why are cheap anvils no good

Hi All, I just stopped by a surplus store here and saw three new anvils. 110lb and 165 lbs priced at about $1/lb
These anvils are obviously low quality.
They are all cast, the top surface is machined. The horn and the whole body has rough sand casting marks, no machining. No make, model or manufacturing marks. No country of origin. The round hole is big and smooth. The square hardy hole is not square or finished.
I'm assuming the top is not hardened.
Should I walk away or run away from them? Al
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When you're in front of one, pick up a hunk of junk (hard) and *hit* the anvil and see what happens. Does it ring and rebound? Does it make a dent? That result is *everything*. Most cheap anvils are soft cast iron and only an idiot would buy one unless you wanted it for a paperweight because as soon as you hit it it will dent badly. But there are some anvils now from Eastern Europe that are also cast, also ugly, also cheap, but they are cast from quality tool steel and they are real decent little anvils.
Grant
Alpinekid wrote:

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Grant Erwin wrote:

My bet the tool steel is scrap off the battlefield during Desert storm :-)
Soviet type tank steel. :-)
--
Martin Eastburn, Barbara Eastburn
@ home at Lion's Lair with our computer snipped-for-privacy@pacbell.net
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That's about what a good old anvil goes for. It is a bargain price for a new one.

A good old anvil may also be all cast, though the good ones are cast steel, not cast iron. Others may have a cast steel top welded onto a cast iron base. An all cast iron anvil isn't desirable, an all cast steel one is, and a welded anvil may or may not be desirable.

Normal for an anvil of this size and class. Jeweler's anvils are often finished to a high polish, but big working anvils rarely are. The face would have been ground flat, but the rest of the anvil would be as cast.

That's a bit suspicious. Anvil makers who are proud of their product usually cast in a logo.

Pritchel hole.

These are typically punched during manufacture, so it may not look finely finished. It should be pretty square top and bottom, but there should be taper through the hole.

Don't assume, test. You want a surface that is hard, but not too hard. Light hammer blows shouldn't mark it, but it shouldn't be so hard that the edges will chip.

Maybe, maybe not. Sounds like some of the Chinese anvils that have been showing up. They're not too bad. Could be east European too, and they're generally quite good. But if it is Indian or Pakistani, run, run away.
I'd ask questions to try to determine the origin of the anvils (they had to arrive in some sort of a crate which would have been labeled). I'd look carefully at the pattern and proportions of the anvils. That's often a good clue as to their point of origin. I'd examine them to see if they are cast steel or cast iron. I'd do a bounce test with a ball bearing. Etc.
Gary
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As Grant said, "cast" does not necessarily mean "cast iron". Many newly made anvils are made of solid cast tool steel. This doesn't mean that the anvils you saw are any good, but maybe they aren't toooooo bad. Depends upon what you want to do with them. I have an old cast iron "doorstop" (that's what they call really beat-up anvils around here) anvil that I use when I want to straighten re-rod cold or to do some other job that I wouldn't do on a good anvil. Of course, $1 per pound is a little high for that job. An old blacksmith around here once said that we should never be hitting the anvil with anything cold on it anyway. -----But what if you miss? ------ I might add: Bring a good sharp file next time. Try filing some mild steel and some cast iron at home, then try filing the edge of the face. If it files with about the same ease as the mild steel and cast iron do, leave it alone. I surface grind anvil faces for people and can tell by the sparks and the sound of the spindle about how hard the face is, but I wouldn't suggest taking an angle grinder with you to spark test these. If the pritchel and hardy hole is too poor for you, leave it alone. If you can get them down to about $70 for the 110 pound anvil, that's the same price as the Harbor Frieght "Russian cast steel" anvil (on sale), well then, maybe it's worth a try. For that money, it can be used to straighten re-rod after you've gained some time on it and can find a real "keeper".
Hope this helps some, Pete Stanaitis --------------------------------------------------------------------
Alpinekid wrote:

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Pete & sheri wrote:

Update,
I went back to the surplus place and found a small ball peen hammer. I couldnt find any ball bearings. I held the end of the handle and let the head fall onto the anvil from about 6 inchs up.
There was a nice little indent where the head hit. I also took a closer look at the horn. It was not round on top. It looks like they ran out of metal during the pour. It was sort of heart shaped. There was a big valley running down the middle of the top.
I chatted with the owner and he freely admitted that he gets this thing cheap for folks that want to pound horseshoes for their personal horses.
Thanks for all the help. I now know how to more quickly evaluate anvils. Anyone near Flagstaff, Az with a good anvil for sale at a fair price, please let me know.
Al
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Alpinekid wrote:

It's only a couple hours south to Phoenix, why don't you run down to the Harbor Freight store in N. Phoenix and buy a 110lb. Russian cast steel anvil? Shouldn't cost you more than $75 out the door, plus some gas money.
That'll get you started, anyway. Once you get going you'll see anvils from time to time.
Grant
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Have you tried berry denton in skull vally? He imports anvals and leg vices from all over the country. You can get his contact information from the arizona artist blacksmith acco. web site. good luck.
jamie
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I bought my post vise from that guy. Although it wasn't cheap, it is a good solid 200# 6" post vise in fine shape, and I'm happy. Those aren't *that* easy to find these days. I second the recommendation, but I don't know anything about how to find him except to look for him selling on ebay.
Grant Erwin Kirkland, Washington
bob wrote:

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He usually shoes up at the July demo at flag forge. it held on the 17 18 of July. the directions are on the aaba web site. but if you would rather his phone is Barry Denton at bar U bar supply 928-442-3290
good luck jamie
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Alright, I really want to know why folks on this group never mention Railroad rail. The Weygers blacksmithing book tells you how to make one (the hard way). I took a 3 foot piece and under cut one end with a cutting torch. I took a side grinder to it to dress up the cut part. Needs this horn part shaped but it gets the general idea. I found a guy who worked for a machine shop to mill off the top 3/8 inch so I have a nice flat top on it. The shops wanted a couple hundred bucks to do it and complained a lot about work hardened rail but if you know somebody or have a mill then you're in business. The guy who did it for me said it was much easier than expected. Same story for the guy who torch cut the end for me. As for usage, I love it and can beat it all day and not put a dent in it. Weygers book shows you how to harden it but I don't see the point. I haven't hurt this one yet. And all it cost me was some labor and a couple of favors. I might add that this is an ideal anvil for makers of long blades since you have all that flat to true up your work on.
GA

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Greyangel wrote:

I think the perception is that a section of rail isn't heavy enough. - GWE
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If you get the right piece of it;) it sez right on it, the weight per yard. The heaviest I ever worked with was "136 pound rail". Or did you mean stout? :/
Drill holes in it and bolt it down to something heavy? ;) Remove the base from a piece of rail (~1075) and weld or (blind hole) bolt it to something heavy from the scrap yard?
The only real problem here is, it's stolen material, even if someone gave it to you somewhere-sometime it was stolen. The only exception I know of is when mining or logging operations sell rail. All that AFAIK was the smaller (110 pound and smaller) even when used in large open pit copper mines.
Alvin in AZ
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On Tue, 13 Jul 2004 19:30:35 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@XX.com wrote:

not always,, a track crew gave me a 5 foot section last fall
Bear
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And they stole it from which railroad? :/
I'm not saying it hurt anything, actually prob'ly helped. ;)
"when asked, tell them we do not sell rail -ever-" -Southern Pacific
Alvin in AZ
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On Tue, 13 Jul 2004 22:25:47 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@XX.com wrote:

it's hard to say which company layed the stretch of rail they were taking out,, it was a Soo Line crew but they were taking out a section of track that hadn't been used at all in over 50 years, and the old roadbed was being tuned into a bike and snowmobile trail , Soo Line seems to be the only line using, maintaining, or removing any of the rails around town so when they gave it to me when I inquired about it I figured they must have had the OK to do so,, they even loaded it into my car trunk for me.
Bear
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It's no big deal either way but for sure it wasn't theirs to give. They also gave away someone else's (paid for;) labor too in the process. BTDT myself. ;)
Knowing more of the story... that particular rail may be too crummy to directly melt down and make new rail from so my guess is- it's still higher value scrap steel than normal but not as good as the new stuff.
That old rail was taken from the mainline somewhere sometime and put in service in that branch line. You say it hadn't been used in 50 years... what's the year mark on your piece of rail? And heck, while you're at it, what's the weight too? :)
BTW, did they call themselves a "crew"? On the SP they were called "gangs".
Alvin in AZ
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next time I get out to my buddy's farm I'll check the markings,, I do all my pounding out there as this damn town has a noise ordinance Bear
On Sat, 17 Jul 2004 15:52:57 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@XX.com wrote:

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Cool. :)
So, when you movin'? ;)
Alvin in AZ (smells like horse piss around here every once in while;)
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I was talking about stout but it don't move when I hit it with a 3 pound hammer so it's plenty heavy for me. I would'nt want to move anything heavier on a regular basis and in my little garage I have to to the shuffle a lot. I take it into the back yard for real work.

thought about pounding some spikes into a stump so that I can slide it into and out of place when I use it in the back yard. I built a sawhorse like contraption out of angle iron to set it into though and it works pretty well. It's all nice and portable.

Well I guess I can't argue that... At the time I picked it up the railroad had just gone through and replaced a bunch of track and left pieces lying all over the place. Didn't even consider that anybody would care. 'spose nowadays folks can get pretty sticky about what's theirs though. I tried to talk a road construction crew out of a piece of pipe end from an overpass they had lying in a bunch of garbage and got told no. Would have made a great forge chamber with some insulation, but I ended up making one out of clay and perlite and I think I got the better end of the deal in the end.
GA
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