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Steel hardening questions

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D1005

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#1
Ok, I've searched this forum, as well as the internet, and read until I have a headache, but am so unclear on many things. Seeking comments, but especially corrections as the internet has a wealth of information, it's often incorrect information.

First, I have junkyard steel, it's what I can afford and thus have.

2nd, I'm making narrowish shoes to go on shanks for rippers ahead of a blade for the driveway. 3/4" thick, 1 3/4" high, 4" or so long. Cutting a 45° angle to make the toe. The 45° angle will be facing the dirt, thus be getting the wear.

The steel is pretty easy to work, so it will also probably wear fairly quickly, and I'm thinking it might be a good idea to attempt to harden the face of the steel attacking the dirt.

I've watched videos of spark tests, and frankly, all the sparks look the same to these old, tired, eyes.

From what I've read, heat it up red hot with the torch, and dunk it in used motor oil or water. That's what I have, that's what's cheap, those are my choices.

Depending on the unknown carbon content, it might get hard, it might not. So it'll either wear longer, or not, either way I'm not out much, fun experiment.

Used motor oil or water? I'm probably mistaken, but there is carbon in the oil which might aid the hardening process in low carbon steel, but water cools faster so the carbon that is available in the steel hardens it better?

From the videos I watched, oil usually, but not always, flashes flame when the metal first goes in, but if quickly dunked, soon goes out. A big enough, steel container to completely drop the foot and shank into, with a flat top so it can be covered in case of fire could prove to be a challenge, but if not found, could rule out the oil choice. I'm a bit of a pyromaniac, but have no interest in burning down the neighborhood.

Heat the foot starting at the top of the angle, and work down to the point so the red hot doesn't go real deep, and stays fairly uniform, thus harden only the surface, leaving the rest not as hard, thus not as brittle and prone to snapping? Annealing seems like a wasted process in this application as it's such a thick piece and it won't be red hot all the way through, and be all fully hardened.

Dang, that got long, sorry, but tried to give all pertinent information.

Thanks in advance, Dale
 

Canus

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#2
Since you have no idea as to the alloy of the junkyard steel you are probably looking at an exercise in futility. If you have access to a stick welder you would probably be better off to get some hard face rods and build up the shanks of the rippers.
 

T Bredehoft

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#3
Hard face rods, look for stellite. I used it with TIG, don't know about stick welding, but it was really something. We had to use a 'green wheel' to grind it, anything else became worn away. Lay a 3/16 layer of stelling on your wear surfaces and forget hardening.
 

RJSakowski

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#4
The best way to become familiar with spark testing is to get some steels of various carbon content and spark them. An old file would be a good candidate for high carbon (~1.4%). Grade 8 bolts are usually a medium carbon (~ .7%). Grade 2 bolts and common nails are fairly low carbon (~.2%).
Spark test them on a medium grit grinding wheel. Angle grinders don't work as well in my experience. Compare the spark stream of each sample. Low carbon steel has fairly long yellow streamers with modest branching at the ends. As the carbon content increases, the streamers get shorter with more of a starburst effect. High carbon steel will have multiple branching.

When testing an unknown steel compare it to your known samples. You should be able to get a fairly good indication of the carbon content.

Alloy steels are a different matter. Alloying materials affect the spark pattern differently. M2 HHS steel has a darker orange streamer with no branching. O1 tool steel is similar. 18-8 stainless has very little sparking.
 

Mitch Alsup

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#5
Used motor oil or water? I'm probably mistaken, but there is carbon in the oil which might aid the hardening process in low carbon steel, but water cools faster so the carbon that is available in the steel hardens it better?
Carbon diffuses into steel at high temperatures.
Red hot steel dipped into motor oil is neither hot enough nor hot long enough for any significant diffusion to take place.
At best you will get a few molecular layers carbonized.

If you want to up the carbon content in the steel, you liberally coat the steel in carbon (paste), and then coat the carbon in a ceramic (clay) before heating to yellow (?white?) hot temperatures and letting the diffusion take place for at least an hour.
 

magicniner

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#6
If you stated your requirement you would be helping people to help you, Silver steel and 01 Tool steel are available at reasonable prices.

If you need hardened parts find or buy the right material for your job.
Unless of course your time and your work is worth nothing?
 

BtoVin83

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#7
There's a couple of ways to do this. First you don't want to heat and quench the whole ripper shank as this makes it brittle, if you temper it then the wear surface is not as hard as you would like. Second, flame harden the wear portion only by heating and quenching. This makes the wear portion hard but the shank is not brittle. Last get some tungsten rod, this is a steel tube with tungsten powder in it. Apply it by oxy acetylene torch or adding to the puddle using an arc welder. Stellite is like bubble gum compared to tungsten.
 

magicniner

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#8
If you have worn components use hard facing rods to build them up, I used to do this to repair farm equipment using an MMA setup.
 

RJSakowski

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#9
You might try some of the farm supply stores. They sell replacement shoes, teeth, etc. for cultivators and the like. These are hardened steel and used for a purpose similar to what you want to do.
 

GL

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#10
From my experience, and maybe I should do more, but driveway maintenance is a not something that happens that often - like once every couple of years. Based on that, and your situation may be different, about anything would work. As you said, either it will wear away, or it won't. Hard surface rod is what they rebuild bucket teeth with. Even S70 wire in a MIG welder will be harder than mild steel - and maybe you already have that in your arsenal. The farm supply store is a good thought, replacement parts are pretty cheap for these kinds of wear items. My box blade only has 4 or 5 rippers. Depends on how hard you want to play.
 

BtoVin83

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#11
In my opinion you don't want to be ripping up a driveway, you want it packed sown and ripping will work it deep. When it rains it becomes a quagmire. What I have used is a section of chain link fence, the heavier the better and weight it down with tires, cinder blocks old steam trains or what have you. Drag that behind the tractor and it cuts and fills pretty well.
 

Sandia

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#12
The practical application is hard surfacing the shanks, very common in agriculture arena as well as oil patch. If you don't weld, a local welding shop would probably do it for a reasonable fee.
 

benmychree

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#13
Hardface is definitely the way to go. Besides that, hardening in used motor oil is about the worst quench medium anyone could use for an oil hardening steel, as it has lots of dilution elements in it, which gives it a quite low flash point; real quench oils have a high flash point and are light bodied for fast heat transfer; you will not get consistent results with junk oil. Commercial heat treaters only use their quench oils for relatively short periods of time due to the changing thermal conductivity over a short period of time.
 

tweinke

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#14
This may be off base but I looked at purchasing a DR grader for my driveway at one time. They have a row of ripper teeth to loosen the gravel. Funny thing is they sure looked like brazed carbide lathe tools welded to a bar. Like this

1540088519417.png
 

Downunder Bob

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#15
You don't mention if you have welding ability, but if you do get a packet of hard facing rods and build up the wear surfaces, you can repair them many times over this way. you can even braze carbide pieces on if the dirt you're in is really hard, but I'd try the hard facing first it really is good widely used by the earth moving and mining industries.
 

psychodelicdan

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#16
I have to agree with going to your farm store and looking at there consumables for dirt work. Bucket teeth,cutting edges ect. Find something that you can easily replace. Either bolt on or weld on. Unless your driveway is a mile long don't give edge hardness a thought. Any steel you put on it will hold up just fine.
If your going into business buy real shanks and teeth.time is money kind if a thing. If you just want to play, grab what you got. Heat it up to white hot and slosh it in ANY old oil or water. See what happens.
Have fun.

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Downunder Bob

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#17
If the steel you've got is low carbon and therefore not hardenable, you could get it to hardenable state in a couple of different ways. 1. If you have or can set up a forge using coke or even charcoal, set the part in and heat up to red heat and hold for awhile then quench in water. It will pick up carbon from the fire. repeat until required hardness.

2. Alternatively if you oxy acetylene gear set up with a carburising flame, a bit low on oxygen, heat and quench as above.

I have hardened mild steel by putting it in the firebox of enclosed wood burning heating stove leave it in the coals for a few days then take it out when red hot and quench it, will harden quite nicely.


I find a good source of cheap hardenable steel is old car/truck axles, ask your local mechanic. these can be machined, just. or annealed then machined and rehardened, to be as hard as you like, The fact that they are free makes them ideal for experimenting. I use them for making boring bars. and other stuff.
 

psychodelicdan

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I like the boring bar idea.

Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
 

JPigg55

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#19
If I'm not misunderstanding your question, but if you're wanting to harden the face of shoes for depth control just weld some beads down the length using high hardness welding rods.
My father was the road commissioner for the township some years back and did the same thing for the Vee plow shoes for the road grader.
The gravel roads would just eat away the shoes in no time so he just ran a bunch of beads down the length using 7018 welding rod, if memory serves. Worked great.
 

D1005

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#20
WOW! Thanks for all the replies, which I'll try to reply to in mass.

I do have, and can stick weld. Sorta, the welds often look awful, but usually hold. I kinda like this option of building back the shoes once worn. Or just whack them off and weld on new. I have a fair amount of that particular stock. See how much is left after all the parts are cut. But if I could invest a little extra work now, and avoid the work later of replacing the shoes, all the better.

Using the acy/oxy torch to carburise (?) the shoe, though I'd have to break out the book on to do it, also sounds interesting.

Consumable replacements are darned expensive on my budget, so I'll have to use what I can build cheap. They also require building a shank capable of accepting them, which I don't have any junk yard material on hand to do, so more investment required.

Grading my driveway with just a blade, soon has all the larger stone working to the top, while the fines settle out. This doesn't make for a good pack. When I read about using rippers to mix the gravel up some, I thought, heck yeah, that sounds reasonable.

No, not a long driveway, nor needs graded a lot, actually mostly graded for weed control, which also requires stirring up the gravel a bit, so it might very well take forever to wear off even a soft shoe. It's just when I get into a project, I like to explore all options and possibilities of improving the final product, so long as it's on the cheap cheap.

Ovens, forges, etc., don't have, and frankly too much investment for this project. Wood stoves, don't take offense, but I wish the things were banned, I'm running 2 air purifiers in my house to keep the stench down from the neighbors smoke, allowing me to breath without a sore throat all winter. What he's "saving" on heating costs, I'm shelling out in additional health care. Somehow that doesn't seem right to me.

Just hardening the face, not the entire shoe/shank would seem to be the best. Want wear resistance, not breakage of the part. So a torch would suffice. Also, wouldn't the heat from welding on a shoe with a hardened face, diminish the hardness on it's face? I suspect that's why commercial shoes, at least for rippers, are crimped on, not welded. These aren't large items, heat would get to the hardened surface rather quickly. In my scheme, I'd heat treat after the shoe faces were welded on.

Thanks again for all the replies, it's given me plenty to think about.
 

Downunder Bob

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#21
Thanks for the feedback. given what you're trying to make and the resources you have, i would make them out of steel and hard face them. you will get a low cost easy to make item that will last along time and is easy to repair. In fact if you want to experiment with shapes and sizes just make them out of steel test them and then hard face the best ones. Also you might want to make them out of a tough steel. Old car/truck springs work well, also car drive axles.
 

MozamPete

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#22
You could also try experimenting with a Superquench solution (google "superquench" for some formula). I haven't tried in but is supposedly allows mild steel to be hardend up a bit by cooling it even quicker than water will. The formula uses pretty readily available component so not too much of an investment to give it a try.
 

D1005

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Thanks for the feedback. given what you're trying to make and the resources you have, i would make them out of steel and hard face them. you will get a low cost easy to make item that will last along time and is easy to repair. In fact if you want to experiment with shapes and sizes just make them out of steel test them and then hard face the best ones. Also you might want to make them out of a tough steel. Old car/truck springs work well, also car drive axles.
While other steel has been mentioned above, I just had a "Well duh" moment. I recently tossed some leaf springs off an old golf cart that was on the property when we bought the place 10 years ago, into the headed for the scrap yard pile. I've never worked with spring steel, so now I have a whole new load of questions about that.

Cutting it. Will a metal cutting bandsaw cut the stuff ok? Or do I need to attack it with the angle grinder?

Golf cart leaf springs are kinda "springy", is that from their smaller size, or a different composition? Would that make them tougher or less than car or truck springs? Either way, no doubt a lot harder than the current steel in question. Is harder even the proper term? Higher carbon content be more precise? Something else?

Does the heat from welding it affect it's hardness any?

Would it need any heat treating after the welding?

I'm thinking build the shoes pretty much as planned, but weld a piece of leaf to the face of the shoe attacking the gravel.

Just goes to show, being old has given me lots of experience, but not in everything. LOL
 

Downunder Bob

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#24
The advantages of using old springs are. 1 they are usually available free. 2. spring steel is usually very good quality.

4 Depending on the heat treatment you can make it really very hard and can be honed to a fine edge, as in a knife.

Or you can draw the temper a little more and end up with it being very tough, so it won't break, that will make excellent ripper blades, you can still hardface them for extra wear ability. that is the way I would go.

You should be able to cut spring steel with HSS blades but you could also anneal it before working on it and then re harden it after hardening draw the temper so you can just file it.
 

ericc

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#25
This may be off base but I looked at purchasing a DR grader for my driveway at one time. They have a row of ripper teeth to loosen the gravel. Funny thing is they sure looked like brazed carbide lathe tools welded to a bar. Like this

View attachment 278048
OK, now I know what I found in the dirt. The shank sparked as tool steel, similar to A2, and the wear insert on the end sparked as carbide. But, it didn't look like a lathe tool at all. Maybe if I can find it in the junk box, it can be repurposed into some kind of form tool.
 

D1005

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#26
Bob,

Dug the leaf springs out of the toss 'em barrel, looks like a perfect size for my application.

Been working on my drawings for some time today, after measuring all the bits and pieces of stuff I have laying around, I think I can build at least 90%, hopefully all of it, from stock on hand. YEE HA! Just need a couple of hydraulic hoses and fittings. Made a lot of changes to make it work, but one does what one's gotta to do.

While my setup will differ from commercial units, the rippers are looking good. Cut the angled feet from the same stock the shanks are, weld them to the bottom of the shanks, then weld the spring steel to the face of feet attacking the gravel. Essentially putting shoes on the feet. Of course this will totally heat them up as they are only 7/32" thick. So I reckon some sort of surface hardening may be in order. Should last essentially forever at least.

Planning stages almost complete now, now to not lose all my notes until building begins. I can remember how to figure dairy cattle rations from 1980 better than I can remember what I read about heat treatment of steel yesterday. Winter's coming, no heat in the shop, and circulation to the hands suck, so not sure I'll be able to finish this year as I'm currently in the finishing stages of another project.

Thanks for everyone's help. Of course I'll not remember who said what, or even what you said, but I have notes. I'll also have to go back and read the research again. Sucks to get old, and I'm not that damn old!

Dale
 

D1005

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#27
If you stated your requirement you would be helping people to help you, Silver steel and 01 Tool steel are available at reasonable prices.

If you need hardened parts find or buy the right material for your job.
Unless of course your time and your work is worth nothing?
Time is free, thus worth nothing. :D
 

D1005

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#28
While painting another project, I set up the bandsaw to cut the first foot. Now you can see what I was actually talking about. :)

Spring steel will be welded to the cut surface for the wear edge. Thanks again for all your inputs.

 

Downunder Bob

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Bob,

Dug the leaf springs out of the toss 'em barrel, looks like a perfect size for my application.

Been working on my drawings for some time today, after measuring all the bits and pieces of stuff I have laying around, I think I can build at least 90%, hopefully all of it, from stock on hand. YEE HA! Just need a couple of hydraulic hoses and fittings. Made a lot of changes to make it work, but one does what one's gotta to do.

While my setup will differ from commercial units, the rippers are looking good. Cut the angled feet from the same stock the shanks are, weld them to the bottom of the shanks, then weld the spring steel to the face of feet attacking the gravel. Essentially putting shoes on the feet. Of course this will totally heat them up as they are only 7/32" thick. So I reckon some sort of surface hardening may be in order. Should last essentially forever at least.

Planning stages almost complete now, now to not lose all my notes until building begins. I can remember how to figure dairy cattle rations from 1980 better than I can remember what I read about heat treatment of steel yesterday. Winter's coming, no heat in the shop, and circulation to the hands suck, so not sure I'll be able to finish this year as I'm currently in the finishing stages of another project.

Thanks for everyone's help. Of course I'll not remember who said what, or even what you said, but I have notes. I'll also have to go back and read the research again. Sucks to get old, and I'm not that damn old!

Dale
Don't know how you guys survive in that brass monkey weather without heat. I never let my shop go below 16c around 60f and we never see ice or snow here.
"Sucks to get old, and I'm not that damn old!" Sure does, I'm 74 nearly 75, but as long as I can keep warm I'm ok, just a bit slow and can't lift anything. I can still remember most, about 90%, of what I've learned. It just takes a while to bring it to the surface.
While painting another project, I set up the bandsaw to cut the first foot. Now you can see what I was actually talking about. :)

Spring steel will be welded to the cut surface for the wear edge. Thanks again for all your inputs.


That looks fairly solid, should do a good job of ripping your driveway. make the leading edge of springsteel and when that wears build it up with a hard face electrode, there are quite a few types available, some are for impact others for metal to metal wear, and some for earth moving equip. that's the one you want, but your local welding supply guy should be able to advise the best for the job.
 

D1005

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Personally, I survive by not going outside in winter, nor the heat of summer. Every year the comfort zone gets narrower. 4 months of "hibernating" in winter, 1-2 months in summer.

You have me by a few years with age, 61 here, but I guess I just led too fun of a life, as several parts have broken down, worn out, and I'm on disability with a very limited income. Makes my "work" days in the shop an hour long on average. Any more than that, and it's 2-3 days recovery time. Guess you might say I'm not old, just severly worn.

The bar stock is 3/4x1 3/4" (I really wish the US would convert to metric and join the rest of the world, it's so much easier, but fractions are how stuff comes, so it's fractions I have to contend with) Should be more than sturdy enough. I'm no engineer, just overbuild to where I know it just HAS to be strong enough.

Cover the front of the foot with the spring steel. I'm not planning on more than 2" deep, so all wear would be on the spring steel. When grading with just a blade, the larger, mostly buried, aggregate tends to "pop" out, leaving the surface all larger stone, no fines for binding. 2" should be ample to keep it mixed. They'll be adjustable of course so depth can be experimented with, and go no deeper than required.

While I buy new stock on occasion, the vast majority of what I use is scrap yard metal, or 1/2 price drops from the only shop I've found that still provides actual customer service to the average joe. The only place that will cut for hauling for free, if you buy a full stick. That doesn't happen very often for me, but it's always a consideration. When designing a project, try to make it all from the same thing. Yeah, right.
 
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