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Old July 30, 2011, 03:24 PM   #1
Wag
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Location: Rio Rancho, NM
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First smelting session.

Okay, if newb like me can make this work, you can too. What are you waiting for? Get get some stuff and get to work!

Smelt Setup before I start up.



I went to Wally World (I hate that place) to get a cast iron pot but when I saw the skillet, I thought it would be convenient to have a handle and a pour spout.

Okay, I'm a newb. You can't handle a skillet that weighs thirty pounds with your hands. NO gloves on the planet and protect your hands from 700+ degrees of heat. Ain't happenin'.

I shoulda got the bigger pot.

That said, however, this setup seemed to work just fine. It's low enough to the ground so that I don't have to worry about everything falling over and high enough so I'm not no my knees working. Bayou Classic makes a tall stand burner and I considered getting it but deferred to this one for a bit of added stability. I think, however, I would have been fine with the tall one. It's a very well-built piece of equipment.

After the fires are stoked and the lead had just started to melt.



This first batch was 18 pounds. I had weighed out two rolls of 50/50 bar solder plus this lead in order to get to 20 pounds. I intended to add the bar solder after fluxing and, according to the recipe in the Lyman manual, I would have a harder alloy.

Then I got so involved in what I was doing, I forgot to add the solder until I had poured all but the last four ingots out of this first melt! Oh, well. As I thought about it, I figured that it was a good thing, after all because in the smaller casting furnace, I'll have more control over the recipe and can customize each one mo' betta.'

More below:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Smelt setup 1.jpg (282.0 KB, 250 views)
File Type: jpg Smelt Setup 2.jpg (282.6 KB, 22 views)
File Type: jpg Smelt Setup 3.jpg (281.4 KB, 244 views)
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Last edited by Wag; July 30, 2011 at 03:49 PM. Reason: Filling in the blanks.
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Old July 30, 2011, 03:27 PM   #2
Wag
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First ingots cast:



I should have taken more pics of the rest of my gear. Also, my apologies for the large size of these photos. I had safety glasses (couldn't find my face shield), the gloves, a scale (later determined to not be needed), a wax ring for fluxing, etc. My neighbor ended up coming over to play and brought me a pair of firefighters gloves which were WAY better than the leather work gloves I had been using. Thanks, Rick.

Melting down the WW's was fast. That Bayou classic puts out a helluva lotta heat. I think the first 18 pound batch went down in about 5 or 10 minutes. I wasn't timing it, but it was fast. My mistake, though, was leaving it turned up throughout the pour process when I could have turned it down after the weights were all melted down.

Realizing this, on the third cast, I did turn it down and over corrected. Before I finished pouring, the lead turned into a nice slush! I did notice, however, that in the process of starting to harden up, more dross was forced out of the melt. It suggests to me that working the melt as cool as possible is ideal. Not to mention the ingots solidified faster too.

The slotted spoon took out all of the clips and other trash that was in the wheel weight bucket. Evidently, the recycling house just picks them up from the tire shops and there is all kinds of tire shop trash included therein. Bubble gun wrappers, valve stems and cores, a Skoal can, etc. etc. Easy to clean out before getting it into the melt but still notable. Funny, really.

Fluxing: Used a gob of wax ring about half the size of a golf ball. The gob of wax melted nearly instantly and I lit it on fire, per instructions in the 101 thread. Lit my stick on fire, too! What fun! Pyrotechnics, hot metal. . . . The only thing Rick and I thought we could have used in addition would have been some M80's. Feels like being a little kid again.

The wheel weights were quite dirty, too, so I ended up fluxing twice. The dross just floated the top as I stirred with a wooden stick. It was tricky to scrape the sides with the stick, however, so after a bit, I switched to the stainless steel solid spoon. Much easier to scrape the sides and the bottom of the pot and I got a lot more dross out that way.

One thing I noticed, however, is that I kept having to clear dross off the melt as I worked through the pour. I suspect that the brand new skillet I bought had some kind of coating on it that was resilient enough to keep polluting my melt to an extent. I'll know when I go melt some more, this afternoon if it doesn't rain or tomorrow morning.

A bunch more ingots cast:



Fun times!

--Wag--
Attached Images
File Type: jpg First ingots.jpg (262.7 KB, 215 views)
File Type: jpg Lots of ingots.jpg (271.0 KB, 216 views)
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Last edited by Wag; July 30, 2011 at 03:48 PM. Reason: More filling in the blanks.
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Old July 30, 2011, 04:02 PM   #3
Wag
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Some other thoughts:

As I got to the bottom of my bucket of WW, I saw a lot of rust. That indicated the possible presence of the ever dangerous water but that rust really polluted my melt quite badly. That crap was tough to get out of the melt. Fluxing didn't help and actually seemed to make it worse on the second and third flux attempt.

Finally got it all out. It was like a red oil on top of the melt and wouldn't blend in, nor would it collect up in a way that made it easy to get out of the melt. At least it was on the surface but it was a pain.

Sweat was a problem. I had to keep remember to keep from leaning over the melt and dripping sweat into the melt. THAT would have been a disaster of epic proportions. I stayed arms length away and then, wouldn't you know it, leaned over the mold JUST before pouring an ingot. Caught myself just in time and sure 'nuff, a drop of sweat hit that cinder block right next to the ingot mold. Gaaaaaah!

Molds. To do this right, I need at least one more or two more such molds. Waiting for the ingots to cool was simply tedious and you're just burning fuel waiting to knock 'em out and pour again.

If I think of other things, I'll post up some more. I would have taken a lot of pics but it became apparent that taking pics was starting to compromise my safety and my wife was out to town shopping for sewing stuff or something equally girly with her sister. So, possibly more pics some other time.

I'm VERY open to suggestions. Being new to this, I don't yet know if I've done anything minorly wrong which will mess me up in the casting furnace. Overall, though, it appears that everything went well.

One thing is certain: Thank YOU, the people of TFL who posted up all the incredibly valuable information I needed to pull this off. The Lyman book was helpful, but TFL really filled in the gaps.

--Wag--
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Old July 30, 2011, 04:04 PM   #4
rickb2202
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lead smelter

super pictures and very informative post. I LOVE THE SMELL OF MELTING WHEEL WEIGHTS IN THE MORNING!!!!!!!!!!.
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Old July 30, 2011, 04:05 PM   #5
Wag
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Forgot to say how much I poured. I don't know. Too hot to handle when I was done. I'll go back out there and count 'em in a bit!

I'm estimating about 75 pounds.

Come to think of it, this went REALLY fast. MUCH faster than I expected.

--Wag--
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Old July 30, 2011, 04:24 PM   #6
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Hilarious, Rick!

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Old July 30, 2011, 10:02 PM   #7
TXGunNut
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Welcome to the asylum, Wag. Job well done!
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My favorite recipes start out with a handful of used wheelweights.
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Old July 31, 2011, 09:44 AM   #8
Wag
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I was going to go out and smelt the rest of my lead this morning, but it looks like it could rain at any moment.

Dang.

Just not worth the risk.

Oh, well.

--Wag--
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Old July 31, 2011, 11:14 AM   #9
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Good call. Got my casting done early. Quit @ 10A but it was already 93 in the shade, my casting table's in direct sunlight. Boolits should be cool enough to handle long about midnight.
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My favorite recipes start out with a handful of used wheelweights.
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Old July 31, 2011, 07:16 PM   #10
Wag
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Never did rain. Oh, well. There's always next weekend. :-)

--Wag--
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Old July 31, 2011, 07:17 PM   #11
Wag
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickb2202
super pictures and very informative post. I LOVE THE SMELL OF MELTING WHEEL WEIGHTS IN THE MORNING!!!!!!!!!!.
I lost your post in the middle of my other posts, Rick. Thanks for the compliment!

--Wag--
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Old August 1, 2011, 01:27 AM   #12
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I almost forgot how much fun that is...

(Message for you at the other forum)
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Old August 1, 2011, 10:37 AM   #13
Wag
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Can't wait to get out there and do it again!

--Wag--
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Old August 1, 2011, 05:07 PM   #14
miker84
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Great post. I'm a new smelter/caster and I can tell you that the pursuit of wheel weights has become a priority. I'm a "mechanical" person and the ability to make a bullet from something as ordinary as a wheel weights is absolutely fascinating to me.

Next, you'll be looking for a bigger pot (Harbor Freight or Flea Market). Then you'll start reading about angle iron, muffin pan, and channel iron ingot molds.
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Old August 1, 2011, 05:35 PM   #15
Wag
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miker, I can completely relate to the fascination!

I have another 140 or so pounds of WW and I can't fathom every making bullets from all of it but I'm already starting to think about the need for more. I hope I can get another couple of buckets of those big truck WW's 'cause they are a helluva lot easy to work with than the little auto weights and you don't see any zinc in there.

I have a bucket of auto weights and sorting out the zinc took forever.

--Wag--
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Old August 7, 2011, 08:31 PM   #16
Wag
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Finished up the wheel weights this weekend. All in all, I think have about 200 or 220 pounds.

I went through the dang WW's three times and still managed to scoop out several zinc wheel weights. Interestingly, there was about 30 pounds of waste (clips, zinc, steel, etc) I separated out during these past two weekends. Good thing we don't pay lead prices for WW's, eh?

Sooooo, time to buy some molds and start casting boolits!

I can hardly wait.

--Wag--
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Old August 23, 2011, 12:15 AM   #17
studman5578
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Your WW source

This goes for Wag and anybody else out there...

WHERE ARE WHEEL WEIGHTS!?!?!?

I have a very large supply of 99.999% pure lead. Great for many things, but casting boolits straight for smokeless powder loads isn't one of them. I'd like some WW to harden (b/c buying alloying material online is expensive) but I can't find any. Any ideas for possible sources? You said a recycling house? Is that like a scrap yard? If you're possessive abour your source, PM me. NM is a bit far for me to drive and your secret is safe with me
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Old August 23, 2011, 12:49 AM   #18
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Hello, Wag. Looking good! I need to get a smelter myself..lots of WW & scrap need melting. Just a thought..you said lots of rust in bottom of bucket..& seemed like "red oil"..I have noticed this reddish powder on my rims..I wonder if it isn't dust from brake linings..and that "oil" isn't the plastic..epoxy? binder melting? I wonder if washing weights before smelting would help? What type bullets are you casting?
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Old August 26, 2011, 05:31 PM   #19
Wag
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studman5578
This goes for Wag and anybody else out there...

WHERE ARE WHEEL WEIGHTS!?!?!?

I have a very large supply of 99.999% pure lead. Great for many things, but casting boolits straight for smokeless powder loads isn't one of them. I'd like some WW to harden (b/c buying alloying material online is expensive) but I can't find any. Any ideas for possible sources? You said a recycling house? Is that like a scrap yard? If you're possessive abour your source, PM me. NM is a bit far for me to drive and your secret is safe with me
Yeah, the recycling center had 'em. Not cheap but still MUCH cheaper than buying boolits, at least, by my preliminary estimates.

I hunted every tire shop in town and never could get anyone to give 'em up. Unfortunate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ideal Tool
Hello, Wag. Looking good! I need to get a smelter myself..lots of WW & scrap need melting. Just a thought..you said lots of rust in bottom of bucket..& seemed like "red oil"..I have noticed this reddish powder on my rims..I wonder if it isn't dust from brake linings..and that "oil" isn't the plastic..epoxy? binder melting? I wonder if washing weights before smelting would help? What type bullets are you casting?
I'm not exactly worried about it. Any foreign matter seems to burn off or float up for skimming. What I would NOT do is wash any wheel weights. You really don't want a stray droplet of water hitting your melt!

I went to the gun show last weekend to hit up the local casting guy for molds. Unfortunately, his product was WAY overprices and he had a limited selection anyway. So much for that. I hate buying on line because I like to hold things in my hand before buying.

Gonna have to just do it, I guess.

--Wag--
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