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Old October 23rd, 2012, 06:57 PM #1
Justler Justler is offline
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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:
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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, 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 23rd, 2012, 10:11 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, 10:23 PM #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justler View Post
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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