View Full Version : WW Lead way to hard!

Remington Kid
01-16-2006, 05:05 PM
A friend of mine who owns a garage gave me some real old wheel weights he had laying around for many years. Some of the weights must have been for some really big wheels because they were a foot long,Lol.
Anyway I melted them down and got rid of all the crud and came out with some nice looking lead ingots so I casted some .380 balls today and before I knew it I had about 200 nice looking balls from my Lee double cavity mold to try out.
Had to give them a try so I got out my 1851 Navy Colt .36 and loaded it up with 25g of Pyrodex "P" and went to seat a ball on top and the lead ball is way to hard!! I got six loaded and they shot great but it's a lot harder than I want to mess with and to hard on the loading ram.
I'll have about #10 of this stuff when I remelt these. What can I add to the lead to soften it up and how much should I use? Thanks for any info you may have, Mike

Wayne Smith
01-16-2006, 05:35 PM
Yup, you have found out what almost everyone tells about C&B revolvers. Use only pure soft lead. You're lucky you haven't bent your loading rod on those ww balls. Give the ww's to someone who casts for smokeless and you and he will be happy. Find some pure lead - x-ray lining or roofing lead and you will be happy.

If you are anywhere's near Tidewater, VA I'd do business with you, but it's not worth shipping this stuff.

Remington Kid
01-16-2006, 06:40 PM
Thanks wayne, I guess your telling me that there's nothing I can ad to this stuff to soften it up?
I'll do some checking for the pure lead, sure wish you were closer too. I live in south central , WV.
Is the lead that plumbers use a good sorce? Thanks for the info, Mike

01-16-2006, 07:36 PM
Plumbers lead should be pretty near pure. Instead of messing with the WW, save it for another use.

Remington Kid
01-16-2006, 08:29 PM
Thanks Wills. Looks like I will be cleaning out my lee lead pot tomorrow. It's going to rain all day so it will be something to do. Thanks guy's for your help, Mike

01-16-2006, 08:51 PM
Mike, something funny there. Those balls should have tested out pretty much as soft as pure lead, immediately after casting.

Bent Ramrod
01-16-2006, 10:34 PM
Remington Kid,

I remember casting .44 balls out of range scrap and using them in my Navy Arms 1860 Army back in the early '70's. The rack-and-pinion creeping loading lever design allowed me to actually seat the balls, but the wedge that held the barrel to the cylinder mandrel got loose real quick.

If you use undersized hard lead balls, they will seat easier but will move forward on recoil, so that expedient is out. Some people report success with hard lead balls in muzzle loading rifles, but these generally use cloth patches to take up the windage.

For all practical purposes, once the alloy is mixed, it is there for all time. You can soften it somewhat by adding huge amounts of pure lead, but you might as well use the lead for the pistol in the first place and save the wheelweights for other cast bullet applications. I find even salvaged .22 rimfire lead is noticeably harder than pure lead, although it is my choice for blackpowder cartridge bullets.

01-17-2006, 02:11 AM
RK, there's a cylinder loading thingie that allows you to load your cylinder outside the gun. That'd take all the strain off your loading rod on the gun, if you really want to use the lead in your C&B revolver. I have one but can't remember where I got it. Track of the Wolf maybe??? My gun is a steel frame .44 Navy, and I just didn't want the strain of seating .454" balls to bend or loosen anything, so bought the loader. It'll load Colts or Remingtons. There's a hard and seems to be durable plastic "washer" that slips over the center pin (that fits the Rem.'s) to load Colt cylinders. Darn I wish I could remember where I got the thing so I could post a link for you, but somebody here ought to have the info .... and a memory! :neutral:

Remington Kid
01-17-2006, 08:33 AM
Blackwater, I know the loader your talking about . One cost $60.00 and the other is $19.95.
I may get one but ot won't be the $60.00 deal. Not right after Christmas anyway,Lol.

Waksupi, Don't know why they are so hard but I was told that the old wheel weights were made from harder lead than the one's today and these were very old. Maybe the fact that I dropped them in water right away made them to hard. Is that possible??? I'm new at this casting stuff but I'm sure learning as I go,Lol. Mike

01-17-2006, 09:44 AM
Water dropping was your culprit, most likely. Try aircooling them, and I'll bet you are ok to go. Just cast up what you want to shoot in a week's time, and I bet they are plenty soft to shoot. Any longer, and they will be hardnening too much again.

Remington Kid
01-17-2006, 10:35 AM
Thanks Waksupi, I'll give that a try before I give up on the lead. Mike

01-17-2006, 01:26 PM
Ric, Wouldn't oven heating (to what temp 425-450?) and then air cooling save him remelting and recasting? Regards, Woody

Remington Kid
01-17-2006, 03:28 PM
Well, I tried to just let them air cool and they are still way to hard. I believe it's just the old wheel weights that were much harder than today's weights.
I'll just have to get me some pure lead. Thanks anyway guy's. Now I know and it's just a lesson learned :neutral:

01-17-2006, 08:58 PM
Ric, Wouldn't oven heating (to what temp 425-450?) and then air cooling save him remelting and recasting? Regards, Woody

I believe you would have to take them to temperature, and then let them cool slowly, inside the oven, to get full softness. I'm still puzzled over the fact they would be so hard, when fresh cast. Bullets just don't harden like that. I'm wondering if the throats were measured, and the ball. Oversize ball, maybe? Getting more than a very thin ring off of them, when seating? Something ain't kosher with this problem.

01-18-2006, 12:43 AM
Something ain't kosher with this problem.

Kid, what do those balls weigh? My .378's weigh right at 82 grains cast from WW. If yours are lighter there's prob'ly somethin' in there other than normal that's hardening them. Otherwise, as Ric said, maybe you're.......ummmm......yer balls are too big. If you can get some of the stick-on weights, they're most pure lead. Regards, Woody

01-18-2006, 12:45 AM
I got to think them foot long WW are not ie regular ones? Or that the .380 balls are just too darned big for that cylinder. Are the balls realy .380? What is the chamber size? Soft lead will cast a smaller ball also.

Remington Kid
01-18-2006, 08:05 AM
Thia 1851 Nacy .36 calls for .375 balls but they are to loose and that's why most people go to .380 and they fit just right shaving just a little lead . When I got this gun and casting equipment a friend of mine gave me about #8 of pure lead. I casted a couple hundred .380 balls and they loaded great! Also casted a couple hundred .454 for my .44 Remington's and they load great also. I was always buying swaged for the Remington untel I started casting. The .454 is way to hard to load also and that's how I know that it's not the ball size, it's the hardness of the lead.
These wheel weights were so hard that you could not put a scratch in them if you wanted to but I though t they would soften some . Guess I was wrong.
Two friends of mine were going to get me all the lead I could use when they replaced some very old phone lines that are wraped in lead but the boss told them no. There not allowed to do it. Now I have to buy some . Anyone know where to get the best price on pure lead? I found one place that sells it by the ingots and they claim they weigh about #7 and they want $14.95 plus shipping. That seems high to me for lead.

01-18-2006, 08:43 AM
Lead can get expensive if you have to order it. By way of comparison, I buy certified 99% lead, last time I paid about $0.75 per pound. That was on the dock at the lead company.

Have you tried to Google® for lead near your location?

01-18-2006, 09:49 AM
Remington Kid,I assume you have some scrap/recycling yards around.They will be taking stuff from locals for resale.Try the Yards.Some of them may not want to sell to ya,big ones usualy.The guys I have best luck are the guys that are hauling stuff to them.One man operation.Makes a few bucks hauling to the big guys.That is who you need to hook up with.I pay about a nickle over what the yard pays him.We both come out ahead. Last I knew Lead was at around a .20 a lb wholesale for scrap.Price goes up-down like corn or gold.Call one of the big yards and ask what they are paying for scrap lead?They will offer to give you about 60% of what they sell it for. That is here in Mi.Your location may be diffrent.

Remington Kid
01-18-2006, 02:36 PM
Thanks for the tip on the scrap yard. I'll see if they have any in Charleston, WV. We don't have any where I live,Lol. I'm 55 miles from the nearest mall or Wal mart let alone a scrap yard. It's about 60 miles to Charleston so it would be a 120 mile round trip so adding the cost of gas around here I should be able to get some lead at about the same price as GOLD!! [smilie=l: It will be worth it If they sell me about 25lbs. or so. Thanks again, Mike

Remington Kid
01-18-2006, 03:41 PM
Did some checking on salvage yards in Charleston and found nothing. I will do some more checking on that. Called two plumbers supply places and one gave me a price of $10.75 for #10. The other gave me a price of $1.25 a pound and they sell it in one pound ingots.
I figur that don't sound to bad for clean pure lead and he said it's the number 6 lead and it's perfect for what I want.
If I buy #50 of that I should still be way ahead of what it would cost me to buy already cast or swaged compared to how many balls I can cast with #50.
Anyway, Thanks again guy's for your help, Mike

01-18-2006, 10:51 PM
Mike,You being from West by God Virgenny You must have some small scraper operations in one of them hollers.Heck I can feel it from here.
Some other stuff that is good soft lead. Lead water pipes,roof and vent flashing,Old shower pans.Mine and loging equptment using counterweights are sometimes lead too.Dentist and docs use pure lead in walls in x-ray rooms also.So put the word out to local remodelers,roofers and plumbers.

Remington Kid
01-18-2006, 11:11 PM
We have a few junk yards here but just junk cars , no salvage yards. There is a couple of dentist around that I can check on and I already have the word out on my wanting some lead. WW are easy to get but I'm done messing with them.lol.
Forgot to ad that I can check with some of the minners and we have alot of abandoned mines and equipment I can look at. Thanks for the tip, Mike

01-18-2006, 11:37 PM