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Michael Stuart

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Everything posted by Michael Stuart

  1. I rebuilt and ran my smelter for a third time, still trying to convert it the rest of the way from a smelter-shaped object to the real thing Run two last month made some really shiny but nonmagnetic slag, in addition to more of the black oozy-looking magnetic slag I successfully made the first time around. This stuff was all stuck together into one giant bowling-ball sized glowing hot lump when I opened things up. The shiny part looked a bit like silicon metal, shiny with planar crystals (?). For this time, run 3, I moved the air tube higher to about 12" from the previous 8". I also made it run tangentially rather than straight into the middle of the bore. I made the furnace walls higher too, from the previous 36" to about 42-45 inches high. I took all the product from the previous run, hammered it into pieces no wider than a nickel, and kept anything that would stick to a neodymium magnet. I also added a bit more mill scale, which was the original starting material (thanks again Wayne!). After an hour of warming up the furnace with wood and partially charcoaled wood with an air blast through the slag hole, I filled it up with charcoal and moved the air to the higher inlet. I stuffed rocks and gobs of mud into the slag tapping arch to close it off, and added the first charge at the rate of a 1-lb coffee can full of ore and half a can of powdered limestone. I repeated through four more charges, adding probably five pounds of charcoal each time. I upped the limestone because I was trying to make the slag more liquid, but still it was more a blob than a liquid. Any tips here would be appreciated. After adding the last charcoal charge, I let it run down with low air for 20 minutes then another half hour with no forced draft. When I broke it open, there was a large blob of stuff along stuck to the side wall where the draft entered. I broke this up, hosed it down, and took the pieces to the grinder. Lo and behold, some pieces have what appear to be thin ribbons of metallic iron mixed in with all the slag. Unfortunately I didn't have time to get a picture, but maybe I can later. I bet there's at least a couple ounces of iron all together in there. It's not much, but I'm quite excited by even this glimmer of success. I'm not sure if there will be enough to consolidate into a bar, or if my forge welding ability will be up to this task, but that step will have to wait until I get my new shop set up in Florida. Until then, I'll keep thinking about what might work better next time. I'm thinking an even taller smelter, maybe 48" if I can make one that high that will hold together. Incidentally, the top several inches of this one were nothing but yellow clay from my yard, mixed with grass clippings from the lawn. I put a thin wash of satanite inside for insurance, but the top didn't crack any worse than the lower parts that were made mostly of mortar mix, perlite, and cat litter with pine straw binder. Any hints from the more successful smelter-folk out there would be appreciated. Michael
  2. Love the corncob (?) pipe Alan, it's that special touch that puts the other photos in perspective. Shouldn't that properly be a post drill in your hand I've just packed 1500 lbs or so of my shop (guesstimate based on how low the back end is riding) into my dad's truck, and this weekend will be driving it 600+ miles to where I hope to have a new shop eventually, in Tampa. Who knew I has so much shop? That's not counting the great bellows, freestanding Champion blower, table saw, band saw, etc that I'm leaving for the movers to get next week Michael
  3. Hi Phillip, email sent. Looks like I'm moving earlier than I thought, this Saturday in fact. But if anyone out there is interested, I could deliver the anvil to any exit or rest stop along I-95 from Raleigh to Jacksonville FL, then along I-10 to Gainesville, then along I-75 to Tampa. I still hate to think of selling it, but this move is costing a lot more than I expected so I need the cash. Michael
  4. Thanks Phillip, that is just a couple days before the moving truck is scheduled to show up.
  5. Nice contrast, nice pattern, I want one! Michael
  6. What Jesse said, popcorn. Of course you realize what comes next... next round you both will have to smelt your own iron too Michael
  7. Still have a 171 lb English anvil for sale, wrought body/steel face construction, good but not excellent condition, $325. It's in Durham, NC and I don't want to ship it, pickup only please. If not sold by the end of July, I'll resign myself to taking it with me when I move to FL. Price includes the honey locust log it sits on Michael
  8. Cool, got any photos of the polished/etched bit? How about some rough dimensions on the smelter? I'm thinking I may not have had enough air flowing into mine this last run, what was your air source this time?
  9. Lovely work as always JAL. I ran mine again a couple weeks ago with some different yet interesting non-iron results; I'll try to post some pics here soon if I can get a moment to spare. If I have time for a third run before I have to move to FL next month, I think I'll finally be able to get some iron made. Michael
  10. The very cheapest cat litter is nothing but clay. I think a 20 pound bag is about 3 dollars, make sure you get the unscented stuff. I've had good luck mixing it with perlite or vermiculite (both potting soil additives) and a bit of mortar mix or portland cement to hold it all together. For your use the mix probably would work fine without the cement. The cat litter seems to dissolve almost instantly in water. If it wants to crack, try mixing in some straw or pinestraw or grass clippings to hold it together while it dries, or just patch the cracks with more of the same stuff as they appear. Michael
  11. FYI, Striker is also a brand of power hammer: http://www.strikertools.com/
  12. That is one fine piece. There sure seems to have been an explosion of interest in this type of work the last few years. Can't wait to see the finished product. Michael
  13. I put a 9 x 14 foot shed roof (no walls) on the side of my 12x16 shed. I put a level frame of 2 x 4s around the bottom edge and filled it with half a truckload of gravelly sand fill for a level floor with drainage. The shed has power so I run an extension cord out for the grinders and (when I use it) the forge blower. In the outside space I have two coal forges, one permanent with a chimney and one movable; a gas forge, that sits on top of the second coal forge when it's not in use; a belt grinder, a hand crank forge blower, a post vise, two anvils on big stumps, a barrel of charcoal (that's the grinder stand), a small pile of scrap steel, a fish cooker, three propane tanks, the lawnmower, a double chamber bellows, and a couple of plastic storage containers filled with miscellaneous stuff. I put a shelf on the shed wall that holds a few other things. The inside space holds five stationary power tools for woodworking and has a bench along the 12 foot back wall where I have another post vise and a Beverly shear. There are piles of other stuff everywhere in there too. I like to do draw filing and finish work inside, and messier stuff like forging and grinding outside. So more space is better, but an awful lot can be fit into a rather small area if that's all you have. Good luck with it; I've recently found out I will have to move to another state, and I haven't seen any properties there that have what I would consider an adequate size shop space. So please share what you end up going with, I may have to do something similar soon. Michael
  14. Nice work as always Alan. I finally got a drift a couple weeks ago, you're inspiring me to try it out someday soon. Michael
  15. Some day when I have the money I'll go with either the Iron Kiss or the Phoenix. I got to try the Phoenix for a few minutes at Harley's and it's a monster. It just sat on a wood pallet on the dirt floor and that seemed to work fine, it didn't bounce or even shift a bit. I've been following the posts on the Iron Kiss for several years now on keenjunk until it went under, and on forgemagic since then, and haven't seen anyone else share as much in print anywhere about fine tuning the performance of power hammers. Plus, given the choice between supporting makers here or in China, I'd personally much rather support the ones who live here. Michael
  16. Hey engineerboy, I've got one I'm fairly certain is a PW but the logo isn't visible (but the hundredweight marks are). It's not like-new (there is a bit of sway etc) but it's marked equal to 171 pounds and I'm trying to sell it for $325*. So if yours is mint then 450 is a good deal, but otherwise it may be a bit high. Deep cracks would be bad, small ones can be ground out or worked around. Pits can be sanded/ground out if there's enough of the face left when you're done. Most anvils that age will have a few pits and some sway, and often one edge rolled over a bit from use. If the ring and rebound are good, you should be fine. If there's no ring or a bad sound (buzz or clunk) the face plate may be delaminating, and you should run away. If no rebound or soft face, it may have been in a fire. *sales pitch: If anyone reading is in NC and is interested in the anvil I mentioned above, email me at michaelstuart at g mail dot com (remove spaces etc) and I can send a photo of said anvil. I'm also selling a big Champion hand crank blower and a bellows. I have to move to FL later this summer, and I have two other anvils I'm keeping. Michael
  17. Amazing work Jake. Hey Alan, got any extra room in the truck? Michael
  18. Beautiful work Ric. I'm impressed by the degree to which each of your pieces is unique. Michael
  19. Thanks guys. Jesse, the tuyere is actually a 2 inch pipe to fit the blower, but what's not visible in the pictures is that it steps down to 1 inch or slightly smaller where it enters the wall. Probably I need some more mud, or duct tape, to get a better seal on the end where the blower connects to the pipe. This time I just set it next to it, and some air leaked out even though a lot went in. Also, I had the air intake on the blower choked down about halfway. Should I worry about too much air going in, or open it up more (presumably giving a higher temp inside)? Here's another pic, sorry it's so tiny, I'm running out of attachment space:
  20. and here's a 'before' picture of the ingredients:
  21. Thanks guys. Alan, here's a pic of it fired up:
  22. Well, I tried my first bloomery run but got no iron for my troubles. I'm pretty sure I used too little charcoal, and I know the tuyere got partly plugged with slag at some point. What I did get was many pounds of some really dense material that I think is slag saturated with dissolved iron. It's dark greenish black and heavy like iron but grinds to a slightly shiny black surface, no silvery iron shininess in it at all. Other parts of the stuff look a lot like a bloom but aren't. Each part just shatters under the hammer no matter how hot I get it. It is somewhat magnetic so that must be where all the ore went. I'm guessing I should use this in place of flux when I get the bloomery rebuilt and try another run. The stuff I produced stuck to the inside wall pretty well on the side above the air supply. I had to knock over the stack and bust out the bottom, hitting the stuff with a big iron bar from both ends to break it off where it stuck to the inside lining. Any tips or helpful feedback appreciated. Here's more specifics. Materials were about 40 lbs of mill scale (thanks Wayne!), about 50 lbs charcoal. I started the heat with a blown wood fire inside, and when this burned down I filled up the rest of the way with charcoal. The stack was cylindrical, about 14 inches ID and about 30 inches tall. It insulated well and didn't break down much with the heat although a couple fissures vented smoke by the end. I patched these with mud which fired to a nice brick red color. The air was supplied by a blower reducing into a 1 inch diameter hole about 7 inches above the bottom. It took about an hour to preheat, then about 6 hours more to run. At the end of the run, I found the bottom inside (below the air inlet) was nearly empty, with a big shelf of the black stuff glowing bright orange, attached to the wall above the air inlet and extending more than half the diameter of the stack. No sign of the mill scale, which is why I'm thinking it must have dissolved into the slag. Not much charcoal left either by the time the last 6-8 inches of it burned down inside. Backing up to the beginning, as the charcoal charge burned down, I started alternating charcoal/scale/flux charges, poking into the top foot or so with a pointy bar as needed so it would pack down. Each charge was about 3 lbs charcoal but I think I overshot and added more like close to twice that much scale, plus a small handful each of limestone powder and sandbox sand. Next run I'll go back to 1:1 charcoal/ore and will get a scale to weigh it. Some of my charcoal was hardwood (oak/hickory) in big pieces, while about half was much smaller and mostly sweetgum. The smaller stuff was too small, and the air didn't get through it like I think it should have. The other stuff was too big. By the time it finally occurred to me to mix the two, I was 2/3 done. I've got lots of ideas how to make the next run better, and with any luck even to produce some iron. But still, as a day playing with intense fire it was great fun. I've got the missing arm hair to prove it. Michael Matthews
  23. Thanks again Jesse. I think I understand the process, but I need to get the book you mention and do some more reading before I'll be able to get all the terms correct. Just one more question for you and Mike for right now (hope I'm getting the chemistry right off the top of my head). I believe if I add CaCO3 in small particle size (sand to powder range I think?), the heat drives off the CO2 and what's left in the slag is CaO. If this is correct, does this liberated CO2 do something beneficial or is only the CaO in the slag the important part? Perhaps it initially comes off as CO and helps reduce the iron oxide? Would it make a difference if I used CaO (lime) or Ca(OH)2 (slaked lime) for this purpose instead of CaCO3 (calcium carbonate, limestone or oyster shell)? I'll probably go with the calcium carbonate but I was curious whether the other forms of calcium might also work. Michael
  24. Thanks Jesse, I was thinking I probably would go with calcium rather than sand. Some of my charcoal is gathered from brush fires, and probably has a bit of naturally scraped up sand in it as well. I think I'll build a wood fire for preheat, then add a blower as it turns to charcoal. Something constructive to do with all the pine cones and small branches the trees keep dropping in the dirt that I call a back yard Do you fill all the way to the top with charcoal and then add the first charge as it burns down? I missed the very beginning of the tatara at Harley's but I think I understood that was how they began. I am aiming for wrought iron and not steel with this set up but if I understand correctly, it's mostly the height of the stack that makes the difference in product. I'll try to get some good photos to share once I finally get started. Thanks again, Michael (Matthews...there seem to be quite a few Mikes and Michaels around)
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