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Old May 7, 2012, 12:05 PM   #1
Hardcase
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Casting Ingots

This may have the potential to be an extraordinarily stupid question, but I'm going to ask it anyway.

I've been smelting wheelweights with my bottom-pour pot for quite a while, but I finally got fed up with the valve getting clogged and messing up my bullet casting, so I bought a Lyman Big Dipper over the weekend. It works great. Except for this one problem: I can only scoop so much lead out of the pot with a dipper. How do you guys make the ingots after you melt down your wheel weights? Do you just pick up the pot and pour? Do you have some kind of secret spoon that I don't know about?
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Old May 7, 2012, 12:25 PM   #2
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I use a stainless steel soup ladle I bought at the dollar store. And it only cost me one dollar
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Old May 7, 2012, 12:32 PM   #3
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I use an old cast iron dutch oven with an old blacksmiths ladle.
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Old May 7, 2012, 12:37 PM   #4
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I'll give a ladle a whirl. There's a dollar store just down the street, so I'll grab one tonight.

I like the cast iron dutch oven idea, but since I already plunked down the money for the commercial model, I'm going to stick with that. Besides, anything that remotely looks like I'm cooking is going to give my wife ideas...
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Old May 7, 2012, 12:44 PM   #5
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You can use any old pot on a propane stove to do the initial melt of wheel weights. I pour that into a lee ingot mold.
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Old May 7, 2012, 12:45 PM   #6
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Slow and easy, wins this race !!!

Quote:
I use a stainless steel soup ladle I bought at the dollar store. And it only cost me one dollar
I smelt over a cast iron pan, on top of my fish cooker propane burner. I also use a SS soup ladle and pour into muffin pans to make my ingots. I have also just let the lead, cool in the ladle and pop them out onto a board. ...

Just a word of warning about trying to work with too much melten lead. You can get some really nasty burns by trying to work more than you need, at any one time. My ankles can attest to that. I also wear a shop apren as well cloth working gloves and a face sheild. You only need to get hurt once, to make a believer out of you. ....


Be Safe !!!
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Old May 7, 2012, 12:57 PM   #7
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I feel your pain, Pahoo. Literally! After a few small burns (I guess I take more convincing than some), I got the same outfit. I also have a 3M filter mask because even with a fan blowing across the pot, I can still smell the nasty stuff coming out and I can't stand it.

I haven't seen the tinsel fairy yet, but I figure that it's just a matter of time. I'll be ready.
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Old May 7, 2012, 01:06 PM   #8
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I use a Lee bottom pour for actual casting. I cut off Coke cans to make ingots in.
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Old May 7, 2012, 01:53 PM   #9
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I smelt, mix alloys, and cast ingots with an 8" dutch oven. It'll safely hold in excess of 90 lbs... if I thought my turkey fryer burner frame could handle the weight, that is.

I can use a 2 lb Rowell to scoop out all but the last 1.5 lbs of alloy. At that point, I dump it by hand.

The same goes for my Lyman Big Dipper. I can use all but about the last 1.5 lbs of alloy. Again, I pick it up and dump it, if I need to empty it. (I really wish I could afford to pick up a few more furnaces to for dedicated alloys.)
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Old May 7, 2012, 02:09 PM   #10
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While you're at the dollar store you may want to also pick up a stainless steel slotted spoon for removing the clips, steel/zinc wheel weights, and flux from the top of your melt. I use sawdust for my initial flux, a few handfuls adding at the start of the melt. Then once the lead is melted, I add some candle wax and light it up. The clips come out perfectly clean, and the "dross" is just a grey light powder.

I don't sort my wheel weights, but I usually remove the tire stems and other rubber items out of respect for the neighbors. I never let my melt get quite hot enough to melt pure lead. I keep a few lead stick-ons in there, and the most they'll get is just a bit ragged at the edges toward the end when I've gotten almost all the non-meltables out. This ensures that my melt never gets near hot enough to melt the zinc ones.

I too use muffin tins for ingot molds. They take awhile to cool, so at least 2 of them work best. I like the small muffin ones, because they allow you to top up your pot more often without waiting for it to heat back up.
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Old May 7, 2012, 02:32 PM   #11
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I purchased a stainless steel ladle at a resteraunt supply store for less than $3. It was worth every penny. It is solid one piece so the handle will not come loose. I wrapped the handle with muffler wrap to keep it from getting too hot. I use one of the cast iron corn bread pans for ingots. If you use one be careful. They stay hot for a long time.
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Old May 7, 2012, 04:05 PM   #12
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I think this is a #6 (18 pound capacity) roto metals ladle.
http://www.rotometals.com/product-p/...le_bottom6.htm



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Old May 7, 2012, 04:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
The same goes for my Lyman Big Dipper. I can use all but about the last 1.5 lbs of alloy. Again, I pick it up and dump it, if I need to empty it. (I really wish I could afford to pick up a few more furnaces to for dedicated alloys.)
That's what I really wanted to know. It's that last bit at the bottom that my doggone dipper can't get to.

So my shopping list is set. A ladle and a slotted spoon.

Thanks, fellers!
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Old May 8, 2012, 08:16 AM   #14
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Quote:
Quote:
The same goes for my Lyman Big Dipper. I can use all but about the last 1.5 lbs of alloy. Again, I pick it up and dump it, if I need to empty it. (I really wish I could afford to pick up a few more furnaces to for dedicated alloys.)
That's what I really wanted to know. It's that last bit at the bottom that my doggone dipper can't get to.

So my shopping list is set. A ladle and a slotted spoon.

Thanks, fellers!
You actually want to LEAVE that last bit of lead in the bottom of the pot. I speeds up the next melt of whatever you're smelting by making a hot contact layer of already melted lead. Or, on start-up from cold, it gives the pot something in tight contact with the cold WW to hasten the melting process.

Just be darn careful that the stuff you're adding to that melted lead is DRY! Submerging wet stuff in melted lead is a sure way to see the tinsel fairy!
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Old May 8, 2012, 08:35 AM   #15
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I use a $5 electric hotplate from Walgreens for the heat source, and a 1.5 or 2 quart stainless steel saucepan. Melt the scrap, stir in a handful of sawdust, scoop out the ash, and ladle the clean lead into little stainless steel condiment cups. (I can pick up the saucepan and pour the last ingot)

The 2.5 or 3 ounce cups make a nice sized ingot. They don't stack all that well, but you can put a lot of them in a bucket.
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Old May 8, 2012, 01:17 PM   #16
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I grabbed a cheap stainless ladle yesterday and it's exactly what I needed. I'm gonna have to work on that outside the box thinking, I guess. It leaves just enough lead in the pot to get me started the next time around, I think.

I ended up with about 20 pounds of wheelweight ingots last night, probably another 80 pounds or more left to go.
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Old May 8, 2012, 01:37 PM   #17
zxcvbob
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You're not still melting the WW's directly in your bottom-pour casting pot are you?
If so, at least pick out the valve stems, chewing tobacco, and dead birds before you melt them.
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Old May 8, 2012, 01:53 PM   #18
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Heheh, no, I bought a Lyman Big Dipper. I do manage to pick out the smelliest stuff before it goes in the pot.
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Old May 8, 2012, 01:55 PM   #19
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A few dead birds are fine. They tend to make good flux, especially the house sparrows.
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Old May 8, 2012, 02:27 PM   #20
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Quote:
Just be darn careful that the stuff you're adding to that melted lead is DRY! Submerging wet stuff in melted lead is a sure way to see the tinsel fairy!
The best way to avoid adding wet alloy to the pot, is to never add the suspect material to a pot of molten alloy. This is especially applicable to WWs, where water can get trapped in small cracks and crevices, taking weeks or even months to dry.

When I smelt WWs, range scrap, or something that is not in ingot form, I run the pot (my dutch oven) completely dry, before adding more of the raw material. That way, the whole batch has a chance to come up to temperature and dry out, before there is enough molten alloy in the pot to allow the tinsel fairy to make an appearance.


Another help, is to not wash WWs (or range scrap). You're going to have to clean the dross and/or clips out, either way. So, what's a little dirt? It all floats, and you shouldn't be smelting that stuff in a bottom-pour furnace, anyway.
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