View Full Version : New Lead source?

December 31, 2009, 05:18 AM
I haven't begun smelting and forming my own bullets yet, but I was wondering if any of you have ever used a "top hat" from a construction/demolition project. They are normally found on plumbing vents on the roof of a house. I don't know what their lead content is, but they seem very soft. I've got one sitting out in my garage for a different project and it got me to thinking about it. Have any of you used it? Is it soft enough to use for hollow base bullets on a .41 long colt? I've read that 40-1 lead to zinc is best for that bullet.


December 31, 2009, 06:51 AM
Not sure what the lead content is of that item you are talking about but for sure the 40-1 lead to zinc is NOT correct. DO NOT ADD ZINC to any bullet alloy. ZINC is bad for bullets. You probably meant 40-1 lead to tin.

December 31, 2009, 09:25 AM
you are correct...I don't know where I got zinc from, but I meant Tin. Thanks for pointing that out.


December 31, 2009, 09:27 AM
That "top hat" is almost pure lead. It is too soft for most anything but a HBWC.
If you could mix in some tin @ 2% or maybe a handful of wheel weight you will be better off. For my bullets I would mix that 99% lead with an equal weight of wheel weights for a 50/50 mix and you can shoot it around 1100-1200fps or so.

December 31, 2009, 09:37 AM
Well, what I'm going to be reloading is 41 Long Colt which has a choice of bullets...a very small choice. Either a heel based bullet which I understand is a pain to load and not very accurate, or a hollow based bullet which must expand to "catch" the lands/grooves in the barrel at a maximum velocity of about 800 fps although I will likely load lighter due to the age of the gun. All the information I've gathered so far points towards softer lead i.e. "the softer, the better". It's been suggested that loading these soft hollow base bullets in front of black powder actually increases accuracy, however, I'm not real keen on cleaning up after BP.


December 31, 2009, 11:57 AM
Well Butch, that is called roof sheathing. It's, for all intents and purposes, pure lead. You COULD cast it straight up for your hollow base bullets, BUT it would be a PITA to do. Reason is; pure lead pours poorly! Pardon the pun!:rolleyes: By that I mean you have to run most electric pots at max heat, or around 900 degrees, and keep the mold as hot as you can. Then, you want a hollow base mold, that makes it even more difficult. Pure lead just doesn't cast well, it's fill-out is terrible, then to ask it to fill around a pin that's inserted into the mold base makes it worse.

I spent a lot of time casting hollow base shotgun slugs with pure lead, and hollow point bullets as well. So I know what I'm talking about. Reject rates as high as 60% were common, because of wrinkles and poor lube groove fill-out.

Adding tin to your pure lead won't harden it much, BUT it WILL make the bullet casting much easier. 40-1 would help, 20-1 would be even better. To get that 20-1 ratio, use 19 pounds of pure to 1 pound of tin.

December 31, 2009, 12:08 PM
You could also trade it to a blackpowder shooter for wheel weights -- and probably get a premium.

Pure lead casts OK if you crank up the heat. It only takes a tiny amount of tin to make a big difference though (in the castability, not the hardness.) If you want to increase the hardness, add solder and a little lead shot. Or just mix it half-n-half with wheel weights. Or mix about 4 parts of lead with 1 part of type metal.

January 1, 2010, 12:14 PM
I've used pure lead(roof sheathing etc)but alloy it with wheel weights and don't push 'em real fast.

January 2, 2010, 06:57 PM
To get that 20-1 ratio, use 19 pounds of pure to 1 pound of tin.

Uhhh, Snuffy, wouldn't that make it a 19:1 ratio? :rolleyes: Sorry, just kinda feelin' it today. It is, however, close enough that you probably wouldn't notice ANY difference when casting.

Mixing your pure lead from the roof jacks (or pipe jacks, or roof flashing, or whatever you want to call it) with an equal amount of clip-on wheelweights will provide a much better alloy if you are wanting to take your velocities up past 1200 fps. Stay away from the weights marked "Zn" or "Fe". The Zn (zinc) will mess up a good batch of alloy. The Fe just won't melt down into it. The stick-on wheelweights are mostly nearly pure lead (like your roofing materials) and won't harden it up at all. The clip-ons have some tin and antimony in them that makes for great casting and hardens up quite well. Even with a 50/50 mix, you may still want to mix in a little solder for a little higher tin content.

Happy casting!

January 4, 2010, 01:56 PM
Its actually called a lead plumbing vent flashing. It is pure lead and I smelt them 50-50 with wheel weights and add 2% tin as well. Being a roofing contractor I have a stack of these out back, its keeping the wheel weights to mix them with that is hard to do.

chris in va
January 4, 2010, 10:55 PM
My local recycler has a huge bin of these. I passed on asking about them knowing they are pure lead.