Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bullet Casting: Sorting Wheel Weights

1 pound lead ingots and wheel weights
Here's some of my sorted WW ready for melting and ingots. 
Many wheel weights (or WW) are presently being offered to tire companies which are not made of lead. It is important to segregate these products before melting them. It is not like the old days where you indiscriminately dump your wheel weights into a melting pot and melt them. One of the current products used in massive amounts is zinc. Zinc will turn your molten mas of lead into an unyielding glob which would be useless. To prevent this it requires sorting products. First you need to be familiar with which WW is lead and what is not. A visit on the web looking under wheel balancing weights will supply you with pictures from the manufactures and what their products are, listing them as steal, lead or zinc.
flat lead wheel weights
Flat lead WW.
Some very flat wheel weights are so soft that you can scratch them with your fingernail but they have an extremely high melting point. This means that they are low antimony and high in another unknown additive; my guess would be tin which could be melted in to an unlimited percent of lead. But it could also be as high as 0.2% nickel and 0.13% copper. These wheel weights as they are would appear to be most useful for shot gun slug making or use in black powder projectiles of any type. Most people like their shot hard but it could be used in a shot making machine if you had no other use for them. Tin is a most desirable additive in bullet making as it helps the bullet fill out better. The trouble with trying to mix tin is that the metal needs to be razed to a higher heat to mix the tin in the molten lead. This would be best done by melting and cleaning your wheel weights and using pliers and a propane torch to heat these flat wheel weights and drip them into your molten lead. If you try to just melt them in you can lose some of your most valuable antimony which will separate in the scum and which most people skim off and throw away. The goal is to get your metal up to temperature and mix what you have to mix and cast your ingots as quickly as you can.
Flat wheel weights
Close up of flat lead WW.
Use a magnet to sort the steel WW, stick a small magnet to the outside of the WW.
Other flat wheel weights are zinc and they should be separated and discarded with the steel wheel weights. Some tire shops have a 100% recycle policy and will not sell you wheel weights. Talk to the manager and ask him if he will swap bucket for bucket for the WW you cannot use. This will guarantee that you end up with a completely usable product after sorting. It is like free money! Otherwise you must throw them away.

Blind sorting
Steel wheel weights
Steel WW.
 When doing research about WW online, you will not be able to see every type that has ever been made, that is where blind sorting comes in. This is done with a pair of hand tile nips or cutters. So you will pick up each WW and give it a firm nip, if it will not dent it is steal throw it in the discard bucket. If it slightly dents it is most likely a zinc wheel weight discard it as well and if it easily dents it is probably made of lead.

Sorting WW can be very time consuming yet each pound of lead equals a considerable return in ammo. Casting your own bullets is a wonderful way to save money over store bought bullets. 

An excellent source of good bullet alloy is a sale boat keel (the bottom fin from a sale boat is many times made out of lead with 4% antimony which is equal to Lyman #2 to see a post on cutting it up and melting down a sail boat keel click here. A sale boat keel weighs 2000 to 3000 pounds!

To see my book that anti gunnerts do not want you to seeclick   American Handbook on Guns Ammo and Freedom

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