View Full Version : Reclaiming Wheel Weights - Article

October 11, 2009, 10:19 AM
I found this article "Reclaining Wheel weights" I thought some of you may enjoy reading. Citywaterman

Here's the link: http://www.surplusrifle.com/reloading/alloy2/pdf/alloy2.pdf

October 11, 2009, 10:25 AM
Thank You

Shane Tuttle
October 11, 2009, 01:27 PM
That's nice and all, but with a measly 20lb Lee bottome pour pot it takes forever and a day to makes ingots. Also, messing with all the impurities has a huge tendency to make the plunger leak more often.

I prefer using a 5qt dutch oven on a Bayou Classic burner. Knock out more ingots at once and use the casting pot as a casting pot only.

October 13, 2009, 02:53 AM
I break down my wheel weights in a large cast iron "dutch oven" pot over a propane burner that you see used for deep frying turkeys. Once it has cleaned, fluxed, and the dross removed, I pour it into ingots for storage.

I also have a large supply of linotype that I picked up when a newspaper changed over their presses many years ago. I was able to pick it up at an extremely low cost.

The best mixture that I have been able to come up with is 5 pts wheel weight to 1 pt linotype. Its hard enough to keep leading down and soft enough not to powder on steel targets.

October 13, 2009, 12:36 PM
I too use a propane powered smelter to render WW into ingots. I can have over 200lbs of ingots in only a few hours.

October 13, 2009, 12:46 PM
+1 on what Tuttle8 said, keep the smelting out of your casting pot. Since he's a Californian, he probably has no other choice. He'd be hauled off to jail for smelting outside! Egad, think of the children!:eek:

I've never needed more than 2% tin in a wheelweight alloy. The Lyman #2 allot does call for 5%, some say you get a better bullet. With the cost of tin these days, I'll stick to my 2% alloy.

October 13, 2009, 06:54 PM
I just use straight WW and make sure to separate the stick-on weights out.

One of the places I get them from does allot of truck tires. I love getting a bucket of 8 oz wheel weights, not the dinky ones they use on cars.:cool:

October 14, 2009, 12:36 AM
i drilled three 1/8inch holes in a 10inch fry pan opposite the handle. put the handle in a vice on a slight down angle and fill with ww. aim a weed burner at the ww and in about 6 or 7 seconds the lead starts running down thru the holes and into a mini muffin pan setting under it. it makes 1 pound ingots . you have to move the pan with one hand and stir the ww a little bit with the other hand but they melt very fast and u can make a pile of ingots in a hurry.while the pan cools i load up the fry pan with more ww , tear off excess lead fragments from preveous ingots ,then dump the new ingots and do it again. i clean and flux the lead in the lee lead pot when i make bullets but its pretty clean already and with straight ww lead i've shot thousands of rounds thru pistols and a few rifles with very little if any leading using 50/50 lube. it only costs about 30 dollars to load 850 -900 rounds of .45 auto doing this. they are accurate and i shoot a big piece of firewood , split it to retreive the lead and make more bullets again ...

October 14, 2009, 02:28 AM
Rel.28, two things are wrong with your method. One, the flame from that weed burner is hot enough to create lead fumes on the melted surface of the wheel weights. Second, any zinc wheelweights will also melt, completely ruining your alloy. Yes, they are replacing lead with zinc, and steel, especially in comifornia. Oh and a third thing is you won't have a homogeneous mix of alloy, from one ingot to the next.

Best is a large cast iron or steel pot over a high output propane burner.


I've had as much as 75 pounds in this one at one time. All the lead is mixed and the same alloy.

October 14, 2009, 09:14 AM
i understand what your saying and agree that its not the best way, but its the fastest . from what i know about lead is you have fumes even in a lee lead pot so you need ventilation . i have a big well ventilated shop to make ingots in and than make bullets outside or in the toolroom with my ventilation on .im set up good for that .as far as melting zinc i dont know but if they melt that easy i dont mind . all the clips and steel ww and dirt stay in the fry pan and after many thousands of bullets they all stay consistant in hardness but i keep the lee lead pot full at all times while i'm making bullets and flux it alot.

October 14, 2009, 09:57 AM
What Tuttle8 said. I also used a Lee Pro Pot to melt down raw weights. It takes forever and makes a big mess in your pot. Now I use an old 2 quart kitchen pot over a propane burner. Still not high speed production but lots better than using the Lee Pot. I'm still trying to get all the crap out of it. As far as the stick on weights, people tell me they are pure lead. Good for casting bullets for black powder shooting. So I save them in a separate bucket. I don't find many zinc weights at least so far. But the few I have found floated to the top while the rest were melted. They must have a much higher melting point.

October 14, 2009, 01:40 PM
They must have a much higher melting point.

Pure zinc melts a 787 degrees. Well within the range that an electric pot to achieve. And easily obtained in the flame from a weed burner. Lead alloy in WW melts easily at around 550 deg. So a slow heat up from a heat source under a pot melts them first so the zinc floats with the clips.

As for the fumes, lead has to be at least 1200 degrees to produce large amounts of fumes. Few, if any, electric casting furnaces can go above 950. Now I'm talking about lead fumes, not the smoke generated by fluxing. While the smoke may not be good for you, it's NOT lead fumes. All bets are off when playing an open flame on the surface of an ingot or any other chunk of lead.

I've been casting in my loading room, which is a spare bedroom. No ventilation! During the few cool days in summer when it's cool enough to cast, I open a window with a fan blowing on me then out the window. Yes, I have my blood-lead levels checked, last Jan. it was 7.0.

October 14, 2009, 02:27 PM
This ladle will hold 20 pounds of lead, and I don't want one heavier.

I melt wheel weights in this thing and keep the temperature around 600 F.



October 14, 2009, 05:55 PM
Slamfire, where'd you get that ladle. I want one.

Shane Tuttle
October 14, 2009, 09:28 PM
Slamfire, where'd you get that ladle. I want one.

That looks like a Rowell #7....am I right?


October 15, 2009, 08:15 PM
I so need to get one of those.

October 16, 2009, 04:10 PM
I usta melt my casting lead in an Aluminum pot. Is there a problem with using an aluminum pot? Never had a problem so far with the resulting ingots.

Also, here's an idea: I used a small casting ladle to pour ingots into a Lyman ingot mould. I only used ONE ladle full per ingot. The result was slightly bigger than a snack size candy bar. This was the perfect size for me to use as a mallet to open the sprue plates and when they were dented up a bit, I just tossed them into the casting pot and used another ingot as a mallet. They were small enough so that they didn't cool down the pot all that much and I could continue to cast in just a few seconds.

Thoughts / Comments?
- Ivan.

October 16, 2009, 08:44 PM
I'm still considered a newbie caster but I don't like the sound of hitting the sprue plate with an ingot to open it. I use a wood handle myself. Everything I've read told me that hitting the hot sprue plate with a metal object was bad for it.

October 17, 2009, 06:30 AM
i shoot a big piece of firewood , split it to retreive the lead and make more bullets again
Now THAT'S a dedicated caster. :D You don't actually go shooting, you're just unloading the brass so you can do it again eh?

October 17, 2009, 02:19 PM
I usta melt my casting lead in an Aluminum pot. Is there a problem with using an aluminum pot? Never had a problem so far with the resulting ingots.
YES. The aluminum pots loose their strength at the high temperatures that you smelt lead at. Aluminum works for fryers where the temperature doesn't climb above 400F. When smelting, you are at the slump temp for aluminum AND it is trying to contain a much heavier and denser material.

Aluminum pots used for smelting can and will fail catastrophically. When they do it will be with little or no warning. There is nothing you can do except run like hell if the pot starts to slump. I'll spend the extra $30 and get something made of the proper material.

I have an aluminum basket I put my WW into and set into my smelting pot so I don't have to skim for the clips. At room temperature the basket is very sturdy, but once it gets up to temp in the smelting pot, the aluminum is as soft as wet pasta. I would not trust that to contain the full weight of the melt.

Smelting lead in an aluminum pot is like boiling water in a paper cup. Technically possible, but a very bad idea as you have no safety margin.

October 17, 2009, 02:49 PM

Why are you melting ingots to make more ingots? Are you trying to homogenize some varying hardness WW?

and Tripstiker,

As long as what one strikes the sprue plate with is softer than the spru plate (steel) you will be OK. One winter when our little plastic mallet shattered, I used an old TEXAN shot bushing, held it over the mallet stud, and made a little leadhead end. Worked for about 2 or 3 evenings of casting, then melt it off and make a new one. Lead is soft, will not damage sprue plate.