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Thread: Peter Wright anvil
04-15-2008, 12:02 AM #1
Peter Wright anvil
I have a anvil in my shop, never really looked at it, use it very little, seen the post about anvils thought I would look and see what I have. This anvil I found while riding a honda 90 about 40 years ago, took me forever to get it home on that 3 wheeler. never would sell it. Anyway it is a Peter Wright solid rought 1-1-1. It is 25" long, 10&1/2" high. It has a small triangle metal piece on top at one end. It also has square holes in various spots. The anvil is in very good shape. Are these anvils sought after. and what quality are they. Like I said I dont want to sell it, just wondering if I have some that never really thought about, (just a anvil). I will post some pictures when I get a chance if anybody is interested.
04-15-2008, 09:21 AM #2
Peter Wright Anvils are some of the finest quality anvils. The 1-1-1 on the anvil is the weight of the anvil in an old system of units. The first "1" = the weight in "hundredweights". 1 hundredweight = 120 lbs (if I remember right). The next "1" is the weight in tenths of a hundredweight, or 11 lbs, and the last "1" = the todd pounds, or 1 lb. So, the weight of your anvil then = 110 lbs + 11 lb + 1 lb, or 122 lbs. This was a popular weight of anvil for horsehoers and light-to-medium smithing.
Peter Wright anvils were made in England and imported into the USA in large numbers. They were popular with blacksmiths of all types as well as farriers (horsehoers). They are, IMO, a sought-after anvil by today's blacksmiths. In reality, there are few remaining anvilmakers and the prices charged for a new anvil are astronomical. For this reason, a good quality old anvil in reasonable shape is sought after.
The square hole you name on the anvil is the "hardy hole". Anvil tools with square tapered shanks fit into that hole. The "triangular piece" you mention is likely a hardy or cutoff tool that fits in that hole. Other tools for forming such as "swages" (for forming round work) or "fullers" (for necking and grooving or reducing the size of stock), or flatters, bending forks and anything else the smith needed to shape or cut the work were made up to fit into that hardy hole. The round hole is the "pritchel" hole- used for punching nail holes thru on horsehoes for themost part.
I have two Peter Wright Anvils in my shop. Both about the size of yours. The older of the two I got in 1964, from a quarry blacksmith's widow, and it was old then. I was a kid of 14, so the widow treated me right. She sold me a mess of tools with the anvil for 25 bucks. The other Peter Wright came from a friend who got it from his dad. His dad had been a working smith who died in 1952 or so, and that Peter Wright anvil came from his dad's shop. Both are fine anvils with a reasonable ring to them. IMO, one of theother attractions to a Peter wright anvil are the shape and proportions. They simply are a good looking anvil, known as a "London Pattern" anvil.
If you have one whose working face isn't worn like a swaybacked horse and whose edges aren't chipped too badly, you have a really good anvil. As for how sought after it might be, just go to any sort of blacksmith;s event (look up ABANA or "Art Blacksmiths" or check the "Anvilfire" website). At those events, you will see beat up anvils with swaybacked and chipped faces being sold off tailgates for some substantial prices. Used to be a dollar a pound for older anvils was the going rate, but I hear tell it is up to closer to three bucks a pound for an anvil in usable condition.
As for my own Peter wrights- I will not part with them. My son gets them. Take cvare of your anvil and do not abuse it. It is a fine tool in it's own right.
04-15-2008, 11:08 AM #3
Sorry to be flippant, but wasn't Peter wright the spy catcher man?
04-15-2008, 11:23 AM #4
Everything JM says is right on the money. Peter Wrights are probably the most sought after old anvil. Check Ebay , it will amaze you.
Two inexpensive books on basic blacksmithing and tools ( online or library) are The Edge of the Anvil, and The village Blacksmith(Watson). Would give you an idea of how the anvil was used. Like " Never strike the face of the anvil with anything".
Who knows , You may have a new obsession just waitin to bud out.
04-15-2008, 11:43 AM #5
Come to think of it, I believe the first # is the Hundred weight(112 lb.) , the second is Quater weight or 1/4 of 112 lbs.= (28 lb.), the third # is in Lbs. Yours should weigh about 141 lbs. ( 112+28+1=141lb.)
Those English folk get everything so confused. (Grin)
04-15-2008, 12:12 PM #6
peter wright anvil
you hauled this home on your honda? that must have
been an unusual experience.
04-15-2008, 12:48 PM #7
That's a nice find. If you look up "peter wright anvil" on ebay it will give you an idea of what they go for.
04-15-2008, 01:52 PM #8
You are wright about being a experiance, after a while it became a challenge, sounds like it was worth it. I will post some pictures when I get a chance. My son will be getting a good collection of old equip.
04-15-2008, 02:13 PM #9
04-15-2008, 04:23 PM #10
I think you are correct about the weight. For the last 15 years I have been studying the blacksmith craft. I have three of the Peter Wright anvils, 126,145 & 277#. If you find one in other than pristine condition they are quite repairable using preheat, the correct welding rod and lots of grinding. The 126# had a crack from one corner of the hardy hole. When I decided to repair it the started to Vee out the crack and found that the heal had actually been broken off and welded back on. After alot of grinding and welding to repair the crack, side chips and sway back I have come to like the anvil. One side is straight, there is still a slight dip in the center and a selection of various radii along the sides. All these imperfections are useful in the forging process. The other two need some repair but other things get in the way. The 145# came out of my Dad's garage. He hauled from place to place and it was offered to me before I had any interest in the craft and I am really glad that I took it as it has become somewhat of a family heriloom. The wife wants the bathroom remodeling finished.
04-15-2008, 08:31 PM #11
Ol Dawg has the pound equivelents(sp) correct.
Hundredweight =112 lbs.
Second position is 1/4 of hundredweight.
Third position is straight Lbs.
09-06-2009, 06:10 PM #12
"If you find one in other than pristine condition they are quite repairable using preheat, the correct welding rod and lots of grinding. "
What rods and how much preheat? I was just given an old anvil by my wife for our anniversary (15th) and it needs a little work on the corners. My Grandad fixed my last one, which I gave to my son a couple of years ago. But I don't know how he did it.
09-06-2009, 06:42 PM #13
In the early days of this great nation Anvils like yours were often brought to the US as ballast in the bottom of sailing ships.
A great book "Anvils in America" by Richard Postman can explain your anvils maker as well as the many others that are found here in America. Hay Budden, Arm & Hammer, Trenton, Fisher Eagle are some of the anvils that were actually produced here in states.
Enjoy your anvil, make something on it.
As for any repair, you've got to know how it was made first. They can be solid wrought, wrought with steel top, all cast steel, cast iron with a tool steel top, all cast iron, plus some others I'm sure. Know what it is and then you might start a repair.
09-06-2009, 09:25 PM #14
Well while I am by no means an expert I have been a member of the New Jersey Blacksmith Association for 6 years. Just two things, one is that the hardie hole does not fit tapered hardie tools as when struck would create enough force to crack the end of the anvil (a nice firm but lose fit is best as you can easily pull it out even when hot after use but doesn't walk around when trying to hit the metal on top of it).
As for repairing anvils, unless the edge is really bad(like missing over a inch with bad pitting or cracks) I wouldn't weld the edge. The reason being that if you do not pre and post heat correctly you will create stress cracks in the weld and surrounding material that will ruin the anvil (also drops the price if you go to sell your anvil). Also, if you do pre and post heat correctly, you still have to reharden the steel face(as the wrought body is unable to harden from quenching), then regrind the edge to have a nice radius(as a sharp edge creates cold shuts in your work when you use the side of the anvil). A good radius is about the size of a nickel(perhaps bigger if you work bigger stock) tapering down to about a pencil, leaving about 2 to 3 inches of the end near the hardie sharp (a perfect 90 degree angle).
Now if that didn't convince you not to weld on your anvil, perhaps this will, the cost.
Welding rod(especially hard facing rod which is normally used) is expensive, and you will most likely will have to use another rod to be able to weld directly on the hard steel face(high nickel if you have to weld to the wrought iron as the slag in it tends to run out when you try to weld it with rod). Then you have to figure in the money for electricity which for the amount of rod you will go through(sometimes pounds) is not cheap. And finally after quenching it in huge amounts of water(which in our case we will say is free) you still have to grind the now very hard weld with big grinders and grinding wheels(which also are expensive). So in general, unless the anvil is so bad that a *slight* grinding will not smooth out the anvil(doesn't have to be perfectly straight edged), you should not weld an anvil.
Another mistake that I have seen is someone machining the top and sides of the anvil. These old anvils have a wrought iron body and a steel plate top with a continuous weld to the wrought iron body (done through various means, very interesting if you care to find out). This plate(especially the older the anvil) tends to be only a inch or so thick(you can tell by the fine line running around the edge), so if you machine the top and edges until it is perfectly flat you may machine as much as 3/8 or 1/2 off the top now making the hard brittle steel top only 1/2 inch thick which will break under normal forging conditions.
Well that's the end of this blacksmith's rant, have fun with your anvil and forging new parts for your old machines!
09-07-2009, 03:27 AM #15
We have discussed this before, but there is more than one way to lick a cat. I have repaired a few anvils by simply cleaning the damaged area very carefully. Then welding it up with a mig gun running mild steel. I occasionally rest my hand next to the work never allowing the work to get too hot. If I cannot hold my hand there its time for a break. You don't need or want hardfacing or high nickle rods. The proof is in the pudding. These repairs over time even took the correct patina due to their more correct mild steel content. I suspect these repairs pull some carbon off the existing top plate when welded.
Many years ago I took a 300lb Fisher Eagle as payment on a job. It had been used as a torch cutting table for many years. Gouged every way you can imagine. I repaired it as mentioned and then used it for 3 or 4 years no cracks or any other problems. I traded it off, upgrading as we blacksmiths tend to do.
Eventually I found my way to the present 500lb ish Habberman style double horn. I went ahead and made a few repairs to it too. These were foundry cast imperfections around the waist that had been bondoed over. Wouldn't hurt a thing as it was, but I had to give proper repairing a try. After a very careful cleaning and knowing it was all cast steel, I drug out the mig gun again. All went well and thats been many years ago. In my mind it's actually better than new now. Its probably common for new large anvils to be slicked over with a bondo type substance below the work surface.
09-07-2009, 07:01 AM #16
I am not a smith but I have owned a few anvils and buy and sell some. When I look at an anvil, if it has a belly worn into the top I won't even consider it. It's a boat anchor. The next thing I will do is the hardness test. This is done by taking a 3/4" or 1" steel ball and dropping it onto the top from a height of 10 inches and see how far it bounces back. On a good hard anvil the steel ball will bounce back 7 to 9 inches (70-90%). The hardest anvils I have found are the American made Fisher Eagle anvils. They have a tool steel top that was bonded to the body during the casting process.
I bought a 120 pound Fisher last month with a date of 1914 that had an almost perfectly flat top. The ball bounced back 9" (90%). The only problem with a very hard top is that the edges will chip as the top is more brittle. It was a really nice anvil but it had a few chipped edges. I had it for a week and sold it for 2-1/2 times what I paid for it.
I have a 300# Fisher that is my main anvil. The ball test is 8-1/2" (85%). It was from a machine shop and has never seen any hot work. It's almost perfect. I also have a 70# Kohlswa all steel anvil from Sweden that the ball test is 7" (70%). It has nice sharp corners.
Many sellers think that because an anvil is old and heavy that it must be worth a lot. But, the flatness and hardness of the top are the main things that I consider when pricing an anvil. To me, the Fishers are the best. They are quieter too. They don't ring as loud and kill your hearing. When I find a Fisher I usually buy it unless it has been terribly abused and damaged. I have seen quite a few other brands but many have a belly worn into the top from years of pounding. I pass on those.
Try the ball test on your Peter Wright. It would be interesting to see how hard the top is. Where are the pics?
Fisher-Norris Eagle Anvils
1843 - 1979
Fisher-Norris was the first large scale manufacturer of anvils in the U.S. They used a patent process that welded a tool steel plate onto a cast iron body in the mold when the anvil was cast. Up until this time all good anvils were forged from wrought iron and faced with tool steel that was forge welded to the body.
The Fisher process produced an economical and very servicable anvil. They are also much quieter than wrought or all steel anvils which ring like a bell.
09-07-2009, 07:28 AM #17
I collected anvils for a while- had 25 of them from 400 pound on down. Saved two and sold the rest at $1.25 per pound for the lot. Came out about even in what I had in them. Just glad to get rid of them.
The nicest was one of those Fishers. It came from the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant here in Kansas. It was New Old Stock and was at an auction with surplus items from that plant when it was deactivated.
I think the only thing that ever touched it's face was dust.
Used to be I couldn't pass a farm sale with an anvil without buying it. Crazy. I finally got over that and now I have progressed to bench vises. If it is big and is going to sell, it is going home with me. Good thing about vises- they have a bit more utility than an anvil.
09-07-2009, 08:23 AM #18
Too bad you don't live closer. I restored an old Parker combination vise that I picked up last summer. It stands 16" tall and is 24' long. The jaws are 6" wide and it opens 8-9". No cracks or repairs. Must weigh around 200 lbs. I had it for sale recently on Craigslist but didn't get any bites.
09-07-2009, 10:54 AM #19
Actually, my anvil is not a PW. It is a Southern Crescent, with a cast iron base and thin steel top. I cleaned it up a little this morning and decided to leave it as is. It still has some good edges and a fairly flat top.
09-07-2009, 11:41 AM #20
That is nice looking. I saw one like yours at a sale last winter, stood around in the snow with rubber boots and freezing feet waiting on them to get to it. FINALLY, they stumble around and walk up to that table with the vice and announce that "this vise don't sell....."
I was a mad mortar forker........