Champion Forge

I bought a portable Hand cranked Champion Forge today from a fellow who said it was a gift to a family member many years ago. It's about
30" diameter, looks to be '30's or '40's vintage.. The family was in the business of manufacturing architectual hardware and ornamental hardware, and the forge had an add on conical section with a grill which allowed it to be used as a barbeque. Since it was used only a few times a year for cooking, its in very good condition. I tried it out today, heating up a length of rebar in a couple of minutes. I read online that the tray should be lined with clay, but I see no signs of clay remnants indicating it was used this way in the past. I guess fire clay a 1/2" inch thick or so? What was the main application for these forges when they were new - horseshoeing? Should charcoal, coal or coke be used for fuel? Anyone have one of these forges?
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oldjag wrote:

Thicker clay is better. Less heat transfer to the steel pot.
Fuel was originally coal but I have used mine with briquet's for a demo show. Coal gives you a much better fire and is easier to control.
Farrier use and portable smithing repairs were the primary use. Some were even used for rivet heating on construction sites.
--
Steve W.

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"Steve W." (clip) Fuel was originally coal but I have used mine with briquet's for a demo

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Charcoal briquettes will produce plenty of heat, but the real deal is blacksmith's coal--probably hard to get now. You could wet it and mound it over the air inlet. The fire would cause it to crust together in sort of an igloo shape, into which you would insert the pieces to be worked on. You could get a very hot fire without having to have a lot of coal burning at once.
Now you need the rest of the tools: anvil, stump to put it on, a variety of different tongs.
This reminds me of a couple of things from my book on blacksmithing, listed under "Don'ts for blacksmiths."
"Don't force the calipers. It won't make the metal any smaller."
"Never alter another man's tongs without permission."
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Leo Lichtman wrote:

Good coal is actually easy to get in this area. It is sold as fuel for the newer self feeding coal burners (the ones designed like pellet stoves)
--
Steve W.

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There are several different grades of coal, acordding to what I have read the softer grades work better for smithing, but are harder to get your hands on. It kind of cokes as you use it.
Recently I have tried making my own charcoal out of soft and hard wood. Both work well but burns up pretty fast. I put the wood in a metal 5 gallon bucket with a 1/4" hole in the lid, and hang it over a fire in a barrel. Not an efficient process for making charcoal but a good way to spend a cool evening toasting marshmallows with the kids.
Briquettes are marginal, they are a little better if you break them up into roughly quarters.
"The Complete Modern Blacksmith" by Weygers (not sure of the spelling) is a good book to start with. The title is misleading since it's not complete as it contains nothing on forge welding at all, still it's a good book.
Cast iron anvils are far from ideal. They dent and mark up way to easily. In spite of this they are a good way to start since they are cheap and readily available.
Carl Boyd
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I think I'll give the coal a try. The natural charcoal chunks used burned up pretty fast and let off a lot of sparks. I have a cast iron anvil which as you noted is a poor substitute for the real deal. One of these days I'll find a decent cast steel anvil for a good price.
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On Thu, 29 May 2008 22:42:43 -0700 (PDT), oldjag

Or a chunk of RR track, I have a piece that Grandad sawed in half to share with a neighbour sometime around 1946, plus a 4' length donated by the guy that used to fly me back and forth to work in 1972. Gerry :-)} London, Canada
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oldjag wrote:

Never seen an iron or steel plate forge deck lined with anything.
Not saying it couldn't or shouldn't be, just that I have never seen one so done. Cuts way down on the portability.
The small (say 2 feet across the deck, or so) tin plate forges were used where a light(er) more portable forge was required. Often called a rivet forge, as they were used a lot for heating up rivets for big iron construction, like buildings or bridges. The slightly larger and heavier cast iron decked forges were used where portability was still wanted, but durability was also required. They were a pretty common fixture on a farm, at one time, and most metalworking shops would have had one around for when it was needed.
Used anywhere a heat source large enough to heat a largish piece of metal was required.
Most were set up to burn coal. Coke works, as does charcoal, but all those fuels use slightly different fire management techniques.
There are lots around.
Cheers Trevor Jones
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We had one of these on the farm; Dad inherited it from his father, and we stoked it with SOFT COAL, which heated well, could be controlled easily and had just the right smell - (gag).
The fire could be banked, or heaped over the metal, and kept heat in well.
Flash

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