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SAE 104x steels -- opinions?

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  • SAE 104x steels -- opinions?

    this came up in another thread, but i thought i'd put it out there on its own.

    i have alot of access to 1042, 1043 and 1045 carbon steel. (i'm not sure why theres an abundance of this type among area suppliers)

    i was hoping to get some feedback from those that have used it. easy to work with? good all purpose stock? what is it good for? can it be hardened/tempered (in the homeshop)?

    machinist's handbook says these steels are suited mostly for "automotive applications" such as connecting rods, axles, shafts and, finally, tractor wheels, of all things. -- none of which i do.

    mostly i'm interesting in homeshop applications.. little bit of everything.. without having to stock alot of different types of steel stock.

    and, again, if i can harden/temper (even only mildly) with a torch/oven/bbqgrill etc.

    having one or two versatile steel stocks around would make life easier.

    thanks all,

  • #2
    It appears that this material would be great for projects in the homeshop. It has a high enough carbon content that it can be heat treated and as an untreated steel has high strength properties as well. You should be able to heat it to cherry red and then quench it in water or oil to obtain a hardness. You would then need to draw it ( temper ) by again heating it to the desired temperature ( color ) depending on the application.

    It will not have the ease of machineability that the free machining class of steels has. These steels identified as the SAE 1100 series contain more sulfur.



    • #3
      frankly, this stuff (1045.. or "C45" as its known in these parts) machines rather easily.

      if it machined any easier, i could hit raw stock with a hammer and have my part fall out.

      or maybe i dont know what "machinability" really means.

      though i have tried a few experiments; 'heat treating' it in the shop. small piece of 20mm round about 20mm long... heated it cherry red, quenched in some oil. apart from it turning completely black (from the oil) i could still cut it easily with a file.

      perhaps it requires a more delicate (longer?) method for hardening?



      • #4
        1045 has, in theory, 0.45% carbon. That's just on the lower edge of hardenability, so it probably won't get really hard no matter what you do.
        Try quenching in water and see what happens. Steel with that low a percentage of carbon proably needs a pretty quick quench. It works better, so they say, if the water has been sitting around for a while, or if it's been boiled, to get the air out of it.
        Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
        Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
        Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
        There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
        Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
        Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


        • #5
          We get 1045 induction hardened cylinder rod at work,its chrome plated and only hardened on the outer skin about.090" deep,once you get trough the outer layer it cuts like peanut butter kinda gooey.It welds good,but pre-heats are in order.
          I just need one more tool,just one!


          • #6
            I second the preheat when welding. If you don't there is a good chance the weld will crack.



            • #7
              Weirdscience, HOW do you get through the .090" hardened outer layer? When the tool bit in my little 10" Logan hits it, it either makes the belt slip or slews the toolpost around. I had some once that was not hardened and it machined beautifully! I made the balanced crankshaft for my Stuart 10-V out of it.


              • #8
                Inserts - can't do it with regular HSS (T-15 will cut it) or brazed carbide.


                • #9
                  I have several axles from cars and trucks lying around. I think the majority of axles are made of 1045-1050 steel. In my experience the axle steel machines poorly relative to lower carbon steel unless I anneal it. Making something out of a piece of axle in the just sawed off condition is a lot more work, very tough and strong material as it should be for axle applications. Annealing a long piece of the material is a lot of trouble also. I have seen some information in a Sears catalog that mentions that some of their wood chisels are made from AISI 1050. I have also seen the same thing on the Home Depot blister pack Stanley wood chisels. Probably a good application for the average user because a harder steel would tend to break when some joker used it for a pry bar like they do the low cost wood chisels. The average pocket knife has a hardness of about 52Rc and I am pretty sure you can get that with 1050 if you quench it fast enough to form some martinsite (not easy to do).


                  • #10
                    in its annealed state, it doesnt SEEM very tough. granted, its still steel. i've seen pistons made (apparently) of 1045 twisted by backhoe operators into seemless pretzel shapes. roughy 50&60mm diamters! if 1045 takes a surface hardening (as described above), i'd imagine that a hydraulic piston would be a prime candidate.

                    however, these twisted pistons never appear even *slightly* cracked in the tight bends.. something i would expect of a hardened steel.

                    it has happened that heavy-ish pieces of 1045 have slipped out of my 3jaw while taking heavy cuts. falling only about 8" onto my lathe ways causes deep dents/nicks on the edges (of the 1045!).

                    for some reason this sound fishy to me.
                    what i know for sure is that i have C45.
                    i've crossreferenced it in a number of places. ( being the most recent)

                    sometimes it comes up as 1042, sometimes as 1045. the chemical composition from the supplier isnt *exactly* the same as the machinists handbook. makes me wonder what kind of tolerance the percentages have.

                    perhaps a kind soul could give me a second opinion on what ITALY C45 is?

                    this is opening up a whole new can of beans for me re: heat treating. perhaps i'll post it as another topic.

                    thanks again,


                    • #11
                      I have found that European steel is a crap shoot,you never know what to expect,working on a lot of earthmoving equipment I have incountered a wide range of properties on whats supposed to be the same material.

                      You never know what your going to get anymore,arm pins and bushings,some machine good and some machine like mud.
                      I just need one more tool,just one!


                      • #12
                        Thrud, if I get the outer .090" that is hardened peeled away, would HSS bits take care of the "core material"? I have a chunk of 3" dia. by 18" long that a hydraulic cylinder repairman gave me and I want to make a precise scale cannon barrel out of it but as things stand right now, I can't even start to machine it!!