Was-Looking for some basic HSS info, now blacksmith annealing rates

Trevor Jones just made an appropriate comment about blacksmiths not being able to anneal (or normaalize) high alloy tool steels.
Since many old blacksmiths talk about putting parts into the ash bucket to anneal them, I did a little study of "the ash bucket" a couple of years ago and here are the results (text and an inbedded graph):
http://www.spaco.org/AnnealingSteelInTheAshBucket.doc
I just won an auction bid for a bucket of vermiculite (at our annual conference) and I intend to test it in a similar way one of these days, but haven't gotten "a round toit" yet.
Pete Stanaitis ---------------------
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Pete, That was most informative. Thanks for taking the time and trouble to share. I'd be interested to know if using lime instead of ash makes any difference to the cooling rate?
If the size of your ash drum was increased, do you think the cooling rate would change much? I'm wondering if more insulation would have much of an effect?
Regards Rusty_iron
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I personally don't think lime would help much. With 5 pounds of steel, the ashes themselves soak a lot of heat away pretty quickly, so I think that more insulation around the ash bucket wouldn't help very much either, in that high end range (1500 to 1000 degrees F). But, if the parts were loosely wrapped in kaowool directly, you'd have a very different story. Another "old blacksmith" annealing process: Get your "Round Oak Heater" going real well, stoke it with half dry oak or hickory and then put your already-heated-to-nonmagnetic parts into the middle of the fire. Close down the draft and let 'er go out.
Personally, I make a real nice fire in the coal forge, anneal my parts inside a piece of water pipe wherein I place a thermocouple. When the parts are thoroughly soaked at the temp I want, I shut off the blast, cover the whole thing with coke and cover that with fiberglass insulation and go away for the rest of the day. Haven't tested that one yet, but works fine on 5160 and Does soften S7 to some degree.
Pete Stanaitis ----------------------
Rusty_iron wrote:

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wrote:

A helpful article- I confess to thinking that I might make a bucket of kitty litter or similar work, but it looks like that's not a reasonable alternative.
Luckily, the majority of the M2 I've got will work for the intended use after some simple grinding to shape. It'll be a lot of grinding, but considering the cost of finished HSS tooling, I think I can make that a cost-effective project when it comes to turning chisels.
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Pete, this is great. Thanks a lot.
Steve
spaco wrote:

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