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Brake drum forge + 400 = forge welding?


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#1 JerMac

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 07:07 PM

Hello,

I was given a brake drum yesterday in exchange for a box of cookies :lol: . It is from a commercial fertilizer truck and is about 18-20" across by 10 - 12" deep. I would guess the walls to be about 1 to 1 1/2 " thick. It must weigh a good 90 pounds or so. I was going to use this as a basis for a new forge to be powered by a Champion 400.

My question is: will a brake drum forge powered by a 400 be strong enough for forge welding (tomahawks and axe heads mostly)? I had been told by the guy I bought the 400 from that it would be strong enough, but was told today by a knife maker that it would lack both the power and fuel supply needed to reach the required temps.

Any help would be great!

Thanks everyone!

JerMac

Edited by JerMac, 04 February 2009 - 07:11 PM.


#2 KPeacock

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 07:12 PM

I suspect it will work.

I made a smaller version of what you're planning using the drum off of an F-350 and a hairdryer. Using homemade charcoal as a fuel source, I can easily burn steel. Sparks jump right off of it. so the temps are easy to achieve. I use this forge for little more than melting down aluminum scrap now, but with a little bit of work, I think it could have been quite usable. Namely, the addition of some soft firebrick to creat a sort of enclosure to retain some heat.

it sounds as though your plan has potential. I'm no forge building expert though. I've seen the light when it comes to forge welding. for me its far easier to remain consistant using propane.
Have you ever thought about the life of steel? It's interesting to think that you can control the fate of a piece of metal.

#3 Matthew McKenzie

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 10:12 PM

The 400 has plenty of power for welding. I've made hundreds of links of chain using a brakedrum forge powered by a 400. I never tried to make a forge out of anything as deep as 10-12", though. That seems a bit.... excessive. You'll have to be careful not to lose your work in there.
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#4 JerMac

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 10:42 PM

Thanks for the input about the depth. Do you think a resister plate would be a good idea?
Should it be lined with refractory cement or something, maybe tapered towards the tuyere?

#5 Matthew McKenzie

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 11:29 PM

Those are good ideas, though you still might find it a bit tedious to have to dig clinkers out of such a deep pit.
MacGyver is my patron saint.

"There's nothing in the universe cold steel won't cut." -Conan of Cimmeria-

#6 Kristopher Skelton

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 03:10 AM

Nothing says you have to fill it to the brim with fuel, plus you can cut a couple of "U" shaped slots opposite each other for longer pieces and use plates to block the channel if you need a deep fire. I've done that with an old BBQ and a steel drum forge. You'll be surprised how slowly you'll crank the blower to get good heats. Too much air can cool the forge (which may be why the guy you talked to thought the 400 didn't have enough "oomph"- it may have had too much!)

You'll want to line it with something. Refractory cement is probably overkill. The "olde tyme" forges were lined with a clay mix. Horse dung is traditional, but any chopped up organic material will work and I use grass clippings. If you can get "grogged" clay it will last longer and be stronger than basic clay (grogging means they fired clay, crumbled it up and then put the dust into fresh clay- it helps the clay bond to itself). If you want cheap, mix wood ash with dirt to make a thick paste. You'll have to fix it frequently but it's free.

There's lots of info on the web and most books will discuss basic "brake drum" forge building and have pics and diagrams... anvilfire.com probably has some useful info along those lines.

Best of luck!

Edited by Kristopher Skelton, 05 February 2009 - 03:10 AM.

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#7 JerMac

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 04:53 PM

Thanks for all the great info! I really like the idea of the two "U" slots for longer work. As far as lining it if I don't do the wood ash and dirt, I'll see if I can find some clay along my creek bank.

Thanks for the idea of anvilfire. I went over there and found their basic brake drum forge plan. Should be able to adapt that to my needs.

Thanks guys!

#8 blake fenton-williams

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 01:09 PM

I used to get welds from a forge made with a tire rim and some clay i mixed up with charcoal + ash and called refractory, and a shop vac, thing would usually melt away a good chunk of steel if you werent careful.

#9 crazicharli

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 11:16 PM

I used to get welds from a forge made with a tire rim and some clay i mixed up with charcoal + ash and called refractory, and a shop vac, thing would usually melt away a good chunk of steel if you werent careful.


Here is a pic of the first brake drum forge I built from a truck drum, a piece of fiero exhaust, tomato can, a plant stand and a cheap hair dryer. After Alan mentioned using real charoal I got enough heat to melt an old file when I wasnt looking. The only bad side to this setup is that there is no easy area to store extra fuel, so you'll be reloading with a pair of tongs. Oh and dont do this on a wooden deck that you plan on keeping, I had a fire extinguisher and a bucket of water nearby. I was able to make the knife below using it and a brake rotor as an anvil. Cheap but effective.

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#10 Sam Salvati

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 11:49 PM

I had been told by the guy I bought the 400 from that it would be strong enough, but was told today by a knife maker that it would lack both the power and fuel supply needed to reach the required temps.
JerMac



Did this knifemaker ever use a solid fuel forge more than once?!?! That setup would be ideal.
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#11 Alan Longmire

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 10:37 AM

Did this knifemaker ever use a solid fuel forge more than once?!?! That setup would be ideal.


Ditto. Somehow I missed that statement. What a moron! :huh:

It always amazes me when someone says something can't be done the old-fashioned way. How the heck do they think we got where we are today? :wacko:

#12 JerMac

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 08:15 PM

Crazicharli, that is a great setup. :D

Well, I got some good news. I took my drum, a 7' section of 5" pipe, and cash up to the local Amish machinist and he will have me a forge built by Monday! I'm so excited I could do cartwheels.

We sat down on my tailgate and hammered out a plan, and he said he could have it built pretty quick. It'll be a two part (forge + stand) unit so that I can move it easily. It won't have the "U" slots as the drum is too thick for him to be able to cut easily with his setup. Combined it will weight in at around 200 lbs (so the wind shouldn't knock it over but the mother-in-law might).

All that will be left to do is to line it, attach the dryer vent tube from the tuyere to the blower, and fire that baby up.

I'll take some pics Monday.

Thanks guys!
Cheers.
JerMac

Edited by JerMac, 26 February 2009 - 08:18 PM.


#13 Mike Sheffield

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 08:37 PM

Cool. Send us pics.
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#14 JerMac

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 04:43 PM

Hello again.

Got back a couple of hours ago with my forge. It's not the prettiest bell of the ball, but she'll do. We had to sit down and do some rethinking. He sat down with a calculator and paper and figured that the airflow design was all wrong, so he sat down and drew up this to create a higher air flow pattern.(once I have it lined, all of those small holes will be filled.) By angling the intake to 45 degrees and eliminating the drainage cap he figured he added another 20% air savings. All I'll have to do to clean it is remove a belt clamp and hook up my shop vac.

All told the forge weighs around 100 lbs, and the stand weighs around 20 lbs. Hefty, but still movable. Once it's lined, it will probably weigh another 15 on top. She stands a shade taller than 36 inches.

Edited by JerMac, 02 March 2009 - 04:46 PM.


#15 Alan Longmire

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 05:17 PM

If I were you I'd forget about all those little holes in the tube. All I can see that doing is giving you a very oxidizing, very fast burning fire, which will slowly go out as the tube fills with ash and smaller stuff that falls through at the bottom. Take a torch or an angle grinder and cut a few 1/2" wide slots as long as you can on the top of the tube, and fill the whole drum up to that point with clay. You only need about five inches of depth with coal, maybe eight with charcoal. Three 1/2" x 3" slots will give you plenty of air and won't clog as bad as narrower slots or, heaven forbid, holes.

The angle of the air intake will have little to no effect on the air flow, what you want for maximum flow is a bigger intake diameter. For a coal forge, 3" pipe is usual. Gas waterheater vent pipe is good for that, as is 3" flexible dryer vent duct. Two inch pipe works too, that's what powered my old rivet forge. I melted plenty of steel in that by accident using a hand-crank blower, fear not.

It looks like you're trying very hard to overthink this. Relax! Keep it simple, and all will be fine. B)

And forget about the shop vac unless you have an air gate you can close almost all the way unless you like to forge while dancing amidst a hard rain of flaming coals. :o What happened to your Champion 400 in the title?

Good luck and have fun!

#16 JerMac

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 05:40 PM

Hi Alan,

Thanks for the advice on the slots vs holes. Maybe I can take it back to him and have him cut some slots. The holes, I'll just fill with clay.


The intake pipe is 3". I brought him some 2", but he had talked me into using 3" instead. After what you said, I'm glad I listened.

As far as the shop vac, sorry I didn't make myself more clear. I'm going to use my Champ 400. It was just after the forge was cold, I was going to use a shop vac to clean it...not power it. What I am looking at doing is connecting the 400 to the intake pipe by using a dryer vent tube and two hose (sorry I had mistakenly said belt) clamps.

You guys see any other alterations that should be made? At this stage most flaws can be easily fixed.

Thanks for all the help guys, this is great!

#17 Alan Longmire

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 05:48 PM

Cool, glad you heard what I meant instead of the snarky way I said it, sorry... :wacko: Sounds like you've got it under control.

The first commandment of the forge is, "Have fun!" B)

#18 JerMac

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 07:39 PM

Alan,

Is this kinda like what you're suggesting (sorry for the bad illustration)? The gray is the liner and to cut some slots in the top of the pipe, versus the holes in the side of it?

#19 Alan Longmire

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 11:16 AM

That's it exactly. To help even more, after you cut the slots put a tuna can on top of the pipe and then add clay to make a shallow bowl shape with the top of the can flush with the bottom of the bowl. After the clay dries, pull the can. Bingo! Instant firepot. The steeper the sides of the "bowl", the less you'll have to work on fire maintenence. This comes at the expense of fuel capacity, unless you make a sort of tabletop mounted atop the brake drum. Take a look at commercially available firepots to get some ideas.

If you're using coal, you'll have to clear clinkers from the grate every so often. You'll be able to tell when because the fire just won't get as hot, and if poked will feel kind of mushy around the grate. Rake the coal back from the grate and use a poker to knock the clinkers loose from the steel, then get 'em out of the fire with tongs.

#20 crazicharli

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 06:45 PM

Oh and thanks to Alan I realized the inefficiency of the briquettes. I got some good old cowboy charcoal and this puppy will melt a file, which is nt the idea, in about 45 seconds will the dryer on low. Maybe not the best setup but its pretty cheap for a beginner which is still where I am by the way. Thanks a bunch Alan and I hope to have my 100 year coal forge going this month.
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