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What to expect with wheel weights

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by bersaguy, Feb 19, 2019.

  1. bersaguy

    bersaguy Member

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    I recently acquired a used 20# Lee bottom pour pot and a couple of Lee molds for 45 acp and 38/357. I haven't done anything with them yet, as I haven't got any lead. But I just got a call from my dad, and he picked up 150+ pounds of wheel weights from his local tire shop. He says they're pretty much all clip on, with a few square (stick on?) type weights. I'm a complete noob to casting, so I'm not sure how to sort these once I get them this weekend. I know some weights are now a zinc alloy which need to be weeded out, what about the stick on type? I'm not yet to the point of actually making bullets, need a sizer, some way to lube...ect. Just need to turn a couple of buckets of wheel weights into ingots. I figure I'll need a turkey fryer, cast iron skillet, some muffin pans, a ladle of some sort and some sawdust. Anything else?
     
  2. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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  3. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    most guys use a par of dykes to test to see if its lead, the lead you can crush and zink won't. guys will separate the stick on one they tend to be softer. i think WW are about 12 to 15 bh. ya a big pot wors good, the metal from the clips will float up. clean with saw dust the with wax.
     
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  4. John Joseph

    John Joseph Member

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    Zinc will fizz when spritzed with toilet bowl cleaner
    Eye protection and leather work gloves are a good start.for working with molten lead
    Lee has the cheapest sizer/tumble lube deal going for when you start casting bullets.
    Go to Smart and Final and they can fix you up with a good sized stainless ladle(for pouring the ingots) and slotted spoon (for skimming the clips and other dross) for cheap.
    Aluminum muffin pans make good ingot molds but steel are cheaper and will last longer. Let them rust a bit or you'll end up soldering your ingots to the pan (not a problem with aluminum muffin pans)
    I use sawdust for flux, others use candle wax.
     
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  5. Wreck-n-Crew
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    Wreck-n-Crew Member

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    One of the best places to start when it comes to casting, lead mixtures, hardness, wheel weights, and more. http://www.lasc.us/Fryxell_Book_Contents.htm

    Clip on wheel weights come in about 12-14 BHN when air cooled and even harder when water cooled. Stick on wheel weights are near pure lead and are about 8 BHN. TO be honest 10-11 BHN comes in perfect for 45acp. For 357 loads at higher velocities I would get them up around 13-24 BHN personally.

    I hand sort still because I have the time. If you want to know how to sort checkout Elvis Ammo and Fortunecookie 45LC on YouTube. Pretty straight forward stuff.

    If you want to avoid the sizer and traditional lube you can powder coat them. Easy to do and they have some benefits like little to no smoke and no leading if you have your mixture wrong or the size of your bore is not in line with the bullet size. All you need is a plastic #5 bowl (like a ,margarine bowl) some plastic bbs, some powder coat from Powder by the pound or Eastwood. a pan to bake them on and a toaster oven that wont be used for food again.Dark colors tend to be much easier. Browns, reds, blacks, blues all tumble better from those sources.
     
  6. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Sorting WW - http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?139839-Guide-to-Hand-Sorting-Wheel-Weights

    If cast bullets drop from the mold close to the needed diameter, tumble lubing is an option. I size/lube with a Lyman 450.

    WW are ok for target loads. I add linotype for magnum loads.

    The higher % of antimony in Linotype makes bullets larger in diameter, as they drop from the mold. Harder also.

    Bullet diameters of .452" and .358" are standards.

    Lots of heat in mold and alloy at start up, allow for good mold fill out. When bullets get frosted, drop the pot temperature a bit, let mold cool some.
    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?media/castbullets.494/
     
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  7. Scooter22

    Scooter22 Member

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    All I'll add is be careful of the real shiny WWs. They are usually zinc or zinc coated. Zinc will wreck your pot of lead. Luckily I have a bunch of the old dull grey clip ons.
     
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  8. bersaguy

    bersaguy Member

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    Thanks for the replies, the links are very helpful, I have a hard time navigating the cast boolits forum for some reason.
     
  9. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    Separate the clip-on (harder) and stick-ons (softer). Zincers are easily ID'd because they're much harder; test with a wirecutter and you'll see.

    It's a disorganized mess for sure, but there's lots of knowledge available there if you can find it.
     
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  10. lightman

    lightman Member

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    I'll also recommend browsing through the Cast Boolit site. Heck, We'll even let you join if ya want! Glen Fryxell's book contains a lot of good info and you can download it for free. The Los Angeles Silhouette Club has a nice website too!

    I can't add much to whats already been posted. Wheel weights are usually dirty, maybe greasy, some will be painted and they will smoke when melted. Expect to find lots of junk in that bucket. Everything from valve stems, lug nuts, brake pads, chewing tobacco, cat turds, you name it and I've found it! I alway hand sort mine but a few others just dump them in the pot and try to keep the temperature below the melting point of zinc. Sorting weights can be slow but after a while you get the hang of it and you will almost develop a sense for the zinc weights. I've probably sorted 6000# in the last 2 years and you will get faster at it.

    My method for sorting is to dump them out on a flat surface and start cherry picking. I'll pick out the trash first. Then I'll pick out the stick on weights. Stick on weights are also made out of iron and zinc. There is also one type that is harder, like clip on alloy. Then I'll pick out the iron weights which have a pretty distinctive look. That leaves the lead and zinc. I'll pick up each weight and look at it. Zinc weights usually have a Z or the word Zinc on them, they weigh less for size than lead, are usually not as scarred up as lead, and just look and feel different. Any weight that I'm doubtful of gets a test cut with my side cutters. As you can see, my method has me going from the most obvious to the least obvious.

    Good Luck and Welcome to the casting world!
     
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  11. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Member

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    Definitely recommend the Cast Boolit site. There is a mind boggling amount of information and lots of informative "stickies". What is it about the site that's giving you navigation troubles?

    Regarding WW's, for your use, you can mix clip-on and stick-on lead. Even at a 50/50 ratio you're going to get bullets in the 10Bhn range which will be fine for most pistol applications. The easiest way to sort out zinc is to get a puddle of melted known lead WW's in the bottom of your cast iron pot, then start throwing in handfuls of WW's. Zinc melts at almost 800°F while lead WW's are going to melt at 650°F or less. Once a bunch of lead is melted in your pot, zinc and steel WW's just float to the top. Just don't get your pot too hot. I normally use as digital volt/ohmmeter with a temperature probe, but lead thermometers are available. Be sure to use something small for your ingot mold or your ingots will be too large to go in the Lee pot.

    Casting bullets is very rewarding. I shoot thousands of rounds a year out of revolvers and a Colt 1911 and simply have no use for jacketed bullets, even for hunting.

    35W
     
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  12. mdi

    mdi Member

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    I've been casting boolits for only 25 years or so. I started with a Coleman stove, a 2 qt. stainless steel pot, some candle wax for flux, a Lee mold, and a Lee ladle. I used a slotted spoon from Ma's kitchen and an old soup ladel. I ladled the cleaned wheel weight lead into an old aluminum muffin pan. I dip lubed with alox and used a Lee Lube and Size kit (no longer made). I kept my 44 Magnum shooting good lead bullets for over a year before I got some more "sophisticated" equipment (an electric pot, Lee push through sizing dies, etc.).

    I read that "the only way to learn to cast bullets is to cast bullets" and to some extent that is true. I got a Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook and read articles by Fryxell and any other cast bullet info I could find.

    I had no trouble sorting out zinc from my wheel weights just by feel and sight (zinc is slightly different color and feels "light" compared to the same size lead ww) maybe because of my background; lifelong machinist/mechanic. The "little square" wheel weights are a bit softer than clip n weights and no meed to sort them out (I used wheel weight alloy for several years before I started worrying about BHN. I made some good bullets and used them in my Magnums, at Magnum velocities with no leading, but they fit my guns...

    Lee push through sizers work quite well, and alox or 45-45-10 are excellent, easy lubes. And if a press isn't available these dies can be used by hand. Just tap a bullet through the die with the sizing ram. I have played with the dies like this, with a plastic mallet with good, bur slow results.

    I too recommend looking in at Castboolits as every question and every answer about all aspects of casting, alloying, lubing, sizing, loading and shooting cast bullets has been covered there... http://castboolits.gunloads.com/
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2019
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  13. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    I recommend going with powder coating if you're going to start casting -- it's cheaper, easier and not nearly as messy as lubes. The only gear you need is a plastic bowl (an old butter or whipped topping bowl) and a toaster oven (about $20.00 at Wal Mart.) Fill the bowl about half full of bullets, pour in a bit of powder coating, shake well, then pick the bullets out and bake them at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.
     
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  14. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Member

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    I'm surprised this took so long.

    I respectfully disagree with the assertion that powder coating is easier. To coat the bullets one must handle them multiple times and then bake them for 20-odd minutes, and then you still have to size them. Traditional sizing and lubing requires the bullets be handled only once, and making use of a Magma Star lubrisizer means sizing/lubing at a rate of 30 per minute. So in the time one spend baking coated bullets, they could size and lube around 600 on a Star. The guy in this link does 16 or 17 in the first 30 seconds of the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Eetx68LyCo Even traditional Lyman and RCBS lubrisizers work well, and as far as being messy, it's like changing the oil in your car, it's as clean or messy as you want to make it.

    Granted some casters like twiddling around with bullets, experimenting with different colors, etc., and that's OK. But I've figured out that the less time I spend at the bench means more time shooting.

    35W
     
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  15. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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  16. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    You just have to organize your work. I coat about 100 bullets at a time, pop them in the oven, then spend the next 20 minutes sizing, priming, flaring and charging brass.. So I use the time effectively. And you have to admit, a $20 toaster oven is cheaper than a lubricator-sizer.
     
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  17. mstreddy

    mstreddy Member

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    I'll also add to go to Cast Boolits. They are a treasure trove of casting information. The link 243winxb posted above is a great read for sorting through your wheel weights. I had done some sorting with a magnet and a blade to score the metal, then after reading that link I tried the dikes method. It was easier to go through the stack that way.

    Most likely the 150#s will yield mostly steel and zinc and some lead, but, if it was free, then great! Get to sorting. Also, since you are new to casting as I mostly still am, check out the sell section of Cast boolits for lead ingots. It may be a good idea to try your hand at casting with known quality rather than going through all the smelting you'll do with the wheel weights.
     
  18. bds

    bds Member

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    I thought the term "boolit" was an endearing term to describe lead bullets poured by hand. ;)
     
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  19. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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  20. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Lyman Chart came with my then new 1996 Lyman 45 acp mould. The paper contained all info on how to make cast bullets. WW alloys are not always the same, if you believe the internet. (I agree). 20190222_084759.jpg

    The Lee BHN vs Pressure chart that comes with the hardness tester.(never used one). When pressure is to high for the alloy- (controversial)

    From castboolits.gunloads - "Plastic deformation-This whole relationship centers around the elastic limit for the alloy you are using and what the elastic limit is. the elastic limit is the point at which stresses can occur to an object and it will return to it's relative shape. Once you have reached the deformation stage it no longer returns to relative shape. this is a very simplified version of this topic as it pertains to engineering mechanics of materials. This is meant to be a guide and to keep you within safe/acceptable limits for pressure and alloy for your purposes. Obturated bullets do not mean that the shape has went through plastic deformation, just that it has expanded and stayed within the elastic limits of the alloy. The formula does not take into account other factors that aide in reducing friction and thus combined forces on the cast slug. As stated above, one member is getting very good accuracy with soft (by most peoples standards) alloys in high velocity loads (for cast anyway). Another factor not talked aobut is the pressure curve of the powder/cartridge combination. Does it spike quickly (fast pistol powder in rifle size case) or is it a gradual increase (full case of slower powder). Protection of the bullet base can also be a factor, we routinely do this by gas-checking, using lube wads, or fillers." 20190222_090307.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2019
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  21. lightman

    lightman Member

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    I've used wheel weights for most of my casting career and feel like they have been pretty consistent. I'm judging this by hardness and weight. A member on the Cast Boolit site has XFR tested a variety of weights and posted the results. I have sent him some of my weights for analysis and the results pretty well match his. I was actually a little bit surprised in this. I do agree that they are not exactly up to laboratory exactness.
     
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  22. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Alloy Analysis by Handheld XRF. I want one. My thumb nail is getting worn out. :D

    https://www.bruker.com/products/x-r...-xrf/applications/pmi/xrf-alloy-analyzer.html

    At the very bottom of page at link, it shows what in the bullet. I found it interesting.https://patents.google.com/patent/US5464487
     
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  23. lightman

    lightman Member

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    I would like to have one too! I expect that its out of my budget! :(
     
  24. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    The word "bullet" comes from the Latin, "bula" meaning "a piece of lead." Bulii were used as slingstones, and often had mottos scratched into them -- "Take that!" Bulii were also used as seals on important documents in place of wax -- the Vatican still uses them, hence documents from the Pope are called "Papal Bulls."
     
  25. cowboy77

    cowboy77 Member

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    Use a camp stove with low heat when melting those ww. Zinc and steel need higher temperatures than lead to melt. Use an old skillet cast iron or something besides your Lee pot. It will melt zinc and ruin lead for sure. Around 550 degrees is my safe spot for melting ww and casting ingots for the Lee pot. I’ve had my lead in my Lee up around 900 degrees and normally keep it set around 750 degrees for big bore bullets. Set of side cutters tells the tale of steel and zinc. I buy a lot of lead from cast boolit forum from a few I’ve dealt with that send what I need. Usually around a buck a lb verses 2-3 times that from roto metals. I started with a small Dutch oven a ladle and a camp stove. I use bottom pour a lot but still like the old ladle on 44;45 colt and 45-70 bullets. Get you some sawdust or candle wax and flux those things good before making ingots. I know I find casting really relaxing. Nothing like making your own, loading it and then bringing meat home with it.
     
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