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Where are you casters getting your lead?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Eddy19, Dec 3, 2019.

  1. Eddy19

    Eddy19 Member

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    I still have about 750 - 1000 lbs of wheel weights when I had a good deal at the local tire dealer. But that will eventually dwindle. So, wondering what other places to get suitable lead? Don't mind paying if it's reasonable....thanks!
     
  2. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    I still manage to buy enough wheel weights from tire shops to keep myself and my family supplied.
    I've also gotten wheel weights and other scrap lead from scrap yards around town, but that's usually more expensive.
     
  3. Obturation
    • Contributing Member

    Obturation Contributing Member

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    I don't cast yet (planning to soon), but i do collect lead. I work in the automotive industry but get very few lead weights but i don't do many tires either. I do know a couple guys at roofing companies though and they bring me flashing (?) and these chimney looking things, its all pure soft lead so i assume its useable - got about 400# of that.
     
  4. adcoch1

    adcoch1 Member

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    So far most of my lead has come from other casters, but I am just getting started. I need to hit my local recycling center. Most of the tire shops around me sell back to the recycler, so not a lot of options there. I am looking for construction demo guys for old lead roof flashing and lead pipe. One plumber gave me some lead pipe he had sitting around. But no good cheap supply yet...
     
  5. lightman

    lightman Member

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    Lead is getting harder to find and I think you are wise to be looking before you run out.

    Wheel weights work great for most applications and since you are already using them I would stay with them. Drive around and ask at tire shops, mechanic shops, car dealers, wrecking yards and scrap dealers. I've had more success at the smaller shops and smaller scrap yards. Ask your family, friends and co-workers to look for them. Maybe consider placing an ad in the local paper, swap shop or Craigslist.

    For softer lead talk with any plumbers, roofers or telephone installers that you know. Also ask any general contractors that you know.

    If you find a steady source try to do something to help them remember you. A box of donuts, some beer, maybe even consider transferring some of your business to them. Be careful offering alcohol as everyone does not drink and their shops may frown on it. The owner of one of my regular places expressed an interest in what I was using the weights for. I showed him a sampling of some of my bullets and ingots. I ended up giving his Wife a couple of ingots to use as paper weights in the office!

    Expect a low success ratio but remember that it only takes one good contact and don't be disappointed at failure. A couple of years ago I was buying a couple of bullet molds from an older caster and the subject of lead came up. I ended up buying over 5600# of sorted weights from him for a fair price.

    Laugh a little if you want, but I find a surprising number of weights on street corners. So if you run, walk or ride a bike for exercise keep an eye open. Busy intersections with a curb around the signs are good places to look.

    Good Luck in your search. Even though free or cheap lead is getting harder to find its still out there.
     
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  6. the Black Spot

    the Black Spot Member

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    One way to help keep your supply in stock is to recycle your bullets. 90% of my cast bullets are shot into a catch container(usually a square bucket with paper in it). I had a four gallon bucket of wheel weights 17 yrs ago, still have a gallon left.
     
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  7. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    I have a couple of good sources. One is a garage mechanic that saved wheel weights forever. He has a 8 foot pickup bed overflowing with them. Another is a former commercial fisherman that used 50# lead ingots for ballast in his boat when rigged to use nets and drag for fish. He has many thousands that he no longer needs. Also I am part plumber and get all the lead we remove. Plumbing and flashing lead is dead soft and best used with muzzle loaders, wheel weights are harder. I add plumbers silver solder to soft lead in a 10 to 1 ratio to harden it for casting my handgun bullets.
     
  8. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I recycle bullets these days. Easier than wheel weights for me.
     
  9. Eddy19

    Eddy19 Member

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    More great suggestions noted, thanks all, this forum is a great place. Back then, I went to the local tire shop one day and bought four new truck tires and happened to ask if he had any wheelweights. He said "sure, over there take it all" He had about a cu/yd of weights, so, I did take it all. (never worked so hard in all my life filling 5 gal buckets, good thing I was young!)
     
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  10. clone

    clone Member

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    I work work at a tire shop, so for now I have an unlimited supply. But even tire shops are no longer using lead anymore. Get it while you can folks.
     
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  11. Eddy19

    Eddy19 Member

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    That's why hesitate to invest in more casting equipment,
    I noticed they have wheel weights that are "lead free" now. Even my local trap and skeet club eliminated lead shot a long time ago. They changed to steel and bismuth.
     
  12. lightman

    lightman Member

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    I agree, get it while you can. If you have the storage space and extra money don't pass on a good deal. In my lifetime I have seen it go from free and plentiful to not free and harder to find.

    Around here most of the shops still use lead weights. The lead to non lead ratio is still holding up but is gradually falling. I usually get 65-70% lead vs steel, zinc and composite. This is pretty high compared to a lot of places. I expect that the day will come where range lead replaces the wheel weight as a casters source for lead.
     
  13. Eddy19

    Eddy19 Member

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    I suppose here in California, one of them will even try to eliminate the word "pencil lead" soon.
     
  14. George P

    George P Member

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    Wheel weights are still lead where you guys live? Last I saw, zinc has replaced lead because CA made a stink about lead pollution years ago.
     
  15. John Joseph

    John Joseph Member

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    The supply of lead wheel weights have dried up here in CA and scavenged plumbers' & roofer's lead are now classed here as hazardous waste so unless you can pick it up directly at the job site, you'll need a permit to purchase.

    Buying reclaimed shot is one option as is"mining" range lead from berms.
     
    kmw1954 likes this.
  16. Phlier

    Phlier Member

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    Location:
    Utah
    Free Sources: We go out in the desert to the popular shooting spots with buckets and shovels. The outdoor range where we live won't let us scrounge for lead, but occasionally one of the guys at the local indoor range will sneak me a 5 gallon bucket.

    Cheap Source: The local metal scrapyard will sell lead of unknown alloys for 25 cents per pound under current lead market rate. He also sells pewter/tin of unknown alloy for the same. I get most of my tin as pewter figurines sold at the local second hand market for pennies of their actual value in tin.

    Then to actually create my alloys, I cast an ingot from a big pot of range scrap, test the hardness, then run it through the lead alloy calc to determine how much of RotoMetal's "Super Hard" (lead and antimony alloy, no tin) to add to get my desired BHN. I'll also usually add 4% tin, too, but depends on the estimated tin content of the scrap I'm alloying.

    I'm able to get enough free lead that I don't have to pay for it. The tin is fairly cheap, but I do end up paying for the little pewter figurines. The most expensive part for me (and it's really not too bad) is the RotoMetal's "Super Hard" that I use to get the alloy I want.

    We also keep all the copper jackets from the range scrap, along with any stray brass we collect at the popular outdoor shooting spots. We then sell/trade this to the scrap yard in exchange for either tin or lead. They always cut us a better deal when we trade metal in in exchange for another metal than when they actually pay us in cash for the copper and brass.

    I haven't put an actual dollar figure to it.... I probably should, but the system we have of scrounging for lead, getting the odd free bucket of it, keeping the copper and brass then trading it in for tin or lead has made our shooting alloy very close to free.
     
  17. Eddy19

    Eddy19 Member

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    Thanks Phlier, I'll have to start looking around the sources you mentioned. I'll start with my local ranges and see if I can make a deal with them.
     
  18. whughett

    whughett Member

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    From my gun clubs 25 yard back stop. Hasn’t been professional cleaned in the 35 years I’ve been a member.(That I am aware of) I can get a hundred pounds with only a short time of screening with a home made screen.

    I’m not persnickety about bullet hardness however as I only shoot target velocities with hand cast bullets. If they drop clean I’m good with it.

    Used wheel weight until I discovered a heavy crust on the bottom of my lead pot, I think it was zinc or something other, definitely not lead. Also didn’t like the washing with kerosene or the stink of rubber or oil if I didn’t.
     
  19. Hooda Thunkit

    Hooda Thunkit Member

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    Oklahoma, out in the red dirt.
    I can still scrounge up a couple buckets of wheel weights every year. It costs maybe $30 a bucket, and I bring a box of homemade fudge around Christmas.

    I get some soft lead from a roofer buddy, and found about 200 pounds of lead plumbing at a scrap yard.

    Those sources, plus bullet traps at my home range out behind the barn, have kept me supplied so far.
     
  20. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    You guys should find a metal scrap yard or buyer. You might get lucky and buy a bunch for cheap. You could get your name on the list of lead buyers.
    My local guy saves good stuff for me. Good plumbers lead for my BP guns and hard lead already in ingots.
    I have a standing offer of $1/lb. Cash. I already have perhaps a lifetime supply, but I still buy the good stuff at that price.
    Contact your salvage yard.
     
  21. frankmako

    frankmako Member

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    wheel weights and range pickups. it is getting harder getting wheel weights. the last bucket i got had lots of zinc weights. so it takes a little more time finding lead.
     
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  22. Eddy19

    Eddy19 Member

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    Thank you, will do!
     
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  23. Eddy19

    Eddy19 Member

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    Thanks Frank, way back when I got lots of wheelweights, I never dreamed one day they'll become hard to find.
     
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  24. Catpop

    Catpop Member

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    It’s getting so lead tire ww are becoming zinc tire ww!
    And zinc don’t work so good for Boolits!
    Drats!
     
  25. 2011redrider

    2011redrider Member

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    I get all of mine thru a local PD that lets me mine the berm. Go about once a month so I dont wear out the welcome, get 3 to 4, 5 gallon buckets on each trip.

    Have about 8 minutes or 900 lbs and 4 buckets to work on. Lot of work separatjjng the jackets for copper scrap, and scooping out the dirt and other junk. Have collected about 250 lbs of wheel weight lead, but, the range scrap works fine for the pistol loads that i cast for.

    Ingots usually go for a buck a lb over at cast boolits.
     
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