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Old February 25th, 2011, 09:59 AM   #1
Warhorse
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Question Zinc wheel weights

After several years of using a long-ago collection of wheel weights for casting, I recently obtained a bunch of used wheel weights for a lead source. I am aware that the industry is starting to use zinc instead of lead for wheel weights, at least in some places.

Now the problem. For casting purposes, you definitely do NOT want the lead contaminated by zinc. It causes all sorts of problems, generally resulting in the need to discard a batch of lead.

I am pretty sure that zinc has a significantly higher melting point than lead but am not sure how careful you need to be to separate out the zinc weights from the lead and, if one gets into the melting pot anyway, how obvious is it that it is not lead before it begins to melt into the lead? Fortunately, I have not yet run into this little problem.

Any experience with this or any advice? Any reliable zinc detection methods that you recommend for sorting purposes? (I do know that zinc is much harder than lead but have not yet experimented with a scratch test. I suspect that is the way to go but verification would be helpful.)


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Old February 25th, 2011, 10:40 AM   #2
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Zinc magnet?

Seriously, I've always found that there is a difference in the feel of zinc and lead.

Also zinc's melting point is 787 F vs lead's of 621 F. That's a big difference (166 F). I'd think that the solid chunk of zinc would just float to the surface without melting.
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Old February 25th, 2011, 10:44 AM   #3
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http://www.shootersforum.com/showthread.htm?t=54481



great write up for you a must read
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Old February 25th, 2011, 11:30 AM   #4
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Hang on your horses there cowboy, this question needs to be addressed to a metallurgist, not a gun forum.
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Old February 25th, 2011, 11:35 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by PapiBarcelona View Post
Hang on your horses there cowboy, this question needs to be addressed to a metallurgist, not a gun forum.
Pull up on the reins there, pardner...if they's a asking knowledgeable folk on a gun board, they likely must've gotten the info from metal-whatever-kind of dude. Yes?


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Old February 25th, 2011, 11:42 AM   #6
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Lol

Don't know where people get their info from, that's why a lot of bad info is out there. Fair enough you would be right for some instances, but professional opinions I think is a good start somewhere in the the process!
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Old February 25th, 2011, 11:48 AM   #7
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Lol

Don't know where people get their info from, that's why a lot of bad info is out there. Fair enough you would be right for some instances, but professional opinions I think is a good start somewhere in the the process!
Welcome to the board, Papi.

There is some wrong info on this board, but someone will come along and correct it, or offer where to get the straight info...or both.


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Old February 25th, 2011, 11:52 AM   #8
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Hang on your horses there cowboy, this question needs to be addressed to a metallurgist, not a gun forum.
A metalurgist doesnt need to respond for simple questions like these, thats why they are asked, because ther are a multitude of proffessionals on this forum from a multitude of fields.


oh and lead melts 622f
zinc is at 787f
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Old February 25th, 2011, 11:57 AM   #9
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Hydrochloric acid is not easy to get, but a dilute form of hydrochloric acid called muriatic acid is readily available at paint stores. Put a drop on the suspected piece of zinc. If it reacts, it's zinc, otherwise it's lead.

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Old February 25th, 2011, 11:58 AM   #10
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Hang on your horses there cowboy, this question needs to be addressed to a metallurgist, not a gun forum.
I'm not a metallurgist so I won't comment on what happens when zinc is alloyed with lead but I can tell you that solid zinc will float in molten lead.
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Old February 25th, 2011, 12:10 PM   #11
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Talking Thanks. Just what was needed!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandbanger View Post
http://www.shootersforum.com/showthread.htm?t=54481



great write up for you a must read

Sandbanger:

Thanks ever so much. I went to that site/thread and it contained EXACTLY what I needed to know, complete with pictures!

In summary, there are several ways of recognizing that a wheel weight is made of zinc instead of lead. Apparently, most have Zn stamped into them but not all. They also have letters/numbers STAMPED into them, not moulded raised as in the lead WW. The zinc tend to remain brighter, while lead is usually oxidized dull, and are much harder than lead, as a scratch test will show. Some are apparently made of iron (stamped Fe) that I have yet to encounter but they wouldn't be a problem as they won't melt in a lead pot.

It is worth noting that the Zn and Fe WW's have letters/numerals STAMPED into them for the same reason we don't want the Zn in our lead alloys; the Zn (and FE) will not fill out small detail in a mould.

If, after all that, you still end up with a Zn WW in the pot, any problem can be avoided by making sure that the melt temp remains BELOW 700 degrees F. That way the Zn will simply float on top and not melt into the lead. It can then just be scooped out just like the steel clips.

It is worth noting that it is adviseable to start with known good lead partially filling the pot and bringing it up to melt at a temperature below 700 degrees F BEFORE adding any of the new wheel weights. [Surely you do have a thermometer for your lead pot, don't you?]


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Old February 25th, 2011, 05:29 PM   #12
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Wheel weight alloy melts at a considerably lower temperature than pure lead, closer to about 550 degrees. F. I typically do my initial meltdown at about 600 degrees. This seems to be the optimal temperature, hot enough to get it nice 'n' liquidy, but not so hot as to get that yellow/purple/blue oxidation haze that I see at 650 degrees and higher. The hottest I've ever let it go is 700 degrees, and I have yet to have any zinc problems.

Also, with wheel weights, it turns out you have a built-in flux material. That would be the oil, grease, paint, and so on that you typicaly find on wheel weights. With no additional flux, I get some pretty clean lead. You can add additional material if you want (I'd recommend sawdust, as it's free and it works), but you don't really need to.

Now, what do you do with the zinc weights? Well, you could use it in a freshly cleaned melting pot and make some mighty hard projectiles (compared to lead alloys, anyway). The hunting application would be iffy, unless you're talking about something the size of a shotgun slug. But if you've got a bunch of zinc weights lying around, bullets made from them would certainly do the trick for target practice and wouldn't hurt your bore one bit. That's because while zinc is much harder than lead, it's still much softer than steel.


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Old February 25th, 2011, 05:43 PM   #13
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Thumbs down Don't make bullets out of zinc!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cowboy T View Post
Now, what do you do with the zinc weights? Well, you could use it in a freshly cleaned melting pot and make some mighty hard projectiles (compared to lead alloys, anyway). The hunting application would be iffy, unless you're talking about something the size of a shotgun slug. But if you've got a bunch of zinc weights lying around, bullets made from them would certainly do the trick for target practice and wouldn't hurt your bore one bit. That's because while zinc is much harder than lead, it's still much softer than steel.

I don't think trying to cast bullets out of zinc would work very well. First of all, you would not get clean and sharp lube grooves nor would the base of the bullet fill out properly. That's why you don't want zinc in your lead alloy.

Second, while zinc certainly is softer than the steel of your barrel, the base of a zinc bullet would NOT obdurate much, certainly not enough to seal the bore. This will likely result in gas cutting of the bore. That is the real problem, not wear on the barrel.

Loosely translated: Do not make bullets out of zinc!


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Old February 25th, 2011, 07:20 PM   #14
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I melt zinc for a living, tried to mix it with lead but added a little to much and it hardened to quick.Zinc temps average 825-875. still trying
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Old February 25th, 2011, 07:25 PM   #15
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Chemist here and maybe it gives me an advantage but its easy to tell one from the other simply by looking at them.


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Old February 26th, 2011, 03:03 AM   #16
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Yea, no need to sweat this stuff. Lead WW melt at a significantly lower temp then zinc. Pure lead does too but a little higher temp then WW alloy. As long as you're paying attention you can just scoop the zinc (that will all be floating on the molten lead) out after the lead melts. The problem is when you aren't paying attention and let the whole pot of lead get too hot- so hot that the zinc melts. Then the whole batch is garbage & must be disposed of.

Now, if any of you guys want to get into the super advanced stuff try casting zinc bullets. It can be done but it's not easy and I think it requires custom molds.
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Old February 26th, 2011, 05:41 AM   #17
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Why would it be advanced stuff to cast zinc and why custom molds? Temperatures?
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Old February 26th, 2011, 07:58 AM   #18
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Why would it be advanced stuff to cast zinc and why custom molds? Temperatures?
Because, 90% of the moulds on the market can't take the temp needed to fill with Zinc.
I killed a shad dart mould with Zinc, damn mould melted (thin walled Al (aluminum)).

When in doubt throw it out.

Look here:
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/forumdisplay.php?f=57
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Old February 26th, 2011, 09:43 AM   #19
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Because, 90% of the moulds on the market can't take the temp needed to fill with Zinc.
I killed a shad dart mould with Zinc, damn mould melted (thin walled Al (aluminum)).
Huh? Aluminium melts around 1,200 F and Zinc below 800 F.
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Old February 26th, 2011, 09:48 AM   #20
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I suspect that the weights are made of kirksite (alloy of aluminum & zinc) which melts @ 725F.


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