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Best way to creat lead ingots

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by TORCHRIDER, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. TORCHRIDER

    TORCHRIDER Wake Up America

    851
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    Dec 14, 2008
    Central Texas
    I have a whole bunch of wheel weights that I want to turn into lead ingots for future reloading. Given that I dont have any equipment yet, what should I purchase just to do the ingots? Do you do this kind of work with the same furnace you use to cast bullets or do you use a more primitive method (i.e. cast iron pot on a propane stove, etc.) Please let me know what I should buy to do this first step.
     

  2. sourdough44

    sourdough44

    3,019
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    Jul 23, 2007
    WI
    Cast the ingots into a tin 'muffin' pan, works great. Just use whatever melting pot & heat you have.
     
  3. fredj338

    fredj338

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    Dec 22, 2004
    so.cal.
    SOme use their casting pot, I don't. The only thing that goes into my casting pot is useable alloy. Most use a turkey fryer burner & cheap cast iron dutch oven or skillet. Crank up the heat, drop in the ww & flux & skim the crud. I use a stainless steel ladle to scoop out & pour into ingots. There are commercial molds or you can use some steel or aluminum muffin tins or I prefer cast iron molds, either home made from channel or angle irons or cast iron muffin tins work great.
     
  4. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    11,682
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    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    I trashed three or for muffin tins and I can't figure out how some people get them to work. I pour the lead in, let it cool, and it won't come out. I had to peel the cups off the ingots which ruined them. Also, the muffins don't fit in my Lee 10# pot. I have one Lee ingot mold that cost less than the muffin tins that I wrecked. I place the full ingot mold on a soaking wet towel and it solidifies in a matter of seconds. Dump the ingots and refill the mold.

    Also, I leave my Lee pot almost empty when I'm done making bullets. I render down my range lead and fill up the casting pot with a ladle so the pot is full for the next session. That makes about 8# of lead that doesn't need to be ingots.

    There are no cheap cast iron pots in the store new. If you want a cheao cast iron pot, hunt them down at yard sales. Bass Pro has a propane fish fryer on sale right now for $29.00. It's 58,000 BTU which is much more than my 1000Watt hotplate and I should get one, but my hotplate works good enough and I'll probably just stick with what I have.

    DO NOT use an aluminum pot to melt lead. Al is too weak at high temps and it will fail dumping molten lead everywhere. Thin steel works fine.

    If i wasn't stingy by nature, I'd get the propane burner and a cast iron Dutch oven. But the stuff I had lying around was free and works well enough.
     
  5. Patrick Graham

    Patrick Graham Footlong Jr.

    1,953
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    Sep 7, 2001
    Kokomo Indiana
    I use aluminum small muffin pans, they are perfect for the LEE 10# and 20# pots.
     
  6. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    11,682
    1
    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    Yes, aluminum would work. The only ones I find at wallyworld are steel and they have a tin type plating that the lead solders itself to. Where did you get the Al muffin pan?
     
  7. TORCHRIDER

    TORCHRIDER Wake Up America

    851
    0
    Dec 14, 2008
    Central Texas
    How big a pot should I get for casting ingots? 1 qt., 2 qt. 4 qt., etc.?
     
  8. Three-Five-Seven

    Three-Five-Seven Señor Mombo Millennium Member

    2,727
    34
    Aug 8, 1999
    Great Southwest
    Forget the muffin tins. Two problems arise with those: first, the weight of the ingot is unknown, second, the resulting ingots will not fit into a regular pot.

    Forget trying to smelt with your casting furnace. Too slow, too much electricity, no safe way to get the lead out of the pot and into an ingot mold.

    Do get an outdoor propane fish-boil/turkey fryer/stove gizmo. It is the cheapest way to get a regulator and get heat underneath a large vessel. They are also very stable -- you don't want 50 pounds of molten lead spilling over. Get a cast iron dutch oven of 10 to 12 quart capacity. Don't use stainless or aluminum -- dangerous. Get a propane cylinder and start smelting. You'll also need a large slotted spoon and a ladle.

    Do purchase an RCBS or Lyman ingot mold. These produce ingots of known weight and shaped so they will go into any casting furnace.

    Set aside a morning and melt all your lead into ingots at once. Put the ingots on some cement something or other to cool. I use the top of a concrete block wall.

    By doing all your lead at once, you save a lot on fuel and you only have to get geared up once (closed toe shoes, long pants, long sleeve flannel shirt, welding gloves, safety glasses, bandana on head to keep sweat from dropping into melt. The lead melts quickly when in contact with other lead that is already molten. Use a propane torch on the top of your lead to get things started. Once you have a good pool of lead in the pot, things go quickly. I hold my ingot mold with vise-grip pliers. Ingots cool enough to drop in about a minute, so every two minutes you have four more pounds of ingots.

    The reason that known weight is important is that you can then alloy your final mix easily, counting each ingot as one pound -- which they very accurately are.

    This whole set up will cost you under 100 bucks.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2010
  9. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    10,016
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    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    All my ingots look exactly the same... just like wheel weights or range lead. Actually until I joined this site I'd never known anyone who used two pots for casting... and I've known lots and lots of casters.

    Let me take that back, the exception would be casting for muzzle loaders, you use pure lead so it's best to use a dedicated pot to avoid contamination.

    Some say that by putting weights or range directly into your furnace you reduce the life of the furnace... come to think of it that's probably true. It's only been 45 years and I'm on my third furnace already. :supergrin:

    Is my system the correct way, it seems that the consensus of opinion would suggest not but being as lazy as I am it works for me.

    What ever you decide to do have fun and be careful.

    Jack
     
  10. unclebob

    unclebob

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    Oct 14, 2000
    Mary Esther FL
    Besides the Lyman ingot molds I use the old GI mess kit. The one that one side is a big oval and the other side looks like two kidneys.
     
  11. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    11,682
    1
    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    What's wrong with a stainless pot? I've used mine many times. Steel, stainless or otherwise, is plenty strong at the 800* or less that you melt scrap lead at.

    Jack, I do put WW right into my pot, the big 4 ounce truck ones. The problem with the Lee 10# I use is that the opening is very small and it has the valve stem right in the middle. It makes it hard to skim off the clips and especially the bullet jackets, of which there is a large volume.

    Volume wise, range scrap takes up a lot of room in the small pot and yields a small amount of lead. I'd have to refill and skim it many times to fill it up. With the 3qt pot I use, when it's heaping full of range scrap, I end up with a few inches of lead after I skim it. That 3-4 inches of lead equals about 13#. The range scrap I use gets reduced about 3:1 or more in terms of volume.
     
  12. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    10,016
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    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO

    Wisky...

    You bring up an excellent point regarding the lack of room in a Lee pot. I humbly yield to you sir.

    You also hit upon another good point... 4 ounce truck weights. Looks like I'm going to be eating at more truck stops and taking my pliers with me. :supergrin:

    Jack
     
  13. If your system provides acceptable results for you than who is to tell you you're wrong. Turkey fryer, coleman stove, campfire...all can net the same results. Muffin tins, cornbread molds, ingot molds...no diff. Marvellux, candle wax, sawdust....same results.
    Who cares how the sausage is made?
    Once someone has an understanding of the process and procedure, being resourceful with the tools we have at our disposal is just pure ingenuity.
    Correct way? If your firearm shoots them consistent and clean...yes
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2010
  14. fredj338

    fredj338

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    Dec 22, 2004
    so.cal.
    Depends, but nothing smaller than a 4qt to be practical, cast iron holds heat better than cheap steel pots. Garage sales have them or cheap CHinese made from Sportsmans.
     
  15. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    11,682
    1
    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    I filled my 3qt pot full of tape on WW and let it melt on my hotplate today. After about 15 minutes they had all melted or collapsed down and I heaped it back up again. After about another 15 mintues it was all melted. I got about 25 pounds out of it and it was only 2/3 full of molten lead.

    It took me about 5 minutes to cast the lead into ingots. So 30-45 minutes for the whole job left me with enough lead for 1,000. That's about three months worth of bullets for me. So using an admittedly clunky way of doing things, I spent only a few minutes getting a good yield of lead. I watched the news and had my dinner while the stuff melted down.

    The place is filling up with ingots. Once or twice a month I render 20-30 pounds of ingots in about an hours time while watching TV. I don't know that a bigger pot and a better heat source would inprove my quality of life any.

    Now what to do with the basically pure lead ingots I have. I could mix them in with harder stuff but that seems like a waste. I have no use for them as I don't have any muzzeloaders. I might just leave them at my club for the black powder guys to use.
     
  16. Sometimes I think so much like you it scares me.
     
  17. fredj338

    fredj338

    21,704
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    Dec 22, 2004
    so.cal.
    Hey wisky, I'm sure Jack could use them for his fornt stuffers. If not, I am always looking for alloy.:supergrin:
     
  18. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    11,682
    1
    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    You're welcome to come get them. I can leave them on the porch. How hard is it to get a flat rate box to hold togeather? I'm picturing an empty cardboard box with the bottom ripped out showing up at your house. Since you live in pinko commie land where you are at a disadvantage leadwise, I'd give you first dibbs.
     
  19. Patrick Graham

    Patrick Graham Footlong Jr.

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    Sep 7, 2001
    Kokomo Indiana
    My wife, she does garage sales every saturday.


    :wavey: