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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Now that the refractory mix has dried out after a week of sitting in the shop it’s time to fire the clay mix. There has been some cracking of the refractory as it dried, this was expected. I’ll mix up a thick clay slurry and fill the cracks at a later date. The cracks will help the moisture that’s left in the mix to escape as steam.

Rolled the forge out into the driveway to begin the firing process. Used wood charcoal for the first firing, it burns at a lower temperature than coal plus it’s cheaper. Started the fire small allowing the charcoal to burn on it’s own in the fire pot to preheat the cast iron and the surrounding refractory. As the burn continued over a span of an hour began adding more charcoal and applying airflow to the blower tube using a hand held electric blower.

Videos of the firing:

After the firing, the cracks were worse but as mentioned before they’ll be filled in with a clay layer to seal them. After cooling down, the forge was stored back in the barn.

Next was to prepare the flue pipe and make a spark arrestor rain cap. I used ¼” hardware cloth to make a screen for the large sparks / floating ash debris. A tighter meshed screen was suggested by some of our MTF members. Made a tube with aluminum window screen (basically a sock) and inserted into the hardware cloth tube.

Now that the flue pipe is ready it’s time to cut a hole in my shed roof for the stove pipe stack to go through and put the forge in it’s permenant location. Placed a slab of broken concrete under the shed to support the weight of the forge and stack.

Twisted a couple scrap lengths of flat stock so that it’s flat againt the pipe / wood and screwed it to the roof nailing runners. Also screwed the brackets to the stove pipe while trying to keep the first stick of flue as plumb as possible.

Assembled the stove pipes / rain cap into a single section being sure to screw all sections together and sealing joints with aluminum foil tape. Inserted the top flue assembly into the stove pipe from the forge that was sticking up through the hole in the roof. Stabilized the stack by using guy wires to make sure the stove pipe was plumb in all directions. Used high temperature RTV sealant around the stove pipe to seal the roof againt the weather, also squirted a glob of the sealant underneath each of the three tie down plates that were screwed down to the roof / rafters to prevent leaks. Also sealed the flue section where it entered the collar on top of the forge with RTV.

NOTE: Have to see how the high temp. RTV sealant and aluminum tape handle the heat from the forge.

Pulled the antique hand cranked forge blower out of the pack barn for clean up and service it for use. Topped off the gear case oil reservoir and was sure to put a few drops of oil on the fan shaft inside the shroud and on the turn handle shaft to lubricate the bushings.

Installed metal dryer duct from firepot air tube to blower housing using aluminum tape to seal the joints.

Time to fix the cracks in the refractory around the firepot. Mixed up a batch of powered clay left over from the original mix. Misted the dry refractory with water to wet it, then smeared the clay mix around the firepot. Tried to force the clay down as deep as possible into the open cracks. Smoothed the clay coating down with wet hands. Will refire the refractory again after it dries, hopefully without cracks.

As this part of the forge build winds down it’s time to address the wood handle replacement on the forge blower. If you remember the cast iron cooking pot (firepot).....there was a burnt wooden handle attached to it, which is what was recycled as a handle for the blower.

Cut the wood pot handle to length and then cut it length wise down the center of the drilled hole in handle. After that I used the scroll saw to cut a notch around each end of the halves for the wire to compress into. Put the wooden halves around the steel blower handle shaft and used solid copper 14Ga. wire to secure the wood handle halves.

Squirted a little light weight oil in between the wooden halves for lubrication. Handle spins around steel shaft like a champ, no chance for friction blisters on my hands now from the blower handle.

Made sure to hammer down twisted wires and touch up with a file to smooth any sharp edges on the wire ends.

~ In the third part of this forge build post the fresh clay layer will be fired and the forge will be put to the task of heating metal to hammer into something useful! ~
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