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Falcon67
08-13-2009, 03:05 PM
Don't have a lot of scrap around the shop and need to get more. Know a guy that runs a shop and can bum stuff out of his pile but don't like to be a pest. Have some AL blocks but nothing really in steel and I can see some things to make with steel. Maybe a trip to the scrap yard is in order. But wait...

Then I remember "the beast" laying out by the back fence. It's a bar of metal that has been here since we moved in. It was partially buried and I found it and had to move it to do some fence work. Looks like it might have been associated with a tractor - maybe. It has a couple of holes drilled through and a single piece of 1/4" bent flat bar attached with one square head bolt. The bar is 2 3/4" square and about 4' long and weighs A LOT because it is a solid piece of whatever. The Force of Gravity is with this thing for sure. No real rust on it, but looks like some mill scale on the outside so it might be steel? Strange since it has been laying on the ground for 11 years that I've known it. I'm going to try and use the two wheeler to get it into the shop and try cutting a chunk off with the saw, then maybe try a spark test and see what it is. Would be nice if it was machinable steel. Any guesses?

macona
08-13-2009, 03:19 PM
You want to use it for what? And you dont have a clue what it is??? Mystery metal is best left a mystery. Go by a piece of what you need.

Carld
08-13-2009, 03:25 PM
It's probably a piece of hot roll if it has scale on it and has not rusted very much. Being buried would probably keep the rain and elements from rusting away the scale.

websterz
08-13-2009, 03:44 PM
You want to use it for what? And you dont have a clue what it is??? Mystery metal is best left a mystery. Go by a piece of what you need.

BAH...mystery metal is part of the fun! ;)

darryl
08-13-2009, 04:00 PM
It's not recommended to start a bandsaw blade in an existing cut, but- why not start a hacksaw cut at some appropriate point and see how well it cuts. If you can hacksaw without 'something' preventing the blade from going in, then I'd feel better about putting it on the HV bandsaw. Just be careful if you're going to saw into the cut left from the hacksaw. Lower the feed slowly until the sides of the hacksaw cut are cleaned up, then proceed normally after that.

If you waste a hacksaw blade by finding out that material is remelted bedsprings and manganese/diamond nodules, like sash weights, etc, then it certainly saves your bandsaw blade and you from a lot of frustration.

JCHannum
08-13-2009, 04:15 PM
Before you drag it into the shop, check it with a magnet and a file. If it is magnetic, and it probably is, it is ferrous. If you can file it without the file skating off, it should be machineable. Proceed to step 2.

Step 2. Saw off a chunk and try to machine it.

It is probably mild steel, more than likely hot rolled. It should machine fairly well, but might not produce the best surface finish.

Forrest Addy
08-13-2009, 04:27 PM
Yeah. Mystery metal. PITA. Free stuff is both a temptation and a potential for disaster. There are some simple tests you can run on presumptive steel in your home shop using common equipment.

Eyeball inspection of course. Does it rust? Is the cut section darker than known aluminum or stainless? Polish it up an area to bright metal. Apply a little phosphoric acid (paint store metal prep solution). Let it react for a few minutes. Clean off the residue with clear water and a toothbrush. Examine the etched surface under 10 X magnification. Compare what you see with the basic images of microstructure you see in metallurgy texts. Is the metal pearlitic, ferritic, etc.

Bend test. Cut a disk from the end. Saw a 1/4 x 1/4 or smaller piece from it. Bend it in a vise. Does it brittle fracture? Does it bend? Crack? What is the appearence of the bend?

Magnet. Does it stick. Lay the material in the open on a wood saw horse. Walk around it with a compass. Does the needle point torards it or does the nesdle spin away suddenly as though you passes the pole of a magnet? Does iron dust from under the grinder stock to it in tufts?

A spark test where you touch it on a grinding wheel and oberve the sparks. There's a handy chart on Anvilfire.com.

File test. Dust off the material with a grinder to get to bare metal. File on it a few strokes. Try the same test on known material like structural steel or alloy steel. Does it file easier or harde?

Hardening test. Saw off a slice, heat to red heat and quench in cold water. Does it crack? Does it get "glass hard" by file test? Does it toughen up by file tenst with the parent material.

Saw off two thin chunks and weld them at a right angle with a single bead using 6011 or 6013 rod or E70 MIG wire. Break the weld and examine the fracture. Is there is evidence of ductile tearing? Brittle fracture, Failure at the fusion line, base metal, weld metal?

No one of these test is definitive but they are quick to accomplish. It might take an hour to run them all. These tests are pieces to the puzzle that when assembled will give you a rough idea of what the material is suited for.

Personally I would NOT use mystery metal for anything but non-critical projects like making a boring bar or a shaft for a shop made grinder arbor. Resist good ol' boy advice unsupported by education or diversified ezperience. If you make anything critical like a trailer axle, lifting gear, pins for a truss, stressed parts, or power driven equipment etc, I strongly suggest you or anyone work only with material that can be positively identified. If the material is of sufficient size, take a sample to a metallurgical lab and spark tested. Might be the cheapest $30 you ever spent.

radkins
08-13-2009, 04:32 PM
I am and always have been a connoisseur of fine junk and I have found that unknowneum has lots of uses and a chunk that big would cost a nice bit of change no matter what kind of steel it is, nice find! :)

tmc_31
08-13-2009, 05:12 PM
Hey Chris,

I will be interested in hearing if your mystery metal is usable or not. I would test cut with a hack saw and if it cut ok I would put it in the band saw and saw off a chunk small enough to put in the mill ( or lathe).

I scored a 3'X2" round bar from the lighting job I did recently at Shotwell Stadium. I hope I will get a chance soon to try the above on it.

Did you find a mill?

Tim

Falcon67
08-13-2009, 05:15 PM
If nothing else, when I haul off the dead F150 behind the shop it'd add at least 100 lbs to the scrap total. :D

I hope it is usable - would not use it for critical items, but would be nice to have a mass of machinable material to play with. Just for "stuff".

The hacksaw and file ideas are excellent - I'll do that first before trying to lift the thing. Clarification - was buried when I found it, has been laying on the surface more or less for 11 years. Under the shade of the pecan tree, slowing making it's own dent in the ground.

This could be fun - will post a pic later.

>Did you find a mill?
G0484 on order.

camdigger
08-13-2009, 06:58 PM
It's a bar of metal that has been here since we moved in. It was partially buried and I found it and had to move it to do some fence work. Looks like it might have been associated with a tractor - maybe. It has a couple of holes drilled through and a single piece of 1/4" bent flat bar attached with one square head bolt. The bar is 2 3/4" square and about 4' long and weighs A LOT because it is a solid piece of whatever. No real rust on it, but looks like some mill scale on the outside so it might be steel? Strange since it has been laying on the ground for 11 years that I've known it. I'm going to try and use the two wheeler to get it into the shop and try cutting a chunk off with the saw, then maybe try a spark test and see what it is. Would be nice if it was machinable steel. Any guesses?

It's a bit of a mystery.... 2 3/4" square is pretty heavy for any piece of a tractor - even the drawbar. Most aren't thicker than 2" and those are generally rectangular instead of square. If it's old enough to have a square head bolt in it (if it's original), it may be old enough to be wrought iron - similar to mild steel, but has less carbon, is tougher, gummier so is harder to machine. Here's another hint... take a portable drill to it with a sharp bit. The swarf/cuttings may give some clue. Cast iron won't make curls like MS or wrought iron. If a drill will cut it, it's machinable without annealing. For a spark test, an angle grinder in low light (twilight) may be a suggestion too. I can see someone doing themselves an injury trying to hold that thing up to a bench grinder:D

If you have extension cords and/or cordless drills, you may be able to do some testing without even moving the great lump of treasure.

darryl
08-13-2009, 08:09 PM
Aha! I like the drill method, and from the swarf you can learn something about the steel. At worst you lose a drill bit, at best you have a material you can use for- as Forrest aluded to- non-critical applications.

torchroadster
08-13-2009, 10:09 PM
Yeah. Mystery metal. PITA. Free stuff is both a temptation and a potential for disaster. There are some simple tests you can run on presumptive steel in your home shop using common equipment.

Eyeball inspection of course. Does it rust? Is the cut section darker than known aluminum or stainless? Polish it up an area to bright metal. Apply a little phosphoric acid (paint store metal prep solution). Let it react for a few minutes. Clean off the residue with clear water and a toothbrush. Examine the etched surface under 10 X magnification. Compare what you see with the basic images of microstructure you see in metallurgy texts. Is the metal pearlitic, ferritic, etc.

Bend test. Cut a disk from the end. Saw a 1/4 x 1/4 or smaller piece from it. Bend it in a vise. Does it brittle fracture? Does it bend? Crack? What is the appearence of the bend?

Magnet. Does it stick. Lay the material in the open on a wood saw horse. Walk around it with a compass. Does the needle point torards it or does the nesdle spin away suddenly as though you passes the pole of a magnet? Does iron dust from under the grinder stock to it in tufts?

A spark test where you touch it on a grinding wheel and oberve the sparks. There's a handy chart on Anvilfire.com.

File test. Dust off the material with a grinder to get to bare metal. File on it a few strokes. Try the same test on known material like structural steel or alloy steel. Does it file easier or harde?

Hardening test. Saw off a slice, heat to red heat and quench in cold water. Does it crack? Does it get "glass hard" by file test? Does it toughen up by file tenst with the parent material.

Saw off two thin chunks and weld them at a right angle with a single bead using 6011 or 6013 rod or E70 MIG wire. Break the weld and examine the fracture. Is there is evidence of ductile tearing? Brittle fracture, Failure at the fusion line, base metal, weld metal?

No one of these test is definitive but they are quick to accomplish. It might take an hour to run them all. These tests are pieces to the puzzle that when assembled will give you a rough idea of what the material is suited for.

Personally I would NOT use mystery metal for anything but non-critical projects like making a boring bar or a shaft for a shop made grinder arbor. Resist good ol' boy advice unsupported by education or diversified ezperience. If you make anything critical like a trailer axle, lifting gear, pins for a truss, stressed parts, or power driven equipment etc, I strongly suggest you or anyone work only with material that can be positively identified. If the material is of sufficient size, take a sample to a metallurgical lab and spark tested. Might be the cheapest $30 you ever spent.


Forrest; Wow - there is a ton of great information here...some obvious some I would have never thought of.... question is based on the outcome of each of these tests what would be the conclusion?

Falcon67
08-13-2009, 11:48 PM
Got home late, but took a couple of pics anyway. Will try a drill tomorrow evening, but I did rub on it a second with a hack saw and it did cut the bar. I would not want to try sawing through that thing by hand - just not that motivated. :D

The Piece - 2 3/4" x 5' 5" long. I'm no small guy, can seat press several reps at 180, etc - with a squat and a grab of the stick up, I can pick up one end.
http://raceabilene.com/misc/machine/MysteryMetalA.jpg
The "bracket" is 1/2" or 9/16" thick.

Scuffed it with a worn flap disk:
http://raceabilene.com/misc/machine/MysteryMetalB.jpg

And - since it was dark, sparks!
http://raceabilene.com/misc/machine/MysteryMetalC.jpg

Mild steel?

tmc_31
08-14-2009, 12:15 AM
Chris,

Looks like a find! I think saw in a previous post that you had a bandsaw. If you don't, I have one and you are welcome use it to cut that monster up.

Tim

TGTool
08-14-2009, 11:31 AM
And - since it was dark, sparks!
http://raceabilene.com/misc/machine/MysteryMetalC.jpg

Mild steel?

Those stars or bursts show that it has a fair amount of carbon in it. This is from The Starrett Book for Student Machinists and yours looks similar to their picture of annealed malleable iron with red sparks close to the wheel, straw colored sparks and many spurts.

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f244/TGTool/SteelSparkTest.jpg

camdigger
08-14-2009, 11:43 AM
+1 for a carbon steel. If you want to narrow it down further as to composition, try the same angle grinder trick on a scrap or two of known composition under similar lighting.

Now I'd try a drill on it and see if it will cut OK.

DICKEYBIRD
08-14-2009, 02:29 PM
Forrest; Wow - there is a ton of great information here...some obvious some I would have never thought ofYup, that's one of the quickest & best set of metal ID instructions I've seen. Just good basics and common sense. But hey, it's Forrest...what else would we expect.:)

I have saved it as "Mystery Metal ID" into my Machining Stuff folder on my shop PC for future use.

Falcon67
09-10-2009, 12:23 AM
Update - it's a brick, but I managed to drag it into the shop and up on the saw, then hacked some pieces off. Cuts very nice, very pretty stuff. I think I'll be sad when I finally use it up. That should take a while. :p

http://raceabilene.com/misc/machine/MysteryMetalD.jpg
http://raceabilene.com/misc/machine/MysteryMetalE.jpg
http://raceabilene.com/misc/machine/MysteryMetalF.jpg

EVguru
09-10-2009, 04:49 AM
I've got about 18" of 4" dia. mystery bar at home. It came from work where it had been the counterbalance weight for an autoclave hatch. The bandsaw copes with it just fine and it machines to a beautiful finish, but get the feed/speed wrong and it wipes out an HSS tool out in an instant.

Evan
09-10-2009, 07:53 AM
Mystery metal is best used as weight. Works great on my post pounder on my Land Rover.

http://metalshopborealis.ca/pics2/pounder4.jpg

http://metalshopborealis.ca/pics2/pounder6.jpg

chandler0109
09-10-2009, 11:50 PM
Not wanting to hijack the thread here, but…….

Forrest - if the metal were magnetic what might that tell about it? Just hoping to learn a little more, I understand the other tests, what you’ve listed are quite comprehensive and practical.

Thanks

Chandler

Falcon67
09-11-2009, 11:41 AM
It drills fair - I turned a square chunk down on the lathe last night, seeing if I could make another steering wheel adapter. It (and I didn't do anything with speeds or feeds, just left the lathe where it was - about 600 RPM) spit out tons of small chips. When I got the chunk round, I bit off about .03 and got some very thin, very hot ribbons ( mostly blue) but mostly hot little chips. I got the diameter and then started to drill it through. Started with a 1/4 intending to work up to 9/16. The 1/4 went in (using drill/tap lube) maybe 1/2" before it either got work hardened or the little chips balled up so bad it stopped the cutting. I cleaned out the hole and sent the drill in again and it cut a few revs then stopped again. The lathe complained more than I'd expected as soon as the bit hit the material.

1937 Chief
09-12-2009, 02:05 PM
I like to collect scrap iron like my Dad did. Whenever I find a useable piece it goes in my saved iron pile. I have saved many trips to the iron yard by using my own metal.Neighbors know where to bring their scrap metal. Stan

John Stevenson
09-12-2009, 02:21 PM
Update - it's a brick, but I managed to drag it into the shop and up on the saw, then hacked some pieces off. Cuts very nice, very pretty stuff. I think I'll be sad when I finally use it up. That should take a while. :p

http://raceabilene.com/misc/machine/MysteryMetalD.jpg
http://raceabilene.com/misc/machine/MysteryMetalE.jpg
http://raceabilene.com/misc/machine/MysteryMetalF.jpg

You know what, that looks to me like a quick change tool post and 12,000 holders.

.

gunbuilder
09-12-2009, 10:53 PM
You know what, that looks to me like a quick change tool post and 12,000 holders.

.
Bingo, John. That is what I see too.

Thanks,
Paul

J Tiers
09-13-2009, 12:15 AM
"Generic carbon steel" is scary stuff........

I'd had a piece of what looked like ordinary hot-rolled for a while. Made a mill table vise with it, finally, and dang near threw away the remainder.......

That stuff would work harden faster than Mabel gets her dress off, and when it did, it was seriously hard. Did the classic "feed wind-up" followed by a cut, and another "wind-up", until the HSS cutter gave up by fracturing corners off the teeth. Acted like nasty SS, except that it rusted.

I ended up finishing it with a carbide insert mill cutter, going very slow, about 30 rpm with a 4" diameter cutter, and steady fairly aggressive feed.

I don't know what it was, but I don't want any more of it in a hurry.

dp
09-17-2009, 02:14 AM
Mystery metal is nothing more than a methodical step away from being a project. Here's how it's done:

http://www.frets.com/HomeShopTech/TechMill/RustySalvage/rustysalvage.html

Don't be put off by metal from unusual sources - imagine Michelangelo stepping up to a rock and not seeing Pietà or David in it.

oldtiffie
09-17-2009, 02:55 AM
Nice job.

Lucky too.

My guess is that Michelangelo not only personally selected that marble from a known source but knew its qualities to a very high degree of probability. Perhaps the "hard spot" was under "David's" fig leaf? Perhaps it was sized to suit Goliath and fell off?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David



The cast of David at the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum), had a detachable plaster fig leaf, added for visits by Queen Victoria and other important ladies, when it was hung on the figure using two strategically placed hooks; it is now displayed nearby. [5]

from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelangelo%27s_David

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelangelo%27s_Piet%C3%A0

I never keep any "mystery metal". If I get it, it is because it was incorrectly supplied.

Either way, it goes straight to garbage - end of story.

Metal is cheap compared to ruined tools/cutters etc.

If I don't know what I'm starting with - I don't start.

How many have the resources to buy a new cutter or to retrieve or sharpen it?

And if the cutter gets through the "mystery metal" and gets put away without checking and forgotten about until it shags a job that is important etc. - what value was that "real good" bit of "mystery metal".

Would you seriously use it for a client job in your shop?

If not - why use it one of your own?

I am always pleased to see/hear of someone getting lucky, and there does seem to be a lot more of them than there are of those who were not so lucky.

I'd have thought that the odds would have been a lot more even than they seem to be as reported.

I wonder why that is?

Perhaps we have some Alchemists here:


The best-known goals of the alchemists were the transmutation of common metals into gold (called chrysopoeia) or silver .................


from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alchemist

macona
09-17-2009, 04:32 AM
Recently had a guy at work (TechShop) milling a piece of mystery metal and took the corners off the tips of his brand new endmill. (We dont supply them). He picked it up at a scrap yard. Asked him which was cheaper, a unknown chunk of steel or a nice 1/2" Niagara endmill?

With some steels, especially stuff like "Structural Steels" like A36 you dont know whats in there some times. Going along time and wham, there goes some teeth on the bandsaw...

A friend of mine then found him posting over on CNCzone where he was trying to blame the mill (A nice, tight Gorton) as he was used to "Bridgeports" :rolleyes: Which he had never touched either.

J Tiers
09-17-2009, 08:55 AM
Yep, mystery metal will destroy your shop, break all your tools, and keep the tomatoes from setting fruit........

If you don't have a melt analysis and a complete paper trail of all subsequent possessors and the processing they applied to the piece, you're all gonna die.

NOT

What you use for a part depends on what the part does, because the important properties for that part depend on what is needed.

I seriously doubt that anyone would suggest mystery metal would make a bad weight, if its only important property is mass.

If the part is non-critical, the only remaining questions are about whether you can machine the piece to the required shape, not the melt analysis. And, just about all machining problems can be solved by a bit of up-front checking, followed by sensible settings.

The saw check is a good one. If the saw scoots over it, you aren't gonna cut it. Don't try.

Then, after that, DO NOT set the mill to its highest speed, and depend on a slow feed to keep it happy...... do the reverse, slow down the speed, and hand feed until you get a "feel " for what's going on. Then you can set a power feed if you want. Stuff that burns the corners off your cutter when you set the mill to "super overdrive", cuts fine at a slow speed and higher feed.

If you assume you are dealing with tool steel, you will rarely be disappointed. If it will take a higher speed, fine. If not, you are ready for that, and will not meanwhile have burned up the tool.

Sanctimoniously saying "I throw away all mystery metal" is fine, I am sure, but does mark you as a Pharisee. I'd bet you really do NOT do that, you rusted sepulchers. You likely use whatever you have a good idea about, for non-critical things, just like the rest of us sinners and publicans.:D

Falcon67
09-17-2009, 11:16 AM
You know what, that looks to me like a quick change tool post and 12,000 holders.

.
X2 - lotsa tool holders, already have the QCTP. And spacers, misc mounting blocks, sliding weight for the band saw, vice jaws, drill or tap guides, misc stuff.


...and keep the tomatoes from setting fruit........
Hey! I have that problem! The chunk is now in the garage, isolated from the 'mater plant. So we'll see.

I also have a stack of "tie plates" from when the railroad replaced a bunch of stuff. Wonder what is their composition?

davidfe
09-17-2009, 12:49 PM
Nice job.
SNIPPED A LOT

Perhaps we have some Alchemists here:


from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alchemist

Hey Old Tiffie,

Search this stuff!

ORMUS PRODUCTS

M-STATE ELEMENTS

Add that to your alchemist info.

David

oldtiffie
09-17-2009, 05:57 PM
Yep, mystery metal will destroy your shop, break all your tools, and keep the tomatoes from setting fruit........

.................................................. ......

.................................................. .........


Sanctimoniously saying "I throw away all mystery metal" is fine, I am sure, but does mark you as a Pharisee. I'd bet you really do NOT do that, you rusted sepulchers. You likely use whatever you have a good idea about, for non-critical things, just like the rest of us sinners and publicans.:D

Thanks JT.

Me - a Pharisee?? Sanctimonious? ............... don't think so ....................... them that are might resent it!!! From my experience, the Devil (if there is one) is in the detail.

Stick in the mud, PITA etc. etc. - yep all of those things and more - that's me to a "T" ................. but anything that smacks of "religious" is "not me" - at all!!!

For me, "mystery metal" is one of those things that the worry is not so much what it may cost if I don't use it as opposed to what it may cost if I do!!!

Metal is still cheaper than cutters. I can get an excellent range of metals locally (10 Kms - 6 miles return trip) either off the rack or ordered in (next day or 2 days at most) where-as a good cutter needs either a 90 Km (55 miles) return trip or longer - or a postal or courier delivery service.

I've got the equipment to re-sharpen most tools if needs be - if they are worth re-sharpening.

I have no problem with others doing as they wish - and I wish them well as most seem to get it right most times - but not always.

Most of the stuff that I use that is new known metal pretty well eventually goes straight into the scrap bin as I only use it to make stuff for the shop or to see if I've got the skills or the process right.

I try to keep the amount and types of metals etc. in the shop to a minimum.

I would guess that there are quite a few here who "pigged out" buying lots of "metal" that they really didn't and don't need that they may now wish that they still had the money they spent on it or the tool that they need now that that "just in case" metal in the rack could have paid for.

dp
09-17-2009, 10:46 PM
I never keep any "mystery metal". If I get it, it is because it was incorrectly supplied.

Either way, it goes straight to garbage - end of story.

Metal is cheap compared to ruined tools/cutters etc.

If I don't know what I'm starting with - I don't start.

How many have the resources to buy a new cutter or to retrieve or sharpen it?

And if the cutter gets through the "mystery metal" and gets put away without checking and forgotten about until it shags a job that is important etc. - what value was that "real good" bit of "mystery metal".

Would you seriously use it for a client job in your shop?

If not - why use it one of your own?

I am always pleased to see/hear of someone getting lucky, and there does seem to be a lot more of them than there are of those who were not so lucky.

Holy Schmokes, Tiffie - I thought for a moment I was on the elitist machinist BBS at PM! I know you're a great advocate of considering the OP's post and situation, and it seems to me he's not building to sell, but like of lot of us hobbyists, uses what's in the bin. Frank's method of sneaking up on mystery metal and taking a bit of time to understand it is a reasoned approach to metal working on a budget from the HSM perspective.

For some projects the kind of metal just doesn't matter much. As for stocking up, I buy only 1018 and 12L14, and in variety packages at that. I don't run or expect to run any production work.

As for would I use it for my projects, heck yeah. Some of the stuff I've found unmarked in a metal warehouse I hammered into rings to make pot holders for my wife's garden, for example. Mystery is pretty good for that, and often cheap, too.

J Tiers
09-17-2009, 10:52 PM
I also have a stack of "tie plates" from when the railroad replaced a bunch of stuff. Wonder what is their composition?


Look out for tie plates, and anything else railroad-related.

Most of that metal is mean stuff. The railroad cuts it with big abrasive wheels, when they need to replace a piece, like they did up the hill from work. Saw 'em do it while I was taking my lunch walk.... missed the thermite though.

Every so often, the UP runs a rail grinder through. I saw the last one, Pandrol-Jackson grinder train. That was weeks ago, and a lot of coal trains, but you can still see the grinding marks. Tough steel.

The places that were thermite welded, and the HAZ around them, they don't peen down as you'd expect for annealed steel. They stay flat with the top of the rails. And it isn't an easy area, it's the UP, and there are coal trains every hour, each one loaded with up to 249000 lb per car, 130 cars, 3 locos. I figure each wheel carries about 15 tons, and each train hits the joint well over 500 times with at least 10-15 tons on the wheel. Several thousand "hits" per day.

Don't count on doing much with that steel, except with abrasives.

Evan
09-17-2009, 11:04 PM
The railroads use both ordinary structural steel and toughened hardenable carbon/manganese steel. That applies to rails, spike and plates. The spikes and plates will usually have an H stamped on them somewhere if they are hardened, but not always.

camdigger
09-17-2009, 11:22 PM
According to various contacts, rail road road bed components do vary quite a bit. On the prairies an most spur lines, I'm told that rails are a variety of carbon steel. Mountain roads and some yard roads are more sophisticated steels. The track plates that sit on the ties, I have no idea what they might be.

I do know I had no trouble milling off the curved top of a piece of 100#/yd rail of unknown composition with the chicom brazed insert face mill that came with my mill/drillto make my anvil:D The rail had been in service a while before it broke because it had a mushroomed edge almost 1/8" thick down the inner side of the top of the rail. I've heard many tails of cutting rails with a hand hack saw and some hardware store blades. 2 guys in shifts over a couple hours fueled by a 12 pack of offsales from the hotel down the street cut a 100#/yd rail twice... I used a oxyacet torch to cut the rail and shape the anvil horn with no issues. I don't recall any spark show like high carbon steel, looked just like structural sparks.


In a perfect world, I guess I'd be able to afford America made equipment and buy all mill traceable materials with color coding and composition certificates without bending over and reaching for the personal lubricant, but reality is all I can justify is Chinese/Tiawanese machine tools and salvaged mystery metal. I don't do any work for clients and rarely do any work for anyone else. I just plain don't have time. my own list of projects takes priority....

darryl
09-17-2009, 11:24 PM
Had my fun with a piece or rail awhile back. Stripped some teeth from the bandsaw blade, toasted a hacksaw blade (though that's what actually did cut through the hard spots).

Had another piece of misery metal some time ago. I think it is aluminum bronze, but I'm just guessing based on the coloration. Couldn't get more than a few seconds use of a sharp hss cutter.

Come to think of it, I'll have to dig it out and do a spark test. Don't know why I saved it, except out of respect for its toughness.

I know that some of you use bed rails for various things. That might as well be considered misery metal. You can hit hard spots and there goes your blade or drill bit.

oldtiffie
09-17-2009, 11:46 PM
Holy Schmokes, Tiffie - I thought for a moment I was on the elitist machinist BBS at PM! I know you're a great advocate of considering the OP's post and situation, and it seems to me he's not building to sell, but like of lot of us hobbyists, uses what's in the bin. Frank's method of sneaking up on mystery metal and taking a bit of time to understand it is a reasoned approach to metal working on a budget from the HSM perspective.

For some projects the kind of metal just doesn't matter much. As for stocking up, I buy only 1018 and 12L14, and in variety packages at that. I don't run or expect to run any production work.

As for would I use it for my projects, heck yeah. Some of the stuff I've found unmarked in a metal warehouse I hammered into rings to make pot holders for my wife's garden, for example. Mystery is pretty good for that, and often cheap, too.

Thanks Dennis.

And for the unintended back-handed complement but I can assure you that me and "elitist/elitism" are just not a good fit nor do we "go together" very well at - or if - at all.

My - for want of a better word - "style" is more that of "Steptoe and Son" - I relate more to the father, Albert Edward Ladysmith Steptoe Esq. - as you can imagine.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steptoe_and_Son

http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&q=steptoe+and+son&btnG=Search&meta=

http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=steptoe+and+son+site+youtube.com&meta=&aq=9&oq=stepto

I have no problem with that Dennis - at all.

To each his own.

I had very fixed intent of hammering some stuff that some wanted "worked on" right up into their rings too!! The problem was not so much getting it into their rings as keeping it there was.

My metal supplier supplies the "Trade" and I get "trade" prices (way, way better and cheaper than retail) on anything in the racks - or out in the yard. Bolts, screws, welding consumables etc. etc. I get it cut while I wait as its a lot quicker than my 6 x 4 band-saw and beats the snot out of me cutting it with my "gas axe" or plasma cutter and trying to machine it!

If I need sheet I can get it guillotined and/or put on the press-brake as well. The cost is nominal and very reasonable - and I have un-warped plate with clean sheared edges to work with.

Same applies with rolled steel sections and tubes and aluminium or stainless steel etc.

Its pretty much the same for bearings as well - just three "doors" up the road.

Sure, I can come the testosterone-charged hairy-chested bit - but why should I when I don't have to and it just simply doesn't make any sort of sense - to me anyway.

That's just me and my way.

The way that others work and that works for them is just as valid.

camdigger
09-17-2009, 11:54 PM
......toasted a hacksaw blade (though that's what actually did cut through the hard spots)......

Had another piece of misery metal some time ago. I think it is aluminum bronze, but I'm just guessing based on the coloration. Couldn't get more than a few seconds use of a sharp hss cutter.

Come to think of it, I'll have to dig it out and do a spark test. Don't know why I saved it, except out of respect for its toughness.

I know that some of you use bed rails for various things. That might as well be considered misery metal. You can hit hard spots and there goes your blade or drill bit.

Yup, that can happen. There's even been complaints of inclusions and hard spots, varying composition in material and castings with supposedly good pedigrees. That's why the testing is so important and I'd add another proviso... use inexpensive tooling for mystery metal. HSS flycutters where ever possible, and stuff that can be resharpend in your own shop like drill bits. Oh... and be prepared to use less speed than opitimized for material removal and judge speed and feed for tool life instead.

FWIW, most of the mystery metal I have laying around was free to me:cool: ... makes all the difference...

I recall several stories re barbell, window weights, and other assorted recycled material from several posters in this thread now claiming the "proven pedigree only" rules... Wait... maybe they're being sarcastic???

J Tiers
09-18-2009, 12:00 AM
The railroads use both ordinary structural steel and toughened hardenable carbon/manganese steel. That applies to rails, spike and plates. The spikes and plates will usually have an H stamped on them somewhere if they are hardened, but not always.

Dunno about hardened. If any of the high iron up the hill on the UP main line is hardened, the thermite un-hardened it PDQ.

The story I have on it is the stuff work-hardens very well, and in consequence is a bit of hell to cut without abrasives.. That would be exactly right for rails, the more they are "worked" the harder the worked area gets, reducing wear. Wear is bad since there is a lot of rail to replace if it is worn.

But the rest of the rail would remain softer and tough, so it would not tend to fracture like hardened material might.

I suspect an eventual problem, there are a couple spots on the main where the ballast is bad and the rails bounce several inches between cars... That could work-harden the whole rail eventually......and lead to a possible fracture and de-railment. The rails bend right where a level crossing holds them steady.... stress point.

They already had to clean up after one a few miles west, this one could put coal and cars in the yards of the surrounding houses. It's right at the level crossing on a "T" street, only 50 feet to the houses, or at least their yards. A nice curve right there also, the later cars might go off the curve and make a big mess down the hill.

What's odd is that they have been all over the area fixing, but they went away without touching that spot, except to replace a rail section 30 feet from it.

Falcon67
09-18-2009, 01:25 AM
I got the tie plates from a stack by a crossing - after the UP came though and replaced just about everything. Upgraded the road bed, replaced rails, re-did grade crossings, etc. They did the upgrade to speed up the freights. They go through here 55~65 MPH now.

I have a little 4" piece of rail that makes a killer versatile anvil. Just as is. I need to go prowl and see if there is any more - they didn't do a great cleanup job. Ties and long sections of replaced rail laid around for almost a year.

Evan
09-18-2009, 02:19 AM
I'm under the impression that most rail steels are air hardening. They harden due to composition, not due to treatment. That generally includes managanese steel and the more managnese the more pronounced the effect is. Manganese is the primary contributor to the toughness of abrasion resistant steel. To anneal AR steels they must be cooled at an extremely slow rate over a time period of days. If allowed to cool in air they harden back to the condition before welding.



I recall several stories re barbell, window weights, and other assorted recycled material from several posters in this thread now claiming the "proven pedigree only" rules... Wait... maybe they're being sarcastic???

I have always found barbell weights to be made from cast iron. They are very predictable in that the smaller the weight the more white cast iron will be found because of the faster cooling rate. Larger weights are mostly grey cast iron with only a thin crust of white iron to be removed. Once through that crust they machine very nicely, like any other grey iron.

Sash weights are normally nearly all white iron because of the small diameter which causes rapid cooling. People blame inclusions for the problems often encountered machining cast iron weights when really the hard spots are the same material as the rest but with a different crystal structure due to the cooling rate after casting.

White iron can be annealed easily by heating to a dull red and allowed to cool buried in dry sand. This will turn white iron into ductile iron which is easily machined. On the other hand grey cast iron may be turned into white iron by heating to red/orange and quenching in oil or water depending on the section. This has a limit of around 4 inches section because to form white iron the cooling rate must be fast enough to prevent the transformation from martensite to pearlite. Thin sections should be oil quenched to avoid cracking.

Now, if you want real mystery metal try commercial nuts and bolts. Up to grade 8 at least they are not specified by alloy but only by a minimum strength spec. They may be harder or softer or tougher or more brittle as long as they meet the tensile strength specification.

J Tiers
09-18-2009, 08:45 AM
Air hardening would naturally do it, although the weld alloy would need to have the same properties, the welds are rather wide, up to almost an inch in some cases. Otherwise the weld area would end up depressed below the surface under the hammering of the wheels.

I'd try a simple hardness test on the rails, except that the Sicherheitsdienst would probably show up and ask a lot of questions. I don't particularly want to get involved with them.

The rails can't be exceptionally hard, because they can be bent and will "take a set". I don't think they are heated for bending, except for special cases. And the upper surface tends to be deformed a bit over time, again suggesting that the hardness may be relatively low.

I should have paid more attention when they were cutting the rails. It was effectively a spark test. My recollection was that the sparks were nothing special, just orange sparks rather like sparks from a cutting torch. The particles may have been too large to show a good test, they cut the rails with a 24" coarse abrasive wheel.

Evan
09-18-2009, 09:12 AM
I have been doing more research on the hardenability of low manganese steels since our recent discussion of such and have been suprised to find the degree that even 1018 steel can be hardened. It even hardens slightly by air cooling after being heated to the austenitic temperature but if fast quenched can be taken up to as high as RC42 which is a considerable increase over the annealed condition. In the steel industry 1018 is considered a hardenable steel.



Carbon Steels 1018
Related Metals: StarDOM 1018(tm)

Specifications: AMS 5069
ASTM A29 (1018)
ASTM A510 (1018)
ASTM A512 (1018)
ASTM A513
ASTM A519 (1018)
ASTM A544 (1018)
ASTM A545 (1018)
ASTM A548 (1018)
ASTM A549 (1018)
ASTM A576 (1018)
ASTM A611 (D-1)
ASTM A635 (1018)
ASTM A659 (1018)
ASTM A794 (1018)
ASTM A830
MIL J-1397 (1018)
MIL J-403 (1018)
MIL J-412 (1018)
MIL S-11310 (CS 1018)
SAE J1397
SAE J403
SAE J412
UNS G10180

Principal Design Features

1018 is among the most commonly available grades available in the world. It is widely available in cold finished rounds, squares, flat bar and hexagons. Despite its unimpressive mechanical properties, the alloy is easily formed, machined, welded and fabricated. Due to its higher Mn content, it can, in thin sections, be hardened to Rc 42.



http://www.metalsuppliersonline.com/Research/Property/metals/816.asp

dp
09-18-2009, 11:31 PM
I made an optical center punch (http://www.veritastools.com/Products/Page.aspx?p=96) using 1018, and it wasn't the best metal for that service. I drilled it out and put in a cut-off from a real center punch that works much better. But now you have me interested in trying to harden 1018 again.