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  1. #1
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    Dec 2019
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    Default Anvil Refurbishment and Repair

    Folks,

    I am hoping to have my anvil repaired. It's been sitting around the shop on a trolley
    for a lot of years - certainly not the full century plus it can lay claim to, but as I have
    nearly finished it's mating Post Vyce, I thought I should bring the 284 lb anvil back to
    a usable condition.

    Can you give me some clues about where I can go to get a favourable outcome?

    Ted
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    QLD
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    685

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    Why would you want to change that beautiful patina




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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    melbourne
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    I honestly have no idea where you could go.


    I would think that it firstly needs building up with a welder, maybe hard face rods, then machine flat. You could maybe do that yourself with an angle grinder. The horn looks good, so it's really only a matter of getting the top flat enough to use.


    I suspect that a full 'restoration' at commercial rates would be prohibitive.

  4. #4
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    Dec 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by YBAF View Post
    Why would you want to change that beautiful patina
    .

    It's a very good question, but understand that this anvil is essentially a tool. It has been constructed so that
    it too can be used to create tools, and other hand made items. As such it must be serviceable. In it's present
    state it leaves unfortunate "imperfections" and stress raisers on components made on it. A blacksmith's
    hammer is the partner to the anvil and it too must have almost a mirror finish to it's striking surface, and so
    I have to repair the table of this old fella so that it can carry out its function effectively.

    This anvil is nearly 150 years old, made in Great Britain, and transported with human friends. Plainly I bought
    it second hand, and with my post vice (which is used everyday) it cost $700.

    My intention is to have the table and working surfaces refurbished for work, but for the patina on the rest of
    the anvil to remain untouched. It has been badly used in places, but better than many I have seen. I have no
    intention of confining it to the garden for decorative purposes, or cashing in the iron with the scrappies. It's a
    a tool, much like the hammer I forged in the Everleigh Railway Blacksmiths Shop at Redfern some years ago.

    I'm a trained Aircraft Maintenance Engineer but I understand that all tools come from a common source - that
    being the Blacksmith's Forge, Anvil, and Hammer - all coordinated by a Master Blacksmith.

    I'm simply searching to master the roots of all engineering trades.

  5. #5
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    Dec 2019
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by russ57 View Post
    I honestly have no idea where you could go.


    I would think that it firstly needs building up with a welder, maybe hard face rods, then machine flat. You could maybe do that yourself with an angle grinder. The horn looks good, so it's really only a matter of getting the top flat enough to use.


    I suspect that a full 'restoration' at commercial rates would be prohibitive.
    It really needs just the edges of the table to be restored - I'd probably leave the Hardie and Pritchel
    holes unaltered - they'll do their job as they are, and there is a 3/16" deep hole in the middle of the
    steel table surface. With those repairs done, I would seek to have the table surface ground to make
    it flat and straight. Such is my occasional slackness that the only local engineering mob moved from
    nearby to the western suburbs whilst I had my eye off the ball - woe is me. I guess I'll need to
    seek them out, strengthen the base of the box trailer, and lift the anvil into place.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    North Yorkshire UK
    Posts
    3,119

    Default

    Hi Ted, Guys,

    JMTPW

    I think that it might be better to metal spray the top to build it up and fill the imperfections, then have it ground back to flat. Welding the surface might not create a sound bond all the way across. That is a lot of metal to heat up and melt during welding, particularly as you move away from the sides.
    Best Regards:
    Baron J.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by BaronJ View Post
    Hi Ted, Guys,

    JMTPW

    I think that it might be better to metal spray the top to build it up and fill the imperfections, then have it ground back to flat. Welding the surface might not create a sound bond all the way across. That is a lot of metal to heat up and melt during welding, particularly as you move away from the sides.
    BaronJ, Lads,

    I agree, hence my need to find someone who really knows their craft. I know that the anvils in the Eveleigh Railway Workshops (Blacksmiths Shop) have been surface ground in the past by a mob called Hawleys - I just need to contact them I suppose - I spent some time with the Blacksmith in Residence and that's what he described. I have had another 'smith suggest the same method.



    Ted

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Melbourne
    Age
    50
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    705

    Default

    G'day Ted,
    It's a bit difficult to tell for sure but from looking at your photos, particularly the second one, I suspect at least one edge of your anvil has already been welded in an attempt to build it up.

    Given the age of your anvil it will most likely have a hard steel working surface forge welded to a wrought iron body.
    One of the more common modes of failure with old anvils constructed this way is when the edge of the steel top chips away as a result of it being struck.
    Over time, moisture can get between the steel top and base and cause rust which expands and can result in further delamination of the hardened work surface.

    Re welding of these anvils can be difficult for a few reasons:
    All of this inter layer rust needs to be removed for a lasting repair, this can require a lot of material removal.
    Many MMAW electrodes will not adhere well, if at all to the wrought iron base.
    Heat management is a delicate balance as you need to get the anvil hot enough, but not too hot as this can anneal the hardened face resulting in a dead areas (no rebound).

    I managed to repair a few chips on my old anvil which my son now uses and the best method I found was to use TIG rather than MMA as it is much more controllable.
    First I used stainless filler to build up a bridging layer on the wrought iron with each bead being peened before laying down the next.
    Some old unknown hard facing MMA electrodes were then used with the flux removed to build on the stainless layer and fill the chipped sections.
    The resulting welds were ground back to produce the new working edges which seem to be holding up pretty well to date.
    I also rounded off some of the chipped sections rather than building them up as itís handy to have edge sections with various radiuses.

    For the chips in the surface, as long as they donít go down to the wrought iron, these can probably be built up easily enough then ground back.
    When it comes to reconditioning the surface you probably need to be careful how much is removed as you donít want to thin the hardened top too much or this will cause other problems.

    To be honest with some anvils, the work involved and cost (particularly if youíre not doing it yourself) make the repairs not worthwhile.
    If you really require a perfectly smooth working face I would be looking at buying a new all steel anvil and keeping your old one as is for rough work.
    There are a number of excellent locally made anvils in the 90-100kg range for around $1000 - $1100 which will be far superior to your old one no matter how well itís reconditioned.

    Good luck and let us know how things work out whichever way you decide to go.
    Cheers,
    Greg.

  9. #9
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    Dec 2019
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    Sydney
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwijibo99 View Post
    G'day Ted,
    It's a bit difficult to tell for sure but from looking at your photos, particularly the second one, I suspect at least one edge of your anvil has already been welded in an attempt to build it up.

    Given the age of your anvil it will most likely have a hard steel working surface forge welded to a wrought iron body.
    One of the more common modes of failure with old anvils constructed this way is when the edge of the steel top chips away as a result of it being struck.
    Over time, moisture can get between the steel top and base and cause rust which expands and can result in further delamination of the hardened work surface.

    Re welding of these anvils can be difficult for a few reasons:
    All of this inter layer rust needs to be removed for a lasting repair, this can require a lot of material removal.
    Many MMAW electrodes will not adhere well, if at all to the wrought iron base.
    Heat management is a delicate balance as you need to get the anvil hot enough, but not too hot as this can anneal the hardened face resulting in a dead areas (no rebound).

    I managed to repair a few chips on my old anvil which my son now uses and the best method I found was to use TIG rather than MMA as it is much more controllable.
    First I used stainless filler to build up a bridging layer on the wrought iron with each bead being peened before laying down the next.
    Some old unknown hard facing MMA electrodes were then used with the flux removed to build on the stainless layer and fill the chipped sections.
    The resulting welds were ground back to produce the new working edges which seem to be holding up pretty well to date.
    I also rounded off some of the chipped sections rather than building them up as it’s handy to have edge sections with various radiuses.

    For the chips in the surface, as long as they don’t go down to the wrought iron, these can probably be built up easily enough then ground back.
    When it comes to reconditioning the surface you probably need to be careful how much is removed as you don’t want to thin the hardened top too much or this will cause other problems.

    To be honest with some anvils, the work involved and cost (particularly if you’re not doing it yourself) make the repairs not worthwhile.
    If you really require a perfectly smooth working face I would be looking at buying a new all steel anvil and keeping your old one as is for rough work.
    There are a number of excellent locally made anvils in the 90-100kg range for around $1000 - $1100 which will be far superior to your old one no matter how well it’s reconditioned.

    Good luck and let us know how things work out whichever way you decide to go.
    Cheers,
    Greg.
    Greg,

    Thank you for a well considered response, this is exactly what I was seeking. Plainly you have some valuable experience, and my research supports your comments nicely. I have "tested" the steel top with a large hammer and she responds with a nice ring and a satisfying rebound.

    There is one awkward section that exposes a little more of the steel than I am comfortable with but none of the damage extends into the wrought iron base structure. The worst damage, the small hole in the middle of the table is 3/16" deep, and that is the deepest scar. So what I had as a Plan B was to radius the damaged edge as you have suggested, either hit the 3/16" hole with a spot of weld and grind it back, or have the surface ground (it won't be much off) as I think this will give me a decent surface, and simply avoid using the area with the hole, this has a very big table so that approach is distinctly possible.

    In the meantime I have constructed a steel anvil from two pieces of Mainline railway track (107 lbs per foot) with the bottom flange trimmed, the two pieces butted together, and the rails welded together. This one is about 300 lbs in weight. It took A LOT of weld and the stresses in the assembly were huge as it cooled. I haven't finished the surface work yet (well, I haven't started it) but the rebound test is beautiful to hear ... PING PING PING with a 4 lb hammer. I'll consider not touching the big anvil and keep it for roughing work as you suggest, and for it's historical perspective, and finish the rail anvil.

    Thank you for your considered response - just preparing for the next project - I'm in the middle of a lathe stand at the moment and have today just completed tacking it together.

    Cheers, Ted

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    Sutherland Shire, Sydney
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    HI Ted, check out the Iforgeiron.com website from the US, lots of great info on everything blacksmithing. The advice you will get there will be to use and appreciate it as it is, it is a beautiful anvil, hope you enjoy it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leighg View Post
    HI Ted, check out the Iforgeiron.com website from the US, lots of great info on everything blacksmithing. The advice you will get there will be to use and appreciate it as it is, it is a beautiful anvil, hope you enjoy it.
    Thanks Leigh - I'll get straight onto that research.

    Ted.

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