to speed I start turning the gas on. All of a sudden when the mix gets just right it lights and sounds like a jet. After the furnace gets red hot inside I turn the used automotive drain oil on. it burns really hot and has no smoke or carbon smoke at all. I can melt aluminum, ten lbs of aluminum in ten minutes easy. I have to start the melt with small stuff until the graphite crucible gets a puddle going then start feeding in the bigger stuff. I want to try cast Iron next. Mac.
    Last edited by Tool Maker; 12-18-2011 at 09:43 PM. Reason: realy bad spelling.

  4. #4
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    where did you source the wards fittings? I know that Zoeller has them for sale, but every time I was going to order them over the last year he was not accepting orders. Looking good so far!

  5. #5
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    Quote Originally Posted by rancher76 View Post
    where did you source the wards fittings? I know that Zoeller has them for sale, but every time I was going to order them over the last year he was not accepting orders. Looking good so far!
    I picked them up stock from Grove supply in Warminster PA. I'd have to dig up the receipt, but off the top of my head I think they were about $7-8 each and I didn't have to pay shipping.

    http://www.grovesupplyinc.com/

    Usually I deal with Grove, but I was working around the corner from Blackman's. Blackman's only stocked the other type of T's that Zoller didn't recommend. All the stock T's were imports. They said they could order "domestic" T's that would be from Ward, but when the fittings showed up 8 days later ( add in a wait for the Thanksgiving holiday and the fact they were also closed Friday as well as Thursday) they were the same fittings they stocked, not the Ward ones. I walked in to Grove and they had those on the shelf. I forgot to ask about the reducers when I was there. I was in a rush to get to a job and a bit miffed I'd wasted almost 2 weeks when I could have been working on this.

    I hear you on him not taking orders. That's why I figured I'd see if I couldn't fab up my own burner nozzles. It would be simpler to just order a few, but I didn't want to go thru the hassle of waiting if he wasn't shipping.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    DSW- Awesome setup. I have just the exact same burner design and I have not been able to get it to work. I have an acetylene regulator but alas I reckon it may be broken and not working properly. Im using propane.

    What is the gas pressure you have with that regulator?

  7. #7
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    Don't honestly know. It's whatever it was set at at the factory. I picked it up about 2 years a go when my buddy acquired an almost new 50 gal propane hot water heater from a friend who's shop was getting torn down. He asked me if I could set it up to run off a 20# or 100# propane cylinder so he could use warm/hot water to wash the trucks and equipment in the winter. I picked the reg and hose up from the local RV dealer for that use. He never got around to using the heater before his death in spring of 2010 and I acquired it when I was cleaning up his shop when they closed his business.

    I figure I've got zero into it, so it can't hurt to give it a try and see how it does. If nothing else I've got an old acet reg of questionable origins that I'd have no issues trying with propane. if not I've got 2 "spare" acet regs from gear I've picked up at flea markets that should be good even though they are fairly old. The issue there might be finding hose fittings to easily fit the regs. Honestly haven't even looked to see where the regs are right now. If not I'll simply buy a new dedicated propane reg similar to what Zoller lists on his site.

    I may hunt around and see if I have a low pressure gauge anywhere around the shop to throw on the rig to check the pressure. A simple T should do the trick for this. I'm not sure I have one that will read that low accurately, but I know I can pick one up cheap from a couple of my suppliers. Thinking about it, I may still have a dead airco acet reg somewhere that I can swipe the LP gauge off of. Not sure if I scrapped it or not.
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    No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!

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  8. #8
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    Got a chance over the weekend to play around with the gas forge. New reg for the propane cylinder came in on Friday. Original one wasn't giving me enough gas flow.

    1st brick pile forge had too much volume I think for a single burner and I didn't have the burner tuned right.

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    On Sunday when they were calling for a heavy chance of rain throughout the day, I decided to rebuild the forge in the shop and play with trying to get the tuning right and see if reducing the size would give me better results. Not too bad, but I think it's still under powered. I have to get another Sched 80 nipple to build the 2nd burner, and there's still some tweaking that can be done with tuning the burner for better results I think. I did a bit of forging on some scrap rebar, but the heart shaped hook I was working on broke and I gave up for the day.

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    If nothing else I learned that when I do the casting furnace I'll need to keep the volume down and the insulating quality up to get enough heat. May need a bigger burner, but We'll see after I get a chance to pour the furnace. Now with the burner built, I just need to save up some cash for casting sand and start working on a few items when I have some spare time.
    Last edited by DSW; 08-07-2012 at 09:09 PM.
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    No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!

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  9. #9
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    Cool stuff! I've wanted one for a while.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    Stan the hardest part so far has been the burner flare. I wished I'd had more time on the lathe at the tech school to bore out some larger rod stock or thick wall pipe. I may look into seeing how thick I can get pipe in, or go the other way and go to thinner wall like sched 10 and try to cold form it in a press.

    I took some 1" black pipe and heated it in the gas forge during my forging class and used the mandrel I made above to help flare the pipe. It worked better than trying to do it with the rosebud but the vise was a bit too high to really keep the pipe straight while hammering on it and I got the piece stuck a few times as it cooled and shrank. I need to find a high temp lube like they use for punching holes in hammer heads when forging and try that. I also think the long straight part I machined to try and keep things lined up is working against me and getting stuck as things shrink. Maybe machining a 2nd taper with almost no straight shaft would work better. I don't really need more than a short bit to line up the flare with the pipe. I cleaned up the inside a bit later on the lathe when I was having issues getting the burner adjusted last Friday.

    Zoller supposedly sells premade SS burner flares, but I couldn't get him to respond to my email to buy the parts. Same issue rancher76 had I'd guess.


    I have seen some picts using simple couplings for burner "flares" but from what I've read they aren't really satisfactory and don't work as well as the tapered flares.
    Last edited by DSW; 08-07-2012 at 10:42 PM.
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    No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!

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  11. #11
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    Would a chunk of 2 1/2" (1/2" wall) help you out? unfortunately I only have a 4 1/2" piece.

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  12. #12
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    Thanks for the offer Stan, I appreciate it, but it's a bit too large.

    OD of the 3/4" pipe is roughly 1" and with the 12 deg taper , 1 1/4" OD was pretty close and fit's in the 1 1/2" pipe I'm using to hold the burner. 1 3/8" OD would probably be ideal, that or 1 1/2" turned down slightly. I've found a great shop near by who sells shorts by the pound. He'll sell any length material you want he has in stock. Shipping from the Great White North would probably cost as much as what I can simply buy a short piece for around here.
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    No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!

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  13. #13
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    The smaller pipe is 1 3/8" (3/8" wall thickness I'd guess). I appreciate what you offer here, call it karma. (and the smaller is even cheaper to ship lol). PM me an address and if it's not ridiculious I'll send you a chunk....how much you need?
    If you don't want to stand behind our Troops, feel free to stand in front of them.

  14. #14
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    If you don't want to stand behind our Troops, feel free to stand in front of them.

  15. #15
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    I set up a gig to build burner flares when I made my forge. I still have some left over; if you dont find any I can help you out.
    Good luck, Paul
    541-325-6027

    Quote Originally Posted by DSW View Post
    Stan the hardest part so far has been the burner flare. I wished I'd had more time on the lathe at the tech school to bore out some larger rod stock or thick wall pipe. I may look into seeing how thick I can get pipe in, or go the other way and go to thinner wall like sched 10 and try to cold form it in a press.

    I took some 1" black pipe and heated it in the gas forge during my forging class and used the mandrel I made above to help flare the pipe. It worked better than trying to do it with the rosebud but the vise was a bit too high to really keep the pipe straight while hammering on it and I got the piece stuck a few times as it cooled and shrank. I need to find a high temp lube like they use for punching holes in hammer heads when forging and try that. I also think the long straight part I machined to try and keep things lined up is working against me and getting stuck as things shrink. Maybe machining a 2nd taper with almost no straight shaft would work better. I don't really need more than a short bit to line up the flare with the pipe. I cleaned up the inside a bit later on the lathe when I was having issues getting the burner adjusted last Friday.

    Zoller supposedly sells premade SS burner flares, but I couldn't get him to respond to my email to buy the parts. Same issue rancher76 had I'd guess.


    I have seen some picts using simple couplings for burner "flares" but from what I've read they aren't really satisfactory and don't work as well as the tapered flares.

  16. #16
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    That's pretty sweet, Doug.

    The one I have in my head to build one day will be a triple with a steel clam shell body and doors with ports on both ends. Big enough for decent sized scroll/art work.

    I had a good selection of brick saved at one time, maybe half of what I need, but I swapped it and an old Olympic kiln for an Emglo gas powered air compressor, so now I have to start scrounging again.

    If I win the lottery I'll buy some blanket.

    Who am I kidding, first I'd never win any way, but if I did I'd probably buy something stupid like a UH-1 for the ultimate camper.

    Or a couple hunert acres in the middle of no where and a few miles of razor wire.

    'Course there'd be a shop on the premises so I'd still have to buy the blanket.

    Hey Stan, you're a good man to offer that, brown ground domestic can ship up to eight feel long and 70 lbs for decent numbers. It seems like it cost under $50 for my last shipment of a couple of 30-ish lb bundles. But the polar bear ride from there to the border might add to the cost. Sounds like he's got licked locally, anyway.

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  17. #17
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    DSW, If you are looking for a "drawing" lubricant to keep things from sticking badly, you might consider graphite, mica, Molybdenum disulphide or Magnesium silicate (talc). Yes, talc. Just an idea but talc has a high melting point and is soft.

    Another thing is not to pound the taper longitudinally (axially) into the heated tube. You aren't going for a shrink fit like a Morse taper. Use the taper as a mandrel/anvil in the vise and tap the heated outside piece from the side as you twirl it around. It's outer diameter will grow. It's like an English wheel or a planishing hammer, little by little.
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  18. #18
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    Bookmarked for future reference. Nice design/build DSW. The extensible concept vis a vis fire brick for the shell, vice brick inside a steel box, is cool. On the list for a future build. Aloha.
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  19. #19
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    In terms of heating efficiency, would you want the item being heated in the flames or slightly above them?
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  20. #20
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    With the gas forges I've seen pretty much the whole interior is "flame". In the dark you can usually see the flame exiting the front of the forge. There is a fine balance between having the burner set too rich, where the unburned fuel is burning just as it exits the forge ( often referred to as dragons breath) and just right, where the fuel burns completely inside the forge.


    One of the biggest things I've learned since I built this is that I used the wrong fire brick, The standard fire brick like I got soaks up too much heat and wastes fuel. I really needed to buy insulating fire brick, but didn't understand the difference at the time when I built this. Option #2 was to use Kaowool and coat it. Some use insulating brick on the floor because it takes the abuse of moving metal against it. When I eventually get around to playing with the gas one again, I'll probably go with 2" of Kaowool insulating blanket and coat it and do an insulated fire brick floor. I've seen a really nice 2 burner unit one of the members of my forging club has made and will probably copy the design. It's a steel shell with a lift up door. I'm keeping my eyes open for some stainless sheet for the shell. Note that the Kaowool come in different temp ranges and you will want the higher one at 2600 deg IIRC. The lower temp one will break down a lot faster under the heat of the forge. Also from what I have learned from others, it is important not to skimp and use the coating on the Kaowool, as it helps protect the blanket making it last a lot longer and use less fuel.


    To be honest I've probably got as much into this at this point as it would have cost me to buy one of the lower end commercial gas forges. Majestic Forge has 2 burner economy forges starting at about $300, Diamondback also has a single burner economy forge in that range. By the time I add up all the fuel used to run around and locate the plumbing parts I needed, the parts themselves, the brick I bought, the gas reg etc, I'm well over what it would have cost for one of the Majestic Forges or even one of the mid range NC forges.
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  21. #21
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    Good to know about the insulating brick... I would have made the same mistake. I just priced out the regular stuff at the local Home Hardware and was thinking that was an easy source. I have a couple old hydraulic reservoir tanks that I thought would make a good start for the housing... about 20 inches long by a foot or so high. As mentioned above I might have to rethink the size if I want to do larger objects but that would probably handle most. I also have an old tiger torch that I was thinking about using for the burner if I just mounted it into a fitting to keep the end of the torch out of the worst of the heat. Think that would work? I assume the air fan in the coal fired ones is to control the draft on the coal. Would there be any useful purpose for blowing in more air in a gas unit?
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  22. #22
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    If by Tiger torch, you mean those weed burners, from what I've read they don't make great burners for gas forges. They don't burn correctly when used inside a forge.

    As far as using a blower, yes it is possible to build a blown gas forge vs a naturally aspirated one like I built. I've done some very basic research on blown gas forges. If you want to run a natural gas vs propane forge blown gas is the way to go. You don't get enough velocity from the normal pressure of natural gas with out using a gas concentrator to create the venturi effect that helps suck in the air you need to get it to burn correctly. Running a blower it's no problem.

    I have natural gas at the house and a natural gas forge would make a lot of sense. I still have to work out all the details though. A gas concentrator would allow me to use one of the "normal" propane forges on nat gas, but that adds a fair amount of cost, so if I go that route eventually I'll probably go blown gas.


    If you are serious I'd go over and join Iforgeiron. They have a whole section devoted to nothing but gas forges and there are plenty of how to threads as well as answers to all sorts of questions such as number of burners to the volume of your forge and so on. Also I believe the member Wayne Coe there sells a lot of what you need if you go and build your own.

    http://www.iforgeiron.com/forum/65-gas-forges/

    http://www.waynecoeartistblacksmith.com/


    Yeah one ofthe down sides of gas is what you can fit in the forge. Build a big forge and it takes a while to heat up and burns a lot of fuel, even if you are only heating a small item. Go small and then you have to figure out how to fit things into the volume you have. In some cases you can't do the same order of operations you might on a coal forge. Nice thing is they don't require a lot of tending and most you don't have to worry about burning up your steel ( though not all gas forges get hot enough to weld in and the welding fluxes usually are not liner friendly to gas forges and cause the liners to break down quite rapidly after exposure to the flux.) Many shops that use gas will have several size forges that they use depending on the size of the job they want to do.
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    No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!

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  23. #23
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    If I was a skilled money making blacksmith I would own a Mankel forge. http://mankelforge.com/forges.html

    I'm buying insulated fire brick to build a gas forge like the one in the picture from http://www.refractoryeng.com of Indianapolis Indiana.

    The 9 X 4.5 X 1.25 Derby hard bricks to make the floor cost $3.10 apiece.

    The PN BNZ2800 9 X 4.5 X 2.5 insulated firebrick are $4.95 a piece, they come in cartons of 12. You can order them in them for different heat ranges. I want 2800s

    The Roescoset mortar is .95 a lb. it comes in a 55 lb container.
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    Cool unit....maybe I shouldn't be limiting the size by a ready built container, but I hear what you are saying by increasing size, you also increase the amount of fuel needed to reach temperature. I'm in a rural area with no access to natural gas so that isn't an option for me. I know the tiger torch won't burn unless it can draw in air from the back, which was one reason I was thinking about placing it into a fixture just outside the oven rather than placing it inside.
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    Re: Forge and furnace

    You can give it a try. If you already have the torch it won't cost you anything to try it. I know some have used one in conjunction with certain projects, but from what I understand it really doesn't work well for an average forge. If it did, I'm sure with the ready availability of them I'd see more plans suggesting their use as a starter forge. The fact that I don't and that their use is relatively limited to only a foot note in a few specialized applications, tells me that this doesn't work well and isn't really the direction to go.

    I bought a ready made burner from Steve Gensheimer last year. I think they are often referred to as PNG burners. It was a bit over $100 to $120 for the burner complete. I was very impressed with the quality of the machining and doubt I could make one for what I paid. Eventually if I do build my own, I'll probably order a 2nd one from him so I have a matched pair in my forge.
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