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Thread: Making lead wire

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Making lead wire

    In another thread, I asked about sources for bulk lead wire. some of the responses discussed making the wire myself. Ideally, I would want to produce the wire myself in the long term, so perhaps it's worth pursuing now, at least from an informational standpoint.

    I need uninterrupted wires that are at least 20lbs to be practical, 50lbs would be better.

    As I understand it, a machine that can extrude a 20-50lb billet would be ideal, but most likely is beyond my budget and space availability.

    I'm also led to believe that some folks have had success making wire with smaller machines, and being able to add new billets and still have the extrusion be a continuous piece. In which case, the size of billet would be less critical, and I could theoretically make spools of wire as large as I would want.

    If anyone has information on reaching this "sweet spot" of being a smaller shop sized machine that can make continuous lengths of wire from multiple billets, I would be very interested in hearing it!
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    I was on the other thread, and what you propose won't work. You have to lube the billets to get it to work, so the very ends collect all sorts of crud, oil, dross from pouring the billet. Even if this could work, the joint is not like a solid piece. Bend it even slightly and it breaks. The only way you are going to make wire that length is to make a custom machine that will extrude a large billet. I've been extruding the wire on a Corbin press for years, and those are the facts.
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  3. #3
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    You're going to need a LOT of force to do that. Dont get your finger in that press.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zbench View Post
    I was on the other thread, and what you propose won't work. You have to lube the billets to get it to work, so the very ends collect all sorts of crud, oil, dross from pouring the billet. Even if this could work, the joint is not like a solid piece. Bend it even slightly and it breaks. The only way you are going to make wire that length is to make a custom machine that will extrude a large billet. I've been extruding the wire on a Corbin press for years, and those are the facts.
    As I understand it, on the Corbin press, you're absolutely right. (which is why my question on the other thread was where to buy spools) One of the posters in that thread mentioned his ability to make continuous wire, and that's why I started this thread.

    I suspect that there are a few things that would need to work out in order to make longer wire with smaller billets; one would be a more powerful press with a longer stroke (one that could extrude with little or no lube). I think the extrusion orifice would also either need to be heated, or generate and maintain enough heat to essentially produce a near liquid state within the orifice. It seems like the 'sweet spot' is where the press produces enough power to overcome the friction within the die without lube, but the die still has enough friction to create the near liquid state within the orifice.

    I understand the theory, but I'm looking for someone with experience in the actual application, how they made it work etc. I don't now if it will be worth it to me, but knowing what it would take will at least let me decide.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackoutBuilder View Post
    You're going to need a LOT of force to do that. Dont get your finger in that press.
    Yeah, I've got a number of things in the shop I try to keep my fingers out of
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    The wire gets very hot from rubbing in the oriface it's extruded from. Too hot to touch with bare hands and enough to burn skin. I think you are mixing up theory with reality. I've extruded tons, and with any commercial extruder, it's never going to get hot enough to weld together like you think. Even with the big ones, they have a beginning and the end. The part that makes it nice is the length of wire you get from a 60 pound billet is pretty long.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zbench View Post
    The wire gets very hot from rubbing in the oriface it's extruded from. Too hot to touch with bare hands and enough to burn skin. I think you are mixing up theory with reality. I've extruded tons, and with any commercial extruder, it's never going to get hot enough to weld together like you think. Even with the big ones, they have a beginning and the end. The part that makes it nice is the length of wire you get from a 60 pound billet is pretty long.
    I appreciate the input. I'm hoping to hear from folks who have also experimented with this, as I've heard from several people directly and indirectly that they've found ways to extrude lead wire continuously, and I'm curious about their techniques and equipment.
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    why don't you get a core mold that what I have you can cast a lot of cores very quickly D Crockett

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    Quote Originally Posted by D Crockett View Post
    why don't you get a core mold that what I have you can cast a lot of cores very quickly D Crockett
    That's certainly an option for most things, but for my purposes, lead wire is a better, faster solution, assuming I can create or acquire it in good lengths.
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    I make my own wire for 17 cal bullets.I have a Corbin hydro press. I have to lube the billet and warm it up to make it flow easy.
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  10. #10
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    I too have access to a Corbin hydro press and make wire for 224 and 17 cal. It takes a lot of pressure to make that 17 wire. When changing billets, and as stated above the wire will "meld" together but there is a weak point at the join. It may look OK but if you bend the wire it will break at that point. You will also get voids etc. I cut the start and end off the wire off to ensure the cut cores are free from flaws.
    I gather you are selling it?

    Bill
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    Bill,

    That's exactly my experience as far as the "welding" effect goes. As an aside, I had Corbin make a special die for the smaller wire sizes I make. Apparently, the normal hydro just can't extrude wire effectively under .170. To get around this limitation, he made a die with a nest of 7 holes in it. It's the total surface area of the holes, not just the small size that matters. That way, you can easily squirt the smaller wire. Not all the openings extrude the same length, and some don't extrude at all, but you can get it done with normal pressures. Something to consider.
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  12. #12
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    Hi Zbench,
    I have considered this and next time I will speak to the owner if we should build a double orifice die to reduce pressures. At the moment I have enough wire in 17 to last my needs for several years. With a 10 grain core you can make hundreds of projectiles out of a single billet, let alone the 15 Kg I just extruded.
    The OP wants a 25lb / 10Kg spool of flawless wire. This can be done at normal swaging pressures but just needs a longer stroke, a bigger slug of lead or a comination of both. Basically upscale. There are some good vids of large billets being extruded.

    Bill
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  13. #13
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    I extrude approximately 1 lb billets into one piece of continuous wire using a benchtop hydraulic press.

    When I put in the next billet I, sometimes see the next piece sticks to the previous one and it looks continuous. The seam quickly breaks and the two pieces fall apart again.

    The only way to get a continuous piece is to make the wire size you need from a single billet.

    As the size of the billet gets bigger, the size of the hydraulic cylinder gets bigger fast and the cost skyrockets.

    Why do you need wire in such a big roll? Do you need it to run for a given time without intervention?

  14. #14
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    LUP,

    My experience exactly. It is a conundrum why the OP needs such robust wire demands. You can cut a boatload or cores fast from the kind of wire we make. Even semi commercials makers do it the same way. Perhaps when the holy grail of wire welding is discovered, we will all be better informed.
    Zbench

  15. #15
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    My lead wire press takes 3 lead slugs that are 46 mm diameter x 73 mm long and is powered by a 2.3 Kw hydraulic power pack. The Die head takes 25 mm bolts that are drilled, reamed and polished to the wire sizes i need... I just run a low pressure LPG burner to keep the die head warm, and it squirts lead wire like i squirt a bad curry... If you want, i can try find the drawings and post them, pretty easy to make, Id make you one here but freight from Australia to the USA is killer...

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by lup View Post

    Why do you need wire in such a big roll? Do you need it to run for a given time without intervention?
    Essentially yes, I've got a core cutting machine that feeds wire from spools. The 'feed' length is about 18" and so having wires that are only a few inches longer than the feed length would make it pointless, and I should just cut cores by hand.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zbench View Post
    LUP,

    My experience exactly. It is a conundrum why the OP needs such robust wire demands.
    Because with rolls long enough, I can flip a switch, depress a lever and do other things while my machine cuts cores.

    Quote Originally Posted by M.A.D View Post
    My lead wire press takes 3 lead slugs that are 46 mm diameter x 73 mm long and is powered by a 2.3 Kw hydraulic power pack. The Die head takes 25 mm bolts that are drilled, reamed and polished to the wire sizes i need... I just run a low pressure LPG burner to keep the die head warm, and it squirts lead wire like i squirt a bad curry... If you want, i can try find the drawings and post them, pretty easy to make, Id make you one here but freight from Australia to the USA is killer...
    I would be very interested in the drawings and design. To Clarify, are you saying you can continue to add billets and make continuous lengths of wire?

    Thanks!
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  17. #17
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    I would be interested in seeing some pics of your core cutting machine.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimrk View Post
    I would be interested in seeing some pics of your core cutting machine.
    It's nothing special, just a tooled OBI press with a wire feeder and simple straightener. I'll get some photos at some point, but I've got stuff piled on top of it at the moment due to lack of usable wire.
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  19. #19
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    My only issue is the join mark on the lead wire... Sometimes it separates... But you only want to make 20 LB spools.. You could easily upscale my press. A mold to cast a lead slug 25 cm x 7 cm will easily give you a 20 lb spool of continuous wire.. Will send PM later..

  20. #20
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    As others have said, the fusion of the two billets is a mechanical one. For it to be fused, the wire coming out of the die would have to be molten. That is the only way that something that is two pieces can become one. If it were molten, your wire would not be round anymore, which negates the point of using wire. As others have suggested, if you want a 20 pound spool of continuous wire, you need to start with a 20# billet of lead. There is some math and calculations involved in this process. It's not just a matter of using a bigger billet. Fortunately, Corbin takes the guess work out of the process for you with their handy lead extrusion calculator.

    Check out the attached image. If you made a lead ingot 2.5" in diameter and 10" long, you would have a 20.1# ingot, so in theory you could make your 20# spool of wire. But look at the kind of cylinder you would need to drive that. 6" in diameter with a 15" stroke. That's bigger than the cylinder on a log splitter. Plus you would need the pump to drive it and the motor to drive the pump. Not saying that's impossible, but it's not a "desktop" set up. That is a serious unit. Corbin's standard hydro press has a 3.25" cylinder with a 6" stroke for comparison.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Zbench; 04-11-2018 at 10:47 AM.
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