hammer die material

Can the ball of a section of 110 pound railroad rail be hardened in some manner, to be okay to be used as dies in a 60-75 pound treadle or power hammer?
If not what is the best way to obtain the proper metal for the dies? in advance thanks... ******************
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On Thu, 21 Dec 2006 04:22:36 -0700, "theChas."

What kind of dies do you need?
I just aquired some used HSS punch tooling, and I might be able to spare one or two of the bottom dies, provided a slot or hole in the middle doesn't make them unusable for a power hammer.
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It's 1075 to 1080 straight high carbon steel, the same as a quality cold chisel is made from. For the most part railroad rail is some of the better and cleaner steel of that type ...for it's time. :)
There are few others a "Hi-Si" and a "Cro-Mo" but bet that 110lb ain't one of them... but if it was, it'd heat treat the same anyway.

Cool. :) Hunks of that scrap HSS, used as-is, is going to get a lot of work done! :) Just try real hard not to lose too much money on it while re-distributing it, Proc. ;)
Alvin in AZ
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Alvin, How would one heat treat the ball of a 110 pound rail? (for a hammer die) thanks.
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"theChas." wrote:

1000 series steel.... heat to 1600, quench in water or oil, draw at 375 to 400 for two hours, cool to ambient, go to work. Should deliver a final Rockwell in the mid fifties C scale. All temps are farenheit. Merry Xmas...
Charly
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GDay theChas, I'm not sure of the differences between the weights of rails, I suspect that we don't have near the variety here in Oz, that you Seppo buggers have :-) (no offence intended).
What I do know is that rail is very tough steel, it has to be to take the pounding that it gets with thousands of tons of railcars passing over it. I use it to make hardy tools - I slice a bit from the end of the rail and then cut the web off the bottom, then forge the top to shape - makes great cutoff hardies amd bottom fullers. I don't even bother to heat treat it after forging, other than normalizing. Used rail would be even better as it gets work-hardened.
Now to your question. The local blacksmith shop/teaching station/ construction works - its a backyarder who does all this stuff, including building treadle hammers and power hammers - uses rail as basic dies for the hammers. I've looked at the dies after they have taken a flogging over a couple of years, then I spoke to the guy about them. He said that he doesn't heat treat them, just grinds the sharper edge to a nice radius then bolts them on. They worked fine.
I'd be thinking, that you could just bolt the bit of rail in place, use it, then see if it does show any sign of wear or deformation, after a couple of weeks of use. If it does, then you know you have to heat treat that length of rail. I'd suspect that you will not have too do so.
Let us know how you go, Regards Rusty_iron in Oz.
theChas. wrote:

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Seppo buggers? :)
All that sounds really good to me too! :)
And yeah, let us know. :) (no time limit)
We would replace rail on the mainline that'd been in service, right in that spot, for 15 to 20 years (then use it somewhere else like a siding and be good for 100 years there).
What was really cool was the severe damage the first loaded train would do to it. I swear it looks like it won't last more than a week or so.
Railroad rail is "control cooled" they call it, but everybody else would call it "normalized" since it's pure fine pearlite. And will work harden to beat heck. I've had reasons to cut with a hand hacksaw blade (65hrc HSS) and file (67hrc 1.22%C steel) some of that work hardened crap hangging over some of my insulated-rail-joints.
No luck, no kidding. Instead had to basically dull the crap out of my cold chisels (name brands) and break off the lip bridging the rail ends. Whatever it took to clear the signals so I could go back home, was fine with me. ;)
Alvin in AZ (retired signalape) ps- seppo = separatists (?)
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snipped-for-privacy@XX.com wrote:

septic tank = yank
It's an Aussie thing
--
BigEgg
Hack to size. Hammer to fit. Weld to join. Grind to shape. Paint to cover.
  Click to see the full signature.
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My Dear Mr Bigegg, Sir, you are most correct :-)
No offence intended, I have a Seppo cousin and he wears the nickname as a badge of honour. Despite what my Tree hugging, latte sipping, democrat voting, twitt work mates may say, I like you Yankies. Keep up the good work.
Kind regards Rusty_iron, in Oz.
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Cool. :)
I guess I think of "gringo" that way. :)
Many of the guys I worked with thought of "wet back" that way too and were proud of it. ...like Ayn Rand said "what did you do to be a US citizen? Get born? :/" Me too, wet-back is cool ;) the first thing they want is to get on the tax rolles because after being on the tax rolls for 10 years a judge will grant them citizenship.
Alvin "way-doe" in AZ ps- "way-doe" = "blondy" because of my arm hair color ain't black
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Gday Alvin, Glad you have a sense of humor - hope it applies to the rest of you lurkers :-)
The late Ms Rand (is that the correct title??) had some good ideas. I like her work.
So theChas, how did the dies go on your hammer??
Regards Rusty_iron
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