How Pure Is Old Lead Plumbing Pipe?

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  • Last Post 19 May 2019
mashburn posted this 17 May 2019

Mixing bullet alloys is all new to me. In the past all of the bullet casting that I was doing was for revolvers and I just cast straight WW's .What  little rifle bullet casting was with ww's also other than some straight linotype I did for some GC  .22 bullets.. Now that I'm getting serious about this sport, hobby, obsession or whatever it is, I have been researching mixing up bullet alloy. I spent a lot of time tonight dragging up old forums here on the cast bullet forum. One of my questions is; how pure is the old lead plumbing pipe. I have a lot of this lead pipe, old wheel weights, some pure tin and used to have linotype but got it mixed up and accidently turned it in to jig heads for striper fishing. I also have some shotgun shot. It doesn't say how much antimony is in it, it just says tournament grade. It is some hard stuff is all that I can attest to.

Would anybody care to tell me what a good mix of the supplies I mentioned would make good bullet alloy. I would feel much better if I had some knowledgeable suggestions before I mix up something that is a worthless mess. The lead pipe that I have was removed from some old houses that were torn down in a little town near here. it seems a little harder than pure lead just by doing scratch tests on it. I have cast several black powder revolver conical bullets from it and they all swage down easy going into the the cylinder mouths and shoot very well. I live in extreme rural Southeast Oklahoma and bullet metals are hard to come by. The closest metal salvage that has any of this stuff is about 76 miles away. I may wind up ordering some N0.2 alloy off the internet but the shipping is so high and I'm such a skin flint when it comes to spending money, however if I hadn't been that way through my younger days, I wouldn't have the money to play with the fun stuff now. Here in this area, if you need anything other that a loaf of bread or a jug of milk you have to drive 50 miles or so.

I've discovered a few things here lately since I've gotten serious about cast ,and that is, I'm 75 years old now and if I live to be a 100 I might figure a lot of this out

Thanks for any help you might wish to share,

Mashburn. 

David a. Cogburn

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delmarskid posted this 17 May 2019

Hi, I can't answer your question about plumbers lead but I might suggest going to Roto-Metals site . They have a high antimony alloy that works very well for making harder alloys from WW or other soft lead. They will ship US Parcel Post in a flat rate box making shipping a little easier to swallow. Your tournament shot may work well for rifle bullets as it is. My great-uncle used to train trick horses somewhere in Oklahoma. He had been a rodeo clown at one time. Couldn't walk so good after that .

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GP Idaho posted this 17 May 2019

 i''ve purchased alloys and tin from RotoMetals. Good people to deal with. Shipping on orders over $99 is free.  The plumbing pipe I've melted seemed to be pure lead or close. I've tested it with both a LBT and Saeco hardness testers. The lead I've salvaged from drain pipe joints has tin added to it. Gp

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Eutectic posted this 17 May 2019

The lead pipe is probably pure lead or very close to it.

The shot is probably hardened 2-4% antimony and 1/2% arsenic.

Buying hard high antimony alloy from Roto Metals is the way to go to get antimony.

With that and what you have you can make any alloy you want.

Steve

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max503 posted this 17 May 2019

Don't mean to hijack the thread, but where do you find old plumbing pipe?  Whenever I'm out on my bicycle and I see crews digging up old water lines I stop and chat but I never see lead lines coming out of the ground. 

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Coydog posted this 17 May 2019

You can find the lead water pipe at salvage yards or someone that is working on old houses or buildings. As for what the lead for the lead pipe like stated it is as close to being close to pure lead .At a salvage yard they call it soft lead. Or you can call scrap yard then  call  salvage yard .The one I get my lead from calls it soft lead .I get what I need for the mix from Roto also and with that pipe lead you can do alot with it  like stated ,also use in a muzzle loader. 

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Notlwonk posted this 17 May 2019

Kind of a long term method but, have a son who becomes a plumber. 134

Short term would be to befriend a couple residential plumbers and have them save the lead.

My method for salvedge was to cut close around the solder joints with tin snips. Put the joints in a pot and bring the temperature up slowly until the solder melts. Then remove the pure lead and brass fittings.  Save the solder in ingots for future alloying.  

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JeffinNZ posted this 17 May 2019

The pipes will be pure Pb.  Just remember any joins will be soldered so will contain some tin that will have a minor hardening affect.  That said, the baby Minies I shoot in my .40cal I run in 40-1 alloy and they shoot great.

No. 2 alloy is unnecessarily high in both Sn and Sb at 5% each.

Cheers from New Zealand

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mashburn posted this 17 May 2019

Hello delmarskid,

Thanks for the reply and information.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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mashburn posted this 17 May 2019

Hello GP Idaho

This is probably drain pipe, it's 4-5 inches in ID. I melted up about 25 lbs. of it toda,y and by looking at the skim on top I would say it has something in it. Thanks for the information.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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mashburn posted this 17 May 2019

Hello Eutectic,

Thanks for the response and information.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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mashburn posted this 17 May 2019

Hello max503.

I've got a friend that is too lazy to work and he is always coming up with stuff I need so I get it from him.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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mashburn posted this 17 May 2019

hello Coydog,

Thanks for the info.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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mashburn posted this 17 May 2019

Hello Notlwonk,

Thanks for the info. You won't cut this stuff with tin snips, it's between 4 & 5" in the inside and the walls are between 1/4" and 5/16" thick. It had already been sawed up into rings about 1/2" to 1" wide. I melted about 25 lbs. of it today and it appears to have some tin or antimony in it. I haven't seen any solder joints I guess they got rid of these when they sawed it up. Some of the rings had torch burns on the end, I guess this could have been from melting solder joints. Thanks again.

Mashburn

 

David a. Cogburn

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mashburn posted this 18 May 2019

Hello jeffinNZ

Thanks for your response and information. The pipe that I have is evidently drain pipe. It is 4-5" in dia. in the inside  and the walls are somewhere between 1/4' to 5/16" thick,.it had been cut up into rings about 3/4" to 1" wide. I melted and cleaned about 25 pounds of it today. I haven't found any solder joints on any of it yet, but there is a big pile to go. There is some that have torched ends which may have been where someone torched the solder joint. There seems to be some antimony or tin. When I melted it I got a skim on the top which was either silver or gray. I'm color blind and can't say for sure.(I really am color blind).Thanks again.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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Notlwonk posted this 18 May 2019

Now That I think of it,  I sometimes flattened the pipe and then used a bad axe to chop into lengths. The sections close to the solder were snipped or sawed.

Yes, a bad axe! That's the axe that gets used to cut tree roots.

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Qc Pistolero posted this 18 May 2019

Lead pipe is almost pure lead;aprox 5BHN.What is interesting is that you also have some wheel weights which contains some antimony(sb) and some shotgun pellets which can be used for its content of arsenic(as).Of course,Tin(sn)is useful.

For the shotgun pellets,you have to know that the higher the number,the more arsenic it contains.As needs to be aprox 0.10% to 0.15%improve the hardening effect of antimony so use only a little if you have some #8 pellets and a lot more if it is #4 pellets.Antimony you'll have in the wheel weights.

I'd say use 5 #s of lead pipe with 8 or 9#s of ww,1/2# of pellets if large(no 6 and over)or half that if no 7 1/2 or 8 plus 1# of 50/50 lead/tin.You should come out with something around 10 to 12 BHN..

If you want harder,either add some ww or water cool your bullets,the second option good if you won't have to resize the bullets.For handgun bullets,10 to 12 BHN is good;I know many will ask for harder bullets but I regularly shoot 12 BHN bullets in full loads for .357,.41 and .44 Mag without leading(1300fps).The trick is to have the bullet diameter fit the chamber mouth.Over 15 BHN is,in my opinion good for rifle bullets when shot between 1600 and 1800 fps.But that's an argumentation for another post IMHO.

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mashburn posted this 18 May 2019

Hello Qc Pistolero,

Hey, thanks a lot for the good information. I learned a lot and will definitely mix up some of the mixtures that you suggested, both for the handguns(I also shoot all 3 of these calibers) & the mixtures you suggested for rifles. Thanks again.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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mashburn posted this 19 May 2019

Hello delmarskid,

It's me again.

What would the BHN be for bullets made out of the hard shotgun shot alone?

Thanks again,

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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Qc Pistolero posted this 19 May 2019

Hello delmarskid,

It's me again.

What would the BHN be for bullets made out of the hard shotgun shot alone?

Thanks again,

Mashburn

according to Paul B Moore in the Handbook of commercial bullet casting,hard lead shot is anywhere between 93.7% PB,5% SB and 101/4% AS for no 7 and 8 shot.

It is 97.45% PB,0.5% AS and 2% SB for BB and no 2 shot.No tin anywhere in lead shot.

Shot sizes in between are as you've guessed it,in between.AS content shouldn't exceed 0.3%(1/3 of 1%).

AS effect is just the opposite of that of tin.But having too much AS in a bullet is a waste and can/will create a problem;the bullet will have a propensity to crack in the lube groove which is the reason it is not recommended to cast bullets from shot only.Of course,chilled pellets as well as buckshot and slugs being made out of almost pure lead do not subscribe to that recommendation.

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