railroad rail anvil help

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 forging surface?
this project is taking too much money and time, but I seem commited now, having spent plenty of tiem already, Later John
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Bpyfiend wrote:

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 grinder). Ken
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Ken Vale wrote:

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
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On 11 Dec 2004 13:17:13 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Bpyfiend) wrote:

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.
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<snip>
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 tho.
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)
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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.
GA

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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 ended anvil?
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 at it.
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 for!
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!!)
John
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Bpyfiend) wrote:

Plop a sheet of lead between the base and the stump.
--
Cats, Coffee, Chocolate...vices to live by

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Greyangel wrote:

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 shop.
Conrad Hodson
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Conrad wrote snip...

Thanks Conrad for an especially useful post. I'm sure lots of others agree.
dennis in nca
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What an awsome idea Doug

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hey here is an idea .... get it hot and hit it.

trouble
side,
stuff?
actual
having
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wrote:

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!
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