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Information on an old coal forge


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So a friend of mine gave me this coal forge that's pretty awesome. I would like to know about when it's made and who made it if possible. The blower was seized up so my Dad and I tore it apart and greased it. Everything works fine now. I just need to find a belt to finish the job. Thanks!

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Those are fun to play with. They are rarely marked, so no telling which of the big three forge companies made it otherwise. Buffalo, Champion, and Cannedy-Otto are the likely makers. Date range is pretty wide as well, they show up in the 1870s and are still in the catalogs into the 1910s.

 

Does the sector gear run smoothly? Once you have a belt on it that is the usual issue with these. The babbitt bearing is often gone. The belt can be any flat strap that doesn't stretch, and it doesn't need to be too tight.

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the particular type pictured there has, inside the larger wheel, a pair of doohickies on pivots that swing out to catch the teeth inside the wheel hub in one direction, but slide over to ratchet in the other. most frequently if it's not been used in a long time the pivots for the doohikies (i think pawl is the right term) are rusted in place, but they free up easily if they're not free floating, as they're just free spinning on a pair of studs. Over all a very simple but effective mechanism. to get rotational speed for the blower.

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Thanks guys! My Dad found a picture of something similar in a 1902 Sears catalog. I need a couple of new carriage bolts to install the blower. Is there anything I need to know before trying it out?

 

Alan- The gear works pretty darn good. We took the gear off and lubed everything. It's fairly smooth for what it is.

 

Justin- I was looking at that "doohickie" when we were taking everything apart. I was surprised that it wasn't rusted in place. Everything movedone fairly well but it's pretty darn great after we were done with it.

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If the grate is gone, make a new one by cutting 1/2" slots 1/2" apart in a piece of 1/4" plate. If the pan has "clay before using" stamped in it, clay before using with about 1/2" of barely dampened kitty litter and let dry.

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It has a little grate with some 3/16" holes. It has almost no markings. The blower has 556 on one side and 557 on the other. There appears to be a U55 or U59 on the inside bottom of the pot.

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I figured they were something like that. I'm going to talk to Erin Simmons since I know he sells coal, maybe he'll have coke. I don't see anything indicating that it's ever been coated. It couldn't hurt to clay it for the extra life and insulation, right?

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Adding clay will increase rust and not otherwise help in any way. The ones that are stamped as such are thin sheet metal that need clay to not burn through. If it doesn't say clay, don't do it.

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So I bought a 52.5" serpentine belt and it works perfectly! A couple of adjustments and now I'm ready to try it out. I will have to do some reading again on coal forges as I decided early on to just use gas and skip the coal. Now my interest is peaked by using something with some history.

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Fired the forge up for the first time tonight. It was more of a test run to see if everything was functioning properly. I just used some lump charcoal from the store and a large nail from my attempt to build this year's KITH but did not have time. It heats up enough although I'm sure coal or coke would be better... and maybe a lesson on coal forge operation. I'm not sure if the wheel is spinning as freely as it should. It's not difficult at all to operate but the rotation stops not long more than a second after depressing the fulcrum. Overall I'm pretty happy.

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It should freewheel fairly well to produce a constant lower velocity air supply, it may be that the bearings need a lot more oil or are just worn out and should be re-sleeved (most of these had plain steel bearings or bronze bushed bearings, and can be made smooth again by drilling and reaming and pressing in a new bronze sleeve bearing from mcmaster or some other supplier.

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