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Thread: Melting down brass cases?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master 63 Shiloh's Avatar
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    Melting down brass cases?

    Hi Fellers,

    I have recently been reading a bit about backyard smelting of aluminium and steel, using homemade tools and molds for pouring the melted material into a desired shape.

    My question, if I finish my homemade furnace project, could scrap brass cases be melted in a crucible then poured into an ingot form? I am thinking of an ingot of about 10" long, 6" wide and 4" deep.

    I would then like to turn this in my lathe and make some parts to replace plastic in a variety of objects.

    I would imagine that depriming would be a must, other than that, is there any other work required?

    Anyone done this?


    Mike

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Those furnaces should be able to handle the heat, but you will have to watch out for zinc fumes. It will show up as a white residue around the crucible top.
    Other than that, it will be just like any other metal. The primers are brass also. Should be able to melt them in.
    Use Boric acid as flux. Roach poison.
    Good luck to you. You will enjoy it.
    I cast small lots of brass. They come out well.
    Second melt though, you will have to freshen the brass.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    the primers are brass too. you can make your mold any way you want. Laundry starch and water mix . get some play sand at lowes and use old tin cans as hole. when sand dries remove cans and fill it up. If you know a plumber may get some old cast iron pipe. you can set in the ground and fill then break the pipe off
    Hope you have free gas that takes a lot to melt at that hi temp
    guy I know made one that used used trans fluid to melt car transmitions It worked but after the dealers found that he would add pot cast to it they wouldnt buy it.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    When I was a kid a friends father had a small natural gas fired blast furnace. He melted aluminum and made fighting cock wall plaques, basement vents, and sundials. When he progressed to brass he had to pack coke around the crucible to get it hot enough. I wonder where one could purchase coke in this day and time?

  5. #5
    Bulletsmith/Engineer


    Defcon-One's Avatar
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    Zinc fumes can and have killed people! Do your research and wear proper protection.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Defcon-One View Post
    Zinc fumes can and have killed people! Do your research and wear proper protection.
    I know that zinc in itself is not harmful but fumes might be a different story if you burn it.
    Just stay out of the cloud.
    Last edited by lwknight; 02-04-2014 at 07:57 PM.
    Sent from my PC with a keyboard and camera on it with internet too.
    Melting Stuff is FUN!
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  7. #7
    Boolit Master


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    Plenty of info on the internet. Just Google "home foundry" and the websites usually list suppliers of crucibles, fluxes, furnace designs, etcc.

  8. #8
    Longwood
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    Quote Originally Posted by calaloo View Post
    I wonder where one could purchase coke in this day and time?
    Hollywood or Beverly hills.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master 63 Shiloh's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies fellers,

    I will research the process carefully and wear the appropriate protective gear.

    A thought, would it be feasible to use the brass that I melt to make a small .54cal cannon? I will only be using BP of course.



    Mike

  10. #10
    Boolit Master JIMinPHX's Avatar
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    If you are planning to turn the brass on a lathe, why not cast your ingots round?

    With 360 brass going for over $5/lb, I can see where melting down unneeded cases might be tempting.
    “an armed society is a polite society.”
    Robert A. Heinlein

    "Idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum pars servitutis esset."
    Publius Tacitus

  11. #11
    Boolit Master dnepr's Avatar
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    As someone who has done the home foundry thing I would suggest starting with zinc or aluminum before graduating to brass , this type of casting makes lead look room temperature so mistakes can be scary , I never got to casting brass , and time simply doesn't allow me to persue that hobby anymore , maybe when I retire

  12. #12
    Bulletsmith/Engineer


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    Quote Originally Posted by lwknight View Post
    Are you sure that your not thinking about galvanize fumes?
    I know that zinc in itself is not harmful but fumes might be a different story.
    I am sure! At the temperatures required to melt Brass, you will produce Zinc Oxide gas. The white smoke and powder are a sure sign of it. Bad mojo for things like lungs, which all of us use to breath every day!

    Get enough (everyone is different), you'll get sick, then possibly better, then if you had enough exposure you could still die later in the weeks to follow. It has happened before, typically causing pneumonia which can result in death.

    Galvanize fumes are Zinc Oxide fumes usually created by welding galvanized (Zinc coated) pipes. Same thing!

    This has been called in the past "Monday Morning Fever", "Brass Fever", "The Brass Shakes", "Foundry Flu", ect. Severe cases can kill you!

    Zinc casting is different and fairly safe. Like with Lead, you do not reach high enough temperatures to release any noxious or dangerous fumes.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master in Heavens Range. man.electric's Avatar
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    Not to draw away from the safety portion that the tread has taken, but I ran across these crucibles on CL for a song if anyone is interested.

    http://kansascity.craigslist.org/tls/2448975153.html

  14. #14
    Boolit Master Salmon-boy's Avatar
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    I would definitely suggest picking up a copy of "Gas Burners for Forges, Furnaces, and Kilns" - VERY good reading. I've built one of Mikey's burners and have been able to melt copper pipe in open air.

    The furnace designs he illustrates allow more efficient melting of different materials. I've been melting aluminum for a few years now using a propane burner and refractory furnace built from a used propane tank. I have yet to get it up to copper melting temps yet, but that's mostly because I haven't built anything to grab the crucible yet.

    BTW, man.electric's post on craigslist is for riser insulators, not crucibles. They are insulated to keep the riser molten longer and provide liquid metal to fill in shrinkage.
    "Unnh, Negative. I am a meat popsicle."

    Chuck

  15. #15
    Boolit Master in Heavens Range. man.electric's Avatar
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    Sorry chuck, I did't know exactly what they were, but the price looked right for any sort of industrial gear.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    If you are looking for a new hobby great. If however, you are looking for a means to an end - the end being able to turn out brass parts, may I suggest this:

    http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRAR?PMSECT=1914

  18. #18
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by calaloo View Post
    I wonder where one could purchase coke in this day and time?
    Coke isn't hard to make. It uses the same process as making char-cloth. I'd get an ammo can and drill a few small holes in the lid, fill it with coal and throw it in a fire or on the turkey fryer till smoke stopped coming out of the lid. That's about all there is to it.

    They used to make steel here, and the coke plant ran night and day to feed the blast furnaces. Coal was coked by the rail car load, when they rolled them out of the oven at night the entire car was cherry red. Impressive !!!

  19. #19
    Longwood
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    Quote Originally Posted by L1A1Rocker View Post
    If you are looking for a new hobby great. If however, you are looking for a means to an end - the end being able to turn out brass parts, may I suggest this:

    http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRAR?PMSECT=1914
    I have use Enco products for many years and would use a piece of their round stock for a cannon long before I would use a piece that I cast myself.

  20. #20
    Vendor Sponsor

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    Primers are made of 70/30 cartridge brass so I don't see any need to deprime so long as your primers are all spent

    It is my understanding that you can prevent the zinc from oxidizing if you keep it away from oxygen, some people use a layer of molten glass on top of the melt but you will still get some oxidation when you pour so ventilation is a must.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check