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processing wheel weight to ingots

Discussion in 'Ammo & Reloading' started by ok-22shooter, Apr 2, 2021.

  1. ok-22shooter

    ok-22shooter Marksman

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    scored 200 lbs of unsorted wheel weights at a reasonable price. selling 100 as this will probably turn in to a monthly thing and I already have 125 pound of processed lead I bought several years ago. my old big pot was a cast iron dutch oven that held about 40 pounds of liquid lead when half full. used a cast iron water heater burner and tubing to build a stable tripod. it has now been gone for 30 years.
    as these buckets contain all types of weights, I am making a few assumptions.

    the flat weights segmented into squares appear to be pure lead, soft and pliable. good for muzzle loader balls and minis, fishing stuff.
    obvious steel clips are the hard WW lead.
    what are the zinc like? will they have a certain shape? One post I read stated that lead's melting point was about 100 deg F below zinc so control the temp and the zinc will float to the top. I used bees wax to bring impurities to the top and have a couple of new toilet seal rings that are pure bees wax. picking up bent up frame turkey fryer burner Saturday and will get the Frame rebuilt to suport 60 lbs or so.
    Bought a cast iron dutch oven at a garage sale a while back for cheap. it is in perfect shape so hesitant to use it for lead. I do have a big SS pot, maybe 16" dia by 12" tall. heavy bottom. it got burnt with hot oil and finish inside is not good. any one used SS pot to melt lead?

    Looking for other suggestions. Aware that moisture dropped into the molten lead can cause flying hot lead and is dangerous. moisture can be hiding in clips on weights. lead fumes are not good to breath. other methods? searched posts but most were 5 plus years old so started a new post
     
  2. HiredHand

    HiredHand Sharpshooter

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    ok-22shooter likes this.
  3. Reloading Rod

    Reloading Rod Sharpshooter

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    yes the small stick ones should be soft lead, you can use a side cutter pair of pliers to determine what is zinc and steel and what is lead, the zinc and steel ones will be much harder. Most of the time moisture will evaporate out when you heat the wheel weights, when you melt them do it a pot at a time and empty it before introducing new wheel weights, that way it will steam off any extra moisture. Stand up wind from the pot to keep away from the fumes. I prefer sawdust or pine chips (from pet store bedding) to flux with over wax, it seems to do better. When fluxing expect a flame so watch for that. I don't think the stainless steel pan will make a difference, but do not know for sure, I've always used cast iron. I usually ladle the lead out into my molds, rather than pouring out. I wear welders gloves and face mask, long pants and shirt.
     
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  4. swampratt

    swampratt Sharpshooter

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    I use stainless pots to melt my lead and have even used an old aluminum one for many batches.
    Handles on cooking pots usually melt off or get brittle so I use vise grips and welding gloves to pour.

    I do sort my wheel weights it is not all that hard or time consuming once you have done a few.
    Stick on ones that are lead are usually pretty soft and I melt those separate.

    Some stick on ones today are steel.
    I use side cutters to see if weights are lead or steel or zinc.

    @Reloading Rod is correct on the fact that if you put the weights in the pan than put the pan on the heat the heat will
    evaporate the moisture.

    You get a visit from the Tinsel Fairy when you add lead to moisture. Like pouring hot lead into a wet hole.
    Adding moisture to lead usually like say from a drop of water will make the water dance and steam off instantly.

    I do not use good cast iron pots to melt lead in the cast pot takes too much heat to get it hot vs a stainless pot.
    I tried using a cast pot in the winter time outside with cold wind blowing and never got enough heat to melt the lead on the small camp fire.
    The stainless pot did allow the lead to melt.

    Most people do not sit around a camp fire in the cold of winter casting bullets or ingots though.
     
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  5. Cat City Slim

    Cat City Slim Marksman

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    I don't bother sorting wheel weights before I melt them. Steel is no problem, it will float. Zinc can be more problematic. As you said, zinc melting point is a bit higher than lead. As long as you pay attention to you temperature and scoop the unmelted weights out before they sit for a while, you can get the zinc out easily. As to your question on how to tell them apart, many are marked ZN. Otherwise, you'll either need to try to cut them, or hit them on a piece of iron. The zinc makes more more of a bell-like tone.
     
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  6. rickm

    rickm Sharpshooter

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    Zinc ww will have a zn stamped on them somewheres and they are shaped a little different after you have sort a lot of them you will get where you can spot most of them but yes if you keep the temp just above lead melting point the zinc and steel will float to the top to be skimmed off.
     
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  7. swampratt

    swampratt Sharpshooter

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    One more thing that I do that makes short work of removing the steel clips is I use an old large speaker magnet
    to fetch the steel right off the top of the melted lead.
    Welding gloves on of course and you can grab the clips with a gloved hand and remove them quickly and place in a steel can for later recycling or whatever you wish to do with them.
     
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  8. dennishoddy

    dennishoddy Sharpshooter

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    I have a question.
    What happens if one lets the lead and zinc melt together for something like fishing sinkers not bullets? Will it layer? Sinkers will likely be lost over time so if the mix of zinc and lead will work, Could one just go that route?
     
  9. Shadowrider

    Shadowrider Sharpshooter

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    Find a known zinc weight and a similar lead weight. Whack both on the table (separately). You'll immediately notice that the zinc will almost ring like a bell. You'll feel the difference. The lead will be a dead blow. That's the quickest way and it's fast to pick it up.

    ETA: Watch the stick on weights too. They can be zinc also. My son once work at a European brand dealership and brought home all the weights they pulled. A bunch were zinc and all the factory weights were zinc as IIRC it's frowned upon pretty heavily in Europe to use lead for anything, but they did a lot of tire servicing there which surprised me. Got some lead on occasion.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2021
  10. Oklahomabassin

    Oklahomabassin Sharpshooter

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    I am almost sure I see Zinc fishing weights. Probably could separate pre melt and use each separately.
     
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