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Thread: My lead/pewter alloy is a pain to cast with

  1. #61
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    Google is your friend:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_metal

    White metal can be just about anything. Just like pot metal (another “glob” of many types of metals that melt around the temp of Pb/Sz/Sn.

    Hallmarks & touchmarks on the bottom are your leeeeetle friend! Pass on all those cute little picture frames, ornaments, doo-dads, figurines, etc you may think are cheap sources of pewter!

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverhome View Post
    You'd need something known in the pot melted first or there would be no way of really telling the temp. Unlikely you'd get a valid temp on a dry pot
    OR, hold a butane lighter under it ...even lead is hard to melt with a butane lighter. Tin is the only common metal I know of that will melt with that small flame.
    AKA hans.pcguy

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin c View Post
    Sigh, and I haven't even gotten to the problem of "white metal", which I understand melts at low temp like tin and pewter, but may have undesirable metals other than zinc, so it may not fizz with muriatic acid. I think that generally they are fairly hard compared to pewter; does anyone know for sure?
    White metal melts at a way higher temp than tin or lead. These things become obvious after just a tiny amount of experience with them. White metal, pot metal, sh**t metal, spelter, are all different names for Zinc with other contaminating metals in it.
    If you were to hold a butane lighter under a piece of pewter (nearly all tin), it would melt in your hand. Even lead won't do that unless it is a very thin sliver. So it turns out that a butane lighter is a good rule of thumb to test for pewter.
    If you put separate chunks of pewter and lead in a pot the pewter would melt first (if they all were touching the pot about the same.)
    If you put pewter in a pot with lead and zinc in separate piles, the pewter would melt then the lead and they could mix easily, The Zinc would float on top for quite a while until the pot got hot enough to melt it. WAAAAY hotter than the tin/lead.
    Again a tiny bit of experience will show you these things. Don't be afraid of this stuff. I used to do this as a little kid 7 or 8 years old...on the kitchen stove. (My mother was not fond of it but hey?)
    Not rocket science here.
    AKA hans.pcguy

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffer View Post
    OR, hold a butane lighter under it ...even lead is hard to melt with a butane lighter. Tin is the only common metal I know of that will melt with that small flame.
    It all thermodynamics. If you hold a strand of high Sn solder over a BIC lighter it will melt. If you hold that same alloy in a 1-2# ingot over that same flame, you will be there for a month of Sundays waiting for even a small corner of the mass to heat to it’s liquid state.

    Same with pewter. VERY small thin walled items may melt a bit. Most conduct the heat away faster than that little whimpy flame can heat it up. Not a fool-proof test but under the right sizes and conditions, it may give an insite into what the piece is made of.

    That method will probably NOT be acceptable to most junk, antique, and second-hand stores!!!!!!!

    Pure Sn starts to melt at 450F. Depending on the alloy of the pewter, it can melt as low as 338F!

    I have a bunch of a eutectic alloy of Bi/Sn/Pb/Cu that melts at 140F and a hot cup of coffee will melt a 1# ingot in a very short time!

    There are good sources of good REAL pewter out there. Many on here have found it and sell it on here. But it seems to normally be in the form of MODERN stamped food service items, not figurines, frames, ornaments, and other junk that happens to be silver in color. We do have a limited series of PURE artisan hand-crafted, stamped, and signed pewter Christmas ornaments that will NEVER be melted down for any boolits! They are worth many times the going rate of pure foundry Sn ingots from Roto.

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by bangerjim View Post
    It all thermodynamics. If you hold a strand of high Sn solder over a BIC lighter it will melt. If you hold that same alloy in a 1-2# ingot over that same flame, you will be there for a month of Sundays waiting for even a small corner of the mass to heat to it’s liquid state.

    Same with pewter. VERY small thin walled items may melt a bit. Most conduct the heat away faster than that little whimpy flame can heat it up. Not a fool-proof test but under the right sizes and conditions, it may give an insite into what the piece is made of.

    That method will probably NOT be acceptable to most junk, antique, and second-hand stores!!!!!!!

    Pure Sn starts to melt at 450F. Depending on the alloy of the pewter, it can melt as low as 338F!

    I have a bunch of a eutectic alloy of Bi/Sn/Pb/Cu that melts at 140F and a hot cup of coffee will melt a 1# ingot in a very short time!

    There are good sources of good REAL pewter out there. Many on here have found it and sell it on here. But it seems to normally be in the form of MODERN stamped food service items, not figurines, frames, ornaments, and other junk that happens to be silver in color. We do have a limited series of PURE artisan hand-crafted, stamped, and signed pewter Christmas ornaments that will NEVER be melted down for any boolits! They are worth many times the going rate of pure foundry Sn ingots from Roto.
    Really? Have you tried it? I do it right there in the 2nd hand shop. Hold the lighter on the edge of the pewter and it starts melting in a minute or so. So many of you guys argue what you know through some book learning ...I am telling you what I have done!
    AKA hans.pcguy

  6. #66
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    You sure have different 2nd hand shops than we do!

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by bangerjim View Post
    You sure have different 2nd hand shops than we do!
    I have never gotten caught. If I did get caught I could easily explain that if it did melt, I would buy it.
    AKA hans.pcguy

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    Thanks banger, for the link to the Wikipedia entry on white metal. What I get from it is that suspected white metal may be fine for our purposes (lead, antimony, tin) or not (cadmium, zinc) and that at least the example they provide can melt close to tin/pewter's melting point. I didn't get a clear sense of hardness or bendability, but my sense is that some pewter can be fairly hard and difficult to mark. Seems to me that such alloy would more likely be in those hard wearing parts you describe. If thicker, with more metal present for the sake of strength, such a bit of pewter like a solid leg on a tray might not respond to a small flame very well (my experience matches your comments - it took something like fifteen to twenty seconds of steady point application of a wide open propane torch to start melting the edge of a thick three pound pewter plate that was later confirmed by BNE analysis). It might be a problem trying to see if it will melt in proven pewter, though may be not if the mass of the test sample is low.

    I may resort to using dikes on suspicious parts: if it is as hard as zinc, I will treat it as such, even if it is on a touch marked piece.

    A question to you, banger, and to roger dat: of the marked pewter you've processed, what proportion actually had zinc parts or anything else that messed up your pewter melt or the alloy made from it later?

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin c View Post
    Thanks banger, for the link to the Wikipedia entry on white metal. What I get from it is that suspected white metal may be fine for our purposes (lead, antimony, tin) or not (cadmium, zinc) and that at least the example they provide can melt close to tin/pewter's melting point. I didn't get a clear sense of hardness or bendability, but my sense is that some pewter can be fairly hard and difficult to mark. Seems to me that such alloy would more likely be in those hard wearing parts you describe. If thicker, with more metal present for the sake of strength, such a bit of pewter like a solid leg on a tray might not respond to a small flame very well (my experience matches your comments - it took something like fifteen to twenty seconds of steady point application of a wide open propane torch to start melting the edge of a thick three pound pewter plate that was later confirmed by BNE analysis). It might be a problem trying to see if it will melt in proven pewter, though may be not if the mass of the test sample is low.

    I may resort to using dikes on suspicious parts: if it is as hard as zinc, I will treat it as such, even if it is on a touch marked piece.

    A question to you, banger, and to roger dat: of the marked pewter you've processed, what proportion actually had zinc parts or anything else that messed up your pewter melt or the alloy made from it later?
    I do not consider holding a thick piece of pewter over a butane lighter for 15 or 20 seconds to be an unreasonably demanding test. If that was zinc you would empty the lighter, burn your fingers and just turn the piece black. Pretty convincing proof if you ask me. But if you want to send every piece of suspected pot metal off to be XRF tested. That would surely tell you what is in there. I wont post anymore on this because obviously my opinion is pretty disregarded and seen as nutzo here.
    AKA hans.pcguy

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin c View Post
    Thanks banger, for the link to the Wikipedia entry on white metal. What I get from it is that suspected white metal may be fine for our purposes (lead, antimony, tin) or not (cadmium, zinc) and that at least the example they provide can melt close to tin/pewter's melting point. I didn't get a clear sense of hardness or bendability, but my sense is that some pewter can be fairly hard and difficult to mark. Seems to me that such alloy would more likely be in those hard wearing parts you describe. If thicker, with more metal present for the sake of strength, such a bit of pewter like a solid leg on a tray might not respond to a small flame very well (my experience matches your comments - it took something like fifteen to twenty seconds of steady point application of a wide open propane torch to start melting the edge of a thick three pound pewter plate that was later confirmed by BNE analysis). It might be a problem trying to see if it will melt in proven pewter, though may be not if the mass of the test sample is low.

    I may resort to using dikes on suspicious parts: if it is as hard as zinc, I will treat it as such, even if it is on a touch marked piece.

    A question to you, banger, and to roger dat: of the marked pewter you've processed, what proportion actually had zinc parts or anything else that messed up your pewter melt or the alloy made from it later?
    The few items (that were not antiques and valuable and added to my collection!) I have melted down were well-marked modern food items such as plates and saucers. A couple candlestick (minus the carp weight in the bottoms). I have not processed any tea pots or such that MIGHT have non-pewter handles/lids soldered on.

    Just be watchful on your pewter quest.

    Bangerjim

  11. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverhome View Post
    No. Definitely not too cool on the pot and definitely not too cool on the mold. Like I mentioned I have to run the alloy way hotter than I like. I should have elaborated that other alloys don't need to run this hot.

    You are obviously correct. I do need a thermometer. I typically establish my best temp VERY imperfectly based on mold fillout and oxidation rate. It's lazy and I really should just spend the 40 bucks.
    Buy or build a P.I.D.! With it, you can dial in the temp you want perfectly; if you use a thermometer you will only know how hot the melt is with no control over it whatsoever! The "temp control" on your pot will allow large swings in pot temp. A P.I.D. will maintain a given set point regardless of whether the pot is full, half empty or anywhere in between. My casting improved dramatically once I started using a P.I.D.
    "We'll kill them ALL!"

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