Railroad rail source?

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Randy Bill
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:14 am
Location: Tracy, MN

Railroad rail source?

Unread post by Randy Bill » Tue Jul 22, 2014 10:12 pm

In much need of an anvil, I was very interested in the info I saw on anvilfire about using railroad rail on end as an anvil. The logic makes perfect sense but finding the rail is a problem. CP Rail serves my town and even has a SHOP here; unfortunately employees are forbidden to sell or give away rail pieces. So much so that one fellow said I'd have better luck just going to one of their "piles" and taking what I needed! (He didn't mention that CP has it's own police). Rail "weight" is measured by the yard; I was told that the ribbon rail in use here is 135#. Perfect. So, you can imagine my frustration. I see they have offices in the Cities; has anyone been bold enough to just plain call CP and ask about obtaining some? It's a long distance call for me and I can only imagine how many times one's call might be transferred but I'm awfully close to trying it anyway. Or, is it possible that a railroad contractor would be a simpler source? Will add that I've been on this "rail hunt" since last winter and an anvil hunt for twenty-five years!

Martin Pansch
Posts: 312
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:44 am
Location: Young America, MN

Re: Railroad rail source?

Unread post by Martin Pansch » Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:05 am

Randy,

How much you need? Are you married to the idea of railroad rail for your home made anvil? I have a few pieces of rail I could part with, maybe a foot or so in length. I also have some other chunks of steel around that would probably do pretty well.

Martin

Randy Bill
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:14 am
Location: Tracy, MN

Re: Railroad rail source?

Unread post by Randy Bill » Wed Jul 23, 2014 6:24 am

28" is the suggested length for the "on end" trick. Ha! Wonder what CP would say if I specified that length? No, actually I'm losing interest in the rail idea. A little further reading points out that rail is high enough carbon that preheat and post cool is required; I'd thought fabricating with rail might be possible but this looks less likely. Our local welder suggested cutting edge stock as a possibility but only up to 1" thick here. So, I think chunks of steel is likely my route but have lots of questions on hardness and welding/fabricating said chunks. I'm interested in any ideas; I do have two 5' lengths of old smaller rail I can incorporate into the base if the welding issue can be resolved.

Martin Pansch
Posts: 312
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:44 am
Location: Young America, MN

Re: Railroad rail source?

Unread post by Martin Pansch » Thu Jul 24, 2014 9:02 pm

I read Anvilfire occasionally too. Doing the rail on end would be the most efficient way but I how much more efficient and how much efficiency you need determines whether it is worth the hassle to you. If you are working on smaller items, say 1/2" square stock or smaller, I probably wouldn't bother doing it on end. In the Poor Man's anvil class last year we did a couple where we just welded some thick (1/2" or so) parallel to the rails web on either side to give it a little more mass under the striking surface and to keep the web from flexing.
Greta's anvil.jpg
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We didn't pre or post heat on them before welding. Though I must say I haven't given it a long term Samsonite Luggage Test.

Though generally I prefer finding a more massive block of steel and going from there. On some we welded feet, a horn and a chunk of square tube for a hardie hole.
Rob's Anvil.jpg
Rob's Anvil.jpg (161.21 KiB) Viewed 3406 times
Sean Otto's Anvil.jpg
Sean Otto's Anvil.jpg (160.01 KiB) Viewed 3406 times
Brandon's anvil die side.jpg
Brandon's anvil die side.jpg (136.39 KiB) Viewed 3406 times
We did a couple like you write about sandwiching a few thick plates together on edge, versus stacking them, and welded them. I think we used 1 1/2" plate.
Kevin's poor man's anvil or Jawa sand crawler.jpg
Kevin's poor man's anvil or Jawa sand crawler.jpg (160.75 KiB) Viewed 3406 times
A lot of different ways of going about it depending on what you have on hand and what you need. Not as good as a nice old real anvil but the price is right and they work well for smaller stuff.

I have some poor man anvils for loan to Guild members. Otherwise I have some steel and a good welder. If you get up to Young America ever give me a holler. I'll help you if I can.

Randy Bill
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:14 am
Location: Tracy, MN

Re: Railroad rail source?

Unread post by Randy Bill » Thu Jul 24, 2014 9:54 pm

Martin, you've given me new hope. Very glad to hear the pre and post heat may not be necessary; afraid my welder would have thrown me out of his shop if I'd suggested it (even if it is a good idea). The hardie hole solution looks to be the cat's pajamas. And, I forgot that the cutting edge material could be sandwiched on EDGE, not stacked. I'm pursuing a possible source for "big chunks of iron" and will post my findings. As luck would have it, Alter Metal Recycling purchased our local scrap yard and positively will NOT sell anything that comes in. Prior private family owners would, I'm told. At any rate, I'm really enjoying this challenge!

herb.fick
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:37 am
Location: Northfield MN

Re: Railroad rail source?

Unread post by herb.fick » Sun Jul 27, 2014 6:51 pm

Make it a point to watch Pete Stanaitis' video on railroad anvils
French Creek is his website. Or google him.
Herb Fick
Northfield

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