The coal forge is slowly disappearing from horseshoeing as the propane forge has gained popularity.
It’s hard to argue with a device that’s smaller, faster, cleaner, safer around barns and more efficient to operate — especially since the selection of keg shoes now covers most applications with only minor adjustments needed.
As a hard-core believer in coal, my acceptance of propane didn’t happen overnight. At first, I used them to heat the shoeing room. Now I can’t imagine working without one.
Here are some tips on using gas forges:
Adjust the propane pressure to correspond to your work and the speed you want to get something onto the anvil.
Try to keep the metal from getting too hot. Not only will it scale more, but overheated shoes are easily overworked and nail holes distorted. This isn’t a big problem, but it does cause more work and additional fuel consumption. For simple shoe modifications, a big heat is not needed.
If you’re using a two-burner propane forge with two valves, turn off one side after the liner is hot and rotate shoes that are yet to be worked on to the hot side. You’ll save fuel.
More pressure will not increase the top heat of a propane forge, although it will reduce the time it takes to reach that temperature.
Overall temperature will vary somewhat, depending on liners and how they hold and reflect the heat.
When removing shoes from the forge, hold the tongs a little further back…