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  1. I use propane the vast majority of the time because usually I'm only doing blades, but there have been some projects which I have wanted to do, making things for around the house like a new corner shelf for the upstairs bathroom and the like for which my propane forges are too restrictive in their size to do larger pieces of ironwork. I learned with coal and used to demonstrate with coal, but after I stopped demonstrating I sold my coal forge to another who was starting out. One of the problems with the old forge and most coal forges in general is they're big, heavy, and hard to move around. At the New England Blacksmith's spring meet this year, one of the projects was to build 6 new coal forges for the NEB trailer for setting up green-coal at the NEB meets. The new design NEB forge would be take-down, with interchangeable parts, and stack-able, and much lighter weight. The 6 forges would take the same space as the one prior forge, and all 6 combined would weigh about the same as the one they are replacing. NEB also has cast for the club their own fire-pot design which is much heavier duty than those commercially available elsewhere. I've owned an NEB firepot for some time but still had never got around to fabricating a forge, but with the new NEB design it fit my purposes perfectly. Since I use propane most of the time, I wanted any coal forge I had to be able to be put away without taking too much space. Bob Lavoie of Lavoie welding and fabrication had cut out all the parts for the NEB forges with his CNC plasma table and did the bends with his big press brake, and at the meet I asked him if, since he already had the design programed, I could buy a 'do it yourself' kit from him and build my own. The original NEB forge You can see the stacked forge tables in this image from the spring meet, and the un-finished hoods and legs, This was also a perfect chance for me to learn and practice welding. I helped out at the spring meet and got enough tips from real welders to go home and actually stick pieces together. While nothing to write home about, at least it looks sorta right. The sockets on the bottom are made to fit the legs without the need for bolts, by welding an angle iron to the inside of the gussets to make tall sockets., but I may in the future drill some holes and weld some nuts and add some T bolts to remove the little bit of wobbliness The firepot drops right in, although the clinker breaker handle gives it a bit of a hassle lifting straight up and down cleanly. The tuyre is fabricated, not cast. The hood goes on the short-side of the table, hanging out behind the back. A pair of tabs are welded to the sides to bolt through the top of the table to give stability. Most of the welding in this project is actually in the hood. After welding the top and back in, the support for a 10 inch stove pipe, made from a strip of steel bent in a circle, and the front draft scoop for the hood need to be welded on still, as well as the tabs for the hood and the bases of the feet. All complete! By the time I was done my welds were noticeably better than when I started, and I even got to the point where I could push the capacity of the welder itself. Unfortunately my welder is not very high powered, it's just a Lincoln 110v Mig designed for auto-work, and I did all this with a roll of flux-core rather than getting shielding gas. I did get to the point where i was tripping the 20a circuit breaker welding though and pushing the duty cycle of the machine. I kind of regret having not spent more on a 220v welder when I bought this one years ago, but it did the job fine, and this is the first time i've really had to use it beyond ugly 'gorilla welds' on the frame of a truck or car. As you can probably see, my shop is a jammed packed MESS with far too much equipment and far too little space, another reason why I need the coal forge to not take up much room when not in use. I have a Champion 400 pedestal blower for the coal forge, but i may also fix up an electric blower for compactness and portability, since the pedestal blower is kind of a pain to take places, the total loss oil system tends to leave a mess if you lay it down.
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