identifying steel - color codes

I have some random steel rods I picked up locally. I'm not sure of the material. Two of them have colors painted on one of the ends: red on one
and orange on the other. I'm wondering if these colors tell me what they are?
I found this link... http://www.southerntoolsteel.com/color_codes.html which lists color codes, but I'm wondering how trustworthy it is. The entry for 12L14 says "black and white". I assume that means it could be either, rather than it should have both. That entry bothers me because I bought some 12L14 end scraps from eBay and things don't seem to match the table I found. Some are white, which does match, but a couple are copper color and one is red.
Is the color code a useful way to identify scrap steel? Is there a better reference on end colors somewhere? Can anyone tell me what my two steel rods with red and orange ends probably are?
Thanks for any enlightenment you can share.
-Rex
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Color codes are not standardized, so unless you have the code from the particular source, the colors won't tell you much.
Harold
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On Sat, 10 Sep 2005 20:17:02 -0700, "Harold and Susan Vordos"

Thanks, I was afraid that might be the answer.
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On Sat, 10 Sep 2005 20:17:02 -0700, "Harold and Susan Vordos"

Indeed. It would appear that most if not all suppliers have their own color codes.
Ive got machine shops with 3-5 color code charts on the wall side by side..and non of them match.
This sucks of course..but...thats the way it is. Shrug
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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I received over a ton of steel rounds of all different sizes. I deduced that some was tool steel as the company made some dies for their operations. I stamped a code number on each round and sliced off a wafer and stamped the wafers with the same code. I heated each wafer red hot and dropped it into quenching oil. Then I could tell with a file what was cold-roll and what was tool steel. Next I spark tested each tool steel wafer with a known piece of O-1 and D-2. I feel pretty confident with categorizing each piece. I also knew there wouldn't be too many odd-balls. I only have 2 that I'm not sure about exactly what they are but they hardened.
Do you need to know what the alloy actually is? Or will knowing general properties do? Try turning a whack of each piece with HSS tools, you'll know by the way it cuts and the finish it leaves. You can even tell by the smell of the cut. Don't even think about sending samples to a lab for $4-600 a pop.
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On Sun, 11 Sep 2005 04:53:26 GMT, "Tom Gardner"

I was hoping the colors would give me a good idea, but I guess not. I'm just starting to turn things -- got a lathe recently. The 12L14 is the only steel I have that I am sure of. I think the orange colored piece is supposed to be 1018. The red one seems to be harder when I knick it with a file, I'm guessing something like 4140.
Being new to turning I don't have a good feel for how different steels should feel while cutting. Part of wanting to know what I have was to give me a feel for the differences.
I did think about grinding on them to see what the sparks look like. I think I have references in a book or two about differences in sparks.
Oh well, I'm not going to make anything critical for a while or try to harden steel, so I'll just have at it with what I have while I learn. I'll order some pieces of some popular steels later for comparison.
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On Sun, 11 Sep 2005 09:01:43 +0000, xray wrote:

When I first read about the spark test years ago I didn't give it much credence for helping to identify the make-up of steels. Because of my lack of experience I was unable to spot the subtle differences in the spark patterns made by different types of steel. You can read up on the spark test, and that's a help, but you really need to grind on known types of steel and cast iron a bit to develop an "eye" for the different spark patterns (or at least I did). At this point I can touch an unknown type of ferrous metal to a grinder, observe the spark pattern, and get a pretty good idea of what that steel's properties are. I might not be able to give its chemical composition, but I can distinguish between mild steel, high carbon, high speed steels, cast iron and cast steel pretty easily.
Here's a web link that discusses steel identification, including the spark test.
http://64.78.42.182/sweethaven/BldgConst/Welding/lessonmain.asp?lesNum=1&modNum=4
or
http://tinyurl.com/995c3
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On the practical side, even if you knew exaxtly what each type was, you'd still have your own learning curve with respect to the condition of your lathe, the particular workholding technique, etc.
Good luck!

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On Sun, 11 Sep 2005 04:53:26 GMT, "Tom Gardner"

Oboy,,, Years ago we had a machinist who was not exactly a rocket scientist. We did a lot of SS, and generally from this vendor the color codes were predictable. The guy was looking in the stock bin for a piece of 316...we noticed the blue end, and it was one of those afternoons where people were feeling humorous. We told him, "Just breathe on it and smell it quickly when it is moist...you can detect the "tang" of nickel!" "Look!( Noticing an orange code) You can even smell the sulfur in this 303, and in this 17-4 (Grey/white) the aluminum in it makes it smell just like 6061!!!" We walked away, and had a good laugh. A couple of days later, the guy who ran the place, a good mettlaurgist in his own right, walked by, and saw this guy smelling the stock, one piece after another. He walked up and asked him what he was doing. From a distance, we could see the rocket scientist trying to explain, gesticulatiing and thrusting pieces under the boss's nose. The boss just stared at him silently, and walked away. We got to the other end of the shop ASAP, collapsing with laughter.
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OH MY GOSH!!!! Now THAT was a riot. Reminds me of a good one...Here goes: I recently retired from the army. After 25 years in the military as a welder/machinist, it's safe to say I've met some pretty colorful folks...one of them was a guy by the name of Vern back at Fort Knox, Kentucky. I was the sergeant in charge of the shop & "corpral Vern" was one of my not too bright welders who couldn't get through even the smallest of tasks without getting really confused. He and one of my sergeants finally had it out about Vern's inability to work on a project without it turning into a disruption for the whole shop. I had recently undertaken a project where we were about to begin taking a bunch of M60 battle tanks into the shop, draining all the fluids, removing the transmission & engine and cutting 4" holes in them before putting them back in, welding up all the hatches & plugging the barrel, painting the tank green with a white star and shipping them off to VFWs for use as a display tank. After the 1st tank had arrived, I was away from the shop for awhile taking care of some business. As I was walking back into the shop, I notice Vern out front standing on this tank....tapping it iwth a hammer...nodding his head up & down (as if to say "yes" to himself...Vern talked to himself a lot) and marking an "X" on the tank with a piece of soapstone. I look over closer to the shop....and all the guys are just rolling with laughter! Now before I go into this any further, you have to understand that the armor on these old tank turrets is thicker on the sides than it is on the top...like wise the hull is thicker on the front and sides than it is on the rear. This tank has soapstone "X"s all over it and Vern is just happily tapping away! I climb up on the tank & before I can say anything, Vern says, "That's right you know what I'm doing don't you sergeant? See people who wrok for you get smart, and then someday we get your job!" I can hardly contain myself as I admit, 'This must be something old sarge forgot, why don't you show me?" Vern says listen..."Tap, tap, tap (on the side of the turret with the hammer...and then..."Tink, tink, tink (on the top of the turret) you hear that difference sergeant? That's a soft spot in the armor!" then he beams "Segeant Troy showed me that!" Vern was so proud of himself...it was almost hard to explain to him, he'd been the butt of a joke. I kept the piece by helping him play a joke back on the good sergeant. -Wayne-
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Oh, it's not THAT easy, you have to smell it while it's cutting...everybody knows that!
wrote:

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    If you can tell us which steel vendor they originally came from.
    Really -- each vendor has his own set of codes. I could look up the ones which Jorgensen steel uses, but I don't have a convenient source for the others.

    Nope -- it should have both. (Otherwise, they would have said "black *or* white", not "and".
    This is because there are more steel alloys (and other metals) than there are reasonably identifiable colors, so they have to use two (or sometimes even three) colors to mark the metals unequivocably. Jorgensen has several where there is a primary color plus a stripe of another color.
    And the Jorgensen catalog lists a lot more metals than your web vendor does.
    And this is only for metals from this one vendor.

    Again -- from different original vendors, so you can't expect the color codes to match.

    Nope -- because with scrap, you are unlikely to know who the original vendor is.
    Now -- you could pick some vendor's color code chart to which you have access, and paint any incoming steel which you can identify to match.

    The problem is that there are *lots* of them. And they all disagree. :-)

    *If* it came from Jorgensen:
Red                1040/42/45 Orange                1213.1215
Black with White stripe        1035
Brown & White            Leaded Grade A (Ledloy A, La-Led) (their 12L14) Green                Leaded Grade B (LedLoy B, Super La-Led) Pink & Purple            Leaded Grade AX (LedLoy AX)

    Well ... I'm sure that this is not what you wanted to hear -- but it is the real world, so I'm afraid that you are stuck.
    Good Luck,         DoN.
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On 11 Sep 2005 05:20:51 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@d-and-d.com (DoN. Nichols) wrote:

[snip]
All the pieces I have here have one solid color, if they are marked at all. Just for curiosity, what would an "and" marking look like? Both colors on the same end, like half of one and half of the other?
I know some codes mention a stripe, but I'm asking about a plain two-color "and".

[snip]
Thanks for taking the time to give me a deatailed answer with some possibilities. As I said in a reply to a different message, I'll just play with what I have and compare it to some known steels later.
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    [ ... ]

    Well ... I've seen some which have something like 8" of the end painted one color and perhaps 4" of the end painted over that a second color. Fairly ragged edges to the overlap -- nobody bothers to mask things properly -- there is no real need.
    I could imagine one which was painted one color on one side and one on the other -- but I haven't seen that.
    Typically, when I get some metal which I know to be a given type, I use a paint pen of some color which stands out nicely on that metal to write the type on each end and a few places along the length. Normally, the length of my stock is at maximum about six feet. Some, such as three lengths of hex stock which just fits through my lathe spindle I *know* to be 12L14, so until I get some other alloy in the same size and in hex, I'll leave those unmarked.

    I understand. But most of the metal I've seen has been the more common ones, which are typically a single color.

    [ ... ]

    I was able to do that because I keep a copy of the Joregensen metals catalog up near my computer. If you look on the used book web sites, you can often find one at a quite reasonable price. (Of course, the vendor will give you such a book if he feels that you will be ordering enough to make it worth his while. I'm a hobbist, and as such, I only get medium large amounts of steel (large for me, at last, such as those three lengths of 12L14 hex) when I get in on a special buy. I've been buying 6' lengths of 360L brass rod (3/4" mostly) for an ongoing project. I buy them from MSC, though I could get the metal for a lot less by buying several full-length rods from a vendor -- enough rods to make the delivery worth while. But I don't use that much metal, so I'll pay the extra for the convenience that MSC offers for the common ones, and I'll use one of the web-based vendors who offers at even higher prices, but does not charge a "cut" fee, for when I need an unusual size occasionally -- such as a project which turned 4' of 6061 aluminum sched 40 pipe (3-1/2" ID) into four antenna waveguides.
    I've used some of the online "drops" sites, where you find a piece which is already near the size you need -- but the shipping on those can be a killer.

    That is the best thing to do. Get to know how the various metals behave with *your* tools.
    I've got some samples which I have not yet used -- saving them for special projects which need the features -- but I may get a nasty surprise when I start to machine those.
    Good Luck,         DoN.
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