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Old January 16, 2011, 09:47 PM   #30
Senior Member
Join Date: August 30, 2010
Posts: 1,523
Welcome to casting! I just did my first batch tonight.

I hit all the local tire stores and found one that sold me 22 pounds of wheel weights for $5.

About the only expensive thing you will want to get is a metal thermometer. The problem is that not all wheel weights are lead - some are steel, some are ZINC. The problem with the zinc ones is that if you get your lead too hot the zinc ones will melt too and contaminate your lead. With a thermometer you can make sure you don't get close to the melting point of zinc (787 degrees F). The melting temperature of lead is 621.43 degrees F.

For melting, I use a dutch oven someone gave me for free. Obviously it can never be used for food ever again. I use a propane burner for heat. You can get cheap ones from Harbor Freight ( You can also use a Coleman stove. You probably do not want to melt your raw weights in your production pot that you use for actually making bullets.

As your lead melts, the steel brackets of the wheel weights, plus any wheel weights that are not lead, will float on top of the molten lead. Take a slotted stainless steel spoon ($3 from Walmart) and use it to skim off the crap. Once all the big crap is out, toss in a marble-sized chunk of old candle wax into the pot and stir well. Skim off the dross.

You will want to buy a stainless steel ladle ($3 from Walmart), and a mini-muffin pan. Don't get the full-sized muffin pan as the ingots made from them may not fit in your production pot. The mini-muffin pans work great. Make certain the muffin pan you get is not tin plated - the ingots will alloy to the tin and not come out of the pan! I got one from Walmart for about $5.

Use the ladle to ladle the molten lead into the muffin pan. When it cools, dump them out and you have nice little ingots of lead.

I'm using 2-bullet Lee molds, and they work nice. Be sure to follow the directions on sooting the cavities with a flame and lubricating with silicone lubricant.

You can use a standard pot and a ladle to put lead into your molds, but I like the bottom-pour pot I got from Lee. It's a 20-pound pot. Bottom pour is nice because it pours lead from the bottom of the pot, which avoids the dross that collects on the surface. Plus it's a more hands-free operation - you just stick the mold under the pot, lift up on the valve handle and out comes a precise rivulet of molten lead until you release the handle.
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