r/interestingasfuck Sep 24 '22 Silver 10 All-Seeing Upvote 2 Take My Energy 2 Starstruck 1 Vibing 1 Mind Blown 1 Gold 1 Helpful 15 Wholesome 6 LOVE! 1 Bravo Grande! 2 Rocket Like 1

process of making a train wheel /r/ALL

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95.1k Upvotes

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5.6k

u/greeich Sep 24 '22

I'm amazed at how skillfully they're using those big tools/machines.

2.0k

u/HippyHitman Sep 24 '22

Skillful use of a huge tool really is something.

435

u/bigbrowbeater Sep 24 '22

Not to mention how they gradually widened the hole with larger and larger plugs

415

u/engaginggorilla Sep 24 '22 Silver Wholesome All-Seeing Upvote

I should call her...

98

u/jml011 Sep 24 '22

Everything reminds me of her

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u/[deleted] Sep 24 '22

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u/Bluelabel Sep 24 '22

Your wife tells me that too

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u/Chewcocca Sep 24 '22

We get it already, that guy's wife think you're both huge tools.

175

u/LeviathanOD Sep 24 '22

She is using them quite skillfully tho

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u/p2datrizzle Sep 24 '22

Damn this thread got deep

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u/alostbutton Sep 24 '22

I’m the dull tool his wife pulls out of the shed every so often

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u/Gnarledhalo Sep 24 '22

During the first 30 seconds I thought the wheel was way too small.

7.6k

u/fuzzytradr Sep 24 '22 All-Seeing Upvote

Didn't think I would watch past first thirty seconds. Watched the whole damn thing. Very interesting.

2.0k

u/Potatotornado20 Sep 24 '22 Take My Energy

Couldn’t take my eyes off it

2.4k

u/Uhtred_McUhtredson Sep 24 '22 Silver Brighten My Day

Seriously. I can barely last 30 seconds (watching a video) with my ADHD.

I was transfixed the whole time. Trainsfixed?

Goodnight, everybody.

670

u/AlexanderDaychilde Sep 24 '22

As someone with severe ADHD,I think that's a railatively good way of putting it.

454

u/blue_skive Sep 24 '22

I don't have ADHD but I think you're on the right track.

280

u/DirtyDirtyRudy Sep 24 '22

Watching this video, it’s really hard to lose one’s train of thought.

66

u/cfairchild13 Sep 24 '22

You guys are on a roll

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u/humblebeegee Sep 24 '22

I know how they wheels are made, but I cho-cho-chose to stay and watch the whole video.

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u/UneventfulLover Sep 24 '22

Would you say you became ...stationary in front of the screen?

62

u/archwin Sep 24 '22

They couldn’t be derailed

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u/neonapple Sep 24 '22

I was amazed at the amount of “eye-balling” it. “Yep, that’s about the middle”

329

u/BaffledPlato Sep 24 '22

I was surprised by how hands-on the whole process was. I kind of imagined some big robot somewhere spit them out.

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u/JasperLamarCrabbb Sep 24 '22

I definitely also always vaguely assumed it was some big machine just spitting stuff like this onto a conveyor belt like in old movies that have scenes with an assembly line.

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u/Ricozilla Sep 24 '22

Like the droid factory in Attack of the Clones

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u/rangeo Sep 24 '22

Yes, The hand holdy ring denter thingy part was weird.

I suppose our grand children will think the same of our driving 100km and eyeballing getting past other cars and guessing at braking distances

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u/steve-d Sep 24 '22

The hand holdy ring denter thingy

That is, in fact, the technical term for it. Probably.

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u/ropibear Sep 24 '22

Most forged parts are roughs that later go on to get machined to the precise size. A good forged base part minimises lost material and makes machining easier.

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u/[deleted] Sep 24 '22

[deleted]

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u/bddiddy Sep 24 '22

very simply, hitting red hot metal, or "forging," makes it stronger.

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u/_jerrb Sep 24 '22

Cast steel mechanical quality sucks. Metals are formed by thousand of microscopic crystal binded togheter. The size and shape of these crystal affect the mechanical quality of the metal itself. The shape and size of the crystal is determined by how the metal cools when is melted and for cast steel you have little control on that. So you make big cylinder with process where is easier to make the shape of crystal that you want and you modify the exterior shape later. Also all the banging on the hot metal compress all these crystal improving further the mechanical qualities.

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u/theideanator Sep 24 '22

Metallurgist at a forging company by day, blacksmith on the weekends here. Cast stuff has a very non-uniform grain structure, and sometimes even voids from shrinkage in the middle (like how ice expands, but everything else shrinks when it cools). This is considered garbage. You can't fix porosity, but you can break up the cast microstructure by squishing the metal. This makes it more uniform and far stronger.

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u/gcranston Sep 24 '22

Metal has grains in it. They aren't looking like wood grain (which runs the full length of the tree) but are more like small crystals stuck together (think grains of sand).

When you cast metal the grains are oriented randomly and there tends to be more voids between them. If you take the casting and forge it like this the grains get stretched and oriented all in the same direction. So if you're clever about the sequence of steps in the forging process you can make a part with grains oriented in the way that gives you more strength in the direction you need it. Forging will also get rid of a lot of voids in the part.

Also, this is no where near a finished wheel. From here it will probably for through more forging steps in a series of dies (molds strong enough to be used in a press/ hit with a hammer), machined to tight tolerances, and then balanced so it doesn't shake when spinning at high speed. I'm just guessing here so there may be more than that, but it not you have a better idea now!

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u/woodyattmccoll Sep 24 '22

Because elevating steel to its melting point removes a lot of the carbon and greatly reduces its structural integrity. A public service message from someone who watches way too much forged in fire.

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u/930reef Sep 24 '22

So this “blank” likely then goes and gets more precision machined?

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u/ropibear Sep 24 '22

Yeah, down to exact diametre and thickness probably.

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u/930reef Sep 24 '22

Ok, thank you. The whole time I was thinking: there’s no way this works on actually train tracks as-is. Makes much more sense.

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u/BigCarry1978 Sep 24 '22

That makes more sense. Because machines that aren't precise tend to shake like crazy operating at high speeds.

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u/QualityPies Sep 24 '22

They did have a guy with callipers marking out the centre at one point.

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u/JwSatan Sep 24 '22

But only on one side

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u/pauly13771377 Sep 24 '22

That was my reaction too. The level of precision that needed for a 200 ton engine or 65 ton car to ride on has to he pretty high. These guys are casually laying down the inner grove like they are bored. I would gave expected a lot more automation or at least more precise measurements to be made.

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u/[deleted] Sep 24 '22

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/master-shake69 Sep 24 '22

There are a lot of videos out there showing steel manufacturing like this where different things are made. It's always a good watch.

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u/rinkusonic Sep 24 '22

I usually don't watch long videos, especially when I'm outside, but this was mesmerising.

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u/H8TTK Sep 24 '22

I don’t usually last any longer than 30 seconds watching something getting pounded either

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u/BeRad_NZ Sep 24 '22

Me too, is there something weird wi the the shutter speed or something? This looked like they were making a toy train wheel until there were humans for scale.

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u/Delamoor Sep 24 '22

An increasing number of videos being posted are sped up. No fucking idea why except to appeal to people with short attention spans. It makes everything look janky and slightly uncanny valley.

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u/BaconWithBaking Sep 24 '22

To be fair to this video, at normal speed it would take far too long to watch. Lots of slow movement going on to get it right. The viewer still gets the idea with it sped up.

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u/[deleted] Sep 24 '22

To be fair to this video, at normal speed it would take far too long to watch.

Watch this video of how a train wheel is made, 2 hours long.

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u/Procrastinatedthink Sep 24 '22

Redditors complaining it’s for “short attention spans”,

it’s opportunity cost, my mild curiousity at how a train wheel is made with a giant automatic slider hammer and forklist isnt going to keep me in that video if it’s 5 minutes, not like im ever going to make one myself

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u/Mr_Ruu Sep 24 '22

Better that than a lot of unnecessary cuts, imo

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u/coyotll Sep 24 '22

Absolutely, I can confirm as somebody with a short attention span I prefer

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u/Delamoor Sep 24 '22

In that case, I blame you entirely for this entire trend.

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u/AvoidMySnipes Sep 24 '22

I think the video was timed great. I don’t think you’d really want to sit here and watch that at a slower pace lol

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u/TRR462 Sep 24 '22

Yep, glad they skipped all the reheating cycles required to forge that huge piece of metal.

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u/BornLuckiest Sep 24 '22

Don't blame them, blame the Laws of the universe we exist within.

The speed of light is too damn slow in this one.

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u/devils_advocate24 Sep 24 '22

Yeah I was wondering why they started with a piece of metal the size of a soda can

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u/Scrimshaw_Hopox Sep 24 '22

That's amazing. Why do they keep sweeping away the scale that lands on the ground adjacent to the wheel? I would like to see the guy who controls the pincers. He makes.very slight but precise grabs of the forging to spin it around.

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u/coolthesejets Sep 24 '22

I wonder if the guy who controls the pincers also controls the hammer, maybe with a foot pedal.

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u/Scrimshaw_Hopox Sep 24 '22

Agreed. Seems too synchronized to be two different people.

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u/Insert_Bad_Joke Sep 24 '22 Silver Helpful All-Seeing Upvote

Blacksmithing is highly synchronised work when not working solo. You have to be very efficient to work the metal as much as possible before it has to be heated again. This would otherwise mean far more fuel being wasted, and time spent to reach the same result. I.e less revenue.

Before power hammers, blacksmiths would have one or several helpers (strikers) with sledgehammer-like tools that would strike the metal the blacksmith was working on. The effect of the blacksmith's smaller hammer would not be able to do much in comparison. Instead, it was used to create sound and signal where the strikers should aim, and when to do so. Much like drumming, they learn to keep a steady beat, and listening to it sounds almost musical. Here is a fun example from the blacksmithing subreddit.

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u/aarontbarratt Sep 24 '22

This the kind of video I'd love to show an alien and have them guess wtf is going on

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u/Legendary_Bibo Sep 24 '22

I'm certain that if aliens came they probably had to have a similar process when forging metals at some point in their history before having some sort of highly advanced system.

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u/Roboticide Sep 24 '22

Yeah, need to show them something cultural, not technological.

Maybe they wouldn't understand why they forge metal that way, but they'd understand what they're doing.

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u/monsieurpommefrites Sep 24 '22

love to show an alien

I'd show them the Funkytown video.

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u/toomanyattempts Sep 24 '22

The video is sped up fwiw, they're not quite so fast in reality

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u/NavierIsStoked Sep 24 '22

It’s crazy it’s stays hot enough to be worked that long.

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u/kurtanglesmilk Sep 24 '22

It’s double speed for anyone who wants to try and watch it at ‘normal’ speed

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u/pocket_mulch Sep 24 '22

It's actually this abomination of a bio-mechanical scorpion. The stinger has been replaced with the hammer.

That's why the camera is where it is, big train don't want you to know.

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u/Nay-the-Cliff Sep 24 '22

That sounds metal AF and I want to work with the giant mecha hellscorpion now

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u/SiriusBaaz Sep 24 '22

They’re probably cleaning up the scale for the same reasons you would in normal blacksmithing. Scale can build up and get imbedded back into the soft metal. Which then can cause issues with forming the wheel and possibly making weird weak spots in the finished product.

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u/szxdfgzxcv Sep 24 '22

I would assume just to not have it sink/stick to the workpiece

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u/cstobler Sep 24 '22

Was a blacksmith for 10 years. That’s the reason. Keeps the work clean

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u/GregTrompeLeMond Sep 24 '22

Instead of pouring it into the original shape is the pounding into shape for strength? My father ran a manufacturing plant that poured metal but always directly into molds, but this was for carbide drill bits. (I think it was bits-they made more than that there and I was quite young.)

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u/cstobler Sep 24 '22

I don’t know as much about casting metal, but from what I understand, cast metal is more brittle than forged metal. Casting it would probably not be best for something that would take as much pressure as a train wheel.

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u/baabaaredsheep Sep 24 '22

I know even less— what’s the difference between cast and forged?

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u/Golren_SFW Sep 24 '22

Cast they just pour molten metal into a hole that is the shape of what they make, then wait for it to cool, badabing you have a hunk of metal shaped how you want

Forging you take a chunk of hot metal and hammer/otherwise form it into the shape you want it to be in as seen above.

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u/ArtemonBruno Sep 24 '22 edited Sep 24 '22

I like this thread. Here's a question:

What happen when a forged sword & a casted sword clashes? if this is a valid question

Edit:

I'm stopping at ELI5 stage. The knowledge about melting point of the material, abundance of the metal, porosity of the material, mixtures of materials too immersive. Some more someone mentioned treatment of metal some sort.

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u/axefairy Sep 24 '22

Cast one is much, much more likely to break, might even shatter if it’s a bad cast, which is why the Uruk sword making scene in LotR annoys the hell out of me

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u/ReactiveAmoeba Sep 24 '22

I always figured that the Uruk-hai, like their swords, were intended to be cheap, mass-produced, and basically disposable. Overwhelming their enemies via sheer numbers, rather than skill (which takes time).

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u/SwampGentleman Sep 24 '22

Cast swords didn’t really exist, apart from early bronze. When you pour metal into a mould, the internal crystalline structure is a bit like… meatloaf. Or particle board. Versus if you pound it into shape, all the particles work together!

Like a baseball bat made out of plywood, versus one made out of solid hickory!:)

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u/Ghrrum Sep 24 '22

Takes a bit to explain, but I'll give a go.

First off not all metal is the same. What you're seeing in this video is steel, if I had to hazard a guess I'd say something in the range of 4140.

Those numbers at the end there? Those can tell you what is in the steel.

Steel, at its most basic is a mixture of carbon and iron. The mix ranges from 0.1% carbon to iron all the way up to 1.1% carbon to iron. That's a pretty narrow band to get right and humans spent about 300-500 years figuring out how to.

If you have too much carbon in the mix you get what the industry calls cast iron, if you go too low, you have wrought iron.

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u/Ghrrum Sep 24 '22

The science in this gets even more complicated when you start adding in other metals to the mix and see what characteristics they add to the resulting alloy.

Chromium and molybdenum (frequently shortened to Cromoly or similar) are two common metals added to steel to enhance strength (resistance to bending), cyclic fatigue (how much you can hit it before it breaks), spring (how elastic and bouncy it is before it won't bounce back), hardness (edge retention for cutting tools, resistance to deformation), and toughness (doesn't want to grind away/holds edge longer).

Now those two are not the only extra ones put in the special sauce. Different amounts of these extra metals can create some wild differences in the resulting alloy.

And how much of these are usually needed? Usually less than 3% of the alloy is a metal other than iron.

There's more beyond this too, because how you cool the steel also can massively change its physical properties.

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u/Ghrrum Sep 24 '22

So, you've got all these atoms swimming around in the alloy. If you think back to chemistry you might remember that atoms like to stick together in specific relaxed repeating patterns when it's a uniform mix. This is how we get crystals, well, steel has crystals.

The atoms in steel don't mix neatly all the time and there are some really big brains out there that spend a lot of time thinking about how these can fit better. It is a bit mind bending to try and understand at the best of times. I've been at it for 2 decades and I still don't get all of it.

Decent article on it here:
https://www.thefabricator.com/thewelder/article/metalsmaterials/phases-structures-and-the-influences-of-temperature

I hope that helps you follow it a bit more.

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u/jej218 Sep 24 '22

Material science is really interesting. I'm sure there are ways to go about it directly, but I always imagined the way new metals are designed is just a bunch of guys randomly coming up with different ways to mix it all up and different stuff to do to it through the process.

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u/Kool_beanz7 Sep 24 '22 edited Sep 24 '22

Nice to learn some of the science behind it. When I assembled moulds, sometimes we had to put certain cores inside that would react differently to molten steel. I know this was sometimes to create a cavity.

I honestly only knew how to make them and for which mould. Most cores were made from a different type of sand and chemical ratio as well as curing method.

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u/Ghrrum Sep 24 '22

I can hazard a guess, the cores needed to be compressible to a greater or lesser degree to allow for an amount of shrinkage as the metal cooled from molten to hot solid, then cool solid.

Like all things steel and iron expand and contract when heated and cooled, obviously steel takes a lot of heat, meaning it will contract a fair bit as it cools. I think the ballpark is 0.001" expansion/contraction per 100F change in temperature.

Considering most steel melts above 2000F that means you've got a bit shy of 1/32 of an inch change over one inch of distance going from molten to room temperature.

Now this bit is slightly educated guesswork. If the interior core features are very rigid, you would see the casting deform interior features to a greater degree. If the core can act a bit spongey and compress/deform as it gets compressed during cooling, you will see a more uniform set of interior features.

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u/baabaaredsheep Sep 24 '22

Interesting, thanks! Love learning something new on Reddit.

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u/Ghrrum Sep 24 '22

There's more, I also realized that after my long winded explanation I neglected to mention the actual answer.

Forged parts have a grain structure that is stronger than cast.

Think of it like atomic lego bricks.

Cast is like having a structure made all with the 2 pip tall lego blocks.

Forged is like having that structure made with the 4 pip lego blocks.

More atoms holding other atoms essentially.

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u/cstobler Sep 24 '22

Cast metal is when metal is heated to its melting point and then poured into a mold, typically created out of sand. Forged metal is when metal is sourced from metal refineries in the form of bars or billets and then it is heated to the point where it glows red to yellow, at which point it is malleable and able to be shaped with a hammer.

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u/pedestrianpinniped Sep 24 '22

Precisely, forging compresses and aligns the grain structure in the metal. That being said some companies are really good at casting and particularly the cooling process these days and can probably make something roughly as strong, but a good cast generally requires different geometries around stress points so can't necessarily replace tightly standardized stuff.

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u/J-TownVsTheCity Sep 24 '22 edited Sep 24 '22

I studied material science.

One of the interesting things about forging is that in the process of hammering the metal you not only compress the metallic grains into smaller tougher grain you also alter the grain structure by adding in what are known as dislocations into the crystallographic structure. Think of these as discontinuities in an otherwise uniform formation of atoms. These dislocations added from the plastic deformation you see in the video (the hammer changing the shape of the forging) make the metal really strong in terms of yield strength due to the resistance to metallic slip provided by the dislocations, meaning that the layers of atoms in the metal are less able to slide over each other. This helps the metal to avoiding squishing under compression or stretch under tension! The fact it is steel makes it even more strong because of the way steel responds to plastic deformation is the best out of most metals.

Understandably the grains don’t get uniformly smaller as you hammer it, they also stretch perpendicular to the direction of the force, this allows you to have really precise control of the grain size and shape at key stress raising locations on the forging. This means that the typical areas of weakness from the shape and the expected load conditions are much stronger.

Casting is totally different and you have way more control over the grain size distribution of the metal than in forging but you have less precision options in certain locations because the grains are controlled by cooling process. Fast cooling will give very small grain size, whereas grains slowly increase in size during slow cooling as the dendrites in the metal (icicles/snowflakes) have a longer time to grow. Slow cooling leads to larger grains. The direction of the cooling makes a difference too. Traditional casting by drenching in water will lead to very small grains on the outside and fatter grains on the inside.

For both casting and forging there are sooo many types of post formation heat treatment that allows very precise control of the properties. It’s more common for casting because it is a chance to reset the grain sizes and grow them uniformly, you might not want to do this in forgings because you will lose the strength that you hammered in to the stress raising locations.

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u/Boloar Sep 24 '22

Instead of pouring it into the original shape is the pounding into shape for strength?

More or less. Look up 'work hardening'. Train wheels are going to be subject to a great deal of rolling stress over a long time, so forging it hardens the metal grain structure such that rolling would take a very long time to cause damage. On the flip side, the more 'hardening' is done, the more brittle the metal becomes, but presumably they know the sweet spot.

A cast wheel would start to deform much sooner than a forged wheel under load.

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u/boottrax Sep 24 '22

So they sorta just eyeball it? I don’t know if I should be impressed or concerned.

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u/carl-swagan Sep 24 '22

This is just the forged blank, it will be machined to the final size on a lathe after this.

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u/apollo_dude Sep 24 '22

Thanks, I was thinking this process must have large tolerances if they could just eyeball it.

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u/MrKamikaze01 Sep 24 '22 edited 5d ago

I have seen enough videos that the word lathe brings me a lot of nightmares

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u/DoubleOrNothing90 Sep 24 '22

I used to use one every day. As long as you follow safety rules and don't act like an idiot around them, there's nothing to be afraid of.

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u/MysticScribbles Sep 24 '22

And depending on the setup, on the bright side you'd likely be dead before you register that you messed up.

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u/RonPMexico Sep 24 '22

Not true. Throwing a chuck key hurts like a sonofabitch if you get hit. A lot of the more serious accidents occur when a person gets dragged into the machine. Having a limb ripped from your body is a terrible way to go.

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u/ProfessorMalk Sep 24 '22

I don't want to know what kind of videos you've seen, the word lathe just makes me think of relaxing videos of people turning wood on lathes.

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u/RyoukoSama Sep 24 '22

Lathes turning people into leather

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u/dcoold Sep 24 '22

Or just turning them into a red mist. That one in particular horrified me.

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u/Downtown-Anything-44 Sep 24 '22

This machine does the rough shaping. It goes to be machined after this

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u/B0l0gnese Sep 24 '22

Don't worry, they'll get machined on a CNC lathe afterwards.

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u/I_hate_flashlights Sep 24 '22

By the looks of it, this is done outside by antiquated methods. This is probably some 3rd world country, so CNCs probably aren't what's going to machine it. More like some huge, but human controlled lathe. Maybe a carousel lathe.

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u/Cory123125 Sep 24 '22

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u/st1tchy Sep 24 '22

And for those wondering what a robot that picks up a train wheel might look like, here you go! In the first picture, those servo motors (red caps sticking out of the robot) come up to my shoulder. I'm 5'10".

https://imgur.com/iyqTFvV.jpg

https://imgur.com/YsgoUQu.jpg

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u/axefairy Sep 24 '22

Don’t need a CNC for a train wheel even in developed countries, it may be ideal but they’re still done by hand, a turner that knows they’re business can definitely work to the tolerances required. The machine shop I used to work with even had vertical lathes (which I presume is what you mean by carousel lathes, we just called them roundabouts) that were pre-WW1 that we used just for such jobs, they had some taper in them but the guys who worked them could work with that easily.

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u/csiz Sep 24 '22

This isn't antiquated method. That's how large metal pieces are made. The piece benefits from work hardening and you don't have to remove 3/4 of the material doing it CNC from a block. Look up how they manufacture ship engines. Big chonky machines hammer the pieces into rough shape then they get precisely machined.

Now a wheel you can probably still do in a manual lathe so maybe you're right for this video, but it's not generally the case. And even 3rd world will have CNC machines at an industrial steel plant, those are big money makers anywhere in the world.

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u/Time4Red Sep 24 '22

I'm pretty sure most manufacturers use pressure casting rather than forging these days to make train wheels. It requires less labor, and modern understandings of metallurgy and heat treatments ensure the end product is just as strong.

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u/nefewel Sep 24 '22

This is actually quite old fashioned for train wheels. You can't really afford to make them like this in developed countries because labour is much more expensive. This job is mostly done by pressing the wheels into moulds, and forming in rollers(not sure if that is the right word).

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u/Ocronus Sep 24 '22

Not all large pieces. Many large metal components are cast. Which is much faster and more cost effective but cast parts are overall inferior to forged in nearly all physical metrics.

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u/multiversesimulation Sep 24 '22

I think his point was they’re doing it outside in an uncontrolled environment whereas in a “developed” country they would be forging it inside and with a controlled atmosphere as chemical impurities from the environment/atmosphere can degrade the material properties of the steel.

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u/Truth_or_Nudes Sep 24 '22

As others have said, this workpiece will undergo subsequent machining operations to obtain the final part shape with proper dimensions. The term us metallurgists use for this type of product is a near-net-shape (NNS) forging. The workpiece is forged to the approximate shape of the final part with oversized dimensions; during machining the excess material is removed. The benefits of producing a NNS forging with approximated features include the minimization of material lost during machining and reduced machining times. Note that if the forging operators did make a mistake and the features were significantly off-center or the walls were forged too thin, these mistakes would be identified during post-forging inspection or during part machining if all surfaces do not "clean up."

TLDR: Eyeballing is good enough. Final dimensions of the part are obtained later.

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u/18LJ Sep 24 '22

My favorite part when it turns into a giant red hot cheese wheel

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u/Hochram Sep 24 '22

Spicy Parmigiano

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u/friedchorizo Sep 24 '22

Forbidden cheese just hits different

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u/SluttyGandhi Sep 24 '22

Agreed. It was like a glowing marshmallow that got squished and turned into a luminous wheel of gouda.

So many forbidden snacks.

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u/DanFuckingSchneider Sep 24 '22

Now do it 600 more times and you’ve got one train.

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u/gangofminotaurs Sep 24 '22

'draw the rest of the fucking train'

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u/guaip Sep 24 '22

You'd have 601 wheels and still no train.

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u/IjustWant2laugh420 Sep 24 '22

Damn imagine how long it took back in the day

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u/Thunda792 Sep 24 '22

This is pretty much exactly how you would have seen a train wheel being forged in the late 1800s. Steam hammers have been around since the 1840s to do all the heavy lifting. These days, hydraulic presses are preferred for more even pressure and better consistency, but you still see old hammers like this in smaller shops, heritage railroads, and a few other niche applications where you don't have to make more than a few at a time.

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u/MarlinMr Sep 24 '22

Steam hammers have been around since the 1840s to do all the heavy lifting.

Imagine thinking we knew how to make trains, but some how didn't know how to make a hammer.

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u/polypolip Sep 24 '22

even in medieval times there were very heavy hammers powered by water wheels.

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u/Malkiot Sep 24 '22

Hammer mills.

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u/Accurate_Plankton255 Sep 24 '22

Yeah those hammers predate trains by centuries if not longer. Medieval hammer mills can be found in Europe along rivers in preindustrial metal working centres. With steam you simply had more power at your disposal and the hammers could get bigger.

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u/CataclysmZA Sep 24 '22 edited Sep 24 '22

Imagine thinking we knew how to make trains

Fun fact: We partially owe the existence and design of trains and railways to the Romans. Developing railways would not have happened in the same way without the invention of the chariot.

https://guernseydonkey.com/how-the-ancient-romans-built-the-railways-of-the-world/

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/railroad-gauge-chariots/

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u/ParrotofDoom Sep 24 '22

One of the pioneers behind the steam hammer had a factory near me. Here's one of his steam hammers:

https://goo.gl/maps/SCDvDh57XU8eDrCM7

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u/jacqueschirekt Sep 24 '22

How cool! I also used to live near a pioneer steam hammer factory where they used to build huge ones check it out :)

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u/thecoj Sep 24 '22 Silver

And you call them steam hammers despite the fact they are obviously grilled?

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u/keenox90 Sep 24 '22

I think the forklift part is what they were missing back in the day, not the hammer

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u/hiddenbanana420 Sep 24 '22

Probably just used steam powered hoists. I went to a railroad museum and almost the whole shop was steam powered. I will admit, as a hobby blacksmith i was focused on the hammer and not really anything else in the room.

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u/plolops Sep 24 '22

How the fuck did they do it before… I thought I was kinda strong but to think of the guys that beat that into shape…. Shit

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u/Thunda792 Sep 24 '22 edited Sep 24 '22

Before power hammers, stuff like this would have usually been cast rather than forged

Edit: changed from steam to powered

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u/10mo3 Sep 24 '22

What are the pros of having it forged instead of casted? I would've thought casting would've been an easier choice since you just had to pour and cool

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u/Thunda792 Sep 24 '22 edited Sep 24 '22

Forging tends to be faster and create a stronger product up to a point, and if there are errors made in the forging process, you can often correct them as you go. Casting requires a LOT of prep work, including either a one-off mold or a reusable template, and if there are issues with the casting there is only so much you can do before you have to melt it down and start over, but is also the only way to get really big and intricate pieces made. Forging works better for simpler, solid pieces like the smaller wheel shown here. The T1 Trust is in the process of having driving wheels cast for their locomotive, and have been documenting it pretty well.

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u/magnificentshambles Sep 24 '22

Fascinating…

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u/Paehon Sep 24 '22 edited Sep 24 '22

One of my best friend is a blacksmith and work in the aeronautic sector. All the pieces they make, sometimes very big ones, are forged because they are a lot lot stronger than melted pieces.

The rings around the Arianne rockets are forged, propeller shaft of giant ship are forged, heavy parts of nuclear plants are forged and so on...

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u/Thunda792 Sep 24 '22

For sure, but the trick in all of those examples is the pieces are homogenous and relatively simple. A prop shaft on a ship is essentially a massive bar of steel made to specific dimensions, but without a ton of design complexity. On a Boxpok wheel or an engine block where the geometry becomes more complex, forging won't work for you.

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u/Over_Fun_908 Sep 24 '22

Just to add to this, casting can cheaply produce complex shapes but not very precisely. In the case of engine blocks casting gives the rough shape and the precise dimensions for the bores and cylinder head are then machined. Castings tend to be brittle but it doesn't matter for engine blocks because they are typically not structural.

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u/Reddituser34802 Sep 24 '22

Just wanted to say that I appreciated this discussion on forging vs. casting.

I learned a lot from Reddit today.

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u/blazob Sep 24 '22

You can only cast specific alloys. I guess that's the reason why it's forged. Maybe these alloys are better for this application.

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u/vte1991 Sep 24 '22

For the same composition, forged steel has a different (granular) microstructure that is way harder than casted steel. That's why knives and spades are forged (if they were casted they would be more ductile).

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u/juxtoppose Sep 24 '22 edited Sep 24 '22

Metal molecules are like a box of ball bearings, mostly all uniform and in rows but there are always some out of line and missing, when you forge the metal the structure is compressed and all the holes are filled in and the rows aligned. If you get too many holes in the cast metal in the same place it causes a weak spot where a fracture will start and cause component failure. Edit - the metal used for cast and forged is the same strength wise it’s just that cast has more of these defects that can cause fractures, so the component is less likely to fail mechanically even when the material used is identical.

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u/guyfromuk478 Sep 24 '22

This is the best ELI5 description here. Same reason many parts of planes are forged. Also the forks on a forktruck, the hooks on crane jibs etc.

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u/Gnonthgol Sep 24 '22

Before steam hammers you would have water powered hammers or mule powered hammers. These have been around since long before the industrial revolution. The limit of the forged pieces was not the hammer but rather how much weight a blacksmith with his apprentices could lift. I would hazard to guess that hydraulic controls were a much more revolutionary invention in the forge rather then the steam hammer.

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u/dgblarge Sep 24 '22

There were also hammers powered by water mills. Didn't have to wait until steam came along.

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u/jazzman23uk Sep 24 '22

Ahh water-powered.

Or as I like to call it: Cold-steam powered

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u/GolgiApparatus1 Sep 24 '22

Yeah that did not beat these by hand, they still had machinery

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u/Adjective_Noun_69420 Sep 24 '22

Looks like this is pretty close to how they made it back in the day.

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u/Downtown-Anything-44 Sep 24 '22

This is exactly how they did it back in the day. That hammer is probably 100 years old

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u/ThatOneBerb Sep 24 '22

This technology existed back in the day.

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u/Helmidoric_of_York Sep 24 '22

I don't think that's a train wheel. It's a wheel for something else, maybe a pulley or a heavy machine part. The design of a train wheel is extremely precise and tapered to keep it on the tracks, and it does not have a groove in it. I love their old-school process!

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u/AikidokaUK Sep 24 '22 Eureka!

They are forging the billet, which then gets machined on a Turning Center.

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u/Samlibardi Sep 24 '22

Ah that's what was missing. I was watching this thinking "no way this matches the tolerance needed for a train" and though there must be something else to it. Turns out there is

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u/Froggn_Bullfish Sep 24 '22

There’s a lot of people talking out their ass on this thread. Train wheels are mass produced in factories so that they are as identical as possible. I don’t think anyone in this thread knows for sure what is going on in this video.

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u/TheCouncil0fRicks Sep 24 '22 edited Sep 24 '22

The best part of Reddit is coming across a topic you actually know a lot about and seeing an entire thread of people talking out of their ass with thousands of upvotes and awards,

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u/NumpyNimpy Sep 24 '22

For the love god, do not take up programming, especially game programming.

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u/grizzly8511 Sep 24 '22

It’s quite infuriating. They say stuff with all this confidence but they are way off but it sounds good and there’s 2.8k upvotes making the new “truth” getting regurgitated for all eternity. My pet peeve is the magic 22lr bullets. Some redditors believe, that minuscule, sorry excuse of a bullet will do more damage to the brain if you are shot in the head than a 44 magnum or something like that. “It bounces around inside the skull turning the brain to a slush whereas the more powerful calibers will just go straight through!” Do you hear yourself? My god.

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u/TickleyTaint Sep 24 '22

Yep and when you point out it's a myth that's been debunked and provide sources or evidence downvotes for your trouble.

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u/61746162626f7474 Sep 24 '22

This is 100% not a train wheel, train wheels have a flange (lip) on one edge and then profile inwards towards the other edge. They do not have a central groove. Forgoing it like this to then machine it down afterwards makes no sense.

Train wheel sizes are also globally standard and the forging process is automated, unless this is a very niche application this is not a train wheel for that reason.

The central groove suggests this is much more likely to be attached to a belt to transfer power.

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u/boringdude00 Sep 24 '22

Train wheel sizes are also globally standard

Train wheels actually come in an immense amount of variations, especially on older equipment like steam locomotives.

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u/[deleted] Sep 24 '22 edited 20d ago

[deleted]

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u/zanraptora Sep 24 '22

Two reasons: Yes, forging adds strength, but also machining is very labor and time intensive compared to forging. As you can see, they've made some very large scale transformations of the raw metal in an pretty short time overall. If you were to try the same operations using grinding and cutting tools, you would spend hours, if not days roughing it out.

In this case, they're within centimeters, if not millimeters of their final form. A little bit of final shaping and surface finish brings you to your finished spec.

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u/JUminator Sep 24 '22

They also don't lose as much material as they would if they machined the whole thing

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u/keesh Sep 24 '22

Plus cost of maintaining/replacing cutting/grinding tools?

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u/Nerowulf Sep 24 '22

What about molding?

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u/AikidokaUK Sep 24 '22

Too weak. Porosity can also be a problem

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u/AikidokaUK Sep 24 '22

Exactly that. Forging strengthens the metal

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u/TheOtherDrunkenOtter Sep 24 '22

You werent missing anything. Thats not how any industrialized country makes a train wheel. This is though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NtyDMxOySA

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u/Farfignugen42 Sep 24 '22

That groove they put around the outside doesn't fit the shape of a train wheel unless they plan to cut it into two wheel from the one blank. But that's not how forging usually works. I think this is actually going to be a large pulley or something similar.

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u/wrestlingnutter Sep 24 '22

Was thinking the same, looks good but not precise enough.

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u/FloddenPRG Sep 24 '22

Yeah, I thought "There's no way the just fucking eyeball a train wheel!"

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u/Charitzo Sep 24 '22

I've worked on a few of these at QA/inspection stage - First they arrive at the factory in this stage; this is a pre-machined blank. The quality of the blank can be tested with NDT methods, such as eddy current testing.

They take the blank, machine to final dimensions, and add cuts/details. One of the hidden features you don't see is a cut groove around the inside of the wheel where the axle mates to the wheel. This groove is fed from a hole through the wheel, where oil is pumped when the wheel needs to come away from the axle stub.

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u/Johnny-Unitas Sep 24 '22

Where is that? You would think in most places it would be completely automated.

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u/HashtagNAFO Sep 24 '22

Even high-tech forging has a lot done by hand, just with the manipulator operators in a separate climate-controlled room with extremely sensitive kinds of joysticks to move the machines.

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u/Sir_Anagram Sep 24 '22

Or the worlds hardest cheese

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u/raven55six Sep 24 '22

Amazing how accurately they are putting those metal punching things which are hammered into the wheel. It looks like every tool is being used by hand, not by machined. Do they melt the metal again if something does go wrong while hammering, like any off-center punch or something like that?

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u/mikk0384 Sep 24 '22

They are just making the rough shape here. It will be finished on a lathe for precision. The inserts are used to minimize the amount of steel that has to be shaved off on the lathe, in order to make the process faster and to reduce the wear on the lathe tools.

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u/Manhattanist Sep 24 '22

Seems like a lot of work. I would just order one from Amazon. /s

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u/dududududuLOL Sep 24 '22

no one :

my brain : Touch it

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u/Javier91 Sep 24 '22

30 sec in: How Stewie get his head shape.

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u/[deleted] Sep 24 '22

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u/roof_baby Sep 24 '22

So they just like eyeball the center?

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u/OldHuntersNeverDie Sep 24 '22

This process seems like it could be very prone to human error. How the fuck do they expect any kind of uniformity or consistency?

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u/WowSuchEmptyBluh Sep 24 '22

It's just the rough shape, that thing goes to a CNC lathe next. But forging it into about the shape that you need saves a lot of material, time on the lathe and tool costs

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u/grublets Sep 24 '22

That’s some third world manufacturing.

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u/jayhawk618 Sep 24 '22

Small batch, artisan train wheels.

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