Smelting wheel weights

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Bfh_auto, Feb 27, 2021.

  1. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    I got 5 gallons of wheel weights and 200 pounds of lead pipe.
    So far I smelted the wheel weights and 30 pounds of the pipe.
    I'm trying to figure out a good way to guarantee keeping them separate.
    Started using a small skillet. Then switched to an old cupcake tin.
     

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  2. dredd

    dredd Member

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    If you have steel stamps, you can put specific info on them.

    You can also take a Punch and make distinctive marks.

    I use a Chisel and put a big "X" on my mystery lead so I don't mix it up.
     
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  3. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    Good call. I can stamp WW into my wheel weights.
     
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  4. kcofohio
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    kcofohio Contributing Member

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    I just used a sharpie, it stands out fine.
     
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  5. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    I do kinda the same I use my lee tester and stamp the hardness on them after a week. Makes cooking up special sause easier
     
  6. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    Don't have a hardness tester yet. That and a bottom pour pot are on my short list.
    Currently a friend is helping me find my way.
     
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  7. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    The regular lee 4-20 is what I have and every guy I watch uses. They were 75 bucks which i find decent. The high end pots dont seem to offer any better quality.
     
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  8. Bwana John

    Bwana John Member

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    Go to "Cast Boolits" website for how to check lead hardness (and everything else connected to casting) with just a set of pencils.
     
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  9. whughett

    whughett Member

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    Ditto on the sharpie. My source is the back stop at the gun club, marked “R” an occasional batch of lead ingots from a plumber son, marked “P” and lead collected from my telephone days, marked “T”.
    Gave up on wheel weights when the zinc started collecting on the bottom of my electric pot.
     
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  10. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

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    I cast all my clip on wheel weights into regular size muffin tins, I don't stamp or otherwise mark them.

    Cable sheathing, stick-on WW's and other soft lead is cast into stainless steel one cup measures. The larger size gives me more room to stamp the exact composition on 'em.

    Pewter and solder goes into mini muffin tins stamped 'P' or 'S' as appropriate.

    You can buy the muffin tins very cheaply at secondhand stores.

    In the future you may want to consider separating out your stick on and clip on wheelweights. Since the amount of stick-ons tends to vary from batch to batch, it'll affect consistency when blending alloys.
    True, unless you care about little things like a pour spout that doesn't drip, a thermostat that actually works and heating elements that don't have to be replaced every few years.

    There's nothing wrong with the 4-20, especially for the price, but don't kid yourself that it's as good as an RCBS Pro Melt.
     
  11. GoldieMI
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    GoldieMI Contributing Member

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    Sharpie here...since the hardness will change with time.
    I find it faster to write with a sharpie then to grab a punch set.
     
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  12. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    I'm still new to the casting game and 350 was just more than I could justify. Maybe when I wear this pot out, but as much as I have moved in the last 23 years I hate to get nice stuff because movers are not delicate.
     
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  13. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    It looks like the sharpie guys have the best idea.
    I got all my smelting equipment from the second hand store.
    I'm planning on getting the Lee bottom pour. But am waiting for the craziness to go away.
    I currently use my friend's and it functions just fine.

    Here's tonight's batch of plumbing lead ingots.
    30 @ 2 lbs per.
     

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  14. Hartkopf

    Hartkopf Member

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    Never thought we’d be posting pictures of our cup cakes and muffins on THR!:confused::D

    Ok carry on. :)
     
  15. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    My baking makes it possible for the wife to bake roasts;)
     
  16. kcofohio
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    kcofohio Contributing Member

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    For hardness check, these pencils are recommended;
    https://www.amazon.com/STAEDTLER-break-resistant-super-bonded-100-G12/dp/B0014E2S0Q

    There are hardness references to the pencil "lead" harnness on the web.

    By running the pencil point perpendicular to a file to create a flat. Then start with a softer pencil, run it across a smooth area on the lead at a 45 degree. If the pencil "writes" on the lead, go to the next harder pencil. Once the pencil scribes the lead (you will see the fresh lead shine in good light), that is your harness.
     
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  17. Pivot Dr

    Pivot Dr Member

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    Just a point of clarity, smelting is the process of extracting the metal from the raw natural ore. Just melting scrap lead and skimming off dross and impurities is just that, not smelting.
    Though I suspect we all knew what you meant.
     
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  18. Akula69
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    Akula69 Contributing Member

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    Smelted (?) 200 lbs of WW lead yesterday ending up with 127 lbs of lead ingots. It was mixed stuff from a truck tire store, so some of the weights were quite big.
    Unfortunately it appears more and more of the stick-on weights are zinc (even though they act like the lead version). Fortunately I picked up a digital Lyman lead thermometer and kept the mix below 700 degrees....so no zinc got mixed in.

    EDIT: Thanks for the clarification Pivot Dr. - I was unsure about the word usage ;)
     
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  19. doubleh

    doubleh Member

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    That has been my method for at lest 30 years. I haven't had a mark fall off yet. :thumbdown: I stack them separately though.
     
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  20. lightman

    lightman Member

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    A cheap set of steel stamps from Harbor Freight makes a permanent mark. I use "WW" for clip on weights, PB for soft lead, ect. I bought 2 sets and tack welded some of them in pairs like WW, PB, and a couple of others for other alloys. Some casters us different types of molds for different alloys. If you use a set of initials for ID its a good idea to make a legend someplace like in your loading log book.

    It sounds like your first melt went well. I hope you sorted out the Zinc weights and I didn't see where you mentioned it.

    Most of us start out small and gradually get bigger. I have a pot that holds about 400# and a burner that will melt it in 20 minutes or so. I run 8 of the Lyman type ingot molds and have a 5# Rowell Ladle and a long handled skimmer. If I push it I can do 4 batches in a day. But thats "2 Aleve" night!

    Pivot Dr is correct about the definition of smelting but I have been "smelting" wheelweights for 45 years and doubt that I will change.
     
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  21. kcofohio
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    kcofohio Contributing Member

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    I use a 20# Lee melting pot. At the #7 setting it gets hot enough to melt the lead. But the zinc weights will float to the top. I reclaimed about 200 lbs of WWs this way.
    My main desire for the WWs is the arsenic that gives an age hardening. About 16 Bhn with 2% tin added.
     
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  22. whughett

    whughett Member

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    Unfortunately wheel weights of 45 years ago are not the wheel weights of today. I suppose if they are ones primary source then the time spend sorting and cleaning is worthwhile. For my self, who has other sources they just contained to many non lead components to be worth my time.
     
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  23. kcofohio
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    kcofohio Contributing Member

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    Ellie May hardness! :)
     
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  24. kcofohio
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    kcofohio Contributing Member

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    I figure bullet casters recycled before recycling was cool. :thumbup:
     
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  25. kcofohio
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    kcofohio Contributing Member

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    Last year my grandson, who works at a tire shop, would bring me buckets of WWs. Got the 200 lbs from those. But I have 2 5 gal. buckets full of steel weights and clips from the lead weights. Plus about 2 gal. worth of zinc.

    I'll save the WWs for harder cast. Rifle and true magnum loads.
     
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