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Lead source for casting own bullets...

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by fjolnirsson, Jan 31, 2006.

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  1. fjolnirsson

    fjolnirsson Member

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    Where's a good place to look? I've heard of using wheelweights, but where would I get them? Do tire shops give the stuff away, or sell it? Do I need to scrounge from the junkyard? Could I buy scrap lead anywhere, maybe a salvage yard? Are any of these good ideas? I've been planning to get into reloading for a couple years now, but things have been in the way. Meanwhile, I'm reading reloading manuals and trying to get stuff figured out ahead of time. Casting my own bullets is likely a long way into my future, but I'd like to learn what I can now. I did a search, and turned up nothing in past threads.
    Help?
     
  2. bfox

    bfox Member

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    Hi
    I have luck getting wheelweights at the smaller tire stores .
    The big Chain tire stores always tell me
    they recycle thiers .
    I think because lead is a hazardous material they are
    worried about the legal aspect .

    Good Luck , Bill
     
  3. bfox

    bfox Member

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    Hi again

    I forgot have never got any for free .
    What are you planning on Reloading for ?

    Bill
     
  4. fjolnirsson

    fjolnirsson Member

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    Thanks, bfox. Do you have any idea about what you pay per pound? Obviously this will vary from area to area, and such. Just trying to get an idea.
    At first I plan on reloading for .45 and .44 special. I'd like to get into rifle calibers and shot shells later on.
     
  5. Sharps Shooter

    Sharps Shooter Member

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    Occasionally I've been able to buy linotype at the local salvage (Pacific Recycle) yard. It seems like I paid .65 per pound for it the last time. Linotype makes for good looking, but quite hard, bullets on its own. Lyman manuals show formulas for mixing their "#2" alloy using either linotype or wheelweights, pure lead and 50/50 solder.
    26 years as an electrician at a place that used a lot of lead sheilded electrical cables allowed me to scrounge enough pure lead to last me the rest of my life. And I think 50/50 bar solder is still available at hardwear or plumbing supply stores.
     
  6. Father Knows Best

    Father Knows Best Member

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    The cheapest source are tire stores. Spend a day driving around and asking. You should find a place or two that will be happy to unload a 5 gallon bucket full or old weights. Some may want a few bucks ($20 or so) for them. I sometimes offer to buy lunch (pizzas) for the crew in exchange for the weights, which guarantees I'll get a call every few months when they have a full bucket ready to go. Even at a cost of $20-25 per bucket, you're getting a lot of really cheap lead. Anyone know what a 5 gallon bucket of wheel weights weighs? I dunno, but it's a LOT.

    Other possible sources are plumbers (lead pipes), metal recyclers and ebay. I haven't had much luck with plumbers, other than my brother-in-law who saves old lead pipes for me that he collects on repair/rennovation jobs. Metal recyclers tend to be too expensive and have the wrong types of lead (linotype, for instance, which is way too hard for me). Ebay is actually a pretty decent source these days, thanks in large part to the USPS "flat rate" shipping boxes. There are sellers on ebay who collect wheel weights and scrap lead, melt it into ingots, test the hardness, and list it on ebay in 5-25 pound lots that often sell for well under than $1/pound. The shipping cost is what used to kill you, but the USPS $7.70 flat rate shipping box will easily hold 25+ pounds of lead ingots.
     
  7. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    As above become friends with someone at a few non-chain tire stores, find out what they like to drink, and keep some handy. The larger stores use a local lead recycler; you might be able to buy some from them. Wheel weights will work fine for your pistol bullets as long as you don’t try for max velocity without using gas checks. WW’s are probably not hard enough for fast rifle bullets. Plumber’s lead is ok for muzzleloader bullets, too soft for others. I have a buddy that owns a print shop, he gave me a bucket of Linotype a while back, the bullets I cast were in fact very pretty and very hard (probably good for rifle bullets. Do a search in here for casting, lots of good info to find.
     
  8. TC66

    TC66 Member

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    I have just recently come across an excellent source of casting material. I found it on ebay and it was from old printing presses that used the letters formed of lead. It is close to linotype and was selling for $25 for 50 lbs. Good clean stuff nothing to worry about skimming off the top like you have with wheel weights. I bought 150 lbs of it so I should be fine for a while. [​IMG]
     

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  9. Sport45

    Sport45 Member

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    No firsthand experience here, since I dont cast, but I have read that you absolutely DO NOT want to use battery lead. Car batteries have a lot of lead in them but the impurities are very, very bad. I really don't know if it is a safety or performance issue.
     
  10. boneboy96

    boneboy96 Member

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    last time I stopped by my local tire shop, I received 10 heavy cardboard boxes full...each weighed approx. 50-60 lbs and it was all FREE. Sure did make a difference on my shocks...I could definitely feel the load I was hauling.
     
  11. TC66

    TC66 Member

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    Wish I had that option. I have asked all the tire shops around me and they all say they recycle it and can't sell it due to the contracts they have. That is why I went with the source I posted above.
     
  12. fjolnirsson

    fjolnirsson Member

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    Wow, thanks. I didn't expect this many responses so soon. I'm sure I'll be able to use one or more of these ideas. Way cheaper than I thought, too!
     
  13. Aneat

    Aneat Member

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    Ive had good luck scrounging from the local tire shops. I havent had to try much in a while. I think I have enough to last a while.
    Hey TC66, where are you in SW Ohio?? I have some linotype like in your pic. I usually mix some with my wheelweight material and it makes some good looking bullets:)

    Adam
     
  14. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    I used to buy it for $0.50 a pound or sometimes half that depending on the manager's mood at the local goodyear store. I haven't bought any in quite a while as I ran into some at the plant they were having to dispose of legally. They were these HUGE batteries used for backup power for instrumentation in the plant in case of a power failure, nothing good on them, but the external electrodes which are BIG . You don't want the plates, mostly salts of lead, lead sulfate I reckon. But, it broke off the electrodes easily enough before dumping in the "hazardous waste" can.

    Yes, the TNRCC (Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission) has newish draconian laws regarding such as lead for disposal. I'm not sure what the laws in Texas are as to treatment of tire weights. But, I know there's a passel of paperwork to be done by the small business owner. It is as if the state doesn't want anyone to make money, vow to regulate them to death or something. :rolleyes: To me, it's only a matter of time before private lead casting comes under the scrutiny of such as the EPA or state bureaucracies.

    One thing I used to do, but haven't priced it lately. Lead shot used to be 75 cents to a dollar a lb. While I can get wheel weights, or at least could, cheaper, if all sources dry up I can always buy shot. I've also resorted to digging bullets out of the dirt mound at the range when no one was there. That's not a preferred source, but it's somewhat plentiful. Nobody else seems to use it, but me. Sure is a mess to get cleaned up, though, and the bullet jackets and such are a pain.
     
  15. bfox

    bfox Member

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    The last time I got some was from a guy at a flea market he
    has a small tire shop . He gave me 6 coffee cans with about 20lbs.
    apiece for $15 .
    Other tire shop gave me a 5 gallon bucket and
    a intertube filled with them for $20
    I sure like the coffee cans better I am getting
    to old to lug those 5 gallon buckets around .

    Take care , Bill
     
  16. Highland Ranger

    Highland Ranger Member

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    About 45 pounds*

    Density of H20 = .36 lb/in3
    Density of PB = .41

    * Assumes a solid 5 gallon bucket of lead. Wheel weights = air space and less weight. My guess would be 40 pounds?
     
  17. Howdy Doody

    Howdy Doody Member

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    I bought a toy soldier type mold on Ebay a couple years ago. It actually has 3 indians in different poses. I cast them out and then paint them up with model enamel paints. They look pretty good, so good in fact that I never have to pay for wheelweights. Last time I needed some, I went into a tire store I had never been in before and I explained I like to cast out toy soldiers. I presented the guy at the desk one of the indians and told him they make good paperweights. He went right out to the shop and had one of the guys load two 5 gallon pails of old weights into my truck. I had brought only one empty bucket to give them and he said that was fine as they get their soap in the buckets. It works every time. I will frequent that place more, since I discovered when I got to melting them into muffin ingots that they had a lot of the stick on kind and I like them really well. I keep my bullets on the soft side, since I only shoot cowboy action.
    A good source of pure lead is roofing lead sheets. I bought a 100 lbs a few years ago and I still have plenty of ingots left. I use the pure lead for round balls for my cap and ball revolvers.
    I'd say the indian mold was about $20 shipped if memory serves me.
    BTW, I cast my weights into an old muffin tin. Each muffin ingot is around 5 lbs, I get more like eighty pounds out of a five gallon bucket after throwing out the tire stems, candy wrappers and stuff.
     
  18. Sheldon

    Sheldon Member

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    I have the stuff for casting bullets, but have not really bothered to do much yet as it still seems cheaper to buy them from commercial casters. I have got quite a few fishing leadhead and weight molds though and they are a better savings for the time involved. I did post on a fishing board looking for a source of lead and had a tire shop owner who swapper me scrap for fishing weights. I think I gave him 20 lbs. of weights for close to 200 lbs of scrap. I still have not converted that all to fishing use yet.
     
  19. DMiculek

    DMiculek Member

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    A 5 gal bucket full of wheel weights averages close to 135-150 lbs.
     
  20. cracked butt

    cracked butt Member

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    Look for independent gas/service stations especially the ones that look like superfund sites with lots of oil stained gravel/concrete around them with cars parked around the building in various states of salvage or disrepair. These places aren't going to care too much about EPA regulations or recycling and will often give away wheelweights for the asking. Bring along a few 5 gallon buckets to exchange with them for full buckets of lead. The last one I went to, I hit the jackpot- 4 5 gallon buckets of wheelweights, mostly truck wheelweights too- the best stuff, free for the hauling. My back was a little sore and I might have lost an inch of height after carrying them to, loading and offloading them from my truck, but it was worth it, considering scrap lead typically sells for $0.50/ lb these days.

    DMiculek was a whole lot closer to the mark than Highland Ranger. A hand truck would be a good thing to have to move these things. :D
     
  21. Father Knows Best

    Father Knows Best Member

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    Hand truck? Try a forklift and a Kenworth! I once was getting new brakes put on my little Pontiac Vibe hatchback. While hanging around the shop, I asked whether they had any wheel weights they wanted to get rid of. They said, "Yeah!" And loaded me up before I left. I think I had three and a half buckets in the back, and it was pretty comical. The rear suspension was just about fully compressed and sitting on the stops. I drove really slowly....
     
  22. Highland Ranger

    Highland Ranger Member

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    Maybe the math or the density figure is wrong . . . . but at 8 pound per gallon, water would be 45 pounds multiply times 1.14 you get 51 pounds.

    Take into account air . . . . . .
     
  23. Father Knows Best

    Father Knows Best Member

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    Your density figure is wrong by an order of magnitude. In metric units, water has a density of 1 g/ml. Lead has a density of 11.4 g/ml. Therefore, lead weighs 11.4 times as much as an equivalent volume of water. Since a gallon of water weighs approximately 8.33 pounds, a gallon of lead weighs approximately 95 pounds (8.33 x 11.4 = 95).

    That's not to say that a five gallon bucket full of wheel weights weighs 475 pounds (5 x 95 = 475), because as you point out there is a lot of air space in the bucket. If you filled a five gallon bucket with 5 gallons of molten lead, however, it would indeed weigh 475 pounds.
     
  24. larryw

    larryw Member

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    If you can't get them from a tire store or auto wrecking yard, one can find wheel weights in the most interesting places. Take a stroll along a truck route and you'll find more than you can carry. Ditto for places where RVs and trucks park over night. No, I'm not saying take them off the trucks/RVs, I'm saying they fall off on their own (look how short the 'hook' is compared to the rim thickness and youll see why).

    But as a 25# bag of lead shot is about the size of a carton of smokes, bring a wagon!
     
  25. JackOfAllTradesMasterAtNone

    JackOfAllTradesMasterAtNone Member

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    fjolnirsson, Where do you buy your tires? If you're in Oregon, You've got to have a Les Schwab tire center near you. On a hot summer day, grab a cold six pack of Coke/Pepsi or what ever. Drive up near one of the work bays. Don't go to the store front. When an employee askes you if he can help you. Hand him the six pack and ask about getting some wheel weights.

    I've got a Les Schwab tire center in my small town. They sell the weights by the 5 gallon bucket for $10.00. It's not quite as clean as the news paper stuff, and has less antimony as WW's did in years past, but that's thousands of bullets in a bucket. Thousands.

    -Steve
     
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