Forge Adventures, ITC-100

I tried coating my gas forge with ITC-100, after I'd used it some with a coating of colloidal silica and zircon. I can say that the forge is
definitely hotter with the ITC-100.
before it would get to a good orange heat, with maybe half of the inside at a "strong glow" at 5 p.s.i. Now, with the ITC-100, at 5 p.s.i. the whole inside has a "strong glow" and it gets to yellow for a six inch radius where the burner flame hits the floor of the forge.
The IR shooting out of the forge is much more intense... I wear a kevlar glove, and if I leave my left hand by the opening for more than about 30 seconds it'll start to smoke... I've had to start misting it with water from a spray bottle...
For the next person to try it, here's some notes:
More insulation is better... I don't think you need more than a 3" thick layer, but I'd go for at least 2" of ceramic blanket.
I soaked the fibers of the ceramic blanket with colloidal silica, let it dry, and then painted on some more silica and zircon. I don't remember the proportions I used, but it was, maybe, as thick as light cream... I needed to make more of a thick slurry and add a lot more zircon. Also, the zircon I used is fairly fine mesh stuff. The ITC-100 is a lot more coarse, more like the grit on 120 grit sandpaper. (I don't know of that matters)
It would have gone better if I used a mister to spray on the silica, and then let it *almost* dry out, and then added another layer of silica & zircon. The coating gets pretty crunchy when it dries, and the cracks (from brushing on another layer) don't really go away. Once it dries it doesn't really get "soft" again. It's better to do the coating all-at-once then one layer every couple of days.
If you can, spray it on. Brushing works, too, but spraying causes fewer cracks.
I'd try mixing in some satanite, or some other refractory clay, too. The ITC-100 has some clay in it, and I can tell there is a difference, although I'm not sure how to explain it. It just seems tougher with the clay in it.
It's been a hoot making this thing and fooling around with it. I have a couple of ideas for making a "poor mans" recuperative forge, so I think I'll make one more... I'll take pictures and keep you all posted.
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It's fun playing around with that stuff. I enjoyed it a lot myself. Keep posting away. I like getting this from the perspective of sombody fairly new to it all. I kind of went the "disposable" route and stuck with what worked well enough. I plan to improve my setup but I wanted to start hammering and I've learned more about what I want from a forge as time goes on. There's more to it than how well it heats - you gotta figure out what design works best for you and that's not something anybody can really tell you. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to evenly heat an entire long blade and then realized I needed to be able to heat just a small portion of it too. This is going to require a different approach. There is a lot to be said for charcoal because of the versatility of the fire dimentions. Not much good to those of us living in the burbs though.
GA

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Ive been meaning to make a gas forge in a while. I'll remember to insulate it really well.
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I live in the suburbs, too. I'd written off having a coal forge, until I found out you can buy coke. So now I'm thinking of giving a coke forge a try.. I just came across a Champion blower for $35, and I can scrounge/weld the rest of it. I'll need to hunt down a supply of coke in Southern California, first. It's not a high priority, though... I have a lot of blacksmithing I'd like to get done first.
Also, I read in a back issue of Hammers Blow that someone was having good luck with (I believe) anthracite coal. It was harder to use, but a lot less smoke. I can hunt down the issue and post some notes, if any one is interested.
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