Help! It's been 15 years!

Hi. My name is Don Fraley. I apprenticed for a little while 15 to 20 years ago at an historic farmstead, so I've forgotten most of what little I
learned. I now live in a small historic canal town in Indiana, USA called Metamora. I just bought an old portable forge that I repaired, but I can't get my coal to stay lit. Can anyone help? I'm supposed to demo tomorrow for the tourists! Thanks.
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Geez dude, left your run a little late.
Starting a small fire with kindling... will take time unless you're an "Uber-Boy Scout". If time is of the essence then... cheat.
Get some fire lighters the kerosene based ones, or a small hand held propane torch (or both). There's nothing to say you can't get the fire started before the tourists get there ;-)
The same principal as lighting the BBQ, I use a hand held mapp gas torch to light my BBQ, once the charcoal (or coal in your case) is lit, I use a hand bellows to get it really going... 5 - 10 minutes tops.
Once the fire is going your air supply should keep it running... as long as you keep the forge fed :-)
Tell us how you go.
Regards Charles
Don Fraley wrote:

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Don Fraley wrote:

Well Don. First let me ask if it is coal or coke? Coke is notoriously hard to keep lit without a bit of blast going through it... I assume that you have a hand cranker, if you have an electric blower then drill a small hole through the gate valve so there is a little air movement(if it is coke) if it is not coke then make some fines...coal dust, and wet it down to the consistency of a dry mortar mix with water...retain some coke to start your fire with right over the tuyere. Then take the wet fines and make a cone around the lit coke...pack it firmly and occasionally keep the blower cranked...If you have good coal you should be able to let it coast for up to 45 minutes. Thats the way I do it! Good Luck! Steve Morgan
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Don Fraley wrote:

Hmmm... won't "stay lit"
If you're using anthracite, that could be the problem right there. The stuff will go out at the drop of a hat. Leave off the blast for more than a couple of minutes, and you risk having to re-light.
Otherwise, tell more of the story, how you light it, how big the fire, what kind of blower, how long you leave it... all that stuff.
- Carl
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Don Fraley wrote:

If it's a rivet forge, keep in ming that these were often lined with clay, but the lining is often lost by the time they're resold. Unlined, the firepot can be too shallow for a good fire, though you can compensate some by building a taller fire. Also, make a watering can out of a soupcan with nailholes in the bottom, screwed to a stick. Use this to wet around (not in) your fire so it burns deep rather than wide...
(A web search will tell you more about rivet forges).
--Glenn Lyford
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

But next to nothing about how to clay it.
I've tried a couple of things since the late '70s and for the last many times I've used my Champion portable, it's been without clay. It's easier to move around without a load of clay/brick/concrete in the top and that starts counting when doing demos.
I'll happily try claying the thing again if anyone can relate a happy experience and scheme for doing so. when I built it up enough to get s reasonably deep fire, the table wouldn't hold much coal without spilling. Feh.
- Carl
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I had one for a little while, and another housemate actually got it up and running. If it had clay, they cleaned it out, so I only ever used it without, usually with the wrong (hard) coal, to boot. It was good enough to dabble with, but fire management was very frustrating and it's only been through a lot of reading much later that I figured out that most of my issues were likely due to the (lack of) depth in the firepot.
I suspect that when I do get back into the hobby (which I have been threating to do for at least half a decade now) that I'll be running on gas...
--Glenn Lyford
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