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Thread: Testing hardness with pencils

  1. #81
    Boolit Bub
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    it's real shiny where you cut it? you may have 75 lbs of worthless junk, like silver.

    send it to me, i'll pay the freight

  2. #82
    Quote Originally Posted by BadDaditood View Post
    it's real shiny where you cut it? you may have 75 lbs of worthless junk, like silver.

    send it to me, i'll pay the freight
    LOL! Yeah, that would be great wouldn't it. I've been carting around this 75 pound ingot of "junk" for 15 years!

    Hmmmm, I could sure use 40K right now!

  3. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by glassparman View Post
    Molly, so I cut a 2"x2"x1/4" strip and dropped a couple of drops of Muriatic Acid on it and it foamed wildly for about 15 seconds, turned the metal black and then settled down slowly. Sorry, I read your post above and it was way above my head so I thought I would test it the "bubba" way.

    You think it is Zinc? If it is Zinc, should I try to trade it away for the equivalent of lead or use it somehow? My apologies but I'm new to the casting stuff.

    thanks for your help.
    Michael
    ROFL at myself! I got so tied up in specific gravity that it didn't even occur to me to suggest another way to test your ingot. But your test is about as definitive as mine. Lead is notable for low reactivity, while zinc is quite reactive. Your description of the reaction to Muriatic acid tells me that there is something like 99 chances out of 100 that you have a zinc ingot, or at least a zinc alloy. There aren't too many other materials that would produce that result.

    And while there are a few gunners who have made cast zinc bullets successfully, I'd strongly suggest you start out with a good LEAD alloy. In order to cast most zinc alloys, the melt has to be close to cherry red, if not actually glowing. That's well above the limitations of most lead pots to handle, and even if you manage that, the residues from trying to use zinc will probably ruin the next batch or two of lead that you try to use. Lead and zinc aren't very compatible, and it only takes a trace of zinc to ruin a whole lot of lead. The zinc raises the surface tension so that it's almost impossible to cast a good lead bullet.

    Sorry to bring you the bad news, but I wouldn't wish a zinc contaminated pot on my worst enemy. Better that you learn about it from hearing than from bitter experience as I did.
    Regards,

    Molly

    "The remedy for evil men is not the abrogation of the rights of law abiding citizens. The remedy for evil men is the gallows." Thomas Jefferson

  4. #84

    Zinc . . .

    Thanks Molly. I'm new to all this so the KISS method is best for me

    I have a local metal recycler here so I'll just hit him up about maybe an exchange. So what specifically should I ask for if I want to get into casting Boolits?

    I'll probably try my hand at casting boolits for my 45 ACP and my .303 British so whatever is best for both types.

    Michael

  5. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by glassparman View Post
    I have a local metal recycler here so I'll just hit him up about maybe an exchange. So what specifically should I ask for if I want to get into casting Boolits?

    I'll probably try my hand at casting boolits for my 45 ACP and my .303 British so whatever is best for both types.
    Michael
    Well, the most versatile common lead alloy is probably the clip-on type of wheelweights (largely known here as "WW". You can tinker it into a suitable hardness for almot any application, and for the two rounds you mention, it would be hard to beat. Even better, but scarce and hard to find would be printing type metal such as linotype. Print metal is great as is, and can be used to harden the occasional potfull of soft scrap metal.

    Notes: 1) If you get any glued-on wheelweights, thank the man and trade it to someone on this website. It's just pure lead and too soft for most uses, though it's the best thing going for muzzle loaders.
    2) If you happen to get a wheelweight that doesn't want to melt into your batch of lead, pick it out with a pair of pliers, run it under the water from your sink and toss it in the trash. It's almost sure to be zinc, and its loss is cheap insurance against losing the whole pot. (see above)
    Regards,

    Molly

    "The remedy for evil men is not the abrogation of the rights of law abiding citizens. The remedy for evil men is the gallows." Thomas Jefferson

  6. #86

    Smile Lead and solder

    I appreciate the experience of the casters who have `posted on this thread, however for over 40 years I have used 90% wheel weight and 10 % solder tin with great results. Almost no leading. I rifles I would add some 5% more Tin. I grease the bullets with 50 /50 lard and beewax or with candle wax and vaseline according to my needs. Casting wax from dentist material providers is great for hot rounds but a bit tricky to use. Greasing is very important, I have rarely noticed leading in my gun barrels. I'm cheap but lucky a few days ago, a friend gave me for free a bucket full of WW and another gave me over 100 pounds of pure lead, also for free. I think I should find a radiator shop friend.

  7. #87
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    Many thanks to those who figured out the pencil test and broke them down into approximate BHNs. I picked up a set of pencils at WallWorld yesterday and tested my boolits to see where they were. According to the test, they are about 11-12 BHN which is right where I wanted them to be for my .45.
    USAF Retired

    WAR EAGLE!

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  8. #88
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    I was wondering what pencil would be used to detect 40-1 hardness.

  9. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rayc384 View Post
    I was wondering what pencil would be used to detect 40-1 hardness.
    Hi RayC,

    There really isn't a table that you can refer to and say "I want 12 Brinnell or a 20:1 or a 30:1 alloy, so this table says I should formulate for a pencil hardness of about "X".

    All we have is a dirt cheap and simple way to check the hardness of an alloy sample. We are blessed with enough experimenters who report back their private results that we have the beginnings of such a table (reported somewhere above), but it's still embryonic at best.

    Hey! Wouldn't it be worth five or seven bucks for a hardness tester that would enable you to check and reproduce the alloy you are using now? Why don't YOU spend a few bucks at Wally's (like I said, they're dirt cheap) for pencils and test the hardness of YOUR alloys. Then you can reproduce your hardness any time you want. And you get the extra gravy of being a contributor to our data base. The more guys contributing, the more accurate and reliable our table will be for all of us.
    Last edited by Molly; 01-18-2012 at 02:11 PM.
    Regards,

    Molly

    "The remedy for evil men is not the abrogation of the rights of law abiding citizens. The remedy for evil men is the gallows." Thomas Jefferson

  10. #90
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    I have purchased the pencils and went through my supply of lead. It was either pure lead or 20-1 at the softest. I need to cast some softer alloy and hoped someone had done this before.

  11. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rayc384 View Post
    I have purchased the pencils and went through my supply of lead. It was either pure lead or 20-1 at the softest. I need to cast some softer alloy and hoped someone had done this before.
    Ummm. Sorry about the assumption that you haven't tried the pencils, but you really have me lost at sea with the rest of your response. I have NO idea what metallic alloy you might find that is softer than pure lead or 20-to-one.

    Ummm. That's not quite true: Mercury is a possibility, but only in theory. Casting and freezing a mercury bullet to solidify it would be a real exercise in applied theory, and firing one would be exceeding hazardous from the metallic fumes. Besides which mercury is almost sure to quickly form a hard amalgam with most other metals.

    A plastic bullet of some sort might be your best bet, but I'm really lost as to what your need is, and why. Barring that, swagging bullet breaks down the internal crystal structure that gives lead alloys their hardness. As a result, swagging will give you the softest bullet from most lead alloys. You might try casting from the softest alloy you have, and then swagging it in a hammer-and-die swage.

    Why not talk out what you are looking for in some detail, and perhaps we might still be able to help you.
    Regards,

    Molly

    "The remedy for evil men is not the abrogation of the rights of law abiding citizens. The remedy for evil men is the gallows." Thomas Jefferson

  12. #92
    Boolit Buddy
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    I guess that I was not clear, I was trying to get an idea for an alloy between the pure lead and 20-1 with the pencil othrs had tried for 40-1. I reckon I`ll blend the two.

  13. #93
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    Not an unreasonable objective, but frankly, I don't know that the spacing of pencil hardness levels is either uniform or sensitive enough for your purposes.

    You may be forced to fall back on the more cumbersome and expensive ball indentation method. It's also more expensive, but not terribly so. IIRC, All you really need is a one inch steel ball and one of the optical measuring magnifiers to measure the width of the ball impression.

    There's a formula that incorporates applied weight and the impression diameter to give you precise hardness, but I don't have it off the top of my head. If you have any further interest, I'm sure someone can post it for you.
    Regards,

    Molly

    "The remedy for evil men is not the abrogation of the rights of law abiding citizens. The remedy for evil men is the gallows." Thomas Jefferson

  14. #94

    tester & suplies

    http://www.gardco.com/pages/hardness/wolffwilborngardco.cfm

    Just going to do some name dropping. The above link has a great deal of Info on Pencil Hardness testing , also I presume quality supplies .

    I copied and pasted this link from my broswer so may be it will work. But the company is there
    -
    Paul N. Gardner Company, Inc. 1.800.762.2478 Fax 954.946.9309

    I did not ask about posting this Info; I also presumed it would be beneficial to all concerned? please PM any bad news -rather than posting. THNX

  15. #95
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    I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this thread. I especially appreciate the fact that this method is so effective even with old eyes like mine and so much better than trying to interpolate a caliper under a magnifying glass.

  16. #96
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    1/20 hardness

    I'm grading a bunch of lead that I have collected with the Steadtler pencils.
    Molly, I'm a bit confused on the ratings you have as: One is 1/20 tin lead = 3B
    The other is 20/1 Lead tin = B ?
    Some spread there, Im hitting for 10BHN or less..
    Thanks ,, the chart is a great help and save a lot of grumbling and mumbling !!!
    Last edited by Harv33; 02-19-2012 at 08:48 PM. Reason: Correction
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  17. #97
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    Hi Harv,

    >Molly, I'm a bit confused on the ratings you have as: One is 1/20 tin lead = 3B. The other is 20/1 Lead tin = B ? Some spread there, Im hitting for 10BHN or less.

    You (and anyone else using this technique) need to understand that it is not the sort of thing that is accurate to several decimal places. There are a lot of places for inconsistencies to creep in. For one thing, the art pencils are NOT made to a hardness specification. The process consists of a team of experienced artists who sit around a table and drag the latest lot of pencils across a sheet of paper, judging the darkness of the mark, and the 'drag' or resistance to being moved across the paper. Then they give their judgement: "Yep, that a "B" pencil, all right!" And that lot of pencils is labeled with whatever the majority decides.

    Not only that, but these pencills are made by quite a few different companies, with different blends of clay, graphite and other ingredients, mixed on different types of equipment and baked at different temperatures. It has long been recognized that for best uniformity, the manufacturer should be specified and agreed between supplier and customers. A proper specification isn't the frequently seen >2H. It's >2H using Eagle brand pencils.

    Now we get to the operator. I was notorious for finding readings softer than other people in the laboratory. Even with the same brand and lot of pencils, inconsistencies can creep in because one fellow will do a better job of sharpening the edge of the core used to test the lead. Or it may not be quite at a 90 degree angle to the length of the pencil. Or the pencil may not be held at quite the proper 45 degree angle to the surface being tested. Or the operator may push the pencil across the test surface as though he is writting a letter, instead of pushing the pencil straight down along its axis.

    It's been many a moon since I read the ASTM procedure on pencil hardness testing, but IIRC, the variability in results between two different but experienced operators, using the same manufacturer and lots of pencils, testing the same surface should not be more than one pencil hardness. This can be read as suggesting that - considering the potential variability in test pencils, operators and test procedures - a difference of one or two pencils is not entirely unreasonable.

    Now lest someone throw up his hands is dispair, let me point out that the test has been found useful in industry for a very long time. There is no reason that it shouldn't be equally useful for us. The trick is to have realistic expectations of its precision and accuracy. If you try to compare your results - which were of course done with great care and attention to detail - to those from someone who simply swipes the bullet or ingot with a rounded core tip, you will NOT get good consistency. All you can deduce from those variables is that the bullet is at least as hard as the softest pencil reported.

    The real value of these is that you can compare YOUR results with what you got with your last batch of alloy. The fact that you will eleminate variables in the pencil manufacture, core composition and core bake, combined with minimizing variables in the operator technique, environmental temperature and the like will produce much greater uniformity of results. From one batch to the next, there should not be more than a single pencil hardness variablity at the most, and - with care - an experienced operator can even obtain complete reproduction of the test value.

    However, there is still value in comparing your results with those of others: If other people are reporting harder results from the (nominally) same alloy belnd, it suggests rather strongly that they are doing a better job of preparing the pencil core and a better job of running the test. It could be telling you that you need to review your procedures for better results. If the other fellow is using the same brand of pencill and getting harder results, you can pretty well rely on that.

    The above cited link to Guardner company will richly repay the few minutes it takes to look it over.
    Last edited by Molly; 02-20-2012 at 10:16 PM.
    Regards,

    Molly

    "The remedy for evil men is not the abrogation of the rights of law abiding citizens. The remedy for evil men is the gallows." Thomas Jefferson

  18. #98
    Boolit Buddy Harv33's Avatar
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    Thank you very much Molly. I am happy with the way it has worked out with my various lead batches. I was just curious on the 20/1 to the 1/20 that is clear now.
    You have put a lot of work on this,,much appreciated !!!
    Harv.
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  19. #99
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    i use drawing pencils to test appox alloys 25-1 to linotype Great for testing scrap you buy at the site of purchase

  20. #100
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    OK fellows,
    I've gone through the entire thread and summarized it as follows. While it isn't scientifically accurate to say that X pencil is equal to Y Brinell, a rough correspondence CAN be made, which follows. Note that the results reflect the expected variation of this test when run by different people, using different makes and lots of pencils on different alloys of different ages. All told, this is probably about as good or as consistent as we're going to get. But it's only a rough guide. Your results, using your pencils and your procedures will be a lot more consistent, which is what the test was recommended for: It's a way of duplicating YOUR alloy hardness, not the other guys hardness. All the following will do is tell you if you're in the same ballpark as the other guy. But it's interesting. Enjoy.

    8B Sheet Lead
    7B
    6B ~ 5 BHN Pure Lead (Lead wire)
    5B 40/1 (Plumbers Lead)
    4B 25/1
    3B ~10 BHN 20/1 ACWW
    2B 20/1 ACRS
    B ~12 BHN 20/1 ACWW (ACWW+2% Tin) WDRS
    HB ~15 BHN (Lyman #2) (#2 Pencil)
    F (Lyman #2) (ACWW+2% Tin) WDWW
    H ~20 BHN Lino 50/50
    2H Monotype (WDWW)


    Notes
    40/1 = 40 Lead / 1 Tin
    20/1 = 20 Lead / 1 Tin
    25/1 = 25 Lead / 1 Tin
    50/50 = 1:1 Lino:WW
    ACRS = Air Cooled Range Scrap
    ACWW = Air Cooled (Clip-on) WW
    COWW = Clip-On WW
    Lino = Linotype
    WDRS = Water Dropped Range Scrap
    WDWW = Water Dropped (clip-on) WW
    SOWW = Stick-On WW
    One pencil = 1.875 AVERAGE Brinell over the range of 6B to H pencil hardness, but I wouldn't assume that the range in hardness is exactly equal from one pencil to the next, as that number would suggest.
    Last edited by Molly; 03-27-2012 at 11:23 PM.
    Regards,

    Molly

    "The remedy for evil men is not the abrogation of the rights of law abiding citizens. The remedy for evil men is the gallows." Thomas Jefferson

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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