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Thread: pay attention while smelting

  1. #61
    Boolit Man Big Dave's Avatar
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    Preheating the scrap in an old cast iron frying pan on top of the furnace for ten minutes or so befor adding to the pot will generally drive off the moisture that excites the tinsel fairey.
    Keep an eye on it while it preheats and if it is wet enough to visibly steam cook it some more till it doesn't and then more yet. Also a cast iron ladel that has been laying around on the concrete floor in the garage will soak up enough moisture to be dangerous if you don't pre heat to dry it out befor dipping in the melt, same goes for ingots stored where it might be damp, dry them out befor adding to your casting pot, same for stirring spoons etc.
    In other words pre heat to dry out ANYTHING that will be dipped or dumped into the melt.

  2. #62
    Boolit Master Phat Man Mike's Avatar
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    that's why them big soda can recycling places have pre-heating oven! I was at one once when a worker tossed a can in and the melter blew up and made a huge mess! always be-careful while smelting anything

  3. #63
    Boolit Buddy
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    Did my first smelting yesterday, all WW and wound up with 37lbs of ingots. These had dried out pretty well over the summer and i just added more as the clips floated. Added more weights via slotted spoon, leaning back and dumping them sideways, got a couple of small hisses with no outbursts. Glad to read up and see the extent to which this process can go bad--in the future I will smelt and cast ingots then cool everything down instead of adding more.

    Got 4 weights that didn't melt along with the others, they're marked differently so I'll see them in the future.

  4. #64
    Boolit Bub delt167502's Avatar
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    i worked in a die cast department as a section foreman. the problem was getting the furnace tenders to wear safety equipment .in the summer the temp. will reach 110 120 dg. i had a young man that almost refused to wear the hood ,jacket,coat& boots untill we had a thunder storm with a light rain. our ingots were stored out side . this young man started to feed the furnace. he was not suited up ,i called him into the office &ask him why ,said the furnace was low. watched him dress & then he picked up the 30 lb ingots and started tossing them into the molten alum. ( you always pre heat before interducing into the molten metal) before i could get to him there was enough water on the ingot to blow about 100# of moltin metal out of the furnace .he was standing in front of the door .the metal stuck to the wall behind him leaving a outline of his safety gear. he had just a few burns . we had to cut his gear off JUST MAKE SURE NO WATER GETS BELOW THE SURFACE OF THE METAL.if you do that no problems

  5. #65
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by delt167502 View Post
    i worked in a die cast department as a section foreman. the problem was getting the furnace tenders to wear safety equipment .in the summer the temp. will reach 110 120 dg. i had a young man that almost refused to wear the hood ,jacket,coat& boots untill we had a thunder storm with a light rain. our ingots were stored out side . this young man started to feed the furnace. he was not suited up ,i called him into the office &ask him why ,said the furnace was low. watched him dress & then he picked up the 30 lb ingots and started tossing them into the molten alum. ( you always pre heat before interducing into the molten metal) before i could get to him there was enough water on the ingot to blow about 100# of moltin metal out of the furnace .he was standing in front of the door .the metal stuck to the wall behind him leaving a outline of his safety gear. he had just a few burns . we had to cut his gear off JUST MAKE SURE NO WATER GETS BELOW THE SURFACE OF THE METAL.if you do that no problems
    Holy smokes! I bet you didn't have a problem with him after that.

  6. #66
    Boolit Bub delt167502's Avatar
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    he was a little shook up. told him that is what they mean by on job training.

  7. #67
    Boolit Mold jacpot's Avatar
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    I'm new to casting and had a similar experience a few weeks ago.
    I was casting in my barn the morning after a cold rainy night, the pot was half full from a previous melt and once it heated up I picked up a corn bread ingot and dropped it in and "BOOM", every ounce of molten lead went straight up out of the pot and straight back down. splashed everywhere and was lucky enough as to only get splatters on my sweatshirt and a big 'ol splatter on the back of my hand the size of a dime. (I now wear gloves) It left a hell of a scar.
    All I can figure is some condensation built up in the crevasses of the "layers" of that Pot-drippings ingot and I got a great lesson of the power of steam and molten metal.
    Never told the wife - she still wonders what the "glitter" in my sweatshirt is.

  8. #68
    Boolit Master pls1911's Avatar
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    Something else that will empty a 20 pound pot in a nano second.....straight up!!!
    an errant primer swept up with the chips from the barn floor.
    Happened when I first started many years ago and lesson was learned.... sweep the floor and blow it off with a yard blower twice before you start casting.
    Then only recover floor scrap at the end of the session and carefuuly sort it twice before resmelting.

  9. #69
    Boolit Master
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    Many times when casting, the adding of ingots will cause some bubbling when dropped cold into a hot pot. This is cause by the small amount of moisture on the ingots, moisture you can't see or feel. So to combat this I hold the ingots with pliers and heat them with a propane torch until the surface gets shiney and just begins to melt. When you first put the flame to the ingot you can see the moisture being driven off. Nothing goes into a hot pot without first being preheated. I once had a steam eruption when smelting lead pipe, it was quite violent and very scary, thankfully was not hurt, but had a mess to clean up, then had to scrape up all that lead. Preheating is the key to safe smelting.
    Paul G.
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  10. #70
    Boolit Master


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    I preheat my ingots with a hot plate and by perching they on the rim of the pot as I cast. Then pick 'em up with pliers or my gloved hand and put them in the melt. I have never been visited by the tinsel fairy and don't want to invite her over for a party.
    A smart man learns from his mistakes.
    A wise man learns from other peoples mistakes.
    Sometimes I'm wise.............
    Lewis AKA Wright Brothers Gunsmiths

    "Illegitimus non carborundum"

    Political Correctness: A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t*rd by the clean end!

  11. #71
    Boolit Master Bulltipper's Avatar
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    I smelt fishing weights that i collect from the bottom of the Rogue River here in Oregon, the weights sometimes have pinholes in them that are filled with moisture. Glad you didn't get hurt! Musta been exciting though!
    "These are not hi-capacity magazines, these are standard capacity magazines. High capacity is belt fed from the can."

  12. #72
    Boolit Man
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    Well, you all have just convinced me to fill a cast iron frying pan with WW or shot or whatever I'm smelting, and put that on top of the actual melting pot as a combination cover and dryer-offer. Hopefully it'll keep some heat in, and get hot enough to dry out ingots.

  13. #73
    Boolit Man
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    hey i had a fun one melting some ww and pulled bullets. their was an API round what had no markings. long story short, it blew 4 pounds of melted lead everywere. i did get burned. that hurt. also ruined my melting pot.

  14. #74
    Boolit Master
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    Safety should be our first concern BEFORE we fire up our pots.

    1. What we don't know can hurt us. (water in blind pockets in our lead)
    2. Ventillation..breathing equipment - OUT DOORS...Upwind...
    3. Saftey attire...fire suits, sleeves, gloves..and if RANGE LEAD, fire mask and/or hood.
    4. Escape routes,,,if pot blows up (what was that..6 foot flames?)..what happens if your are in your basement or Garagre or barn full of hay?
    5. Fire fighting gear...fire extinguishers.."Charged Fire Hose"
    6. Fire watchman...yes a #2 man to pull you from a blown pot...Or to put you 'out'....
    7. What about your legs and feet? What would happen to them of the pot fell over on your legs? I seen guys make bullets in their skivves....not too safe there for sure..
    8. Did I mention EYE Protection...safety GLASSES..googles...FACE SHIELDS...go ahead and laugh at me while you can still see to read this.
    9. Jobsite clutter...is the pot clear of your 'junk'? Bike parts, car parts..wood working tools.

    Just read on another thread the guys are dumping sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid and elemental sulfur in their pots to clean up alloys... This really scares me. Any one of the three if mishandled can BLIND YOU, BURN YOU and burn down your house with YOUR FAMILY too...

    I am concerned about the proposed chemicals being added to our pots. I am 'only guessing' that only a very few of us are really trained to handle these chemicals. Having worked 30 years in a chemical plant, i know how to 'handle' these things, BUT, I DO NOT KNOW HOW to cook them off in a pot full of molten metal... I am going to avoid all that.

    Sorry guys. I didn't mean this to sound like a 'scolding'. But we must press SAFETY FIRST when we start adding data about dangerous reagents being added to our pots....

    "it ain't fun if your laying in the hospital" Chemical burns are the WORST.

    Nose Dive

  15. #75
    On Heaven's Range

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    There comes a point where so-called "precautions" actually prevent the task from being done.

    I deal with this all the time when the Mine Safety and Health Administration gets involved in the mining operation where I work (I'm from the government and I'm here to help you....yeah, RIGHT!)

    UP TO A POINT, precautions are good and desirable. Nose Dive's list makes me think he works for a government entity, or at least has been brain-washed by one.

    Breathing equipment? NO. A bit of ventilation is all that's needed.

    Outdoors? Maybe, if climate and season permit...otherwise, no

    Fire suits? No.

    If "sleeves" refers to a long-sleeved non-synthetic shirt, yes. If welder's leather sleeves (OVER a fire suit?), no.

    Gloves, yes...good leather ones which still allow some sense of touch and co-ordination. Heavy, clumsy welder's style...no.

    Escape routes...not a bad idea to keep the way out clear, but spills happen so fast that it's generally over by the time our reaction sets in.

    "Charged fire hose"!?!? Where on earth do you live? Many of us are rural.

    Fire watchman? This is a HOBBY, not an industrial site!

    Legs and feet...normal leather boots with pant-legs OVER the tops (not tucked in) will suffice for footwear, but I insist on using a long LEATHER apron which falls from neck-level to below the knees.

    Eye protection is critical. I use curved-lens safety glasses which protect the eyes from sideways intrusions of foreign matter, and would prefer a full-face shield except that mine always fogs badly and is a hot miserable ***** of a thing to wear.

    We can follow this hobby without being anal about it, just as we can run a mine safely without the "help" of the self-aggrandizing career-enhancing "inspectors" of MSHA. They are the enemy of mining and reflect the posturing of their political bosses. I'd hate to see bullet-casting follow the same road. My own doctor is a bullet-caster, and I've had this discussion with him on many occasions.

    When I was a kid, there were kits for CHILDREN to cast their own lead soldiers. There were also kid's LIVE-STEAM engines, with 'real' fire, and 'real' steam. There were also 'real' firecrackers with some genuine power. All of us survived these hazards in fine fashion. It's not the hazards that have changed; it's the nanny-state reaction to them, and that reaction is far in excess of any practical need.
    Last edited by BruceB; 05-30-2010 at 01:12 PM.
    Regards from BruceB in Nevada

    "The .30'06 is never a mistake." - Colonel Townsend Whelen

  16. #76
    Boolit Bub squirrellnuttz's Avatar
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    Today i was out melting some salvage pureish lead from a buddy, ended up with 28 Lyman sized ingots. Anyway, my first bit heated, melted.Great went to add another dry looking large hunk of counterweight in. I had a cookie sheet over to top, as it had unexpectedly started to snow ( in late May...welcome to Alberta), but just a bit, I was just finishing up.
    The lead LOOKED dry.....
    Anyway, bubble buble spit spit went the pot. No massive tinsel fairy visit. Luckily. I came in and read through this whole thread. Holy $hizzle-that could have been ugly. Hopefully lesson learned. I'm preheating everything from now on, thanks for posting your smelting mishap stories, it may just save someone's bacon!
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  17. #77
    Boolit Master

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    Amen BruceB.

    One of the reasons I took early retirement was that I spent 90% of my time working on and worrying about safety and environmental compliance. A job that was done in 15 minutes for the last 70 years suddenly required a safety meeting, hot work permit, lockout/tagout etc., etc., to the point that normal maintenance wasn't being done anymore......we just ran everything until it failed. At that point, it was worthwhile to spend 3 hours on safety procedures to change out the failed device.

    OSHA would have us all wearing full hazmat suits, supplied air respirators, issuing hot work permits, and doing atmosphere monitoring any time we cast.
    You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore

  18. #78
    Boolit Master
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    Well let's see if the ole south Texas fatboy can deal with this little bit of safety backlash....

    1. Knowledge of what we are doing... This tidbit fills librarys with information texts. When I read in threads on this site where submitters are describing adding sodium hydroxide, hydrocholoric acid, elemental sulfar to lead pots with 'dirty' lead of unkown qualitative value, at temperature of 4 to 500 degress F...with no safety precautions, to me, it reads of ingnorance of safety. The fact that we fashion items out of molten metal for FUN, does not in anyway mean we cannot get hurt.
    2. Breathing equipment...well yes...lead vapors can hurt you and if you are inside, say in a basement when it is 10 degrees F outside, then yea, put on a canister respirator. I read this precaution at my indoor pistol range where I go shoot my boolits. When it is 10 degrees out side you must put on a canister or have them turn on the exhaust fan and enjoy the 10 degree a/c. It is up to you which you want. But you must have one or the other...
    3. Safety attire...come on fellas... Flip flops and bermuda shorts? No I don't think so. I have an old pair of welders leather sleeves and a leather apron. "saftey Suit". yea..Leaher boots too.
    4. Gloves...I think we all agree on this one.. Welders gloves..long cuffs..all heavy leather.
    5. Esacpe route.. Take a look at my garage and well, gents..it will scare you. I can't get IN much less get out. So, for sure, no work goes on in there..storage only... I move all the 'kit'
    outside the shed in the fall, outside, away from tenders and people to smelt down the yearly gatherings of the 'trash lead'. I can back out and clear off in a second. When lead is in my pot in the basement..clear walkway of bike parts, dune buggy carberators..anything I can trip over...Clear walkway..clear escape route. simple issue here. 'safety precautions...
    6. Firefighting gear... charged fire hose..I use one every time i smelt my trash lead..and have it ready when casting... (garden hose by the way...with a garden nozzle) simple, easy, cheap, safe.
    7.Firewatch... not gonna back off here either... When I am casting,,wife (Safety watch) knows where I am and what I am doing. When smelting trash lead in the fall..she is on the porch with cold drink, fire extinquisher, and 'fire hose'...garden green variety....
    8. Eye protection... I think we all are on the same page...'safety glasses' mean just that..not our 'normal' Sunday Go To Meeting glasses. Yes, I use a face shield. I believe our fellow caster mentioned "6 foot flames' from his pot. I ain't that tall and that would reach my face.

    I agree this is our hobby. I agree we do it for fun. I do. But, gents, in these threads we are getting into some concoctions (Acids, Cuastics, elemental metals) being discussed. I don't want to describe what we end up with if we blend the three reagent mentioned above in a lead pot at 400 degrees. Simply, this is an unsafe act by a hobbiest.

    I am not suggesting we get 'Hot Work Permits' of our pots, but, we need to exercise due caution. Not all of us understand what is produced with acids and elemental sulfur. Here, certainly you need respiration equipment. Yes,,I melted lead many times as a kid. Burned my hands too... And, even made gun powder.

    Lock Out Tag Out was fundemental training form the DuPont company in the early 70's. It has been around for a long time. It is fundamental traning throught out the chemical/oil industry now.

    And I agree, there comes a time, under the correct conidtions, that the SAFETY PRECAUTIONS dictate the JOB IS UNSAFE TO ATTEMPT. This too is fundamental safety training. Too put this situation in a better mouth full of verbage..."if it is not safe, we won't do it'. So, make it safe and proceed.

    I don't work for the government. I work now for CHEVRON. I shared this thread with our department safety engineer, and, she was disappointed. She suggested I expose the site to CHEVRON's 10 Tenets of Operations. I will encourage all to go the the Chevron site and see how we work, EVERYDAY. I will share, the opening phase in the 10 Tenets is, "We ALWAYS":... Plus we overlay 'Stop work authority'.. Each of us has this. Anyone can stop the work. We do it everyday. Also, we train ourselves that 'If you see it, you own it". Simply this means if you see an unsafey situation, it is YOURS. You have responsiblity to stop unsafe work and the responsiblity to get it started back up - SAFELY-. If you cannot make it safe, YOU have to obtain the help to get the jobsite safely prepared. I lost 2 freinds in the BP blast here in Texas City, Texas a few years back. The safety review data showed, there were over 130 points in the exsplosion scenario that could have prevented 15 men and women from being blown up. No one of the 60 people involved to one of this 130 STOP points.

    It is kinda like driving a car. If you put your key in your car and don't have the mindset or thought of "I can be killed with this tool today, right now". I will suggest only, you may be an unsafe driver.

    Finally, my only hope and request of my fellow casters is, Please have safety run through you minds before you turn on the switch to your pot. And please ask for information before blending chemcial reagent in your pot.

    Thanks...

    Nose Dive

  19. #79
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by 454PB View Post
    OSHA would have us all wearing full hazmat suits, supplied air respirators, issuing hot work permits, and doing atmosphere monitoring any time we cast.
    OSHA would have us suiting up to BBQ!
    The best safety device I have is between my ears.
    My old Case tractor is as safe as I am when I ride it. And it's a tricycle gear model too.
    Shooting is dangerous too.
    Ever seen the OSHA cowboy cartoon? If OSHA had their way we couldn't do anything,fun or otherwise.
    I work in the oilfields and this is about as unsafe as it gets. Use common sence and think. I don't do anything that I think will hurt me! Refuse to get hurt. The safety guy will back you up on it. I've been on jobs where the lowest guy can stop a job if he sees a hazzard.
    Lewis AKA Wright Brothers Gunsmiths

    "Illegitimus non carborundum"

    Political Correctness: A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t*rd by the clean end!

  20. #80
    Boolit Master
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    Well said sir... "The best safety device I have is between my ears"!

    Our safety training, [I'm oil patch too], renders our 'safety devices' abit more
    'aware of issues' than our untrained brethren. That is why they train us.

    What we don't know, can hurt us.

    thank you.

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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