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Old October 23rd, 2012, 06:57 PM #1
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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, 07:16 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 07:44 PM.
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 07:25 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, 07:31 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, 07:42 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, 09:24 PM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justler View Post
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, 09:32 PM #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deep Creek Rock View Post
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, 09:46 PM #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justler View Post
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 24th, 2012, 07:00 AM #9
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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, 03:06 PM #10
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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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