Well, i've been working on a railroad rail anvil. It seems to be a
light-weight section or rail. I ground and ground it, but am having trouble
making the surface of the rail flat, as it seems to be deformed on one side,
and sort of rounded over.
So i guess what i was wondering was if anyone has experiene welding the stuff?
I was thinking a possible solution would be to use some buildup welds to
roughly flatten out the surface, and then maybe some hardfacing for the actual
this project is taking too much money and time, but I seem commited now, having
spent plenty of tiem already,
How are you grinding it? See if you can find a small machining shop or
welding shop that will mill or grind the surface for you, that way it
will be flat (or reasonably more flat than it can be made with a hand
Sometimes you just have to cut your losses too. If you have a
scrapyard near you maybe you can find a nice big cleanly cut piece of
steel. Beat on it with something and see how easily it dings. Before I
had real anvils I had better luck with that sort of thing then RR
Track. Might consider grinding a dip in the track and just using it
for straightening or bending. I'm no welder by any means but I had a 4
or 5 foot section of RR that I welded to some angle iron as legs,
welded some peices to the sides for various things, it held up to a
good beating."I" wouldnt consider welding to build up or hard surface
it, that sounds like much more trouble then it would be worth. Another
thought might be to turn the track over and use the flat side. Good
luck with it.
If you have the time, patience, inclination, a flat surface for a reference and
some odds-and ends you can get a surface as flat as you like.
When I was involved in rebuilding machinery we would use layout blue (maybe use
marking pen?) on the surface of our reference "flat" and red lead (don't know
if it's available, might have to substitute something else) on our work. By
rubbing the flat against the work you got a pattern showing the high points.
Then using a scraper made from a long file blank (with a handle added) with a
rounded (across the width) end and flat (across the thickness) edge you use a
pushing motion while holding downward with the other hand to remove the high
marks from the steel you're working on. When you do this right you'll see
smoke coming from the edge of the file as you cut.
Next clean off your work, apply more blue, etc. ,as needed, and repeat. As you
continue repeating this you'll soon see more and more high points appear and
you'll be taking off less and less material on each high point.
Eventually (this is where the patience comes in) when you feel you've gotten
close enough, a final conventional polishing (using a belt sander or by hand)
with an ultra fine grit should finish it off. This is the point at which the
procedure varies from the one we used as it was considered benificial to leave
a pattern of marks on a surface to help retain lubricating oil.
I was never a regular "scrapper hand" but was taught the basics and did a few
small things on my own. Since I haven't had much luck coming up with a regular
anvil this is the method I'll use on my section of rail. I'll try to post pix
of my progress once I get started.
I hope this helps someone else.
dennis in nca
What Forger said. :)
Your piece of rail is worn out, if you want to use RR rail, start
over with a brand new piece. :) Or better yet a relatively new
piece that's been used enough to flatten and work harden the
surface. Tell 'em what you want and somebody'll get it for you.
You can't buy the stuff from the railroad but railroaders will give
you small pieces. BTDT. That was something I made a point of doing
actually, saving the short pieces that were friction saw cut on both
ends from rail-jobs and gave them away.
Welding-up and hardfacing the rail is done everyday but you don't
want to do that... the dangged stuff is already 1075-1080 steel. :)
That can be hardened up as is with a large rose-bud.
Hardfacing a hunk of iron from the scrap yard sounds interesting
The RR welders were required to lay down a pad of gas welding rod
before going to the arc welder. The gas welding rod spark tests
just like 4140. They used at least a 1" rose-bud (full-ass blast;)
to weld in the 1/4" rod with a puddle 1 to 1+1/4" in diameter.
You up for that? :) The arc welder was a Miller that was about 6
feet long. I was told the current to use but don't remember. :/
Alvin in AZ (retired signal ape)
I guess it depends on how much surface you're looking for and what you're
going to do with it. I have piece of the heavier stuff (133lbs per foot)
and had the top milled a few 32nds of an inch. Gave me about three inchs of
flat wide but at about two and a half feet long (can't say I ever actually
measured it) it is beautiful for the work I do on it. Only thing I miss is
a hardy hole. Been thinking about tapping one end to bolt hardy type tools
to it. I'll have to custom build them all but it's all part of the fun. On
getting it milled: I found a lot of resistance from the machine shops and
an impractical price tag to the work but found a friend of a friend who
worked in one to do the job for free. He reported that the job was no
problem at all - which is in direct opposition to the expectations claimed
by the other machine shops I talked to.
Thanks for the input guys. I was talking with another bladesmith freind of
mine, who saw the photos of the work. I ground one end into a cone-shaped
(more or less) horn, and left the other end squared off. Anyways, both ends of
it have the "belly" pretty substantially undercut. This was a design mistake
on my part, and I think it has a lot to do with the incredible RINGING!!!! that
happens in use!
Anyways, I think you guys are right about "cutting my losses" on this
one--Harbor Freight sells more appropriate (albeint imorted) anvils for less
money than this thing will most likely cost me to finish!
Anyways, here is MY idea for cutting the loss---let me know if you guys have
any ideas about it. I already have a "horn" of sorts on one end (not a great
design, but it's ok). I was considering cutting the OTHER end into a
flattened, more pyramid shaped horn, actually longer than the other side? I
think this kind of tool is called a "bick" or something? A smallish-double
Then i would only have about a 2 1/2"X8" section to use for forging. With some
more quality time with my angle grinder and belt sander, i could get that part
nice and flat. Perhaps I could even scoop part of it out--as per one of the
suggestions, and use it as a straigtening jig? This would really make this
thing a useful tool, even if it's not the one I set off to build?
I still like the idea of hard-facing the surface, and maybe part of the
horn(s). I have a freind of a friend in the RR biz, who said he'd take a look
Anyways, i don't think ALL is lost on the project. The rail weighed over 100
pounds to start with, but some was lost in the cutting and torching. Then i
mounted it (with some serious welding) to a really thick steel plate that must
go 40 pounds on it's own.
My new plan might include using some more scrap, to weld onto the belly, to add
some weight, and try and cut down the ringing a little.
If anyone has some thoughts about making a multi-use light anvil like this, let
me know? I'd hate to just dump the project now, after hours of grinding and
torching, but am coming to realize it ain't going to turn into what i'm looking
again, i have some good photos of it, but don't have the knowledge or web space
to upload them anywhere. If you guys are interested, email me, and i'll send
it along! (I need all the help i can get!!)
My anvil has an 1 /12 inch hardy hole but it weighs 350 pounds, and I work away
from my shop on occasion. I took some thick-walled iron pipe and forged it
square, then set six inches of it into a big 1x1x3 foot block, burning it
into an undersized hole. It holds all the stakes, hardies and fullers from my
big anvil, which is handy when I'm at an event with the little anvil that only
has a 3/4 hardy hole. It also gives another workstation, handy when I'm on the
forge using the big anvil and Margaret is using the stakes for raising and
bouging sheet metal.
The same block also has anchor bolts with wingnuts to hold a Beverley shear,
and another hardy hole in 3/4 that I put in so I could use the little anvil's
tools on the block as well. It's added a lot to the versatility of our shop,
and I've made other squared pipe inserts for friends who had no anvil at all.
You can also inlay a length of heavy angle iron down one edge of a big block
like this, giving you a clean edge for sharp bends. (I liked this so much I
inlaid one down the whole length of my workbench--combined with another length
of angle and a couple of big clamps I can make a six-foot bend in sheet metal.)
If you want all the functions of an anvil in a single lump of metal, just give
up and buy a real anvil. If you're improvising, you'll do better to divide up
the roles among various shapes and sorts of pounding blocks, forming stakes,
stumps, etc. This is especially true if more than one person ever uses the
Well now thats not that bad of an idea... assuming he has a really big
forge, get that chunk of RR track good and hot, have a bigass hammer
in your right hand, reach into the fire with some bigass tongs and
quickly whip that bad boy out of the fire and up onto the..... Oh
sh#t! no anvil!