School this Sat and Sun.

I am going to a blacksmith school Sat and Sun in a neighboring town 35 miles away. 6 hours each day. limited to 2 students. Last weekend was another
session. Both spaces were filled up but my session so far only has me as a student. I know a young lady who is interested if she can get the $90 instruction fee and the $20 material fee. The teacher/smithy called me this afternoon and said all he works is coal forges. I have one I never fired, but I have a propane one I built last summer, and it really works well. I know there are not enough days in my life left, to ever learn to make coke and run a coal forge. I will never end up beating iron. I went to a demo last fall and a very experienced smithy, who brought his own coke, took over 70 minutes and a can of charcoal starter to get his forge running. That scared the heck out of me...propane is my salvation.
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Course you will Chas, you'll probably outlast me.
Just start small, and just think of the metal as you would plasticene.
Regards Charles
theChas. wrote:

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When theChas. put fingers to keys it was 3/27/08 1:48 AM...

If you can build and light a wood fire, you can learn to light a coal fire.
I run coal/coke forges, I can get four forges lit in 15 minutes just using wads of newspaper.
If the smith* brought industrial coke and he wasn't used to it, that could explain his difficulty. When I used it in Pittsburgh, it was a royal pain to light. Much denser than the stuff we make on the forge.
- Carl
* yeah, I know, language is a living thing and words' meanings drift, but I'm pushing back on this one: Just like a baker works in a bakery, a grocer works in a grocery, and a chandler works in a chandlery, a smith works in a smithy.
Nothin' personal Chas, just trying to do my bit to stay a person and not become a place.
--

Carl West
http://prospecthillforge.com : The Blacksmithing Classroom
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Aw Carl, you're making your life difficult.
I was not a boy scout, and I can't light a fire for quids... the normal way.
These days I use a hand held bottle mapp gas torch, how lazy is this the torch lights with the press of a button, and a solid fuel fire can be running in about 2-5 minutes.
Sure it's a cheat, but I like to be up and running, quickly ;-)
Regards Charles
Carl West wrote:

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I have tried using a torch and couldn't get my coal started no matter how long I tried. I went back to my wad of newspaper and in 10 minutes I was beating metal. Of course my favorite way is to use live coals from a wood fire.
As far as coal vs coke I have tried to start fires with both coke from the previous day and commercial coke and it is just too much work. so I start my fires with coal and then swithch to coke. Besides by using coal to start the fire the entire neighborhood knows "Melvin is at it again". Plus you ain't blacksmithin' without a few lungs full of sulphur!!
I will be helping teach a basic blacksmithing class the next two Saturdays in Kansas City. We limit it to 10 students. We have a triple forge in the shop where the class is held (it's at the K.C. Ren Fest site), two are on electric blowers and one is on a bellows. For the rest of the students we set up an assortment of portable forges around the shop, haul out anvils and vises and let them have at it. Our classes last from 8:00 until 4:00 both Saturdays.
Melvin

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When Chilla put fingers to keys it was 3/27/08 4:01 AM...

Gosh, I already feel like I'm cheating when I use _paper_.
When I really want to own the fire, I split some kindling on the hardy and light it with flint and steel.
--

Carl West
http://prospecthillforge.com : The Blacksmithing Classroom
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Carl West wrote:

You do make it difficult for yourself :-D
The next step would be to put a piece of coke between your hands and rub them together really fast :-D
Regards Charles
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When Chilla put fingers to keys it was 3/27/08 12:30 PM...

If the coke is still damp from overzealous dousing the night before, starting with wood works.

Naw, the next step is to start with a cold piece of mild and wale on it until it's hot enough to make charcloth catch then blow it up from there.
I thought it up myself, then I read of it having been done. H'ain't tried it yet.
--

Carl West
http://prospecthillforge.com : The Blacksmithing Classroom
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Chilla wrote:

Or beat a bar of cold stock until it is hot enough to get the coal to light.
You'd be warm!
Cheers Trevor Jones
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***************** . . . . .9 degrees F. this morning...that's a lot of beating.
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theChas. wrote:

Geez, that sounds like a "too bad" kind of situation.
The weekend course that my wife and I took, had the both of us lighting and relighting the coal fire every time we walked away from the forge. Figure 6-10 times a day.
With a couple minutes instruction (and no BBQ fluid) we were getting lit fires withing a couple minutes, from a cold start, without premade coke.
Perhaps your instructor was having a bad day.
Propane is OK for some stuff, but a coal forge can be used to do a lot of work that just won't go into a little old propane-inna-can forge.
Cheers Trevor Jones
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<snip>

*************** The demostrator was no novice. He had some real nice work on display, and he did put on a great show, once he had fire. He is originally from Idaho. It was his great-great grandfather who built the special knife for Jim Bowey back in Tennessee. He must have used a dozen sheets of newpaper, folded into birds nests, and no fire. He said his fuel was coke he made in his Helena MT shop. I think he gets his special coal from Portland Ore. I wouldn't be able to even cook a hot dog in a coal forge. For me, it's either beat cold iron or use propane. And my 2 day school is all coal. I better dress warm,
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