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Thread: Grain Refiners Inquirery and Scrap Question

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Rcmaveric's Avatar
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    Grain Refiners Inquirery and Scrap Question

    I am constantly reading and expanding my knowledge base. Here where I am at, Wheel weights are hard to come by and I am resigned to negotiations with the only scrap yard that will resale to me in 50 miles and all the tire shops told me to get bent because they are contracted out now. However, range scraps only cost me only my time and effort to mine. I would love to get it close to Wheel weight properties like heat treat ability. The range scraps I get are around 12 +/- a bhn. I understand that I could still heat treat that if needed but a grain refiner would enhance that. I stumbled across this article http://www.lasc.us/WiljenArsenic.htm and it raised some questions for me. It says that copper, arsenic, selenium and sulfur are grain refiners. CWW's have arsenic and I have started reading the copper alloying thread (still reading it) and I grasp the process. Though it seams long and tedious. Adding arsenic understandable has its dangers. Has anyone tried sulfur or selenium? I have tried adding sulfur while smelting and it liquefies and bust into an obnoxious odorous flame. is there a better process for adding sulfur or am I doing it wrong? I have tried googling and the search for selenium and sulfur alloying with no luck.

    My other need for training, is I am allowed to roam the scrap yard and pick out what I want to buy. Some scraps I can identify like (unsorted) wheel weights, lead sheeting and lead pipes. Is there a source of tin I could potential find there? I have asked them if the have any type alloy leads or babbit and they gave me deer in the head light looks. I could identify the printer types if it was in letters but I wouldn't be able to identify babbit if I tripped over it. Any tips for hidden treasures would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by Rcmaveric; 10-06-2017 at 11:14 PM. Reason: Grammar erros and extra word.
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    Yodogsandman's Avatar
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    You don't need a grain refiner to heat treat. It will just take a little longer to achieve maximum hardness. The risks involved to add them to your alloy isn't any where near worth it.

    Look for pewter for the tin content. Food service pewter, like platters, steins and pitchers are about 92% tin, 2% copper and 6% antimony. For starting out, only buy the items that are hallmarked that says pewter.
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    Boolit Master PBaholic's Avatar
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    Yah, it's not as simple as just adding an element. You have to add a catalyst to allow the alloy to absorb other metals.

    Look for solder at the scrapyard. It will usually be in 1lb rolls of wire, or even long bars. Solder contains tin. Like the other guy said, try Thrift shops, and look for Pewter candlesticks or dinnerware. Make sure it's marked "Pewter" or "Zinn". I buy mine at about $2/lb, but real tin goes for $10/lb.

    What are you shooting that you need harder than BHN 12?

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Or...you could buy Babbitt with all those elements and mix with range scrap.
    http://www.oldengine.org/members/die...s/Babbitt1.htm

  5. #5
    Boolit Master WRideout's Avatar
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    Pewter and solder at yard sales can go pretty cheap. I find candlesticks, commemorative plates and picture frames, etc. at thrift stores, but am finding that the stores in the high-rent areas are more like to have those. Babbit is not common, since it's not much used for bearings any more (I think).
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    Boolit Master quail4jake's Avatar
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    Retumbo makes reference to Rotometals, great source for reliable alloys and elemental metals. I would advise you to buy some tin from Rotometals and try alloying with only known metals to start. I know this costs more but remember you only need about 2% tin in trinary alloys for castability and you'll find as you melt down pewter that it is very variable and using often results in mystery alloys and boolits of various weights and hardness which results in variable performance. If you're interested in heat treating Lawrence brand magnum shot is (was)? 1.25 - 1.5 % As which is the highest concentration of As I can find in any alloy, if you do an admixture with lead and tin you can make a very heat treat responsive alloy which is reliable and only needs about .25% As as a grain refiner. Wheelweights are becoming an obsolete way to make a heat treating alloy as the manufacturers have changed the alloy over the years and now are making mostly zinc and steel weights.
    The way I see it we put alot of time and effort into gathering the equipment and education to do this right then look for the best way to make a superior product that you really can't buy commercially so that we can get top notch results. The last thing we want is some little uncontrolled glitch to spoil the deal and leave us wondering what went wrong! It's like the guy who pays big bucks for a fishing charter and has custom equipment but then goes cheap on the bait!

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Zinc & steel Ww are all that are being made thanks to the EPA.

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  10. #10
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    grain refiners work inside the alloy to make things pull together tighter.
    if your sulpher bursts into flame then you have a high heat situation.
    turn the heat down and just stir in a teaspoon full of the stuff and keep working it under the surface.
    you only need like .2% in the alloy itself to work well, half that is enough to do what you want.

    you don't need a grain refiner to quench harden an alloy but you do need antimony.
    the less antimony and the less grain refining agents the longer it takes to get to the final BHN.
    it's all an educated guess,,,, till the trigger is pulled.

    this opinion brought to you by mister low-tech solution..

  11. #11
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    Since range scrap is an unknown mixture of everybody else's alloy I consider it a waste of time to try making it into anything else if you're trying to come up with the Perfect Boolit Metal.
    I've mixed range scrap with other range scrap and come up with… clean range scrap. And it shoots just fine for most purposes. Are you shooting for fun, accuracy, performance on game animals or home defense?
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    Boolit Master Rcmaveric's Avatar
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    I cast and shoot 30-30 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .260 Remington, 6.5 Grendel, and 9mm Luger. Using straight range scraps has served me well in 9mm Luger, so that not a problem. For the other riffle calibers I was using straight wheel weights heat treated to 15 BHN and it gave me great results, but as my wheel weight stash dwindles I was looking for alternatives.

    I have looked at rotometals but I am a redneck on a tight budget. Wife said I had to wait till tax time before I place any orders with rotometals. I was looking at mixing Range Scraps, reclaimed shot and super hard in proportions to recreate wheel weight alloy and adding 1% tin. Arsenic is in the shot, but if I could alloy another grain refiner then I could omit the reclaimed shot and save money. I would only have to buy or find high antimonial lead and tin. My tin source thus far has been the tin fishing weights I find on sale randomly.

    I get that unknown lead creates unknown and variable results. I do have a hardness tester though. My thinking is that if I get the desired hardness and then sort casted bullets by weight then the actual alloy composition wouldn't matter or affect my shooting.

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts. What are the catalyst for lead or does it depend on which metal your tying to add? Like a sacrificial element?
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master Rcmaveric's Avatar
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    I shoot mostly for fun and for the sense of accomplishment and experimentation. I have contemplated using the .270 and 30-30 for hunting. By knowing the BHN of the range scraps as a base i feel that it can then be determine what needs to be added to achieve results.
    "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."
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  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdfoxinc View Post
    Zinc & steel Ww are all that are being made thanks to the EPA.
    Maybe in some states but my tire guy still buys lead weights for his shop. The used weights that he gives me are mixed with steel and zinc but he only installs lead weights on his ballance jobs.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rcmaveric View Post
    I do have a hardness tester though. My thinking is that if I get the desired hardness and then sort casted bullets by weight then the actual alloy composition wouldn't matter or affect my shooting.

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts. What are the catalyst for lead or does it depend on which metal your tying to add? Like a sacrificial element?
    You're on the right track for casting on a budget; get the right hardness and don't lose too much sleep over the perfect brew. Whatever you have plus a little tin ought to work since you're not asking for super hard boolits. Compare air-cooled vs. water-quenched, for instance, you might already have what you need. If not, a roll of lead-free solder might go a long way towards sweetening your pot.
    Last edited by JSnover; 10-07-2017 at 10:17 PM.
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  16. #16
    Boolit Master popper's Avatar
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    Adding sulfur stinks (pun intended) but it does work good. Cu works fine. A little Zn works too. Sb is a requirement, as R5R says but it doesn't take much. Don't worry about the As til you get some superhard. I'd start with the 30/30.
    Whatever!

  17. #17
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    Tin is the enemy of heat treating. Over about 3% or 4% tin and your attempts at heat treating are sabotaged by too much tin. Your heat treated bullets will not achieve the same hardness and they will soften much faster over a short period of time.

    I'd try oven heat treating and cold water quenching using just the range scrap to see what you get. Heat boolits to say 20*F below their slump temperature and use the coldest water you can get (maybe add ice, I do) for maximum hardness if you want. I'd bet you don't need a thing added to your range scrap.
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master Rcmaveric's Avatar
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    I don't add much Tin. Its barely around 1% or so to help when I am having mold fill out troubles and only when I am having troubles. I have contemplated adding a touch of zinc I have read that as long as it stays under 1% zinc I shouldn't have much troubles with castability. I figured the zinc route would be a last resort.

    Yodogsandman, you are probably right. I have never tried heat treating RS. From what I read, I know it should work. Just not as well. I will have to do some test. I don't need super hard alloys. I have started mixing the range scraps and wheel weights this casting session and it hasn't caused any problems. I normal heat treat at 400*F for an hour then into a bucket of cold water.
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  19. #19
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    those ww's contain enough As to be cut down by half or even more and still be effective.
    the shot will also have some.
    it probably doesn't have the antimony you think it does.
    reclaimed shot will kill you, you can get a bag with all 2% antimony pellets and another bag with 3% or even 4% or not and get one that averages out to maybe 1.5%.
    it's all an educated guess,,,, till the trigger is pulled.

    this opinion brought to you by mister low-tech solution..

  20. #20
    Boolit Bub
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    Cool reclaimed shot will kill you

    [QUOTEthose ww's contain enough As to be cut down by half or even more and still be effective.
    the shot will also have some.

    reclaimed shot will kill you, [/QUOTE] - - - What are the dangers??

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