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Login Name Post: 1800 - 1840 coal forge        (Topic#303086)
rdstrain49 
40 Cal.
Posts: 433
02-06-17 05:32 PM - Post#1612558    


I intend to attend quite a few muzzleloader shoots this summer. Might just as well try to fit in in the camp. I was a farrier (horse shoer) for more years than I care to remember, so I was thinking about representing and setting up a smithy. Here's the rub. I have used every resource I can think of and can find nothing regarding the forges of the time period. Does anyone know when the hand crank forge blowers were first used. I know they were around in the 1850s &60s, but what about earlier?

 
Colorado Clyde 
Cannon
Posts: 12342
Colorado Clyde
02-06-17 10:17 PM - Post#1612596    

    In response to rdstrain49

I didn't know they went back that far.....I thought 1880's was pushing it....

 
Coot 
69 Cal.
Posts: 3020
02-06-17 10:17 PM - Post#1612597    

    In response to rdstrain49

The earliest patent date I have seen on a portable forge blower was 1860 which is not to say that they existed prior to that. Champion Forge was not founded until 1875 and Buffalo Forge a few years later in 1878 so they would be common enough by that time. While many events likely would not care, a bellows would be the safest bet.

 
Bo T 
40 Cal.
Posts: 274
02-06-17 10:57 PM - Post#1612601    

    In response to rdstrain49

I'm looking at similar situation down the road. The forts seemed to have the larger anvils and forges. Simple side blast pit forges made to use charcoal early on the frontier(the early NW). I know a couple of smiths who did the get togethers with coal forges who are now concerned that their lung problems were caused by the decades of exposure to coal smoke so perhaps coke or charcoal for reenactment. Away from the posts a whole smithing set up would reasonably be limited to @ 100 pounds if by horseback (my personal analysis)as you need room for the rest of your gear and trade goods. The drawings I have seen show bellows being used early on.

 
Colorado Clyde 
Cannon
Posts: 12342
Colorado Clyde
02-07-17 07:27 PM - Post#1612752    

    In response to Bo T

Anybody make their own charcoal?

 
Bo T 
40 Cal.
Posts: 274
02-07-17 08:16 PM - Post#1612768    

    In response to Colorado Clyde

Back then, I believe most frontier smiths did. It was easier than hauling the coal by horseback and canoe over hundreds of miles. In the larger posts perhaps someone did it for the smiths. One of the Foxfire books had a good article on making charcoal. Seems to be a short learning curve so, as long as you stay out of the pit while its hot you would be OK.
Today, most just buy some lump charcoal. Still seems to be a lot of work to make your own.

 
rdstrain49 
40 Cal.
Posts: 433
02-08-17 01:35 PM - Post#1612913    

    In response to Bo T

I think for my purposes, I'll use a portable forge with crank blower and coal. That is until it becomes an issue. Kids and adults alike seem to get a kick out of watching fire and hot iron.

 
Bo T 
40 Cal.
Posts: 274
02-09-17 10:00 AM - Post#1613039    

    In response to rdstrain49

One of my acquaintances regularly attends a rendezvous down around Pasco, WA. using essentially the same equipment with coal. The open air minimizes the exposure to the smoke. The smiths that I have talked to indicate that taking some trade goods that you have made is a good idea.

The group that I belong to does a historical reenactment, so (for me) the equipment needs to be period correct. And requested to be historically correct to the area.

 
19 16 6 
40 Cal.
Posts: 355
02-10-17 04:13 AM - Post#1613196    

    In response to Colorado Clyde

  • colorado clyde Said:
Anybody make their own charcoal?


Yeah, I do.
My set up is a bit flash & costly to make but produces good clean charcoal.
The fact that I am in Australia means that all I know about our wood is near useless to you.
In general, your pines are fast & hot = good for welding, while hard woods burn longer & you don't use up as much.

Easy way to start burning charcoal is to get a 200 litre steel drum, I believe you call them 55
gallon drums. Punch some air holes around the base, right at the bottom about 1" square, use a pick or crow bar. Cut the top out to open top & make a heavy flat steel sheet lid to flop over the top.

Put it out on the soft dirt somewhere.
Start a fire in the bottom of the drum & then stack cord wood in till it is full of wood & has a raging fire well caught to all the wood.
Flop the top onto it & shovel dirt against the sides so as to cover the air holes at the bottom.

You see the best charcoal is burnt in an oxygen starved container.
The flames stop & the smoking starts. You want to make small adjustments to the air vents (take dirt away to let them breath) & maybe let the lid breath a bit so there is no flames but heaps & heaps of smoke.
Let it smoke its RRR's off for as long as it takes for smoke to stop & clear heat to be rising in place of smoke. It is now burnt clean. All the sap & tar that makes smoke is burned off.
With a looong stick flip the lid off & beware cause it will burst into flame.
Now fly up it with the garden hose & soak it wet to stop the burn.
When cool & no more smoke, tip the wet charcoal out on a sheet of roofing tin so that it can dry.
Good clean very hot forge fuel is now what you have.
O.


 
Colorado Clyde 
Cannon
Posts: 12342
Colorado Clyde
02-10-17 07:17 AM - Post#1613203    

    In response to 19 16 6

Thanks...I was thinking of making a retort.

 
rdstrain49 
40 Cal.
Posts: 433
02-10-17 08:45 AM - Post#1613219    

    In response to 19 16 6

Quite interesting, never understood the process before. For the time I will stay with coal as I still have about 1,000 - 1,500 pounds of the stuff. It only takes a small amount to run the forge for two or three days.

 
Canute 
40 Cal.
Posts: 203
02-13-17 09:46 AM - Post#1613784    

    In response to Colorado Clyde

Hopefully not a sarcastic retort, Clyde.

But seriously, folks, Rdstrain should consider making bellows. There are plans out there online. It's mostly basic woodworking. I made a three foot wide set for a stationary forge at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, having never even thought about doing that before. I'm a metal worker, not a woodworker. If I can do that woodwork then a poo-flinging chimp can.

I made it out of 5" wide tongue and groove pine paneling (flooring?). I glued together three big rectangles, laid out the curves with string and a pencil, cleated them in the right places, and cut out that classic pear shape with a jigsaw. The flapper valves were squares of thin plywood with leather glued to them. The nozzle was built up out of blocks of 2x6.

Rdstrain, you could probably get away with a 2' or even 18" wide bellows for a portable forge. If you can't get the flooring make the paddles out of 5/8" plywood and paint them. "Purse" leather is the right stuff, but you might even make do with oiled/waxed canvas. Be sure to grease the living daylights out of the leather. The heat and dust take their toll.

 
19 16 6 
40 Cal.
Posts: 355
02-13-17 02:53 PM - Post#1613847    

    In response to Canute

Yes, & if you do make them, make them double acting.
O.

 
Canute 
40 Cal.
Posts: 203
02-13-17 03:32 PM - Post#1613855    

    In response to 19 16 6

Yup, that's why I made three paddles. The bottom and the center ones have flapper valves in them and the air goes from in between the top two paddles into the nozzle.

 
rdstrain49 
40 Cal.
Posts: 433
02-14-17 08:45 AM - Post#1613978    

    In response to Canute

You guys are turning an idea into a bunch of work

 
Black Hand 
Cannon
Posts: 6680
02-14-17 07:22 PM - Post#1614062    

    In response to rdstrain49

  • rdstrain49 Said:
You guys are turning an idea into a bunch of work


Go big or go home....

 
Colorado Clyde 
Cannon
Posts: 12342
Colorado Clyde
02-14-17 08:04 PM - Post#1614068    

    In response to Black Hand

Try this...
http://persimmonforge.blogspot.com/2013/01/making-great-doub...

 
Coalforge 
32 Cal.
Posts: 9
09-02-17 03:07 PM - Post#1642359    

    In response to rdstrain49

I would be interested to hear how the summer went for you. I use a bellows and found I actually prefer it to a crank blower. Like you said, people really enjoy watching the fire and I always have a crowd of kids watching.

 
Kansas Jake 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1053
09-06-17 03:25 PM - Post#1642884    

    In response to Coalforge

Beautiful setup, Coalforge.

 
Kansas Jake 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1053
09-06-17 03:27 PM - Post#1642885    

    In response to Coalforge

Beautiful setup, Coalforge.

 
jrmflintlock 
45 Cal.
Posts: 598
jrmflintlock
09-25-17 11:08 AM - Post#1645395    

    In response to 19 16 6

I have a question, since coal is hard to come by for me, I want to try making Charcoal.

How small do you cut the pieces of wood? Too small and it will burn up to big and it wont turn completely to charcoal. Any suggestions as to starting size?

Thanks

 
19 16 6 
40 Cal.
Posts: 355
09-28-17 10:05 PM - Post#1645953    

    In response to jrmflintlock

I find that more than size it is evenness of size that applies.
The burn time to char is then the same. Too uneven in sizes & the little ones burn to ash while the big ones are not yet charred all the way through.

I get framing timber off cuts from a local mill which are usually 4x2" or 3x2" & then split them.
So about 1 1/2 to 2" square by 8 to 12" long.
O.

 
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