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Michael Kemp

Ribbon Burner Forge Build

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I'll be building a ribbon burner powered forge next. It'll be 24" deep so I can heat treat brush blades (I don't have a place to put an Evenheat or Paragon if I bought one).

 

It must perform at forge welding temps and at heat treat temps. Preferably built so it can be disassembled and reassembled at a hammer-in. Better protection of the insulating wool than my current forge. Dual 20# propane tanks to humor my bad back and allow tank swaps during forging. I've been happy with the bottom of my current forge: an inch or two of kitty litter on an inch of Insboard. I want the burners below the work area like my current forge and I like having kiln shelving to rest my work on - but I'm thinking of replaceable kiln shelving ribs for better heat flow and flux drip (on the rare occasions when I use flux). Yadda yadda ...

 

I'd planned on getting some better schematics drawn today but got delayed in getting the 5160 Club newsletter out - so all I have to share at the moment is some preliminary sketches.

 

I'll add more details later.

 

Some things I'm set on - but in general I'm open to suggestions.

 

Forge.Plans.Sketch.jpg

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I built my ribbon burner according to John Emmerling's design. I made a single 12 inch burner with 24 holes (3 rows of 8) in an 18 inch forge. Works like a charm. room temp to welding temp (with blower) in 7 minutes (at 3.5 psi). If you want, I can send you the info or you can get it through the Hot Iron News archives at: http://blacksmith.org/hin-full-issue-list/

 

you might have to create an account/login to view.

 

I put a 4 position ball valve between the shut off and needle valve that allows me to control the maximum temp. 50% open is lighting/normal forging heat, 75% open is welding heat, 100% open is scary heat.

Edited by Joshua States

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The plans for building Ribbon Burners is an attachment at the Forge Supplies page at www.WayneCoeArtistBlacksmith.com. I control the temp with the needle valve and forge weld Damascus billets with 1/2# of pressure. You can all check out the attachment Build a Gas Forge for how I like to build a forge.

 

Let me know if I can help you.

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Joshua/Wayne - Thanks guys - I've visited John's shop and watched the burner in action - impressive!

 

Welding heat is obviously no problem - HOWEVER - I'm concerned about running a burner with that many holes down at heat treat temps. I'll be choking the air with a gate valve and the propane with a needle valve. Like I do on my current blown burner. When I choke it waaaaay down on my black-iron-pipe blown burner the flame will flutter back up the tube - which is annoying but not dangerous.

 

On a ribbon burner I'd think that would turn the gas/air mix area of the pipe into sort of a pipe bomb if the flames crawled inside the ribbon burner.

 

Which makes me think I should build 2 sets of burner that I can swap in and out - one for welding - the other for heat treat (with 1/3 the number of holes).

 

Does anyone have experience running a ribbon burner (one that performs admirably at welding heat) down at heat treat temps (1420-1575 F)?

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The plans for building Ribbon Burners is an attachment at the Forge Supplies page at www.WayneCoeArtistBlacksmith.com. I control the temp with the needle valve and forge weld Damascus billets with 1/2# of pressure. You can all check out the attachment Build a Gas Forge for how I like to build a forge.

 

Let me know if I can help you.

 

.5lb pressure , that`s impressive Wayne !!

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Remember pressure means very little in a blown burner. You're just dumping gas through a 1/8" line, there's no orifice. The volume of gas is similar to a venturi system.

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Does anyone have experience running a ribbon burner (one that performs admirably at welding heat) down at heat treat temps (1420-1575 F)?

 

I'm telling you how I do just that. The four position ball valve chokes the gas down and reduces the heat. I have to adjust the gate valve for the blower approximately 1/2 -1 full turn to match and keep a reducing atmosphere. I can also position the 4-way ball valve in between stops so I can get a further heat/flame adjustment. I've never tried to get tempering heats (~300-400*F)

I set the needle valve once and never touch it again.

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Joshua - thanks! So even with the ball valve and gate valve choked down for heat treat the flame never creeps back inside the ribbon burner? Excellent! Thanks for the info.

 

And no - I don't expect to take the forge down to tempering temps - I've got an old kitchen stove oven for that (with a deep tray of sand that I put the blade in to even out the temp swings).

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I have not had any back-burn issues as of yet (knocks on head profusely)

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John makes a point of once you get the burner set up, never adjust the air, only the gas. You will not have the back burn if you keep the air pressure up. You adjust the temp with the volume of gas. I have run my burner at over 2,300 degrees and as low as 1,200 degrees just by adjusting the needle valve.

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There are several challenges with that method Wayne. (not sure who John was, or who said not to adjust the air only the gas, I adjust both)

First, a needle valve is a fairly sensitive device and is being used in this setup in place of a fixed opening orifice. Once you get the gas/air mixture tuned for optimal burn and a reducing or neutral atmosphere you do not want to mess with the orifice (needle valve). If you want to limit the gas into the mix, you should use an alternate valve to limit the gas flow through the needle valve. Otherwise it can be a real bear trying to get that precise gas/air mixture back. Leaving the air flow constant regardless of the gas flow changes the ratio of gas to air and makes the atmosphere in the forge swing back and forth from oxidizing to neutral to reducing and so on. Not optimal forging conditions, especially with tool steels, unless you really don't care if your steel scales up like crazy.

Here is a photo of how I have the valves set up.

 

Gas valves (2)_opt.jpg

 

The red handle is the main shut off. The next valve is the 4-position ball valve (brass body after the bell reducer). Then on the right, is the needle valve (T-handle). when I set this up, I set the 4-way valve at 75% open and the gate valve at about 50%. Then I played with the needle valve and air mix, until I got a welding heat. (because that's what I mostly use this forge for). I start the forge with the 4-way at 50% and turn it up to 75% to get to welding heat. Now when I want to reduce the heat and just forge, I turn the 4-way back down to 50% and turn the air gate valve down until the dragon's breath is about 5 inches out the forge door. (about a half turn). This keeps the neutral atmosphere in the forge and limits the heat. I never change the needle valve, ever.

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John is John Emmerling, the guy who wrote the article in the Hammer's Blow and has been referenced here and on other forums.

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I'll have some progress to post of my small stainless ribbon burner later this week :) got all the metering tubed cut up and ready to tig in. Trying to see how much power I can jam into a small forge (under 1'x1')

 

Excited to see what you come up with, I'm experimenting with using less holes and smaller diameter on my long forge design, I think as long as pressure is adequate in the plenum we shouldn't have any burn back issues.

Edited by Kenon Rain.

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Kenon - looking forward to seeing what you come up with. At this point I think I'll build a couple of ribbon burners set up for forge welding temp... then play with reducing the pressure until I get nervous - if it *doesn't* get down to austenitizing temps then I'll build a couple more burners with fewer holes that I can swap in as needed. I certainly don't want to make a pipe bomb.

 

I hope you folks are patient with me - it always takes me a LOOOOOOONG time to get a project done. I haven't even got the steel for the forge shell yet. Or the Inswool & Insboard... just Kast-O-Lite, some black pipe, some fittings and buckles, & most of the propane fittings.

 

The needle valve on my current forge works well to control the propane on its own (after the regulator) so I'm hoping my new needle valves will be up to the job and not require an extra valve - like Joshua's ball valve.

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Bits & parts - the guy at the propane shop sold me on a fail-over switch for 2 propane tanks - hook up both, open both, set the gizmo to one tank and the flag goes green and it runs off that tank until empty then fails over to tank 2 and the flag goes red. You set the valve over to tank 2 and replace tank one. Repeat as needed.

 

I'm hoping it works as slick as advertised in practice.

 

I've got one hose & bell in the truck to remind me to pick up proper connector fittings.

 

Propane.Forge.Fittings.2.jpg

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