What a Mess

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  • Last Post 08 May 2019
pondercat posted this 05 May 2019

Did something today I won't do again, but it seemed like good idea at the time! 

I had a couple hundred  pounds of pure lead that came to me in the form of a counter weight from a garage door.  Kinda tough to cut up since it was in a steel tube.  I figured OK, I'll just prop it up on some blocks, build a fire under it and let it flow into a big pot.  Seemed reasonable. 

It was working fine until, I guess, the lead all melted at once, flooded out of the tube, knocked the pot over and ended up like a lava flow on the ground - but it was out of the tube.  I tried chopping it up with an axe and succeeded in cutting it up into a few manageable sections, but I needed it smaller.  Suddenly it dawned on me that saw steel is much harder than lead so I tried a saws-all with a wood cutting blade and that was working so well I figured that my table saw would be much quicker.  It worked like a charm.  Got it all cut up into nice little strips. 

I was so proud of my ingenuity until I noticed the exorbitant amount of lead "sawdust" all over everywhere. Soooooooo needless to say it gave me a good reason to clean my shop cleaner than it ever has been.  It took nearly the entire afternoon.  Not my favorite thing to do today.  I should have known when the stuff started pelting me and I had to put up a plywood shield between me and the saw, but I guess I figured the shield would keep it somewhat contained.   WRONG!   The saws-all was slower but wasn't nearly so messy and would have ultimately saved several hours. 

Lesson learned!!!

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GP Idaho posted this 05 May 2019

pondercat. Well, the lesson was learned  without loosing an eye or a finger so a small success. Table saws can be dangerous tools when used improperly. I was a carpenter all my working career and have seen results far worse than a messy shop. Gp

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Brodie posted this 05 May 2019

If you have a friend who did a little welding (like Brodie, who is happy that you are back) you could take the lead to him and he would take his torch and melt it straight into the ingot mold  At least, that is the easiest way I have fond to do it.

By the way it is good to hear from you again, glad that you are back.

B.E.Brickey

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pondercat posted this 05 May 2019

Good to hear from you Brodie.  Next time I have a chunk of lead like that I will definitely keep torching it in mind.  God that lead was every where.  way too much to leave it lying around.  Anyhow, like I said, lesson learned.  Give me a call if you still have my number if not, check your messages.  Talk to you soon.

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pondercat posted this 05 May 2019

Oh yeah, I have seen some horrible accidents with shop equipment also.  It just cut so easily.  Even easier than wood.  Never again.  I like Brodie's way.

Terry

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bucksnort925 posted this 05 May 2019

Only way to go is with an acet. oxy. torch. Cut into pot size and collect drippings. I tried saw method and it is not good! But not everyone has a torch. It pays to have welder friends if you don't have one. It's worth a couple of bucks to have them cut it and it doesn't take long.

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Glenn R. Latham posted this 05 May 2019

When I had a big counterweight to melt I rented a weed burner, wrangled the lead onto an old fireplace grate and melted it into an old (lead only) skillet.  Don't have an oxy-acet set-up.

Glenn

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Brodie posted this 06 May 2019

The nice thing about oxy-acetalene gear is that the lead forms its own funnel as it melts and it is easy to control

where it runs to.  Just elevate it on blocks a little and place an ingot mould or catch pan where you want to start melting the lead.  Apply a discrete flame from an O/A torch to that edge and it will melt forming its own funnel as the lead melts up into the block.

Having said this I will now have to go and buy some gas to back up my offer.

B.E.Brickey

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pondercat posted this 06 May 2019

Well Brodie,  I did it cut up.  I just didn't notice the mess until I was through.  I was too focused on cutting to really notice. I ended up with 138 ingots when it was all said and done. But if I come across another i'll dang sure let you know.  On the other hand I have some steel plate that could be cut into silhouettes for small/medium caliber.

On another note, I picked up that Henry Big Boy just before Sportsman's closed today.  Might need some help breaking it in this next weekend.

Terry

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Brodie posted this 06 May 2019

Trerry,

You have the help breaking in that Henry.  Check you PM's

B.E.Brickey

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BigMan54 posted this 07 May 2019

I may have told this story before.

When I was young and stupid, some 45+yrs ago. I had only a 10lb cast iron RCBS Pot.  I bought 6 25lb pure lead bricks. It was CHEAP, and the Linotype was .35cents a lb.

I used a 3ft bow saw with my brand new Black & Decker Workmate. To split each brick, the long way. Then I stood each half brick up in the pot over a PROPANE burner, holding it with my new welding glove. 12+lbs in a ten lb pot. My hand got a bit warm.

I'm older now, barely less stupid.  

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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tony1960 posted this 07 May 2019

I feel for you pondercat, I have a friend who is a radiologist and they were dismantling an old X-ray machine and had lead plates used for balancing the camera. Turned up ant my place with the car almost dragging at the back and 20, 2 foot square 5/8" plates in the boot.

I chopped with and axe, used a cold chisel, an old hand saw and everything else I could get hold of to break these things down. I put muscles on muscles and in six months had them into bite size pieces. Yep, I did the hold the end into the pot to get it to melt too, damn it get's hot fast, only did it once.

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GP Idaho posted this 07 May 2019

Alright guys, correct me if I'm wrong as this is just one of those things that "I've been told"  Lead when heated above a temperature common to our bullet casting can emit very toxic fumes/vapors   Although it makes a mess (I cut the chunks up over a tarp) I feel safer using a saw (sawzall or even a chain saw) Than a cutting torch. The weed burner, using just enough heat to melt the lead also sounds to me a better option than an Ox/As cutting torch.  Gp

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Brodie posted this 08 May 2019

Ric, Yes you are using a very high temp. heat source, but how long are you keeping the source in contact with the lead?  When I have melted lead in this fashion I only wanted it hot enough to liquidize and run.  Not sit there and boil.  I suppose even then there are some small amount of vapors created, but I have always done this out of doors where I am not " collecting and concentrating " vapors to breathe.  One thing I am dead certain of is that melting lead from a large brick or blob with an oxy/acetylene torch is a heck of a lot safer and less damaging to my health than being in a Freshman Chemistry Lab with a bunch of idiots.  Similar to the girl who despite the instructions not to , poured her potassium cyanide into the trench and then Hot HCL on top of it. 

I don't think that we need to fall prey to the fears and hysterical rantings of those who know nothing about the subject and run screaming away from lead or mercury in any form and refuse to listen to anybody who is not willing to support their unfounded fears.  According to those people (learned Sierra Club members and "concerned" citizens) anybody who even comes in close contact with lead (or mercury) will turn into a gibbering idiot in short order.  Remember;  Lead is most dangerous when moving a few hundred feet per second or faster.  Then it is positively deadly.

B.E.Brickey

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