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  1. #1
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    Default The Charcoal Foundry

    I've got this book by David Gingery in which he describes how to make a charcoal-fuelled furnace for melting aluminium. I'd always assumed that charcoal was that black lumpy stuff left in the bottom of the fire, at least that is what I have always called it, however it seems that charcoal is not that simple to make. Does anyone know anything about it?

  2. #2
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    A quick google brought up this. http://www.twinoaksforge.com/BLADSMI...20CHARCOAL.htm

    Didn't seem overly tricky.
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  3. #3
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    Yeah I read about that method but what I want to know is whether it's the same stuff chemically as what is left in the fire? Can I use it the same way? I suppose the best way to find out is to try it.

  4. #4
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    G'day Silent,
    I make it in a 44 with a lid and a vent control.......I shovel dirt to cover the vent..next morning..charcoal. I guess the stuff in the bottom of the fire place is basically the same stuff.....just there's usually not a lot of it left at our place

    I know this is a bit sacreligious to the purists.......but when I run out of charcoal......I use BBQ heat beads in both the foundry and the forge.......sparks a bit...but it works
    Last edited by watson; 11th Apr 2007 at 06:56 PM. Reason: Addition

  5. #5
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    Hi Silent,
    I think its the same stuff, just the efficiency of producing it makes the difference. There does seem a difference in texture or density between some charcoals, maybe to do with the type of timber but also technique..amount of oygen left etc. I've used the black bits left on burnt logs after a bushfire and it seemed to work OK.

    Cheers,
    Andy Mac
    Change is inevitable, growth is optional.

  6. #6
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    The late Dave Gingery lived in Missouri USA. Upover here, newer BBQ's use propane, but lots of older ones, using charcoal, are still around; still being sold too:
    See http://www.weberbbq.com/bbq/pub/grill/charcoal/

    The charcoal is available in bags at supermarkets, and likely other places. That's the stuff Dave was writing about. I think one of his bookshops, Lindsay Books (http://www.lindsaybks.com/) has a book on making charcoal; might even have been by Dave.

    [Reading Lindsay's catalog is a hoot, BTW.]

    Joe
    Last edited by joe greiner; 11th Apr 2007 at 11:15 PM. Reason: [added]
    Of course truth is stranger than fiction.
    Fiction has to make sense. - Mark Twain

  7. #7
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    Default

    As for left-overs-from-fire vs "charcoal", I doubt it's the same stuff. If you simply burn wood, you're left with ash which I don't think can provide much energy as it's already burnt up.

    Charcoal can be simply made by placing a pine cone or balsa wood scraps, sawdust, etc in a can, punching a hole in the lid and cooking until smoke stops escaping the hole. This takes hours. THEN allow it to COMPLETELY cool, in which case the charcoal is ready. The idea is to minimize oxidation.
    Alternatively you can buy it by the 3KG at bunnings.

    EDIT: Heatbeads are more efficient than classic charcoal, so maybe they would be better?

  8. #8
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    I think the charcoal that you find in a left over fire is basically the same stuff. It results from incomplete burning of the timber fuel.
    If the fire was more efficient, there would only be ash.

  9. #9
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    OK thanks. It was just something I was pondering as I was reading the book. When he said 'charcoal' I automatically thought of the black lumps that you find in the bottom of your campfire, and since we regularly have a backyard bonfire here, I thought I might have a use for it. I'll give it a go when I get the chance.

    I'll also get hold of a drum with a lid and give making it myself a go. Wonder how it goes with hardwood?

    I'd be surprised if I could buy it around here, but you never know. I grew up not far from a briquette factory but that was years ago and hours away from here. I can imagine the looks and comments I would get if I went to the local Mitre 10 and asked for a bag of charcoal. Doubt there'd be any use for it around here.

    Did think about heat beads, but they cost money.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by watson View Post
    I know this is a bit sacreligious to the purists.......but when I run out of charcoal......I use BBQ heat beads in both the foundry and the forge.......sparks a bit...but it works
    When I built my forge I tried heat beads first. I found that not only did they burn out too quickly but the heat was not sufficient.

    I now use some form of coal slag (courtesy of Ashore) and that is brilliant. I can melt steel in minutes and watch it drip out of the tuyere!

    Silent

    I you're in Sydney, let me know and I'll give you a 25 litre container of the stuff. Ashore was very generous.
    Bodgy
    "Is it not enough simply to be able to appreciate the beauty of the garden without it being necessary to believe that there are faeries at the bottom of it? " Douglas Adams

  11. #11
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    Not in Sydney but coming up in a couple of weeks. I'll see if I can fit in a visit to Turramurra!

  12. #12
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    drop by my place and bring the bodge (5 mins from my place) , Ill make yers both a coffee - or a beer...
    Zed

  13. #13
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    But Turramurra is miles from Taronga!!

    I'll see what I can do. Weekends are both pretty full and weekdays probably no good for you blokes.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zed View Post
    drop by my place and bring the bodge (5 mins from my place) , Ill make yers both a coffee - or a beer...

    How quickly can you make a beer? I obviously haven't kept up with developments in home brewing.

    Mick
    "If you need a machine today and don't buy it,

    tomorrow you will have paid for it and not have it."

    - Henry Ford 1938

  15. #15
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    He didn't say we'd get to drink it!

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