Sunday, March 24, 2013

Oooh, that smell

The  smell of BHN 8-16 is around you.

Day 1* was, as might be expected, something of a learning experience. This is shorthand for, "even though I didn't accomplish as much as I'd hoped, I learned a lot and no one got poisoned or blown up." So, being in a generous mood, I'd call it a qualified success.

But the setup that I had originally expected to use really didn't work: we had just enough wind - and it kept switching directions -  that the cook stove got off to a very rough start. I actually got frustrated enough at one point to do a melt of some ingots in my Big Dipper and then add wheel weights directly to that, which didn't get me very far, either.  But once I moved the camp stove inside the barn,** I was able at long last to build up a little processing speed.

Things I learned:

  1. a 15,000 BTU cook stove is just barely enough to melt lead, so long as it's out of the wind. 35,000 would have been much better.
  2. All the utensils you think you'll use are too big. What you need are small utensils with long, preferably wooden, handles.
  3. It is better to let the lead cool too much in the pans than too little.
  4. While the idea of a light-adjusting welding helmet sounds cool in theory, a clear plastic mask would have worked much better. Every time I fluxed I went blind.
  5. 10# of lead is an amazingly small volume, surely not enough to be able to stir metal clips to the top of.

No accusations of consistency here.
So all that said, what I ended up with was about 40# worth of ingots after about 4 hours of work.  Many of them have impurities in them and look like silver swiss cheese.*** They took too long to make and I would be embarrassed to sell them.  But they represent a completion of Step 1, which is "Turn wheel weights into lead ingots."

Step 2, of course, is "Cast lead ingots into boolits."  Because my bullet-swaging press does not have a heater, Step 3 ("Swage and lube boolits") might have to wait for the heat of summer. But in all likelihood, Step 1 will be repeated several times in the short term as I process the buckets of wheel weights I managed to accumulate over the winter.  Once the steel footlocker in my barn is filled with however-poorly processed lead, then I can stop annoying the great guys at Wiseman's Discount Tires for more.  I think they're getting tired of seeing me anyway.

* Meaning today is the first Sunday in more than a month that it hasn't rained or snowed here.
** With both doors open and industrial-strength 3M breathing apparatus firmly in place, of course. I just hope I did not poison the dozen or so pullets in there.
*** For fear of zinc I poured them immediately once they reached melt temperature.  I discovered no zinc that I had missed in the sorting process.

No comments:

Post a Comment