Instructables

Railroad Track Anvil

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I'd rather have a real anvil, too, but have you priced one lately?

This one didn't cost me anything, if you take out some welding rods and a nut and bolt. An equivalent 50 lb. standard anvil you would buy from a quality blacksmith supply company (you probably have one or two of those in your neighborhood) is more than $300.

Ok, so the price is a factor. But what about usability - can you do the same things with it? Well.as they say, it's as good as a real anvil, if you haven't used a real anvil. But, truthfully, I have, and I can say that it is nearly as good. Almost.
 
A word of warning: this Instructable requires cutting steel with a torch, and arc or Acetylene welding; at that stage, and all others, wear appropriate protective equipment.

 
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Step 1: First...

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Anvil (1024x768).jpg

First, you find a piece of railroad track. That may be easier said than done, especially in more urban areas. While there may be plenty of track there, I'm almost positive they don't want you pulling it up.

In the country, especially in areas where there used to be railroad tracks, it is a little more doable. You might find pieces in scrapyards, auto repair shops, antiques shops, or various other places. When they pulled the track up in my area, scraps were available everywhere. I can even show you places where surveying markers were made out of sections of track driven into the ground!

You don't need a lot of track - two feet will be oodles. You can get by with eighteen inches, so that is in your favor.

You will also need about the same length of a truck leaf spring, so, while you are poking around, looking for a section of track, ask about a piece of spring, too. Remember, dents and rust pitting on the surface of the spring will be transferred to the work, so try to find a smooth piece.










 

iceman462221 month ago

That sounds good. I'm going to try it if I can find some rr track to buy.

Most people don't know that's it's a federal crime to have rr track in your possession with out a sales receipt. That sense the Gov. owns most rr in U.S.A.

very nice anvil! Instead of the leaf spring top however (which by the way is an excellent idea), I'm going to weld a 1" thick piece of AR500 steel to the top. Arc welding with 7018 electrode at about 140A, to get it good and hot. I believe the SMAW of 7018 is tougher than oxy/fuel welding. Also, one won't have to heat the entire anvil, then go through the HUGE water quenching process. Just another idea.

RangerJ (author)  MoonshineMetals3 months ago

My leaf spring was pretty rusty, so the top of it isn't completely smooth. Your idea would probably work better.

As to the quenching process, it was pretty awesome.

JamesMcGR3 months ago
How hard is it to find rail sections? I need an anvil in my shop. bad. In case I ever have the urge to smash something.
RangerJ (author)  JamesMcGR3 months ago

It's not easy. As luck would have it, they had pulled up about fifteen miles of railroad track in my county, and left a bit of it behind. Perhaps you might find some at a junk dealer.

Nice I like it.
I have a couple of friends who work on railway maintenance, I may be having a word next time I see them in the pub ;-)
RangerJ (author)  Nostalgic Guy2 years ago
Great - it may not be too hard for you to find the materials. Good luck.
hjjusa RangerJ2 years ago
If you build a plywood box around it and fill it with molten lead you will get rid of the loud ring that a railroad anvil produces when struck with a hammer. Just sayin.
jadronx hjjusa10 months ago
Oh but that nice ring is the sound of a good anvil
RangerJ (author) 2 years ago
I just checked again: A 50 lb Emerson (traditional style) anvil is $310 at Centaur Forge. However, you can actually get a 70 lb one there for about the same price. I understand that new anvils now actually cost less than a used one - if you can find one. They are fairly rare, in person anyway. On ebay, prices are all over the board.
georion RangerJ2 years ago
harbor frieght has 50 lb anvils low price and on sale sometimes
jadronx georion10 months ago
the problem with harbor freight anvils is that they are cast iron and will crack chip or shatter if you do any amount of real work on them.
would hardfacing a few pieces of 1/4 in. or 1/8 in. steel then welding those together work as well? or does it have to be leaf spring from a truck?
RangerJ (author)  awesomeguy12351 year ago
I just had the spring (although for the life of me I don't know where I found a truck spring). If you had some 1/4" flat stock and wanted to weld it up, I'm sure it would be fine, especially if you heat treated the whole anvil as I mentioned.
I've heard of an quick way to anneal a piece of metal - first you take your torch and set it to a dirty yellow flame - and then play the flame over your piece of metal until you have a nice layer of carbon on you piece of metal... the you set your torch back to a hot blue flame and burn off all the carbon... I have yet to test this method personally as I don't have access to an acetylene torch anymore, (I have to make do with a propane/butane torch and a soldering iron... sigh) so I have no idea how well this works.... then again I might be confusing this technique with something else...
RangerJ (author)  BrefelanDesigns2 years ago
I don't know... that is beyond me, as is pretty much anything to do with a torch. All I know is get it hot and let it cool very slowly.
zacker RangerJ1 year ago
Saw a guy use really hard welding rod to hard cap his anvil.. just kept making beads side by side across the anvil then went back and ground it flat, re filled the voids ground it flat again then after a while, had a nice anvil with a really hard face.
Bushie2 years ago
Nice...

I made a similar anvil back in the 1980s when learning to weld ~ except mine is probably closer to 12" long, and maybe weighs around 15 kg, (that's 33 lbs +/- for the non-metrics out there..).

I rounded the horn end more when I was (oxy') cutting and grinding it (9" angle grinder..), as well..

$300 for a 50 lb anvil !?!
They're much cheaper than that over here (Australia..) - can get a decent sized one for that sort of money..
(Have you checked the internet, for comparative pricing among different suppliers and countries, just for interests sake?)>
zacker Bushie1 year ago
I can attest to his price. I look for them all the time and unless you come across someone who doesnt know about Anvils or doesnt look on line at pricing you MAY find one for an ok price. other than that, you only find overly expensive anvils and other Blacksmithing tools... Its crazy really. Ebay killed the whole Flea market / tag sale / junk or second hand store industry. I say that cause everytime i make an offer for a lower price on something i usually hear, "I can get almost double for it on Ebay".. to wich I like to respond.. "Then why are you selling it here and not on ebay??" lol
ebend121 year ago
I suppose broaching a square hole is out of the question?
zacker ebend121 year ago
I saw something on line where the guy drilled out a round hole, welded a piece of square pipe into it, filled up the res of the voids aroud the square tube with weld, ground it down and you could never tell it wasnt made with the anvil.
RangerJ (author)  ebend121 year ago
I guess you could machine a square hole if you wanted to work at it. If you happen to have a bunch of hardies, it would probably be worth the trouble. Otherwise, the welded nut idea works fine, and if you are particularly ambitious, you can make your own fullering,swaging, and cutoff hardies (like the one shown), forks, and what have you.
Great job! this is really cool!
mikeasaurus2 years ago
I like this
RangerJ (author)  mikeasaurus2 years ago
Thanks!
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