View Full Version : Tar / Tar like residue on pipes to be smelted.

04-06-2008, 04:34 PM
Got @90lbs of lead pipes recovered from a worksite. About 35lbs of pipe have various amounts of what looks like tar/tar residue on the outside of them. Didn't actually see it on one piece I dropped into the smelting pot, but noticed tar on the "lip" of the pot. I removed the chunk immediately, and noticed that other pipe's had this substance on them in various amounts and degrees. So, is this something that can be smelted as is, or do I need to remove this stuff prior to smelting?

The bit that was on the lip of the pot began running down the outside, and was easily wiped away with a rag, but none of it got into the mix, and I don't know what would happen if it did. It's not water, but is liquefying.:???:

As always, I humbly submit to your experience and guidance

04-06-2008, 04:38 PM
it'll burn off in the smelt.....

04-06-2008, 06:09 PM
If it's easy to get off, get off what you can, otherwise smelt it and skim it off as soon as it melts to cut back on smoke. Not a big deal!

04-06-2008, 06:33 PM
I think it is the instantaneous boil/steam that makes the tinsel fairy show up when introducing liquids.

04-06-2008, 06:54 PM
Smelt it, use the tar for flux, it's petroleum based. Dale

04-06-2008, 09:01 PM
could probably wipe most of it off with gas
wouldn't worry about a little bit on there it's probably helping clean your lead

04-06-2008, 09:23 PM
That's why you smelt outside.

04-06-2008, 10:05 PM
Could be d--- near anything. I salvaged some cable sheathing at work (the power company) that possibly had PCB contaminated oil on it...before we knew what that was or that it was a HAZMAT situation...back in 70s or 80s. I'd be tempted to take it somewhere without a lot of people around; maybe lay it out, apply a little gasoline to get it going and burn it off. Smoke draws unwanted attention. Or clean it with solvent and dispose of the rags, etc. USE RUBBER GLOVES and possibly a respirator for paint/solvent work.

It doesn't hurt to be cautious. And anything that liqueifies might invite a visit from "the tinsel fairy." The tinsel fairy is always there; waiting to nail you. You can get pretty casual about things and THEN THE TINSEL FAIRY STRIKES!

:cbpour::redneck: from Jefferson county

04-06-2008, 10:42 PM
Thanks Fellas.

Wasn't sure if there would be any contamination of the mix. Sounds like there won't, so I'll smelt away. These pipes came from a plumbing job site, and I couldn't say exactly what it is.

I smelted everything but these pieces today since I wasn't sure, but will get them next pass. I'll knock the big chunks off, then maybe try to wipe down the pipes before smelting them. Better safe then sorry..........

Thanks again!

Baron von Trollwhack
04-07-2008, 10:24 PM
The Poo/Poo on plumbing pipes is worse than the Tar/Tar.

04-07-2008, 11:35 PM
Just stay upwind.

04-08-2008, 10:36 AM
piwo if it is on the outside it is probably a sealing tar that was meant to protect the pipe.
If it is on the inside it is probably magnessium that came out of the water itself and that stuff should float on melted lead I would think. It is horrable stuff though if it gets on to you it will follow you to bed.

04-08-2008, 07:23 PM
The Poo/Poo on plumbing pipes is worse than the Tar/Tar.

;cept all the poo poo's been IN the plumbing pipes. At 700 degrees are so, its smell is, well, distinctive.;-)

The tars all been on the outside. Not a lot, but on one it was pretty thick. I'll just knock the big chunks off, meltem down and have at it. Some of these pipes also have a harder substance on the outside of the joints. I've cut around them and not put them in either. Figured if it 'twernt pure lead, didn't want it in the pot.......

Morgan Astorbilt
04-08-2008, 10:35 PM
Boy, I guess, based upon the posts, the art of "wiping joints" has been completely lost. Lead pipe was connected to itself and other metals by the process of wiping joints. Wiped joints are made possible by the fact that when molten lead solder cools, it goes through a slushy stage, which can be shaped with a cloth, or a paddle. When two lead pipes had to be joined, they were layed butt to butt, and the area wire brushed off for a few inches for the solder to stick. The area beyond this, was coated with "plumber's black (smudge/tarnish) This was usually a composition of Glue size and lampblack (soot), but sometimes asphalt (tar). This coating kept the solder from sticking where not wanted.
The molten solder was thickly applied aided by a blowtorch, and when cooled to the slushy consistency, shaped into a sort of coupling with a paddle, and finally wiped with rags so the edges tapered down to the pipe's OD. This is probably the "Tar" of which you speak. When I was a boy, I sometimes worked as a plumber's helper for a neighbor. He taught me this, and although no one was using lead pipe anymore, there were still "lead bends" (The pipe that goes up to the toilet flange where the wax rings we sometimes use for lube are placed), and we sometimes had to wipe them to a copper pipe or brass adapter to join to a cast pipe. (Joint running).

Boy! I'm beginning to feel ancient.:confused:

04-09-2008, 06:41 AM
Morgan, you're the first man in years that I've heard mention wiping.

What Ric said about staying up wind. Don't worry about the cooties, the heat will kill everything but the melt.

Morgan Astorbilt
04-09-2008, 08:07 AM
Jim, I'm surprised no one was curious how those joints were made. I waited, and when it became apparent no one would ask, I posted the brief description. I find it sad that a lot of "Obsolete" skills are being lost from our collective memory. One example: When Red Devil Lye stops printing the instructions on their cans, no one will remember how to make soap.:(

PIWO, The "Hard substance" around the joints is solder, usually 50-50 or 60-40. DON'T discard it!! You can carefully melt it off the lead pipe with a torch, to save it, since it has a lower melting point.


04-09-2008, 09:21 AM
Morgan, it's worse than you think. Red Devil Lye hasn't been made for several years now. Put a crimp in my soap making. Now you have to order lye in bulk over the Web, providing a signed release that you're of age, stating what you're using it for, and releasing the seller from liability.

04-09-2008, 12:25 PM
Heck, Morgan, try telling somebody about leading a car body. Nodody remembers that Bondo wasn't always around.

Morgan Astorbilt
04-09-2008, 01:03 PM
That's right Rick, "Frenching" in fenders, hood seams (on Chevvies), and head lights, not to mention chop and channel seams. I've still got one or two lead files around.

04-09-2008, 02:52 PM
I've got all my grandpa's old bodywork tools from when he had a body shop in American Falls, Idaho in the late 40's. I love looking at those old tools, envisioning my grandpa working on some old car. When I was a kid he talked about body solder and other stuff like that.


Morgan Astorbilt
04-09-2008, 03:58 PM
Anybody remember when epoxy first came out? I remember my first kit came with paper dixie cups to mix it in. If you put in too much hardener, the batch would cure in less than a minute, so smoking hot you had to drop the cup.

04-09-2008, 04:03 PM
I remember seeing those old cast sewer pipes joined.It was packed with what looked like rope soaked in tar then lead was poured around the joint. The last lead I was given had been beat out of old sewer pipe. That new plastic plumbing sure changed things.

Ricochet, Red Devil Lye brings back a lot or memories. Dad would cut up aluminum and put it in a small necked bottle with lye and stretch a large balloon over the neck. When the balloon blew up it would float, he would tie a string around it and give it to me play with. Not sure what was in it but it probably wasn't good. I remember standing around waiting for the thing to fill up,seemed to take forever.


04-09-2008, 04:42 PM
I think it is the instantaneous boil/steam that makes the tinsel fairy show up when introducing liquids.

Could you explain what causes this tinsel effect?


Morgan Astorbilt
04-09-2008, 07:14 PM
If you drop a piece of wet(or even just slightly moist) lead into a pot of molten lead, the rapid expansion of steam generated, violently blows molton lead out of the pot, and probably on anyone nearby. The same thing happens when you pour molten lead into a damp ingot mold, but usually not as violent, sometimes just a few bubbles.

Morgan (Who's met the Tinsel Fairy more times than I would like)

04-09-2008, 07:49 PM
In the power plants, the water heated to produce steam to turn the turbines is under high pressure to keep it from flashing into steam as it is heated. More heat means more power at the turbine. A leak supposedly will let the water expand into steam in a volume of 1500 times the area the water occupied. Probably not near as much in your casting pot, but now you know how "the tinsel fairy" flies so fast.


04-09-2008, 09:34 PM

"Not sure what was in it but it probably wasn't good."

Hydrogen. I remember trying to degrease some parts on the kitchen gas stove in a Lye solution, heated in an aluminum pan, and watching in awe as a ball of orange-red flame rolled arond the kitchen ceiling until it reached the (fortunately, open) skylight, and vanished out of sight.

This was an old way of generating hydrogen gas for meteorological balloons.



EDIT, PS: That "rope" was called "oakum", and was actually made by picking apart tarred and worn-out Manila hemp rope; a job often forced on prisoners and called "picking oakum". I recall helping my Dad caulk some cast-iron sewer pipe the same way you describe, back around 1940. - Fg

04-09-2008, 09:56 PM
That's why you smelt outside.

I sure wish you would have told me that 20 years ago. It was raining outside.

04-09-2008, 10:26 PM
Morgan, I spent a few years installing and repairing boatlifts that had fiberglass tanks for flotation. In the cold I had to use a blow dryer to warm up the repair glass to make it harden. In the hot sun in hot weather it would set up so fast it was difficult to get it on the crack before it set up. We still wipe solder joints on copper plumbing to seal any voids due to gassing. DALE

04-09-2008, 10:29 PM
Body men used to have problems with lead poisoning due to melting, filing, and grinding lead and the lead in the paint. I knew several that had to change professions. DALE

04-09-2008, 11:23 PM
I sure wish you would have told me that 20 years ago. It was raining outside.Bet it smelt inside when you got done.