Sunday, February 15, 2009

lead poisoning

Well sort of. Casting lead (boolitts and shot) has been on my wish list of potential diversions for a couple years now. Casters call the hobby a disease. /heh

I have the minimum set of equipment for smelting scrap lead into suitable size ingots (camp stove, old plumbers pot, rusty muffin tins, cast iron ladle).

What I've lacked til now is a supply of scrap lead -- in particular used wheel weights. I've made a few inquiries at larger tire shops and snooped around online sales sites like Craigslist, Ebay, Gunbroker and such. Buying scrap(no matter how cheap and "worth it" just seems to run counter to the spirit of the quest. Sure it's about the casting process but it's also about the joy of being frugal (miserly? obsessively cheap?).

Well I feel like I hit the jackpot yesterday when I was at my regular auto mechanic's shop getting an oil and diesel fuel filter changed. Only recently did I realize they did a small but regular business selling tires in their back service bay.

"Hey!" says I to the owner's son. "Whattya do with your old wheel weights?" Thinking they had some scrap buyer relationship.

"We just throw 'em out" says he. Well, I nearly fell over.

"Mind if I leave a bucket here for you and come get them regularly?" asks me.

"No problem."

I drove away with a partial bucket full (screaming and doing a jig inside my car) and returned with another bucket w/ my name and number on it later in the day.


Flintlock Tom said...

Wow! Nice find.
I've been casting bullets for my muzzleloaders for 30 years. An early experience almost ended my child-bearing vocation.
I was sitting at my desk with a small electric melting pot casting balls. I overturned the pot towards my lap. I don't remember moving, but the next thing I remember I'm standing 3 feet back from my desk watching a puddle of molten lead eat through the carpet.
Four kids later I never cast bullets sitting down.
Be afraid, be very afraid.

be603 said...

"be afraid"

Good advice. I envision a dedicated part of a benchtop with scuppers defining the edge of the casting area to contain spillage (and a salvaged kitchen vent hood exhausted to outside of shop).

Your tale reinforces the need for such precautions.

be603 said...

p.s. Now that you've outed yourself, I'll be picking your lead poisoned brain for more tips/tricks. Heck, I'll have to have you over for to laugh at my inaugural smelting exercise. ;-)

Weetabix said...

How do you judge the temperature to float the zinc?

I've been testing weights with my thumbnail - if they mark, they go in the pot, if not, they go into another bucket.

be603 said...

hye thee hence to Cast Boolitt's forum. Lot's of discussion/coaching on the Zn problem there. Here's link to one stickie...