Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

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AndyC
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Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#1

Post by AndyC » Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:51 pm

I haven't done this in years, but my local range allowed me to scrape a few bucket loads of bullets from their berm - filling two 5-gallon buckets to about 2/3rds full (to avoid breaking their handles from the weight) in about 15 minutes.

I went out today and invested in an inexpensive fish-fryer from Bass Pro for $30 - I liked the fact that it has extra stabilizers on the base so it won't tip over.

I bought a 5qt Dutch oven too and couldn't help but get a cast iron corn-cob type pan so I can cast lead ingots in handy shapes for my Lee melting-pot - almost had to fight the wife off when she saw the last two items; what is it with women and cast-iron cookware? :mrgreen:

Put the fryer together in about 15 minutes, loaded it up with about a half bucket of range scrap and set it going:

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After about 20 minutes of this beast roaring like a jet-engine and watching the pile settle lower and lower into the pot, we got this:

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After scraping all the copper jackets off the top of the lead:

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The final result of a 2/3rds bucket of range scrap - 37 or so corn-cob ingots of perhaps a pound apiece, a single ingot of the remaining lead in the pot of about 5 pounds and (not shown) about 10 pounds of copper jackets which I'll probably sell to a scrap dealer - ingots shown next to a few .45 boolits for scale:

Image

Basically, this little bucket of range scrap bullets will probably cast about 1,700 boolits :woohoo
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Re: Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#2

Post by SeaHawk » Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:20 pm

Nice pile of ingots.

I'm old and have been casting most of my life but I have never tried reclaiming range scrap. Do you use it as is or doctor it with tin/antimony?

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Re: Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#3

Post by AndyC » Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:32 pm

Thank you kindly - I've just gotten started on the pile that I intend having :mrgreen:

My guess is that it's going to be real soft lead, seeing as 99% of it was jacketed.... I might just tart it up a wee bit with some 50/50 bar solder if it doesn't fill out the mold-cavities as is.
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Re: Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#4

Post by v-rog » Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:38 pm

Very Nice!
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Re: Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#5

Post by jimlongley » Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:53 pm

My friend Bob, many years ago, and I, did something similar a couple of times, although we didn't get near as many spent cases.

We did run into a problem a couple of times.

The first time was what we eventually determined was a water/steam explosion. Bob was standing a couple of feet from the pot when he saw a pile of cases and such collapse, then something like a little volcano spurt, and then "POP" molten lead spattered several feet in every direction, not much, but enough to be scary. We decided that a case in the mix had had some water in it and had been sufficiently insulated in the mix that when the pile collapsed, the water flashed to steam resulting in the explosion.

I wasn't there for the second one, which Bob said was infinitely more scary. Due to rain, Bob had moved the burner and pot into an old garage behind his house. With the doors open he was sure there was plenty of ventilation, the garage having both front and back swinging doors. Bob had just walked away from the pot and out the front door to have a smoke, and was pulling off his gloves when there was the sound of a shot, and a large flash behind him, and molten lead spattering all over the inside of the garage.

We had a heck of a time cleaning up the mess, which did not result in a fire but could well have due to the gas cans stored in there.

We found a case that apparently had still had a primer in it, if not powder and projectile.

One thing I could never figure out is why there were so many cases downrange.
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Re: Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#6

Post by AndyC » Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:11 pm

Oh, those aren't cases, Jim - those are bullet jackets. Pretty valuable, too, if copper is going for about $3/lb...
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Re: Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#7

Post by Seabear » Thu Dec 01, 2011 5:50 pm

Ok Andy, I am headed to the HOT side,LOL. I went to Academy and got my set up including a ladle and a neat fish strainer that I think I can use to get the copper out with.

I went to the club where fortunatley (I think) I am on the Board of Directors. My first bay was mildly succesful, about 15 pounds but took too long. I did piuck it out pretty clean though. Was told of the "mother load" I would find at the rifle range. I waited for two guys to get done shooting and went to check. Not much but did find some 12 gauge slugs. I finally got in to the pistol bay I wanted with the closest burm to the shooting line. YAY!!! :hurry: :thumbs2: In about 5 minutes I used my fish fry strainer and sifted out anouther 25-30 pounds.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with all this stuff. If I had had more time and buckets, I could have picked up 200 pounds. I now know how to mine this stuff. LOL

Tomorrow I will see if I can make lead/bread. LOL
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Re: Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#8

Post by Dave2 » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:34 pm

Speaking of smelting range scrap... does anyone know how hard it is to melt down metal shavings into useful metal bars? I keep thinking about getting one of those computerized milling machines... I know what I'd do about wood scrap, but metal is probably too valuable to just throw away the leftovers.
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Re: Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#9

Post by AndyC » Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:07 pm

Nice, Dave! :thumbs2:

Depends what metal you're talking about - each metal has a different melting temperature. Also - definitely sift out as much dirt as you can before starting to smelt the scrap bullets, otherwise the dirt floats on top of the lead like a blanket and acts as an insulator towards the metal on top - it slows things down dramatically.

V-rog and I did another batch today, smelting about 180 lbs of lead and Lord alone knows how much copper. We use corn-cob cast-iron molds (for easy insertion into a casting pot) as well as small bread-tins (larger ingots for future bulk alloying).

The setup:
Image

Got the lead a bit too hot here, but the colors are awesome:
Image

V-rog rubbing his hands with glee, Scrooge-style:
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Me hamming it up as well:
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Re: Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#10

Post by Gyrogearhead » Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:25 pm

Dave2 wrote:Speaking of smelting range scrap... does anyone know how hard it is to melt down metal shavings into useful metal bars? I keep thinking about getting one of those computerized milling machines... I know what I'd do about wood scrap, but metal is probably too valuable to just throw away the leftovers.
Hi Dave,

Andy is right, it depends upon which metal you want to melt.

For Aluminum you can use pretty much the same gear as for lead. The melting temp is just a bit higher but if you're thinking of melting brass, iron or steel it's a whole 'nother ball game. The melting temps are in the 3,000 degree F range and you must use a graphite crucible and a high temperature furnace. You also need specialized handling equipment that keeps you a safe distance away from the hot crucible during the melting and pouring operation.

There's a lot of info on the web; just google "amateur foundery" or "home foundry" and you'll get an idea of what other people have done in terms of metal casting at home.

Also look at jewelery making sites as the equipment and techniques used for gold and silver are the same as you would use in making small brass or iron parts. If you are wanting to cast items bigger than your fist then you are talking industrial scale gear. But it should be noted that resoursefull amateurs have been casting 100# iron items in their backyards for centuries. All it takes is a lot of "want to" or money or both. Money just makes the process quicker.

Gerry
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Re: Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#11

Post by Jumping Frog » Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:42 pm

Andy, looking at the above, you may want to consider a casting thermometer in your future -- especially if you ever decide to process wheel weights. From the colors, it looks like you got things pretty hot.
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Re: Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#12

Post by AndyC » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:48 am

I can't afford a thermometer yet, and I'm still getting used to how hot my new burner actually gets. I said that I know it's too hot - is that all right with you? :totap:
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Re: Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#13

Post by Dave2 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:29 am

AndyC wrote:I can't afford a thermometer yet, and I'm still getting used to how hot my new burner actually gets. I said that I know it's too hot - is that all right with you? :totap:
$56 from Amazon, and good up to nearly 2.5k℉, plus you can practice your draw whenever you want to know how hot it is.

(I've never used it, nor do I know anyone who has. The brand name kinda scares me.)
I am not a lawyer, nor have I played one on TV, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, nor should anything I say be taken as legal advice. If it is important that any information be accurate, do not use me as the only source.


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Re: Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#14

Post by Dave2 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:34 am

Gyrogearhead wrote:
Dave2 wrote:Speaking of smelting range scrap... does anyone know how hard it is to melt down metal shavings into useful metal bars? I keep thinking about getting one of those computerized milling machines... I know what I'd do about wood scrap, but metal is probably too valuable to just throw away the leftovers.
Hi Dave,

Andy is right, it depends upon which metal you want to melt.

For Aluminum you can use pretty much the same gear as for lead. The melting temp is just a bit higher but if you're thinking of melting brass, iron or steel it's a whole 'nother ball game. The melting temps are in the 3,000 degree F range and you must use a graphite crucible and a high temperature furnace. You also need specialized handling equipment that keeps you a safe distance away from the hot crucible during the melting and pouring operation.

There's a lot of info on the web; just google "amateur foundery" or "home foundry" and you'll get an idea of what other people have done in terms of metal casting at home.

Also look at jewelery making sites as the equipment and techniques used for gold and silver are the same as you would use in making small brass or iron parts. If you are wanting to cast items bigger than your fist then you are talking industrial scale gear. But it should be noted that resoursefull amateurs have been casting 100# iron items in their backyards for centuries. All it takes is a lot of "want to" or money or both. Money just makes the process quicker.

Gerry
Thanks, I didn't know iron and steel had to get that hot, and for some reason I hadn't thought to google for those terms. :tiphat:
I am not a lawyer, nor have I played one on TV, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, nor should anything I say be taken as legal advice. If it is important that any information be accurate, do not use me as the only source.

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Re: Smelting range scrap to make boolits...

#15

Post by v-rog » Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:03 am

I'm waiting for Andy to post the pics of our smelting party....OK I see the pics above...
Last edited by v-rog on Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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