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Barrel Forging 2016

Barrel Forging Seminar

January, 2016  

     

      Once again, the Yeller Tom Cat Forge held a free barrel welding seminar weekend.  This year a 40 inch rifle barrel was forged to completion.  The tube is straight, round, and the bore is wide open.  It was constructed from a section of a wrought iron rim from an old old wooden wagon wheel.  Let me tell you, you MISSED IT!!  We’ve got a bunch of photos to share with you, so pull up a chair, grab a cuppa coffee or a brewski, prop up your heels, and enjoy.

      It was cold.  Perhaps 20 degrees if we were lucky.  Snow, well, we had it.  The brisk winter wind caressed our happy faces and turned them ruddy red.  Then we bundled up and went to the smithy out back.  On Thursday, as in the past, a rifle barrel was rifled.  It only took 300 passes to get it completed.  Coned it’s muzzle and then did a little mule ear lock work at he bench.

     Friday morning rolled around and we headed to the smithy.  It was cold and it seemed like the wind was at least 80 miles per hour running through the building.  Got the fire going with a little assist from a few slivers of Dan Land’s Alabama fat wood.Let me tell you that the 85-140 weight oil in the blower was just a teensy bit difficult to get goin’. It wasn’t long before we had that curved section of wheel rim up, gittin’er hot, and then flattened.  We decided to go to the Pizza Ranch for dinner.  Tim calls it lunch, but that’s Yuppie speak, I think.  The barrel got cupped in the afternoon and a little gun work was performed late Friday night.

 

Saturday got off to a late start.  Short stacks of 10 inch pancakes, sausage, and red raspberry-rhubarb pie for breakfast slows a man down.  It was all Angus, Dan, and I could do to drag Tim out from the warm truck and into the smithy.  We finally got started and closed the seam on the tube.  The fire (pronounced “far”) was tore down and rebuilt.  Once it quit smokin’, it were WELD TIME! Both 20 Mule Team borax and EZ-Weld was used so the guys could develop a taste for each and maybe create a preference.  Took 43 heats to get the barrel welded.  I think it looks good, but you decide for yourself.

 

FRIDAY

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Here I am running my mouth.  You can see the rim sitting on the bed getting warmed up.  Little smoky  yet.  Using blacksmith coal and chunk coke for fuel.

 

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Tim Crowe flattens while Angus Leonard steadies the stock.

 

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I’ve jumped in with my trusty swedge and Tim smites it with monotonous regularity to start forming the cupped shape.

 

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Here’s a close-up.

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Clinkers.  HATE’EM!  Real blacksmiths HATE clinkers.

 

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Tim shows off the class’s handy-work for the day.  Lookin’ good!

 

Saturday

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Did I mention that it was cold on Saturday, too?  Trust me.  It was.  Dan Thompson is only 3 feet from the fire cranking the blower and look how he’s dressed.  Regular Eskimo, he is!

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I use a grate to hold the fire higher in the fire-pot.  It helps keep the barrel up to heat and saves time, coal, and labor.

 

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Today, we closed the edges of the barrel to be up so welding could commence.  Here you can bee the barrel has been partially closed up.

 

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Close up of our Champion Blower.

 

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Bought this Centaur Forge Pattern B swedge block years ago.  Don’t think I had white hair back then.


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O.K.  The fire’s been rebuilt and we’re ready to go.

 

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Here’s a shot of Angus hammer welding and Tim operates the mandrel to help keep the bore from collapsing while the seam gets welded up.  The mandrel needs to be placed in the slack tub between heats to cool off.

 

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Adding a little EZ-Weld anti-borax flux to the seam.

 

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Had a little scale fall off the barrel, didn’t we?

 

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Angus and Tim show off their barrel.  Pretty straight, eh?

Click on the link below to watch a short video of the guys closing up the barrel seam.  There is audio.  It might take your operating system a minute or so to get the video to load.

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