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I'm not sure the 'Tools' forum is the right place but it will work.

I need to melt down lead weights and form them into a square shape to fit under a chassis.

What do you use? How well does it work? What should I avoid?

Thanks ahead of time. :)

Craig
 

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Avoid breathing any of the fumes as you melt it down or handle it in a molten state.
Also avoid trying to pick up any spills while still in a liquid state.

I used to use a Coleman propane camp stove (outside - fresh air), and put the lead I was melting into an empty coffee can.
Heat until melted.
For forming, I clamped pieces of 1" angle iron into the size block I wanted on top of a sheet metal platform (automotive drip tray [2'X3'] worked for me), and simply poured the molten lead into the form.
Stay upwind of any fumes...
Allow to cool (I let mine sit over night) and pop the clamps holding the forms in place.
 

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I've cast bullets for over 30 years using everything from a gas burner on the range to a fancy bottom pour electric casting pot. I have to giggle about "avoid picking up any spills while still in a liquid state". You'll only do it once!! Better give it a few minutes to cool.

As to waiting over night...thats a bit of overkill. Depending on the size of the mold you are using and the surface its sitting on retained heat may keep the center of the cast molten for several minutes to 1/2 hr. After that its a matter of being able to handle it due to the retained heat even tho there is no chance of it being molten.

Best bet on melting wheel weights is to do the initial melt and cleaning operation outdoors. Its a messy job at that stage. You can fabricate a windbreak around the pot and heat source if need be but stay away from the fumes ESPECIALLY at this stage. Once melted down and the dross removed the fumes will not be as hazardous. Lead doesn't "fume" until a much higher temp than it melts at so that risk is really over stated. Its the other crap, other mineral elements and such that are worse at melt temp. Cast from up wind as stated by Duncan and NEVER lean over the pot! Trapped moisture, even a drop of sweat can cause the most horrendous burns you can imagine.

Andre'
 

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I got my supplies at tru value hardware: cast iron pot $10, lead bar $10 and a bar of solder $10. I melt some of the solder in the lead to make stronger wheels as lead bends too easily. Mold is RTV. I cast my own frogs as well.







 

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Wheel weight alloy is very hard and would be a better choice for your wheels than just solder and lead. You could add some antimony to your mix and get pretty close. The Brinnell on that mix as well as wheel weights can get pretty high. It also can be quenched as you would steel to harden it and it also age hardens some over time.

Overall tho there are better material for a "working" part than any lead alloy. While it may be suitable for trucks and such, wheels get a lot of "activity" that would cause them to wear rather quickly with this stuff. What are you using the cast lead wheels for? A display model? If an operating model how long have you been running them?

Andre'
 

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Andre,

I haven't run them yet as I'm redoing my outdoor layout. I also cast some in resin and some in epoxy that seem less durable.
 

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An alternative may be to use some lead shotgun shot and mix with with two part epoxy. 
 

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When using solder for weight, make sure you get the kind without rosin. Rosin is there for soldering electronic wires/boards and costs more.

Discarded tire balancing weights are a good lead source.

Wear gloves when handling lead as it is not good for humans. Definately keep children away from the lead and fumes.
 

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Back in the days when they  used  cast iron  sewer pipes  they  joined them with this stuff called  OAKUM.   They always had a  pot with molten led.  The pot fit on a burner.    What was the name of the   burner and  melting pot?

If one was going to do this a lot    one might look for a pot a burner on  E bay.
 

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If you belong to, or know anyone that is a member of, a gun club - you can get TONS of lead for free. At my club, they clean out the sand at the base of the indoor targets once a month - usually end up with 15-20 5 gallon buckets of old bullets every time (just try picking one of them up!!!!).

I melt them to form fishing sinkers - because of the sand and other crud, they smoke something fierce when first melted. As stated above, do this outside. I go one step further and do the melting and pouring on an old door sitting on top of sawhorses - I place an old electric box fan near the electric melting pot to make sure the fumes and smoke travel away from me.

Brian
 

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So for us uneducated people, you can use RTV as a mold? I HAD thought RTV would melt and the comment about using wheel weights because they are harder brings up the question of using lead for complete drivers or at least their centers. How far off am I??
 

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Dave,

No, you can't use lead by itself for wheels but if you add solder to the lead, it is strong stuff. Matter of fact, some solders contain 50% lead and are used to solder copper pipes.

Yes, RTV can be used to cast molten lead. In fact, some folks heat up the RTV a bit in the oven so that the metal doesn't solidify too quickly and settles in the cavities.

Matter of fact, heating new RTV molds is common practice to give them strength

RTV can withstand temps of 400F. Lead and solder's melting point is below that. I've been pouring hot lead/solder in my RTV molds for some times and haven't had any deliterious effects.
 

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Hmm. Essentially, you're adding a little tin to the stuff.
 

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Does anyone coat the mold in something (talc?) to wick the metal into the small areas, or is this not necessary?

Thanks,
Matt
 

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Matt,

I would not coat the mold when working with molten metal, as whatever you use for coating will get embedded and might change the properties of the metal. OTOH, you might experiment with coating the mold with a dusting of metallic powder to add color or strength. This is just a guess. I may try this next time.
 

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Thanks, SE18. I didn't expect to find people actually used talc, but I was curious if there was something else used. The particles is an interesting idea....

Matt
 

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The talc is used for resin or epoxy casting as not only a mold release but to make the surface more amenable to painting. I find just spraying paint inside the mold for resin casting acts as a release agent and colors the substance. I suppose talc would be useful if you are going to do some intricate painting later. But I would not use it for molten metals
 

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Greg.. AKA... Sheepdog...

Been melting down wheel weights for years.... get them free most of the time from tire dealers... they generaly have a bucket or two.... I bring my own 5 gal bucket just in case....  Most will give you what they have... think I have paid $5.00 a couple of times for a couple of buckets...

As for the melting... I use a small furnice I got years ago for making toy cannons... think it was around $40.00 back then and they threw in the gloves... might want to search "castings" and see what you come up with...

As for a mold... I just use an old board... Picture is worth a 1000 words... Any questions... let me know..

Rick Brown
Pine Needle & Stump Pile Railroad
Port Orchard, WA.
 

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SE18...

Was making "weights"..... Will have to see if I have any pictures of the old cannons.... Will see what I can find....

Rick Brown
Pine Needle & Stump Pile Railroad
Port Orchard, WA.
 
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