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8 minutes ago, doc roy l. pain said:

. I have no idea what the cost of pure lead is right now,

 

On this list lead is .40/lb.  Wheel weight .15/lb.  Tin/soldier .50-3.00/lb.

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Round Balls are super easy to cast .... and Lee makes molds that are cheap to buy ....   Jabez Cowboy

Springfield Slim, is a little cheaper than that:   http://www.whyteleatherworks.com/BigLube.html

Nope, no, and newwwwwah!   Wrong in 2 ways.   Zinc is not a bullet alloy component.   You are thinking of antimony, the main hardening addition to lead.   Antimony is 6 to 10 times

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I’ve been following this thread and have got a question.  I’m shooting .454 balls (been getting them from Springfield Slim :FlagAm:) I bought 1,000 last time so I’ve got enough for awhile. but is there savings if I had to buy everything and start from scratch?  Or should I just continue to buy them at this point?

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Just now, Tequila Shooter said:

I’ve been following this thread and have got a question.  I’m shooting .454 balls (been getting them from Springfield Slim :FlagAm:) I bought 1,000 last time so I’ve got enough for awhile. but is there savings if I had to buy everything and start from scratch?  Or should I just continue to buy them at this point?

 

Do you already have all or most of the casting equipment already?  Do you have an inexpensive source for pure/soft lead? Virgin store bought pure lead is expensive.   You say 1,000 will last you for awhile so maybe you wouldn't use enough to justify casting.  

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Warden; where is this WW lead for sale for .15/lb? I will buy 3000 lbs right now, and I will never have to worry about lead again. My kids can inherit what we don't shoot up in the next 15 years, when I am 80. I don't figure I will want to cast much after that.

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5 minutes ago, Springfield Slim SASS #24733 said:

Warden; where is this WW lead for sale for .15/lb? I will buy 3000 lbs right now, and I will never have to worry about lead again. My kids can inherit what we don't shoot up in the next 15 years, when I am 80. I don't figure I will want to cast much after that.

 

Just got the number off the website.  Oops!  I forgot to add the link. 

 

https://www.metalary.com/scrap-metal-prices/

 

I don't know if the prices are buy or sale prices. 

 

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5 lb off pure virgin lead from MidwayUSA is $17.00 - not counting shipping. 

 

https://www.midwayusa.com/product/101025125

 

I was good at math but now it comes more difficult.

 

5lb x 7,000 gr/lb / 140 gr [44 ball] = 250 balls. 

so 5 ingots to make 1,000 balls. So we're talking $100 for the raw material.  Springfield Slim's $100/k is a good deal. 

 

 

Edited by Warden Callaway
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That $0.15 a pound for Wheel Weights must be somebody's purchase offer price at the scrap metal dealer.   The dealer then will be glad to turn that around and sell it to a buyer at, oh, say $0.75 a pound price! 

 

Checked the link, yep, that is a scrap metal "buy" price.  You will NEVER get a chance to buy lead alloy at the price a big scrap yard offers to buy it from big demo crews and auto shops.

 

Besides, for C&B ammo, you will NEED soft lead, not wheel weights!!    Lead is priced at $0.40 a pound for buying at scrap dealer on that page  And, here's the fine print at the bottom of page: "Actual prices may vary based on region, supplier, or various other factors."  What they will sell it to you for is To Be Negotiated.

 

good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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This site (Kitco Metals) has the market price for pure lead.

 

http://www.kitcometals.com/charts/lead_historical.html

 

That is a price from which lead wholesalers will mark up to the price you could pay for, maybe, a minimum lot of 5,000 pounds or so (a pallet worth or two).

 

Today, commodity lead is $0.90 a pound.  Then it's got to be shipped and warehoused and broken down into smaller orders.....

 

good luck, from your neighborhood metallurgist, GJ

 

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1 hour ago, Griff said:

Zinc and tin to the standard "bullet" alloys are less costly. 

 

Nope, no, and newwwwwah!   Wrong in 2 ways.

 

Zinc is not a bullet alloy component.   You are thinking of antimony, the main hardening addition to lead.

 

Antimony is 6 to 10 times the price of lead.

Tin is 10 to 20 times the price of lead.  It's not cheap.

 

Lead alloy ALWAYS costs more than soft lead.   So, C&B balls are made of the cheapest possible lead alloy - dead soft lead.

 

It's price as balls is mainly in the labor to cast, the small market for C&B, the high cost of shipping heavy lead products, and the hazardous material precautions that have to be applied during manufacturing.

 

good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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9 minutes ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

 

You are thinking of antimony, the main hardening addition to lead.

 

good luck, GJ

Yep, couldn't think of the name...

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9 minutes ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

 

Nope, no, and newwwwwah!   Wrong in 2 ways.

 

Zinc is not a bullet alloy component.   You are thinking of antimony, the main hardening addition to lead.

 

Antimony is 6 to 10 times the price of lead.

Tin is 10 to 20 times the price of lead.  It's not cheap.

 

Lead alloy ALWAYS costs more than soft lead.   So, C&B balls are made of the cheapest possible lead alloy - dead soft lead.

 

It's price as balls is mainly in the labor to cast, the small market for C&B, the high cost of shipping heavy lead products, and the hazardous material precautions that have to be applied during manufacturing.

 

good luck, GJ

So now we are back to the original question, why they cost more. Apparently it can only be because of the small market. 

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Because they can sell all the balls they want to at the prices where they currently are set.   Like most things go in a supply-and-demand market.

 

If someone jumped in and fired up an automated plant and doubled the USA current production of balls, the price of balls would drop SOME (but not by half).

 

Do not disregard the high cost of shipping and haz/environmental compliance.  That last item alone is what killed primary lead smelting in the US between 1990 and today.

 

good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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A month or so back we were having a tire repaired at our choice tire shop. In a separate building they have a guy repairing large equipment and farm equipment tires. Normally he is busy but for no reason he had no business at that time. I visited with him a while standing over a 5 gallon bucket of industrial size wheel weights.  Some maybe a pound or more. We talked about them and getting them for free in the old days. I'm sure he would have gave them to me if I'd just asked. But they looked like mostly zink and I have a big stock of wheel weight and range lead.

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1 hour ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

 

 

Do not disregard the high cost of shipping and haz/environmental compliance.  That last item alone is what killed primary lead smelting in the US between 1990 and today.

 

good luck, GJ

Are lead balls subject to any different restrictions than ordinary cowboy bullets as far as has/environmental compliance. 

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When I bought a stash of soft lead at the scrap yard last week,  the guy went back and topped of the pile with this coil. 

 

553922747_CoilofleadlikemetalJan2021.thumb.jpg.30b827ce51338dbcce5cd4fa73d94ce6.jpg

 

It's heavy. But it's hard.  It's got an eye shape oval profile.  Steering wheel for size comparison.  Tin? Zink? Linotype? 

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Anyone know the composition of .22 rimfire bullets?   :huh:

 

I have about five gallons or so from the range at the local Boy Scout camp, and I'm wondering it it's soft enough to cast into balls.  

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17 minutes ago, Hardpan Curmudgeon SASS #8967 said:

Anyone know the composition of .22 rimfire bullets?   :huh:

 

I have about five gallons or so from the range at the local Boy Scout camp, and I'm wondering it it's soft enough to cast into balls.  

 

I would seriously doubt that .22 bullets are pure lead. 

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They are normally pretty soft lead with very little alloy components added.  They are a swaged product made like they were 70 years ago.  Easiest way for a person without a hardness tester - melt enough to fill an old spoon and let harden.  If you can EASILY scratch a line in the cooled lead surface with a fingernail edge, it's soft enough to cast for percussion balls.

 

Otherwise, if a # 6B sketching pencil tip will gouge a groove in the lead surface, it's soft lead.  Available at any art store, Hobby Lobby, etc.  If it just skips over the surface of the lead, it's harder than you want to use for balls.

 

Copper or brass washed bullets like used on high-speed 22 ammo, though, adds hardness to the lead.  So, depends upon what mix of ammo the Scouts shot.

 

Good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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On 1/10/2021 at 1:06 PM, Marauder SASS #13056 said:

 

But what if you have to use them before 10 years???

 

:D:D:D

He'd be known as 2 fingered Ike .....:D

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Warden: that coil might be solder. Try and find some numbers on it, like 50/50  or 63/37.  If not, you can melt it down and then have a piece analyzed at a scrapyard, if they do it foo free. If not, there is a guy on castboolits site that will do it for a 1 lb ingot of most any lead. I have done that in the past when I found a big batch of unknown alloy lead. I can get pretty close to hardness with my pocket knife, but sometimes you want to REALLY know, especially if you suspect it might be solder or Linotype, or have a high tin content.

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23 minutes ago, Springfield Slim SASS #24733 said:

Warden: that coil might be solder. Try and find some numbers on it, like 50/50  or 63/37.  If not, you can melt it down and then have a piece analyzed at a scrapyard, if they do it foo free. If not, there is a guy on castboolits site that will do it for a 1 lb ingot of most any lead. I have done that in the past when I found a big batch of unknown alloy lead. I can get pretty close to hardness with my pocket knife, but sometimes you want to REALLY know, especially if you suspect it might be solder or Linotype, or have a high tin content.

 

I'm thinking... Take it back to the scrap yard where I got it and see if he has an answer.   Or weigh it then dunk it in a bucket of water to calculate its volume.   Then calculate its specific gravity to see what possible metal match.   Of course,  if it's an alloy, I still won't know.

 

I worked in a factory where, among many other processes,  they tin plated copper parts. I don't remember the whole process but they tumbled the parts in a giant mixer with tin balls about 2" in diameter.  When they took the product out, they would just dump the depleted balls in the trash. They ranged in size up to gulf ball size.   I salvaged a few. 

 

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Major amounts of tin would make that coil product sound off with a "tinkle" or pop when it's bent.  Even 63% tin solder will tinkle a little.  It is very uncommon to find tin in a large rod shape.   See if you can flex a loop to get any sound out of it.  Tin is so expensive ($10 a pound or more) that that much tin having been overlooked would be a very unlikely treasure trove.

 

Zinc alloys don't extrude or pull through dies very well.   Would be uncommon for that to be a zinc alloy.  But zinc products are certainly harder than lead scrap.    Zinc will bubble and release hydrogen gas if a LITTLE muriatic acid is dropped on it.    Available at hardware and pool supply stores.

 

Is this coil a tube or pipe?   Could be lead plumbing pipe (if soft).  Could be communication cable sheathing  (if soft). 

 

But you say it's hard.

That scrap yard is probably the best place to find your answer.

 

good luck, GJ

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My neighbor is an engineer at the local nuclear power plant and previous been a power plant inspector for an insurance company.  I sent him the picture and asked if he recognized it. He said it looks like an encapsulation ring for a pressure vessel.  A heavy duty O-ring.  He didn't guess the metal type.

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Melt it and send a sample and you will know. E-mail me and I can give you the address and instructions.

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10 hours ago, Springfield Slim SASS #24733 said:

Melt it and send a sample and you will know. E-mail me and I can give you the address and instructions.

 

If it's zink,  I don't want it in my Lee pot.  Elvis Ammo video shows a possible consequent of melting zink in a Lee pot. He's painfully long winded so I watch him at 2X speed. 

 

 

 

He has a follow up video after he talked with Lee.

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Zinc is pretty bad in bullet lead.  It makes the alloy hard to cast unless you realize zinc is in there, clogs up bottom pour pots and does not fill out mold cavities.  A temporary solution is to turn the temperature up another 100 deg F or so.   Bullets will be frosted and hard - up to 30 Brinnell.   Tough trying to size them after casting.

 

Better solution - keep the zinc out!   Or toss out the pot contents when you discover it's contaminated.  Yeah, it's that bad.

 

Every scrap melter should have a bottle of muriatic acid around, and learn to watch for zinc wheel weights like a HAWK.  Some will be marked ZN.  All zinc weights will ring when dropped on concrete.

 

good luck, GJ

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18 minutes ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

Zinc is pretty bad in bullet lead.  It makes the alloy hard to cast unless you realize zinc is in there, clogs up bottom pour pots and does not fill out mold cavities.  A temporary solution is to turn the temperature up another 100 deg F or so.   Bullets will be frosted and hard - up to 30 Brinnell.   Tough trying to size them after casting.

 

Better solution - keep the zinc out!   Or toss out the pot contents when you discover it's contaminated.  Yeah, it's that bad.

 

Every scrap melter should have a bottle of muriatic acid around, and learn to watch for zinc wheel weights like a HAWK.  Some will be marked ZN.  All zinc weights will ring when dropped on concrete.

 

good luck, GJ

 

How can you test an ingot of unknown lead alloy to see if it has any zinc in it?

Edited by Sedalia Dave
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28 minutes ago, Sedalia Dave said:

 

How can you test an ingot of unknown lead alloy to see if it has any zinc in it?

I have two test for unknown alloys. 

 

First is the drop or "clunk" test.  Drop the unknown ingot over concrete, soft lead to relatively soft alloy will sort of "clunk" vs hard alloy or possibly zinc contaminated alloy will "clink".

 

Second test is to melt it down separately trying to keep the temp right at around 700*.  Lead and most alloys will turn to liquid easily at 700*.  Zinc contaminated lead will sort of be the texture of a snow cone. 

Edited by July Smith
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How can you test an ingot of unknown lead alloy to see if it has any zinc in it?

 

The most precise test is an X-Ray Fluorescence analysis.   The equipment costs $10,000 and needs a trained and certified X-ray operator who can run the equipment without exposing themselves or others to x-ray energy.    Will give you a content of many of the alloy and contamination components of that lead alloy.  Even tests stainless steel, tool steel, brass, etc.  Needs a chunk of lead with a clean flat surface the size of a quarter or larger.   As Springfield Slim has talked about above, there are folks on-line who will test a chunk for a small fee.   Bigger scrap dealers have a tester on-site and MAY be able to be talked into running a test for individuals.

 

Get out your lead thermometer.  Melt a one-pound sample in a small melting pot, stir it slowly as it gets to 750 F, and examine the surface and any crystal content at or just under the surface.  Both Zinc and Calcium contaminants give sort of a cooked oatmeal or grainy surface at normal lead alloy melting temperature, because the Zinc and Calcium join with antimony (the hardening component of bullet alloys) to make "intermetallic compounds" which don't melt at 750 F, and are less dense than the rest of the lead.  They need almost 850 F to melt.  Thus, a properly-fluxed melt that does not almost instantly clear up without granules on the surface of the melt as the temperature gets to 750 or 775 F, is not going to cast well.  See my notes above about what either of these contaminants will do to cast bullets.  It takes practice to see this - some folks have patience to learn this, most don't.

 

If you are working with wheel weights, I talked about identifying the Zinc ones earlier. Look "up thread."   Steel ones pull out with a magnet.  Auto battery parts contain Calcium - don't use them!

 

So, as Slim has hinted at - don't EVER stick an unknown chunk of metal in with your lead alloy you are melting down (from wheel weights, scrap roofing or plumbing jobs, or similar sources).   If you are not SURE you know what it is and how it will affect your alloy, DO NOT ADD IT.  Yeah, the temptation is high.   It sure "looks" OK.  But you are likely to instantly ruin 20 or more pounds of good alloy by adding a pound or two of unknown scrap.   Be very particular about what you melt for bullet alloys - especially if you are concerned about accuracy and ease of casting.  Once the alloy is contaminated with an unknown metal, it is almost impossible for the average caster to remove that contamination.   Dilution with other clean alloy will work - IF you have enough to dilute the contaminant to the point where it does not affect your casting.    That of course proves a proverb that you can "spend good alloy after bad" to no real satisfaction.

 

Bottom line - it's lots of work watching the scrap metal items you melt down to make sure they are what you want.   And it's almost impossible work cleaning up lead after a mistake.  That's one reason that commercial casters buy (more expensive) pre-alloyed bullet casting alloys.  Yes, Midway and Rotometals and others that are selling in small volumes REALLY mark up the price, and then expensive shipping usually gets piled on top of that cost.   Big casters buy tons at a time and get both better prices and deals on the shipping of pallet-loads of ingots.

 

good luck, GJ

 

 

 

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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Warden: you don't have to melt it down to have it tested. Just snip off a small piece, the size of a pea or so, and mail it it. Just include 1 lb of a known lead alloy to pay for the test. Easy peasy. 

    And as others have said, put a drop of Muriatic acid on any suspected zinc and it will bubble.  Drop a zinc WW into a pot and it will float. I have bought fishing cannonballs, if I suspect them they get the acid. If I miss one it still floats to the top. I also keep my temp down, zinc has a greater melting temp, so it will be there on top of the melted lead. NEVER fill a pot with unknown in there as if it is on the bottom the temp may rise enough to melt it before the lead melts.

    Never add unknown to your pot if you can avoid it. I have melted down thousands of pounds of scrap, from sailboat keels to fishing weights to  lead pipe. Even wine bottle cork wrappers. And I haven't had a bad batch yet. Pay attention to what you are doing and follow proper procedures and you should be OK.

    FWIW, some people claim small amounts of zinc are still cast-able, just make lighter, harder bullets. Many cast zinc cannonballs as they are cheaper. So a tiny piece of zinc in there isn't the end of the world, and isn't going to trash your lead pot.

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Elvis Ammo has done some Zinc Casting with almost pure zinc, that's how he got the video where it burned through his Lee Pot.  his 300 Blackout Bullets were really amazing!  140 ish grains with over a .4 BC, (from the Lee 300 BO Sub Sonic bullet) and no coating, jacketing or lubrication required.  It requires specialty equipment but zinc casting may have some niche application in LR high velocity high BC applications, or for Pb free projectiles.

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Zinc bullets have been around for years for specialized target shooting (and really did not catch on for other uses - they don't expand much at all and are pretty worthless for hunting due to hardness and low density of the slugs). 

 

Zinc bullets shot on a range where pards are trying to reclaim and recycle lead are just as bad for the resulting alloy as adding zinc wheel weights because you didn't sort the scrap weights carefully.

 

Let's really try to keep zinc bullets out of cowboy shooting areas.  They are ILLEGAL to use in cowboy shooting per the rules.  And they make it hard to cheaply recycle lead to make good bullets in the future.

 

good luck, GJ

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I have about 100 to 150 lbs of various sizes of ingots from muffin size up to about 10 lbs I got from my dad.
We used to cast fishing sinkers years ago. Mostly wheel weights and other lead scrap. However, there is a possibility that a few zinc weights or battery terminals made it into the mix from time to time as a little zinc never ruined a large egg sinker. I remember a few times seeing the ends of battery cables as well. We never knowingly used battery plate lead as it was more trouble than it was worth. 
 

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