the Russian Anvil and what to do with it

OK. Because of the recommendations here on RCM I bought that anvil from HF. Got it home and then read the thread about looking for used
anvils. If the volume of the ring is proportional to the quality of the anvil then this is a good one. And the hammer bounces back nicely too. So, I need to mount this thing to something. And the horn is really rough so I think it needs grinding. Some folks bolt the anvil to a stump and drag that around the shop. Is there something better? Or, rather, are there better mounts for different situations? There's no way to bolt this sucker down and based on the ring may be fairly hard. So it will either need to be welded to mounts or clamped to the mount. Since the horn is gonna get ground is there any particular shape to strive for? And should it be real smooth? And shouldn't the flat surface also be pretty smooth? Thanks, Eric
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"Eric R Snow" wrote: (clip) So it will either need to be welded to mounts or clamped to the mount. Since the horn is gonna get ground is there any particular shape to strive for? ^^^^^^^^^^^^^ I would place it on a stump, and hold it in place with bent "nails"--large bridge spikes driven in part way and then bent over the corners of the anvil base (are there feet?)
The top of the horn should be a straight horizontal line. Every cross section should be a circle, so when you are hammering a ring to shape, it can be driven onto the horn to make it round.
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I bought the 110 lb version from HF. Like you say, it really rings. I ground and polished the top surface as well as the horn. I drilled and tapped holes in the bottom to mount it to an arm I welded onto my welding table. I put a 1/4" layer of rubber sheet between the anvil and the arm just so I can still hear it ring :>). I use mine for working with sheet metal - primarily aluminum. The polished surfaces look so good I guess I'll have to get another for heavy duty beating.

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Eric R Snow snipped-for-privacy@whidbey.com

I guess the ring and bounce are good indicators, if you might be looking at iron that might have been cast in anvil shape to be passed off as a working anvil.
If you're looking at different "good" anvils, you probably don't necessarily want a ringer. As to the bounce, high bounce may be good for you, maybe not. There used to be one maker (Fisher, iirc) that sold its anvils for low bounce, on the logic that you can thereby impart more of the hammer force to shaping the work than into the rebound.
To feel better at the end of the day because you have high bounce? Not sure about that as a standard. To hit the work fewer times to get the same result is also something to strive for. Whether low bounce gets that, I don't know.
Just be aware that, when you lean over the job in your intensity, when you miss the work and hit only the anvil face, the cross of that cross peen is in your forehead. Be safe.
As to the shape, a little side-to-side crown on the face, and no really sharp edges, but several different radii, depending on your intended uses.
Frank Morrison
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Fdmorrison) wrote:

That "logic" sounds like something the marketing department came up with. A lower bounce means the anvil is absorbing more of the energy from the hammer strike, so you could expect less energy, not more, to be available for shaping the work.
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I keep my 6 or 8 inches of railroad track in a bucket of sand. Not very solid (like a 10 pounds chunk of steel ever was in the first place!) but works for me and my 16 oz hammer (stop snickering!).
Tim
-- "I've got more trophies than Wayne Gretsky and the Pope combined!" - Homer Simpson Website @ http://webpages.charter.net/dawill/tmoranwms

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Stumps work well. The anvil in my shop right now is on a rolling stand. I built a cart for working on anvils and decided it was a good place to park one. Mine is a 18" x 18" square on top. The cart with the wheels is about 18 inches tall. It sits on 6" diameter solid steel wheels, 2 swivels and 2 fixed. I just roll it into a corner when it's not being used. To stop it from moving around I wrap lengths of chain under the wheels. An old stagehand trick to stop carts from rolling on slopes.
The cart is built from 2" x 4" x 1/8" wall tube with 1/4" steel on top. Real beefy and very practical since I am not doing much smithing right now.
You should try grinding it down to a flat surface on the face and a even taper on the horn. Using a 4-1/2" right angle grinder, rough it with a grinding wheel and finish with a flapper wheel. No need to get carried away with a quest for perfection. Flat is good enough.
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Anvil horns come in several flavors. One is the one you're probably thinking of, the one that comes on a London pattern, or blacksmithing anvil. Anywhere you cut that horn you'd get a circular cross section. Another kind of horn is one with a constant radius on the top, but which gets narrower towards the nose. This is what's on the HF anvils. This isn't a bad thing. If you heat a bar and want to bend it over the horn and you do it on a conventional anvil if you aren't skilled, it will want to bend into a spiral, not a 2-dimensional bend. If you do it over your new anvil horn it will stay 2-dimensional much more easily. I have cleaned up a few of these anvils for friends and what I recommend is to take a 4" angle grinder with a 5/8-11 spindle and get a coarse flap wheel at the welding store and use that to dress the top of the horn. They still will show some casting blowholes but they'll look *much* better and will work just fine.
As to an anvil stand, this is a real can of worms. First thing you have to decide is whether you want to fasten your stand to the floor. If you don't, probably because you want to maybe move it out of the way when you aren't forging, then you need something portable but that stays put while forging. You also probably want a stand that isn't much bigger than the base of the anvil, as sometimes you need that space down by the anvil while forging. You also want the horn and heel to stick out into free space. Some guys make metal boxes open on top and fill them with sand, and put wood on top of the sand and the anvil on the wood. This deadens sound, plus you can adjust the height if you want to. Many people get tired of wearing earplugs while forging and try to dampen that bright ring. This is really effectively accomplished by putting a piece of sheet lead beneath the base of the anvil. I've done this, and it works really well, much better than wrapping with chain, using heavy magnets, etc. I chose to just cut a rectangular solid of wood 12x12x21" and made 2 little forgings to keep the anvil from moving sideways. My anvil doesn't bounce straight up - after all, it's real heavy! I can easily grab the heel and horn and "walk" the anvil and its stand around, and if I want to move it a long ways away I can just pick the anvil up and put it in the truck. See pix:
http://tinyisland.com/images/anvilstand.jpg
http://tinyisland.com/images/anviliron.jpg
I like my anvil stand and wouldn't change the design. - Grant
Eric R Snow wrote:

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On Sun, 27 Jun 2004 12:44:49 -0700, Grant Erwin

Thank you Grant and Ernie especially for the anvil advice and thanks to the others who have replied. I now need to decide which stand to make. I am thinking about finding a maple log and using it. I figure wheels could be mounted somehow for portability and the wood, with perhaps a lead shim, will absorb just the right amount of ring. Though I have a forge with a hand driven blower courtesy of my brother I have never used it. I will be using this anvil for other pounding duties for now. But, it's time to buy some coal and at least learn a little about wrought iron. There are folks blacksmithing and teaching blacksmithing here on the island so I bet I can trade some machine work for some instruction. Anybody know where to buy coal in the Puget Sound area? Cheers, eric
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I have found no affordable source of blacksmithing coal in the Seattle area.
The nearest volume dealer is Lazarri Fuel in South San Fancisco, and they only carry it as sand. Those loopy californians like it that way.
Propane is your best option around here.
Personally I love coal forging. It is much more...elegant...than propane.
Coal is unfortunately very rude in an urban situation. The cloud of sulphur smoke when you first coke up, is enough to draw the fire department in most cities and seriously annoy your neighbors.
You can buy it mail order from Centaur forge, but it is pricey.
The best stuff is Poco #3 from the #3 Pocohontas Mine in West Virginia. A low sulphur, dense Bituminous coal, with just enough silica to weld your clinkers together at the bottom of your firepot.
Stay away from stokers' coal (the soft coal they use in power plants), or Anthracite ( way too dense to light or keep lit in a coal forge)
There is some stuff from Oklahoma that is fair, but nothing is as good as Poco#3.
Hardwood charcoal works, but it burns fast and hot, and you will use a LOT of it.
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<SNIP>

Mebbe I should go to Black Diamond and dig some up. I found some on Tiger Mountain in a stream once but it was real low quality and would hardly burn. The east side of Whidbey has some "proto coal" that washes up from time to time but it will only stink up a beach fire without adding any heat to it. The west side has some stuff that's better. It can be used to start beach fires. There are still visible roots in it. Eric
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The wrong coal is next to useless. When I was young I went over to the big piles of coal next to Purdue University's power plant and filled a 50 lb. bag
When I lit it in my forge, it would not stop coking out. Eventually I shut it down and threw it away. It had way too much sulphur in it to use for blacksmithing.
As I stated there are only 2 sources of useable smithing coal. West Virginia and Oklahoma.
You will have more luck with charcoal than bad coal.
Charcoal does burn very clean.
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Ernie Leimkuhler wrote:

It does indeed, and it makes learning to forge weld a much less painful process. At an SCA Metalsmiths' Symposium, on the charcoal forges the welds just seemed to fall together.
I'm learning quite a bit in my training. Ended up taking lessons with a man who works welding aluminum truck trailers together. I visit for a while after his work hours and pay an hourly rate. The local vocational school's classses were full. Seems like everybody in the county wants to learn to weld. (And I figured it was long past time to learn to do it right:)
After learning to forge weld and pattern weld, arc processes are downright sensible.
Still have a problem now and then with a jump weld or a drop tongs one. Have any tips for me, Ernie?
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Way too long out of it. I hope to get another smithy up soon, so I can beat on hot steel again.
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Ernie Leimkuhler wrote:

I hope you do too. There just doesn't seem to be anything that satisfies like shaping hot iron. Well, almost anything. :)
Aside from the satisfaction of any job done well, there's just something about hammer and tongs work.
One nice thing about charcoal: The number of neighbor complaints drops significantly.
Best, John
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On Wed, 30 Jun 2004 02:48:15 GMT, Ernie Leimkuhler

It looks like I'm gonna be building a propane forge. I have a 500 gallon tank so it will always be handy. And, I've got one of those weed burners which are really just a propane fired rocket motor :). It should be even better than a rosebud for heatin large objects. ERS
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You'd think so, but not really. Even my Reil-style monster burner only reaches maybe 1500F in open air, despite its incredibly generous heat output. Now, surround the work with firebricks, give it a few minutes and it'll make a mess of anything!
Tim
-- "I've got more trophies than Wayne Gretsky and the Pope combined!" - Homer Simpson Website @ http://webpages.charter.net/dawill/tmoranwms
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Tim Williams wrote:

I have two Magnum propane torches. These are used mostly to torch down roofing but they work great on weeds too. Sometimes I heat forged parts afterwards with them just to smoke on some oil. Those torches work *really* well for that. I would not want to use it for heating something to red, though. The heat is more diffuse than that. It might work, though.
Grant
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On Wed, 30 Jun 2004 14:58:09 -0500, "Tim Williams"

Which is exactly what I'd do. I've got the brick and whenever I need to heat a large object it gets surrounded with the brick and out comes the rosebud. But I think that the weed burner may actually put out more BTUs than the small rosebud. It really cranks! My Dad got one and was shocked at how much heat it put out. It sucks down a 20 pound bottle pretty fast. In fact, in cooler weather the output drops because the propane becomes too chilled. ERS
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Eric R Snow wrote:

The weed burners work well enough for a forge burner, but it's a good idea to mount them so there's an inch or so gap between the burner shroud and the bricks to avoid burning up the shroud. Many of them only have a sheet metal cover. As long as the flame gets inside the chamber, such an arrangement should easily reach a welding heat.
My 22" X 10" dia tubular forge uses two burners I made of 3/4" black pipe with 2" X 3/4" reducing bells for air intakes. The orifices are set into the sides of 3/8" pipe tapped M6X1 and welded across the bells. I use .030 MIG gun tips for orifices.
So far, the burner tubes show no objectionable erosion after 5 years.
With 2" of Kaowool liner, I can reach welding heat in about 10 minutes at 15 psi propane pressure. General forging heat is obtainable at 5 psi with little scaling. Sometimes it's better to restrict air at such low gas pressures, but I've heard felllows claim forging heat at 1-2 psi. No idea of the orifice sizes they use though.
HTH
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