Foundry how to set a home use

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Well-Known Member
Feb 12, 2009
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Clovis Ca
I had foundry in past but it was large
Today I looking to set just small backyard foundry
Just around 10 to 20 pounds castings

Please post photos of your foundry
I keep thinking of settings to big one



Active Member
Oct 24, 2011
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Don't have pictures of it, but several years ago I was setting up a small foundry, built a cupola with two 55 gallon barrels and got it just about ready to use, about 13" inside dia, made a power sand mullar and molding bench, even made a stairway and platform to feed it from the top since it was pretty tall. Figured on firing it with charcoal since I have endless hardwood to use. But life pulls me other ways and I never got around to actually using it. All I've done is make some aluminum castings for hubs and pulleys with a little 5 gallon can lined with refractory, I found that can be fired with just wood chunks, no need to use charcoal. Then I decided instead of starting with the larger cupola I needed a small one to play with to get some experience running one and for making smaller castings with small amounts of fuel, so started building one of about 10" inside dimension with an old hot water heater tank and a refractory mix of china clay and and an induction refractory mix which is mostly alumina. The clay is just for a binder since the alumina based refractory was too loose to pack in and hold together. But haven't found time to finish that either.

With my brother I started a trucking company and had to drive truck awhile, but finally figure out truck driving does not suit my mentality or chosen lifestyle. So we're selling that and aiming at going into produce production with orchards and greenhouses. Trying to get our long delayed house project finished this winter and then get going on making biochar more and planting fruit trees. As I can find time I will divert some of the charcoal from biochar to try out the cupolas, small one first. Maybe try making a balanced steam valve or something. The plan is to build steam engines for service in firewood processing and other things. And I'm considering either buying or building a hit n miss engine. I'd love to have one for running a splitter. Building would be more fun, buying an old one probably easier and quicker to get it. But cost a lot more. The 55 gallon cupola is supposed to be large enough to make castings up to 100 lb or better, large enough for most anything I'd want to make. It just takes a lot more volume of charcoal to fire it than coke. Get the right ratio of fuel to metal and the right blast pressure and it should work just fine. In drying the liner on the little cupola the blower when turned up was overkill and could blast charcoal out the top, and melted through a steel screen I laid on top. I think it will get hot enough easily. The blower was a wheel mounted leaf blower intended for use as a yard cleaning thing, I found it in a junk pile out on a country road dead end. For the larger cupola I have an 8 hp gas engine powered vacuum/blower made as a walk behind street sweeper, bought from a small engine service shop for $100 some years back, or a 3 hp stainless steel 3 phase electric blower I picked up from a junk yard that looks like restaurant service equipment. I could plug that into the 3 phase motor/converter I use for the machining equipment.
Always seem to have too much stuff to do waiting on my time, just have to try to get the most critical things done first, living quarters improved and food production going, and hope I can get to some of the more interesting things in time. The advantage of foundry and home machining is being able to make useful machines with very little expense, the scrap metal seems to come my way easily at times. I have quite a few tons collected. If I get into more of it and need more I can always go to the local scrap yard and buy some for whatever price they get for it. I think that's around 25 cents a lb last I knew. They will price it according to what they get for it by the truck load going to big foundries. But I doubt I'll need that, my home use for castings is not extensive.

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