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My Forge - weird black solid stuff & welding problem


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Ok, it's been a while since I used gas exclusively - but I didn't have any problems so far.

 

I've been making patternwelded stuff for close to 10 years now, with only rare problems.... I ususally can get it done half-asleep ;)

 

Until now I've successfully made 7 different billets of patternwelded material with my new gas forge and press - no problems whatsoever - now today I started another billet - same materials (02 + L6) as usual.

 

into the forge - up to temp - in the press - all nice and perfect.

 

 

then however I did draw it out, cut it, clean it thoroughly sprinkle borax on fold it over and back to the forge... up to a good high white heat...

Squeeeze - nothing . it didn't even stick at all - nothing.

ok, back out - opened it up again, cleaned it again... added more borax, folded it again, more borax and back to the forge... nothing again

I tried going higher with the heat and hand hammering - to no avail - the billet would keep separating. well I tried a few more times - without any better results... then I decided to let it cool down...

well, when I went back to the smithy-room and examined the forge I noticed that the bottom is covered in a dark-gray / black "thing"... hard ... it looks like oxide... but really weird...

here's a photo:

253755917_wHHNK-M.jpg

 

during forgin the stuff was fairly STICKY too... it basically once glued the billet down to the bottom.

well the bottom is covered with a hard firebrick - I thought it would be easier to maintain as I can just pull it out and replace it instead of cleaning.

 

 

the other thing that I've noticed was my borax - well I usually order granulated borax from a forgin supplier in eith 5kg or 20kg bags... but I didn't have any left as of yesterday and went to my local pharmacy... they had like 300gram medical grade borax which I ended up buying for a price I could have gotten mysefl a 5kg bag. but I needed it.

The stuff was somehow different - it did bubble up but it looked more "slimey" more "stickey"... the bubbles weren't also that fine as usual...

 

 

now I've got a few questions for you:

- What do you believe was the main reason for the problem

- What the hell is that damn black stuff on my forge bottom??

- Medical Grade Borax vs. the usual "technical grade" stuff - is there a difference but purity??

- Forgwelding with a press - well I've sucessfully done that before, so I doubt that this is a problem, but it's my newest toy and I might not have all the tricks of the trade figured out yet.... how do the press-users amongst you go on about welding with the press?

 

thank you.

 

Daniel

 

PS: Sometimes it's nice to be able to ask such newbie-questions ;)

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Are you sure that the farmacy didn't sold you boric acid? It looks pretty similar to borax cristals. Anyway I know that it used as additive for some flux, but I've never heard of it as flux alone.

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It is possible to have too much flux and that can prevent a good weld. The stuff on the bottom of the forge looks very much like the black borax/iron oxide/scale stuff in mine that I have to chip out every couple years.

 

Shouldn't be much difference in medical grade stuff and boric acid will act like an aggressive version of borax alone.

 

The press makes welding easier IMO. Some days nothing you do seems to work the way it used to...

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Thank you so far for the replies and ideas...

 

well I guess it's mostly as mike says: "Some days nothing you do seems to work the way it used to..."

sometimes it's just like that ;)

 

When I got the borax I also bought boric acid and ammonia chloride which I use to make a more aggressive flux for "problem" welds - 3 parts borax - 2 parts borix acid - 1 part ammonia chloride , it's a rather old recipe and works usually wonders on anything problematic.

 

but the sales person was a bit confused with all the chemicals and the borax really acted weird today... It's hard to describe - but I didn't "like it".

 

anyways it was the last bit of the stuff - and I've placed an order for 5kg with my usual supplier - so if the borax was the issue it should all be gone by thursday (that's when it should arrive).

 

and yes - same as mike, I have made the similliar experience that the press makes welding actually quite a bit easier ...

 

but today was one of those days when I should have gone hiking or anything else...

this morning I wake up to later find that my websites server had some downtime again - no notice, no one's racheable... what the f***.... so I moved to a different hoster, however only to find that my last two backups were not ok (server seemed to be really badly configured) and I lost about two weeks of work - nice ;)...

then off to the smithy - thinking "cool, let's forge patternwelded blades ;) "... only to have that part made turned "sour" too...

yikes... whatever ;)

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Thank you so far for the replies and ideas...

 

well I guess it's mostly as mike says: "Some days nothing you do seems to work the way it used to..."

sometimes it's just like that ;)

 

When I got the borax I also bought boric acid and ammonia chloride which I use to make a more aggressive flux for "problem" welds - 3 parts borax - 2 parts borix acid - 1 part ammonia chloride , it's a rather old recipe and works usually wonders on anything problematic.

 

but the sales person was a bit confused with all the chemicals and the borax really acted weird today... It's hard to describe - but I didn't "like it".

 

anyways it was the last bit of the stuff - and I've placed an order for 5kg with my usual supplier - so if the borax was the issue it should all be gone by thursday (that's when it should arrive).

 

and yes - same as mike, I have made the similliar experience that the press makes welding actually quite a bit easier ...

 

but today was one of those days when I should have gone hiking or anything else...

this morning I wake up to later find that my websites server had some downtime again - no notice, no one's racheable... what the f***.... so I moved to a different hoster, however only to find that my last two backups were not ok (server seemed to be really badly configured) and I lost about two weeks of work - nice ;)...

then off to the smithy - thinking "cool, let's forge patternwelded blades ;) "... only to have that part made turned "sour" too...

yikes... whatever ;)

 

Dan ,

sometimes it goes like that ,the only problems I have now ar when there has been too much air from the blower ,very hot fire and no weld ,easy to sort once you know what it is .I have used boric acid as a flux and it works fine .

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Good to know i'm not the only one having to cleanup the forge, once in a while !!!

I use off the shelf Borax from Wal-Mart and it puddles the same at the bottom of the forge ....

 

I also use hard firebricks for the forge floor and that stuff sticks !!!

 

Steven

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I suspect an air fuel ratio problem,too much ox.

 

I don't think so - there was always a nice yellow flame coming out of the door and the burnerflame looked not too rich either...

especially as previously the forge has proven to work well for welding - and the only thing different was the borax stuff.

one possibility coming to my mind though was overheating - that forge can get VERY hot....

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I suspect an air fuel ratio problem,too much ox.

 

From reading the thread, my first 'suspect' would be the 'borax'.

 

Clean the steel billet and try another borax from a different source.

Just my 2 cents.

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I've made a habit of packing about 1/2" of "loose" refractory or clay (cat litter) on the bottom of my forge (Fogg style vertical forge). When it gets all 'fluxed' up, it's easy to lift the layer off and add another without doing any damage to the refractory.

 

Dan

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1

Edited by Robert Kobayashi
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Yep, I've got a forgemaster type forge and with all the borax I've used, the bottom is a black glassy type that has melted the firebrick bottom, when its really hot its sticky and semi liquid, sucks.

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