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Old October 23rd, 2012, 05:57 PM   #1
Justler
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Melted down some wheel weights today

Ended up melting down 80-90lbs of wheel weights today. I had already preseperated the Zinc and Steel weights. I'll be changing my process to also have another bucket for stickons instead of sorting those out when throwing into the pot.

I started this around 3:30 or so today and finished up at about 5:00, not including cleanup time.

Came away with 57lbs of clamp ons and about 10 lbs of stick ons.



I'll be keeping a couple blocks of stickons to use for slugging barrels when I get new guns, otherwise i'll be selling them when I turn em in for pound weight.

I'm still on my first tank of propane after having it run for about 4 hours total so far (this is my second smelting)... Hoping I can get at least a couple more 2 hour sessions out of my tank.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 06:16 PM   #2
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where do you buy your wheel weights? i am having a hard time lookinh for tire shops that sell them to individuals. most tire shops don't sell or give them away anymore.

scrap yards don't sell them to individuals either.

Last edited by trap; October 24th, 2012 at 06:44 PM.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 06:25 PM   #3
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Don't wanna give away all my secrets, but you can just go around to tire shops. I usually hit small and large ones, ask them what they do with their wheel weights and if I can have some (I usually let them know i'm reusing them so that I can go target shooting... I don't saying anything about hunting are guns because some people are anti those things). If they seem hesitant, then I offer to pay them for them (I usually start out at $.15/lb and tell them 100lbs is about $15, then we usually work our way up). I also keep a digital scale in my car and I give them a bucket to replace the one i'm taking.

I think the key thing part is trying not to waste their time and just being a little persistent... Sometimes you can tell they don't want to but you can push a little bit more and sometimes they will cave. If not, you drive to the next place.

Usually Exide who picks up old batteries also takes wheel weights and pays them for it, so sometimes you have to give a little more than Exide would (usually $.25/lb, highest i've heard so far is $.30/lb).

I usually hit up the ATM before I go out looking as well so I have plenty of cash. I've paid anywhere from as little as free up to $.30/lb. Figure you're going to get about 15% steel/zinc and probably 10% is going to be clip weight and maybe another 10% stick ons (in my experience).

I save the clips after melting and add them to my zinc/steel bucket which i'll take to the recycling place for probably $.10 - $.18/lb. I melt the stick ons separate from clip ons since stickies are softer... not sure if I can find someone who makes fishing lures to buy the stickies though, so I may have to give them away or just recycle em w/ the steel ones.

What area are you in? MD has not yet banned lead wheel weights, but you see a fair amount of steel/zinc because manufacturers are moving toward them slowly... I'm not seeing 25% zinc or steel yet though like some report.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 06:31 PM   #4
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Is there an easy way to separate lead from a lead/zinc alloy?


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Old October 23rd, 2012, 06:42 PM   #5
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Lead melts at a slightly lower temperature than Zinc so controlling temperature could be 1 possible way. I think if there are any Lead/Zinc combination wheel weights they are possibly hard enough that you could tell they are not lead/tin/antimony. Any Zinc ones I have cut are extremely hard and do not mark with snips, everything lead is easily identifiable from steel/zinc.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 08:24 PM   #6
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Lead melts at a slightly lower temperature than Zinc so controlling temperature could be 1 possible way. I think if there are any Lead/Zinc combination wheel weights they are possibly hard enough that you could tell they are not lead/tin/antimony. Any Zinc ones I have cut are extremely hard and do not mark with snips, everything lead is easily identifiable from steel/zinc.
This is the exact reason why I do not use propane melters. I hear the wives tale you should not smelt dirty lead in electric bottom pour furnaces -because it causes it to drip. Its a load of hogwash. All bottom pour melter will drip, irregardless of how clean of lead you put in it. They put seater slots on the flow rods for that reason. Regular cleaning of the nozzle, and flow rod also cuts back on it.Alot of the inclusions is the actual pot liner scaling, or a sign the lead needs fluxed. Certain fluxes (marvaflux/clean cast) also causes the liner of the melter to rust and corrode, which is why I wont use that stuff.

I have yet to read a manual or article that state you need or should smelt/render in seperate melters.

Most electric melters will not get hot enough to melt zinc weights, they just float to the top. Same with steel weights. I also find I have to turn down the heat on my electric melter when casting - you can read the the bullets on how they cast (they get a frosty look to them) to know when. Never used a Thermometer, never needed it with an electric caster.

Most Zinc weights are marked "Zn" and Steel "Fe". If you in doubt -snip the corner with a pair of cutters, it should cut fairly easy if it is lead alloy. If it wont budge - toss it, its useless.


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Old October 23rd, 2012, 08:32 PM   #7
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This is the exact reason why I do not use propane melters. I hear the wives tale you should not smelt dirty lead in electric bottom pour furnaces -because it causes it to drip. Its a load of hogwash. All bottom pour melter will drip, irregardless of how clean of lead you put in it. They put seater slots on the flow rods for that reason. Regular cleaning of the nozzle, and flow rod also cuts back on it.Alot of the inclusions is the actual pot liner scaling, or a sign the lead needs fluxed. Certain fluxes (marvaflux/clean cast) also causes the liner of the melter to rust and corrode, which is why I wont use that stuff.

I have yet to read a manual or article that state you need or should smelt/render in seperate melters.

Most electric melters will not get hot enough to melt zinc weights, they just float to the top. Same with steel weights. I also find I have to turn down the heat on my electric melter when casting - you can read the the bullets on how they cast (they get a frosty look to them) to know when. Never used a Thermometer, never needed it with an electric caster.

Most Zinc weights are marked "Zn" and Steel "Fe". If you in doubt -snip the corner with a pair of cutters, it should cut fairly easy if it is lead alloy. If it wont budge - toss it, its useless.
I think he was asking about a hybrid alloy that is both lead and zinc and not just how to separate them.

I also expect that bottom pour pots will also leak almost no matter what you do, it's just how it is with the pots that we can buy.

I am using two pots because I load up around 40-50lbs in the pot. I am not yet casting bullets either but am measuring the hardness of my lead blocks prior to casting to see if anything needs added.

Looking at my stainless pot i'm using it's pretty dirty in the bottom and i'd prefer to do it in two stages. It's personal preference I guess.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 08:46 PM   #8
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I think he was asking about a hybrid alloy that is both lead and zinc and not just how to separate them.

I also expect that bottom pour pots will also leak almost no matter what you do, it's just how it is with the pots that we can buy.

I am using two pots because I load up around 40-50lbs in the pot. I am not yet casting bullets either but am measuring the hardness of my lead blocks prior to casting to see if anything needs added.

Looking at my stainless pot i'm using it's pretty dirty in the bottom and i'd prefer to do it in two stages. It's personal preference I guess.
What calibers are you going to cast for? If your casting for most non magnum /non gas checked handgun calibers - hardness is not as critical, if you lube properly. Wheel weight alloy is often fine for that case. When you start getting into full power magnum, and rifle calibers then it is. Make sure you read your load data - on the velocity. You'll notice on some calibers like 44 Mag, the load data is showing a lower velocity, to reduce or avoid leading. Alot of times they limit the velocity to 1000FPS to avoid leading. The higher velocity data usally will show a harder alloy like Linotype 2, or a gas check, or both.

If you are fluxing with Clean Cast, be very careful with that stuff. It leaves a hydroscopic goop allover your pot lining, and mixing ladle. It also breaks down the lining of your pot, if you leave it in there long enough. The next time you go to cast, the alloy with explode from the water content on your ladle when you go to stir. I had that happen to me a couple times, and I quit using it. I do not like that stuff one bit. I just use Gulf Wax, which is cheap, and one pack will last you forever.


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Old October 23rd, 2012, 09:11 PM   #9
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I am going to be making bullets for .357, .44 and .45 ACP.

My .357 and .44 rounds so far have been made with Winchester 231 which i'll continue to use and aren't full magnum load (They are about 15% under max load w/ 231).

I do have a rifle in 7.62x39 but i'd buy jacketed bullets for it as it seems most load data is pretty high velocity and i'd end up having to buy a bunch of antimony to harder the lead up a bunch and I get Herter's steel cased ammo for $.209/rd right now.

I don't plan to flux with any special products and I only use saw dust right now since it's free from home depot/lowes/84 lumber.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 09:23 PM   #10
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I am going to be making bullets for .357, .44 and .45 ACP.

My .357 and .44 rounds so far have been made with Winchester 231 which i'll continue to use and aren't full magnum load (They are about 15% under max load w/ 231).

I do have a rifle in 7.62x39 but i'd buy jacketed bullets for it as it seems most load data is pretty high velocity and i'd end up having to buy a bunch of antimony to harder the lead up a bunch and I get Herter's steel cased ammo for $.209/rd right now.

I don't plan to flux with any special products and I only use saw dust right now since it's free from home depot/lowes/84 lumber.
45ACP is really a good round to cast for. Straight wheel weight works perfect for that round - and the stick ons, can be added to your mix without issues. Dont get hung up on using a lead hardness tester for the lower velocity handgun rounds. Alot of people use a lead hardness tester, when blending an alloy they need to repeat -usally for rifles and high velocity rounds.

Win 231 will work good with 45ACP cast rounds. I cast 230 grn LRN, (Lee Tumble band 2 ogive) and lube with liquid Alox. I also size them using a Lee .452" sizing die just to make sure everything is round and square. Ive fired lots of 1000's of those and have had zero leading issues in my 1911, and Thompson. Alox really does work well, but you need to be carefull of the build up in your bullet seater die. If you let it accumulate, it will cause sucsessive deeper seating of bullets in cases. I lube the seater plug with RCBS case lube, and run a Q tip, about every 20 round into the seater plug to clean out the Alox boogers, and it works fine.


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Old October 23rd, 2012, 09:44 PM   #11
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Mostly I started doing this because my cost for 240gr .44 bullets was about $.14/ea but I can benefit on the .357 as well.

I was planning to pan lube everything but the liquid alox would be much faster. It seems like pan lubing would making for nice clean bullets and not kind of brownish looking bullets but have a longer prep time.

After you lube with allox and size the bullets do you assemble a full cartridge and tumble them so there's not left over allox on the bullets later?

I'd like to have some nice looking bullets when i'm all done .

I'm planning 125gr .357, 240gr .44 and 115gr 9mm.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 09:59 PM   #12
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Leave the Alox on the nose/exposed areas- it does no harm. Alot of it cooks off when you fire it, which is what you want. The bullets wont turn black/oxidize with the Alox on the exposed areas anyways.

The tumble lube method is fast, and works well. If you want clean bullets, then you may have to invest in a lubrisizer, heater and top punches. The way I look at it casting bullets is supposed to save you money - and the more you have to buy (stick lubes, lubrisizers, top punches) just ends up taking more space, and money.

I also like liquid Alox -because it does not run in hot weather when applied on bullets (but it will get soft) Some stick lubes - the lube will run if the ammo is left in the hot sun etc.

I think some people find the smell of liquid Alox objectionable - I dont mind it. One bottle does LOTS of bullets. You also do not have to lay that stuff on heavy with pistol bullets.


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Old October 24th, 2012, 06:00 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Half-cocked View Post
Is there an easy way to separate lead from a lead/zinc alloy?
You do it one piece at a time with a pair of wire clippers. If you can make an impression very easy it is lead. If it really hard you have Zinc. 90% of wheel weights today are Zinc and not worth the effort of going from shop to shop asking for WW anymore these days to me.

Even less interested in sorted all that dirty, greasy, grimy, junk. In the end I would rather pay someone the going $1.00 / pound to buy their ingots. I'm always looking for fellas who have ingots for sale. I'm running low now.

I got a box of about 15 pounds of WW from a local tire shop and when I got done sorting all the junk I didn't have enough usable lead to fill a tuna fish can. Then still having the thought of having to clean the grease off of them.... I threw it all in the trash and walked away. What a waste of time.

Now I just buy ingots from whoever has a good price. I'm shopping now, so, if you have a good price let me know.
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Old October 24th, 2012, 02:06 PM   #14
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I'm still getting about 85% good lead in WWs that I'm able to obtain. To sort them, I have a very large pair of steel metal snips (they weigh about 6-7 pounds) that I hit with the weights, one at a time of course. You need something large, solid, and steel to do this, because you are sorting them by the sound they make. A vise also works.

If the weight is zinc, it makes sort of a sharp "tink" sound. If it's lead, it makes more of a dull "bap" sound. With a little practice, you will learn to easily recognize the difference ... most of the time ... especially with the larger weights.

I sort them into three piles (not counting the lead stick-ons), according to sound. There are the ones that are clearly lead, those that are clearly zinc, and ones that I'm not sure about. I test this last bunch by trying to cut into them with a pair of long-handled dykes. Lead will let you make a good dent, but zinc will hardly make a scratch. If I have some that I can cut into, but not as much as the ones that are clearly lead, I put them aside in case I want to cast weights of some sort in the future.

I do use a propane rig for melting WWs, but am mindful of how much I let the material heat up. Once I get some melting started (using known lead, like mis-cast bullets from an earlier casting session), I adjust the heat down so that adding a handful or two of new weights cools the mix down to where it gets sort of mud-like in consistency for a minute. That lets me know that I'm staying close to the melting point of the lead. If any zinc should happen to sneak past my testing, it will float, like the metal clips, as the lead starts to liquify. At that point, I quickly scoop out all the floating material and toss in more WWs.


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Old December 6th, 2012, 01:31 AM   #15
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Well, here are some of my first bullets!

44 Magnum RN 240gr:



357 Magnum FP 125gr:

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Old December 7th, 2012, 01:33 AM   #16
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Well, here are some of my first bullets!
They look good, but you can probably get rid of that slight seam that's showing in the picture. Even if you don't get rid of it, you should do these things anyway.

First, adjust the tension on the bolt that holds your handles together. Tighten it until they just start to not open and close smoothly, then back off just enough so that they do. This will help the halves of your mould mate together correctly. Then do the same thing with the screw that holds on the sprue plate (be sure your screwdriver fits exactly!). This will help to keep the base of your bullets from having a little ledge on the edges.

Clean the faces of the mould halves very carefully--90% alcohol works well--then smoke the moulds with the carbon from something like some burning kitchen matches (what I use).

LUBRICATE the mould carefully, with the correct lubricant, and in the manner that the maker describes. This is absolutely critical. Don't use the thing again until you've got the prescribed lube, and be sure that you lube all the prescribed points (only!) in the manner that the manufacturer describes. Don't rely on anyone's homebrew advice on this one until you are certain you know what you are doing. Not only will proper lubing make the mould halves seat together flush, it will also prevent the mould from galling. You can ruin an aluminum mould very easily! (Note that you are *not* to get lube into the bullet cavity. You are lubricating pivot points and the guides that help to seat the mould halves together properly.)

Again, they aren't bad, but these things can improve them a bit, and help you to prolong the life of your mould, as well.


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Old December 7th, 2012, 04:08 PM   #17
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I am preparing and lubing the molds as instructed by Lee. Also, I did about 800 more bullets today and the problem was mold temperature. The ones today turned out perfect!
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Old December 7th, 2012, 08:40 PM   #18
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I am preparing and lubing the molds as instructed by Lee. Also, I did about 800 more bullets today and the problem was mold temperature. The ones today turned out perfect!
You are also breaking in the mould, and learning how to use it more efficiently. It gets better an better over time!


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Old December 7th, 2012, 09:10 PM   #19
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Quote:
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I am preparing and lubing the molds as instructed by Lee. Also, I did about 800 more bullets today and the problem was mold temperature. The ones today turned out perfect!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Machodoc View Post
You are also breaking in the mould, and learning how to use it more efficiently. It gets better an better over time!
Justler, Machodoc is right. Casting good boolits comes with experience. Keep at it and learn to recognize the signs of molds and pots becoming too hot or cold. Also don't be afraid to cool your Lee mold by dipping its edge in your quenching bucket when it becomes too hot. The combination of molten lead and water with you in between takes practice. But once you get the hang of it, casting terrific boolits will happen.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Cooling the mold DSC07424.jpg (29.6 KB, 50 views)
File Type: jpg Various Boolits DSC07440.jpg (40.3 KB, 48 views)


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