Tuesday, May 27, 2014
The Sustainable Armory - Wheel Weights and You
Most long term readers may remember that hand loading is a big part of my sustainable living strategy. Nothing new about that, of course any shooter out there with an eye towards survival/sustainability or even just costs is interested in reloading. However part of the sustainable side is finding cheaper sources for the materials needed.
Casting your own bullets is an important part the process as well. In a collapse situation we are not going to have the luxury of ordering our bullets on line and having them delivered. If you want to cast your own bullets though you need a good source of useable Lead and these days that isn't always as easily done as it is said.
Back when I was a kid picking up scrap Lead was easy. It was literally everywhere as I remember it. However these days it has not only become expensive but it seems everyone and their mother wants it and worse for us, the government seems intent on making sure no one sues it.
I fear due to the final Lead smelting facilities in the US closing because of EPA regulations, Lead is going to become even harder to find in the future. Some places I used to buy Lead ingots have quit carrying them and ordering ingots for delivery is pricey. The last source I have found for scavenging lead is the old standby wheel weight.
Sometimes you can still find a shop somewhere that will give you some discarded old wheel weights but that's pretty rare these days. Most every one I talk to already has someone who claims their weights or they sell them outright to scrap dealers. Finding a source however is not the only problem because once again we have the wonderful EPA and government intervention at work.
Lead is not the only material used for wheel weights these days and being able to what material any wheel weights you acquire becomes especially important.
Wheel weights now come in the old standard Lead but also in Zinc, steel and plastic. Plastic is of course easy to pick out and the steel ones are pretty easy to spot as well but the Zinc ones are a little tougher.
There are a couple of ways to identify the Zinc weights. You can tap them against a large steel object like I use my bench vice or anvil and the Zinc will make a distinctive "Ping" sound while Lead kinda goes thunk. You can use a pair of wire cutters and see how easy they bite into the weight. Lead is easy to mark up while Zinc is much harder. You could try and melt them all together as Lead melts long before Zinc but if you are not using a temperature controlled melting pot this becomes problematic too.
The easiest way though is to just look at the wheel weight itself. I have yet to find a Zinc weight that didn't have a Z or Zn symbol on it.
Keep in mind I also have not scavenged any of the stick on wheel weights either, all of mine have been the traditional clip on variety. I have read the Lead stick on wheel weights are a much softer Lead and should be used for projects that require lower hardness ratings. I am unclear if the stick on Lead weights are useable in muzzle loading though.
So if your plan is to scavenge wheel weights to stretch out your shooting time being able to identify the various types becomes an important skill to have. Smelting Zinc into your bullets can cause some serious hardness issues and is a real bi#tch to flux back out.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!