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Thread: I gave up on wheel weights

  1. #1

    I gave up on wheel weights

    Today while smelting some wheel weights I clearly had a zinc one sneak into the batch. I had to trash the whole thing and in disgust I trashed the rest of the wheel weights as well. Scrubbed out the pot and then sanded it clean. It's stainless pot from goodwill and not my expensive casting pot, but I think I got it all out.
    It's just that I have reached the point of diminishing returns with wheel weights. You have to sort a big batch to come up with a small percentage of lead and then this happens. I don't think it's worth the time it takes any longer.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Yes, the times and wheel weights are a-changing. You do have to sort through them. Carefully. Maybe some other sources of lead are available to you like scrap dealers, etc. Mining old backstop berms can be productive. You need a piece of coarse screen and a bucket.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    I do a cursory sort, but always get a few zincers in my smelting pot. I fish them out with the clips. Occasionally one is partially melted. Only once did I feel like I had significant contamination, and I was able to skim aggressively and save the alloy. That one troublesome pot was actually due to an excessive steel problem, caused me to overheat the zinc.

    How does your alloy look? How much did you scrap? If the batch is large enough, it might be worth trying to save.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    Don't give up just before the miracle happens. How big is your pot ? Are you using a thermometer ? A little bit of zinc wont cause any problems. There are ways to deal with it. You can add small ingots to a larger batch of clean lead and just skim the ugly off the top. Or there's fluxing with sulfer (or something like that, I haven't personally tried that one yet) I'm still diluting my mistake. Yes, sorting sucks but No reason to give up !
    Good Judgment comes from Experience, Experience comes from Bad Judgment !

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    I agree with you. I'll pay for lead instead of sorting wheel weights. After paying .40 cents a pound for some, and spending an entire day to get 20% of them lead, I won't do it again. Maybe if someone drops them off free. The best way is to find someone with an old supply of them they have been keeping. I got some from the 70's, 100% were lead, not a single steel or zinc. I think range scrap is going to replace wheel weights as the main lead of choice. Mining berms is easier than stooping over a bucket in terms of payout per hour.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Der Gebirgsjager View Post
    Yes, the times and wheel weights are a-changing. You do have to sort through them. Carefully. Maybe some other sources of lead are available to you like scrap dealers, etc. Mining old backstop berms can be productive. You need a piece of coarse screen and a bucket.
    Good advice.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I think nun2cute covered it pretty well. You're giving up too easy. One weight in a large batch won't ruin the whole batch. And yeah, I strive for zero! A small % of zinc will still cast ok. If they don't cast ok you can sluff them off one or two at a time into other good batches. Yeah, its frustrating.

    But yeah, the good old days of free or cheap wheelweights without zinc and steel are gone. I still have sources for wheelweights and I don't mind sorting them. I've gotten good at it.

    I do think that range scrap will become our main source for scrap at some time in the future. But, there are already lead free bullets. It will get worse.

    All I can say is get it while you can. I'll never have to cast with anything other than wheelweights unless I want to.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I to have given up on WW. word of caution about scrap lead you can still get the same problem but less often if you watch what you buy.only once have i got a contaminated batch.but i do not think it was zinc.no fizz with acid.i got rid of that stuff.other than that i do just fine with scrap yard lead.i get all my lead tetsted now days.the alloy calculator here is your friend.The stickies here from BNE on WW are very helpfull.soww from what i read is 3%sb and about .8%sn one average. so just go from there.Happy lead hunting

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Used to mine the pistol berms before the range closed. Due to the volume of shooting just about all the die hard shooters would buy their bullets in bulk. So with a rake,shovel and some screening made from 1/4" hardware cloth was easy to end up with 4-5 buckets no problem. Due to all the store bought hard cast bullets I picked up I would separate them and melt them down separately. Close to 100lbs of hard cast lead. The rest were also melted down separately as well. Wheel weights done separately as well. Depending what hardness would add one or two hard cast ingots to sweeten the mix. But lately just plain old wheel weights with 2% tin has worked out for me. Frank

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy ACC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by solman View Post
    Today while smelting some wheel weights I clearly had a zinc one sneak into the batch. I had to trash the whole thing and in disgust I trashed the rest of the wheel weights as well. Scrubbed out the pot and then sanded it clean. It's stainless pot from goodwill and not my expensive casting pot, but I think I got it all out.
    It's just that I have reached the point of diminishing returns with wheel weights. You have to sort a big batch to come up with a small percentage of lead and then this happens. I don't think it's worth the time it takes any longer.
    Way back, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, my brother and I collected and did all our casting with wheel weights. We paid 10 cents a pound. Good Times, Good Times. That was then (1973) today so much junk is used for balancing tires that it ain't worth it.

    ACC

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    If it worries you that the contamination is an issue , sell it for scrap and buy some known lead back from them.

    Slim
    DISCLAIMER: This is a generic comment. It is not directed at any specific human
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    TOPIC no matter the quoted clips - and nothing else. If I have not typed your
    name, specifically, into the message, it IS NOT ABOUT YOU.

  12. #12
    I should probably elaborate on my original post. The batch I threw out wasn't that big as I was just getting started on the smelting session. Also probably more than 1 or 2 zinc got in as the whole thing turned to grey mush.
    Upon further reflection I may have not sorted that small pile of weights even though I thought I did. It was in a separate bucket and it was laying around since last year.
    Still all and all the wheel weight scrap situation has panned out to be mostly zinc and stuff that you can't use , at least around here anyway. Not worth the time anymore as there just isn't enough lead in the bucket to make it worth my while.
    I have mined some range lead but others beat me to it I guess. Also I have been buying some here on our forum, mostly my new source now.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    solman, what are you wanting to cast?

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master fredj338's Avatar
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    I haven't done ww in years, it just isn't worth the return out here. FWIW, one zinc ww in 20# of alloy isn't going to ruin anything, you had to have had quite a few more. I have had zinc contaminated alloy & just heated it to flowing & fluxed the hell out of it with sawdust to pull the zinc out where I could cast with it. I get most of my alloy from berm mining plus the occasional construction site score. Got 400# of pure lead sheet last year. I should trade it for some clip ww stuff, I need very little pure lead.
    EVERY GOOD SHOOTER NEEDS TO BE A HANDLOADER.
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  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    I smelt and the moment it gets hot enough to release the steel clips from the wheel weighs I lower the temperature and start skimming them out. Any straggler zinc ones come out at that time. Then I raise the temperature and flux.


    The cost is probably losing s bit of lead with the dross. The reward is peace of mind. Heck I could process the dross again after taking out the now obvious zinc weighs but to me is not worth it.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    I have smelted the last of my pre zink weights. Looking more and more at lead tin alloys for pistols.
    You'll go far providin' you ain't burnt alive or scalped."

    Will Geer as Bear Claw in "Jeramiah Johnson"

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by fredj338 View Post
    I haven't done ww in years, it just isn't worth the return out here. FWIW, one zinc ww in 20# of alloy isn't going to ruin anything, you had to have had quite a few more. I have had zinc contaminated alloy & just heated it to flowing & fluxed the hell out of it with sawdust to pull the zinc out where I could cast with it. I get most of my alloy from berm mining plus the occasional construction site score. Got 400# of pure lead sheet last year. I should trade it for some clip ww stuff, I need very little pure lead.
    Blend some of that pure with your WW to stretch it. I'm having good luck with 50/50 WW/Pure. Powder coating helps with softer lead as well.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    A year and a half ago, my local scrap yard had a bunch of wheel weights. Using a pair of side cutter pliers, I did the test on each and every one and got nearly 200# at $.45 a pound.

    Don
    NRA Certified Metallic Cartridge Reloading Instructor

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I just got 109 lbs of free ww from a tire shop after sorting I have 32 lbs of usable lead this the worst I have seen so far.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Last I got was about 3 years ago from my local scrap dealer. He had a 55 gal drum about 2/3 full and I picked them out of there. He had already sorted out the steel and looking closely got about 130# that on careful sorting before smelting had a few zink that were missed initially. Paid 30 cents a pound. Have so much on hand, COWW, Lino, range lead, and other alloys that I'm done adding to my stash.

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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
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