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Old February 27, 2000, 02:25 AM   #1
PumpBlast
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Hey! Anybody out there use 50/50 bar solder when making casting alloys? I know that 9 lbs. of wheelweights and 1 lbs of 50/50 equals Lyman #2 alloy. My question is, how much does a whole bar of 50/50 weigh? I mixed a 3 bars with 27 lbs of WW and realized that the bars probably weigh more than a pound! I don't have any more 50/50 and the hardware store is out of it. So until I get some more, I'm dead in the water!

I've got a couple bars of 37/63 (37% lead 63% tin) and each bar melts down to 2.5 lbs. Hope someone out there has some info. Thanks, Bill

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Old February 27, 2000, 08:38 AM   #2
labgrade
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The bars usually have the weight stamped/molded right into them. Probably hard to see those marks now that you melted the bars.

Good mixture you mentioned. For .38spl (bullets at ~800fps or so), etc. I don't even bother with the solder mix. Shoot straight wheel weights. Zip for leading problem.

Most bars I've had are ~2lbs. If they're (were) about 16-18" long, you probably had the 2lbers & can add another 27lbs of WW.

In any event, you're not dead in the water. Cast & shoot what you have & be a bit more careful next time.
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Old February 27, 2000, 12:17 PM   #3
panamint
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I shoot straight wheel weight, and drop them from the mold into cold water. This makes them harder and I have no problem with leading in 38 spl, 9mm or 45acp. You have to be very careful when you drop them in to water you dont get water splashing into your lead pot. I put a bucket of water on the floor so its far enough from my lead pot.
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Old February 27, 2000, 04:32 PM   #4
PumpBlast
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Thanks guys. I didn't notice the weight on them. The guy at the hardware store said that they were a pound. Now that I think about it I'm not so sure. In the Lyman cast bullet handbook they say that you can heat treat wheelweights from a Brinell of 9 to over 30. What you do is take a few bullets and put them in the oven. Heat up the oven until the bullets just start to show signs of wrinkling. They say to start at 450 degrees. Then back the temperature down 5 to 10 degrees. You may have to sacrifice a few to get the right temp. Then when you have the right temp, put in the bullets for 1 hour. They said that 30 minutes is really all you need and may even work better. Remove and plunge into cool water.

I tell you, that's a hell of a lot cheaper than buying 50/50.

The only reason I want to make 'em harder is for use in Magnum loads. (.357, .44, and .30-06)

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Old February 27, 2000, 10:54 PM   #5
Jack Straw
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PumpBlast,

Lyman's #2 is a good mix, but it it sort of wasteful because it uses more tin than you need, and tin is the most expensive component of your casting alloy. The tin doesn't harden your alloy - it is added to allow the alloy to fill the mold completely, which only requires about 2% tin (as opposed to Lyman's 5% content). I used to use the Lyman formula, but upon the advice of others here at TFL I changed my formula. What I began to do was to mix 1lb. of Lyman with 1lb. of WW. It essentially cut my use of tin in half, but there was still a sufficient amount of tin to give me good mold fill out. As far as other tin sources go, you can use lead free solder (95%tin, 5%antimony); I use solid, not acid or flux core. I usually find it at hardware stores for about $15/lb, but the next time I buy tin it will be from www.buffaloarms.com --they sell 1lb. pure tin bars for $7/lb. When I run out of my already-mixed Lyman alloy, I will begin to add straight tin to my WW until I get just enough to still provide mold fill out. I sat down with my calculator to figure out the amount of tin to add to a given amount of WW, but I don't recall all the numbers right of the top of my head and I don't have my reloading log with me, so if you wish, e-mail me to remind me and I will give you those figures.

In the mean time, you could mix your unknown alloy with increasing amounts of WW until you reach a level where your bullets don't completely fill the mold. Keep track of your WW-to-unknown ratios so that you can reproduce your results. Labgrade made a perfect point. If you used 2lb bars of 50/50, you could mix 1lb of WW to 1lb of your alloy to approximate the Lyman formula.

There are a number of threads here on this issue so try a search for those and you will find a wealth of information.

Hope this helps, and good luck!

Jack
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Old February 28, 2000, 12:22 AM   #6
Paul B.
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Pumpblast. When casting, I like to keep it simple. I use 10 lb. wheel weights and 1 lb. linotype. This gives just enought tin to cast well, and heat treats to as high as 32 BHN.
When I used my wifes oven, I used a temperature of 450 degrees. However a colored film formed on the glass of the door, looking like a weak form of the lens coating you see on scoped and camera lenses. So I went out and bought a new toaster over to use in my workshop. At 450 degrees, the bullets slumped, but 425 degrees worked out fine.
Most wheel weights have enough tin in them to cast reasonably well. If I were you, I'd take a 50/50 solder bar and cut it into fourths. Try that, and if it casts well, go no further. That should make a good handgun bullet, and if you heat treat them, your 06 should well also.
There are some articles on cast bullet on
(www.sixgunner.com/paco/favorite.htm),
(www.sixgunner.com/paco/fav.htm) and (www.sixgunner.com/paco/fav3.htm)
This is a 3 part article, and I gave all 3 links to it, as I'm not sure you can get all 3 otherwise.
I liked them well enough to print them out for future refernce.
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Old March 1, 2000, 04:30 PM   #7
PumpBlast
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Jack and Paul,

Thanks for the great info. I'm heading straight for Buffalo Arms and I'm also gonna get the Six Gunner notes. The 50/50 is pretty expensive at about $10 a bar. I found 3 bars of 63/37 (63% tin) at Boeing Surplus for $7 each. I think the 63/37 was a great deal at 2.5lbs each. I just worry about making them too hard. Will this affect pressures? I would think harder means more resistance to conforming to the lands and grooves and would thereby increase pressure. I think I'll post another question on the board. Thanks folks for all the input.
Bill aka PumpBlast
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Old March 1, 2000, 05:22 PM   #8
Jack Straw
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Don't worry at all about your cast bullets being so hard that you create a dangerous pressure situation. I have never even heard of such with cast bullets (not to say that it isn't *possible*, but again I have never heard of it). The only factor that I can think of where the bullets themselves might give you any pressure problems would be if your bullets are greatly over-sized for your bore. Just mind all your reloading P's & Q's and you will be fine. BTW, I cast for hunting loads in my .44mag using max loads and I make my bullets as hard as I can by heating and water quenching.

Keep us up to date on how things go.

Jack

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Old March 1, 2000, 06:45 PM   #9
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Pumpblast
I run straight wheelweights for 45, 38, 9mm. This saves me so much in expenses I can always have a supply of commercially cast and jacketed bullets on hand if I need to soup up my loads for matches with minimum power factors. I also run staight wheel weights through my 30-30 using a Lyman 311041 170 grain gas check mold, at jacketed bullet speeds. I use the straight ww pistol bullets at steel challenges, bianchi shooting, and a whole lotta practicing. The cheaper I can shoot, the more I can shoot. I have yet to run into a leading problem with any of these uses.

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Old March 2, 2000, 01:22 AM   #10
PumpBlast
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How do you guys go about getting your WW'? I happen to have a five gallon bucket full that my dad got from the police garage before he retired. He's got so much lead he won't EVER use it all so he gave it to me. Do you guys just walk in to Les Schwaub and ask for their old WW's? I feel a little shy in doing so!!

Bill

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Old March 2, 2000, 05:36 AM   #11
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I have a buddy who drives around asking various service stations or tire sellers for their old wheel weights. This is time comsuming and frustrating (to me). I go to the local salvage yard. The last time, I bought half a ton @ 20 cents lb. I told the manager ahead of time, so when I got there with a pickup, he had a drum on a skid ready to go for me, loaded with a fork truck and I was on my way in five minutes. I got 880 usable pounds of lead ingots out of that batch. Cheap. I like it. I like to shoot. Economical reloading enables me to shoot more.

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Old March 2, 2000, 11:06 AM   #12
Jack Straw
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I just happen to be lucky enough to have a cousin with a 55 gallon drum full of the things (he hardly casts anymore). I also happen to be in the auto business and anytime I go to a place that might have WW, I ask. Sometimes they have them to give, other times they don't. You just have to ask. I do like the idea of getting them from a salvage yard; I'll look into that one.

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Old March 2, 2000, 01:31 PM   #13
Paul B.
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Pumpblast. The question has come up about whether hard lead will cause pressure problems. I don't think so. Lead, or rather a lead allow, no matter how hard you make it, will always be softer (relatively speaking) than any copper or steel jacketed bullet. It will always cause pressures to rise higher with jacketed bullets do to the fact that it is harder to engrave the rifling in copper or steel.
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Old March 2, 2000, 03:44 PM   #14
Yanus
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Guys,
I've been using chilled shot for years for
my casting. Number 8 or 9 shot has enough
antimony and arsenic in it to make an ideal
bullet without having to use any alloys.
I use this exclusively to everything else
because wheel weights are usually hard to
come by. Try a 25lb bag, you'll like it!

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Old March 2, 2000, 04:14 PM   #15
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Yanus, that sounds interesting. Do you use straight shot or do you mix it with anything (wheel weights, pure lead, etc.)?

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Old March 2, 2000, 06:45 PM   #16
PumpBlast
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Yanus, That's pretty interesting about the chilled shot. Heat treating (As outlined above) is pivotal on arsenic according to the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook. They say that it need not have much, just that there be some present for it to work well.

I've been out on L&I for the past two months with a back injury so I have some spare time on my hands. Gives me some time to cast though. Looks like I may just hop in the truck and cruise some shops as soon as I kick this damn flu bug that's going around.

Here's another question: When I hit the range, if I'm the only person there, I'll stop at the pistol range and scrounge up 10 or 15 lbs of fired bullets. Most of them are plain cast, probably factory, with a few FMJ's with exposed lead base. How about some opinions, hopefully from someone who has a Saeco hardness gauge, as to the average hardness of these melted down. I'm gonna guess they'll be between WW (9) and Lino (22). Maybe averaging around 12 or so.

Does anyone happen to know how hard factory lead bullets are?

Thanks again guys!

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Old March 2, 2000, 08:17 PM   #17
johnnybravo
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Pumpblast,
Use the range salvage as is. I always melt mine into ingots to clean them up so no dirt or moisture gets into the melting pot. If you're concerned about hardness, mix range salvage half and half with wheel weights. About the only time hardness is really a factor is if you're gonna run some hot loads.

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Old March 3, 2000, 02:48 AM   #18
Paul B.
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Regarding using bird shot. you have to use Magnum shot. I heard something a while back, where the EPA had stopped the use of arsenic in chilled shot. The manufacturors increased the amount of antimony to make up the difference.
There are several articles on sixgunner.com. I posted the addresses earlier on in this thread. I have added shot to wheel weights to increase the antimony content. Now I use wheel weights and add linotype to increase tin and antimony. The bullets will heat treat up to BHN 31. That's hard enough. The alloy, untreated, runs from 12 to 15 BHN. That works for most handgun loads and does well in the 30-30. For more powerful rifles I heat treat the bullets. Works for me.
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Old March 3, 2000, 05:39 PM   #19
PumpBlast
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Now I've read where a few guys have stated that Tin has no effect on hardness. I find this hard to believe. They say it only helps with casting fill-in. It's quite obvious that lead mixed with Tin gets harder. A bar of 63/37 is much harder than 50/50. Bullets form WW plus Tin are harder than straight WW. What gives?

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Old March 4, 2000, 02:02 AM   #20
Paul B.
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Pumpblast. Tin, up to a one in ten mixture will harden lead up to a point. That's 10 percent of a very expensive ingredient. It has been prover, that 2 percent tin will enhace the castability of lead, and that any more is a waste of material. Wheel weights already have anywhere from 1/2 a percent to 2 percent tin in the mix. I alway add a 1 pound ingot of linotype to 10 pounds of wheel weights. This will give enougfh tin to aid casting. In fact, I may even reduce the amount of linotype to half that, as some experimenting has shown that to be sufficient. You could take your 50/50 bar solder, and cut it into forths, and one of those forths would probably be more than enough.
Yes, tin doe harden lead slightly, but antimony hardens it more. Arsenic, if your wheel weights has it in the mix, will make them even harder. In my experience, non-arsenic wheel weight average about 12 BHN on the hardness sale. I have a batch of weights I got in the mid-1970's that have arsenic included in the mix, and they read 15 to 16 on the BHN scale. Heat treat these bullets and the non-arsenic metal runs from 21 to 26 BHN, and the arsenic mix will go from 29 to 32 BHN. Let me tell you, you cannot scratch the 21 to 26 BHN metel with a fingernail. You will think it is something other than a lead alloy.
I have a bunch of 1 in 10 lead ingots I bought years ago. Bullets from that stuff only go 10 to 12 BHN and is, in my opinion a waste of tin.
Wheel weights alone do a fine job in most handgun loads, and surprisingly well in tghe 30-30 Winchester. I like the abit harder in cartridges like the .44 magnum and .357 mangnum. For rifle .308 Win. and more powerful, I heat treat.
I hope this answers youe questions.
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Old March 5, 2000, 07:31 PM   #21
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protoolman
What kind of phone cable sheathing. Is it old stuff from time gone by. I work in the garage at a phone company. I never knew about it, I'll have to ask the linemen about it. racer
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Old March 10, 2000, 05:58 PM   #22
Paul B.
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Cable sheathing is basically pure lead. One thing you have to be careful of though, is to not use the parts where the joints in the lead are. I don't know what they used to solder the joints together, but it sure screws up a pot of lead. Trust me on that one.
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