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Thread: Wheelweights...forget about them?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master curioushooter's Avatar
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    Wheelweights...forget about them?

    I used up all the really nice late-1960's wheel-weights gifted to me by a co-worker (who inherited them from her father). Boy, those were great. Obviously had plenty of tin in them and cast beautiful bullets. Didn't even need to be sweetened.

    So I went to the scrap yard and found a horrible scene. Their bins of wheelweights were mixed...iron and zinc with the lead. Most of the lead ones were in of the stick on variety. At most 20% of them where lead clip ons. I guess it's just the direction the wheel/tire industry is moving.

    Needless to say I am not going to bother picking through that pile of junk. I have better things to do.

    Fortunately they had a nice big pile of "dead soft stuff" as they say at this scrap yard. It was lead wire, lead sheets that were about 1 inch thick cut into strips 6" to 1' long (have no idea what this is for). And an a bunch x-ray jacketing (enormous plates of 3/4" lead) and some roof lead. This stuff was being sold for $1/lb, which is a lot more than I paid for lead last time I bought it (35 cent's a pound back in '08). But I didn't want to go home empty handed so I bought some anyway.

    Went to another scrap yard and they had a big bin of tin tubing (beer cooler tubing) of various diameters. This is a common thing at Cincinnati scrap yards at least. It is nearly pure tun and "cries" if you bend it. I've never seen it outside of Cincinnati, and I go to scrap yards throughout Indiana and Ohio. Bought plenty of this stuff, though it was expensive at $10/lb.

    TIP: bring a kitchen scale with you when you buy tin so you can weight it out before going to their scales. Typically their scale is accurate to the pound, and you don't want to take a bunch of tin and walk up to their scale (after waiting in line) and then find out you picked up $300 of tin or something.

    Years ago people transitioned from binary Pb-Sn alloys to quaternary Pb-Sn-Sb-As alloys based on wheel-wights. While these were useful, they are becoming hard to source. In my case at least it is easier to just source pure lead and tin. And the truth is that I can make better bullets from pure lead and tin. Costs a bit more, but worth it to me. If you really need the antimony for hardness (like for rifles) then get Roto's superhard.

    Also, as far as cast hollopoints go, binary alloys just perform better. WW based alloys can be made to work well, but I assure you that anything that works in WW will work BETTER in as a binary alloy, mainly due to better weight retention because binary alloys are less brittle and "stickier." Better weight retenetion = better penetration, and penetration is the typical shortcoming of a cast hollowpoint.

  2. #2
    I have one tire shop that I can get them from my casting and shooting time is nearly nil these days, but I was still getting good amounts of clip on WW. Iíd like more stick ons but Iím not complaining, out of the last 2-1/2 5 gal buckets I sorted I ended up with about 1 -1 gal can of steel and zinc weights rest was lead. Now that Iíve moved I have to start working on another source the tire shops here make sinkers with thereís and arenít to keen on even selling their old weights.


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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Was cruising on MN 23 this morning through Bock MN and the junk store was open! Scored a 1.75 lb pewter bowl for $5.00. MN is supposed to start opening up tomorrow so I plan to hit the junk stores and look for more. Might as well hit the scrap yards and look for lead as well.
    Last edited by Cosmic_Charlie; 05-19-2020 at 06:00 AM.

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Quote ----- Wheel Weights........forget about them? ------- Quote

    It depends on where you are located, I guess? Around here the scrap yards won't sell to the public. So buying soft lead and tin is pretty much out. Just about all of the small places have been bought up by the big places and they won't even let you look around.

    But wheel weights are still available around here. Yeah, they are mixed with Iron and Zinc and need to be sorted. I'm still running 60-70% lead to the bucket. And I'm starting to see less Zinc and more iron. The number of stick-ons seems to be increasing although the last bucket that I got only had about a pound of the soft ones in it.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master trapper9260's Avatar
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    I only will take WW if they are give to me for how it is getting to be with them now.If I need lead I will go to the salvage yard and get soft lead and you will need to watch that at times since some zinc get in the mix.
    Life Member of NRA,NTA,DAV ,ITA. Also member of FTA,CBA

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Yes. Forget about them. I am not fooling with them anymore. I get more blisters than lead, clipping on all those things with the sidecutters. There are still great lead sources out there. Namely S&S on this forum. Lots of folks have many thousands of pounds of lead they are never going to use.
    KE4GWE - - - - - - Colt 1860, it just feels right.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cosmic_Charlie View Post
    Was cruising on Hwy 2 this morning through Bock MN and the junk store was open! Scored a 1.75 lb pewter bowl for $5.00. MN is supposed to start opening up tomorrow so I plan to hit the junk stores and look for more. Might as well hit the scrap yards and look for lead as well.
    Did you stop at the "bar" in Bock?

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beagle333 View Post
    I get more blisters than lead, clipping on all those things with the sidecutters.
    This I don't understand - unless you put WW's directly into your pour pot, and even then I don't understand. Put them in any melting pot and let heat remove the steel clips as part of the dross that gets skimmed away.

    I put everything I want to melt in a pot (except obvious zinc and steel WW's), 100 pounds at a time, heat the whole 9-yards, skim off the dross, including the steel clips, which float, and pour 3 pound ingots in molds made from bed frame angle.

    The same concept works in a 10 or 20 pound pour pot.
    Last edited by Land Owner; 05-18-2020 at 05:26 AM.
    If it was easy, anybody could do it.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master
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    WW's = waste of time for me. Around here tire stores sell their ww's by contract to recyclers. And those end up at the scrap yards and are very high ratio of ZN/FE to Pb. I quite messing with the dirty smelly old things 4 years ago when the ration passed 50% Pb.

    I get my Pb and alloys from other sources. The scrap yards sell to the public and are a good source of everything I need.

    banger

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Land Owner View Post
    This I don't understand - unless you put WW's directly into your pour pot, and even then I don't understand.
    Oh, I don't cut the clips off, I use the side cutters to check which ones are lead and which ones are zinc. Or.... I used to, back when I still melted wheel weights.
    KE4GWE - - - - - - Colt 1860, it just feels right.

  11. #11
    Boolit Bub steelworker's Avatar
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    I just got done sorting (3) 5 gal buckets of ww. I ended up with about 1 gal of zinc and 1 gal of fe weights. Also ended up with 1 gal of soft stick ons.

    Still worth sorting for me.

    The vast majority is still goood ww.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Sorry for the crummy picture but the big weight was marked ih for international harvestor with a 12 on it. It was absolutely huge. Wish they were all like that.
    NRA Life Member

  12. #12
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by bangerjim View Post
    WW's = waste of time for me. Around here tire stores sell their ww's by contract to recyclers. And those end up at the scrap yards and are very high ratio of ZN/FE to Pb. I quite messing with the dirty smelly old things 4 years ago when the ration passed 50% Pb.

    I get my Pb and alloys from other sources. The scrap yards sell to the public and are a good source of everything I need.

    banger
    Agree.

    A few years ago I purchased a ton of commercial 92-6-2 for $1.67/lb delivered. I am too lazy to drive around looking for scrap, picking through it, smelting and adjusting alloy. I have bought alloy from vendors on this site for $1-1.20/lb. This is not the cheapest way to build an inventory of alloy but relatively easy and frustration free. Most of my “free” alloy is from range scrap...but it takes a bit of work
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  13. #13
    Boolit Master FISH4BUGS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beagle333 View Post
    Lots of folks have many thousands of pounds of lead they are never going to use.
    Yup....that is why my stash is in my will.
    Collector and shooter of guns with selector switches and threaded barrels. Collector of suppressors, SBR's, AOW's and SBS's. Lead and brass scrounger. Never too much brass, lead or components in inventory! Always looking to win beauty contests with my reloads.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    I hit the local small town service shop, got at least 5 gallons of WW, ended-up with half a bucket of good COWWs, a bunch of stick-on, 10 pounds of zinc and a bunch of steel, composite and trash. I bring them old car battries as I come across them in trade. I also use a sidecutter on anything questionable. Worth the fuse for me, price is right, I have a ton of soft lead to blend in.
    Take a kid to the range, you'll both be glad you did.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Ha, always seem to have wifey along when I go past the World renowned Bock Ballet.
    Last edited by Cosmic_Charlie; 05-18-2020 at 10:42 AM.

  16. #16
    Boolit Bub
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    I'd buy every pound of clean lead I could get at $1 a pound. I do get ww cheaper than that, but at $1 a pound, it'd be worth it to not have to smelt.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master


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    Craigslist is my friend. Last month I bought 225 lbs of clean roofing sheet for 1.25/lb, and he delivered it to my door. Yesterday I bought 200lbs of WW ingots for 1.00/lb, and he lived 15 minutes from me. I thought I had enough in my stash but with the kids both joining me in Cowboy Action Shooting it goes down a lot faster than it used to. I keep mine all separated by hardness/type(pure/ww/lino/tin/mixed), most all tested by BNE from here, and I have a chart so the kids/wife will know what is worth what if I go before I use it all up. Assuming they don't cast when they get older. One can always hope, especially is we all move out of California.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Springfield View Post
    Craigslist is my friend. Last month I bought 225 lbs of clean roofing sheet for 1.25/lb, and he delivered it to my door. Yesterday I bought 200lbs of WW ingots for 1.00/lb, and he lived 15 minutes from me. I thought I had enough in my stash but with the kids both joining me in Cowboy Action Shooting it goes down a lot faster than it used to. I keep mine all separated by hardness/type(pure/ww/lino/tin/mixed), most all tested by BNE from here, and I have a chart so the kids/wife will know what is worth what if I go before I use it all up. Assuming they don't cast when they get older. One can always hope, especially is we all move out of California.
    There is so much lead out there on roofs, in walls and in the ground that we should be good for a long time.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    wheel weights have taken a turn, theres still lead out there but not as much. Today your lucky if a 75lb bucket gives you 30lbs lead and 45lbs other. I even see less Zinc these days. The zinc is good trade material also.
    I work at a small shop and it takes a log time to get a 1/2-3/4 5g bucket filled. My last bucket was about 50/50 lead vs zinc/iron/junk

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    I got 60 # of ww ingots coming from a member vendor. Looking forward to working with it.

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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