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Thread: Low cost Lead Hardness Tester

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Low cost Lead Hardness Tester

    Attached you will find a chart. Use a .156" steel ball bearing (I mounted mine on the tip of a steel cone) and apply 60 pounds pressure for about one minute. I use a hydraulic pressure gauge, but you can use a common bathroom scale on a drill press. Measure the diameter of the indentation, then use the chart to determine the hardness.

    Good Luck, I thought I would share this with the group.

    Thomas
    Attached Files Attached Files

  2. #2
    Boolit Bub
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    I'm curious how you came to select 60 pounds and a 5/32 inch ball.
    Regards,
    Duhawki

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    Homemade BHN Lead Tester

    I've done a similar thing and the idea of using a 5/32" ball bearing with 60 lbs was not my mine, but is what Lee uses in their setup so that is what prompted me. I never liked the Lee tester as it uses an internal spring to regulate the pressure and I felt that with time the spring could lead to inconsistent readings. So I built my own where the pressure would always be consistent. I still use the same chart lee uses but measure the indention with a good set of digital calipers and a cheap magnifying glass from walmart which is easier than looking through the lee micro mini scope thing. The cost of this one was about $2.00 to make as I already had the digital calipers, the magnifying glass, and some scrap metal laying around. Here are some pics of my version.
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    Last edited by RobS; 12-08-2009 at 04:41 PM. Reason: spelling

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    Another BHN Chart

    Attached is a PDF file of what I put together for a BHN Chart...........it is basically the LEE Chart modified.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails BHN Chart.pdf  

  5. #5
    Boolit Master bohokii's Avatar
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    neat maybe you could use a clicker type torque wrench instead of barbells

  6. #6
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    Greetings
    Another form of the above mentioned form is to take two similar ingots. One of pure lead and the other of the unknown. It helps if the two ingots are flat sided. Place the steel ball (I use a 1/2") between the two ingots and smack forcefully with a 3# hammer. Both ingots are now impressed. The pure lead will have a larger diameter crater (softer material). Now it is just a matter of measuring both and doing the math. As some as soon as I can find the factor I will type it in... where did it go ?
    But this system is reasonably accurate for hardness. It matches closly what my LBT hardness tester
    will show and only costs time.
    Found the info & thanks to JOHNBOY.
    First measure the indents in BOTH ingots with a Dial caliper.
    Square the measurements.
    Divide the unknown ingot SQUARE result into the Pure Lead SQUARE result.
    Multiply by 5 and you now know the Brinell hardness opf the unknown ingot.
    Remember this does NOT tell you the lead composition. That can only be know by analysis of the ingot.
    Last edited by missionary5155; 12-08-2009 at 06:06 PM. Reason: Had to find factor
    "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
    Home built Matchlock similar to what an early 1600 Colonial soldier might have.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Here's my method. I have a .312" ball, arbor press, 22LB weight and 30 seconds.




  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    This has turned out to be a cool thread; all innovative methods to travel down a common road. Does anybody else have a little show and tell in them???

  9. #9
    Boolit Master jbunny's Avatar
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    this is little jonny in the back row waveing franticly. pick me pick me.
    i mostly use the direct kiss aproach. a $6 heavy duty chinnese spring punch
    a few minnuits of grinding and presto, a hardness tester. just make yourself
    a comparison chart and ur away. the wide punch bullet is WW water quench.
    the small punch is zinc bullet. the bar is babbit mostly tin i think.

    jb the nutty mcgiver





  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Thumbs up

    jbunny,that is brilliant.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master



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    JBunny That is one SUPER idea !
    "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
    Home built Matchlock similar to what an early 1600 Colonial soldier might have.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master jbunny's Avatar
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    thanks guys. now for the rest of the story.
    the round ball tester has been around for a long time. u need real strong
    optics the read the crater width. i tried the standard center punch carter and same thing. i then setteled on .080 thou thick v blade that gave me the widest crater
    between hard and soft for easy reading with calipers. some of u will says the metal
    don't flow that fast. this is not rocket science. look at some of the coins in your
    pocket. notice the high reilef. ever see vedio's of these coin stamping machines.
    the coines come of these machines like bullets out of a machine gun.
    thats my story and i'm sticking to it
    jb

  13. #13
    Boolit Master in Heaven's Range
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    Great thinking!
    The .30/06 Springfield,the ULTIMATE cartridge combat,hunting and target cartridge,a .45 single action and a good FLINTLOCK is all I need to be happy!

  14. #14
    Boolit Master 303Guy's Avatar
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    Great idea!

    Now could you invent a way to compare hardness, toughness, brittleness .....

    Actually, no kidding. I want to be able to 'measure' different properties of an alloy like hardness at softest and max hardness plus impact hardness versus BHN.

    Thing is, to get batch to batch repeatability without using pure base metals .... You know what I mean.
    Rest In Peace My Son (01/06/1986 - 14/01/2014)

    ''Assume everything that moves is a human before identifying as otherwise''

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    I've steered away from hardness testers because they are generally a pain. Good idea, jb. If anyone starts selling these, you should get your share.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    ever see vedio's of these coin stamping machines.
    the coines come of these machines like bullets out of a machine gun.
    Coins are made with pressure measuring in the tons.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master jbunny's Avatar
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    yes; because the metal being used is a lot harder than lead and to get the metal to flow in nano seconds they need serious pressure.jb

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    I love the idea of the punch tester. I just need something to give me a ballpark of the hardness. I need a range of materials to make a chart to work with, and interpolate from.

    Is there anything readily available, and cheap to test for pure tin?

    I have 60/40 solder to test in the middle.

    I have some wheel weight ingots, but I'm not sure of the usual ratio for WW. Anyone have that handy?

    I think I may have some lead flashing, but 44cal black powder balls would be pretty close to pure lead, right?

    I have a bunch of range scrap that I'd like to get some idea of the hardness. Hopefully I can use it for my BP 1858 Remington, but I don't want to buy a mold if it will be too hard.

    Thanks.

  19. #19
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris in va View Post
    Coins are made with pressure measuring in the tons.
    Quote Originally Posted by jbunny View Post
    yes; because the metal being used is a lot harder than lead and to get the metal to flow in nano seconds they need serious pressure.jb
    About 150 strokes a minute, 400 ton stamping force. The machines themselves arent that large. I'm used to operating 150 ton DACI can presses that run 155 strokes but with 11 and 14 lanes of cans coming out of them. Just the tooling die that goes into the presses weighs more than a US mint press all together.

  20. #20
    Boolit Bub
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    A couple of Brinell comments: (1) The load to ball diameter squared ratio is a critical characteristic of the measurement system. Brinell hardness measured at 3000 Kg with a 10 mm ball is exactly the same as Brinell measured at 750 Kg with a 5 mm ball because the ratio is 30 for both. (2) The Brinell test is only valid over a relatively narrow range of impression diameters: about 25% to 60% of the ball diameter.

    A 5/32 diameter ball at 60 Lbs load has a load to diameter squared ratio of about 1.7 (using mm and Kg units) while the standard Brinell (for lead) is 100 Kg and 10 mm for a ratio of 1. The rule of thumb for convertability is +/- 25% from the reference ratio. So, A calculated Brinell value from impression diameters made with a 5/32 ball and 60 pound load is problematic.

    Also, the low end of the Brinell range measureable at 5/32 and 60 lbs is not as low as some conversion charts suggest.

    Regards,
    Duhawki

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