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wagon wheel rims, how can i tell if rims are wrought iron?

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Typically they will be.  But you can take a piece, cut it part way through and bend it over,  It should appear like strands and fibers.  A spark test will show dull red/orange sparks with no branching.



"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."


I said that.


If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton


So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.


Grant Sarver

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But they might only look old.    A relative had a wagon they let go to waste and now nothing but a pile of scrap, I hoped to score a bunch of WI, but sadly, just steel.   I know it was at least 60 years old, but that still wasn't old enough.

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I collect every one I find, and Gerald is right. Only about half are wrought, the rest are mild steel.  Bessemer steel became cheap enough to compete with wrought for wagon tires by around 1890.  If your wagon is newer than that, or was re-tired later than that, there's a chance it's steel.  If it's rusty, the grain will show if it's wrought.  If it's gas welded rather than forge welded, it's usually steel.  If it's arc welded rather than forge welded and the weld is clean, not pitted around the edges, it's steel.  In my part of the world, animal-drawn wooden farm wagons were common well into the 1950s, and only got fully replaced by tractor-drawn steel-frame wagons in the 1960s.  They may have had the tires replaced right up to the end.  Most of the farms around where I grew up in the 1970s had at least one old wagon quietly rotting under a shed by the barn or the corncrib. In fact, the standard corncrib was built with the crib itself to one side and an open shed to the other under a shared low-pitch gable roof, designed specifically to keep the wagon out of the rain.


Tie rods and brake rods may be wrought or steel as well.  King pins, quadrants (if it had a set), and hub bands the same. Seat springs may be shear steel or modern(ish) steel. Always check, the shear steel springs make great knives that show cool patterning when etched and will take hamon if that's your thing.   


The cut-and-bend test Geoff mentioned is pretty foolproof, or if you don't want to do that you can polish a spot an put a drop of muriatic acid on it. After a day or two the grain will show when you brush off the rust, if it's iron.  If it's steel it'll be uniformly pitted.  

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Or you could, although I don't recommend it, discover that part of your outdoor iron stash fell on a jug of muriatic you were storing outside to prevent rusting everything in the shop, then went undiscovered for an unknown period of time, but at least two years...






Really shows the layers, but I'm afraid the really bad parts are not salvageable.  Once the chlorine gets into the grain it'll keep working until the iron is gone unless you soak for several years in regular changes of distilled deionized water.  Or chop it up and run it through a hearth melt.  But as a nice bar of iron, no.  Sigh...  Yet another reason to not have strong acids hanging around the shop, even outside.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

I love asking Alan questions. He has the coolest stories.

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“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  





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