Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hydraulic Forging Press (continues)

I had mentioned in an earlier posting that I was building a hydraulic forging press.
This piece of equipment is critical to my OAC Crafts Project. This is centred around forging my (huge) pile of iron blooms down into working bars - and hopefully time for some objects as well.

My problem is that I just can not manage, from both an equipment and physical standpoint, to effectively work such large masses of iron.

Although I do have a 50 lb throw air hammer in the shop, its die surface is only 4 x 1 1/2 inches. Given that even the smallest blooms in the pile are considerably larger surfaces than this, I just can't manage. This is compounded by the irregular shape of the blooms. *I* certainly can not manage to hold a bloom in place over the small die. Its even worse attempting to cut the blooms into smaller chunks (of course one possible direction to go).

And some of the blooms are in the 10 kg range - about the size of a basket ball cut in half.

So this is the piece of equipment I invested in:

Converted Log Splitter to Forging Press
A wood block holds the head in place for the photo

If you refer back to the Log Splitter to Forging Press. article, you can see more or less the direction I took. The working parts of the original log splitter have remained pretty much as intended. The main modification is lifting the engine / pump combination and moving it to the opposite side and mounting it lower. The heavy frame lifts the tank / beam combination off off the floor (to comfortable working height),

Right now I'm still waiting for a fitting to allow attachment of a working pressure gauge and a longer length of tank to pump hose to show up.

One other major modification was replacing the standard splitting wedge head.
I had originally hoped to be able to just swap different heads in and out. On closer examination, the way the machine is engineered (largely for safety) does not make that possible.

So what I came up with was adding two 1/2 inch wide flanges made of angle to the bottom side edges of the head block. These are set to a piece of 1/4 thick plate can be slid into the flanges. If all works as intended, this will allow fairly easy switching of the actual striking surface mounted below the head block.

The photo above shows the angle flange on one side. In use the replaceable die would actually slide all the way back to flush with the front edge. (Right now the supporting wood block is preventing this)

The die here is a flat 'accessory tool' plate - to be used with handle mounted tools. This plate (made of 1/2 inch thick) is roughly 3 inches wide by 8 inches long. A generous surface for tool placement.

This is a slightly wider view, showing the second die I've made up. This is a 'striking' die, made of a single block of 1 3/4 wide x 7 inch tall mild steel. This block was originally ordered to make a second head block. I've left the slightly crowned surface of the hot rolled material for the bottom surface.

There is a third die I have made up - which is a cutting wedge. This is a piece of 1/2 wide bar stock welded between to pieces of 3 inch flange by 1/4 thick web angle. This both adds extra support, and will allow the cutting die to slot into the flanges. I still have to grind the welds smooth and grind in the edge itself on this die.

You can also see that I need to be able to extend the hydraulic ram slightly to bolt the new head block into place. This can't be done until the final fittings arrive and have been installed (of course!)
The last piece to be added is a flexible metal hose to vent off the exhaust from the gas engine to outside the shop.

For now I'm going to leave the hydraulic operation leaver where it is (about head height). The ideal would be a foot operated control. Mounting that will take some fooling around with levers and springs, and the completed press will function correctly as it is right now.

Cross your fingers - expect the parts by the end of the week and then its a function test!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bad Archaeology

This is something that I know many of my readers will appreciate.
Passed on to me by Laura Travis of An Droichead :

" Bad Archaeology is the brainchild of a couple of archaeologists who are fed up with the distorted view of the past that passes for knowledge in popular culture. We are unhappy that books written by people with no knowledge of real archaeology dominate the shelves at respectable bookshops. We do not appreciate news programmes that talk about ley lines (for example) as if they are real."


"The aim of this site is to explore the main strands of thought within the ‘fringe’, to explain how and why they are different from orthodox archaeology. Although much of what we have written is aimed at debunking the misconceptions and distortions of the past promoted by fringe writers, we are always open to the idea that they may be able to tell orthodox archaeology something of value. The fringe is interesting and entertaining in its own right; this site can only scratch the surface of such a huge area of human endeavour but we will continue to dig away, exposing Bad Archaeology wherever we find it."

With a Web Site : http://www.badarchaeology.com/
And a Blog : http://badarchaeology.wordpress.com/

Sometimes a scratch on a rock - is just a scratch on a rock...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Public Lecture - Wednesday evening!

Public Lecture - SCA Petra Thule
Wednesday February 22
(roughly 7 -7:30 pm)

Lady Eaton College / Building 7, rm 208
Peterborough, Ontario

'Medieval Iron - an Overview'

A fast look over Iron as a material, iron work as a process, and iron objects of the Middle Ages. A focus will be to take a look at the kinds of objects of special interest and utility to the re-enactor. There will be a simple overview of blacksmithing equipment from the period - and what you would need to get started *historic* forging. Illustrated with images and replicas.

(Added Wednesday 22 Feb)

I've taken the power point slides from this lecture and formatted them up into a series you can see on the web.

This will not give you meat of the 1 1/2 hour lecture!

I may be of interest to some :

Go on here to 'Medieval Iron'

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Aristotle Furnace - Demo / Workshop

March 10, Ontario Artist Blacksmith Association, Guelph Ontario

'Building and Operating the Aristotle Furnace' - Darrell Markewitz

This will be a practical demonstration and participant workshop session held as an additional part of the regular monthly meeting of OABA. The Aristotle Furnace was first introduced by Skip Williams at Smeltfest 2008 and further refined during Smeltfest 2009. It is a small table top re-melting furnace which easily allows the production of a small cake of bloomery type metal - ideal for bladesmithing. It will convert any scrap iron material into a roughly 0.5% carbon metal, but with the stringy slag inclusions of a 'wrought iron' type. Each operation cycle consumes roughly 2 kg of charcoal over about 25 minutes, yielding a mass roughly the size of a hockey puck.

Darrell will demonstrate the layout and working of the furnace, and provide enough materials for a number of people to actually try making their own 'pucks' (as time permits).
This demonstration is offered as part of his current 'Craft Project - Creation & Development' Grant via the Ontario Arts Council - Government of Ontario

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Knives of the Viking Age - some considerations

This is a re-posting from this morning's contribution to the NORSEFOLK discussion group:
1.12. Re: Knives

On 16/02/2012, Zane R. V. Bruce wrote:

If you're trying to replicate high status items, such as earlier period
pattern welded migration era fighting saxes, or some scandinavian swords,
sure, pattern weld to your heart's content.

(Also, I don't have access to a power hammer...)

On 16/2/12, Charles Anderson wrote:

There was a reasonable amount of metal, but the technology to produce
large working stock, in volume hadn't been seen since the Roman days.

So faggot welding was a technique used to make larger pieces of metal
from smaller pieces of metal.

A pattern could be deliberate, or a pattern could be a series of steps
used ritually to produce a blade....

With full intention or not, there is an awful lot of meat in those lines. Much that bears further consideration / discussion.

A couple of people active in this specific thread have made reference to their interest in actual VA methods. To those, I would certainly refer you to:
Dan Carlson's /'Viking Knives from the island of Gotland Sweden' /
Also Anglo-Scandinavian Ironwork from Coppergate by Patrick Ottaway
The 'Knives and Scabbards' volume from the Museum of London
- is also of general interest, but as it focused primarily on post Conquest materials, there are fewer direct examples of Norse objects.

As far as I am aware (please! correct me) there is no single volume available that is an overview of all Viking Age knives. (I had some vague idea about working on that project, Knives from the Viking Age, but got absorbed into iron smelting!)

Zane is most certainly correct when he refers to full pattern welded blades being high status items. (Here I'm referring directly to what these days are called 'composite twisted core'.) So specific creation of low layer count, twisted for effect, multiple rods, in knives laid along the back of the blade. There are two very nice examples from Coppergate at York (one seen above). Those still stuck in the 'size matters' argument should note that both of these blades are only 5 inches long.

Those with direct experience working with actual VA tools and methods (ie charcoal, small double chamber bellows, Norse anvils) will be the first to tell you of the raw difficulty of the multiple welds, long draws and folds, not to forget twisting rods without use of a bench vice.

One consideration: Are the knife sized blades pieces of 'failed' sword billets? *I* certainly have ended up with a number of short blades when the long travelling welds required for full sized swords have ended up failing on me!

On any consideration of historical accuracy should also include a serious look at the raw metals used in the blades.
First (and most importantly) the standard metal used in the VA is *bloomery iron*. This metal is soft, has a stringy texture with slag inclusions. Individual pieces would vary considerably in physical consistency. Carbon content would vary not only from piece to piece, but also *within an individual bar*. We modern smiths are completely dependant on mass produced, scientifically refined, industrially consistent (cheap!) metal alloys.
(I get very aggravated by contemporary bladesmiths who have adopted bloomery iron making, building on the work of those who developed the current methods being used - and obviously not understanding them. Making bloom iron is *not* about alloy control, it is about creating a physical texture in the metal.)

I expect that Charles uses the term 'ritually' in place of a better description 'based on experience'. The Norse were nothing if not extremely practical, and I doubt he is implying 'magic'. Our concept of 'ritual' is most certainly far different than their concept. 'What you do if you want things to work' - in our world we would call this science.
An experienced smith knows that when you quench different pieces of iron metals from orange in water, there can be changes in how it breaks when cold hammered. The exposed surfaces can have different colours and textures. Metal that is thus treated, then found to be brittle, have a surface of small crystals, and a bright, light grey colour - that material also makes for a hard / durable cutting edge. (This selection of materials based on physical appearance is the core of the Japanese traditional method.)

This wide variation in the quality of the starting metal is vastly important when creating cutting edges. Examination of a large number of individual blades from the Roman to full Medieval periods has shown that the processes of quench hardening and drawing back temper were *not* universally applied by bladesmiths during the VA. Although this fact seems counter intuitive to a modern blacksmith, my interpretation is that the variation in metal characteristics is the reason. (Consider - How do you spark test for carbon content, a standard modern practice, in a world with no high speed grinding?)

I'm not sure that the reference to differences in late Roman bloomery furnace construction and methods is meaningful here. Even a small VA short shaft furnace is easily capable of producing raw iron blooms much lager than those typical of the few artifact blooms we have from the VA. Norse smelters were creating blooms in the 5 - 8 kg range, *limiting* potential size. This just because of the great difficulty of attempting to work larger masses of metal down to useful bars, with only stone anvils and hand powered hammers for tools.

One thing I will remark on - that runs underneath much of what has been commented on:

Remember a modern frame of reference may not be the best one to apply to a historic object.

Why do so many small sharpening stones turn up in burials? Because cutting edges were composed of *soft* iron - which required constant sharpening. This is obvious when you look at the condition of so many of the artifact blades - which show a distinctive 'half coke bottle' curvature, the result of repeated sharpening.
How tight *were* those small tang knives on their handles? The truth may not be that there was some lost method used to secure the handle, but just that the handles were never 'tight' the way modern users would expect.


PS - If you are wondering why I droned on (yet again) on this topic? I'm starting day two of a three month research and development project working to convert some 10 years of accumulated iron blooms into working bars. I am hoping for some insights into exactly some of the questions posed in this discussion.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Grant from Ontario Arts Council !!

'Iron Blooms to Working Bars' is a special project from Feburary 15 to May 15, 2012.
It is supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant.
The Ontario Arts Council is an agency of the Government of Ontario.

The purpose of the grant is to cover three months dedicated time to allow development of a practical understanding of how to covert raw blooms into working bars, and if time permits, into finished objects. Part of the process will be to document the ongoing project, and publish the results via a dedicated blog, this web site, and possibly through demonstrations, formal papers or journal articles.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Found Objects, Imagination - (and photographs?)

Right now we are in the process of seriously re-arranging the interior space in the main room space here in Wareham. In the end we hope to have something that works a bit better day by day and creates a lot more storage space for V's kitchen and food passions. One result will be my current office corner will be moving into our tiny 'spare room & pantry'. One side effect of all this moving and re-sorting is an ability to sort through over 25 years of accumulated stuff. One man's trash may be another persons gold - but there is stuff here that has not been utilized for decades!

What is the point?
One of the things that surfaced, and hit the 'pass on or discard' pile was a set of small thimble sized glass holders for long thin 1/4 inch diameter candles.

This is what they sparked:

Artist's impression of fossil criniods
loading from the Illinois State Geological Survey web site Guide for Beginning Fossil Hunters

Platycrinites niotensis - Diminutive Crawfordsville Crinoid
Loading from 'Famous Crawfordsville Crinoids' on the Fossil Mall web site

A big influence was also some unique limestone pieces I had picked up just off the ferry dock at Port Bay Mouth on Manitoulin Island two years back. The soft stone bears half circular wear patterns, which makes the stone appear sand blasted and full of one inch diameter pits. I had been considering making some smaller sculptural pieces using these stones as bases.
With the monthly OABA meeting coming up, I was also thinking about something I could make that would make some kind of statement about forge work. In this case, applying the concept of 'total reforging the stock' to the *smallest* stock sizes practical. An illustration of 'its not about power - its about control'.

And this is what I came up with:

'Crinoid' - February 2012
Forged mild steel with commercial glass, natural stone base

The completed sculpture sits about 12 inches tall. The three arms are forged from 1/4 inch square stock, although no part of the original profile remains. The metal work has the original forge scale surface covered with a clear lacquer coating, giving it a dark 'wet' looking appearance.

I'm extremely pleased with this piece (virtually the only completed object to come out of the forge in two months!) It will fit with the current 'Hallucigenia' series (objects inspired by the Burgess Shale).

But here's the other thing...

Hand held, available light

with flash

Forge work is notoriously difficult to shoot images of. The material is extremely dark, so on almost any background, the surface washes out by the contrast. If you use a flash, you get crisp edges, but at the cost of severe shadows. Almost always the shadows (which of course you can not see *before* you make the image) end up almost as dark as the lines of the metalwork. With luck you can use these to effect. If you opt for the softer natural light, you almost always end up with a slightly fuzzy image due to long exposure times.

Which of the three do *you* prefer?

And in a related matter - time use in the artisan's workshop.
Forging the elements took about two hours.
Mounting the glass and applying the coating, other finishing, took another hour.
So 'three hours' to create.

Shooting the images, converting them, researching and writing this piece?
Two hours.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

2012 COURSES - dates set

Although these have been available via the web site for a couple of weeks, in keeping with my series of calendar announcements here, these are the 2012 dates for training courses at the Wareham Forge.

The complete courses overview is available HERE

Basic Blacksmithing

April 21 / 22 / 23

June 15 / 16 / 17

September 14 /15 / 16

October 14 / 15 / 16

This is a 18 hour program that stresses a hands on approach, with a Friday evening lecture and two full working days in the forge. Only 4 students per session, each with their own work station, means close personal attention. Projects include poker, tongs, punches and one small decorative item. Course fee of $300 (+HST) includes coffee and materials. For further details go to Basic Blacksmithing

Intermediate / Special Interest Courses

Introduction to Smelting Iron

June 1& 2
(Friday evening - all day Saturday *)
Note - May alternate with Basic Bladesmithing

This course dependent on registrations (requires full class of 4 students due to materials cost)

This 14 hour session will involve the student in the construction and operation of the 'Econo Norse' small scale iron smelter. A Friday evening lecture will cover the theoretical and historical background of smelting iron: ores, furnaces, process, equipment as well as construction of the furnace. * A LONG day Saturday will start with the preparation of charcoal and ore, pre-heating the furnace. The actual process of the smelt takes roughly 6 hours. After this, the resulting iron bloom will be extracted from the furnace, and given a primary consolidation. The iron produced will be cut to sections and shared between the participants. This program does not require any previous metalworking experience, and is of interest to students of history as well as blacksmiths. Course fee of $400 (+HST) includes coffee and materials.

For more details on this special program - go to Smelting Course.

Basic Bladesmithing

June 2 & 3
Note: may alternate with Introduction to Iron Smelting above.

This 16 hour session will introduce the student to the basic techniques required to produce simple hand forged knives. Covers: historic patterns, alloys, heat treating, forging shapes, basic finishing & hilting. Each student will forge and work to finish a small belt knife, plus rough forge a number of basic blade shapes. Requires 'basic' level experience, please ask for details. Course fee of $300 (+HST) includes coffee and materials. Session limited to four students.

For more details on this special program - go to Bladesmithing Course.

Intermediate Blacksmithing

November 3 & 4
Requires student bookings to schedule

This 16 hour session will cover forge welding, punch work (flat and sculptural), tool making, and design for the Smith. Requires basic level experience, please ask for details. Course of fee of $300 (+ HST) includes coffee and materials. Session limited to four students.

Introduction to Layered Steels

November 3 & 4
Requires student bookings to schedule

This 16 hour session will introduce the student to the basic techniques required in the creation of layered steels. Covers: alloy mixes, basic pattern generation and history. Each student will create a layered billet, plus will forge a small knife from a prepared block (provided). Requires intermediate level experience (ability to forge weld), please ask for details. Course fee of $375 (+HST) includes coffee and materials. Session limited to four students.

For more details on this special program - go to Layered Steel Course.

Basics of Metal Casting

November 17& 18

This intensive hands on session will introduce the student to two methods of creating small objects using the casting process:
SAND CASTING IN BRONZE : First a master pattern will be caved in wax, then each student will learn how make molds using the green sand process. Several pours will be made.
PEWTER CASTING IN STONE : Each student will carve out a re-usable soapstone mold, then make a number of pours.

The 14 hour course will include a look at historic cast metal objects, plus an overview of the tools and equipment required to set up a small scale workshop for cast metals. Course fee of $300 (+ HST) includes coffee and all materials.

For more details on this special program - go to Casting Course.

Special Remote Workshops




August 6 - 9

I been involved with the Celtic College since its inception. I normally offer a number of hands on courses and sessions as part of this successful program - including the infamous Artist's Extravaganza (evening 'cultural' session with An Droichead):

(Tentative Course Offering - 2012)

Ancient Iron : Smelter to Forge in the Celtic Iron Age

Note : Approval and details of this program still under consideration.

The Celts were one of the first primary 'Iron Age' cultures, with iron the materials for tools, weapons and decorative objects. How was iron actually made? Then having an iron bar, how did they work it?

This is an intensive program, limited to four students. A historic style charcoal ground pit forge will be built, using hand bellows for air, and small artifact type block anvils. Students will directly experience the challenges this equipment presents by making a number of simple objects. Work will includemaking a cloak broach and simple knife blade, working with actual antique wrought iron.

On the last day of the program, students will build an actual iron smelting furnace. They will also assist in preparing materials for a full demonstration smelt to take place Saturday at the Festival. This is a day long special event to mark the 20th anniversary, which interested students will be able to directly take part in.

Requirements: Students must wear long pants and closed shoes to class, other safety equipment will be provided.
Previous experience blacksmithing helpful, but not required.

Materials fee: There is an additional course fee of $20 (per student) to cover charcoal and wrought iron materials.

This will be a half day session, Monday through Thursday (exact time periods to be determined)

Those students interested in pre-booking this course should contact me via e-mail.

Can't make it to the Wareham Forge?
Consider one of the DVD Training Videos:
Forge Viking Age
Iron Smelting
Introduction to BLACKSMITHING
Forging the VIKING AGE
IRON SMELTING in the Viking Age

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

2012 Lectures - Schedule

Public Lecture - SCA Petra Thule
Feburary 22

Lady Eaton College / Building 7, rm 208
Peterborough, Ontario

'Medieval Iron - an Overview

A fast look over Iron as a material, iron work as a process, and iron objects of the Middle Ages. A focus will be to take a look at the kinds of objects of special interest and utility to the re-enactor. There will be a simple overview of blacksmithing equipment from the period - and what you would need to get started *historic* forging. Illustrated with images and replicas.

Forward Into The Past

22nd Annual Symposium
Saturday March 31

Bricker Academic Building, Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo Ontario

Experimental Vikings: Glass and Iron
'An Iron Smelt in Vinland - an experimental investigation
Investigations of the archaeological site at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, indicate local bog iron ore was smelted into workable metal, at least once, by the Norse some time about 1000 AD. Just why the first iron smelt in North America was carried out remains open to interpretation. Starting in 2009, a team from Ontario, Canada, conducted a series of five experiments, culminating on a full re-creation of the original Norse iron smelt at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC in August of 2010.
This paper will detail how the archaeological evidence was combined with years of experience with Norse styled furnaces to produce a successful working system. What was learned about the physical process can now shed greater light on not only early iron smelting methods, but what happened in Vinland near the end of the Viking Age.

This is a formal paper (slightly expanded), delivered in combination with Neil Peterson's 'Glass on Fire: temperatures in reconstructed Norse bead furnaces'. (A test run of my ICMS submission, see below.)
'Presenting the Past - developing Living History programming'

Effectively mounting a living history presentation in front of the general public is significantly different than gathering with other re-enactors at a closed event. Experience has long proved establishing an overall design to a presentation will significantly improve its value to (and reception by) both institutions and the viewing public. Do individual personas actually reflect historical realities? Is there a general theme or specific topics which should (or should not!) be illustrated? What presentation methods have proved most effective? Illustrations will be drawn from a number of differing time periods / living history presentations

For more information on the event go to the FITP web site

International Congress on Medieval Studies
47th Annual Symposium
May 10 - 13

Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, Michigan

'An Iron Smelt in Vinland - an experimental investigation'
Thursday May 10, 10 AM / Session 24 / Fetzer 1045

Investigations of the archaeological site at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, indicate local bog iron ore was smelted into workable metal, at least once, by the Norse some time about 1000 AD. Just why the first iron smelt in North America was carried out remains open to interpretation. Starting in 2009, a team from Ontario, Canada, conducted a series of five experiments, culminating on a full re-creation of the original Norse iron smelt at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC in August of 2010.
This paper will detail how the archaeological evidence was combined with years of experience with Norse styled furnaces to produce a successful working system. What was learned about the physical process can now shed greater light on not only early iron smelting methods, but what happened in Vinland near the end of the Viking Age.

This is the formal delivery of this academic paper, delivered at the session 'Can these Bones Come to Life ' which deals with various discoveries from Experimental Archaeology.

For more information on the event go to the ICMS web site

Monday, February 06, 2012

Log Splitter to Hydraulic Press

- This project has been consuming a lot of brain power over the last several weeks.

My situation is that I have a very big (!) pile of iron blooms, the result of almost 50 individual smelts over more than a decade of smelting. To date I have only rendered a very few down to bar, and then made even fewer actual objects from the metal.

My problem is that working alone, I just don't have the strength to effectively work these 3 - 10 kg masses!

My current air hammer is a small one. The throw weight is 50 lbs, which of itself would be enough to compress and cut the blooms. The working die surfaces are only 1 1/2 x 4 inches, which most certainly are too small to effectively work any but the smallest of the blooms. More importantly, the starting blooms are irregular half bowl shapes, notoriously hard to hang on to. On such a small working surface, I just can't hold a bloom in place to manage any effective work. (Although my friend and hammer builder David Robertson did have a suggestion to aid that that bears trying.)

What I have seen a number of people faced with the same problem doing (mainly via the internet) is using a hydraulic powered press to make the initial compaction and cutting of their own blooms. A great example of this is this sequence by my friend Jesus Herandez :

There are a number of variations on the basic design out there. The standard are either a C or an H shaped frame. The pressure cylinders may be placed above or below the working dies.
The advantage of cylinder above is that the lower surface (where you are holding the hot metal) does not move. The hoses are placed safely above the hot metal. The disadvantage is that most of the weight is placed high, a possible stability problem.
The advantage of cylinder below is a more compact and stable unit. The big problem is that the hoses are now below the work - and possibly exposed to hot fragments. Also that the thing you are holding on to is being shifted upwards as it is compressed.
H shaped frames are considerably stronger, and do seem to be the most common.

I had made up some hypothetical layouts and ran them past David. (Trained as an engineer, David knows how to keep my more 'artistic' renderings from falling down - or exploding!) This was my initial concept design:

Now David and I did a back and forth via e-mail. I attempted to refine a possible design, David kicking it apart until it might actually work.
We then met and spent a fairly long (and mentally draining) day looking at parts, visiting a local machine shop, then looking at power packs and cylinders. Near the end of the day we headed back to TSC to purchase the minimum parts that would be required to make a pressure test on a used hydraulic power pack I had purchased at Quad State last fall.
Only to have one of the guys there show us this:
Price $ 1300. Brand new, totally engineered, self contained with a 6 HP gas engine. The unit is designed so the frame and cylinder pivots in the centre to work in the horizontal position.

Wow. 30 Tons. It works straight out of the box. I can't screw up the power systems.

So David and I did some fast back of the envelope figures. What it would cost to *just buy the parts* for me to build the final layout we had come up with. $1300. That was *not* including a new power pack (and we were having serious doubts the one I had would actually pump enough volume to allow for effective cycle times.)

So I bought the log splitter.
This did turn out to be more rushing around. I had to wait until the next day, download some special members pricing stuff off the internet (turned out not to be straight forward), then make another 45 minute one way drive over to Hanover to pick the crated splitter up.

Now - how to best convert the existing splitter frame system into a forging press. More importantly (as it turned out) into something that would fit and easily operate into the spaces available in my work shop.
My first concept was to do this:
You can see that this basically keeps the tank and engine system as intended, with an extension that lifts the beam and cylinder up to place the table at a correct working height. The wheels stay mounted, with an L shaped frame that holds the whole thing upright. It would be possible to lift the front legs and move the whole thing around. Obviously a metal shield would have to be placed over the engine, pump and hoses. The hoses also would need to be lengthened about 18 inches - easy enough.
On closer examination, it turns out that the way the existing mounts are designed, that kind of arrangement was not going to be so simple to construct. Too many short pieces welded together, and I'd rather not rely on my welding with something that weighs in at about 300 lbs placed where it would fall on me if it broke.

A number of alternatives were drawn up, often placing components at bad angles - given the placement in the work shop. After several layouts and a lot of looking and measuring of the major pieces, my final design is this one:

You can see I have swapped mobility for structural strength. The main frame will be made of 3 x 3 x 3/16 wall square tube, in an H shape. The engine is moved below the tank, on to a new mount. The tank and beam / cylinder combination stay exactly as originally designed, but lifted up on to the tubing frame. Although not obvious on this drawing, the supporting frame is now wide, producing a roughly 40 deep by 44 wide base footprint. The two main base legs are of 3 x 3 x 1/4 thick angle, the balance of the frame pieces of 2 x 2 x 3/16. The weight of the press elements now bears straight down the line of the heavy tubing.

Ordering the metal today. I'll keep reporting on this as the project progresses.

(PS - my intent is to describe this whole project as an e-book.)

February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

COPYRIGHT NOTICE - All posted text and images @ Darrell Markewitz.
No duplication, in whole or in part, is permitted without the author's expressed written permission.
For a detailed copyright statement : go HERE