The Central Arkansas Chapter of the Blacksmith Organization of Arkansas (CACBOA) met on Saturday, June 20th at the forge of Tim Huddleston in Bryant. We had 11 members present, despite the heat. Let this be a lesson to us all—sign up early for your turn to host, so you can pick the best months. I’m not sure how Tim got stuck with June, but he managed to host a great meeting anyway. Several members were busy making tongs.
One member brought an anvil that had been manufactured from several sections of a forklift tine, cut, stacked, and welded. This shop built anvil rang like the bells of Notre Dame. I’m talking Quasimodo “The bells! The bells!” loud. But after we put rubber under it and slapped magnets all over it, it toned down to just “loud.” The metal, as you might image, is actually incredibly strong, hard, flat stuff. It should make a fine anvil… for someone with no neighbors.
Tim has ninja welding skills and almost as many tools as Herman Ginger, so we all, of course, brought the projects that were too big for us wanna-be’s to tackle at our shops.
I brought a monstrosity I’ve made out of the tank from an old hot water heater. It is supposed to be a “socket” to fit on top of a 6×6 post, designed to receive 6×6 blocks with various tooling in them—a cutting plate, an extra hardy socket, a dishing tool, etc. If it turns out like I have in my head, I’ll make some project notes out of it.
Tim had seen it at my Dad’s shop last month, and told me he would help me use his acetylene torch to heat and bend it. That tank had to be 16 gauge steel—maybe even 14 gauge. It was definitely not bendable by hand—not even standing my 270 pounds on top of it and jumping up and down.
Which makes it sounds like an excellent source of heavy gauge steel, right? Especially at the price (free).
The problem we found was that the coating on the inside of the tank, which looked like just thin, high-gloss paint, was actually enamel (think glass). Poor Tim, who was doing the torchwork while I held the piece, not only had to deal with being miserably hot, but also had to deal with the enamel spalling off in tiny, razor-sharp shards of glass all over his arms.
So, while I learned that free water heater tanks may not be as good a deal as I had thought, I also learned that Tim is even more of a gentleman and friend than I had thought. Thanks Tim, for putting up with us. I won’t do that to you again!
But it is looking good…
Robert Fox, CACBOA Secretary