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
Reply to
Alpinekid
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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
Alp> Hi All,
Reply to
Grant Erwin
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
Reply to
Gary Coffman
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 --------------------------------------------------------------------
Alp> Hi All,
Reply to
Pete & sheri
My bet the tool steel is scrap off the battlefield during Desert storm :-)
Soviet type tank steel. :-)
Reply to
Martin H. Eastburn
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
Reply to
Alpinekid
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
Reply to
Grant Erwin
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
Reply to
bob
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:
Reply to
Grant Erwin
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
Reply to
bob
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
Reply to
Greyangel
I think the perception is that a section of rail isn't heavy enough. - GWE
Reply to
Grant Erwin
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
Reply to
alvinj
not always,, a track crew gave me a 5 foot section last fall
Bear
Reply to
bear
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
Reply to
alvinj
Heavy enough to be a pig to make anything out of.
Light enough to be no use as an anvil when you've finished it.
Curved top means yet more work to get it to a usable shape.
Yes, you can make an anvil out of rail. Nice steel for doing it too. But the ratio of useful product / effort isn't great. The best you'll get is a jeweller's or coppersmith's bench anvil, and you need to be a hairy-arsed blacksmith to make it.
Jarkman and I have carved up a little rail. I made an anvil, he turned it over and made tools for the hardie hole. It was a good (and all too rare) excuse to fire up his splendid old power hacksaw, and a reason to buy more disks for the 9" grinder.
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We also tried to forge the beak of the anvil by drawing it down. That was a failure, as it was simply too big for the gas forge, and a damn nuisance for one person to hold a short length of rail while the striker waled upon it.
Reply to
Andy Dingley
I'll grant that may be a good enough reason for some folks. I'm not sure what you would do with it that requires more but what do I know. Mine feels like it's about a 'hundred pounds but I never weighed it. The long footprint makes it pretty stable though. Before I got the top flattened I turned it upsidown on some sand and didn't have much problem with it falling over. Works for me. Needs a hardy hole though. I haven't approached that problem yet but it's in the plan.
GA
Reply to
Greyangel
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
Reply to
Greyangel
The value of it to the railroad, I don't know, other than it's quite a bit higher than scrap steel prices. It's scrap rail that's picked up and taken right back to the rail/steel producer for re-melting to make new rail. The steel is a lot like the high quality steel Enderes uses to make their tools with. It ain't cheap junk, just the opposite really.
Like Bear's example of the 6 foot piece, the railroad and the rail roaders had no use for a piece that short unless it was rather small rail that could be used in a spur. 16'6" was/is the shortest piece allowed on the mainline to keep the track's class up which determines the speed limit.
I made a point of picking up the small, primo, saw cut pieces and gave them away as fast as I could. I saw it as good PR. :)
Just because it was a smaller outfit you suppose? :)
Cool. :)
Alvin in AZ
Reply to
alvinj
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
Reply to
bear

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