View Full Version : Charcoal!!!


Hacksaw
03-24-2003, 03:11 AM
I want to make and use home made charcoal for my forge. I am just starting to get things moving so I am going to start making it. But before I do I wanted to know... has anyone used it and what do you think about it?

Also wondering about how much does that suff go for on line? And would anyone want to buy some if I get a good system and good yelds going? (but don't quote me on having any for a while)

Last question I have a 55 gallon drum for a kiln how much charcoal will that make and how much smoke?


Thanks
Jason

Bob Warner
03-24-2003, 06:23 AM
The people in the "Outpost" can probably help you out. A lot of them use charcoal for fuel.

Jamey Saunders
03-24-2003, 08:50 AM
I have made some charcoal (for cooking purposes, but it works well for forging, too), and I like it. I use the 55-gallon drum for my fire holder and a cut-down 100# propane tank for the retort. I started with a 16-gallon drum for the retort, but it didn't last very long, and they're pretty hard to find. The propane tank is much thicker, and thus will last longer. I'll try to remember to take some pictures of my set-up tonight and post them on this thread for you to look at.

Here's the narrative version, though.

I took the PT (propane tank) and cut it off the same height as the 55-gallon drum. Then, I cut a 2" ring off of the remainder, cut a small portion out of the ring so it would be smaller, inserted ithalfway into the PT, and welded it in. This made a "lip" that the rest of he remainder could be slipped over. I then drilled several holes around the perimeter of the lid into the lip, took the lid off, and welded nuts to the inside of the lip. Now, I can slip the lid on and screw the bolts in to hold it on. (I've later found out that only two bolts are necessary.) I also welded a handle to the lid so I can move the retort around with my axe.

To vent the retort, I drilled a series of holes along the bottom of the retort (when it is laying down). Then, I took a piece of 4" channel iron, placed it over the holes with the legs against the retort, spaced it up with some steel banding, and welded it on. I welded a 1" bead, 1" gap, 1" bead, 1" gap, etc. down each side of the channel. Then I welded two more pieces of channel to the ends of the first piece of channel to act as legs and to block off the open ends of the channel. (I wanted the gasses to escape from the edges of the channel, so the fire would heat the sides of the retort.)

As for yield, I get about 25% by volume of what I put in. Maybe 35%. I usually cut my stuff up into 1.5" square by 6" long pieces and just toss them into the retort. No stacking. Tried that once and didn't get a good burn. The random placement of pieces expose more surface area to the heat.

Again, I'll try to take some pictures and upload them tonight. Let me know if you have more questions.

PS_Bond
03-24-2003, 09:08 AM
Here's one question that immediately springs to mind - how did you cut the top off the propane cylinder?

I have several propane/butane/LPG cylinders, but I've been a bit cautious about lopping the tops off. The only thing that seems like a good idea at the moment is to drill a hole on the top (slow & cool), fill the cylinder with water to displace any residual gas (or worse, gas/air mixture), then use an angle grinder.

Sensible precautions, or OTT?

Peter

Jamey Saunders
03-24-2003, 09:19 AM
I took the valve out of the top and cut the PT off with the blowtorch. Of course, this tank had been sitting in the junkyard with the valve open for God-only-knows-how-long. There was no smell of mercaptan, so I was fairly confident there would be no "boom".

PS_Bond
03-24-2003, 12:03 PM
Ah, I see. "Blowtorch"? Oxy-acetylene or -propane, presumably?

Most of mine have some idiot-proof pin valve that you can't accidentally leave open. However, given I just found out the price of these things, I'm not so sure I should be thinking of decapping them: ?40 ($60) for a 15lb one, with a refill charge of ?10!

Unfortunately, I can't seem to find a high pressure regulator to use on them, which would seem to preclude burner use.

As for using charcoal in a forge - my forge which I finally completed over the weekend runs on charcoal. Very, very hot - actually too hot - I couldn't get all that near the forge whilst it was running full tilt. Need to rig a flow reducer for the centrifugal blower I'm using, I think. Oh - and it spits. However, since one of the reasons for making it is to work on my welding, I'm going to end up with speckled burn marks anyway...

Peter

Jamey Saunders
03-24-2003, 12:17 PM
Oxy-Acetelyne blowtorch. I got my PT from the junkyard for $15.

GANNMADE
03-24-2003, 08:15 PM
I USE MESQUITE WOOD ALOT TO DO MY FORGING.IT GETS HOT
QUICK.I'M UP TO FORGING HEAT IN 10 MINUTES. OAK IS ALSO
GOOD AS MOST HARDWOOD SOME EVEN USE PINE. THERE'S A
PLACE HERE IN TX THAT SELL MESQUITE CHARCOAL FOR $16.00
FOR 40 LBS.ALSO IF YOU WANT TO MAKE YOUR OWN. TIM LIVELY HAS A TUTORIAL ON HIS WEB SITE I THINK:)

whv
03-25-2003, 08:04 PM
this is the link to the tim lively site: charcoal (http://64.176.180.203/charcoalretort.htm).
.
he also shows how to make it directly using an open fire on his video

Jamey Saunders
03-25-2003, 09:14 PM
Didn't I hear Tai say somewhere that he doesn't make charcoal any more? He just uses wood and makes the charcoal as he forges...:D