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Thread: mixing in Tin with pure lead

  1. #1
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    Default mixing in Tin with pure lead

    Got a couple hundred lbs of pure lead ingots that I smelted back in the 60's from plumbing pipes. Back then I cast 58 cal minie balls and 44 round balls.
    Now I'm back to loading 38/357 SWC and WC.
    My Q now is how much tin would I need to add to, say 10 lb of my pure lead, to bring it up to the composition of wheel weights.?
    Should I spend the approx 12 bucks/lb for the pure tin in bar form, or the equally expensive lead free solder.?
    Appreciate any comment - Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    runfiverun runfiverun's Avatar
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    to get the same bhn of ww's 20 lbs lead to one lb tin.
    however 16-1 can be used, and is what elmer used in his magnum loads.
    but if your loads are fairly sedate 30-1 is a good softer alloy, which works extremely well.
    this is the favored alloy with hollowpoints and usually a gas check.
    remington and win in past years used 40-1 for 45 colt,the 38 special round nose,and even the 44-40.
    for target work in a good gun with the correct thoat to bbl dimensions i'd start cheap at 40-1 try about 30 or so and go from there.
    you can always add tin to your trial batch.

  3. #3
    Dogs Like Him versifier's Avatar
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    Not much to add to that except to say that WW's are much too hard for 99% of handgun loads, including hunting loads, unless you're loading for a rifle round in a Contender or Encore. 1% tin at most is all you really need, and that only to insure good fillout of your bullets. (My usual handgun alloy is 1 part WW's to 4 parts pure lead. This is plenty hard enough for full power gas checked magnum loads. For plinking loads, 1:5 or even 1:6 works fine in my pistols and revolvers.)

    Since it's getting to be yard sale and flea market time of the year, one of the best sources of cheap tin is old pewter cups, bowls, mugs, plates, etc. They can often be had for next to nothing. Pewter is often 80% tin or more. If you or someone you know is into "saturday morning cruising", ask them to keep an eye open and grab some when the price is right.
    "Stand your ground.
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    But if they mean to have a war let it begin here."
    - Capt. Parker, Lexington Militia, April 19, 1775

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    So what I'm hearing is (on an average), 30 lb pure to 1 lb tin would give me a hard enough plinking/target round.
    Also using 5 lb of pure lead mixed with 1 lb of wheel weight lead would also be a good choice.
    Gonna try both - starting with the second, since most all my ww and pure are in 1 lb ingots.
    Hate to spend the $ on tin alloy, since what I have in my ww lead does fill the mold nicely.
    Any opinions, pros/cons on heat treating (oven) and water quenching to harden.?
    Thanks for the quik comeback guys - appreciate the advice

  5. #5
    Dogs Like Him versifier's Avatar
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    A lot of casters are into hardening their bullets. Why? I don't know. It makes absolutely no sense to me to waste the time and effort on handgun bullets. As for rifle hunting bullets, ditto. Sometimes certain auto pistols have feeding issues with soft bullets, certain types of rifling require harder alloys, and rifle target bullets can be as hard as you want, so in those three cases hardening can be useful if you understand how it works and what its limitations are.

    Water dropping hardens the surface of a bullet, but when you work the lead by running it through a sizing die, the driving bands soften up, and that is the part you would want harder for more velocity without leading. So as far as I'm concerned, unless your mould drops them at exactly the right size so they don't need to be run through the sizer, heat treating is as useless as chrome wheels on a watermelon. A soft nose with hard driving bands would be great, but the opposite is of no benefit.

    Heat treating does make sense, but only if it is done after sizing (and you must have some antimony in the mix - a lead/tin alloy won't harden when heated) and then lubed. LLA is the only lube I know of that can be applied before heat treating and will stay on the bullets.

    With either hardening technique, over time the bullets will return to their as cast hardness, which depends upon their specific alloy.

    For rifle hunting bullets .35cal and under, I want the bullet soft enough to get some expansion and help out the meplat (flat nose) to transfer all the energy to the quarry possible while still just hard enough to push it to a reasonable velocity. Air cooled wheel weights ACWW is just about the perfect balance. For larger caliber bullets expansion isn't as important and they can be cast of a somewhat harder alloy without any problem.

    When I want to cast rifle target bullets I mix pure lead with linotype in varying proportions to get a bullet of the hardness I need without having to water drop or heat treat them, and they retain their hardness over time so they can be stored for years. Lino bullets can be pushed to impressive velocities, but they are much lighter than bullets with a larger percentage of lead in them, and they are very brittle so they shatter when they hit anything solid (like bone). I don't do a lot of target shooting generally, though I shoot at a lot of targets testing loads for various hunting bullets in many of my rifles, but I have been playing with target loads in my Garand and M1A, so my precious stash of lino is dwindling.
    "Stand your ground.
    Do not fire unless fired upon.
    But if they mean to have a war let it begin here."
    - Capt. Parker, Lexington Militia, April 19, 1775

  6. #6
    runfiverun runfiverun's Avatar
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    i'd try 2 pure to 1 ww and a slight amount of tin.
    you would still have some effect from waterdropping that way.
    i generally let my w-dropped sit for at least two weeks before shooting them.
    but size/check and lube right after casting then let them sit.
    as you can tell versifier and i do things drastically different but we generally have the same thoughts as to how things should work.
    i am a proponent of soft alloys also. but i have mostly ww's some lino which i use [sparingly]
    and not so much soft any more[pure or stick-ons]
    i don't really like alox but use a small percentage in some of my lube recipes.
    but thats the cool thing about casting use what you got for what you wanna do.

  7. #7
    Dogs Like Him versifier's Avatar
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    There's definitely more than one way to skin a cat. The simpler I can keep things, the happier I am, generally, but I am always into hearing how other casters do their thing, too. I will try out any good idea to see if it will work for me. Even if it doesn't, I still learn something so it's never a waste of time. I figure if at some point down the line I can answer a question about it and save someone else time or help them come up with a new and interesting idea of their own, then I'm ahead of the game. Like when BruceB on Cast Boolits figured out how to cast a lino bullet with a soft lead nose. (They take about 15min per bullet to make, but they work quite well.) I have a feeling that my experiments with 6.5mm cast bullets will eventually require regular use of the technique.

    I ran out of WW ingots about a month ago and I have 15 5gal buckets full waiting to smelt, and about 700lbs of old lead pipe. I think my next project is going to be a WW smelter that I can use on windy and/or rainy days. My current turkey fryer setup works great on a calm sunny day, but when I have time, the weather seldom cooperates. I am looking for an old water tank about the size of a 100lb propane tank that I can mount the gas ring from the fryer inside. One handy door a little larger than my cast iron dutch oven and some stovepipe to vent the stench and I can set it up outside or even in my garage in the winter. It would sure make things easier. Anybody seen or heard of a similar setup?
    "Stand your ground.
    Do not fire unless fired upon.
    But if they mean to have a war let it begin here."
    - Capt. Parker, Lexington Militia, April 19, 1775

  8. #8
    runfiverun runfiverun's Avatar
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    i have a two part sheet metal wind screen that goes from ground to about a foot over my cooker.
    i use a two burner set-up and run two pots at a time.
    but the idea is similar to yours. it is rectangular in shape and wraps around the whole back, the front is lower and comes up to the bottom of the pots.
    i have an L shaped top that goes over it. and is easily removed to add more scrap.
    when melted i remove the top and pour.
    a simple round two piece with a separate top high enough to work under would work for what you want.
    a cone shaped top would be very efficient as the chimney also.
    and a top could either be left in both places, or be built to be held by brackets.
    but adding a shroud definately helps the efficiency.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check        

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