Friday, 9 November 2012

Lead Smelting

Have to say, I was really looking forward to this... must be the pyromaniac in me!

I gathered scrap lead from a local roofer plus a bucket of wheel weights from my local tyre depot.  The tyre weights were a disaster - maybe in the US, "tire" weights are still lead, but in Ireland and presumably all Europe, they all seem to be Zinc or Steel - with a very low percentage of lead.  My recommendation is: don't bother with tire or tyre weights............

Anyway, I needed to prepare the scrap lead into ingots, so I bought a burner which had a 8.8KW output - which in hindsight seemed to be slightly under-powered.

My crucible was made from the bottom of an acetylene bottle with two crude handles welded on.  In some ways the handles were superfluous  because it's too heavy to pick up full of molten lead and pour - I resorted to a ladle.

Initially I used bakers molds made of silicon, but they only seemed to last one or two pours before tearing   Baking tins are the business!  They produced 12Kg ingots flawlessly.  It's quite amazing the amount of dross which collects on top of  the molten lead, so I am hopeful when I come to pouring the final melt for the keel, I will have clean lead.

The pot at the right of the burner contains dross I cleaned off the molten lead which was quite a staggering amount.

The aluminium sheet on the right was used as a wind shield around the burner.    I think had I more insulation around the pot and burner, I would have used less fuel - as it was I used about one and a half cylinders of butane.

The soup strainer was a real cheap item which I thought would have fallen apart, but it worked perfectly as a method of cleaning off the dross on top of the molten lead, showing little signs of stress.

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