Charcoal or propane

I am setting up my first forge. I am at an em pass as to weather to go with charcoal, which I have some experience with and I know I can anneal
with it, or propane. The major consideration is which lasts longer, $10 worth of charcoal, or $10 worth of propane. I can build my forge either way, charcoal may be easier to work with and I already have little blower (free), but propane might be alot cheaper.
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Jacob Hawes wrote:

I'd go with poopane; it's cleaner, it stays where you set it, you don't spend a lot of work time futzing with the fire. Charcoal has some advantages, but they are dependant on what kind of work you're planning. If your work is primarily Large and bulky, like farm equipment, then charcoal or coal offers the potential for a conforming fire in an open top setting. But if your plan is smaller pieces like knives or other mideval weaponry, then gas will be easier to deal with. There isn't a 'perfect' setup that will fill every need all the time. Different projects need different tooling. Fuel is the least of your cost worries, tooling is the big bite, and it adds right up. I'm currently set up for blades up to three feet, I have about 30 Large invested in tooling. I'm thinking about spending another 6 Large on new equipment so I can expand into the custom motorcycle market. This doesn't include the tooling I will fabricate myself, mainly sheetmetal forming stuff and fixtures for frames. It all depends on what you want to make, think long and hard on this before you spend big bux for equipment.
Charly
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Charly the Bastard wrote:

<snip some good stuff>
It also largely depends where you are - if you live out in the woods, charcoal is going to be free, except for labour, and propane (POOPANE???!!!???? LOL) could be expensive to deliver/collect
If you live in the middle of a city, you may have to go with propane because of city ordinances banning smokey fires.
On the other hand, my city ordinance allows the burning of charcoal, but I can't store propane cylinders on my land.
--
BigEgg

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There -is- a source for free charcoal and all you can burn too. ;)
But it's fine 1/8" to 3/16" cubes since it's coconut shell charcoal.
Water softner outfits throw the stuff away and buy it bagged by the pallet. Ok so "it's too fine" there was some talk here about "briquette-ing;)" homemade charcoal, why not briquette this stuff?
My question is what's involved in making briquettes? What's used as a binder?
Some of the charcoal has "KDF" added to it in the shop for certain installations, KDF contains metals, mostly copper, don't know whether that will make a difference or not in pattern welded steel for swords etc. :/
But they know (and can tell) which charcoal has KDF (etc) and which don't. :) In our area most of the charcoal that's used, don't have anything added. ;)
They coat gas-welding rod with copper on purpose for "liquid pool protection". I'll look into what other additives can be used in water softner charcoal too, so we'll know what's going on there.
Any interest?
BTW, if you didn't know, a water softner is nothing but a "reactive water filter". The mineral (zeolite) used in the filter attracts and holds onto certain "impurities;)" in the water. It's not real efficient size-wise and has to be cleaned periodically with a brine strong solution. But the mineral will last for well over 10 years.
So the "head" is set so after so many gallons of water go through the system it automatically cleans itself, but waits until 2AM to do that. Weird huh? :)
Was that more than you ever wanted to know about water softners? ;)
Are water softners mostly just a desert-thing? My water is "greater than 25 grains hard".
I never cared about having one but my son set one up out here as an experimental base. Sometimes it works and sometimes it don't. What I've noticed is "it's a -lot- better shaving" when it's working! :)

Where you at (in England)?
Alvin in AZ
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snipped-for-privacy@XX.com wrote:

Every time you mention it, I mean to look into it, but forget. Trouble is, we're on sandstone here, so no softeners needed, not in the sort of quantities you're on about anyway - I would guess softeners are only needed in limestone areas

Leeds, Yorkshire
--
BigEgg

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On Thu, 30 Jun 2005 19:24:58 +0000, alvinj wrote:

Zeolite is an ionic filter. The brine (high ionic strength) releases the crud, which is rinsed away. When the brine in turn is rinsed away by fresh water, the Zeolite is ready to use again. Zeolite catches "minerals" if they're ionic. You'd want an activated charcoal filter to catch the organics.
--
"Keep your ass behind you"
vladimir a t mad scientist com
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snipped-for-privacy@XX.com wrote:

It's actually a synthetic resin these past 50 years or so. Picks up calcium & magnesium ions from the water, and replaces them with sodium ions. The brine, which is a really strong solution of sodium (and chloride) ions forces the reaction to run the other way.
- ken
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Yeah they call it "resin" alright. :) (didn't know how to spell it before your post;)
There are different "resins" to choose from how close are they chemically to the old zeolite tho? (the water softner guys didn't know the answer when I asked it last year;)
Sorry guys didn't mean to turn this thread into a water sof'ner thread just wanted to describe the jist of how the dangged things worked. My college chemistry book describes it in such detail the "jist" was lost on me until a year or so ago. :)
Alvin in AZ
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snipped-for-privacy@XX.com wrote:

cement I believe.
You could always try egg white :.))
I wonder if PVA would work - I can get tonnes (literally) of that - carton manufacturers (conflakes packets etc) use it by the 1000's of gallons a week, and there is a lot of waste - which (certainly in UK) they pay to dispose of.
--
BigEgg

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Yeah and cheap! :)

Poly vinyl alcohol? :)
Alvin in AZ ps- back in the late 60's me and a buddy used sodium silicate (sold for egg storage :/) and sawdust to make cherry-bomb casings :)
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snipped-for-privacy@XX.com wrote:

PVA is a short term or generic term.
It is often used in 55 gallon (xxx liters) as a wood preservative.
It absorbs the (alcohol part) water and deposits the PV . It makes green wood usable after weeks in the tank.
Rifle stocks are often done this way.
The plastic part will be a carbon source and may be smelly. Martin
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Martin Eastburn
@ home at Lion's Lair with our computer lionslair at consolidated dot net
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Martin H. Eastburn wrote:
<nip binder used in charcoal briquettes>

I actually meant poly vynil acetate - white paper/wood glue.
I don't think thats the same thing - although I'd be happy to be proved wrong.
--
BigEgg

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bigegg wrote:

You are ok - it was Poly vinyl glycol (not the antifreeze stuff but close.)
--
Martin Eastburn
@ home at Lion's Lair with our computer lionslair at consolidated dot net
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I'm not _sure_ that they're _still_ using it but, for a long time, RAW SUGAR was the most common binder.
Theoretically, Molasses would also work.
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Geeze Charly, The man wants to buld his first forge and you're talking about building motorcycles. Give him a little slack :-)>
GA

If
motorcycle
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Wow. I completely forgot about this thread. When I started it I thought I would give it a couple of days and check back.
I'll answer a couple of questions first.
I plan on making everything from some of the basic tools (tongs, maybe a hardy or two) to longswords. I will do simple knives for the kitchen and fun knives (khukuris) for the back yard. I do plan on forge welding so brickettes or any fuel that will interfere with welding (such as lazzari charcoal) is out of the question.
I already have two blowers (air, not gas) for a charcoal forge. One is the air pump from a nautilus mattress and the other is an electric leaf blower. Both of them were free so if I decide to go propane I haven't wasted any money on them.
I don't have the resources to make charcoal right now but I could probably manage to get them in the future. I am checking laws and requirements for open burning permits in my area. If we build an addon to our shed I might be able to include a smoke stack or chimney and get around the permits and burning seasons.
The equipment I have is an anvil (hay-budden 133# with a 3/4"(?) steel plate face), a 3# square faced hammer that needs to be cleaned up and one face will be slightly rounded, a 1# ball peen hammer, a fullering hardy, and an angle grinder. Besides tongs what more tools to I need? Well that is unless I want to play around with my smithing "mentor" does. He is just an amature blade smith but he has his hands in room temperature nitrogen gas hardening, induction hardening, and custom thermit steel.
I know that the best (in the long run) option is to get both and use each for what it does best, but for now I just want to get one of them built. For what I want to do which involves heating different sizes of areas I think I will just do charcoal for the time being. Maybe once I can afford to build a second forge I will make a propane one.
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Jacob Hawes wrote:

Okay, here's a few thing to thimk on... You get better welds in the folding phase if you keep the work as close to a cube as possible. It's a volume to surface area thing, the heat doesn't get away as fast. You can always stretch it out later at forging temp. For welding, you want a small deep fire, so there's lots of fuel below the work, hot gas rises. The biggest mistake I've seen in beginning forges was lack of depth in the box. People get these old Cavalry farrier forges and wonder why they can't get good fusion, and their fire looks like it's made to cook hamburgers on. Two feet caross and three inches deep won't concentrate the heat.
Since you already have a blower, go with charcoal. Look in the Yalu Pages for a big rig repair shop, and see if you can scrounge a back axle brake drum. These are made from high strength heat resisting alloy steel, usually about fifteen inches across at the rim, and already have a big hole in the 'bottom' with holes for a flange mount around it. Line this with an inch of refractory concrete all the way to the rim, then build a stacked firebrick chimney on top of that. There's your firepot, typical service life 20 to 30 years with care. You'll need an air duct that reaches up into the pot, I reccomend a piece of big water pipe with a perforated screw-on cap, so you can change it out when it erodes. You have to drill your own perforations, something like 1/4" holes on 3/8" centers, leaving a 1/8" web between holes. Tee the air feed off this and add a short run of pipe with a cap for an ash catcher. The ash catcher should be vertical below the duct, T on it's side. Bhob I wish I had graphics. Mount this on a stand at convinient height and go to town.
Charly
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I get about 4-6 hours of forging time from a 20# propane tank (BBQ size). This includes running two burners at 5-10psi with some short periods of cranking it up to forge weld. So that works out to about $2 to $3/hour in fuel. Figure that you will want to get at least a couple of tanks so that when you run out you don't have to close down and go to get a refill. The tanks are around $30-$40 filled.
Unfortunately propane isn't cheaper in volume like a lot of other welding gasses, so having 3-20# will cost as much to refill as 1-60#. (Although the 60# won't freeze up on you as much).
I believe that propane is a lot more convienient in general (cleaner, quick to start up, doesn't need to be tended to,etc), but I have a lot more experience w/ propane then coal.
don
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Unless you are making your own charcoal, I would expect it to cost a fair bit more than propane. From what I hear, it burns up fairly fast.
Coal is generally viewed as the least expensive of the three. Once I got my propane forge put together, I had it sitting on top of my coal forge for about 5 years--I never went back to the coal. Propane is pretty nice, except in the summer. It does heat up the shop a fair bit more than coal.
Steve
Jacob Hawes wrote:

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