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Josh A Weston

Help!!! Upsetting with Press

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I have an opportunity to mass sell my railspike tomahawks with a distributor. For me to make the wholesale price worth it I will have to apply some press and jig forging. I have all but one press jig solved. I need a way to quickly upset a 6" spike from 6" down to 4"... I would settle for 4.5". I've made about 5 failed jigs now. Years ago (6-8) I saw a video of a guy that was doing this but I can't find the video and I can't remember any details very clearly. 

Does anyone have any ideas?! I have a week and a half to solve this problem to get the work. I need some help, please!

You can see one of my failed ideas here: https://www.instagram.com/joshaweston/

This is my current by hand process:

and the main format I follow:

https://rashystreakers.tumblr.com/post/107518033964/how-to-forge-a-railroad-spike-axe-by-thepxsmith

Thanks,

Josh

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Only thing that comes to mind for me is a fairly thick bottom die drilled with a series of gradually increasing in diameter large holes, the first being just slightly larger than the starting rr iron, to let it expand slightly in each hole as it's being upset. The holes should be drilled all the way through so you can break the work out if it gets stuck.

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After cruising through the first 20 minutes of the vid to see what you wanted to end up with, it looks like you just try and remove the taper and make it a square again. (correct me if I'm wrong about that) So, if I were to do this with a press, I would do it is a succession of graduating length heats, maybe 1/4inch increments and squish (that's a technical term per Dave Stephens) it vertically. Squish the first 1/4", then a 1/2" then 3/4" etc. straighten as you go. You could probably achieve the desired end result in about 4 or 5 heats. Work hot and I mean HOT!

Ray Rybar did a similar version of this and he didn't upset the point at all. He bent it over and used it for the beard.

Edited by Joshua States
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If you have an oxy-acetylene torch, use it to heat only the part you want to move.  Otherwise you're going to need some form of support to keep it from bending on you.  I do it with a treadle hammer and big tongs, heating only the end to be upset in a coal forge.  As Joshua said, do it SCREAMING hot.  As hot as you can get it without burning.  

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This was more or less the first thing that popped into my heat for it.  This would be half the die, with the other half attached with a hinge, and then a simple closing latch that would be fairly quick and strong (e.g. a large pin).  Much like forming a nail head.  Possibly needing 2 or 3 different dies with varying heights for early and later stages of heading it.  Not sure if this is even a remotely good idea, just the first and so far only idea that has come to me.  

 

image.png

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That's kind of what I was thinking, semi-closed die forging.  That works better with really big (like 10 ton) steam hammers, since the force of the blows keeps the steel hot whereas a press steals heat from the part.  Josh, check out videos on drop forging.  Might get some ideas there.

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I'm not really convinced that you gain anything by upsetting the point when you are going to spread it back out again. I think you could reduce the forging time by using Ray's method.

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19 hours ago, Jerrod Miller said:

This was more or less the first thing that popped into my heat for it.  This would be half the die, with the other half attached with a hinge, and then a simple closing latch that would be fairly quick and strong (e.g. a large pin).  Much like forming a nail head.  Possibly needing 2 or 3 different dies with varying heights for early and later stages of heading it.  Not sure if this is even a remotely good idea, just the first and so far only idea that has come to me.  

 

image.png

This is a great thought! I think I may have to try this.

18 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

That's kind of what I was thinking, semi-closed die forging.  That works better with really big (like 10 ton) steam hammers, since the force of the blows keeps the steel hot whereas a press steals heat from the part.  Josh, check out videos on drop forging.  Might get some ideas there.

Yeah, the press really sucks the heat out of the head.

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10 hours ago, Joshua States said:

I'm not really convinced that you gain anything by upsetting the point when you are going to spread it back out again. I think you could reduce the forging time by using Ray's method.

What is Ray's method? I have tried just spreading a spike without upsetting and while you can get a wedge tomahawk it's not a very wide spread and certainly not bearded. I do not like the bent tip and drawn either... that's more personal preference though.

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Jerrod's jig would definitely work, but I think the spike would get stuck in it. You may need to taper the hole, and provide enough space on the bottom to allow you to strike the head of the spike to release it after use.  Hope that makes sense. I can sketch something quickly if it doesn't.

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I did some experiments a while back with making bearded axes by forging an upset square corner on the end of a bar, then forging that into the blade and beard.  I did it because Chris Price has an ancient Viking axe head in which you can see the grain flow of the iron, and the beard part did look kind of like that's how it was done.  I never could get it to work for me, though.  I mean, I got a bearded axe shape, but the proportions were never what I wanted.  Plus it's a pain to forge a short upset square corner in 1" square stock...

That's why I went to the upset-on-the-treadle hammer method, then steeling the edge.  Better flow, better shape, more efficient use of forging heat and time.  I think with the proper dies, i.e. contoured almost like an open-topped casting flask in the shape of a bearded axe blank on the bottom die, plunger on the top die, and the end of the spike at a full welding heat, one good squish should do the job enough to finish it by hand.

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1 hour ago, Josh A Weston said:

What is Ray's method? I have tried just spreading a spike without upsetting and while you can get a wedge tomahawk it's not a very wide spread and certainly not bearded. I do not like the bent tip and drawn either... that's more personal preference though.

OK, maybe I'm confused, but the diagram here: https://rashystreakers.tumblr.com/post/107518033964/how-to-forge-a-railroad-spike-axe-by-thepxsmith shows upsetting the spike down to 4-4.5 inches long and then spreading it back out to 7 inches long. Now, I understand the need to upset stock when you want a thicker finished cross section and slightly larger surface area than you started with, but the finished cross section is much thinner in the blade area than the original spike. So, this seems counter productive to me. It's the same amount of steel in the end product. Why bunch it all up only to spread it out again? It's been a few years since I spoke with Ray about doing this, but this is what I remember:

If you bend the spike over at 4-4.5 inches from the head and create the beard from the tip end, you get a slight crinkle at the inside corner and a round curve on the outside corner. This will need to be flattened out to push material to the outside corner. You still have the same amount of steel, but it is located in the orientation you need to create the beard and blade.

If need be, at step 3 in the drawing, you could lay this on the anvil point up and upset the point a little to refine the bottom of the beard before spreading the edge out.

 

RR Spike axe.jpg

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4 hours ago, Dave Stephens said:

Jerrod's jig would definitely work, but I think the spike would get stuck in it. You may need to taper the hole, and provide enough space on the bottom to allow you to strike the head of the spike to release it after use.  Hope that makes sense. I can sketch something quickly if it doesn't.

Here is a sketch I made that I sort of animated by moving stuff around. Thoughts?

 

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3 hours ago, Joshua States said:

OK, maybe I'm confused, but the diagram here: https://rashystreakers.tumblr.com/post/107518033964/how-to-forge-a-railroad-spike-axe-by-thepxsmith shows upsetting the spike down to 4-4.5 inches long and then spreading it back out to 7 inches long. Now, I understand the need to upset stock when you want a thicker finished cross section and slightly larger surface area than you started with, but the finished cross section is much thinner in the blade area than the original spike. So, this seems counter productive to me. It's the same amount of steel in the end product. Why bunch it all up only to spread it out again? It's been a few years since I spoke with Ray about doing this, but this is what I remember:

If you bend the spike over at 4-4.5 inches from the head and create the beard from the tip end, you get a slight crinkle at the inside corner and a round curve on the outside corner. This will need to be flattened out to push material to the outside corner. You still have the same amount of steel, but it is located in the orientation you need to create the beard and blade.

If need be, at step 3 in the drawing, you could lay this on the anvil point up and upset the point a little to refine the bottom of the beard before spreading the edge out.

 

RR Spike axe.jpg

It's not so much that you upset it to draw it back out to the same dimensions... it's more that upsetting it allows a more fluid transition to make a supported beard type with more graceful lines. When forged back to 7" it is quite thin in the upper cross section so that I can pull that full body down.

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Joshua, that is exactly the method I was talking about that didn't work for me.  Not saying it doesn't work, I am just not good enough to get it to work for me.  The end product just didn't look "right" somehow.  

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Well, you guys have done this more than I have, so I'll just shut up now.....

Josh: Your animated press jig looks good enough to try. It will take a bit of fabrication to get ready. The only thing I could think of is you will need a upset block under the spike for the 2nd pass, but that's probably obvious.

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Another thought:  Steel is cheap.  Cut off the tip of the spike.  Notch/split the end, weld in a larger bit.  Sure you have some waste and use more high quality metal.  But time is money, too.  

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4 hours ago, Jerrod Miller said:

Another thought:  Steel is cheap.  Cut off the tip of the spike.  Notch/split the end, weld in a larger bit.  Sure you have some waste and use more high quality metal.  But time is money, too.  

Now that is a plan Stan. :)

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23 hours ago, Jerrod Miller said:

Another thought:  Steel is cheap.  Cut off the tip of the spike.  Notch/split the end, weld in a larger bit.  Sure you have some waste and use more high quality metal.  But time is money, too.  

This has crossed my mind and it may just be the best solution. It would be fairly easy welds to get consistently and sure would save me from a lot of upsetting work.

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That's what I did for the great bearded axe commission of 2016.  16 of the buggers (!).

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17 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

That's what I did for the great bearded axe commission of 2016.  16 of the buggers (!).

Oh yeah, I remember seeing the post(s) you made of that order. That was a lot of work. Turned out beautifully too.

My machinist uncle made a new jig based loosely and more simply off the idea I posed earlier. He is on his way down from PA to help me try it out. Fingers crossed over the next couple days.

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Not tooting my own horn, but there is a sort of WIP in that thread and these are close to your RR-spike design.

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Thanks Alan I was looking for this but had no idea what the title was. 

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