Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Praxis: Take that, collectivism! How I labored on Labor Day.

Labor Day in the United States is a holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country. -- Wikipedia.
I've been collecting range scrap in small lots pretty much all summer and today I went to a friend's house where we melted all that stuff down and cast it into handy ingots for bullet casting. Here is some of the raw material:
We began with 203 pounds of jacketed range scrap, 18 pounds of cast range scrap and 15 pounds of "cowboy" range scrap (mostly what I call "cowboy scabs" recovered from in front of the steel targets these very soft projectiles are fired at). Here is the cast and cowboy raw material, cast on the left, cowboy on the right.
We also melted some pewter into small ingots for alloying later (pewter, high in tin, helps harden the projectiles). I was disappointed that some of the "pewter" turned out not be, even one cup that was marked "English Pewter" and "Made in Sheffield." Dirty lying Brits.
Here is the set-up. We used two propane cookers under an awning at the back of the property. We ran an extension cord out to a box fan to keep the fumes blowing away from us as we worked.
The pewter yielded a disappointing 7 pounds. All ingots are marked, in the xase of the pewter as "PEW." Still, as I only had about 25 bucks in the pewter (picked up over time at yard sales, estate sales and thrift stores) this wasn't a terribly uneconomic yield. Still, it could have been better, but I am learning more about pewter markings and what not to buy.
For fluxing we used the red wax off of Gouda cheese packaging and it seemed to work very well, superior to crayons certainly.
In the end, our efforts yielded:
Cowboy lead (CBY) 14 pounds
Cast scrap (CRS) 16 pounds
Jacketed scrap (JRS) 140 pounds.


jon said...

for some reason clicking on the photos for the big version still only shows me the thumbnail. still looks like a good time, though.

Uncle Lar said...

Oh for the days when linotype was cheap and plentiful.
I'm assuming that the cast scrap is about right, the cowboy scrap is mostly lead with just a bit of tin and antimony, and the jacketed scrap is pretty much pure lead.
Using old pewter stuff for the tin is something I'd not heard of before. Great idea.

Jim22 said...

That's the easy part. When you get to casting, sizing, lubing, packaging, and loading it will take a lot longer. But it's rewarding.

Best thing is a couple of bullet moulds. They don't have to be the same style. Multiple cavities work well.

When you get going on the casting the moulds will heat up, requiring a minute or so for the bullets to harden. While you are waiting you can fill another mould.

You'll need a separate container for the cut off sprues.

Rider said...

Mike, can one use the lead out of car batteries?

SciFiJim said...

Car batteries are not a source for boolit lead. Please read the following forum thread for the particulars.


Please don't harm yourself or others by using car batteries!

Anonymous said...

How exactly does one go about getting access to range scrap? I get the cowboy scrap, kinda, as it would be lying on the ground near the steel plates. Do you dig in the burms at out door ranges for the other? And how well would jacketed scrap work in melting down to mould new boolits? Would you have copper shreds in the middle of your new lead casts? I guess I have a lot to learn.

Dutchman6 said...

I do not dig berms. Very bad form around here and it will get you escorted out and told never to come back. No, all I do is pick them up off the surface. Best time is after a couple of days of hard rain. Pick a washout that's been carved by the water in the bank and there they are, sitting like so many dandelions on the surface, waiting to be plucked. The lead melts out of the jackets and the jackets float to the surface. You take a fryer tool, get a number of the jackets in the slotted bowl and gently shake them from side to side. Most residual lead still in the jackets flows out and back into the pot. Take the jackets and put into another container and sell them for scrap afterward. Out of 200 pounds of jacketed range scrap we netted 60 pounds of dirty copper. Fluxing removes the small particles. Discard the fluxed dross. What is left over is pure lead, no copper shreds.