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  • Having metal samples analyzed?

    I have some bits of steel I'd like to find out the alloy of, and I was wondering if there was some place that could do it relatively inexpensively.

    One's a small chunk- a gram or two- from the faceplate of my anvil. It's high carbon (as hard and almost as brittle as glass) but apart from that I don't know what's in it.

    Then, I have some "spring wire"- as in, wire I took from a straightened out spring- that I used as a poor man's "hardfacing" filler rod. By pure, blind luck, this wire is damn near perfect for the use. If kept to small TIG beads, it lands file-hard, blends almost perfectly with the faceplate, and shows very little propensity to crack. (I did get one faint crack in a spot I'd built up over 3/8" thick.)

    It's better by far than the three types of commercial harfacing rod I've tried so far- and an order of magnitude cheaper.

    I'd dearly love to know what alloy this wire is, so that I could locate and buy a proper roll, rather than having to salvage and straighten springs of some unknown manufacture.

    Anyone know of a place that could give me a fairly decent breakdown of the composition? X percent iron, X percent carbon, X percent chromium, etcetera? What's that sort of thing cost?

    Doc.
    Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

  • #2
    Analysis

    Doc.

    Have you thought of trying a University or a local Vocational College?

    They may well do it as a student project if you were to ask them and tell them pretty much was in your post and also that you are an "interested amateur/Home Shop Machinist" etc.

    It might be worth a try - could only cost a phone call and a bit of your time.

    If it works - fine - you are "in front".

    If not - you've lost nothing.

    They might refer you to someone else that they could recommend.

    What about trying the manufacturer of the steel/s at your local steel shop?

    There are a couple of members of this forum who work at Colleges.

    There are also some Professional Engineers on this Forum who might be able to help.

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    • #3
      Buy an oil analysis kit. Dissolve the sample in sulphuric acid and mix with clean compressor oil. Send it in.

      Might be an idea to buffer with a bit of sodium bicarbonate too.
      Last edited by Evan; 12-09-2007, 08:44 AM.
      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Doc Nickel
        Anyone know of a place that could give me a fairly decent breakdown of the composition? X percent iron, X percent carbon, X percent chromium, etcetera? What's that sort of thing cost?
        Check with the local scrapyards and see what they use for sorting - a good size yard will use a hand-held X-ray Fluorescence analyzer. Local college might have one, or a yard where they marshal piping and such.

        The spring wire would be something like 1095 if it's from a cold-wound spring (small), something from a car coil spring is more likely to be 5160 or similar. 1095 would chill hard on the anvil, likely file hard. If this is coming in harder than hardface make sure that you're really using hardface rod and not wear rod, the latter will often be fairly soft but have carbides that precipitate out in a soft matrix. It won't be anvil hard but is great when building up a hard edge on a bucket or the like.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by oldtiffie
          Have you thought of trying a University or a local Vocational College?
          -I'm quite familiar with the local community college's machine and welding shops (and teachers) but sadly, no, neither of them have any system or apparatus for analyzing metal compositions. I haven't asked if either of them know of a place I could send them to, though, so that's probably worth a try...

          What about trying the manufacturer of the steel/s at your local steel shop?
          -Well, the spring I did find out was made by Century Spring. I can't find this exact part on their website, but it may not matter. One presumes they use the same wire for more than just one item in their line, so next option is to call them directly.

          As for the anvil, it was made sometime between 1885 and 1910, in England. All the references to it, a fairly common Peter Wright model, simply refer to it as "tool steel" or "high carbon" steel. I haven't found any authorative source on the exact composition.

          I suspect that, since the high carbon steels were essentially hand-made back in those days (folding in powdered charcoal) that the "alloy" of any two anvil faces might well vary by as much as ten percent or more. But it'd still be interesting to know- especially if it turns out there's some more "exotic" elements like molybdenum, chromium or cobalt.

          Check with the local scrapyards and see what they use for sorting - a good size yard will use a hand-held X-ray Fluorescence analyzer. Local college might have one, or a yard where they marshal piping and such.
          -Local scrapyard (singular) only does very basic sorting, and does it visually; Steel (which is pretty much anything that rusts and a magnet sticks to) cast iron, aluminum, brass/copper, and stainless. They have piles of old oil well casing (slightly better than mild steel) jumbled with old motor shafts (pretty good alloy, whatever it is) all piled on top of forged steel pump casings.

          As far as they're concerned, it's all "steel".

          It's possible one of the oil or industrial plants locally have such a thing, but I have no idea how I could get a foot in the door with any of them.

          The spring wire would be something like 1095 if it's from a cold-wound spring (small), something from a car coil spring is more likely to be 5160 or similar.
          -Actually it's a small screen door spring. Wire diameter of around a sixteenth, clearly made in an endless manner, as it appears to have been just nipped off and two loops on each end bent outwards to attach it to the door. I picked it from the selection, simply because it was the only unplated spring, and straightened out, provided a lot of wire per spring.



          Like pulling taffy.

          1095 would chill hard on the anvil, likely file hard.
          -It did. A fresh bead couldn't be marked with a file, would dent the face of my hammer, and couldn't be marked with a centerpunch.

          When dressed/ground, the underlying metal was a touch softer, presumably as it'd be slightly annealed by the pass over it. Still quite hard though- about as hard as the file, since it could only barely cut/scratch it.

          If this is coming in harder than hardface make sure that you're really using hardface rod and not wear rod, the latter will often be fairly soft but have carbides that precipitate out in a soft matrix. It won't be anvil hard but is great when building up a hard edge on a bucket or the like.
          -It's been a real trial trying to find a "hardfacing" rod, pretty much for that exact reason. The Stoody hardfacing MIG wire I tried (as a TIG filler rod) actually wasn't all that hard, probably about the low fifties RC. One of the stick rods I tried, turned out to only get to full hardness after extensive work hardening. The other was a little better, but cracked, and so on.

          Like I mentioned here a week or two ago, all I needed was a fairly high-carbon wire and small TIG welds, and the bead would self-quench (or chill, as you put it) as they cooled normally.

          Anyway, whatever the alloy of this wire, it worked very, very well for my purposes. It remains to be seen how well it'll hold up- it may well crack right off the first time I try to hammer on it. But if it does last well, I'd like to have a roll of this alloy on hand for future projects.

          Doc.
          Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Doc Nickel
            -It did. A fresh bead couldn't be marked with a file, would dent the face of my hammer, and couldn't be marked with a centerpunch.

            When dressed/ground, the underlying metal was a touch softer, presumably as it'd be slightly annealed by the pass over it. Still quite hard though- about as hard as the file, since it could only barely cut/scratch it.
            No preheat is my guess. For something like this you're going to need to preheat the anvil to 400-500 degF. That way it can't quite quench the weld.

            It's been a real trial trying to find a "hardfacing" rod, pretty much for that exact reason. The Stoody hardfacing MIG wire I tried (as a TIG filler rod) actually wasn't all that hard, probably about the low fifties RC. One of the stick rods I tried, turned out to only get to full hardness after extensive work hardening. The other was a little better, but cracked, and so on.
            The work hardening stuff is likely a high manganese rod, good stuff on rail, not so good on anvils. High carbon stuff is going to crack w/o the preheat, with preheat it's going to be about 55-58rc - more than enough for an anvil face.

            I'll try to remember what we used on my anvil. The top was ground clean with a 9" angle grinder (nothing like having oilfield equipment around) and buttered with 7014, then we laid something like 3 layers of Stoody hardface - but I can't recall the exact stuff. I should be at my in-laws in a couple of weeks and can check, I think I'm going to be hauling all the welding stuff and there's some left.

            Like I mentioned here a week or two ago, all I needed was a fairly high-carbon wire and small TIG welds, and the bead would self-quench (or chill, as you put it) as they cooled normally.
            Piano wire would be very close to what you're looking for, I think. If you can find some old steel cable the high strength stuff would be very similar. Logging operations scrap that stuff pretty fast, might be able to snag some. Some wire rope has soft stuff on the outside and the good stuff inside, so check all layers.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Doc Nickel
              It's been a real trial trying to find a "hardfacing" rod, pretty much for that exact reason. The Stoody hardfacing MIG wire I tried (as a TIG filler rod) actually wasn't all that hard, probably about the low fifties RC. One of the stick rods I tried, turned out to only get to full hardness after extensive work hardening. The other was a little better, but cracked, and so on.
              Stoody, and Lincoln et al have whole families of hardfacing rod. They're generally optimzed for abrasion resistance or toughness or hardness.

              I have some of the Stoody abrasion resistant rod, and its 52 Hrc, like you're seeing, but I also have some Stoody rods that are 65 Hrc.

              I forgot to send you a PM over the weekend -- you just missed a bunch of 25 lb spools of Lincore hardfacing wire on Ebay that went for $60 - $80 (!) I was outbid on those, but I did win a 25 lb spool of Lincore TD (Tool and Die), which is H13 tool steel MIG wire, for $20.

              It'll be nice to make custom internal boring and threading bars, where I can hot form a offset into a mild steel shank, and then weld a blob of tool steel on the end. Kind of like the hooked or L-shaped internal boring bars the old timers used to make by forging carbon steel, but with the red hardness of modern tool steel:

              http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=230195815147

              By the way, I TIG welded a couple of HSS tool bits yesterday, let one air cool, and the other I quenched. I took several pictures during the process, but even tacking the 5/16" HSS bits caused them to discolor. I'm going to test them on the ACC hardness tester this week -- I'll post the pictures and results...
              Last edited by lazlo; 12-10-2007, 01:01 PM.
              "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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