Old Blackstone Steel?

  1. Keith 66 Member

    Essex UK
    Long story, about 40 odd years ago me & my mates found an old piece of farm machinery on an abandoned local smallholding, It was a Blackstone Hay rake, a ride on job designed to be towed behind a tractor, with a great rown of curved tines about 3ft long. Wheels about 5ft across. We appropriated it & attempted to get it home one summer holiday. We actually managed to move the thing over 3/4 of a mile through the woods until someone nicked the wheels one day & that was that! I had the seat shortly after & still have it.
    The rest of it is still there. Today my son & i re discovered the wreckage to our surprise it hasnt rusted away. That machine has been out there in the wind & rain since WW2 & its still largely there.
    Parks dept tractor had tried to bulldoze it & snapped a few of its rake tines off which i have bought home.
    Any ideas what the hell these were made of? They are rusty but still strong & ring like a bell when you hit them.
    Im thinking this has got to be some good iron & am thinking to reforge into some blades.
    Any ideas what they used back then?
    fizzy, Anguz and eLuSiVeMiTe like this.
  2. merryman Member

    Lancaster, England
    I guess I must be one of the last people to have used one of those "horse rakes" in anger. I was brought up on a hill farm, and rather than buy in straw, it was common practice until the 1970s to cut rushes, which grew on the pastures, and use them for bedding the calf "holes". As the pastures had very thin topsoil, there were outcrops of rock sticking up, so to avoid wrecking the Vicon rowing up machine, which was used for hay, the old converted horse rake was used to rake the rush into rows for collection. When I got to 12 or so I drove the tractor (Fergy TEF20) and dad sat behind on the rake operating the tipping lever. When I got a bit older we swapped roles. The steel used in those old machines was superb, never broke a tyne, even though you occasionally caught a stone sticking up.
    fizzy, Wendelspanswick and Ton-up like this.
  3. Keith 66 Member

    Essex UK
    I took one of the broken tines into work on tuesday, after school i fired up the chip forge & straightened one out, bloody hell it was hard going. Mild steel it aint. I found if you get it too hot it fractures but at a good orange heat it forges okay.
    My hammer obviously wasnt big enough, Will have another go next week. Think it will be excellent for tools & knives. Have to forge the latter at home!
  4. Scruffywelder

    Scruffywelder Member

    Dumfries & Galloway
    Yep, it's the best of stuff!

    Dad still has some punches and chisel he made from rake tines when he started his apprenticeship in 1954!
    fizzy likes this.
  5. Migmac

    Migmac Forum Supporter

    Kintyre. Scotland
    I have no idea what it’s made from. There is one sitting out in the open in the forest i work in, its complete. Must of been sitting out in the salty air for nearly sixty years.
    fizzy, eLuSiVeMiTe and slim_boy_fat like this.
  6. Keith 66 Member

    Essex UK
    Postscript to this story, My son recently built a sideblast forge & a few weeks back had a go forging some of this old steel into a blade using coke.
    It started out longer but as before overheating caused cracking & itended up rather shorter.
    What started out as a saxon seax with a very straight blade had mud painted on the business edge & it curved quite dramatically on tempering, he spent a day on a waterstone & bloody hell its sharp. Looks a bit rough round the edges but considering its the first blade he ever forged it isnt too bad! Next ones will be better!
  7. R Kraft Member

    Dcal and Gragson like this.
  8. MetalMonkey Member

    Might it be crucible steel?