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Thread: Tempering 01 steel

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Tempering 01 steel

    I have a couple of small cams and cam followers that I have machined from 01 steel. I will harden them by heating to bright orange with oxy acetylene torch and quenching in oil. This works, but the pieces become so hard they will shatter. (Don't ask me how I know this!!). So---I will attempt to temper these parts. I have just spent an hour on the internet researching "tempering 01 steel", but the good old internet gives several conflicting answers on this subject. My plan at the moment is to preheat wife's kitchen oven to 400 degrees, set parts in tin can, and set can in oven for one hour, then remove can from oven and let contents air cool. I have no other oven, but do have a very understanding wife. Comments please.---Not about wife, just about my tempering method and it's effectiveness.---Brian
    Brian Rupnow

  2. #2
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    I've used O1 on gun parts where they needed to be tough, not super hard. I hardened and oil quenched, then tempered at about 600F to a peacock blue...spring hard. I don't have an oven, but I used the heat treat salts that Brownells sells as Nitre Blue salts. They're used in a molten state, with a good lead pot thermometer to track the temp.
    David Kaiser
    “You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.”
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  3. #3
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    Should go fine.

  4. #4

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    You can go to 450 F safely. The plan and the timing sound good. You can also safely cool them in water if you're in a hurry. The quench from that temperature isn't particularly severe.
    .
    "I am often asked how radio works. Well, you see, wire telegraphy is like a very long cat. You yank his tail in New York and he meows in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? Now, radio is exactly the same, except that there is no cat." : Albert Einstein

  5. #5
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    I just put the parts on a cookie sheet and open the oven door when time is up, leaving them until cool. 2 hours per inch, 400° will get you about 62RC.
    I find it easiest to use a magnet for the quench. Heat until it loses magnetism, then evenly lower it into the warm oil.

  6. #6
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    http://cdna.terasrenki.com/ds/1.2510...atasheet_1.pdf

    Good info contained in that link. Worth the short read. You can find material datasheets on everything, and it's straight from the horses mouth.

  7. #7
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    be aware, the temper achieved is a function of time and temperature - ie short time/high temp can produce the same results as lower temp/long time.

    I don't recall any huge soak required for tempering, 15 minutes seems about right....hours at a temp may well temper it more than you think
    .

  8. #8
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    What "small " is you did not define.

    But, the temper depends n the use. Cams and followers should not require excessive toughness, so they can be on the hard side, so long as they are not "glass hard".

    If you polish them and heat, they will pass through the "temper colors" that I assume you probably know. Why can you not temper them to a "light straw"? Seems like that would be good, it's hard enough to cut wear, but not glass hard. If you wanted to be sure, a darker straw would be OK. That is about where chisels would be tempered, so I would suppose it to be tough enough.

    Blue would be a spring temper, which is really quite soft on the scale of hardness. Short of that, a brown-purple is a little harder but still on the soft and tough end.

    If the parts are quite small, AND WILL LAY FLAT, then the best idea is to "plate temper". Get a piece of steel about 3mm thick, and polish a spot large enough for the parts to set on it. Set the parts on the polished area, and heat from below. When the polished spot gets to just about the temper color you want, remove from the heat and tip the parts off to cool.
    Last edited by J Tiers; 02-13-2017 at 04:30 PM. Reason: add comment about laying flat
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  9. #9
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    For cams and followers, I would choose mild steel and case harden rather than a through hardening steel.
    Jim H.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joel View Post
    I just put the parts on a cookie sheet and open the oven door when time is up, leaving them until cool. 2 hours per inch, 400° will get you about 62RC.
    I find it easiest to use a magnet for the quench. Heat until it loses magnetism, then evenly lower it into the warm oil.

    Wow did not know this - I might try something like this next time, Iv had good luck with heat treating O-1 before with smaller parts and a propane torch and quenching in motor oil,

    but the last part I did was bigger so I did it in my wood stove with some elm coals --- very hot - added some air, got the part red -hot, not cherry red but not dull either, quenched --- ran the part for what it was intended and it did not take - was soft,,, still don't know what went wrong - did not even draw the part back,

    finally built the part out of 17-4 H-900 and problem solved,

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