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Soft lead and powder coating

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  • Soft lead and powder coating

    I have a rather large chunk of lead. It's a sailboat keel. It is supposed to be real close to pure lead. I'm wondering if I can get by without having to add tin to it. I'm going to be water quenching the bullets and then powder coating them. I'll eventually get molds for 9mm, 40 S&W and 45 ACP and won't be pushing them very fast. Just plinking. Will I be able to use this lead as is?

  • #2
    I have never had a keel but have been told 600# of lead is not uncommon.

    Pure lead under 1000 FPS works fine.

    Pure lead has value. In my location wheel weights are what people can get. I would think you could trade pure for wheel weight ingots fairly easily?
    Endeavor to persevere.

    Call sign: Limp Wrist


    • #3
      might need some tin to make it fill out mold


      • #4
        Mustang Jon, Welcome to HB! Most older sailboat keels are pure lead but from what I've read you might run into some other alloys occasionally. Assuming that they are pure lead, water dropping will have little, if any effect on hardness. To change hardness on cast bullets you may need some other metals added. Tin, antimony and/or arsenic are all part of the hardness equation.
        Here is a really good resource to casting bullets, building your own alloys etc. I hope you have a couple of days to read it all but this is a great resource:
        Every once in a while in life we need a policeman, a lawyer, a doctor and a preacher. We need a farmer three times a day, every day.

        Et Canis Manducare Canis Mundi


        • #5
          I've seen a few sailboat keels and some are made in China (a top quality sailboat is made in Taiwan), and one I saw had scrap iron thrown in when the keel was poured. The only "requirement" for a sailboat keel is it needs to be heavy (my 30' sailboat had a 4,000-5,000 lbs keel) and any lead alloy can be used. If your keel chunk have is in fact pure, you can add some lead free solder or tin to get good fill out, but as noted above, water dropping won't do much good. If you PC the bullets, yep, you can use pretty soft, near pure lead with no problems...
          I\'ve learned to stand on my own two knees...


          • #6
            At best, I think you would have to add about one pound of 50/50 solder, (50%tin and 50& lead) per 20 pound pot. You'll get better results in mold fill out with the added tin. That would give IIRC a 1 in 40 tin to lead mix, still a very soft bullets. In a ten pound pot it would be 1 in 20 but still a softer bullet. Even then, water dropping will only cool the bullets and make them wet. If you want to water drop to make the bullets hard you will need to add something like wheel weights for the antimony and some chilled or magnum bird shot, #8 or smaller for best result although 7 1/2s will work. Some trap ranges sell reclaimed shot and that would be a good source for chilled shot. A 25 pound bag may cost a bit when you only add 1/3 cup to a ten to 20 pound mix, it lasts a while. Also you get a bit more antimony. I do not recommend buying pure antimony powder and adding it to your mix mostly because you mix will never be hot enough. Also pure antimony powder is rather poisonous to handle.
            Probably the best mix for you to work with would be 10 pounds of your lead with one pound 50/50 bar solder. Just double it for a 20 pound pot.
            On water dropping, lead with antimony will get reasonably hard but it is the arsenic in that chilled or magnum bird shot that turns the trick. I can get 18 to 20 BHN from lead and antimony if I let the bullets age harden for about a month With the arsenic added, water dropped bullets run 30 to 32 BHN after age hardening. I have some 220 gr. .30 caliber bullets I oven baked for several hours then water dropped over 5 years ago. These bullets are still so hard that it takes a file to scratch them. My fingernail won't even touch them. I have to size and gas check then (.310") then heat treat in a toaster oven for 2 to 3 hours depending on how much of a hurry I am to get them, then quickly water drop. Then the go through the lube/sizer in a .310" die just to lube the grooves. They shoot quite well in my Browning B72 single shot.
            Learning to handload ammo is a learning experience that is relatively easy. Working with cast bullets versus jacketed is like going from high school to a top ivy league college. It's a whole new learning experience.
            Paul B.


            • #7
              I've had lead from a sailboat keel, but it was in the form of shavings. And it was Really soft.

              If it is pure lead, and there are a couple of ways to tell, are dropping an ingot from waist high on to the concrete of your patio or sidewalk. If it thuds, then its a good chance it's pure lead. If it rings, then there is some tin in it. The sharper the ring, the more tin is in it. This is really something you learn by doing it with all the different alloys that we use.
              Or the thumbnail test, if you can scratch it with your thumbnail it's pretty close to pure lead.

              Get some COWW's to mix with your lead. I prefer 50/50 myself and water quench should handle the 1,000fps of the 9mm. Light .38Spl & .45ACP loads are generally under a 1,000fps. So water quenching is not necessary.
              You should be able to find COWW's for sale here.
              PC'ing is fairly straight forward. Trial & Error will get you there.

              Good Luck
              Last edited by Walks; 08-05-2019, 01:17. Reason: I hate this tablet.


              • #8
                It drops with a really hard thud sound. Sounds more solid than the range scrap ingots when dropped. So I'm going to assume it's pretty close to pure lead.


                • #9
                  You might think about buying some ROTOMETALS - SuperHard.
                  It's a 70/30 mix of Lead/Antimony. I buy the 5lb bag of nuggets, it's really easy to weigh out just the amount you need to Harden your Range scrap.

         sells a full line of all Bullet Casting Alloys. And if you spend $100 or more it's free shipping. $100 of SuperHard goes a very loong way.