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Thread: Welding 107 year old spring steel?

  1. #1
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    Welding 107 year old spring steel?

    50 years ago, at age 8, I got curious and started taking apart my family's antique Victrola-style record player. Unfortunately, a big internal spring jumped out of its casing and broke. My parents put all the mechanical guts in a box and stored it in the body of the Victrola. I'm finally getting around to fixing it. Everything is still in the box the way we left it way back when. I have a TIG machine and can make strong functional welds on aluminum, steel, and stainless. Not instragram-pretty, but functional.

    So, the spring in question is pictured below. That little coil on top snapped off in the center of the big coil. Can I TIG it back together? If so, what filler and set up?

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  2. #2
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    Re: Welding 107 year old spring steel?

    Have you tried to find one? Pretty sure you can weld it, but it may break again or affect the way the thing runs. If you're really serious about it you need to talk to a metallurgist, or maybe a good blacksmith, it may need to be annealed/normalized & then re-tempered, otherwise it may break there or one side or the other. We have an old BRUNSWICK Victrola style here at the house that was in my dad's family for years, I'm nearly 66 and can remember it from when I was young boy, I'm sure it's from the early 20th century, I also have the old school bell that was at the school house where my grandad, dad & his brother & at least 1 of his sisters went to, & my granny taught there until her & grandad got married, no idea about the age of the bell but strongly suspect it's pre 1900. Dad would have been 95 on November 5, 2020.
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    Re: Welding 107 year old spring steel?

    You can weld it, but it will just snap right off. I vote for trying to find a new one, wish I could remember the name of that type of spring (edit*constant force). If you are set on repairing it, you might have good luck overlapping it by a half inch or so, and using a resistance spot welder.
    Last edited by walker; 2 Days Ago at 12:15 AM.

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    Re: Welding 107 year old spring steel?


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    Re: Welding 107 year old spring steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by walker View Post
    You can weld it, but it will just snap right off. I vote for trying to find a new one, wish I could remember the name of that type of spring. If you are set on repairing it, you might have good luck overlapping it by a half inch or so, and using a resistance spot welder.
    Fixed a spring like that on a good sized hose reel once by overlapping and silver soldering, it broke near the outer end so it was easy to get at. Still working I think.

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    Re: Welding 107 year old spring steel?

    A new one would be best if available. As an experiment I'd take it to a place with a bandsaw blade welder that anneals it after welding.

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    Re: Welding 107 year old spring steel?

    Looks like it could be challenging to access it? It is a spring careful. Mcmasters-car sales spring material also.

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    Re: Welding 107 year old spring steel?

    Springs are hardened (which is what makes them "springy") by heating and quenching, then tempering. Bringing a spring to welding temperature is most likely going to remove the tempering (in other words, it will normalize/anneal the steel) where you weld it, leaving the steel near the weld "soft"-- which means it will probably bend rather than remaining springy where you welded it. Might be worth a try for grins but I'd start shopping for a new spring.

    That said, I have gotten lucky on occasion. For example, once I wanted to make a springy, thin belt hook to mount onto a roofing nail gun (so I could hook it onto my nail belt when working on the roof) and I used a flat, thin (.060") upholstery spring from an old chair. I tigged it to a 1/4" long piece of 1/2" black iron pipe (using 310 filler) and by golly, it remained springy, even without quenching or tempering! Apparently it was an air-hardening steel (maybe A2 or D2 ?) that doesn't really need any elaborate heat treating...so maybe you'll get lucky, as well. (I later tried to make something else out of this same spring material, and needed to drill it, and the drill couldn't touch it. So I heated it to bright orange, and slowly allowed it to cool -- which "normally" would "normalize" or "anneal" it -- but it was STILL harder than the hammers of He||. I guess I could have heated it to critical temperature and then allowed it to anneal/normalize slowly in an oven or something, but instead abandoned the project...)



    The hook for the roofing gun worked out so well that I later tried to make another belt hook for a framing nail gun. This time, after welding, I quenched it in old motor oil. That made the spring steel TOO hard, and it cracked when I tried to bend it. So then I tried just welding it and letting it cool down naturally in air. That one turned out to be too soft -- the spring steel at the weld HAZ just bent when I tried to spring it. Eventually, by gosh and by golly, I was able to make another hook that retained its springy characteristics, but I forget now whether I quenched it in oil or just air-quenched it. So you may need to experiment a bit...in general, if it's too hard (and cracks), that means you quenched it too hard, and if it's too soft (and bends) that means you didn't quench it hard enough. There's a lot more to quenching and tempering if you really want to get into it (Google around and check the blacksmithing forums, since blacksmiths do a lot of hardening and tempering) but it almost gets into an "art" ... for ghetto shade-tree repairs, you may get lucky like I did...

    With all that said, you may find that the best approach for your repair may be to overlap the ends of the spring at the break, and silver solder them together as someone else suggested...but if you're going to try both approaches, I would try welding first and silver-soldering second, because if you try silver soldering first and that doesn't work, then you're going to need to remove all the solder before welding, which may be a challenge on that spring.

    One other thing: If you grind or sand to prep for welding/soldering, try not to leave any gouges or grinder marks going across the spring (at 90° to the spring or parallel to the axis of curvature) because those scratches/gouges will act as stress risers, and if the spring is going to crack, that's likely where it will crack.

    Good luck, and let us know how it works out.
    Last edited by Kelvin; 2 Days Ago at 09:08 AM.

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    Re: Welding 107 year old spring steel?


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    Re: Welding 107 year old spring steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Denis G View Post
    Thanks everyone. Sounds like I'll skip trying to weld it. I had no idea there was a whole world of old Victrola parts and repair shops out there... I'm thinking now that I'll send my box of broken stuff off to one of these guys who rebuilds the wind up motors.

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    Re: Welding 107 year old spring steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by tom86951 View Post
    Thanks everyone. Sounds like I'll skip trying to weld it. I had no idea there was a whole world of old Victrola parts and repair shops out there... I'm thinking now that I'll send my box of broken stuff off to one of these guys who rebuilds the wind up motors.
    That just might be good to save a few fingers & maybe a juggler vein or 2!
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    RONALD REAGAN

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