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Thread: Alloy consistency witg scrap lead

  1. #1

    Alloy consistency witg scrap lead

    I have read some that suggests that alloy consistency can affect accuracy (not just hardness). So this has lead to me considering whether I should try to mix all my scrap lead into one consistent batch. Or if I should sort it and mark the batches.

    I would prefer to mix it into one big batch, buy my pot won't hold it all at once. So I would have to melt some, pour out some ingots, add some other ingots, pour out more ingots, add the first ones back in...

    Suggestions?

  2. #2
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    Get a large pot, or mark your batches.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master 44magLeo's Avatar
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    I don't know what you have for lead, but I might sort it out to separate the pure lead from mixed lead. Keep the pure seperate for now. The rest I would sort by batch. The ingots you made from one batch go I one pile.
    When you have it sorted out this way. You can take a bit from each pile in equal amounts to fill your pot. Run out as many ingots as you can. With my Lee pot I get about 18 ingots at a time. Put these in one stack.
    This is one lot. Repeat with all your lead. Let's say you get 18 lots of 18 ingots.
    Now when you want to cast just fill your pot with an ingot from each lot. This will give you a fairly consistent alloy.
    I might not do this. I might do the pot full to get lots. Then cast some out of each lot to see which lot shoots the best.
    You may find several of the lots shoot the same while others don't. I might then mix these lots together for a larger lot of that alloy. Get this lot checked with one of the testers that can tell you the composition of the lead.
    Now on the stuff that doesn't shoot as well you can get it tested to see what it needs to get to match your best shooting lot.
    Then you can mix that stuff to match what works for you.
    With the pure separate if you need to you can mix it in you get the alloy to match.
    I'm trying to determine this now with my alloys. A have some that's COWW, some SOWW, some is mixed with Lino. some pure, some I've been experimenting with. Trying to get alloy that works well at different velocities. I shoot light, medium and full bore loads in pistols.
    I shoot a 44 mag lever action the same way.
    I'm just getting into cast with larger rifle cartridges. I will need to find alloy that work well in those at light, medium and top loads.
    I have much work top do.
    So for you doing the ingot lots is a good start.
    Leo

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master

    gwpercle's Avatar
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    Larger pot ?
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  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master fredj338's Avatar
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    For rifle loads shot out past 50y, but for handgun loads, I don't think alloy diff affect accuracy that much, at least to 25y. A big pot & blending 30-40# at a time would be more consistent.
    EVERY GOOD SHOOTER NEEDS TO BE A HANDLOADER.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwpercle View Post
    Larger pot ?
    The simplest way to mix one batch for alloy that is all the same from mixed lead.

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I do my smelting in batches of between 350 and 400#, mostly wheel weights. I keep the batches separate. I'll put the odd battery cable end, broken linotype bar or odd roll of solder in the pot. I know from experience that wheel weights work well for my purposes and I also know that the odd stuff that I add won't hurt it.

    So, I suggest you get a larger pot and burner and make larger batches. A cutoff propane tank and a Turkey frier burner are favorites. The drawback to larger batches is mainly contamination. I carefully hand sort my wheel weights and test the other stuff for zinc.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Forrest r's Avatar
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    I've used range scrap/berm lead since 1990 for 99% +/- of my casting needs. Doing 150# at a time yields +/- 100# of ingots that run in the 8bhn/9bhn range air cooled and +/- 12bhn water dropped.

    Keeping everything under 1800fps there's no accuracy issues.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    I usually melt my range scrap in 300-400lb batches. However I haven't done a great job of marking each batch. They are marked as RL for range lead. I plan to mark them separately from now on as "RL" with another identifier, either a letter or number code. I tape two metal letter punches together and only have to make one strike to imprint RL on the ingot. Plus, my ingots are on the larger size ab about 8lbs each.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I have adopted the mixed batch method, especially with range scrap.

    Smelt multiple batches keeping them separated.
    Then remelt, using an equal number of ingots from each previous batch.

    There is then no limit to the final size of your consistent ‘batch’, just run as many smaller batches as needed.
    Ie. you can process 50lbs per batch and want 500lbs total, just repeat 10 times (20 total).

    Also no fixed time frame involved, I just finished cleaning and mixing a batch of range scrap I started last fall.

    And a chance to test the first mixed batch and figure your alloy requirements if necessary.

    I had a lot of issues last year with varying lead alloys, so I started using this mixed batch method exclusively.

    Now my stash is at least consistent if not good.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Marking- I am also starting to keep better notes and mark batches.
    Right now it is just marked with whatever I have laying around (chisel for now) but I want to get a stamp set.

    That way I don’t have to worry about keeping everything separated like before, if ingots get mixed up they are still marked.

    I am planning on finishing off all random lead laying around soon so I will then have marked and documented batches to work with.

    Last year was a frustrating eye opening experience, I had gotten lucky before and whatever I melted down managed to just work.


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  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    I can fit 100 lbs or so in a cut off propane grill tank.

  13. #13
    Boolit Bub
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    Is there any chance that some of you that have had alloy tested by Roto Metals post the print out that they send back? I had a batch of mystery metal tested and they sent me a very nice detailed print out. I shared it here, many years ago. Anyway if you guys have a good known tested alloy how about sharing here? I just melted 50 ponds of small batches of left over alloys that produced good accurate boolits. Then BHN seemed to run between 12-15 but the boolits from these various batches shot good. I still think you can have a particulure alloy with a certain BHN but with a little different alloy compsition and they shoot differently. What do you think? Any way a ingot is off to Roto this week and I will post the results.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I have been buying scrap lead for my fishing jig business for 40+ years and have learned to recognize the "good stuff" by sight. For jigs it doesn't matter as long as it isn't zinc but for making my own boolit alloy, I watch for 98% pure or better. At the scrap dealer I look for shiny but dark colored lead with maybe even a little blue tint. I verify when I turn the identified good stuff into ingots when I watch to see a multi colored hue to the surface of the melted lead. If that hue is there, I set it aside for boolit alloy to be made later.
    I almost hurt when I have to send some of that "good stuff" to the bottom of the ocean after getting a big load of it at the scrap dealer. Wall sheeting from X-ray rooms near hospitals is near 99% pure but so is a lot (but not all) of roofing lead.

  15. #15
    Yes. I shoot flintlocks so I always guard the plumbers lead jealously. Other stuff that looks like it might work - I will cast a few test balls. I know I can squish plumber's lead completely out of round in a pair of channel locks pliers. Wheel weights I can only make teeth marks. The unknowns- I'll put a pure lead ball plus the unknown in the jaws and squeeze. If the unknown squishes along with the pure lead - it gets set aside for muzzleloader-only casting.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silvercreek Farmer View Post
    I can fit 100 lbs or so in a cut off propane grill tank.
    I cut my propane tank off at the top where the curve starts, this leaves a lot of room for stirring and it easily holds 250 lb depending on how strong you base is made.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master Ed_Shot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silvercreek Farmer View Post
    I can fit 100 lbs or so in a cut off propane grill tank.
    My cut off propane tank is the second best great idea I got from this forum ( #1 is my PID ). I do 100# batches of 3-2-95 alloy. I keep my soft lead and high-antimony alloy (as verified by BNE) seperate and use 95-5 solder for Sn. The pot will hold a lot more than 100#, which brings up a good point: if you get a big pot do some serious reinforcement of your propane burner stand.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    I only buy lead of a known consistency, i.e. lead sheathing, lead pipe, COWW, linotype, etc. I then smelt them down separately. This does away with never knowing what alloy you have and allows you to create your own alloys according to need.

    Don
    NRA Certified Metallic Cartridge Reloading Instructor

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy
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    Anyone use some tin (say 2%) in their BP balls?

  20. #20
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    My experience has always been the same as forrest r

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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