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Discussion Starter #1
About 20 years ago I started hand casting and since I worked at tire shop I got all the free wheel weights I wanted, and had a couple hundred pounds in ingots plus a couple grease drum uncleaned,recently I wanted to buy a couple things on ebay so I listed 50 pound boxes for $45 plus shipping,sold off almost all of my extra,this week I got to talking to a couple friends who are scroungers like I am and they told me they had 6-8 5 gallon buckets of wheel weights laying around,if I did the melting they would supply the lead and propane and we would split it 3 ways!
Today I got set up and started melting,before when I did it you just take out the valve stems and other junk and melt it all down, but now there is so much steel weights that you have to hand sort it all,and plastic coated stuff that puts out a foul black smoke,but the worst part is there are some kind of weights that melt but instead of mixing with the lead creates a thick sludge on top,it almost looks like melted aluminum but I know my weed burner isn't that hot!
Does anyone know what this other metal is? Since I'm just casting rough ingots I'm not fluxing,should I be?
These guys used to work for a uranium mine so they have a lot of pure lead that used to be for shielding,plus some really hard lead which was used for ancho holes,they do decorative stone now and are so busy they don't have time to melt all the lead down,and I have all the time in the world but no money so we make a good team!
 

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In one of my careers I was a Bell System Cable Splicer,when we still had to wipe sleeves, so I had an almost unlimited supply of scrap sleeves, wiping solder and seam sealer which was 60% tin..

That was many moons ago, I have several hundred lbs of cast ingots, 17 lbs of wheel weights, 1 lb of 50-50 solder this would be about 20-21 Brinell.

I sill have a 5gal bucket of the old wheel weights free for the hauling from my tire guy..

All of my alloying over the years involved fluxing, in the Bell System we used sterene AKA plumbers candle, made from beef tallow. It looked like a candle about1 inch in diameter, and 4 in long wrapped paper but no wick. I,m guessing you could use paraffin to flux. or the commercial stuff marvalux.
 

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Wheel weights

Wood butcher is correct on the weights being zinc. A lot of the zinc weights have “Zn” marking. They will render the batch useless for casting quality bullets. When sorting the weights if I suspect it’s not lead I will strike it against a steel block and can hear the difference, it rings. If still unsure then deeply scratch with a scribe.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
wheel weights

Thanks guys,I was afraid of that,I started picking out the weights that I thought was causing the problem and didn't get the layer of scum,it just ads so much labor to the sorting!
 

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Wheel Weighs

If you look at the weight it will have a "Zn" symbol. That is a zinc weight. When tapped against another weight it will have a ringing sound. Not a thud like lead. Also if the weight is a long one, try bending it. Lead will bend and zinc will break.

You should only melt the wheel weights at about 650 degrees or so. The zinc will not melt at that temp. Once the zinc has melted you sort of screwed up the lead mix.

BTW, there are also weights that have eh "Fe" symbol. Those are steel (iron) with a coating....

Happy smelting,
 

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Discussion Starter #7
wheel weights

I'm finding all kinds of junk in these buckets,not like the good old day when you could just dump them in a melt them,I'm spending a lot more time sorting then melting,I'm even finding steel tape weights,but at least those are easy enough to sort with a magnet,I can see why people are charging $1 a pound on ebay now!
 

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Fluxing

Regarding fluxing for making ingots, I always flux. Have found that’s the only way to get a consistent hardness across the batch. If you skim the dross off of an un fluxed pot you are removing all the goodies along with skag. A big handful of dry saw dust is the cheapest thing I’ve found to flux with. When casting, another benefit of sawdust is that it really helps to keep the lead from oxidizing if you are casting from a bottom pour pot.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Out of 6 5 gallon buckets I filled one with steel and zinc weights! Now I'm melting down sheets of pure lead,4 feet wide 3/8 of an inch thick,I use an ax and a sledge hammer to cut them into manageable pieces then lay them out on a sheet of metal and melt them into my pot,then I clean and flux it and pour it into molds,I still have around 1000 pounds to melt tomorrow!
 
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