THE FORGE FIRE
A good fire is the first requirement for good blacksmithing. Many beginners do poor work simply because they do not recognize the importance of a good fire.
A good forge fire has three characteristics. It is clean, that is, free from clinkers, cinders, etc. It is deep, with a big center of live burning coke. And it is compact, being well-banked with dampened coal.
284. Fuel for the Forge Fire.-Blacksmithing coal is used in the forge. It is a high-quality soft coal that is practically free from sulphur, phosphorus, and other objectionable impurities. When dampened and packed down around the fire, it readily cakes and changes to coke, which is a lightweight material that burns with a clean, intense flame. Ordinary stove or furnace coal will not work satisfactorily in a forge.
285. Building the Fire.-To start a fire, first clean the fire bowl with the hands, pushing all coal and coke back on the hearth and throwing out all clinkers. Clinkers are heavy and metallic and have sharp, hard corners or projections and are therefore easily distinguished from the coke, which is light in weight and easily crumbled. Fine cinders and ashes are easily shaken through the grate into the ash pit.
After cleaning the fire bowl, dump the ash pit below the tuyere and then try the blower and make sure a good strong blast comes through. Sometimes ashes work back into the blower pipe and obstruct the blast.
Fig. 249.-The forge fire should be cleaned by pushing the shovel along the bottom of the hearth to the center of the fire, as at A, and then lifting it straight up, as at B. The clinker and ashes, if any, will be exposed and can be easily removed.
Next light a small handful of shavings or kindling from the bottom and drop onto the tuyere. Give the blower a gentle turn and rake fuel, preferably coke left from the previous fire, onto the burning kindling. Once the fire is burning well, rake more coke onto it, and bank the fire on both sides and on the back with dampened coal. This forms a mound with burning coke at the center, and the heat is concentrated in the center by the dampened coal on the outside. In a little while this dampened coal, sometimes called green coal, has gases driven off and it changes to coke.
Keep the fires burning hot!
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