Anvil Refacing... Your opinions/experience requested

I had originally posted this on sci.engr.joining.welding. One of the gents suggested that I post this same request here.
I know that this topic has been revisited many times... I've started the search for Rankin BBG and DDG dual-shield hardfacing wires, based upon some voices of experience in this group.
I called Rankin directly. I then had a chance to speak with one of their technical sales support team, and we talked about my application of their hardfacing wires, and that he would get back to me the following business day.
He said that Rankin would not recommend a hardfacing wire for an anvil. I was shocked. He mentioned that after consulting with several application engineers, that they would not be surprised if the hardfaced layer would delaminate from the anvil after some period of time. He recommended a Tool Steel build-up, and then doing a proper Heat Treat. I'm not up for the excitement of 250+ pounds of 1700 degree steel...not to mention the quench.
I don't have enough experience with Hardfacing to understand his concern. What do your thoughts/experiences tell you?
The pair of anvils I'm rebuilding are cast iron body with a tool steel top plate... Fishers to be exact.
Luckily, all of the top plates are intact, so there is no need to butter the cast iron with nickel before building-up the top.
Thanks all, _kevin
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I have surface-ground several anvils over the years. I don't weld them up myself, but I grind them flat for those who do weld them up and then want them very flat. Most of those anvils eventually develop hairline cracks along the edges that are about 1/2 inch long where they build up the edges. I haven't seen many of the cracks actually open up, but they are certainly visible. They always (so far, anyway) have been using stick welders to do the job. They use a base hardfacing rod to do the build up, then a single pass hardfacing rod as the last pass. This, of course, is after a lot of preheating, weld and grind, weld and grind. Think of the joy in grinding away at each weld while the anvil is at about 400° F. for a couple of hours.
If interested, you can go here:
http://www.spaco.org/anvlgrnd.htm
to learn a little more.
Pete Stanaitis --------------------------
karchiba wrote:

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I refaced my 1820's ish Mouse Hole anvil using Rankin BBG and DDG dual-shield hardfacing wires.
some pictures here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/Curt.Welch/BlacksmithProjects #
I don't have pictures of the finished anvil I see. I should take some and add them.
I've only used it for a few months since then but so far it's holding up fine. No clue how it will hold up after 10 years however.
As Pete said, I have seen a few hairline cracks near the edge which seem to have formed between where I ran weld beads. But so far, none have developed into a problem or turned into chunks that broke off.
I did NOT preheat the anvil when welding it. That was based on what I read about on Ernie Leimkuhler page here:
http://www.metalwebnews.com/howto/anvil1/anvil2.html
(Ernie can be found in rec.crafts.metalworking I believe)
All the stick hardfacing rods require you to preheat the anvil. The dual shield mig doesn't - so it seems. But it might well work better if you do preheat it. Certainly the anvi gets very hot in a short period when you do tha that much welding on it anyway.
I bought my wire on-line from Ram Welding supply in CA:
https://secure.ramweldingsupply.com/products-view.mcic?sd9
The wire has an amperage range from 150 to 250 I think. Ernie I think used a welder that could run at the top end around 250 and his notes indicted it was required. I only have a Miller Millermatic 180 which when turned all the way up, runs more like 150 A. I was expecting to have to find another welder to get the refacing done, but found my Millermatic 180 seemed to be running hot enough for the wire. I had the wire speed turned all the way up, and the voltage about half way up - that was the hottest I could run and get a good bead.
My welder has a very short duty cycle when running that hot. The gun would quickly overheat, and I could only weld for a short time before the machine would overheat and I had to wait for it to cool. To deal with the gun, I would quench the tip of the gun in water after every weld bead across the face of the anvil (aka 4" of weld bead). If I didn't do that, the copper tip would get so hot it would melt.
A larger MIG machine would certainly be advised, but it was interesting I was actually able to complete the job with my 180 machine.
It was a hell of a long job. Took maybe 50 hours of welding and grinding and welding and grinding and welding and grinding. Plus lots of waiting for the welding machine and the anvil to cool down. But I started with an anvil which was a total disaster. It was unusable for any real blacksmithing without having it totally refaced. I also added a pritchel hole (it was old enough that it didn't have one).
BTW, I used normal mig wire to do most the initial build up just to get the surface flat again. Then once the anvil was roughly flat (took at least 4 layers of beads in the lowest spots), I did a few layers of the softer BBG, and then finished with I think, 2 layers (forget now exactly how many I used) of the harder DDG. Maybe it was 3 layers of DDG.
Also, I had a lot of recurring problems with porosity. It took lots of experimenting with technique to mostly eliminate it. It tended to happen at the beginning of the weld. But when it did happen, I had to stop and grind out all the bubbles and reweld. I think running at a high amperage with a larger welder would help with that.
If you only need to reface the edges, then you have the addition problem that the part of the face you don't reface, but which is next to the weld, we loose it's temper and hardness. I don't know how serious a problem that is, but it's something to think about before you start trying to weld on your anvil. I assume you would have to heat-treat the whole thing again to fix that - and I have no clue how you do that with something as big as an anvil. That is, how do you quench something that big fast enough? And what does that do the parts that were replaced with hard facing, that normally is not heat treated?
My anvil went from something like 130 lbs to 137 lbs when I was done. The face is about 12" x 4", so doing a little math, that's 48 square inches of surface, and at .283 lbs/inch^3, that means the average depth I added was about 1/2" across the entire face of the anvil. That's a lot of welding and grinding!
I'm happy so far with the results I got, and it was a fun experiment to see what could be done, and a good learning exercise, but money wise, it was a stupid investment if the only goal was getting a better anvil. I spent close to $200 for the two spools of hardfacing wire (still have lots left). Had to upgrade the welder with new liner and tips and drive wheel to support 045 wire. And I went though a good collection of grinding wheels. Probably spent about $400 before counting my 50 hours plus the $100 I spent to buy the anvil in the first place. So in the end, I spent around $500 and 50 hours of time over many months to get a decent 137 lbs anvil. I could have bought a larger one in good condition for more like $400. But then I wouldn't have the fun story to share about the project or all the experience it gave me.

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On Apr 6, 11:57 pm, snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:

Pete, thanks for that grinding information. I've spent a lot of time on your very informative website. Your site is an asset to metalworkers, thanks for taking that time to create it.
Curt, it sounds like you've already been through the war I'm considering to start. Ernie's posts to both rec.crafts.metalworking and sci.engr.joining.welding are worthy of printing and saving. I've learned a lot about TIG welding from his postings.
My MIG machine (450amp) should be more than adequate for the amperage required for the .045 wire. Were you concerned about getting the anvil too hot during your buildup processes? One of the other aspects of this project, is how to deal with the Hardy hole. I'm considering a bar of square Aluminum or Copper placed into the hole, and then hardfacing around that, if it would keep the edge of the hardy hole square?
Did you do any type of hardfacing to the anvil horn?
I understand that the BBG and DDG wire's flux is hygroscopic. Did you find an acceptable way to store the unused wire?
Thanks again, _kevin
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I was just concerned in general about too much stress from the heat shifts. I just didn't know what dangers I might be creating by allowing it to get too hot. Or with the top at 400 deg and the bottom at 100 was I creating stresses that could create cracks etc? I have no clue if my concerns were justified.
Another side effect however seemed to be that the hotter the anvil, the faster my little MIG gun was overheating so that was another factor I had to fight.

My hardy hole was oddly shaped to begin with. It sort of spirals down at an angle though the anvil. I think this sort of stuff was common on these older anvils (mine is nearly 200 years old). So I wasn't as concerned about it. I did my best to not over-weld around the hole but you cna't get the corners sharp without a good bit of over welding anyway. In the end, I just used carbide burs on an air grinder to clean it up the best I could. It ended up a little more square than what I started with.

It was good enough that I didn't touch it.

I had no idea there was a storage issue. I guess my left over wire is turning to shit then? :) I've never heard the term hygroscopic. Does that mean it reacts with moisture in the air?

Good luck with your project.
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On Apr 7, 10:10 am, snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:

Curt, Hygroscopic just means something that absorbs water. Sugar is a good example.
I've asked Ernie what issues he's experienced with storing the Rankin hardfacing wires, on sci.engr.joining.welding.
I'll let you know what I find out.
Thanks again, _kevin
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I thought anvil horns were mild steel, and therefore don't require hardfacing.
Several of the guys around here have actually built up horns with mild steel rod. In the cases (pretty common) where a lot of the horn's original length has been worn away, they choose a large bolt that's about the right length, grind a place to attach it, weld it on, and then use it as an "armature" to do the weld, grind, weld, grind, etc., until they get what they want. Even works for an anvil where the whole horn is missing. I don't think they do this during coffe breaks at work, though.
Seems there was this guy that had his hand on a workbench with the fingers all spread out. He was hitting each finger in turn with a hammer. Another guy walks up and says " Hey, why are you hitting your fingers with a hammer like that?" First guy says: "because it feels so good when I quit".
I think anvil welding is sorta like that.
Pete Stanaitis ----------------
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Well, adding to that, I know the old anvils like mine have a wrought iron body and only the face has a steel plate attached, so the horn must be only soft wrought iron as well. These anvils were built up in peaces and forge welded together. I've heard it's common for the horn to break off if you abuse it too much. I don't intend to do any heavy hitting on my horn.
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Reading the posts to date, I just remembered another way to reface an anvil. I've never tried it myself, but an old timer who used to shoe horses for the Budwieser Clydesdales told me the following:
You buy a new tool steel plate that is the size you need for the face. Make it plenty thick. Take it to a machine shop and have them machine the hardy hole. Then have them machine a pretty wide female dovetail longways on the bottom side. I think he must have meant that it should be at least 3/8" deep. When you do the pritchel hole is up to you.
Now, take the whole anvil to the machine shop and have them machine a mating male dovetail, removing most of the existing face. This dovetail must produce a tight press fit to the newly made face plate.
Heat the new face up to about 450° F and drive it on. ----------------------------------------------------- If I WERE going to try this, I guess I'd use at least half-hard 4140.
Obviously, this is a job for a big mill, using carbide tooling. It wouldn't have occurred to me that one could mill off the face of a well heat treated anvil, but a guy I know who is in the industry says: "Give me enough power and I can mill anything".
Note: I don't plan on doing an anvil this way in the near future; this is just FYI.
Pete Stanaitis --------------------------
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Interesting idea. However, unless you have a friend with a machine shop to do that sort of thing for free, the machine cost and tooling is likely to cost more than a brand new larger anvil based on machine shop prices I've seen.
On that same approach, I've heard people talk about welding a tool steel plate on top of the anvil just by welding it around the edges. I think it would have to be good and thick (3/4" or more?) to keep it from expanding and warping up in the middle from being hammered. But maybe not? It would be a faster and cheaper option than refacing or dove tail machining. If I tried that, I think I would likely drill a hole or two in the middle of the plate and plug weld it with hardfacing as well. But who knows, that might end up causing more problems than helping.
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On Apr 7, 1:30 pm, snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:

I had not given much thought to the idea of welding a new top on the anvil... I've got access to a 18x18x1" thick piece of 4140 steel.
It would take a fair amount of milling to remove the top plate of the anvil. Not that big of deal...carbide inserts are cheap.
So, to perform a weld around the perimeter of the new plate, which was previously hardened, wouldn't the heat from welding temper the plate?
I like the idea of doing a couple of plug welds to keep the plate from moving/warping.
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I heard of some guys welding on a new plate. They cut the old face plate off one way or another, then veed out the body of the anvil enough so they could weld all the way to the center and build out from there.
Yup, probably would be cheaper to buy a new one. Or maybe make a pattern and have one cast out of solid 4140 and then heat treated. I don't think there is a cheap way out.
I had some (6) 10kg anvils cast in 4130 several years ago. I used one example of the anvil (a European "cathedral style") as the pattern, since exact size was not important. They cost me $175 apiece, including heat treatment. One reason for the high price is that, when using a part as a pattern, they have to make a "matchplate" for it and then there is more manual labor involved in getting the flask ready to pour.
You can see them if interested at:
http://www.spaco.org/anvils.htm They are the 3 small ones in the front. (I gave the others away). There's a long story to with them, but that's for another day.
By the way, some years ago Peter Ross told me that if one wanted a brand new anvil of the same design as they found at Colonial Williamsburg when excavating the shop area, you can contact Colonial Williamsburg and they can give you a license to have one made at a foundry some place in Texas (I think). It was probably 10 years ago or so when he told us that and, I think the cost was about $450 at that time. The anvil is cast in solid 4140.
Pete Stanaitis ----------------
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If it's in good shape, why remove it? Just mill enough to get the anvil flat.

I would think so. I have no idea how they heat treat something as large as an anvil but apparently it's done. Maybe it would still be hard enough even after welding that you wouldn't have to do anything else. Might be able to keep it cold enough with wet rags or something?

But of course, that creates more tempering problems around the plugs and the hardfacing in the weld might not be as hard as the steel around it. But I can't help but think it will start to rattle/ping on you over time if you only weld around the edges.
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I read someplace that back in the 1600's in England, the Peter Wright company was already in litigation over water rights on the stream or river that went by their anvil factory. It appears that they used such large quantities of falling water to quench anvils that it was doing something that others didn't like. I have had enough experiences with Peter Wright anvils to oberve that some are really hard and some are not so hard. Also, it appears to me that the hardness wasn't all that deep, since it seems that, the deeper I go when grinding, the softer it gets. Not REAL soft, mind you, but softer. And I run enough coolant when I grind that the anvil's temperature doesn't rise more that 10° F above ambient. Maybe the soft days were when the English government made them cut back on water usage?
I wish some of the guys from the New Jersy Blacksmiths assoc. would chime in here. They used to do an "annual" anvil repair weekend once a year. I do remember some pretty interesting stories from them. Like the time they were heating a whole anvil prepatory to replacing the face by forge welding and they MELTED it!
This reminds me that forge welding the face on must be the only "right" way to "get 'er done"!!!!!!!
Pete Stanaitis ----------------------
<snip>
I have no idea how they heat treat something as large as

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spaco wrote:

I was discussing making anvils with an old fella a few years ago - he said that when he was young (1920s?) he was told by an old fella that when HE was young, anvils were heat-treated by heating to red hot on a big bonfire, then dropping them in the duck pond - this would (I guess) go back to 1850s? in far north of scotland
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That sounds simple enough. I wonder how long the steam keeps rising?
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Certain track welders were having trouble with the frog points they'd re-built-up popping off. One track welder I knew wasn't having that problem. Fred French could go directly to arc welding the broken rail end or frog point or switch point and it'd stay put.
But the orders came down anyway that they first had to lay down a 1/4" thick bed (or so) of 4140 rod with the rosebud first then use the arc welder. I don't know what rod they were using in the arc welder tho. :/ Seems like Fred said it was mostly about getting the frog good and hot first more than the gas-rod material itself.
They called it "hard facing" but I believe that was more of a discription of the process than a type of rod, see what I mean?
Like one poster said the welding rod company said not to use any of the typical hard facing rods/wires, but then again they might be thinking in terms of going straight to the hard facing rod without first laying down a bed of 4140 rod using a 3/4" rosebud? <shrug>
Anyway, I've posted all that here before, don't know if it helps or hinders. LOL :) But go out and take a close look at a frog point sometime anyway and you'll see what I'm talking about. :)
Alvin in AZ
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