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RE: [hobbicast] Magnesium fire

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  • Colin Croucher
    Hi Dirk. Here s how to test for Magnesium or aluminium in casting scrap. Below is cut straight out of our hobby foundry ebook. I will share it with you and all
    Message 1 of 20 , Jul 3, 2004
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      Hi Dirk.

      Here's how to test for Magnesium or aluminium
      in casting scrap.
      Below is cut straight out of our hobby foundry
      ebook.

      I will share it with you and all the hobbicast group.

      Regards
      Col Croucher.
      http://www.myhomefoundry.com

      *******************************
      To Identify magnesium scrap metal, the metal
      looks grey in colour. Polish a small area with
      emery paper. Then apply a small
      drop of 1 % silver nitrate to the polished
      surface. A black stain will appear on the metal.
      Aluminium will not stain.
      *************************




      -----Original Message-----
      From: Dirk F Ganzinga [mailto:dfg1955@...]
      Sent: Saturday, 3 July 2004 7:26 PM
      To: hobbicast@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [hobbicast] Magnesium fire


      Hi, I have read some horrible stories about burning magnesium in an
      aluminium melt. To prevent this, some members do "the white household
      vinegar test" to select scrap. I did so on three pieces: aluminium,
      suspected magnesium, suspected high content magnesium . All reactions
      were the same: no reaction. I repeated this test with 10% HCl. All
      three pieces show a minor reaction, some faint bubbling on the
      surface and a grey residual spot. My guess is, they are all
      aluminium. How sure can I be my crucible will not turn into a
      fireball; there is no magnesium in my melt? Are any other, better
      test found lately?
      Regards,
      Dirk



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    • Stone Tool
      Stay away from VW stuff..... If you grind a bit of the metal and apply a torch to the dust it will ignite in a hot white flare..... This is probably easier
      Message 2 of 20 , Jul 3, 2004
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        Stay away from VW stuff.....

        If you grind a bit of the metal and apply a torch to the dust it will
        ignite in a hot white flare..... This is probably easier than the chemical
        tests ..... most of us have torches and grinders I would think.

        H.W.

        *********** REPLY SEPARATOR ***********

        On 7/3/04 at 9:25 AM Dirk F Ganzinga wrote:

        >Hi, I have read some horrible stories about burning magnesium in an
        >aluminium melt. To prevent this, some members do "the white household
        >vinegar test" to select scrap. I did so on three pieces: aluminium,
        >suspected magnesium, suspected high content magnesium . All reactions
        >were the same: no reaction. I repeated this test with 10% HCl. All
        >three pieces show a minor reaction, some faint bubbling on the
        >surface and a grey residual spot. My guess is, they are all
        >aluminium. How sure can I be my crucible will not turn into a
        >fireball; there is no magnesium in my melt? Are any other, better
        >test found lately?
        >Regards,
        >Dirk
        >
        >
        >
        >This list is for discussion of metal casting
        >and does not accept attachments. For off topic discussion and to share
        >photos and stuff: join Sandcrabs by sending a blank message to:
        >sandcrabs-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
        >http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sandcrabs
        >Please visit our sponsor: Budget Casting Supply
        >http://budgetcastingsupply.com/
        >
        >Files area and list services are at:
        >http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hobbicast For problems that cannot be
        >otherwise solved contact the list owner by email:
        >owly@...
        >
        >
        >Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
      • scobeyguy
        Hi Howard, About forty years ago, a friend wanted to repay me for a casting job I did for him. He gave me some scrap to melt down. Included was an engine
        Message 3 of 20 , Jul 3, 2004
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          Hi Howard,
          About forty years ago, a friend wanted to repay me for a casting job
          I did for him. He gave me some scrap to melt down. Included was an
          engine block. I worked my butt off, with a large axe! Finally got
          it down to crucible sized chunks. The first part of the melt went
          okay, I may have noticed a bit of flare, I don't remember. When my
          number 10 crucible was full, I let it heat up a bit more, then opened
          the lid. Have you ever seen 10,000 flashbulbs go off all at once! I
          managed to get the crucible out of the foundry. Then proceeded to do
          everything wrong you can possibly do. I had done some machining of
          magnesium too, so I knew what the rules were, but in a moment of
          panic, try to remember them. Water? hell yes! Very bad plan.
          Poured some of the molten metal into one of my cast aluminum ingot
          molds. It went right through and started burning its way down
          through my ocnrete floor. Had one small puddle that I stomped on.
          Then I had about a hundred small magnesium fires burning all over my
          shop. Finally got smart, and just smothered it with sand. Out of
          all that, I actually ended up with an ingot of magnesium. I plan to
          keep it and hope that it is my very last one. By the way, it was a
          VW block.

          Gary

          --- In hobbicast@yahoogroups.com, "Stone Tool" <owly@t...> wrote:
          > Stay away from VW stuff.....
          >
          > If you grind a bit of the metal and apply a torch to the dust
          it will
          > ignite in a hot white flare..... This is probably easier than the
          chemical
          > tests ..... most of us have torches and grinders I would think.
        • apbtbites@aol.com
          if you have a peace of metal that you think might be MAG. just use a sharp knife or file to scrape together a pile of shavings and put a match to it. if its
          Message 4 of 20 , Jul 3, 2004
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            if you have a peace of metal that you think might be MAG. just use a sharp
            knife or file to scrape together a pile of shavings and put a match to it. if
            its MAG. it will burn and be kind of bright.

            Greg


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • ben_englund
            ... it will ... chemical ... How hot does it have to get to ignite? Will a small propane torch work? Easier than lighting up the cutting torch. Ben Englund
            Message 5 of 20 , Jul 3, 2004
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              --- In hobbicast@yahoogroups.com, "Stone Tool" <owly@t...> wrote:
              > Stay away from VW stuff.....
              >
              > If you grind a bit of the metal and apply a torch to the dust
              it will
              > ignite in a hot white flare..... This is probably easier than the
              chemical
              > tests ..... most of us have torches and grinders I would think.


              How hot does it have to get to ignite? Will a small propane torch
              work? Easier than lighting up the cutting torch.

              Ben Englund
            • ben_englund
              ... solution, ... How do you make it? Ben Englund
              Message 6 of 20 , Jul 3, 2004
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                --- In hobbicast@yahoogroups.com, "scobeyguy" <lekvoldgl@a...> wrote:
                > Hi Dirk,
                > I have read some bad advice on this list re: various acids for
                > identifying metals. A tiny drop of silver nitrate solution will
                > instantly turn very black on either magnesium or zinc die casting
                > alloys. It will have no effect whatsoever on aluminum. If it is
                > heavy, it is zinc based, if it is unusually light weight, it is
                > magnesium. It is very easy to make your own silver nitrate
                solution,
                > if you can't purchase it. Hope this helps.
                >
                > Gary
                >

                How do you make it?

                Ben Englund
              • Frank Hasieber
                Propane torch should be fine. Frank. ... From: ben_englund [mailto:ben_englund@techemail.com] Sent: 03 July 2004 11:02 PM To: hobbicast@yahoogroups.com
                Message 7 of 20 , Jul 3, 2004
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                  Propane torch should be fine.
                  Frank.

                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: ben_englund [mailto:ben_englund@...]
                  Sent: 03 July 2004 11:02 PM
                  To: hobbicast@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: [hobbicast] Re: Magnesium fire

                  --- In hobbicast@yahoogroups.com, "Stone Tool" <owly@t...> wrote:
                  > Stay away from VW stuff.....
                  >
                  > If you grind a bit of the metal and apply a torch to the dust
                  it will
                  > ignite in a hot white flare..... This is probably easier than the
                  chemical
                  > tests ..... most of us have torches and grinders I would think.


                  How hot does it have to get to ignite? Will a small propane torch
                  work? Easier than lighting up the cutting torch.

                  Ben Englund





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                • jamonyou69
                  ... Anybody ever work with VW rims? I ve got one and am planning on pigging it out soon. Jam
                  Message 8 of 20 , Jul 3, 2004
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                    > By the way, it was a VW block.

                    Anybody ever work with VW rims? I've got one and am planning on
                    pigging it out soon.

                    Jam
                  • Manfred
                    ROFL. That is a funny story Gary. Just pictured you running around your garage :-) I always thought magnesium alloys were just aluminium with a small amount of
                    Message 9 of 20 , Jul 4, 2004
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                      ROFL. That is a funny story Gary. Just pictured you running around
                      your garage :-) I always thought magnesium alloys were just
                      aluminium with a small amount of magnesium added. If this stuff is
                      so flamable, how did they cast it in the first place?

                      Manfred

                      --- In hobbicast@yahoogroups.com, "scobeyguy" <lekvoldgl@a...> wrote:
                      > Hi Howard,
                      > About forty years ago, a friend wanted to repay me for a casting
                      job
                      > I did for him. He gave me some scrap to melt down. Included was
                      an
                      > engine block. I worked my butt off, with a large axe! Finally
                      got
                      > it down to crucible sized chunks. The first part of the melt went
                      > okay, I may have noticed a bit of flare, I don't remember. When
                      my
                      > number 10 crucible was full, I let it heat up a bit more, then
                      opened
                      > the lid. Have you ever seen 10,000 flashbulbs go off all at
                      once! I
                      > managed to get the crucible out of the foundry. Then proceeded to
                      do
                      > everything wrong you can possibly do. I had done some machining
                      of
                      > magnesium too, so I knew what the rules were, but in a moment of
                      > panic, try to remember them. Water? hell yes! Very bad plan.
                      > Poured some of the molten metal into one of my cast aluminum ingot
                      > molds. It went right through and started burning its way down
                      > through my ocnrete floor. Had one small puddle that I stomped
                      on.
                      > Then I had about a hundred small magnesium fires burning all over
                      my
                      > shop. Finally got smart, and just smothered it with sand. Out of
                      > all that, I actually ended up with an ingot of magnesium. I plan
                      to
                      > keep it and hope that it is my very last one. By the way, it was
                      a
                      > VW block.
                      >
                      > Gary
                    • wrpa
                      ... From what I ve read VW block were made of aluminum. The transmission case were made from magnesium. I check into this a year ago when I picked up some of
                      Message 10 of 20 , Jul 4, 2004
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                        Gary wrote:
                        >About forty years ago, a friend wanted to repay me for a casting job
                        >I did for him. He gave me some scrap to melt down. Included was an
                        >engine block..... When my number 10 crucible was full, I let it heat
                        >up a bit more, then opened the lid. Have you ever seen 10,000
                        >flashbulbs go off all at once! ...... By the way, it was a VW block.

                        From what I've read VW block were made of aluminum. The transmission
                        case were made from magnesium. I check into this a year ago when I
                        picked up some of both. Then I read all the warnings about magnesium
                        fires. Boy was I disappointed. I was looking forward to casting some
                        magnesium.

                        So I've still got the VW transmission cases. I was thinking about
                        how they could be used (aside from a 4th of July display). I thought
                        that they could be used to produce an aluminum magnesium alloy.
                        First melt the aluminum. Turn off the heat. Add warmed magnesium
                        to the aluminum, pushing it below the surface of the aluminum. The
                        magnesium would be about 5% of the aluminum. Any thoughts on this?

                        Rudy
                      • scobeyguy
                        Hi Manfred, Glad I could bring a little humor into your day. I forgot to mention the part about chaning my shorts! I have had lots of laughs over it for many
                        Message 11 of 20 , Jul 4, 2004
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                          Hi Manfred,
                          Glad I could bring a little humor into your day. I forgot to mention
                          the part about chaning my shorts! I have had lots of laughs over it
                          for many years, but believe me, as it was happening, I was not
                          laughing. I have to assume that whenever magnesium is being cast, it
                          is being done in an inert atmosphere. They probably use argon or
                          nitrogen or such to exclude any oxygen. A home caster may be able to
                          do it, by using a good sealing flux floating on the top of the melt,
                          but I never want to mess with the stuff again.

                          Gary

                          --- In hobbicast@yahoogroups.com, "Manfred" <no1vixenfanau@y...>
                          wrote:
                          > ROFL. That is a funny story Gary. Just pictured you running around
                          > your garage :-) I always thought magnesium alloys were just
                          > aluminium with a small amount of magnesium added. If this stuff is
                          > so flamable, how did they cast it in the first place?
                          >
                          > Manfred
                        • Frank Hasieber
                          Hi, I remember when I was in high school the science teacher was demonstrating the thermic process where a mixture of magnesium powder and iron fillings was
                          Message 12 of 20 , Jul 4, 2004
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                            Hi, I remember when I was in high school the science teacher was
                            demonstrating the thermic process where a mixture of magnesium powder and
                            iron fillings was packed into the joint between railway lines and ignited
                            this welded the rails together, the teacher poured some of this mixture onto
                            the 3/4" thick cast iron base of a retort stand and ignited it!!!! Well it
                            burned through the CI base through the top of the workbench and fortunately
                            the lab had a concrete floor, which stopped its travels, needless to say the
                            class though this was hilarious!
                            Frank

                            -----Original Message-----
                            From: scobeyguy [mailto:lekvoldgl@...]
                            Sent: 04 July 2004 06:13 PM
                            To: hobbicast@yahoogroups.com

                            --- In hobbicast@yahoogroups.com, "Manfred" <no1vixenfanau@y...>
                            wrote:
                            > ROFL. That is a funny story Gary. Just pictured you running around
                            > your garage :-) I always thought magnesium alloys were just
                            > aluminium with a small amount of magnesium added. If this stuff is
                            > so flamable, how did they cast it in the first place?
                            >
                            > Manfred



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                          • Stone Tool
                            Ben: It takes very little to ignite the dust.... a propane torch... even a match or cigarette lighter will ignite it. Interestingly enough aluminum as a fine
                            Message 13 of 20 , Jul 4, 2004
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                              Ben:
                              It takes very little to ignite the dust.... a propane torch... even a
                              match or cigarette lighter will ignite it. Interestingly enough aluminum
                              as a fine powder is extremely flammable and is used sealed inside plastic
                              tubes in demolition work. The tubes are of a specific length, and the
                              combustion propagates at a uniform ... extremely rapid .... rate
                              guaranteeing that all charges are set off at exactly the same instant. I
                              am not sure about the specifics of how this is accomplished... Needless to
                              say if you grind aluminum it quickly oxidizes and does not burn at all ...
                              presumably the det cord uses pure aluminum...I am not sure of how it is
                              oxidized though. Powdered aluminum is also a major component in other
                              processes where extreme heat is needed.
                              H.W.

                              *********** REPLY SEPARATOR ***********

                              On 7/3/04 at 9:01 PM ben_englund wrote:

                              >--- In hobbicast@yahoogroups.com, "Stone Tool" <owly@t...> wrote:
                              >> Stay away from VW stuff.....
                              >>
                              >> If you grind a bit of the metal and apply a torch to the dust
                              >it will
                              >> ignite in a hot white flare..... This is probably easier than the
                              >chemical
                              >> tests ..... most of us have torches and grinders I would think.
                              >
                              >
                              >How hot does it have to get to ignite? Will a small propane torch
                              >work? Easier than lighting up the cutting torch.
                              >
                              >Ben Englund
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >This list is for discussion of metal casting
                              >and does not accept attachments. For off topic discussion and to share
                              >photos and stuff: join Sandcrabs by sending a blank message to:
                              >sandcrabs-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
                              >http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sandcrabs
                              >Please visit our sponsor: Budget Casting Supply
                              >http://budgetcastingsupply.com/
                              >
                              >Files area and list services are at:
                              >http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hobbicast For problems that cannot be
                              >otherwise solved contact the list owner by email:
                              >owly@...
                              >
                              >
                              >Yahoo! Groups Links
                              >
                              >
                              >
                            • Stone Tool
                              Gary: I think you could successfully melt the stuff if you blanketed it with argon.... it would require some care though. I have welded magnesium with TIG
                              Message 14 of 20 , Jul 4, 2004
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                                Gary:
                                I think you could successfully melt the stuff if you blanketed it with
                                argon.... it would require some care though. I have welded magnesium with
                                TIG successfully. Mag is dangerous stuff to work with. My first
                                experience with it was as a kid when I had a 4x5 Speedgraphic camera which
                                used flash bulbs the size of household light bulbs.... Later I was trying
                                to break a VW transaxle case in two where the differential goes so I could
                                use just the bell portion as a mount for a starter to run the engine on the
                                floor. I could not break it with a heavy splitting maul or sledge....
                                the first time I struck it the maul damn near hit me in the head when it
                                bounced back... amazingly tough stuff. I and the fellow working with me
                                tried to break it with no success.... I finally clamped it into my vice and
                                used a disk grinder to cut it off. Several days later I was cutting steel
                                with a torch in the same vice and kept seeing white flares where my slag
                                and sparks struck. In one case I had a line of it along a drawer runner,
                                and it burned the full length like a fuse. This was when I realized that
                                it was mag. Amazing how tough and resilient the stuff is.

                                H.W.

                                *********** REPLY SEPARATOR ***********

                                On 7/3/04 at 3:14 PM scobeyguy wrote:

                                >Hi Howard,
                                >About forty years ago, a friend wanted to repay me for a casting job
                                >I did for him. He gave me some scrap to melt down. Included was an
                                >engine block. I worked my butt off, with a large axe! Finally got
                                >it down to crucible sized chunks. The first part of the melt went
                                >okay, I may have noticed a bit of flare, I don't remember. When my
                                >number 10 crucible was full, I let it heat up a bit more, then opened
                                >the lid. Have you ever seen 10,000 flashbulbs go off all at once! I
                                >managed to get the crucible out of the foundry. Then proceeded to do
                                >everything wrong you can possibly do. I had done some machining of
                                >magnesium too, so I knew what the rules were, but in a moment of
                                >panic, try to remember them. Water? hell yes! Very bad plan.
                                >Poured some of the molten metal into one of my cast aluminum ingot
                                >molds. It went right through and started burning its way down
                                >through my ocnrete floor. Had one small puddle that I stomped on.
                                >Then I had about a hundred small magnesium fires burning all over my
                                >shop. Finally got smart, and just smothered it with sand. Out of
                                >all that, I actually ended up with an ingot of magnesium. I plan to
                                >keep it and hope that it is my very last one. By the way, it was a
                                >VW block.
                                >
                                >Gary
                                >
                                >--- In hobbicast@yahoogroups.com, "Stone Tool" <owly@t...> wrote:
                                >> Stay away from VW stuff.....
                                >>
                                >> If you grind a bit of the metal and apply a torch to the dust
                                >it will
                                >> ignite in a hot white flare..... This is probably easier than the
                                >chemical
                                >> tests ..... most of us have torches and grinders I would think.
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >This list is for discussion of metal casting
                                >and does not accept attachments. For off topic discussion and to share
                                >photos and stuff: join Sandcrabs by sending a blank message to:
                                >sandcrabs-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
                                >http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sandcrabs
                                >Please visit our sponsor: Budget Casting Supply
                                >http://budgetcastingsupply.com/
                                >
                                >Files area and list services are at:
                                >http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hobbicast For problems that cannot be
                                >otherwise solved contact the list owner by email:
                                >owly@...
                                >
                                >
                                >Yahoo! Groups Links
                                >
                                >
                                >
                              • scobeyguy
                                Hi Frank, Actually what they used to weld rails together, and to make small cast iron castings, was thermite, sometimes spelled, thermit . It is a mixture of
                                Message 15 of 20 , Jul 4, 2004
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                                  Hi Frank,
                                  Actually what they used to weld rails together, and to make small
                                  cast iron castings, was thermite, sometimes spelled, "thermit". It
                                  is a mixture of aluminum powder and iron oxide. It sounds like the
                                  mixture your teacher used, may have been even hotter. Sounds funny
                                  anyway. Usually it is the kids who get in trouble in science class
                                  and not the teacher.

                                  Gary

                                  --- In hobbicast@yahoogroups.com, "Frank Hasieber" <fhasieber@y...>
                                  wrote:
                                  > Hi, I remember when I was in high school the science teacher was
                                  > demonstrating the thermic process where a mixture of magnesium
                                  powder and
                                  > iron fillings was packed into the joint between railway lines and
                                  ignited
                                  > this welded the rails together, the teacher poured some of this
                                  mixture onto
                                  > the 3/4" thick cast iron base of a retort stand and ignited it!!!!
                                  Well it
                                  > burned through the CI base through the top of the workbench and
                                  fortunately
                                  > the lab had a concrete floor, which stopped its travels, needless
                                  to say the
                                  > class though this was hilarious!
                                  > Frank
                                • Dirk F Ganzinga
                                  Thanks all for your advise. I collected some file- and sawdust from the smaples and dropped them through a propane torch flame. All three look alike, a bit
                                  Message 16 of 20 , Jul 5, 2004
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                                    Thanks all for your advise. I collected some file- and sawdust from
                                    the smaples and dropped them through a propane torch flame. All three
                                    look alike, a bit like sparks from a grinding wheel. When burnt on
                                    the tip of a screwdriver it starts to glow, it does not flash or burn
                                    brightly. Having tested this, I guess it's ok to use it as scrap.
                                    They are service parts of truck repair firm, all sorts of brake- and
                                    hydraulic components. Before ripping them to pieces with the bandsaw,
                                    I remove all pistons, o-rings, springs, plugs & bolts, coils &
                                    electronics. You will not believe what they manage to get into these
                                    parts. BTW in a original VW Beetle there are 22 kg of Magnesium
                                    engine parts to reduce the weight on the rear. And at the time there
                                    was not much else to make it from (tons of aluminium flying over
                                    there heads though).
                                    Dirk

                                    --- In hobbicast@yahoogroups.com, "scobeyguy" <lekvoldgl@a...> wrote:
                                    > Hi Frank,
                                    > Actually what they used to weld rails together, and to make small
                                    > cast iron castings, was thermite, sometimes spelled, "thermit". It
                                    > is a mixture of aluminum powder and iron oxide. It sounds like the
                                    > mixture your teacher used, may have been even hotter. Sounds funny
                                    > anyway. Usually it is the kids who get in trouble in science class
                                    > and not the teacher.
                                    >
                                    > Gary
                                    >
                                    > --- In hobbicast@yahoogroups.com, "Frank Hasieber" <fhasieber@y...>
                                    > wrote:
                                    > > Hi, I remember when I was in high school the science teacher was
                                    > > demonstrating the thermic process where a mixture of magnesium
                                    > powder and
                                    > > iron fillings was packed into the joint between railway lines and
                                    > ignited
                                    > > this welded the rails together, the teacher poured some of this
                                    > mixture onto
                                    > > the 3/4" thick cast iron base of a retort stand and ignited
                                    it!!!!
                                    > Well it
                                    > > burned through the CI base through the top of the workbench and
                                    > fortunately
                                    > > the lab had a concrete floor, which stopped its travels, needless
                                    > to say the
                                    > > class though this was hilarious!
                                    > > Frank
                                  • Frank Hasieber
                                    Hi Gary, thanks, almost got the name right, 48yrs later don t help the memory!! He was quite a character; in his previous school he blew up the science lab!!
                                    Message 17 of 20 , Jul 5, 2004
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                                      Hi Gary, thanks, almost got the name right, 48yrs later don't help the
                                      memory!! He was quite a character; in his previous school he blew up the
                                      science lab!!
                                      Frank

                                      -----Original Message-----
                                      From: scobeyguy [mailto:lekvoldgl@...]
                                      Sent: 05 July 2004 07:07 AM
                                      To: hobbicast@yahoogroups.com
                                      Subject: [hobbicast] Re: Magnesium fire

                                      Hi Frank,
                                      Actually what they used to weld rails together, and to make small
                                      cast iron castings, was thermite, sometimes spelled, "thermit". It
                                      is a mixture of aluminum powder and iron oxide. It sounds like the
                                      mixture your teacher used, may have been even hotter. Sounds funny
                                      anyway. Usually it is the kids who get in trouble in science class
                                      and not the teacher.

                                      Gary



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                                      Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
                                      Version: 6.0.711 / Virus Database: 467 - Release Date: 25/06/2004
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