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Discussion Starter #1
Hello to the list,

After scouring neaby businesses for Wheel Weights for about 3 months, and coming up empty, I disgustedly bought a brand new box of them at an auto parts store(50). I have decided not to do that again if possible, but have a couple of questions:

1. What BHN are typical Wheel Weights? I have the RCBS 200 Gr. FNGC mold and will be shooting 1750-1950 Fps.

2. The box i bought are marked "Perfect" and came from an auto parts store. Are these OK for casting or do they have any bad stuff in them? Have read on the list there are some that are unusable.

I don't have alot of money or time, so I just wanted to come up with an all purpose bullet that I could shoot alot and shoot well. Thought Wheel Weights were the way to go. Has anyone tried 20/1 lead at the above velocities? Thanks a bunch for any help.
 

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Hi, Chris:
Get some magnum shot if you can. It's got to be cheaper than new wheelweights and it has twice as much antimony, 6% vs. 3%, IIRC. To top that, cleanup, with no paint or clips, with be easier.

Bye
Jack
 

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Chris,

What area of the country are you in?

You could take some of those weights and mix them with plumbers lead (pure lead) and heat treat to get a BHN around 14-18 say with a 2-1 lead/WW mix. The antimony in the WW's in the above mix will enable you to harden the alloy by water dropping them out of the mold into a bucket for about 10-12 BHN.

The antimonial alloy is the desired alloy to have (IE WW's) then you can mix lead and other low antimony alloys with it to arrive at different hardnesses either as is or through heat treatment.

Hit up the salvage yards, foundries, wrecking yards in your area for used/reclaimed alloys, WW's.

I try to steer clear of melting down lead shot to use specifically as a bullet alloy due to the high arsenic/antimony content. Lead shot is a good enrichment ingredient though for other alloys. Arsenic in a very small amount, aids heat treatment also.

Don't buy new WW's like you have, they are essentially a low quality alloy that you are paying far too much money for in their current form. A salvage price for used WW's is fine though.

You may be better off just obtaining a commercial bullet alloy in ingots like Lawrence Magnum Alloy, etc. You'll get a guaranteed assay. Mail order can get expensive though with shipping costs.

Get a good bullet casting book for more information on bullet casting alloys so you can settle on what you want to use in an informed way.

It all boils down to your situation and the time you have to pursue it.

Regards
 

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Wheel weights are: 95.5% lead, .5% tin, 4% antimony. This translates to about bhn 9 if air cooled. I don't know if you would want to soften them any more then that. To make Lyman #2 aloy use 9 lbs of wheel weights and 1 lb of 50/50 solder. BHN 15. My personal favorite is 1/2 wheel weights and 1/2 linotype. About 15 bhn. It makes good sharp bullets.
I probably cast bullets for several years before I used anything but pure wheel weights.
You might talk to a couple of tire stores. Most of them have a contract with someone that buys their w.w.'s , but you might be able to find out which salvage yard that is and be able to buy from them. The salvage yard might also have linotype for sale.
If you're going to run the velocities over 1600 fps I would suggest about 15 bhn. I cast a 270 for my 35 whelen and they are running about 2100 fps. No leading and about 1.5" @ 100 yds.
 

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The bad wheel weights are made of zinc. They're dead easy to tell from the lead weights because they're closer in weight to aluminum.
I get my weights from the tire stores. They used to give them away but most of the stores in my area charge a few bucks per five-gallon bucket. If they're selling the used weights to a scrap metals dealer, you may want to check when the pickup dates are and hit them before the metal dealer does.
Another alternative is to buy virgin wheelweight alloy from one of the lead dealers. There used to be one in Mesa, AZ (LETS Metals, maybe?) but I haven't used them for years. I don't know how cost effective that would be.
At those velocities I'd be inclined to heat-treat my wheel weights for a BHN up over 20. 20/1 lead/tin is going to be awfully soft.
 

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Chris:

Should be able to use the wheel weights as is. If used, just wash them and degrease them (and make sure they are dry) before melting, and then flux them well and often...want to remove road drit from the mix.

If you were to say 1600fps, I'd be positive they'd work fine....at 1800fps, it's LIKELY they will work fine. Have driven WW bulles faster in some rifles, but there are others that start being uncoooperative right about 1700fps. Believe you can gt your 1800fps with a little creative lube work and not have to go to the trouble of heat treating the WW bullets.

The good news is that larger bores (like your .358") are better able to reach that 1800 level than the smaller bores with WW bullets. Can get to 1700fps with a plain based .379" bullet, but can't get there with a plain based .309" bullet without leading or some creative lubrication. Using a gas check, there should be no real problem getting 1700 with a WW bullet of the right diameter for that barrel.

[Creative Lubrication in this case would be liquid alox. On a plain based bullet, let the little fellas stand on their NOSE as they dry. Leaves a nice layer of alox on the BASE. Will smoke a bit, but the base layer of alox seems to help with a load that "almost" works.]

In short: go for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hello Gents,


Thank you one and all for your replies and information. It is most helpful and appreciated. I think I will try the pure wheel weights first and see what happens. All else fails I have the foul out system! Contender...I live in North/Central PA...moved back here from the West Coast about 7 years ago. The most common reply I've gotten from Tire places around here are that they reuse the ones they pull off. Haven't hit the scrapyard but will try that next. That's good news about the bore size being more useable for Wheel Weights and higher velocities. I am also using slow burning IMR 4350 to light them off. It is packed in there to the bullet base and have heard fellows say that this arrangement
"burns cool" in relation to other powder types. I also picked up some SR 4759 and am anxious to see how it works. Best groups(last Winter) were 1.25 Inches at 50 yards with the RCBS bullet, sized .359 and plain open sights. That was my first try with cast, very little leading, but those bullets were given to me by a kind fellow from WA....can't remember how hard he cast them...just diameter....359. The 200 gr. BTB WFNGC's yeilded similar results, but they won't feed in my gun. Thanks again for all the help fellas. Much appreciated! Everyone pray for a day of no rain here so I can try some casting!!!!
 

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Chris,
I have no problems using a bullet very similar to yours, a SAECO #356 200gr FPGC, with wheelweights that are water quenched straight out of the mould. I shoot them in a 357 Max Contender 14" using Lyman Orange Magic and a Hornady gas check, for righ around 1700fps with no signs of leading. I haven't played with it much in the Ackley Whelen, but I didn't get leading with that up to around 1850fps when I stopped messing with lead in that round. Fitting the slug to the throat/barrel will be key in your quest to using wheelweights, or any lead projectile, in any firearm. The suggestion to use the Lawrence Magnum shot would be a good one if you have no source of USED wheelweights, it is commonly available for about $.50/lb and stocked in almost all reloading shops. You'll have to order alloys and pay shipping which is a killer otherwise. The 25lb bags of shot are easy to store and require minimal fuss to use if you can't get the wheelweights. I would strongly suggest you water quench your bullets straigt out of the mould whichever route you go. If that doesnt' work try heat treating the Magnum shot in the oven.
 

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wheel weights are the only commonly available casting material that contains arsenic. If the material doesn't contain some arsenic they can't be heat treated effectively.
 

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Hi, Gents:
LETS Metals is isn't around anymore, IIRC. Mr. Bill Ferguson has their business, I think. He's the best source of high grade casting metal if shipping isn't too expensive. He's got Rowell ladles and other casting equipment. If you phone him, be prepared for a big long distance bill, but his advice will be worth it. I understand that Magnum shot is the source for arsenic. Note that Mr. Ferguson uses it in his high heat treat alloy. Don't worry about arsenic poisoning. The antimony will get you first.
http://www.theantimonyman.com/price.htm

Bye
Jack
 

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Whatever you cast, use the safety precautions listed everywhere on the moulds and other casting equipment. After 35 + years of casting I still do not have any lead present in my bloodstream. Get testsed by your doctor if you have any doubts.
 

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A few words about cast-quenching. It can work, but for it to work well, need to realize a few things.

Idea is that the bullets are dropped hot from the mold into a well padded bucket of water. to work wight, the bullets need to enter the water at a unifor temperature in order to achieve a uniform hardness. So...have to cast a bunch BEFORE quenching to get the mold hot enough; just about to the light frosted stage is about right. If any hang up in the mold even for a second, they shouldn't be quenched with the others so the mold should be one that always releases cleanly. End up with a good sized pile of warm-up bullets and hang-up bullets, along with the ones quenched in the bucket. Keep them seperate.

Doubt you'll need to quench harden them to get to 1700-1800fps...it wouldn't hurt, may help, but only you can decide if you want to go to the trouble. Like stated, if you were to set 1700 as the goal, believe you'd get there with straight WW bullets If you have to have the extra 150fps, may have to work a bit harder to get it.
 

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wheel weights

Chris Cash if you will answer a few ?? for me I will see if I can help you with your lead problen (1) send reply to personal message (2) where in the country do you live :cool: :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Once again, many thanks to you guys on your ideas and suggestions. I have not "met" kinder or more knowledgable people anywhere on the web. I will try and post a follow up as soon as we break out of this miserable weather here....looks like soon.:p Thanks Fellas!
 

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This is really interesting because, I have cast bullets out of 20:1 Lead to Tin for my 30-30 (170 gr)2500 FPS and my 30/06 (183 gr) 2200 FPS and had no problems with leading at all. Of course there are gas checks on both rounds. I shoot 30:1 or more out of my Shiloh at about 1700 FPS and that is a 538 gr. bullet

Accuracy wasn't bad but I am still playing. I think lube is going to play a big role in accuracy and leading. Probably more so than hardness as long as you are not Superceeding the limits.

I have cast pure wheel weights as well for my 44/40 rifle and pistol with no gas checks. Now I am shooting blackpowder with those and I am only hitting about 900-1000 fps on those.

If I load them up with smokeless I can get much higher, but accuracy goes down hill. I do not remember the specs off hand, but 12 gr of Hogden 4227 shoots real well in my Vaquero using a 200 gr cast bullet. 14 and 15 gr start to wonder.

If I need weights, I usually just go up to an American tire store and ask them if I can take a few hand fulls. This will usually cast a few hundred rounds and they don't seem to have a problem with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks Levergun! Appreciate the advice. I have heard a couple other listmembers/friends stating that they use nearly pure lead in the rifle cast bullets....preferring them as they "snug up" or obturate in the bore well. Of course, they probably have guns with smoother bores and no pinch points! I have a Ruger Super Blackhawk that is a bear to clean. My Wichester has posed no problems so far. My ideal is to shoot WW type metal in my bullets for all around use. Then, for the few that get used on small deer I would pour a soft nose(pure lead?), followed by the WW metal for a harder body that will penetrate. Or, perhaps anneal the front portions on a few WW bullets. Still have not cast but have this weekend as a goal. Thanks again to all.
 

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Do not cast "pure lead" bullets. You will need a mixture for size and weight. The only thing I have heard of casting pure lead for is M/L round balls.

I've never done what you are going to do with fusing a different aloy to the top of another. For pistols, I would just stay with the wheel weights if you can get them cheap. Other wise mix some tin and lead and put a cas check on it.

I shoot cast out of my 357 black hawk and no matter what, I get leading right at the mouth of the barrel. I do not think you will be able to get around that. I get it with copper too. Face it, ther is a gap between the cylinder and the mouth of the barrel. There has to be some slop there this is going to collect metal. other than that, I have had no problems.
 

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Consider lapping your revolvers. Of all gun types, revolvers seem to benefit most from this. It will probably be more accurate, and I can assure you that you will get less leading. Ruger barrels are notoriously rough, on top of the 'choke' that occurs in the barrel under the frame threads regardless.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Levergun,

Thanks again for the posts. I should restate what I said.....perhaps my statement..."nearly pure lead" is misleading. A friend of mine shoots lead out of his rifle with a BHN of 10 or a little higher. Since pure lead is 7? I am sure he puts some tin in there. I don't know what his mix is offhand. So don't worry...won't go shooting my gun with pure lead and sorry that was a bit confusing.

Ross Seyfried just did a great article in Rifle's Handloader on casting composite bullets. It looks to be incredibly easy and cheap. They don't look pretty, but since you'll only be making a few for hunting purposes doesn't matter much. He made a seperate little pot that hangs down into the main part of his big pot.... The big pot is where he casts his main bullet metal from......linotype or WW. Then, he uses pure lead in the little pot for the noses. As an alternative to the hanging little pot, you could just buy a seperate little Lee Pot as a 2nd heat source. For a dipper for the nose metal...he put a pistol cartridge case on a piece of wire.....cut it down until it dispensed just enough of the soft lead to fill up the mold to the crimp groove. Then, he follows it up with a rapid pour from from his main pot for the main bullet body. Sounds easy enough for me to do it so I became a bit intrigued.

MikeG is right.........Forcing cones are notorious on Rugers. I shoot Fed. 200 gr. LHP in 44 Special with my Super Blackhawk . Lot less scrubbing(and recoil) now, even though the bullets are softer than what I used to shoot. Like alot of 44 mags, my gun shoots 44 Special more accurately than most other stuff, so that works out.

Thanks again for your posts and the help.
 
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