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Old January 16, 2013, 11:29 AM   #1
Southern Shooter
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Wheel weights and Brinell Hardness Numbers

I have some wheel weights, both clip-on and the flat stick-on, that I use for casting bullets. My questions are these:

1) What is the BHN of clip-on weights when "air cooled"?

2) What is the BHN of clip-on weights when "water quenched"?

3) What is the BHN of stick-on weights when "air cooled"?

4) What is the BHN of stick-on weights when "water quenched"?

5) Which of these leads cast for .44 Special, .44 Magnum (240 grain SWC), and .45 Colt (260 grain SWC) would be recommended for use in a "mountain gun" for protection?

Thanks
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Old January 16, 2013, 01:28 PM   #2
454PB
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Wheel weights vary in hardness, but in general:

1) 12 BHN

2) 18 to 21 BHN after about 3 weeks of aging. The temperature of the boolit when it hits the water and the temperature of the water affects final hardness.

3) All the stick-on WW's I've owned were dead soft....basically pure lead. Pure lead (no antimony) will not heat treat.

4) See answer #3

5) Properly sized and lubed, air cooled clip on WW's will work fine.
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Old January 16, 2013, 05:52 PM   #3
m&p45acp10+1
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Most clip on weights are about a 12 BHN if air cooled.

When water quenched, and let to sit for a week or so they can be harder. I have never tested it myself.

Stick on wheel weights tend to be near pure lead. Close enough to make muzzle loader balls with. I think somewhere in the area of 8 BHN. They also make good expanding hollow points from what I hear.

I use them to cast .45-70 hollow base bullets for my air rifle. I have not shot them in the air rifle yet, though I will when it warms up in a week or so. For large bore air rifle they have to be very soft, and slightly over sized.

If you are using them for woods defense against bears or large dangerous animals then you may have to add some more tin to the alloy to get a good hard non expanding bullet.

If defending against 2 legged vermin then softer for good expansion is preferred by most.

Do not fall into the thinking that harder makes them not lead up the barrel. Hardness takes far back seat to fit. They should be over sized to the chambers, and bore by at least one thousandth of an inch. Poor fit leads more barrels, that too soft by a wide margin.
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Old January 16, 2013, 10:56 PM   #4
CS86
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Quote:
2) 18 to 21 BHN after about 3 weeks of aging. The temperature of the boolit when it hits the water and the temperature of the water affects final hardness.
Does it continue to get harder or is 3 or so weeks where the hardness peaks out. Since the properties change is it best to wait and let it harden before shooting or shoot within the 3 weeks. I'd think it would change the way the bullet shoots.
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Old January 17, 2013, 02:04 PM   #5
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I would wait to load freshly-cast bullets, to let them harden some - it's probably less critical in lower-pressure loads like .44spl and .45colt but it may make a difference with your load development.

If you plan to size the bullets, it's easier to do that when they're fresh and soft. I've read that water dropped bullets will continue to harden over several months, but most of it probably happens in the first few weeks. I've not found water-dropping necessary for anything I'm loading (up to and including .44mag), so I could be wrong about that.
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Old January 17, 2013, 03:15 PM   #6
454PB
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Yes, they will continue to harden for anywhere up to a year. However, for most practical purposes, you only need to wait a couple of weeks.

If they are sized after they have already hardened, the sizing process will remove some of the hardening.

These are generalities, The exact composition of the alloy, the temperature change (whether through dropping the boolits from the mould or through heat treating) and the storage temperature will all affect both hardness and the amount of time the hardening process takes. I've done some long term tests where certain alloy mixtures continue to harden for 18 months. None of these variables affect the hardness to a large degree, and waiting a few weeks is sufficient.

And, I have to add, I don't use a lot of heat treated boolits, I just like to experiment. I have a large supply of linotype and monotype, which is my favored method of adding hardness.
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Old January 20, 2013, 04:13 PM   #7
dagger dog
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I get 12-13 BNH on aircooled clip ons
15-18 BNH on water quench clip ons (aged 2 wks or more)

6 BNH stick ons air cooled (100% lead is 5 BNH)

I use a Lee hardness tester.

Haven't tried water quenching stickies, but according to what I've read the arsenic present in clip on wheel weights give the alloy the ability to harden. LYMAN #48

I don't think there is any arsenic present in the stickies, but it's something I need to try next time I cast my 45-70 GOV. 405 hollow base out of stickons.

Last edited by dagger dog; January 20, 2013 at 04:29 PM.
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Old January 20, 2013, 05:03 PM   #8
454PB
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It's not the arsenic that is missing, you need antimony for heat treating, and there is none in the stick-on weights.

Arsenic is a catalyst that improves heat treating, but it won't help if there's no antimony.
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Old January 20, 2013, 05:40 PM   #9
dagger dog
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That sounds logical !

I wonder if you got pure lead, antimony, tin in the correct proportions, if it would respond to water quenching,if the arsenic is only present in clip on wheel weight alloy?
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Old January 20, 2013, 09:52 PM   #10
454PB
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You might want to try mixing the COWW and the SOWW 50/50, then water drop them from the mould. You should see about 15 to 17 BHN after a couple of weeks. The tin aids in fluidity (good mould fillout), but has nothing to do with the alloy's ability to heat treat harden.
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Old January 21, 2013, 05:29 PM   #11
m&p45acp10+1
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I shoot magnum level .41 Mag in the 1300 FPS range using air cooled wheel weight alloy. If you are getting lead in the barrel it is more times than not from undersized bullets. Making the alloy harder will not stop the problem, and many times will make it even worse.

If your bore is clean by the forcing cone, and there is lead near the crown then it is a lube issue. (Note be sure it is lead, and not carbon from lube run a solvent soaked patch, then a few clean dry ones. If it is lead it will still be there. If was just burned lube it will be gone.)

If you have lead in the barrel at the forcing cone that follows the rifling then your bullets are undersized, and powder gas is cutting around them. It tends to be worse closer to the chamber.

If it looks like you can not see the rifling, and the barrel appears to be plated with lead. Your powder is too hot. You should either gas check your bullets, or use another powder.

Harder bullets shold be even more oversized than thier softer counterparts. The softer bullets deform at the base to create a better seal in the barrel. If they are harder then the sealing effect is somewhat negated.

There are some here that can explain it a whole lot better than me. I am just a janotor that likes to cast, shoot and reload when I am not on the net or drinking an ice cold bottle of suds.
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