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Show me how please,,, the classic little Railroad rail anvil.

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  • #16
    that video hand ground the horn, not what the OP asked,
    the above mentioned 4-jaw turning is not it either, that is an odd angle to the cone on a anvil
    a 4-jaw , I don't see how could hold that odd angle

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    • #17
      I would think the originals are forged. No machining involved. No real anvil I've ever seen had a perfect conical horn, generally somewhat elliptical. Doesn't answer your question I know but I agree with previous replies, lathe/mill aren't always the right tool.

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      • #18
        If your determined to turn the cone on a lathe you could square up the back of the rail and tack weld it to a steel plate so it could be easily mounted to a face plate.
        Set up the compound at the approximate angle and go in as far as you can. Unless you have a lot of travel on your compound your going to have to reset and go in until you hit your mark.

        You won't get that elliptical shape to it will be round. If you want fancy contours I think your going to have to follow the procedure used in the video.
        If it were me I would go with the video method vs the set up time and machine time on the lathe.

        JL................

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        • #19
          Yes the "originals" or "real" anvils, are forged. That would be a lot tougher to do at home in the making of a rail track anvil. Trying to machine the horn would be pretty difficult other than just a roughing in, as they are definitely not usually perfectly conical. More of an elliptical shape with a flat top and a curve up from the bottom on all the anvils I've seen. Here is a shot of the 176 pounder I just snagged, have a look at the horn, which is still in pretty good shape. Click image for larger version  Name:	20201028_184947.jpg Views:	0 Size:	207.1 KB ID:	1908147

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          • #20
            I see it is more elliptical than I thought.
            Was thinking a cone shape would be pretty close, and that turning or milling would remove stock faster than hand grinder.

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            • #21
              You know, in the closing days of big steamers running down the mainline, they would hammer the rails from the weight of the connecting rods moving up and down at high speed, I guess a form of cold forging?

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              • #22
                Originally posted by RB211 View Post
                You know, in the closing days of big steamers running down the mainline, they would hammer the rails from the weight of the connecting rods moving up and down at high speed, I guess a form of cold forging?
                I have seen RR track with the top edge mushroomed over a bit. If the RR welds their tracks, then I have some amount of doubt that track is really really hard, or, really really high alloy.
                I mean, weldable out in the field type welds.

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                • #23
                  As far as I'm aware, track is a high manganese alloy, and its important properties are that it work hardens readily. So it gets tougher as the train rolls over it. Good property for an anvil...

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                  • #24
                    That video..... looks like it must have taken a VERY long time to get it to shape...... and a lot of cutoff wheels, I think I saw the wheels wearing down in the early part of the video.

                    Rails are an alloy that is wear resistant, as you might expect. The top surface can get very hard, I understand. That one maybe not so much, due to it being painted, it may have been crane rail or the like, I have never seen much painting of rails out on the RR (at least not the UP).
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                    • #25
                      Can't recall where it was on YouTube, but I saw a video a while back where the guy did it in a (large) lathe by offsetting the tail stock. He still had a bunch of torch and grinder work though, to get the rest of the shape.

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                      • #26
                        I could see using a four jaw to hold the far end if that end were cut just right to allow it to be held by the four jaws. You'd want it to be cut such that the rear edge was pushed into the face of the chuck so it couldn't walk back off the other end supported by the live center. Depending on the chuck's jaw size and angles of everything some creativity would be needed to get a secure hold. And of course a lot of this futzing around would be based on the fact that the center line of the conical horn you want to turn will be passing thru the body at quite an angle. So the hold of the piece of rail at the chuck will be radically off center so the far end is sitting as you want it to sit. So turning speed will be low due to the wildly off balance nature of the hold.

                        On the horn end I'd drill a center hole for the tail stock and live center. Then carve away the parts that don't have the rounded shape. It would be a LOT of interrupted turning though in a tough material. So it's not going to be fast as you might think. The tip would be machined down and the last few cuts take as pretty light cuts because you'd be forming a double cone down to a fairly narrow point. The one side of the double cone being the waste bit with the center drill hole that was supporting the whole shebang.

                        Plus it won't be a full horn. You'll get a rounded cone upper and sides and towards the small end it'll be fully rounded. But as you near the bigger dimension end the form will take on more of a "D" with the center web sticking down. But you'll have the rounded upper side you want.

                        I'm not sure that it would be any faster than some zip cutting or bandsaw work then grinding though. And it would lack the more elliptical shape that is often seen on such horns.

                        In my own looking around at the idea of a rail anvil it seems like a great idea at first but in reality isn't all that great. The piece of rail simply isn't heavy enough to be a good forging anvil for anything other than lighter duty use. It's simply not big enough and the web being so narrow means it isn't stiff enough for doing any serious big bashing or even medium bashing. At most they seem to be OK for a bit of knife work or making smaller items.
                        Last edited by BCRider; 11-02-2020, 01:38 PM.
                        Chilliwack BC, Canada

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Ringo View Post
                          thanks guys, but,
                          the OP stated 'setup' in a mill
                          -or-
                          'setup' in a lathe

                          all that hand grinding krap don't count as the preferred response
                          It can be done.

                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_SvjKD8vbA

                          But as Doozer is saying, this really ain't a lathe job. Besides, I don't believe that a conical section is the ideal horn shape.
                          21" Royersford Excelsior CamelBack Drillpress Restoration
                          1943 Sidney 16x54 Lathe Restoration

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by The Metal Butcher View Post

                            It can be done.

                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_SvjKD8vbA

                            But as Doozer is saying, this really ain't a lathe job. Besides, I don't believe that a conical section is the ideal horn shape.
                            yes, that is sort of what I had in mind, but how to hold at the chuck end. Looks like he did it between centers.
                            True it wouldn't be much more than a light bench anvil, or, gunsmith bench block type of thing.

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                            • #29
                              Guess you could also do what FireBall Tool does and use a 5 axis water jet to make one... Too rich for my blood.

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                              • #30
                                Oxy/Acetelyne torch and a 9" right angle grinder. With very steady hands.
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