Melting wheel weights for casting bullets?

MR T

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Jun 21, 2011
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Louisiana
I'm just getting started casting lead bullets and was wondering how you pros get your wheel weight and scrap lead melted down for ingot molds. I just got a lee furnace and don't want to ruin it with trash getting melted in the pot. Any ideas or pics would be appreciated. Thanks.
 

g0rd0

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Mar 9, 2012
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New germany, NS
not all wheel weights are lead alloy. Some are mostly zink and of no use. First drop them on a cement floor if they clink it zink if it clunks it is lead.
After sorting out the bad zink wash them I use a 5 gallon plastic pail boiling water and a dish washing machine puck snap on the lid (leave the vent open) and roll it around the driveway for 15 minites . Pour it out on the driveway and let dry.
The washing is optional I do just to keep the smoke down.
I have a propaine burner and an old cast iron pot to melt down the lead.
A steel cafeteria serving spoon
2 muffin tins (12 to a tin)
Saftey glasses, a MSA style mask, cotton cloths (NO NYLON,RAYON or any other flimsy stuff) long sleeve no shorts, good gloves (I use 2 OV gloves) leather steel toed boots
Bullet lube (stick type no moly)
Matches
2 large cookie sheets

Once the lead is melted (my pot holds about 25 pounds) you will add a pea sized pinch of lube stir and add a match stirring to bring the clips up, scoop out the clips and toss them on a cookie sheet
Toss in another pinch of lube stir vigorously and add a match keep stirring till it burns off scoop up the dirt and toss on the pile of clips and pour into the muffin tins (only fill them 1/2 way)
keep about 1" of the molted lead in the pot and add more weights (the weights will melt faster then if you start with an empty pot)
The reason why I say only to 1/2 fill the muffin tins is to get them into your furnice
 

Canadian Bushman

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I use a set of dikes or cutters to test wether a weight is zinc or lead. Sometimes the drop test is deceiving and it doesnt take much zinc to make your whole pot of lead significantly harder.

I use sawdust to flux my smelt. Works good and i got a bunch of it.
 

MR T

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Location
Louisiana
Thanks g0rdo and Canadian bushman!! Explain the sawdust and flux please. What does the saw dust do to the lead?
 

Canadian Bushman

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The sawdust smolders on the lead about 700-800 deg f and turns to charcoal, carbon. The carbon naturally sticks to all the impurities and also the steel clips releasing them from the lead. Scrape off the flux/impurities and oxidization from the top of the lead pool and cast your ingots. When you go to cast in your furnace you will have clean lead alloy ingots to use.

Google "lead smelting"
 

BountyHunter

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Strongly recommend a leather welding apron and gloves. Also full face shield. I have lead pots explode due to something in the lead (drop of water or primer etc). You will not regret it.
 

Canadian Bushman

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Strongly recommend a leather welding apron and gloves. Also full face shield. I have lead pots explode due to something in the lead (drop of water or primer etc). You will not regret it.

+1

Its very easy to get accustom to working with lead and forget that this stuff is upwards of 800 degrees.

Also respirators are a good idea when smelting.
 

StrutNut

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Feb 5, 2015
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Blaine, MN
Oh this brings back memories! I used to make all my own bullets for my 454 Cassull. Lead Wheel weights and 50/50 bar solder was what I used back then. Bullets always came out great. It was also a lot of fun knowing you took control of yet another part of the round. I found the bullets to be very accurate and easier to reload than the factory bullets at the time. I also used to cast all my own duck decoy weights too. Good Luck with the process. I am sure there are a lot of videos on Youtube to help as well.
 

MR T

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Jun 21, 2011
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Location
Louisiana
Thank you all for the help and advice!! I've got a couple of buckets of ww's that need to be sorted through and then I'm going to get started smelting.
 

g0rd0

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Location
New germany, NS
as stated the saw dust and flux are used to bring clips dirt and unwanted chaf to the top to scoop it out and discard. But if you use strieght saw dust without some flux you might be removing antimony so, a little bullet lube works best for me.
Also when it comes time to mold your bullets if you see a dull scum on your lead (it is letting you know that you need to reflux, (the tin and other antimony is starting to sepparate), reflux with lube and match (you might not need the match the lube just may catch fire on its own) and stirr till the fire goes out your lead should be shinny again.
A couple of hints, if you are using a gas check bullet there is no need to add tin just wheel weight works fine.
For flat base bullets a mix of 9&1/2 pounds of wheel weight and 1/2 pound of tin or 9 pounds wheel weight and 1 pound 50/50 solder (solid core NOT RESIN CORE)
before you lube and size your bullets weigh them a bullet design below 200 grains should not be over +/- 0.5 grains bullets over 200 grains +/- 1.0grains
If your bullet is light (you are casting a 250 grn flat base semi wad cutter (44 cal) and they all measure out at 247 that is good your tin mix is a little high no worry, but using the same batch a few of those come out at 246 or less toss them back in the pot there are air bubble in them, if there are a few at 248 your spruce cutter might be a bit lose
shinny bullets = good casting temp. frosty bullets = too high temp turn down your furnace, wrinkled bullet = cool mold or the furnace needs to be turned up a little
 

MR T

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Jun 21, 2011
Messages
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Location
Louisiana
Question- would it be more time savy to melt all wheel weights together and dip out which ones that don't melt with the lead. Or is just better to go ahead and divide them apart. Again thanks for the info and ideas!
 
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