IN filling a sickle bar there are two ways to remove the old sections. One way is to punch the rivets out, but in every case where the back of the section sticks out over the sickle bar they can be removed easier in this way: Just open the vise enough to receive the section, then strike with the hammer on the back of the section, and this blow will cut the rivets off. You can cut out ten to one by this method to any other.

Sometimes the sickle bar is bent out of shape in the fitting. To straighten it place the sickle on the anvil, sections down; now strike with the hammer so that it will touch the bar only on one half of its face, the blow to be on the inner side of the curve.


When a box is to be babbited the first thing to do is to clean the box. If it can be placed over the fire the old babbit with melt out easily. If the box cannot be held over the fire, then chisel the old babbit out. At each end of the box there is a ridge to hold the babbit in the box; that is, in cast iron boxes. On top of this ridge place a strip of leather as thick as you want the babbit to be. This done, place the shaft in the box. Pour the babbit in level with the box. Be careful about having the box dry; if any dampness is in the box the babbit will explode. Now place a thick paper on each side of the box and put on the top box, with the bolts in to hold it in place tight, then close up at the ends with putty. In some cases it is best to heat the box a little, for if the box is cold and there is little room for the babbit it will cool off before it can float around. In such a case the boxes should be warm and the babbit heated to a red heat. Now pour the babbit in through the oil hole.

In cases where there are wooden boxes, and the babbit is to reach out against the collars, the shaft must be elevated or hung on pieces of boards on each side with notches in for the shaft to rest in. Use putty to fill up and make tight, so that the babbit must stay where wanted. For slow motion babbit with a less-cooling percentage (tin); for high speed, more-cooling (tin). Grooves may be cut in the bottom box for oil. When a shaft is to be babbited all around in a solid box the shaft is inclined to stick in the babbit. To prevent this smoke the shaft a little and have it warm. When cool it will come out all right. Or wind thin paper around the shaft, the paper to be tied with strings to the shaft.


By gradually heating and cooling steel will be softened, brittleness reduced, and flexibility increased. In this state steel is tough and easiest drilled or filed. Tool steel is sometimes too hard to drill or file without first annealing it; and the best way to do this is to slowly heat to a red heat, then bury the steel in the cinders and let it cool slowly. To heat and let the steel cool exposed to the air will do no good, as it cools off too quick, and when cool the steel is as hard as ever. This is air temper.


Cogs can be inserted in a cogwheel in different ways. If the rim of the wheel is thick enough a cog can be dovetailed in. That is, cut a slot in the rim from the root of the cog down, this slot to be wider at the bottom. Prepare a cog the exact size of the cogs, but just as much deeper as the slot. Before you drive this cog in, cut out a chip on each end of the slot, and when the cog is driven in you can clinch the ends where you cut out. This will make a strong cog, and if properly made will never get loose.

Another way: If the rim is thin, then make a cog with a shank on, or a bolt cog. If the rim is wide make two bolts. The cog can be either riveted or fastened with nuts. If only one shank is made, the same must be square up at the cog, Or the cog will turn and cause a breakdown. But a shallow slot can be cut in the rim to receive and hold the cog, and then a bolt shank will hold it in place, whether the shank is round or square.


If steel has been burnt the best thing to do is to throw it in the scraps; but if overheated it can be improved. Heat to a low red heat, and hammer lightly and cool off in salt water, while yet hot enough to be of a brown color. Repeat this a half a dozen times, and the steel will be greatly bettered. Of course, this is only in cases when a tool or something like it has been overheated which cannot be thrown away without loss. By this simple method I have restored tools overheated by ignorant smiths, and in some cases the owner would declare that it was "better than ever."


Care must be taken in heating stone hammers not to overheat them. Dress the hammer so that the edges are a little higher than the center, thus making a slight curve. A hammer dressed this way will cut better and stay sharp longer than if the face is level. Dress both ends before hardening, then harden face end first. Heat to a red heat, and cool off in cold water about one inch up, let the temper return to half an inch from the face, that is, draw the temper as much as you can without changing the temper at the face. There it should be as hard as you can make it. When heating the peen end keep a wet rag over the face to prevent it from becoming hot. This end should not be tempered quite as hard as the face.


Chilled cast iron can be easily drilled if properly annealed, but it cannot be annealed simply by heating and slowly cooling. Heat the iron to a red heat and place it over the anvil in a level position; place a piece of brimstone just where the hole is to be drilled, and let it soak in. If it is a thick article place a piece on each side over the hole, as it will better penetrate and soften the iron. Next, heat it again until red, then bury it in the cinders, and let it cool slowly. To heat and anneal chilled iron is of no avail unless it is allowed to remain hot for hours. Chilled iron will, if heated and allowed to cool quick, retain its hardness. The only way to anneal is to let it remain in the fire for hours. Brimstone will help considerably, but even with that it is best to let cool as slowly as your time will admit.


First, make your drill of good steel, oval in form, and a little heavier than usual on point, and temper as hard as it will without drawing the temper, the heat to be a low red cherry. Diluted muriatic acid is a good thing to roughen the surface with where you want the hole. Use kerosene instead of oil, or turpentine. The pressure on the drill should be steady so that it will cut right along as it is hard to start again if it stops cutting, but if it does, again use diluted muriatic acid. The hole should be cleaned after the use of the acid.


I have repeatedly warned against overheating steel. Don't heat too fast, for if it is a piece of a large dimension the outside corners will be burnt, while the bar is yet too cool inside to be worked. Don't let steel remain for any length of time in the fire at a high heat, for both steel and iron will then become brittle. This is supposed by some to be due to the formation of oxide disseminated through the mass of the metal, but many others believe that a more or less crystalline structure is set up under the influence of a softening heat, and is the sole cause of the diminution in strength and tenacity. The fiber of the steel is spoiled through overheating; this can, to some extent, be remedied by heavy forging if it is a heavy bar.

Steel is harder to weld than iron, because it contains less cinders and slag, which will produce a fusible fluid in iron that will make it weld without trouble. Steel contains from 2 to 25 per cent carbon, and varies in quality according to the per cent of carbon, and it is claimed that there are twenty different kinds of steel. To blacksmiths only a few kinds are known, and the sturdy smith discards both "physical tests and chemical analysis," and he thinks he knows just as much as do those who write volumes about these tests.

To weld tool steel, or steel of a high per cent of carbon, borax must be used freely to prevent burning and promote fusing. Steel with less carbon, or what smiths call "soft steel," "sleigh steel," should be welded with sand only. This soft steel stands a higher heat than the harder kinds.

Good tool steel will break easy when cold if it is cut into a little with a cold chisel all around, and the bar then placed with the cut over the hole in the anvil, the helper striking directly over the hole. If it is good steel it will break easy, and the broken ends are fine grain, of a light color. If it shows glistening or glittering qualities it is a bad sign.

Good steel will crumble under the hammer when white hot.

To test steel draw out to a sharp point, heat to a red heat, cool in salt water; if it cuts glass it is a steel of high hardening quality.

For armor piercing, frogs, tiles, safes, and crushing machinery, alloy steel is used. This steel contains chromium, manganese or nickel, which renders it intensely hard. Tungsten is another alloy that is used in iron-cutting tools, because it does not lose its hardness by friction. Smiths should know more about steel than they do, and we would have steel to suit every need. As it is now, any poor stuff is sent to the smith. The same can be said of iron. The American wrought iron is the poorest iron that ever got the name of iron, but there are thousands of smiths using this stuff with great difficulty without ever a word said as a protest against the manufacture of the rotten material.

We often get iron that is too poor to bend hot without breaking. Let us register a kick, and if that has no effect let us try to abolish the tariff, and there will be good iron manufactured in this country, or the Swedish and Norwegian iron will be used. But the result will be the same with iron as with the matches: the American manufactories will make good iron when they have to. We get iron and steel that is both "cold-shot and hot-shot." The former breaks easy when cold, the latter when hot. We have meat and wheat inspectors; where is the iron inspector? Farmers know enough to ask for protection, but blacksmiths will never say a word. They use the cold-shot or hotshot iron, and when they have spent half a day in completing a little intricate work it breaks in their hands because of iron that is either cold or hot shot. Insist on good iron, and the steel will also be good. Deduct a little every year from the amount due your jobber for poor iron, and you can be sure if this is done by a few thousand smiths it will have effect.


Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as welding cast iron. The best that can be done is to melt it together; but this is simply accidental work, and when done don't amount to anything. Still, I have never met a blacksmith yet who could not weld cast iron, but, at the same time, I have yet to meet the man that can do it; and I will give twenty-five dollars to the smith that will give me a receipt for welding cast-iron shoes that will be useful when welded. All receipts I have seen for this purpose are simply bosh.

Malleable iron is a different thing. Many smiths weld malleable iron and think it is cast iron. "The wish," in such a case, "is the father of the thought," but to weld malleable iron is not more difficult than to weld soft steel. Malleable iron when good, and steel when soft, are about the same thing. I would therefore advise smiths to spend no time in welding cast iron. Nothing will be gained even if you should succeed in sticking it enough to hang together. It will in most cases be useless, because it will not be of the same shape as before..

Ifa pump handle is broken use rock salt and powdered glass as a welding compound. Stick the ends together in the fire. When they are about ready to melt tap lightly on one end while your helper holds the other end steady. In one case out of a hundred it will stick enough to hang together.


Iron and steel may be case hardened with either of the following compounds: Prussiate of potash, salamthoniac of equal parts. Heat the iron red hot and sprinkle it with this compound, then heat again and sprinkle, and plunge it while yet hot in a bath of salt water.

Another: Cyanide of potassium; grind it into a fine powder and sprinkle over the iron while red hot, and plunge into a bath of salt water. This powder will coagulate if it is held against the fire so it gets warm. Be careful with this powder, as it is a strong poison. It is the best thing that I have ever tried for case hardening iron. It will case harden the softest iron so that it cannot be touched with any tool It is also good for plows, especially where it is hard to make a plow scour. The only objection is the price, as it costs more than prussiate of potash or other hardening compounds.


Heat to a heat that will be discerned in the dark as a low red heat. Plunge, into a bath of lukewarm water. Such a heat cannot be noticed in a light sunny day, but it is just the heat required. Another way: Heat to a low red heat and bury the spring in cold sand. Another: Heat to a low red heat in the dark, and cool in oil


Take 1 pound of ashes from white ash bark, dissolve in soft water. Heat your iron red, and cool in this solution, and the iron will turn white as silver.


Silver, 15 parts; copper, 2 parts. These should be filed into powder and mixed. Now place your saw level with the broken ends tight up against each other; put a little of the mixture along the seam, and cover with powdered charcoal; with a spirit lamp and a blowpipe melt the mixture, then with the hammer set the joint smooth.


If a band saw is broken file the ends bevel, and lap one end over the other far enough to take up one tooth; place the saw in such a position that the saw will be straight when mended; use silver, copper and brass; file into a fine powder; place this over the joint and cover with borax. Now heat two irons one inch square, or a pair of heavy tongs, and place one on each side of the joint, and when the powdered metal is melted have a pair of tongs ready to take hold over the joint with while it cools. File off and smooth the sides, not leaving the blade any thicker than in other places.


TAKE of nitric acid 4 ozs.; muriatic acid, ½ oz. Mix togetner. Now cover the place you wish to write on with beeswax, the beeswax to be warm when applied. When it is cold, write your name with a sharp instrument. Be sure to write so that the steel is discernible in the name. Now apply the mixture with a feather, well filling each letter. Let the mixture remain about five minutes or more, according to the depth desired; then wash off the acid; water will stop the process of the same. When the wax is removed, the inscription is plain.

Chapter 8
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© 2000, 2001 by Lynn Waterman