Author Topic: primitive bullet casting in lead pot  (Read 22208 times)

Offline cohutt

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #30 on: February 13, 2013, 09:00:49 PM »
Geez I did a couple or "bermining" expirements and reclaimed a couple hundred pounds from the old pistol berm at my range.

For the record mining the berm and cleaning/ smelting is a lot more work than I'll ever do again lol.

I hooked up with two really good sources that were free after that and got while the getting was good.  almost 2 tons later I retired from the home smelting craft indefinitely.
the sources?  A client who owns a radiation shielding business who had literally 25 tons of scrap each year that he shipped back to his primary supplier.  The second is a friend who operates among other things a scrap metal business.  He said that lead was more of a hassle and If I "tipped"  his little gatekeeper guy for the effort he'd ask him to pull aside all the lead alloys that came through.  For some 308 hunting loads and an old lawn mower that I would have paid someone to take I got wheel weights, plumbing scrap, Linotype, monotype, pure lead scrap, roofing flashing, and lead shot. 

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #31 on: February 13, 2013, 10:08:47 PM »
Jealous.  Next I expect to hear how your brother in law is a materials handler at ATK and sends you thousands of blemished primers and mislabeled powder jugs each month...

Offline cohutt

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #32 on: February 14, 2013, 04:13:35 AM »
Jealous.  Next I expect to hear how your brother in law is a materials handler at ATK and sends you thousands of blemished primers and mislabeled powder jugs each month...

Nah, one is cfo of a large billboard company and one is a project manager for dsl section of at&t.  Can't have everything i guess

Offline idelphic

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #33 on: February 14, 2013, 01:35:05 PM »
Geez I did a couple or "bermining" expirements and reclaimed a couple hundred pounds from the old pistol berm at my range.

For the record mining the berm and cleaning/ smelting is a lot more work than I'll ever do again lol.

I hooked up with two really good sources that were free after that and got while the getting was good.  almost 2 tons later I retired from the home smelting craft indefinitely.
the sources?  A client who owns a radiation shielding business who had literally 25 tons of scrap each year that he shipped back to his primary supplier.  The second is a friend who operates among other things a scrap metal business.  He said that lead was more of a hassle and If I "tipped"  his little gatekeeper guy for the effort he'd ask him to pull aside all the lead alloys that came through.  For some 308 hunting loads and an old lawn mower that I would have paid someone to take I got wheel weights, plumbing scrap, Linotype, monotype, pure lead scrap, roofing flashing, and lead shot.
I would think that bermining would be easiest if it is a sand berm...  I've been thinking of building one, but have to find a location.  I plan to try a range close to see if it's possible..  but it's unlikely that it'll happen...  I'd even take it all, convert it to ingots for them to sell if they allowed me so many pounds per hundred. (30% take..)

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #34 on: February 14, 2013, 01:48:39 PM »
Is there a howto for berming?  I understand the concept, but can imagine digging through with my fingers, only extracting 100gr chunks one by one.  Doesn't seem to be a great use of my time or energy to save $1/lbs.


Offline idelphic

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #35 on: February 14, 2013, 02:26:38 PM »
Is there a howto for berming?  I understand the concept, but can imagine digging through with my fingers, only extracting 100gr chunks one by one.  Doesn't seem to be a great use of my time or energy to save $1/lbs.
in the case of using sand,.. just a shovel  a wheel barrow and a screen would be used.  Think cat's litter box.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #36 on: February 14, 2013, 03:03:30 PM »
in the case of using sand,.. just a shovel  a wheel barrow and a screen would be used.  Think cat's litter box.

Nope.  I live in western WA.  It's lush vegetation comes from dark loamy (wet) earth. The berm is muddy to moist 9 months of the year.
The upside is I have a view of the cascade mountains down range.

I'm not certain my club harvests, but some body must do it given 2000+ members.

Offline Freebirde

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #37 on: February 14, 2013, 03:24:03 PM »
If you make your own sifter, 3/16" mesh will catch .22 and .223.   If they use .17cal at your range, you will need 1/8" mesh.   As kids we mined some clay banks that were used as backstops.    Unless you have a washer setup similar to what goldminers use, the dryer the clay, the easier it is to work.

Offline CountryRootsCityJob

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #38 on: February 14, 2013, 06:50:42 PM »
almost 2 tons later I retired from the home smelting craft indefinitely

Some guys have all the luck...

Offline cohutt

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #39 on: February 14, 2013, 08:48:48 PM »
My second berm mining escapade was the one where it was wet and in chucks of clay mud.

The berm lead was finally released by running it through a homemade sluice box like gold panners use



Basically corrugated plastic drain pipe sliced longway in half sitting in my miter saw "extension" jig.  I put a big old rubbermaid tote box on the end with a portable sump pump in it and ran the hose back to the top. the clumps of clay and lead were shoveled into the top half of the sluice and then i just let the water run over it for a while while occasionally churning it up some with an old garden hand spade.\

The smelt needed more skimming than usual as all sort of sirt and grit remained but it eventually gave me a respectable pile of 7 lb ingots.






Offline cohutt

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #40 on: February 14, 2013, 09:08:37 PM »
My first attempt went much better- it was drier and dusty and I devised a mesh frame using hardware cloth to sift the shoveled lead, rock and dirt.



A little raking and bouncing reduces it significantly and what looks like pebbles turns out to contain a large amount of lead






In the melt, it doesn't take long for all of the remaining pebbles dirt etc to float to the surface with all the jackets. 
BTW "exploding" fmj bullets in smelts is a myth.  The jackets are usually compromised significantly on impact and release the molten lead easily without issue. 



After everything is well skimmed, the fluxing with old candle wax and/or old walnut media is done.  Stirring this in as it melts and burns is a way to get impurities to oxidize and be released from the alloy- it accumulates on the surface as ash and a finer skimming is done and the whole process is repeated.



Once done the lead takes on a mirror like surface.  The softer the alloy, ie closer to pure lead, the more iridescent blue/purple colors reflect on the surface.

 

I used all sorts of makeshift reservoirs for ingot molds here- the small lee and lyman ingot molds, muffin tins, aluminum coke cans with the tops cut off, anything works.

Again, it was some work but a decent haul of a couple hundred lbs



I hope these two short visual berm mining posts help you see what is actually involved.  It is work but indoor range scrap or sandy berm recovery would be a little easier, but not easy.

Offline cohutt

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #41 on: February 14, 2013, 09:33:11 PM »
And finally re: begging, borrowing scavenging lead-

If you are pervasive and do your asking in person you eventually start having success.  But you really have to be in it 100% or else opportunities slip by and others get the lead.   In other words you have to be a total lead seeking whore with no reservations or pride and just hit the circuit and keep coming back.  I had no luck initially with tire stores and eventually found my other sources. Put word out with roofers and plumbers you might know or do business with- lead doesn't go in to new construction these days but is sure comes out of old constructions, ex: the lead seals for iron sewer pipes (with the remnants of wool gaskets and god knows what else on it), true lead pipe occasionally, roof flashing, shower basin liners in homes constructed in the first half of the last century. 

What can you find if you put in the effort?





these massive  70 lb plumbing lead pigs were free- found by someone in a demolition of an old warehouse that had been empty and falling in for years:



ever see those old brick factory buildings with fire hose connections on the side?  Lead with very heavy brass fittings on the end.  This actually made me some money- i melted it all together then lifted out the brass and sold it to recycling for a pretty decent $ a few years ago:



These were some sort of counter balance weights from old equipment :



And my best trick in the whole scheme: train your spouse to spot and pickup wheel weights during her daily exercise walks.  It started out as a joke but then she got really good at it and still picks up enough weights to give me periodic gifts as our running joke.  This is a sample from valentines day a few years ago.  (Over the years she has probably added a hundred or more lbs net to my lead stash, 1 wheel weight at a time, maybe 4 or 5 a week, this adds up. )  ;)


Offline Jeremy Downing

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #42 on: February 15, 2013, 01:22:23 PM »
Thank you for the excellent pictures, Cohutt.  They are very informative.

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #43 on: February 15, 2013, 03:24:48 PM »
Hmmm, I'm going to need to start stopping near our local potholes and look for wheel weights in the area. 

+1 for the info in this thread!

Offline Freebirde

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #44 on: February 15, 2013, 03:39:24 PM »
Hmmm, I'm going to need to start stopping near our local potholes and look for wheel weights in the area. 

+1 for the info in this thread!

Also look at business driveways and intersections where cars have to make a sharp turn to enter or leave.

If your city has street sweepers, check with city services about getting the weights that are picked up, maintenance workers usually get the coins that are picked up.

Offline NWPilgrim

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #45 on: February 15, 2013, 04:54:37 PM »
   OK one of my secrets. If you help at the indoor pistol range and put in a good days work cleaning out the traps some clubs will let you buy the lead at the same price as what they sell it for. I melt the lead, skim off the copper jackets and set them aside. Adjust the lead  by adding wheel weights to where I want it for that batch, then cast.
I then take  the jackets back to the club to toss into the 22 RF brass bucket. Everybody is happy. Some day I'll run out of wheel weights, till then I cast.

Are these pure soft lead and need to be alloyed for shooting or are they already alloyed enough for say BHN 12?

Offline cohutt

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #46 on: February 15, 2013, 06:47:06 PM »
Typically range lead is softer than most think they can get away with.  However, I've "recast" range lead just to see and it shot fine (my usual pistol alloy is half pure and half wheel weights).  The alloy was from the berm lead shown above, which included a fair percentage of cast bullets, which probably helped.

Offline cohutt

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #47 on: February 15, 2013, 06:49:32 PM »
I've noticed there tend to be a lot at the lights at the bottom of interstate exits> maybe they are shed there more often or maybe they just never get cleaned up. picked up (except by me every once in a while if the light is right and the ones i see are big enough lol).

Offline Bradbn4

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #48 on: February 17, 2013, 04:26:49 PM »
Seems a bit high on the cost..  You can generally find wheel weights much cheaper,..  well.. if you can find it stock up.

  I have spent some time talking to folks who do a lot of casting in town, they have all reported that all of the normal locations for cheap lead have deals with the local recyclers.  All of the independent tire shops have lots of folks pestering / buying / standing in line for the wheel weights.

Right now I use Ebay for casting lead, I don't really use that much so a few hundred lbs can last me many years.

The other parts I referenced like items from NOE - are very high end molds, and more than adequate hardware can be found at Lee mfg for cheap.

 

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #49 on: February 17, 2013, 04:56:53 PM »
Just a suggestion, if you are going to mine your local gun club, best check with the Board of Directors to preserve your membership.  We had an incident recently where some unknown persons mined one of the pistol bays, hooked up to hot water tank used to wash large pots (think of dinners for 250)  for washing the dirt out, left the water on all night and burned a lot of propane. 

Beside the damage to the berm and the flooded bay we had the expense of the propane lost.  If we could find out who did this, he would no longer be a member.

FYI

z

Offline idelphic

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #50 on: February 18, 2013, 07:11:05 AM »
Just a suggestion, if you are going to mine your local gun club, best check with the Board of Directors to preserve your membership.  We had an incident recently where some unknown persons mined one of the pistol bays, hooked up to hot water tank used to wash large pots (think of dinners for 250)  for washing the dirt out, left the water on all night and burned a lot of propane. 

Beside the damage to the berm and the flooded bay we had the expense of the propane lost.  If we could find out who did this, he would no longer be a member.

FYI

z
Ouch and just plain rude. 

The one place I go to is a outdoor range, and on state/federal land, so I don't think that is a good option for harvest.  NTM- about the only time I'd have to harvest is in the middle of the night.  Not exactly practical.  If I had a harvester (dig, sift, replace, catch) then I could go through a 200 yard by 50yard wide area.  There would be some trash and splintered logs,..  but sure there would be a good bit of shot to gain.  Just would not be easy to do with out a tractor...

I did stop by the local recycler again,.. talked to the manager so we will see.   Still need to run out to the indoor pistol range.  Not looking for weekly or monthly harvests,..  just a 5gal bucket maybe in 6months...