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:
- 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.
- All the utensils you think you'll use are too big. What you need are small utensils with long, preferably wooden, handles.
- It is better to let the lead cool too much in the pans than too little.
- 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.
- 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.|
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.