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Places for the Blacksmiths

Discussion in '2015 Feature - Blacksmithing' started by Treble Bolt, Mar 16, 2015.

  1. Treble Bolt

    Treble Bolt The Blacksmith Brony WMSTR Lifetime Member

    I am not sure of the influx of metalworkers that will be at WMSTR this year (I hope many appear), but it seems to me that there could be overcrowding in the buildings (my husband and I did some in the Machine Shop last year, and there is one other person in there). I believe there is smithing in the Pioneer Village and of course the red building near Miniature Land (that one is already full of machines and people) and I think one also down by the horse barn. Will there be a listing of where people can put up portable forges as my husband and I plan to bring our portable up this year. I believe my husband would desire to be near the machine shop as he also helps out with the foundry.
    crystalaakre likes this.
  2. Jerry Christiansen

    Jerry Christiansen Mega Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Thnaks for your interest in the Metal Working feature. Plans have been and will continue to be disussed concerning where the Blacksmiths will be. I think cadams is hanging around here. He may have something to add.

    Jerry Christiansen
  3. cadams

    cadams Junior Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Thank you for the questions. The current plan is for visiting smiths to locate by or in the current smithies.

    You can set up your portable forge in the storage area of the Machine Shop. We hope to have that area cleared out completely for the show. Given the high ceiling and big doors, ventilation shouldn't be a problem.

    The Grahn smithy, red building by the Freeport and small engines, is crowded but we have tentative approval for some additional space in the engine building to the south.

    There is limited space in the Pioneer Village. Doug Swenson and Tim Jorgensen will be operating a Viking era forge there in addition to the regular crew.

    The Turn of the Century farm in the horse area has a small one forge shop but plenty space for setting up out side.

    There may also be a portable forge set up by the Morgan steam hammer.
  4. M Kerkvliet

    M Kerkvliet WMSTR Past President Administrator WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Looks like you're being well advised T.B...

    Love your Avatar by the way! Nice work!
  5. crystalaakre

    crystalaakre Mega Poster Moderator WMSTR Lifetime Member

    This may be already discussed, but I know usually the current year feature tries to have some exhibits set up in the EXPO building. Would it be possible to do any blacksmithing with portable forges on that end of the showgrounds? Is anyone from the blacksmithing crew or gas engine feature planning on using that building? For consistency sake, it would be nice to have a blacksmithing 'feature' presence in that building as many return visitors will stop there to see what this feature has to offer. Maybe even just a display of old tools, forges, or metalworks. Just my two cents.
  6. cadams

    cadams Junior Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    We haven't ruled out the use of the Expo building. It may well function as an overflow space, depending on the response we get. A static display or gallery is also an option, if we could find some curators to explain the exhibit to visitors.

    crystalaakre likes this.
  7. Treble Bolt

    Treble Bolt The Blacksmith Brony WMSTR Lifetime Member

    I am not sure how wise it would be for portable forges to go into buildings, since depending on the smith, most will use charcoal or coal, and thus it will get very dark and smokey without adequate ventilation and chimneys. Last year, they did some work on the chimney system in the Machine Shop to accommodate the two forges and the foundry. It is a lot of work, and in a permanent structure, I am not sure how many (if any) new chimneys will be added. That is an expensive endeavor. Having doors open will help, but that doesn't help the need for chimneys...
    This also brings me to the question of weather.
    As I mentioned before, most smiths that will show up at WMSTR will already be established there in an already modified structure, or have their own portable setup. However, depending on the sophistication of the setup, there may not be many smiths who will work in the rain and high wind, if it happens. As with most exhibits at WMSTR, weather can make it or break it in terms of what will happen that day, and it seems to me that a feature like Blacksmithing will be more dependent on good weather if we want a good turnout. But we cannot control the weather, so what would be accommodations/regulations in regards rain or the other extreme - burning bans?

    Using the Expo building would be amazing for displays. Blacksmithing on its own has a rich history and many questions (I mean someone back in the 1700's who made early steam engines had to go to a smith for some of the parts), but also blackmsithing can incorporate other classes of metalworking, such as coppersmithing, tinsmithing, and even foundry work. I am very much excited to see the diversity in skill set, knowledge, and tools! :D.
    crystalaakre likes this.
  8. cadams

    cadams Junior Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Smoke can minimized a lot by fire control. It is hard to avoid when first starting up for a session on the forge. Pick through the cold remains of the previous fire for the coke and save as much as you can. Coke is coal that has had the volatiles cooked off and is much lighter, because it is mostly carbon.
    Use coke to start your new fire whenever possible. Keeping the fire hot, disturbing it as little as possible, and pushing new coal into the bottom of fire, from the sides, will also minimize smoke. Natural charcoal, not briquets, is also mostly carbon and smokes very little. Putting the forges by the doors so they can be moved outside easily will help or at least will allow some of the smoke to escape.

    We will have to see what weather we get and take the reasonable precautions.
    Minnesota does not require burning permits; "for a fire contained in a charcoal grill, camp stove, or other device designed for cooking or heating."
    Removing all combustibles within five feet and only operating while being attended, with either a fire extinguisher or a sizable water filled quench bucket nearby should keep us safe.

    Technically though, even the steamers could be shut down in a full burning ban.
    "A burning ban is a restriction issued for a specified part of the state under extremely dry conditions in which existing burning permits are canceled and new permits not issued. Burning in approved burners, recreational fires, and even smoking outdoors may be prohibited, depending on the fire danger. This action is generally taken when fire risk becomes extreme across a broad area of the state. A burning ban is used only in the most severe conditions and is more restrictive."

    The fire restrictions above come from the MN DNR website.

    crystalaakre and Treble Bolt like this.
  9. M Kirschenman

    M Kirschenman Intermediate Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    I spoke with Phil and we'll have 3 forges, possible 4, set up in the machine shop. We have a draught inducer in the budget this year to keep the smoke down.

    The location outside on the north end of the building, where we usually park the blue compressor, would make a nice blacksmithing area as it see's substantial foot traffic. The compressor can be parked elsewhere. A canvas tarp could be attached to the building for sun/rain protection

  10. Treble Bolt

    Treble Bolt The Blacksmith Brony WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Since we are able to make our own, we often use charcoal at our home forge, but use coal at demonstrations (less is more). We always start with coke because its the most practical way to get a good burn started. Oftentimes our coal is wet, and there have been times we've had to start with straight coal (which is tedious, hard, and dirty as can be, a nice reminder to not forget our coke bucket again). However, thinking about the coal we often use, it's very dirty bituminous coal (very sulphuric) and it burns fairly dirty even after lit with coke. We have tried litgnite once because we got a lot for free (used it to make clay bums), and I recommend never to burn with it (unless you really want to go no where fast). I would suspect most would use smithing grade bituminous or even anthracite.
    At our shop at home, ventilation is a constant problem, and we have forced air chimney (it's complicated to explain, but basically we have a motor that forces a draft). The forge was built by my husband when he was in middle school, and his father wouldn't let him run a chimney through the roof, so it goes out the wall and then up. It's an old chicken coop turned pig nursery turned shop....We have to worry about carbon monoxide and smoke even though charcoal is the cleanest thing we've burned...
    Maybe getting a deal with someone who sells smithing coal/coke wouldn't be a bad idea? I am not sure how good the coal is for the engines, but that would be hard to sell anyways since those are larger chunks....
    maybe I'm just overthinking....
  11. cadams

    cadams Junior Poster WMSTR Lifetime Member

    The coal that the show gets for the blacksmiths, is a low sulfur bituminous coal. Our coal is packaged in 50 pound sacks and is labeled as smithing/coking coal. Regular stoker coal is dirtier, hopefully that is not what you have been using. It should only be used by the engines and is stored in the various bunkers. Typically it is coarser and not packaged, as we buy it by the truckload.

    Smithing coal for personal use can be found, by an internet search, in Isanti, MN and Ames, IA, as well as other places.
  12. crystalaakre

    crystalaakre Mega Poster Moderator WMSTR Lifetime Member

    Going back to this comment, I hope that some blacksmiths/metalsmiths could make use of the EXPO building for showcasing displays, non-working or light-working so that there still would be a strong feature presence even if weather (too wet or burn ban) keeps us from putting on much outdoor or flammable exhibits. The EXPO building is one of the first places for many visitors to encounter and definitely needs some volunteers to staff it. Thanks everyone for helping to organize!

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