Blowin’ Smoke

The introduction of propane forges improved mobility, safety

For those who have never used a coal forge in their daily work, especially in a mobile practice, there are a few things to know. It takes some time and effort to get a coal forge up to a nice even working heat. Once that has been accomplished, the last thing you want to do is dowse the whole thing in order to move on to the next appointment to start all over, but with wet coal

In 1973, I was in my first summer of shoeing and propane forges were rarely seen. I was using a homemade coal forge fashioned from the core of an old water heater. It sat on squat legs about 6 inches high and had a short chimney about 4 inches wide. The other thing it had was a somewhat ill-fitting door. When stationary it did an OK job of preventing drafts from stirring up the fire when I didn’t want it stirred. It sat in the back of the bed next to the tailgate of my 1965 Chevy pickup. It didn’t have any kind of canopy or covering over the bed and therefore when driving down the road a considerable updraft would enter through the door and exit out the chimney. In doing so, the coal fire would receive exactly the kind of draft it needed to really take off.

One morning in August, I finished an appointment and had about 8 miles to drive to the next stop. I banked up the fire…

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David hazlett

David Hazlett CJF

David Hazlett is a certified journeyman farrier based in Ellensburg, Wash. He has been shoeing for nearly 50 years.

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