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Old November 29, 2011, 08:43 PM   #1
junker
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My first haul of WW

Compliments of a local dealership, great folks!

Advice on sorting would be appreciated. I can see some are labeled Zn, those are obvious. I also noticed the Zn ones make a clanking sound when dropped vs. the thunk of lead. What other techniques are good for identifying/sorting Wheel Weights?

Once I have them sorted should I melt and pour ingots of straight up WW or should I mix any pure lead in with them?

I am gearing up to do my first castings this winter. If it is relevant I will be starting with 38/357 then eventually 44 mag & 45 ACP.

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Old November 29, 2011, 09:02 PM   #2
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Just toss them all in the post, the non lead ones will float to the top.

I don't mix anything, I just pour my ingots and call it good. If you need to change your alloy they do it when you put them in your casting pot.

The only thing I add to the WW is a little solder to fill out the bullet a little nicer.
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Old November 29, 2011, 09:15 PM   #3
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I sort out the Zn and throw the rest into the pot. Fe will float to the top with the clips and get strained out. About 80% of my WW's are clip on and the rest stick on, which are pure lead or very close to. Shooting 45 and 357 I've never had a problem going up to a 50/50 mix, always hardcast into a bucket of water. I recommend a wire egg strainer for the clips.

Quote:
Once I have them sorted should I melt and pour ingots of straight up WW or should I mix any pure lead in with them?
Are you melting them in a different pot than what you are casting them from? Seems simpler to just melt it once and turn it into bullets.
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Old November 29, 2011, 10:00 PM   #4
junker
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Quote:
Are you melting them in a different pot than what you are casting them from? Seems simpler to just melt it once and turn it into bullets.
I guess I could do that. I just figured I would melt this fithly mess into cleaner ingots so that I could cast in the garage when desired.
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Old November 29, 2011, 10:00 PM   #5
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I sort out the steel and Zn for eventual recycling, no sense using the energy to heat steel or take a chance on the Zn melting and ruining the alloy. I also sort the clip-ons from the stick-ons so that I can mix to suit the boolit I'm casting. I cast round balls to 2000fps GC rifle boolits so one alloy simply won't work for me. I mark the ingots after cooling with a big fat Sharpie for ID.
Good haul, BTW!
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Old November 29, 2011, 10:56 PM   #6
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I just melt them all and the steel and zinc ones will float. I usually smelt 5-7 five gallon buckets at a time so I dont have time to sort them. Zinc melts way higher than lead and if the steel ones melt then you have bigger prblems to worry about!
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Old November 29, 2011, 11:19 PM   #7
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Regarding: using a lid

junk

I've come across some guys that say they've put a lid on to speed up the melt. I've done quite a few melts. This past summer an unexpected storm kicked up so I wanted to rush things along. I added the remaining ww's to an already molten one third potful and put the lid on. This is the first time I've done that (put a lid on). I'm guessing some zinc was at the bottom right on top of the already molted batch and trapping the heat with the lid was just too much. Well I've got eight 5 pounders stamped "Z". I won't use a lid again.

Just my .02 worth.

Good luck with your casting. It's not as hard as it sounds. It's not as easy as it sounds.
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Old November 29, 2011, 11:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
I guess I could do that. I just figured I would melt this fithly mess into cleaner ingots so that I could cast in the garage when desired.
After you flux the pot it shouldn't make a difference if you let it cool or not.
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Old November 30, 2011, 09:43 AM   #9
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I do pull my stick on WW out so that I can cast those as round balls for my black powder but other wise every thing goes into the pot all at once. Like it was said, unless you are really pouring the coals to it the Zink and metal weights will float to the top with the clips. Scoop them out and then flux.
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Old November 30, 2011, 12:30 PM   #10
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Well, the good old interweb says that zinc melts at 787.1 degrees F... so, unless you have a good casting thermometer in your smelting pot, you could easily go over that temp and melt in the zinc.. apparently it happens a LOT, according to the posts I've read on other casting forums.
In fact, many folks actually cast in the ballpark of 700 deg, so it wouldn't be difficult to go over that by 80 or 90 degrees without realizing it (without a thermometer, of course)

If you come up slowly with the temps, yes, they will float. If you have a pot already "hot" and you dump in more ww's, you could melt the zinc ones down pretty quickly, if you've drifted up on your temps..
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Old November 30, 2011, 11:51 PM   #11
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I always sort mine best I can. Get as much of the Zn and Fe stuff out of there so you don't have to worry so much about contaminating a good pot of lead. One stray Zn weight, melted down, will ruin an entire pot of previously excellent casting alloy.

When sorting, I keep a pair of pliers or side cutters handy. If there is question about a weight, I check it with the cutters. If it cuts easily, it is lead. If it takes considerable effort to even mark, you have Zn.

When melting your weights, keep the temp below 750 and you will avoid most issues with Zn. As stated, they will float on top of the heavier lead... IF they are not trapped below the surface.

As far as casting from the same pot as melting down the wheel weights, definitely do not do it if you are using a bottom pour pot. You are just begging for a leaky valve. You can flux your alloy til the cows come home and still get junk in the valve. Not so critical if using a dipper because of the lack of a valve to clog up.
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Old December 1, 2011, 12:07 AM   #12
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Pick out all the weights that are stamped "Zn" or "Fe". Only fill your melter about 1/3 full, and heat it up kind of slow, and stir it occasionally. When the stuff melts, stir in some sawdust or some cooking grease and let it smoke, then skim out the clips. Turn it off just until the lead hardens, then add a bunch more weights and fire it up again. (if you are absolutely certain the weights are dry, you can skip the "wait until if just hardens" step)

It'll go a lot faster this time because of the residual heat in the clean lead at the bottom of the pot, and you can turn the fire up higher because you don't have to worry about any zinc weights trapped at the bottom of the pot.

Try to keep in under 700 degrees. You just need to heat past the liquidus point (when the slushiness goes away)

I have a 6 pound chunk of zinked lead that I haven't thrown away yet, cuz I can't throw anything out (you'd think I was a Great Depression baby.) I've heard that below about .5%, zinc is a good hardener, so I'm thinking about casting some half-dollar sized "coin" ingots from it and using 1 or 2 per 20# pot of soft lead. Of course 1 might be too much and then I'll really have a mess...
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Old December 1, 2011, 01:08 AM   #13
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I'm pretty new to casting myself, but so far I have found it quite enjoyable. I have not been fortunate enough to get my hands on any wheel weights, but I've come across a few other random piles of lead. What I like to do is to smelt my raw materials into clean ingots. I test the hardness of the ingot batches (not each ingot, but a few samples from each batch) and I write the BHN number on the batches (I'm using a Lee hardness tester). When I want to run with a specific BHN number I can mix up what I need to get the desired hardness. Also, I use a bottom pour Lee pot for casting and I really only want clean lead in that pot.
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Old December 1, 2011, 03:28 PM   #14
junker
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I visited 2 other shops today and got half a bucket from each. After I was done I found a broom and left the area very nice and clean. They seemed glad to see it go.

In-fact, one thing, out of the 3 shops I've been to they have ALL warned me that WW were not good for making bullets. One place gave the reason that they would be too brittle.
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Old December 1, 2011, 05:50 PM   #15
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I work for an auto dealer group and collect from about 6 of our stores. On a typical month I collect roughly 4 full Homer pales of ww. Out of 4 full pails I will get about 100-120 lbs. of tape on weights and about 20-30 pounds of clip on weights. All of these dealers are high end luxury and almost everything we use is a tape on weight. After doing all this sorting I have gained a pretty good feel for what clip on weights are lead and which ones are not by the feel and size of the weight. Zinc weights are almost twice the size for the same weight as lead is. Occasionally I will use the side cutter test if unsure. I do keep the tape and clip ons separate. I find that tape on weights with a hand full of clip on in my 10lb Lyman pot water droped work really well in my 45. Use about 50/50 when casting for the 38 super or my 9’s.
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Old December 2, 2011, 11:56 PM   #16
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You're right, jfischer. After awhile the weights feel and sound different. I recently bought a box of Pb ingots and clip-on ingots and I could tell by the way they rattled which was which.
I haven't found too many zinc weights, I think they're getting too expensive to be practical. They're very close to the density of regular clip-ons so I keep my good eye peeled looking for them.
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