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Old January 27, 2013, 08:00 AM   #1
Doc Hoy
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Some info on wheel weights....

....Not that we need a whole lot of additional comment on the topic.

Opening discussion

I read Fryxell and Applegate's book on casting bullets. The scientific approach they take prompted me to think in expanded terms.

I picked up about 70 pounds of weights yesterday. It was a combination of clip on, stick on, and cigarette butts.

I had heard (read) previously that stick on weights are generally made of purer lead than are clip on weights. So I separated the stick on weights and smelted them separately.

I learned something that everyone else probably already knows.

In this process I noted something I had not seen before. I encountered a very high percentage of weights that were marked "FE", "Fe", or "fe". Of course in chemical or metalurgical circles FE means ferrous. These weights did not melt and I am assuming these are the steel weights which are appearing with increasing frequency. I just had not seen the marking previously. They were both stick on and clip on and it got to point in my smelting operation that if I saw the FE on the weight I just tossed it into the trash.

Lets talk hardness

As I said I separated out the stick on weights on the arguement that they are made of higher purity lead. I reasoned that if this is true, it would be helpful to have a supply of bullet metal that is on the soft side and other metal that is harder. When I smelted and permitted the ingots to cool to room temperature, I got a hardness of the stick on weights right at 7. This is off the scale of the documentation supplied with the hardness tester that I use but I extended the scale in accordance with the progression in the existing scale. The Clip on weights measured 14 which is right in line with what others on this forum are saying (Hawg, Fingers, et al.) I retested the ingots this morning and the ingots from stick on weights had aged in the ten hours to a hardness of 8 while the clip on weights had not changed much at all.

Sawdust

Fryxell and Applegate recommend sawdust as a fluxing agent. I used to use my bore lube which is another agent mentioned in their book. I am not yet able to determine if I get better metal from sawdust fluxing than I got previously but at least it smells better.

Results

From the seventy pound of raw weights I got about 15 pounds of metal at a hardness of about 8 and 28 pounds of metal at a hardness of 14.
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Old January 27, 2013, 09:05 AM   #2
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That's a little harder for stick ons than I've read anywhere else. But they're still soft enough for muzzleloaders.
You said "This is off the scale of the documentation supplied with the hardness tester that I use but I extended the scale in accordance with the progression in the existing scale". What did the documentation say?
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Old January 27, 2013, 09:12 AM   #3
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Hawg,

The chart stops at a hardness of 8 on the bottom end.

So I did up an Excel spreadsheet and extended the lower end to 5.9.

It turns out it is a perfectly linear progression, so it would have been easier just to do the computation from the sheet. Oh well. I have something else to hang on the wall in my shop.
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Old January 27, 2013, 09:23 AM   #4
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Gotcha
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Old January 27, 2013, 09:49 AM   #5
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I've been buying wheelweights too. I got more lesd in mine but still lost quite a bit. I don't throw out the rejects. I swap 'em back to the recycler. Next time I purchase lead I'm getting the roofing and plumbing lead which I expect to be much more pure lead. The guy at the recycle place likes to visit and so do I. I always talk to him for 20 minutes or so. He doesn't need my $30 lead purchases . He ships that stuff out by the semiload. I'm happy he sells me lead. Hope Obahma and his Greenlovers don't legislate away my connection.
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Old January 27, 2013, 10:52 AM   #6
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yeah I traded away all of my wheel weights for some pure lead. I use roof flashing, and plumbers lead. The fast way to tell a pure lead ingot from a harder one is pick it up and drop it on some cement. If it goes "thud" it mostly pure lead. If it has a "ring" to it well its of a harder variety. Thats just Redneck hardness testing for ya!
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Old January 27, 2013, 11:00 AM   #7
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"Hope Obahma and his Greenlovers don't legislate away my connection."

That could/should happen in the 3rd term....oops. Be happy you have some kind of connection with some kind of supply. Up here scrap lead is getting almost impossible to find. Scrap metal places won't even talk public retail.
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Old January 27, 2013, 11:03 AM   #8
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If you can scratch it with a fingernail its generally soft enough.
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Old January 27, 2013, 11:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Be happy you have some kind of connection with some kind of supply. Up here scrap lead is getting almost impossible to find. Scrap metal places won't even talk public retail.
+1
Here in my part of AL, they all are saying "NO SALES TO THE PUBLIC".

I get my stick-on lead this way.....ingotized in a Medium Flat Rate box!
'Gotta buy em from outta town, around here. (and they ain't cheap)
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Old January 27, 2013, 11:27 AM   #10
4V50 Gary
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Be careful. Thanks to the "green" movement, many new wheelweights aren't lead. We tried melting some mystery metal at school. They were all wheelweights. The lead ones melted and the zinc ones didn't.
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Old January 27, 2013, 12:37 PM   #11
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When I was casting, many years ago, I used the huge deep-sea fishing weights....FWIW
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Old January 27, 2013, 01:21 PM   #12
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Two years ago I was looking for some lead and could not find any tire stores that would let any go but I found a guy on Craig'slist that was selling 20lbs of pure lead ingots (really old ones) that he had inherited from someone that was going to use them as sailboat ballast. Given the current political climate along with the environment whackiness of some people's thinking lead may become the next precious metal.
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Old January 27, 2013, 02:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Fryxell and Applegate recommend sawdust as a fluxing agent. I used to use my bore lube which is another agent mentioned in their book. I am not yet able to determine if I get better metal from sawdust fluxing than I got previously but at least it smells better.
I've tried several different fluxes but I never saw any difference whether I did or didn't, so now I don't flux at all.
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Old January 27, 2013, 03:15 PM   #14
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I once found a huge block, must have gone 80 pounds, it melted easy enough but had no weight compared to lead, turned out it was kirksite, well since I wasn't casting bullets at the time, I cast fishing jigs for saltwater out of them, worked well.
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Old January 27, 2013, 03:20 PM   #15
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Careful with sailboat ballast.

Sailboat ballast is whatever the builders can get.
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Old January 27, 2013, 05:17 PM   #16
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My bubby and have worked out an arrangement--he smelts and I cast bullets. First time he did his part he heated the raw metal way up. Turned out about 1/4 of each ingot looked like cottage cheese (zinc).

He now smelts at a lower temp and things are fine

cr
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Old January 27, 2013, 07:14 PM   #17
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Lead hardness testing made easy....

Here's a post of mine from 1997:

Subject: Testing lead hardness w/ artists pencils

To lead scroungers everywhere,
I think I got this info off the black powder or mlml list 1-2 years ago. I
would like to thank whoever originally posted it and offer my apology for
losing the original credits.
You can go to an art supply store and get a set or select individual pencils
whose core varies from [softest] 9B,>>>1B, HB, F, 1H, >>>9H[hardest]. Lead
will run about 4B or 5B, depending on purity, and linotype will run about HB,
or F. The hardest pencils will test aluminum alloys and are too hard for
lead. About 6 to 8 pencils will cover the range needed for informal casting.
To use, shave the wood away to expose the "lead" core without cutting into it
with the knife exposing 1/8-1/4". Hold the pencil vertical and sand the end
flat on fine (about) 400 grit sandpaper. Hold the pencil in a normal writing
position, and try to push the lower edge into the lead surface. If the
graphite core is harder than the alloy, it will cut into the metal or at
least seriously scratch it. If the metal is as hard or harder than the
graphite core, it will not be able to gouge. The hardness is ranked as the
hardest graphite core that will NOT cut in. If your bullet is resistant to
pencils from 6B through 2B, but B scratches it or peels up a small shaving,
the hardness is 2B.
This isn't as exact as a Brinnel tester but cost effective enough for me. You
can reproduce your hardness but not necessarily the same cost, or castability
but all I want to know is whether it is REAL HARD, sorta hard, somewhere in
between, soft, and REAL SOFT (i.e. Smokeless rifle lead, smokeless pistol, 38
special lead, and 2 grades of black powder lead). I bought 8 pencils: H, HB,
B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, & 6B. I found that my various ingots of lead were not
sorted so well once I pencil tested them. Wheelweights and MY BLEND of #2
alloy are about 2B and my soft cap&ball lead is 4B&5B. Be sure to use a fresh
surface as some of the heavier grey corrosion will resist the pencil core but
the underlying lead will scratch.


P.S. Get all the pencils of the same manufacturer. Different makes vary a little in hardness but will help you sort your stash.
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Old January 27, 2013, 07:22 PM   #18
Doc Hoy
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It is important, I think...

...To know what you are starting with..

But based upon how you cast, you have to also know what you are putting into the cases.

I had read of this pencil test several times but this is the first time I read the actual narrative.
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Old January 27, 2013, 07:37 PM   #19
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Quote:
Sailboat ballast is whatever the builders can get.
True but in this case the person advertised it as lead and that's what it turned out to be

So I would not rule it out.
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Old January 27, 2013, 07:43 PM   #20
mrappe
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I just noticed my typo. It was 200 lbs and not 20 lbs.
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Old January 27, 2013, 07:44 PM   #21
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Doc,
I actually found the original post that I plagerized:

LEAD HARDNESS TESTING USING ART PENCILS
The following is a short version of a method commonly used to test the
hardness of paint films, and your library can give you a full description if
you ask them for "The American Standard Test Method (ASTM) for Pencil
Hardness."
In brief, you can go to an art supply store and get a set of pencils
whose core varies in hardness from "9B" to "9H". The actual range runs from[softest] 9B,>>>1B, HB, F, 1H, >>>9H [hardest]. The harder pencils can be used to test some aluminum alloys, and are much too hard for lead alloys. Leadwill run about 4B or 5B, depending on purity, and linotype will run about HB or F. So a dozen pencils will cover the entire range.
To use, you shave the wood away with a penknife to expose the lead
core of the pencil, but without cutting into it with the knife. I cut close
and peel the thin wood away with my fingernail, leaving about 1/8 to 1/4"
exposed. You can also get mechanical pencils with seperate cores that
eliminate the problem, but it's not necessary. Once you have some exposed
core, you hold it vertical and sand the end to a flat wadcutter shape, with
sharp edges. Use about 400 grit sandpaper, and wipe the graphite dust off soit won't act as a lubricant.
Now hold the pencil in an ordinary writting position, and try to push
the lower edge into the lead surface. If the graphite core is harder than thealloy, it will cut into the metal, or at least leave some serious s 6cratches in it. But if the metal is as hard or harder than the graphite core, it will not be able to gouge. The hardness is ranked as the hardest graphite core thatwill NOT cut in. If your bullet is resistant to pencils from 6B through 2B,but a B scratches it, or peels up a small shaving, the hardness is 2B.
This isn't as precise as Brinnell numbers, but it doesn't take
thousands of dollars of testing equipment to do the job, either. And it lets
you reproduce the hardness of different alloys with considerable confidence. If a batch of metal that tested "B" 5 years ago is all gone, you can blend anyother combination of metals to get a "B" and rest assured that it will performin a very similar manner to the long gone metal in your handload, even though it may not have the same castability, cost, etc.
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Old January 27, 2013, 08:04 PM   #22
Doc Hoy
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Coupla responses

MRAPPE,

Absolutely agree. Don't rule it out. Just treat it like wheel weights.

Hellgate,

I think I'll save both of them.
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Old January 28, 2013, 07:46 AM   #23
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You should save the zinc as well for back up when all the lead is gone. Zinc can be cast into bullets
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Old January 28, 2013, 07:04 PM   #24
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one way to get rid of your zinc...

There's a guy on castboolits forum (ShadyGrady) who will trade out pound for pound, lead for your zinc. You ship him a box of zinc and he'll ship a box of equal weight in lead back to you. He makes cannonballs from it, and zinc is harder than lead and can be shot again without recasting (if he can find 'em).

I haven't personally traded with him, but there are several guys there who have if you need references. He is popular with the guys who actually still have access to wheelweights, and don't want their zinc ones.

Just passin' it on, for what it is worth. I don't gain or lose if you trade with him.
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Old February 4, 2013, 01:17 PM   #25
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I've got some harder lead that I use for the rifle, but I'd like to soften it up enough for the C&B revolver. Who knows if there is any way for the average joe to get enough of the alloy out to soften this lead up enough for the ol handguns?
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