Iron casting ideas?

Discussion in 'Sand Casting' started by Mark's castings, Oct 9, 2019.

  1. What iron items would you guys like to make once you reach the "Iron Age" in your home foundry?.

    I have a few lathes and a milling machine, so some brackets, angle plates and straight edges would be handy:

    • Matched V blocks for the mill
    • Angle plates
    • Lapping plates
    • Surface plates
    • Cast Iron squares
    • Precision levels
    • Knobs, handles, hand wheels
    • Horizontal arbor supports for the mill
    • Bar stock
    Tobho Mott likes this.
  2. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Silver Banner Member

    Cast iron Gingery machines.

    I dunno, nobody ever said I have to have a rational mind to sign up here...

    Those projects always seemed like fun and a good way to learn about machining and machine tools, just not quite enough fun to spend that much time and effort to only get an aluminum machine out of it.

    _Jason likes this.
  3. DavidF

    DavidF Administrator Staff Member Banner Member

    A model A engine block that has mercruiser 3.7L internals......
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  4. Jason

    Jason Gold Banner Member

    Jeff has it right. Time IS money! While I can appreciate the skill and time necessary to make a Gingery lathe, IF ya can't turn steel, what good are you to me? :(
  5. Mister ED

    Mister ED Silver

    Ummm .... windmill parts. :D
    Mark's castings likes this.
  6. oldironfarmer

    oldironfarmer Silver

    Piston rings.
  7. PatJ

    PatJ Silver Banner Member

    Steam engines.

    joe yard likes this.
  8. Jason

    Jason Gold Banner Member

    I'd cast outdoor iron stuff like tables and chairs. Who was that dude over at AA that made that bad ass iron table base?
    People are sick of the cast trash coming out of china. Run some cast iron park benches for your city. You should be able to bilk them outta 5g a piece!:D
  9. PatJ

    PatJ Silver Banner Member

    That was Justin (scavenger).
    He got good with the iron before he dropped off the face of the earth.

  10. Jason

    Jason Gold Banner Member

  11. PatJ

    PatJ Silver Banner Member

    Justin (scavenger) was in the big leagues with the iron stuff, as is ironsides (luckygen1001), and clarke (porositymaster).

    And DavidF (site owner) blew me away with those brackets he made in iron, which really seem to have set a new standard here for small cast iron parts.

    I think some others have dabbled in iron.
    I believe myfordboy has tried it, but unfortunately does not seem interested in iron anymore.

    And there are others here who have done some iron work; seems like oldironfarmer did a pour.
    I forget who else is into iron.

    If you need a material that machines easily (if you get your ferosilicon level correct), and wears like iron (because it is iron), taps easily, does not gum up when you machine it, and has excellent machine vibration resistance, gray iron is the way to go.

    If I can figure out the right additive, I am going to get into ductile iron too, if that is feasible in a backyard setting, and use it to make crankshafts.

    superdave257 (on ytube) has done a lot of iron work, but has not posted any videos that I am aware of lately. I guess superdave is Dallen?

    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  12. There's a lot of interesting ideas there, I'm glad I asked outside of my own narrow interests in metalworking. Iron casting covers such a wide area that every answer is unique to the person's interests. The Gingery Brothers had a very seductive line of books full of cool projects although I thought it was more efficient to buy an old machine and rebuild it to a better condition. Live steam has some attraction too, Australia has some good guide books on engineering small boilers to a safe standard with modern materials.

    There's a friend who's into vintage stoves who'd like a few legs and other parts, first I'll have to sort out some way of making sand moulds without resin, maybe sodium silicate or K-bond if I can get the Bentone.

    Edit: Scavenger's table is a pretty cool build, also has a enough wide appeal to be manufactured too.

    Edit 2: Add some iron wheels and castors to the list.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  13. PatJ

    PatJ Silver Banner Member

    There are some here or on the "other" forum who are into miniature wood stoves made in iron.
    I bought a mini pot bellied stove the other day from a junk shop, 7.5" tall.
    If I had more time, I would cast miniature wood burning stoves.

    Many toys use to be made in iron, and that was big business for a while.

    People also cast replacement parts for old motorcycles, such as Indian cylinders, heads, etc.

  14. Mister ED

    Mister ED Silver

    I know if/when I ever get enough experience under my belt, and take the iron leap, I could keep myself busy casting windmill parts for others. For the green mill that you have all surely seen, I actually had someone else send some parts up to Tomahawk Foundry in WI. I'm not sure what all he sent up, but do know he just received my parts (and his originals) back on a pallet with other items. Now, most of these pieces would fit into a flat rate box ... so I can't imagine what all he had sent up to be cast.

    Sooner or later I will be casting more ... it may be 4 years and after I retire, but it will happen!
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
  15. joe yard

    joe yard Silver

    Canon balls. I have 2 canon, 1 is a 2" bore Naval style. The other is a 3.5" bore Napoleonic style.

    Jason and Mark's castings like this.
  16. I'd imagine you'd sand cast a thicker iron tube than needed and turn the bore and outer diameter to size on the lathe before parting off the rings. Some lapping of the faces couldn't hurt to smooth them. I have an ancient Stihl chainsaw that could use an iron sleeve: the nikasil coated cylinder as a spare is $350, a new larger Stihl is $250.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
  17. ddmckee54

    ddmckee54 Copper

    [QUOTE=" the nikasil coated cylinder as a spare is $350, a new larger Stihl is $250.[/QUOTE]

    Kinda tells you that they don't want to sell parts for chainsaws, but that they'd rather sell the entire new chainsaw, doesn't it?

  18. Kinda tells you that they don't want to sell parts for chainsaws, but that they'd rather sell the entire new chainsaw, doesn't it?


    There's a couple of things at work there: the part is old enough to have been imported when import duties were close to 100% for some items (like machine tools), I think it's 5% duty these days. Also Stihl is made in China so their pricing is more realistic these days, so it's a combination of old stock at old prices and new stock being made cheaper. It's the same with spindle bearings for my lathe, the modern part from the bearing manufacturer is half the cost of the 30 year old part from the lathe manufacturer.
  19. OMM

    OMM Silver Banner Member

    There is definitely a niche market for some things.

    I started making patterns a few years ago (for foundries) which I own. A few of the patterns I wanna die with....

    I even made a multi-purpose checking fixture that is circulating north America.

    I’m more like to do my own stuff, And I absolutely love to make fixtures and patterns. Learning the casting side of things is a game changer for me.

    I want to primarily make tools that have been lost with the ages.
    I also do a lot of handle patterns.
    I am currently working on bench chair pattern that will need no machining. Half bronze, half grey cast iron.

    I live in aIndustrial market where I can buy angle plates and surface tables for dirt cheap at auction. (Literally the scrappers are bidding against me).

    I work part time in a government building that everything that goes out the back door “Has” to be scrapped for liability reasons. I have no shame digging through the dumpster. There is everything from engine blocks, electrical wiring, plumbing copper, auto cast. Just last week we got a $50,000 jeep wrangler that fell from a shipping truck or something. It was written enough for scrap and donated to our facility. I personally drive a jeep wrangler.... I would love the 2020 rims swapped for my 2008. But… I’ll have better chances melting them down (totally damaged) in three years.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
  20. I'm 1000 miles from the nearest capital city and machine tool hardware is hard to come by unless you buy new all the time and fork out over $1 a pound for freight. Freight is a killer with a defacto monopoly these days: before the state owned railways were sold off, I could get a 4400 lb milling machine shipped 1200 miles door to door for $400 so long as it was on a pallet, now the same deal costs $2000. Niche tools for machine tool rebuilding are not at all common and usually people think they must be worth solid gold prices.

    One item I'd like to make is a copy of the Dawn 6" offset vise, in ductile iron it sells for $1100 plus tax:

    I'm a big fan of dumpster diving and am not too proud to fish out awesome stuff thrown away, like the time a welding supply shop was bought out and closed down: plenty of new zirconia linisher belts, welding rods, alloy filler rods of all kinds, fluxes, hoses and safety gear. Another time a training college threw out a lot of 40 taper tooling suitable for my milling machine as well as hundreds of outside chuck jaws for three jaw chucks. It amazes me what gets thrown out by people, I guess when you have to get out in a hurry, you make sacrifices.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
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