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Question on blending lead alloys: range lead and monotype


Fort Reno Kid
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Howdy Pards 

 

Hoping some of the more advanced bullet casters can assist.

 

Background: For a good part of my life lead wheel weights were in abundant supply and often free for the asking. No more. Now there’re increasingly steel, zinc, or plastic and tire dealers sell them to recyclers.

 

I am fortunate to have ready access to range lead (let’s call it 98-99% lead and 1-2% tin). Recently I bought a good quantity of monotype (72% lead, 19% antimony, 9% tin)

 

Two question on creating bullet-casting alloys:
(1) What would be the blending proportions of range lead and monotype to achieve an alloy with the approximate Brinell hardness of Linotype?

(2) What would be the blending proportions of range lead and monotype to achieve an alloy with the approximate Brinell hardness of wheel weights.

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Thought I would add the Brinell hardness of each alloy.

================

Commercial bullet alloy is normally

Lead 92%

Antimony 6%

Tin 2%

Brinell hardness = 15

-----------------

Linotype has been used for bullets for many years with good success.

Lead 84%

Antimony 12%

Tin 4%

Brinell hardness = 22

-----------------

Monotype

Lead 72%

Antimony 19%

Tin 9%

Brinell hardness = 28

-----------------

Old Clip on lead wheel weights

Lead 95%
Antimony 2.5%
Tin .5%
Arsenic .1%
Trace elements 1.9% (Cadmium, calcium, silver, copper, etc)

Brinell hardness = 9

-----------------

Pure lead

Lead 100%

Brinell hardness = 5

 

 

 

Edited by Cliff Hanger #3720LR
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I use range lead, scrap lead and pure lead, tweaked with 50/50 solder and 95/5 tin/lead.  I mix three harnesses of castings: soft pure lead for .454 cap&ball, medium for cowboy and standard pistol loads, and hard for magnum pistol and .300 blackout.  Drop tests, scratch tests and file tests are my go-gos for getting the desired hardness.

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Use that calculator - it's pretty accurate and easy after you try a couple of alloy mixes.


 

Quote

range lead (let’s call it 98-99% lead and 1-2% tin)

 

Umm, there's a lot of variance in what is dug out of ranges, and it depends upon what type of ammo has been shot there.

 

Range lead that is mostly cast bullets will have significant antimony content.  I use 97% lead, 2.5%% antimony, and 0.5% tin in the calculator for "cowboy" scrap bullets.  The antimony comes from folks shooting wheel weight scrap, or commercial bullets, almost exclusively.

 

A .22 range will be about 99.5% lead, 0.5% tin.   Or about that same composition on a range that is all jacketed bullet use.

 

I agree with your monotype composition, though.  True monotype will be 19% antimony, 9% tin and rest lead.

 

Monotype and cowboy range lead mix, using the calculator, will be:

0.25 pounds monotype   (4 ounces)

9.75 pounds range lead from cowboy ranges.

Which makes a total of 10 pounds

 

Calculates to 12.6 Brinnell hardness, which is the hardness of good old-fashioned wheel weights.

 

I'd suggest you learn to use the calculator, as you always find your scrap lead never quite matches the "average" of what is in the calculator to start with.

So, I leave the "linotype" recipe for you to calculate.  It will take a lot more of monotype than making 12 Brinnell wheel weight alloy.

 

And, my "target" for good cowboy bullets (to be shot at 1000 FPS or less) is to make them at 9 Brinnell hardness.  Which is very close to what comes off the cowboy ranges, with perhaps a little (0.5%) tin added to make the bullets cast better.

 

 

Practically speaking, I've not found a need for monotype.  I have to add only a little linotype to range scrap or wheel weights even to make high speed rifle bullets (16 brinnell, heat treatable to 30 brinnell)

 

good luck, GJ

 

 

PS - get a set of "ART PENCILS" (drawing pencils) and learn how to use them for testing alloy hardness.  $20 well spent.  The 10 different hardness levels in the pencil set can be read as the hardness of the lead alloy that a particular pencil just barely will scratch.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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And a hearty shoutout and thanks to John Boy and Garrison Joe.

 

John Boy. I’m an aficionado of the Cast Boolits web site and have perused the calculator you recommended as well as the excellent material provided on that site by The Los Angeles Silhouette Club. Perhaps it’s the result of my being placed in the slow-learner classes at school but I haven’t yet located a formula that combines range lead with super-rich monotype. Got to keep at it.

 

Garrison Joe. Excellent info and much appreciated, particularly the formula to approximate wheel weight alloy (oh how I miss the former availability of wheel weights) which will fit the vast majority of my reloading needs.

 

To both of you I’ll offer the disclaimer (confession?) that I haven’t tested the range lead. I’m pretty convinced that it’s high lead content and low/minimal tin and antimony for reasons that follow. The lead comes from a pistol range. It has a high berm, perhaps 20’ high. Rounds fired hit level ground, slid up the berm, and drop to the ground behind the berm where the rifle club and silhouette club maintain their storage sheds. Ground is covered with spent bullets. The lead bullets are predominantly 38 wadcutters and 45 semi-wadcutters. Those tend to be soft lead with minimal hardening agents (tin and antimony). Sadly, most bullets are 9mm and 45ACP FMJ’s. Sadly? It’s a #$@%* to melt those down and separate out the jackets. Hard for me to believe there is much hardening agents in that lead. Lead is cheap; tin and antimony are costly. Therefore my thought (theory) that the combination of soft bullets and lead from jacketed bullets is maximum lead and minimum tin/antimony.

 

I suspect, albeit without a solid formula, that 2-to-3 parts range lead to 1 part monotype would result in a super-hard bullet-casting alloy.

 

Whew! Didn’t mean to get up on the soap box.

 

Again, many thanks to your good selves for helpful information and good perspectives and for taking the time to respond. Appreciate your efforts and thoughtfulness.

 

Adios 

 

Fort Reno Kid 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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48 minutes ago, Fort Reno Kid said:

Therefore my thought (theory) that the combination of soft bullets and lead from jacketed bullets is maximum lead and minimum tin/antimony.

That's the reason for getting and using an Art Pencil set to get a rough hardness of the lead you scrounge.   I agree, cores from jacketed bullets are normally pretty soft, about 6 Brinnell.   As bullet makers move in current times toward a more tough hi-performance jacketed bullet, though, the core alloy can be harder.   When a mix of ammo types has been used in a bay, you don't know until you test it how hard that scrap lead is.   But, it's better to find out by testing when you melt 50 pounds down in a clean-up step, than to just dump range scrap into your casting pot and try to make it cast good bullets by estimating how much hardening it needs.

 

Now, if you can afford a Cabine Tree hardness tester or even a Lee model, that would be even better.

 

But, then again, making cowboy match bullets is not a very demanding process.   In fact, you could get away with casting a bullet or two from straight range pickup, then add in enough linotype to get to the point where you can't scratch the surface with a thumbnail (which is about 10 Brinnel).

 

good luck, GJ

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1 hour ago, Fort Reno Kid said:

2-to-3 parts range lead to 1 part monotype would result in a super-hard bullet-casting alloy.

 

For sure.   The calculator will tell you that would be about 20 Brinnell or harder.  At cowboy ammo pressures, I'd expect some heavy leading even if the bullet fits the grooves (from gas cutting)

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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