(Image by permission from "The Plaza del Herrero" in Ecuador.)

"Golden Age Forge"

Welcome Friends!
"Foundry" spoken here too.

Forge and Me.
I am about to forge-weld a Spontoon pipe-axe head. Click on image for full size.
(This excellent picture was taken by my apprentice, Kevin Brown.)

An Addition to My Shop - Out of this world!
This is a 64 pound nickle-iron meteorite from Argentina that fell about 4000 years ago!


I provide the following information as a service to the blacksmithing community. Although the designs I employ in building my burners and forges are safe and reliable in the way that I use them, the same may not be the case for you. You assume all risk in using this information, or any other information on this page. Other designs that I may have posted here, or on my other pages, have been submitted by other smiths, and I have no experience with most of them. Use care and good sense in using any of these designs. Get help from a knowledgeable smith if you are new to this work. Don't take chances because these tools can cause injury, blindness, or even death, if used improperly. Also, be sure you are in a well ventilated space (see the Nighthawk CO & explosive gas detector paragraph), or better yet, work outside. Additionally, never operate a forge that is connected directly to a propane tank that is near a forge, or indoors. An emergency pressure valve release could instantly place you in the middle of a fireball. Follow all local codes regarding indoor use of propane, and I believe indoor use of a propane tank violates code everywhere in North America, and most of Europe. A new concern has arisen with the introduction of the "Mongo Burner Series." Please read carefully all the information in the separate "Safety Warnings and Considerations" information which heads the "Mongo Burner Series" section. Thank you.

An additional item that should be of interest to you is obtaining an explosive gas/CO detector for your working space. Mark Manley, of "Manley Metal Works," Silverton, Oregon, provided a short piece of very important information in the Winter 2000 issue of "Hot Iron News" that I feel needs to be passed on to a wider audience. There is a very reasonably priced digital read-out combination explosive gas and CO detector available in local hardware, building supply, and other stores. I was concerned about having a CO monitor in my shop, even though I have a very efficient induced draft hood in my shop. The detector is made by "Kidde Safety," and is called the "Nighthawk." I will not go into the specs for the instrument here, it is available on the Internet if you look up "Kidde Safety," but I will say that it is a very finely designed and built instrument. It runs on 110 VAC, and has a 12 VDC back-up. It plugs directly into an outlet, or the transformer plug detaches for remote mounting up to 6' from the plug. You can easily check your CO level with a quick glance at the digital read-out. If it detects any kind of flammable gas it will instantly sound a very loud audible alarm, and the word "Gas" will display on the digital display. If it detects CO it will sound a different audible alarm and display the PPM level of the gas. Also, you will know it's operating because the blinking decimal point in the digital read-out indicates it's operating and sampling the air in your shop.

I bought one of these instruments for my shop, and I was so impressed with it that I went down and bought a second one for my home, which has natural gas heat, gas hot water, and a natural gas fireplace insert. I priced CO detectors on the McMaster-Carr web site, and CO detectors alone were $170, where this combination instrument is only $59 at my local Home Depot. Considering how deadly CO can be, this instrument is very inexpensive, and well worth the investment. It may well save your life. After Mark installed his "Nighthawk," he discovered that he had been exposing himself to CO levels of 30-160 PPM while running his forge! Thanks for the tip Mark.

Note: There has been a recall of Kidde Safety "Nighthawk" gas and CO detectors. This does not affect any detectors sold after the date that I posted the above information, however you may check your unit by going to http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml99/99082.html.  

A Word About Obtaining My Help

I am no longer able to offer my support to help solve problems you may have with your burners or forge. I have reached the point that something has to give. Two to three hours a night answering questions has brought my metal working each evening of the week to a stand still. I will continue to update my blacksmithing pages, and may now also have the time to clean out some of the outdated and conflicting information in my pages, however, I will no longer be able to troubleshoot your system. If you build your burner to the design specs and information shown and discussed on my pages, including in the Troubleshooting Document and FAQ, your burner should work well. If it doesn't, then its not built correctly, and you will need to make some adjustments after looking through the available information. The best thing to look at when fine tuning your burner are the various flame images I have posted. If yours looks like these images, you probably have it right. Here are a few helpful links.


Forge & Burner Troubleshooting Document

Some Often Asked Questions

EZ-Burner Construction

Rich To Lean Flame Image

1) T-Rex Flame Image - Ideal Neutral Flame

2) Side-arm Burner Flame Using Temporary Cast Iron Test Nozzle - Slightly Reducing Flame

3) Another Flame Image - Oxidizing Flame

The bottom three flame images give you views of burner flames adjusted to 1) neutral, 2) slightly reducing, and 3) strongly oxidizing. The burners have nothing to do with it, just the choke settings. All of these images could have been done with the T-Rex, or Side-arm burners. At your high end gas pressure, if you have achieved a flame similar to the oxidizing flame shown in the bottom image, #3, you will then have full control over the burner flame across the full pressure range. This will allow you to achieve oxidizing, neutral, or reducing, flames as needed by simply adjusting the choke. You will then have a properly functioning burner.

Links Local to My Site
The Full Site Map - Lists All Pages on This Site

Golden Age Forge Gallery

All Three Volumes of "Best of Theforge" Zipped - (257K)
The Best of Theforge - Vol 1

The Best of Theforge - Vol 2

The Best of Theforge - Vol 3

Subject Index for This Page

Safety Warning

Additional Forge and Burner Design Information

My Shop is Born

My Open Air Smithy

My Blacksmithing Background & Big Coal Forge

Jet Pump Motor 12" Disk Grinder

My 4-Burner Forge

Idle/Full Valve Arrangement

The Reil Burner

The "T-Rex" Burner Series

Ribbon Burner

The Restoration of My Little Giant Easy Hammer

An Update

Some Useful Tools

-Iron Wheel Carousel Tongs Rack

-Double Reversed Twisting Jig

-Torch Cart

-Universal Position Welding Jig Table

Some Blacksmithing and Foundry Links

New Arrival, A Swarm


Forge and Burner Design Information

This page has information about several of my coal and gas forges, and the "Reil and EZ-Burners," but most of the forge and burner design information can be found on my other page, the Forge and Burner Design Page. Please visit my other page if you are in need of further information. I should add that you should check out the "Mongo Burner," and the smaller versions of this burner, as well as the T-Rex and Shorty burners, before you settle on a burner design to build for your own forge or melting furnace. This information is on my other page, along with a huge volume of other information related to this topic. Do explore this present page first however, because it does have a lot of information of value that is not found on my other pages. Thank you. 

The Construction of My New Smithy

Shop on 26 June 01
(Click thumbnail to go to my Shop Construction Page.)

I decided that this narrative was becoming too long to keep on this page. I have created a separate page dedicated to the construction of the shop where I can include more detailed information and more images. Please visit my "Shop Construction Page" if you are interested in the special features my "smithy" has incorporated into it. Thank you.

My Old Open Air Smithy/Foundry

Working at my coal forge
(Click image for enlarged view)

In the background of the above picture you can see a foundry pour Blaine and I have just finished. It is on the table cooling. It is an aluminum Dutch oven lid with a special name cast into it. It was a Christmas gift for one of Blaine's friends. If you will click here you can see Blaine holding the results of our efforts. I think it was worth the work. For a close-up of the casting click here. What you see in the image is what I used to have to call my "smithy." I am elated to report that I am now working out of a very fine shop building, shown above, and no longer have to be an armchair smith in the winters.   :-)

My big gas forge, daughter Natalie, and 12" disk grinder

This is my main work-horse forge. The burner arrangement allows me to run three burners equally spaced, close together, or three burners equally spaced, and farther apart. I never run all four at one time, and normally only use one burner. The forge has an interior movable back wall, and an "idle/full valve arrangement which is hidden behind the grinder. The cart has two swing-up side tables, and a swing-up, adjustable, work support bracket (Image1, Image2) in front....a very useful addition to a basic forge. The cart allows easy movement of the forge by inserting two "wheelbarrow" type handles into the side brackets provided. Here is another image showing my entire "smithy" setup as it is in the summer, but all of which will soon be in my new shop.

My four burner propane forge is going on its 5th year of use, and its interior is still in very good condition. The floor is a little messed up near the front from welding flux, but I quickly learned to use a 1/2" thick "slick" made from a kiln shelf to protect it when doing forge welding. Barring accident, I would expect to get another 5 years or more out of the lining without any problems, perhaps considerably more. Since building this forge I have not even moved my big coal forge out for use even once, although I have fired up my small open pan coal forge on several occasions for items that would not fit in the chamber of my gas forge. The gas forge is a joy to use due to its almost instant heat and incredible economy of operation. Use of the coal forges will probably end completely when I have complete construction of the Clam-shell forge.

I made my 12" disk grinder from a new 3250 rpm, 1-1/2 hp, jet pump motor, and used a precision backing plate made by "Shopsmith", which was also new. It has a 5/8" motor shaft hole, and the platen is about 1/8" thick. It is not keyed to the shaft, just has a large set screw, so you need to have a 5/8" motor shaft with a flat side, or file one on it. I actually filed a rounded notch in the shaft, instead of a flat, to engage the set screw in order to make it more secure from loosening and sliding on the shaft. The platen is very precision made, and of high strength steel. When I turned it on for the first time I was amazed to see it rotate with virtually no wobble at all...perfectly flat running. I forged the handle from a 3/8" x  2" steel bar which I split lengthwise, and then punched and shaped to allow it to be attached directly by using the motor mounting bolts. I think that this 3/8" thick forging would be very difficult to make if you do not have a swage block. It is not easy even with a swage block. Notice the back end of the handle, which has a down dropped and rounded partial flange to prevent it sliding out of the hand. The handle is rock solid and secure in use. (Note: The "Shopsmith" disk grinder platen comes with a warning label stating not to spin it faster than 2000 rpm. I do not recommend you do so, as I am doing, unless you do your own engineering design calculations to determine if the  steel platen can be rotated safely at the higher speed. I make no suggestion that it is safe to do so. If you decide to spin it at a higher than recommended speed, you do so entirely at your own risk.)

My Blacksmithing History, and My Forge

My interest in blacksmith work started early in life when I lived in Okinawa. I built my first small "beehive" forge from clay, and was able to get metal hot enough to do some simple forging operations with it. I was only about 13 years old at the time. When I was 16, I built a bottom blown furnace which a friend and I used to melt iron to cast a simple cannon. The cannon was a grand success, capable of shooting through 16 inches of Madrona tree in my back yard! My father was not impressed.

Following the cannon episode, my "talents" were to lay hidden for many years until a good friend asked me if I wanted to help him build a simple forge to heat treat a large block of steel with. I thought it sounded interesting, and so started an epic that culminated in the construction of the forge you see in the picture at the top of this page, and eventually with the construction of my blacksmith shop. The construction of the forge took seven years on a weekend, part time, basis, but the results were worth all of it. The forge has an expandable tuyere enabling me to maintain a fire in a small radius, or lengthen the tuyere to as much as 17 inches for large heats. The tuyere block is almost three inches thick, so no matter how hot the fire, or how long I maintain it, the tuyere never gets hot enough to burn.

Inside the forge there is a swing arm crane for handling lead pots, or brass melting ladles. The forge has a hand cranked blower, and an electric blower with an air dump to vary the blast when using the powered blower. Also, the bed of the forge is fully lined with fire brick, so even after a full day of operation you can still place your hand on the outside with little discomfort. The only down side of this design is the lack of a clinker breaker. To have the variable tuyere I had to give up that convenience. That means that I have to open up the fire periodically to lift out the clinker and clear the air holes. If my timing is good, the clinker will lift out all in one big piece, making the operation quick and clean. It doesn't always work that way however.

The forge pan is constructed out of 1/4 inch steel plate which I lined with fire brick when the metalwork of the forge was complete. Following completion of the basic forge, I used the unit for several years until I found that the smoke was having an adverse affect on my health. I decided to construct a hood that would protect me from the worst of the smoke. The first version had an 8 inch diameter chimney, which was not big enough to handle the heavier smoke during some start-ups. So, I cut out the thimble and fabricated one 10 inch in diameter, and the chimney finally worked perfectly. If you would like to see a high resolution image of the finished forge, please click here.

While I was building the forge, I was also building an "anvil work station." It evolved into an anvil block welded on a heavy steel plate "work surface," i.e. small table. I also built a hold fast, or third hand, to help me work alone. I later lucked into finding several very nice anvils, one of which you can see in the picture. In the process I also collected a lot of other equipment, including five excellent post vises (including a pristine 8" Colombian post vise), two brand new pairs of blacksmith's shears, a fine post drill, and numerous other odds and ends. I have continued to build some of the many tools needed in this work, with a goal of eventually spending my time in decorative iron work.

The project was far more successful than I ever expected it to be. I have used the forge for my foundry work, easily melting large crucibles of aluminum. I have also taken heats on several large pieces of iron weighing 100 pounds or more, with no problems encountered, other than those related to the handling of massive blocks of red hot metal.

I have now had the time to get into some very fine metal work, and the future looks very bright. This "hobby" has now evolved into a small business, and its growing rapidly. I still have a ways to go before I am showing a net positive cash balance, based on what I have put into my shop and tools, but that point is getting closer every day.

I was very lucky several years ago to find a large amount of old "wrought iron", some of it in massive sections, at some of our old Idaho mining sites. I collected as much as I could, and am still finding more on occasion. I want to use this hundred year old iron for projects that would be of special interest to people. So far, about all I have made out of it is a series of leaves for key chains. They were received warmly, and are still being used by many of my friends. I don't know if it is the workmanship or the historical interest of the metal that has made them successful.

Besides my big coal forge, I have another small open pan riveter's forge that is in excellent condition, and that I have restored to look brand new for demonstration forge work. I also have completed the building of a four burner propane forge that will allow almost "instant on" forging with its Kaowool liner and reflective coating of ITC-100. The convenience of having an "instant on" forge fire is wonderful for short forge sessions in the evening. Being a 24" long cylindrical forge, it also allows me to heat much longer sections of iron uniformly than was possible for me in the past. This is more of a bladesmith's forge, and its ability to easily forge weld is a very welcome addition. Gas forge welding is far easier than coal forge welding.

As I mentioned above, I now have an 8" Colombian post vise. I obtained it as a result of a contact I made at the Sumpter flea market in Oregon. I also obtained a fine post drill for $20 from the same fellow! After cleaning it up I fitted it with a new 1/2" chuck, and it has become one of my most appreciated tools. I was amazed at how efficient the drill is. It can easily push a half inch bit through 1/4" plate in a minute or so, without a pilot hole! The post drill still has the original paint, and apparently had never been used, as the quill has no play at all.

Another post drill came into my shop that is even more surprising. It is in superb condition, no slop in the bearings, has a fine new "Ridgid" three jaw chuck, and even has the original paint on the black wooden handle. On top of all that it is a large one, fully twice as big as the above mentioned drill, has two speeds, and drills a half inch hole effortlessly. A friend offered it to me for $25, and of course I grabbed it. It had one defect, it had the quill advance arm broken off, and the part that engages the top ratchet quill advance wheel was missing. Luckily the lower half that rides the cam was still present. I forged the missing part, which involved making a split fork mounting bracket for the little ratchet pawl that engages the ratchet wheel, and after brazing it in place and painting it, the part looks completely original and works perfectly. It is now my main drill. The image indicates the part that I had to rebuild. Once in a while things come along when you are least expecting them. :-)

Another drill press that may be of interest is one that I built, which is patterned after an early 1800's press that uses a large ACME screw to apply crowd pressure to a heavy forged brace. The press uses spade bits, which I forge myself. Although not a speedy operation, it is a very easy drill to use, and can easily drill 1/2" to 1" holes through heavy plate. I was really amazed the first time that I used the press how easily it operated. I also quickly learned that the angles on the spade bits are very critical or they will drill triangular holes instead of round. I later lucked into finding a second perfect hand forged brace at the Sumpter flea market for $1 that is much heavier than the one I forged. It displays no flexure in use, even when very heavy crowd force is applied with the ACME screw feed.

The gentleman I bought the smaller post drill, and a 4" post vise, from mentioned that he had a big post vise at his ranch in Washington. I was interested, so we exchanged information. A few days later he contacted me, and I arranged to come up and have a look at it. After a 325 mile drive I arrived at his ranch to a warm welcome. After coffee and cookies, he took me out to show me the vise. At first the heavy coating of mud and horse dung concealed the condition of the vise underneath. After a little investigation I bought it, and returned the 325 miles to my home in Boise. It was not until several days later that I cleaned it up and discovered what a treasure I had come upon. It is now all cleaned up, and gleams in a coating of oil, waiting to be mounted. I feel extremely lucky to have obtained such a massive vise in such excellent condition. The jaws do not even have any hammer marks on them. Apparently it is virtually brand new and unused, and just sat in the old barn for the last 100 years or so. BTW, the little girl next to the vise in the image is my daughter Natalie when she was 4 years old.

My 4-Burner Propane Forge Design

I have completed the construction of a propane forge using the burners described in the next section below. It utilizes 4 burners in an asymmetric burner arrangement. It also has an easily movable "Kaowool board" back wall that allows for instant adjustment of the length of the forge chamber to achieve the highest temperatures possible for the given work placed into the forge. This is a naturally aspirated forge, no blowers, that easily reaches welding temperatures, and above, and I am at an elevation of 2300 feet.

Additional Image #1            Additional Image #2

Close-up of Idle/Full Valve Arrangement
Idle/Full Schematic Diagram

For a far more economical forge, you should use an "idle/full" valve arrangement so that you can instantly drop your forge to a quiet idle when you are at the anvil, or tending to some other chore, such as a phone call, etc. When you return to the forge, a simple quarter turn of the lower ball valve instantly brings the forge back up to full heat. You will discover that the forge will not lose its operating temperature when in idle mode either. The idle/full schematic diagram is self explanatory, and you can easily figure out how to adjust the upper and lower gas pressures by using the needle valve and regulator for your particular needs when starting your day at the forge. Although the schematic calls for 1/8" plumbing, you may want to use 3/8" for everything except the little bypass that has the needle valve in it. If you are using more then one burner, the larger diameter plumbing will provide a better fuel flow with less pressure drop. (Thanks goes to Rex Price of Hybridburners.com for the excellent Idle/Full schematic diagram.)

The forge uses 2" of Kaowool coated with ITC-100 "black body radiator" ceramic coating material made by "International Technical Ceramics Corporation." This material radiates 98% of all the IR that it absorbs back to the work. This creates a hotter and more economical running forge with a cooler shell.

The floor of the forge consists of a half of a 1" thick, high alumina, kiln shelf supported on six kiln shelf posts, each 1" long. The hollow kiln shelf posts are held in place by 3/8" diameter by 1/2" steel pins blind welded into the forge shell. The posts sit over the pins. With this arrangement a full circumference 1" layer of Kaowool can be installed which runs right under the floor plate, thus increasing the insulation and efficiency of the system. A second layer of Kaowool runs from one side of the floor plate up and around to the other side.

The front opening of the forge is closed with special ultra light weight, high "R", fire-bricks. I have a brick shelf constructed which the bricks rest on. To prevent accidentally snagging a brick off the shelf while removing work from the forge I have two additional spring keeper rods that hold the bricks to the face of the forge. The bricks can be moved to adjust the opening as required by different sized work pieces. With the movable back wall, and adjustable brick front end, the forge has very great versatility in its use and configuration.

If you have additional questions after viewing the burner drawing and document below, please feel free to e-mail me with them. I would be more than glad to help you with any questions, or in helping you design your own forge, propane or coal.

Update: I made two important changes to my big gas forge that should be of interest if you want to build one. I retrofitted two of my burners, #1 & #2, to the Bordeaux modification, and additionally used a new method to lock the jet tube which requires no drilling or tapping of holes. I also added an axial choke to these burners at the same time. This first image shows the details of the burner modification, and the second image shows both burners in place and in use, and also allows comparison to my old burner style on burners 3 and 4.  For more details of this burner modification please go to my burner design page and look under "Chokes".

The other change was to my movable back wall and is of equal importance and utility. I cut a small, 1-1/2" wide by 1-1/2" high, opening in the bottom center of the Kaowool board at floor level to allow long work to pass though the wall. The opening tapers inwards, losing about 1/2" of its width at the top of the opening. To do this I had to fabricate new stainless steel supports to keep the back wall vertical but allowing clearance for the opening. This allows the wall to be moved forward to create a very small chamber volume, heating only a small portion of an otherwise long item,  and preventing scale formation on those portions not heated.  In the past I had to move the back wall back for long work, which heated the entire object, even if I only had to actually work a small section in its center. I made this change so that I could obtain better finishes on things like these snakes, made from railroad spikes...also shown.

One additional operating tip, for multiple burner forges, that you need to be aware of regards how to handle the individual burners while the forge is running. If you leave the burners open, and use only one or two, the others will act like chimneys and quickly become extremely hot, damaging them. You only have to stuff a small wad of paper towel into the throat of any unused burners to prevent this, and when you wish to add a burner, just pull the paper out with a set of needle nose pliers, and immediately open the gas valve for that burner. You do not need to shut down the forge to add or remove burners from operation while the forge is running. The heat in the forge will not even scorch the paper most of the time, although it will do so to a limited degree when placing the paper into the burner throat when the forge is running due to the chimney effect. Of course this technique only works if each burner has its own individual valve, a requirement in my opinion, if for no other reason than fuel economy.

Originally my four burner asymmetric layout was intended to allow three equally spaced burners to be used close together, or three burners equally spaced but farther apart. After switching over to T-Rex burners I found that four burners are too many for the 24" length of the forge. I recommend you use only two or three burners, and a 14" diameter shell, so that you can install three inches of Kaowool. With three burners you can sill set them up to run two or three burners equally spaced, but never run all three at one time. I will be changing my forge over to use a 14" shell and three burners soon. Even if you are using Reil or EZ-Burners, use only two or three burners. The only time I can see that anyone might want to run all three burners at one time would be for bringing a long length of iron up to forge welding temperature over its full length. This may be of use when producing Damascus billets employing the "new" rolling method.

You may also be interested in my single burner "Freon Tank Mini-Forge." This little forge has been a very useful addition to my tools, and may be something that would be useful to you too.

Some Propane Burner Designs
"The Reil Burner"

I strongly suggest you read the "Side-arm Burner" note at the bottom of this section before deciding on a burner to build. It is the design I now recommend for the guy who wants to build his own burner.

I have posted a design modification to the well known "Russ Vullo/Derry Cook" propane burner (Aussie Burner) design that may interest you if you are going to build a forge. This burner will sustain an open air flame with input propane gas pressure as high as 54 psi! At that pressure the flame is blue for only 1-1/2", indicating an almost total burn at that point. It is a big jump forward from the older design. I also have a FAQ available that discusses the details for constructing the burner, as well as details of the regulator and other related equipment. There is also a section included on tuning the burner, even though the information is available elsewhere. You are welcome to share this information, but please leave all credits on the documents, both mine, and the ones for those smiths who did earlier work to help develop this burner in the past. They deserve credit too. Thank you.

Note: Brian Boorman has created an outstanding step by step pictorial web page showing the complete construction of a Reil Burner. If the line drawing linked above isn't enough information for you to work from, you may want to visit Brian's page. Go to http://metalcast.boorman.us and click the "Propane Burner" link. I want to thank Brian for his outstanding contribution to the metalworking community.

NOTE: I have now included an additional "EZ-Burner" design that you may find much easier to build. It eliminates the difficulty of doing the flare in the nozzle, and also eliminates three of the drilled and tapped holes. I am not including a drawing for this modification as it is not necessary, but I do have a burner image that may be of use. The "EZ-Burner" HTML document linked above should provide all the information you need to build this quick and easy burner. It should only require a couple of hours to complete it.... I would like to include one additional note about galvanized pipe. By all means do use it for your burner. It will not get hot enough to bother the galvanizing, except for the last 1-2 inches, and if it does, you are doing something wrong. Properly used, the burner should be cool enough to handle at all times, except for the 1" diameter nozzle piece at the end. The galvanizing will protect your burner from rust. If it does get hot enough at the end to burn off the coating, the tiny amount involved will not cause you any problems, and its a one time event.

I have recently added a very valuable image which shows how to judge your burner flame to determine if its running lean (oxidizing), neutral (best setting), or rich (safe for the iron but wastes fuel, is low in temperature, and can create a CO hazard). Credit goes to Rupert Wenig for taking the series of images of his Minimongo Burner that I was able to assemble into this very useful composite image. The only thing that varies from image to image is the choke setting. The gas pressure was set at 10 psi for all images.

A suggestion that I highly recommend to you is to use a 14T Tweco tip on your "Reil or EZ-Burner" jet tube, instead of just drilling the jet opening in the jet pipe wall. This tapered copper tip will produce a superior intake vacuum which will result in a much greater burner output. If you do decide to go this route, you should use a 2" diameter intake bell, instead of the smaller one, to allow it to draw in the additional volume of air it will require. You will also need to use a larger jet diameter to allow more gas to be injected into the burner, balancing the additional air intake, or it will run too lean. If you elect to use this modification please read the warning section at the top of the "Mongo Burner" section of my Design Page.

Here is a very cleaver way to mount your axial choke. You may need to increase the bell to 2" diameter however in order to compensate for the additional obstructions in the throat of the bell. Mr. Bill has eliminated the additional short nipple and mounted the axial choke right in the cast iron bell. Contact "Mr. Bill" if you have any questions.

Note: There is now a burner design you can build more easily than either the Reil or EZ burners. The Side-arm burner design has now been perfected, and I recommend it. It can't match the output and range of the impressive T-Rex family of burners shown below, but its still an excellent burner for any forge or furnace. I have the latest information and images available on my Design Page under the Mongo burner heading. Be sure you use the new design that uses an enlarged intake bell....see the images I have posted.

Premade Burners Are Now Available

The "T-Rex" Family of Burners

There is now a superb new premade burner available for those who do not want to build their own, or for those who want the ultimate in both quality and BTU output.This burner was selected by NASA for a secret project after they scoured the world to find the hottest naturally aspirated propane burner available. This is a turned, milled, and tuned, hybrid designed jet ejector burner which has to be experienced to be believed. For a complete description see the T-Rex Burner page.

Another burner that you may want to consider, and part of the developing T-Rex family of burners, is the "Shorty Burner." This is a miniturized T-Rex, and has applications in places where the T-Rex may not fit, or where this reduced sized burner would be more convenient. I have a Shorty Burner Page available if you would like more information.

You may go directly to Rex's own Burner page if you wish. He has a trouble-shooting page, and a price sheet there, as well as a short description of the burners he presently is producing, which now include several much larger burners than I have listed here. I will not keep his full listing of burners updated on this page now that he has this information available for you on his page. The descriptions for the T-Rex and Shorty burner I have here are more complete than what you will find on Rex's site, so you may want to read these first, and then link to his site. I have links to his site at the end of each of the above linked pages for your convenience also.

Pine Ridge Burners' "Ribbon Burner"

This is a new addition to my page, and is the only burner on my web site that is not naturally aspirated. You can get this propane/natural gas burner in a variety of lengths, from 4" square, up to 4" x 19". It is a blown, double mixing chamber, burner that has an initial fuel/air mixing chamber feeding the initially mixed gases through secondary mixing jets into a second mixing/injection chamber on the back side of the ceramic nozzle block. It achieves a very high degree of mixing, resulting in a very efficient and complete burn. The gases then pass through large diameter jet openings in the ceramic burner block into the forge or furnace chamber. The only temperature limitation for this burner system is the power of your blower. The more blower power you have the more propane or natural gas you can feed it, and the hotter your forge or furnace will be, surpassing forge welding temperature. This is not an inexpensive system to set up. If you use all the various associated air supply and safety hardware that goes with this burner you can easily approach $1000. If you already have a high pressure blower and other supporting safety hardware you can cut your costs significantly. Based on base costs, and system complexity, the T-Rex burner would be a logical choice for most smiths, but if you need maximum BTU delivery at the highest possible temperatures, this burner is an excellent choice.


Ribbon Burner

Ribbon Burner running at a low idle

An Exciting New Tool

Click images for enlarged view.
The finished Easy Hammer on my patio ready for work.
Here is a view of the hammer ready to get down to business in my shop.

I just added a wonderful new tool to my collection (April, 00). Actually it has taken me about 4 months to add it, as I had to restore it first, but it is now complete. I was very fortunate to come into possession of a 100 year old Little Giant "Easy" Helve Hammer. This is a very rare and particularly hard hitting model of power hammer. It is rated as a 35 pound hammer, but due to the lever arm of the helve hits with the force of a 50 pound Little Giant! Apparently it was stored on an Indian reservation in northern Nevada for the last 100 years in an unused condition. It was rusted and badly frozen up. At some point someone tried to run it, badly damaging one of the frozen bearings, but I have repaired all that now, and the finished hammer shows the results of my work. In fact the main bearing that is between the two little cheek plates on the helve arm is now a totally new and redesigned bearing of larger diameter. It is  now also axially lubricated with grease. I expect it will last far longer than me. I should add that the black foot-rest ring that surrounds the main treadle ring, see the finished hammer image, was made out of a 1" diameter "wrought iron" bar, as were the short 3/4" diameter support bars, to be in keeping with the age of the hammer.

The hammer turns over by hand rotation of the flywheel without any binding or noise in an amazingly smooth manor. It took a full day to shim everything into perfect alignment, but it was worth the effort. The clutch operates in a very smooth manor as well. I am elated at how it turned out, and expect to get many years of service out of it. During the restoration I converted all oil ports to Zerk fittings, so now the entire hammer uses grease instead of oil, that is everything except the clutch cones. They still need an occasional drop of bar oil. This hammer does not sling oil, a very nice feature in my opinion.

All parts, other than the main hammer body and the babbitt bearings, were "derusted" using an electrolytic rust reduction tank I put together. This resulted in a "like new" surface on all parts. If you look at the die blocks in the image you can get some idea of the quality of this process. BTW, the dies are original and unused! All parts were then painted with Rustoleum "Rusty Metal Primer" undercoating and a Rustoleum top coat as shown in the image. I have found this paint combination to be very long lasting.

When I assembled the hammer I was amazed how tight all the bearings and bushings were. There is virtually no slop or play anywhere, and by good fortune, the only damaged bearing was the one I redesigned and replaced. This hammer is actually in much better condition now than when it left the factory a hundred years ago. As I mentioned above, it took me a full day to perform the alignment of the crank arm with the plain of the helve arm motion. This apparently had never been done at the factory, or else something was knocked out of alignment sometime during the past 100 years, because I had to shim out the crank arm journal bearing casting by 3/8", as well as add an additional shim of 1/32" to tilt it slightly back toward the rear of the hammer. Apparently, performing these steps contributed substantially to the smoothness and quietness of the hammer's operation.

I explored various options to power the hammer, including "DC variable drives" and "variable frequency 3-phase drives", but finally I just bought a 1-1/2 hp, 220 volt, heavy duty motor to run it with. After I bought the motor I remembered that I had a "HiLo" variable pulley system stored in my shed, so I got that out and tried to use it to provide the means to vary the top and bottom end operating speeds of the hammer. Unfortunately, the shaft size in my pulley was not correct, and the factory would not sell me another insert to change it, so I had to buy another complete pulley with a 7/8" shaft diameter to build the power system. Even having to buy the new pulley, $110, this is a very cost effective and simple system, and provides the fine control I wanted. It varies the hammer speed from 147 rpm, up to 337 rpm. The hammer's top speed by design is 325 rpm, so it covers the useful working range quite well. Overall, I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome of this project.

I soon discovered that there are at least two distinct operating speeds, one at the upper and one at the lower ends, where the hammer and drive system seem to operate much more smoothly, so the variable speed drive system was very much worth the effort to build. Its not often that everything works out exactly as desired, but this time it did.  :-) I should add that building the drive system was the most frustrating project I ever attempted. I wanted it to be extremely compact, and getting everything to fit into the very small space I had allowed, and clear everything else (the motor adjusts back and forth about 2"), was very difficult. I had to take it apart and tweak various positionings and alignments again and again before it all finally came together and functioned as planned. Some of the clearances are as little as 1/8". I see no reason now why it should not run trouble free far into the future. It is certainly very heavily built, and its rock solid when the hammer is running.

I decided to "cut my teeth" on the helve hammer by attempting to make a snake from a railroad spike. I had been told that it was possible to draw a spike out long enough to make a good snake by using the head of the spike for the head of the snake, so I had at it. Here are the results, front view and back view, along with a railroad spike for a before and after comparison. I had to quickly make a third cobra because my little daughter Natalie took possession of my first one for her birthday present. Although the images don't do them justice, I think that they came out pretty well, considering it was my first real project on the power hammer. I found the increased control provided by the additional foot support ring made the drawing out very easy. The cobras do have eyes and nostrils, but the lighting in the images hides them. The 1st cobra had a length of 23" before I formed its coils, the second snake was slightly shorter, and the last cobra 28". I should add that shortly after the snake was done a friend came over with a big piece of 2" square bar that he wanted to put a long taper on. We heated it up and it took a very short time to draw it smoothly down to a 10" wedge with a chisel edge.  :-) 

I was amazed at the control I was able to obtain when using this hammer. It would be an easy task to crack a raw egg and not splatter the egg in the process, but only if you will hold the egg.....<grin>. This kind of control is greatly aided by the foot rest loop, allowing very precise and controlled foot control of the clutch treadle loop. This control would not be available without something to brace the foot on. Some guys place a block of wood, or some other item, near the clutch treadle and rely on it to brace the foot on. I think that this is a dangerous and insecure way to operate a hammer, and strongly recommend you take the time to build a permanent, substantial, and properly mounted, foot rest loop. You will be glad you did, and your work will be of better quality because of it. Also, the full radius foot rest loop allows you to change your position easily as needed without having to move some loose object to a new location each time. The additional step I took of using 100 year old wrought iron for the support loop bar adds to the pleasure of using the treadle in my mind. I like to be in keeping with the age of the tool when possible.

I am not the only one restoring an Easy Hammer. Pete Stanaitis is also involved in rebuilding an "Easy" for his shop. He has a page dedicated to the rebuilding of his hammer. You may find his page of interest if you read the description above of my Easy Hammer rebuilding.  :-)

An Update

This spring and summer (1998) were very productive for me. I made a fine iron rose, and am in the process of hammering out more of them. One is already sold, and two others spoken for. I also spent a lot of time building a fancy utility/canoe trailer, forging many of the parts as well. My decorative iron work has taken a giant leap forward, mostly due to the fantastic properties and ease of use of my new propane forge. It has elevated my skill level greatly, due mostly to the ease of forge welding, and wonderful visibility of the metal within the forge chamber. I did not even bring my big coal forge out of its winter storage this summer. My coal forge will always be of great value however, since the propane forge is limited in the size and shape of the work that will fit within its chamber.

My new propane gas forge has given me the confidence to attempt techniques that, previously, I felt were well beyond my skill level. To date, all my attempts at advanced technique work have been successful far beyond my expectations. I now feel that there is no practical limit to what is possible, given sufficient time to develop the various techniques involved. If you are a beginning smith, or considering blacksmithing, I would strongly suggest you start with a propane gas forge as described on this page, and on my Forge and Burner Design Page. The romance of smelling the coal smoke and seeing the coals burning, are no match for the satisfaction you will derive from seeing the beautiful work you can produce with a fine, state of the art, forge that you built. You can always build a coal forge at a later time if you still want to enjoy the thrill of the "golden age". I have prepared a separate page addressing the question of whether you should build a gas or coal forge for a first forge. Read this page if you are just starting out.

Some Useful Tools

Iron Wheel Carousel Tongs Rack

I was in bad need of a rack to store my tongs on. They have been living in a five gallon bucket far too long, and it has become quite a chore to pick out the pair I need for a given job when the pair I need is mixed in with 60-70 other pairs. What I needed was a rack that I could organize them on for ease of selection based on jaw size. Nahum Hersom had given me some 500 pages of information to run copies of, and while looking through that info I found the perfect tongs rack for my needs. It was a rotating carousel design built out of an old iron wheel. As soon as I had a free Saturday I went down to my local junk shop and searched for an old wheel. I found the ideal wheel buried in a big pile of other wheels of all sizes and descriptions. My wheel is 20" in diameter, has a 3/8" x 2" wrought iron forge-welded rim, and eight 1/2" iron spokes. Even better was the fact that it had an integral 5/8" iron axle protruding 2" out each side of its iron hub. I am guessing that the wheel was for an old wheel barrow. The wheel exactly matched the mental image I had of the ideal wheel for my needs. I was also very happy with the condition of the wheel. It was rusted, but it was in excellent overall condition, showing no wear or no rust pitting. It would clean up very nicely for painting. Sometimes a guy just lucks out.  :-)

I happily paid the $18 that was marked on it and headed home to build the rack. I decided to build the rack support structure with three legs instead of four for two reasons. Three legs always sit solidly on the floor, no rocking, and also because it was easier to do. On the following Monday I went to our local "House of Wheels" to find a good set of casters for the rack. I lucked into some extremely fine ball bearing machined steel wheel casters that must have been made in China due to the extremely low price. Casters of that quality should be $15 each, but they were priced at $3.50! I bought a set and headed home to build my tongs rack.

I used 1-1/4" iron pipe for the upright post. To fit the 5/8" axle on the wheel, I did a step down fabrication by inserting two sizes of smaller pipes, one into the other, each one 4" long with 2" of exposure in a telescoping fashion, and brazing them into permanent place. The final 5/8" pipe was a perfect fit for the 5/8" axle. The finished rack is a simple but effective structure that easily handles the 200+ pounds of tongs. I organized them on the wheel rim from the smallest jaw opening to the largest, and then added the pick-up and special purpose tongs. In the center, on the eight spokes, I added a variety of other tongs, and my supply of some 20 unfinished horse-hoof nipper tongs. When I get time I will convert them to tongs for use with the power hammer, or other needs where a rock solid grip is necessary. I particularly enjoy using the tongs I made from some of those nippers.

The finished rack moves easily where needed on its steel wheel casters, and the carousel rotation of the wheel makes selection of the tongs wonderfully convenient. Even loaded with all those tongs the wheel rotates very easily with nothing more than a slight push with a finger. It is well greased. I particularly enjoy the historic nature of the tongs rack, and its convenience and neat appearance adds a lot to my shop. The other end of the 5/8" diameter axle sticks up in the center of the wheel. I plan to forge a decorative snake that will be wrapped around it. The two ends of the snake will be used for hanging tong locking rings on so they are convenient to locate and select. I was going to make a little tray, but decided the snake would add a nice decorative touch, and would do the job just as well. If you are in need of a way to organize your tongs, I recommend the iron wheel carousel tongs rack. The iron wheels are easily available in most locations, although you may have to search a little to find one in the condition of this one.  :-) 

Double Reversed Twisting Jig

The adjustable length twisting jig is a very useful tool for making double reversed twists in various sized bars. It will allow you to make virtually perfect twists every time, if you have the bar evenly heated when its placed into the wrench jaws. I like to use an old "Ford wrench" to make my double handled twisting wrenches out of. Using a double handled wrench will allow you to apply an even force to the bar and not cause it to be bent out of alignment during the twisting process. Be sure you use the right kind of welding rod when welding the high carbon steel wrench heads to the jig, or the welds will break off the first time you use the jig. I use "UTP-65" for all such welds, expensive, but worth every penny. Also, because your hands rotate under the hot iron during twisting, the hot scale that falls off will land on your hand and wrist. Beginners usually find this uncomfortable, but you will soon get used to it, and it causes no damage.

Torch Cart

This image is of a mobile torch cart I built for my All-States oxy/propane torch. The torch has a pilot flame, and when using it I like to have a safe and convenient place for the torch when I need to put it down. I observed this torch cart design at the NWBA Spring Conference in Sisters, Oregon, at Ponderosa Forge. I thought it was such an exceptional design that I had to make one for my shop. I also made a tool tray/table that goes in place of the torch cradle when I am not using it. That way I can use this nifty little cart all the time, instead of just for the torch.

The base triangle is made of 1-1/2" x 1/4" equal leg angle iron, and each side is 2' long. The upright post is telescoping to allow height adjustment as desired. The mesh in the triangle is perforated 1/8" aluminum sheet. I made the cradle a little more fancy than the one I saw in Sisters. I forged some "fingers" on the upper end that wrap around the end of the torch to prevent it from being accidentlly knocked off the cradle when I walk by it. The one in Sisters had just a straight piece of 2" equal leg angle, with a notch cut out for the gas adjustment valve. The casters are old ones off an old chair, so have a rod mounting instead of a bolt flange. This is actually a more desirable type of caster for this application because they can be mounted at the extreme ends of the triangle corners, providing a larger "foot-print," and making it more stable. This is a really first class little torch cart, and I want to thank Jeff , of Ponderosa Forge, for making this outstanding design available to all those attending the conference.

Universal Postition Welding Jig Table

I built a table to allow me to easily weld the many welds on the little trivet table above (it is 6" square). I had to make many of them, and wanted to be able to position all the welds for flat position welding to insure the highest quality welds I can produce. The table top can spin 360 degrees, either by the ball joint itself, or by the 360 degree swivel joint just below it...the bright shiny vertical rod section in the image. The table can also tilt to 20 degrees past vertical, or 110 degrees from horizontal. The swivel socket is a very slightly tapered interference fit socket that will rotate when lifted slightly, but locks into position when weighted to prevent the table from moving while being used. The ball joint is made from an old 2" diameter, long stemmed, tow hitch ball, and the ball clamp was forged from 3/8" x 1-1/2" bar stock. I elected to use the old tow ball for two reasons, one being that it has such a long stem on it which allows the table to tilt to 20 degrees past vertical, and the other being that it is not chromed and will provide more friction to keep the table in the position it is set to without having to adjust the clamp tension.

You will notice that that table can swivel from either the ball joint, or the swivel joint below it. I did that because the ball joint will not allow the tilting of the table to vertical in all directions due to the way the clamp jaws hold the ball. I wanted to be able to tilt the table past vertical in all directions, so added the swivel joint to allow one of the two slots in the ball joint clamp to be positioned in any direction to allow this. Also, to gain the extreme amount of tilt for the table I had to attach the ball to the table top, and not to the upright of the table support. This arrangement allows me to tilt the table to vertical, and then spin the table, via the ball joint, to access each corner weld on the frame in turn. It is a wonderful feature.

In use the table is a dream come true. The ball joint tension is left untouched most of the time, and the table is changed in its position by simply grabbing the edges and tilting to the new desired position.I have my jigs set up to work together for the various stages of construction, first the square frame fabrication, then the welding on of the four legs. I have the first stage jig tack welded to the 3/16" thick steel plate table top. The leg jig is added, with four wing nutted bolts, when I am ready to start that operation. I do everything in batches of 20-25 units. One other very nice feature is that I clamp the ground cable to the base of the table support column and just forget about it. The tension in the ball joint, and in the interference fit swivel joint, allows the current to pass right through them without any arcing problems. You may want to use conductive grease, but I have not found it necessary so far.

If you have a lot of welding to do, this table may be the answer to your needs. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. It can be used for anything that can be clamped to the table top surface, jigs are not necessary.   :-)

Some Blacksmithing and Foundry Links

My Forge and Burner Design Page


Visit the Late Chris Ray's Home Page

Metal Web News

John Bump's Foundry Page...great stuff for beginners!

Cameron McKeown's Foundry Page...great stuff this one!

Rick Berry's Foundry Page....Good Stuff!

My Bees

Hive on forged iron stand.

I was thrilled when I looked up from my forging work to see a big swarm of honeybees filling the air in my yard. They settled on a branch in my hedge and I quickly decided that they were going to come live with me. I got my 6 year old daughter Natalie to join me to watch them settle on the branch, and then I let her stand back while I captured the swarm in a cardboard box. Natalie quickly became at ease with them and allowed them to walk on her arms and bare skin without any fear or stings. She was quite impressed seeing her Daddy's bare arms and face covered with bees but not being stung, and that convinced her that it was OK to let them land on her too. She did get a sting a few days later when she sat on one, but it has not dampened her trust or appreciation of them at all. She knows it was her fault for sitting on the bee, not the bee's.

Two days later another very big swarm arrived at my school and I was just barely able to save them from the exterminator who had been called to kill them. I put them into another cardboard box and placed that box next to the the first one in my back yard. Both swarms lived in their boxes for about 2 weeks while I gathered the beekeeping equipment and built the hive bodies for them to be moved into. Finally all was assembled, painted, and an iron stand forged for the hive to sit on.

Combining the two swarms into one hive was not difficult, but was extremely messy. They had managed to make quite a number of combs and partially fill them with brood, pollen, and honey, in the short time they had been in the boxes. I had honey all over the place as I removed the combs and transferred the bees into the new hive body. The two swarms were different varieties of bees, one was Italian, and the other appeared to be German. The queens fought and it appears that the Italian queen was the victor, based on the emerging young bees I am seeing. That is a good outcome as I would much prefer the Italians due to their gentle disposition and all around good qualities.  I will requeen the hive next Spring with an Italian queen however, since I have no way of knowing how old this queen is. Now I just want to see them put enough stores up to last them through the coming winter. Any honey I get this year will be just frosting on the cake, or honey on the pancakes, although I do not expect any.   :-)

My bees have become an integral part of my every day life. Every day in the Summer after working at the forge, I shut down for the day and spend several hours relaxing in front of my hive while I watch what is going on. Several times a week I have to shut my forge down early when I see bees covering the front of the hive due to a heavy honey flow. I want to experience what they are experiencing, so I move my chair up to within a couple feet of the hive and, with my beer in hand, kick back and enjoy the spectacle. I am often covered with resting bees, and for a short time become part of the intense activity that they are going through. The music of their wings is probably the best part of the experience, and the sound can become very intense when thousands of my little girls are flying around me trying to get a position in the landing pattern. I know that anyone who is part of the natural world around them will understand my words, and for those who do not understand my viewpoint, there is still time for you to become part of the world that gave rise to you. Don't pass up the chance and opportunity. You will never regret it. It, and family, are the only things that have real meaning in this world, and the natural world will be here long after we are only fossils in the rock!

Click the image for a full sized picture, or here for a closer of the bees, or here for a very close view. These images were taken on 3 July 01 at the end of a 102 degree day. The bees are too hot in the hive even though I provided them shade all day. An hour later, after dark, the number of bees "taking the air" had almost doubled. They were all back in the hive by the following morning.

Update 2000: I have now cared for my bees for a full Summer, and brought them through the Fall. The work involved in medicating them was quite an eye opener, and was much greater than necessary 40 years ago. I was a "beehaver" back in the 60's, but I am now a "beekeeper", and there is a great difference. The first thing I did was to get rid of my gloves. I now use bare arms and hands to work with my bees, and for most of the Summer I did not wear any beekeeping gear at all, just shorts and T-shirt, when I opened my hive up to work with them. I had only three stings during the entire Summer and Fall, and all three were totally my fault. As an example, I was all done working with the bees, and after putting the hive back together, I was walking back to the shed when I suddenly had an extremely hot spot develop in my armpit. I had put my arm down on a bee that had landed on my T-shirt right in my armpit. Now I don't know about you, but if someone stuck my nose into "my" armpit at the end of a hot day in August, I would probably sting too! I did not get one single sting that I don't feel was totally justified on the part of the bee. Honeybees do not fly around looking for someone to sting.

Working bees this way, as part of their world, and understanding them, has changed my entire way of looking at them, and life. I used to consider my bees somewhat of a threat, and would cover myself up as much as possible when I needed to work with them. I once received over 50 stings when I opened my hives up one cold damp morning in Oregon in 1966, but that was 100% my fault. It is a wonderful thing to become one with them, and understand them to a degree that I can now feel confident in opening them up with virtually no protection at all. Three times I have had guests, my brother being one of them, who wanted to look into my hive. I convinced them that they would be safe dressed as they were, and I opened the hive up. We pulled out frames covered with thousands of bees, but not a single sting did anyone receive, even though thousands of bees were flying all around us. I am finally beginning to feel that I have actually become a beekeeper, and there is more satisfaction in that knowledge than I can possibly convey in this narrative. It is an experience much deeper than can be encountered in our superficial daily lives where we watch TV to vicariously experience nature. In my life I have "visited" with a pod of whales, ridden the backs of 14 foot Tiger sharks in the Caribbean, and walked in the presence of the great brown bears of Alaska, but my bees are the most memorable and important to me. Our future depends on them, and on all the other creatures that make up the complex web of life. Shall we forever break the web whenever we touch it? If we are to survive into the future we must learn how to live as part of nature, and not outside of nature. We are part of the web, not apart from it and looking down upon it.

Update 2001: Well, another season has passed into history, and my bees are still making their living, no thanks to me, although I did get all their medications taken care of. This past summer was one of intense labor for me, as I worked as much as 18 hours a day, seven days a week, to get my new shop to a point where it would be snug, warm, and operational, by the time Fall arrived. I requeened the hive in May, and missed my opportunity to put a special super on the hive to produce individual little round comb honey packets. I was too involved with the shop to pay attention to the needs of the hive, and consequently lost a big swarm in early summer. The hive was incredabley active one day, and the next there were only a few listless bees siting around the entrance wondering what had happened. That depressed me greatly, but I didn't have the time to morn the loss. Fortunately the remaining queen did her job well, and soon the hive was buzzing with activity again. I ended the season harvesting one super of honey, and two hive bodies packed with bees, so I am in good shape going into winter. I look forward to managing my bees much more carefully next season.  :-)

Update 2002: This was a very successful year for my beekeeping activities. I wanted to see if I could be successful producing honey in little rounds, the most intensive and difficult kind of hive management. This image shows the harvest. I only had one "Ross Rounds Super" on the hive this year to see if I could get them to fill the rounds. All 32 rounds were completely and perfectly filled on both sides. I was extremely pleased, to put it mildly. I will expand to two Ross Supers next year, and if they can fill both completely, I may even try three the following year. The honey is excellent. Its wonderful to have such a nice, even if small, harvest this year.  :-) 

Not having experience in using Ross supers, I made one mistake. I knew I needed to keep the bees crowded to force them into the Ross Super, but I over-did it a little, and the result was a total filling of every nook and cranny in the hive with honeycomb. Even the space between the hive bodies, and the space between the top super and the inner cover, was totally packed with honey filled comb. That is where all the extracted honey came from. I will be a little more careful next year in order to prevent a repeat of this happening again. All that spur comb created a huge sticky mess when I opened up the hive to take the honey off. My wife Gretchen was very happy to have the extracted honey however, so no honey went to waste except what dripped on the grass, and the bees reclaimed most of that.

  The Personal Side

Me in my Utilikilt - superior wear for blacksmithing -or- how to get toasty knees. :-)

Me, the Z, and the Kilt

My Younger Daughter and Me at the Hagerman National Fish Hatchery

Thank You For the Visit

I no longer offer support for forge or design problems, but if you wish to contact me for other reasons you may use the e-mail link at the bottom of this page. Thank you. Ron Reil

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Page By: Ron Reil

©Golden Age Forge

23 Nov 07