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Michael Stuart

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Everything posted by Michael Stuart

  1. I seem to recall a description somewhere that involved feeding ore to geese, then re-smelting the results. It seems like that would add all kinds of cr@p (sorry, couldn't resist) that might include phorphorous. Anyone recall where this idea may have come from? Not that I'm suggesting replicating the process, but it might provide a partial explanation. I think J. Arthur may know a lot about phosphorous in historical steel, and I bet Ric Furrer does too. Maybe they will chime in. Michael
  2. Count me in! I quit doing beer when my younger brother became a much better brewer than I was, but mead is another story. This year, after several years of nothing but dead bees (varroa mites etc), my dad put some Russian bees in his hives, and just took out 300 lbs of honey for his trouble. Plus, we drank nearly the last two bottles of my last batch of mead (cyser, technically) at Harley's this spring. I'll have to get busy, the recipie I like tastes a lot like cough syrup for the first year but then gets much better. Michael
  3. Now that I'm in Tampa, I'd have to vote for northern FL. Would be great in any month when the weather is too darn cold to be hanging out on mountain sides in TN. Michael
  4. Thanks for the new forum Don (and Mike), great idea. I've made it to FL and one day (does the humidity ever become bearable down here?) I'll give it another go. Perhaps I can work in a visit to a certain Tallahassee smith before I try the next smelt on my own. Michael
  5. Thanks Jesse, You're probably right about it not being hot enough. That said, i did instantly lose half of each eyebrow to a sudden shift in wind direction when I was looking into the top. Hair, I learned, acts like popcorn with that much heat. Fortunately I was wearing glasses so I still have eyelashes. Plus, I cooked some burgers from frozen to medium rare in record time while waiting for it to burn down at the end. I did bump up the ID of the tuyere to about an inch, maybe an inch and a quarter, and I am using a small squirrel cage blower so I bet you're right about not enough air. I have a nice double lung bellows I built that I'm sure would do the trick, but I don't have the help I would want to keep it going. Time to get busy making some more homebrew I suppose, maybe that would draw in the help. Will try it again after the move. Michael
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. Thanks Phillip, that is just a couple days before the moving truck is scheduled to show up.
  10. Nice contrast, nice pattern, I want one! Michael
  11. What Jesse said, popcorn. Of course you realize what comes next... next round you both will have to smelt your own iron too Michael
  12. 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
  13. 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?
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. FYI, Striker is also a brand of power hammer: http://www.strikertools.com/
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. Amazing work Jake. Hey Alan, got any extra room in the truck? Michael
  23. Beautiful work Ric. I'm impressed by the degree to which each of your pieces is unique. Michael
  24. 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:
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