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Thread: Welding up a Lead Pot

  1. #1

    Welding up a Lead Pot

    The title may suggest matters.

    The pot in question is intended for melting lead for lead hammers. I already have a pair of castings - which need further machining/cleaning up for the head-molds. (Or 'moulds' - as in the first reloading manual I bought thirty years ago spelled them that way. Lyman...)

    When I ran bullets back then, I was younger (and considerably more foolhardy, or so I hope, anyway) and I used cast-iron pots. They were old pots, then, and most likely not Chinese - hence they didn't 'go leaky' or 'crack open like rotten eggs'.

    The thought was to use a piece of steel pipe and steel plate, both of 1/4" wall - and weld them. I have /have access to welders, wire, and electrodes.

    The chief question is technique.

    I do know a number of people have welded crucibles. What I disrecall is just *how* they did so beyond 'stick' or 'Mig'.

    Hopefully the picture will answer as to what occurs to me.

    Dennis
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Ouch! That stuff's hot!

  2. #2
    I just chamfered the bottom edge surface, then filled a weld all the way around it after tacking it, then went around a second time to build up the weld and smooth out the first weld, then I knew the thing wouldnt leak. My crucibles were usually 3/8" thick walled 3" pipe with a piece of 1/2" plate welded to the bottom of them and a 1/2" hole drilled through the top of them for a lifting setup and to pour them out.

  3. #3
    I didnt do crap to my gallon sized steel crucible. Used 1/4" pipe and 1/4" plate. Flux cored mig it together. You are over thinking this. Just stick it together, she'll be fine. It's only lead, not gold. My handles are a rebar U to pick it up and a rebar L shaped stick to do the tipping. I welded tabs on the sides of the top of the pipe and one near the bottom for the tipping action.

    Here it is in action. Don't mind the flying lead. I knew this was going to happen so I was kinda prepared for it.
    WWW.TheHomeFoundry.org
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  4. #4
    that crucible looks extremely too hot to be lead, also a gallon of lead would be almost unliftable imo, lol. Also yea, just weld it up, if it holds water without leaking out, you'll be fine.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by cae2100 View Post
    that crucible looks extremely too hot to be lead, also a gallon of lead would be almost unliftable imo, lol. Also yea, just weld it up, if it holds water without leaking out, you'll be fine.
    Lead crucible... I'd like to see one of those. lol I had a good half a gallon in that pot and yes it was heavy as hell. That footage was taken from my security camera.. ;-)
    WWW.TheHomeFoundry.org
    https://www.youtube.com/user/jagboy69
    Visit me: WWW.HandcraftedLanterns.com
    "Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war"
    -- Donald Trump --

  6. #6
    Shoot! I've just used a small, aluminum fry pan for lead melting. After all, the melting point of lead is what....630*F? And I thought I had a tendency to over-engineer.

    Roger

  7. #7
    True, one can use aluminum - but this pot might well hold 30+ pounds (er, 13+ kilos) of molten lead at a time.

    I have endured 'lead explosions' (25+ years ago) - and with age has come a modest degree of caution. (Paranoia?)

    I do have a smallish roll of flux-core... also, 6011 + 7018-ac rods, and stiff stick-welders at both locations. Talk (???) has it that mig lacks penetration. (Rubbish! I've burnt through more than once, and that was gas + wire)

    Thanks for the comments. More are welcomed.

    Dennis

    Ps: I suspect that video camera is responding to infrared. Notice the fire - how bright it is, and how the flame-reflection seems really bright, also? That might explain why that lead-pot looks to be filled with boiling lead rather than merely molten lead. (fit for pouring on wall-scalers...)
    Last edited by den; 02-11-2018 at 01:21 PM. Reason: Watched video afterward
    Ouch! That stuff's hot!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by cae2100 View Post
    I just chamfered the bottom edge surface, then filled a weld all the way around it after tacking it, then went around a second time to build up the weld and smooth out the first weld, then I knew the thing wouldnt leak.
    With what (process? Electrodes/wire/gas(es)?) (Chamfer Angle? Or was this more 'break out the big 7 inch (grinder) and go around pipe and plate until it looks right'?)

    I've never done this kind of welding before, and wish to learn how to do it right, i.e. it's more about learning how to weld *good* (complete penetration, with no leaks) than making a hideously-overengineered nominally consumable 'pot'.

    There are other things - including a hydraulic press - in the pipeline. (As well as burners, a small furnace that looks enough like a barbecue to fool the uninitiated, a muller, tools, etc. And yes, I'd like to take a class(classes) - but those tend to be either full on industrial schemes here, with multiple thousands (1 k+ in tools alone, And that on the first day!) - or they're altogether 'sketchy' - as in 'what might I learn beyond what I already know?

    Oh, by the way - the latter category is only relatively cheap - as in 155$ for the class, and 250+ for 'supplies' - oh, and bring your own tools, too.
    Ouch! That stuff's hot!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by den View Post
    With what (process? Electrodes/wire/gas(es)?) (Chamfer Angle? Or was this more 'break out the big 7 inch (grinder) and go around pipe and plate until it looks right'?)
    I've melted quite a bit of lead from wheel weights and use both welded steel crucibles and steel shells to receive the molten lead for the machine ballasts and counterweights. I MIGd all of mine. The biggest was 6" diameter 10" tall, 1/4" wall sch 80 pipe which was about 1/4" wall and the base was 1/4" plate. I welded on lifting ears and did chamfer the weld at the base.

    As far as the crucible, the only issue with melting lead is it has great ability to wet steel and thus capillary action so the smallest of pin holes will leak lead, aided by the fact lead is so dense you get a fair amount of head pressure to help drive the leak. My crucibles never leaked but a couple of the steel machine ballast shells have. Don't sweat it. I'd just suggest a good chamfer, a generous bead and continuous weld with as few of bead interruptions as possible.

    Best,
    Kelly
    My furnace build ----- I toil and fettle then foam turns to metal!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by den View Post
    True, one can use aluminum - but this pot might well hold 30+ pounds (er, 13+ kilos) of molten lead at a time.
    den - I don't have anything to add on the welding other than "just do it". You've probably thought this part out already, but if not ... Are you planning on pouring that much lead at once? If not I would consider going smaller. Are you planning on pouring or dipping with a ladle? If dipping, how well will the ladle reach into your design?

    I pour babbitt bearings 2-3 times a year, and have 3 different cast iron pots that I use depending on the job. I have one that is kind of a ladle/pot combo for small jobs. A wide one for dipping out of and a med one for pouring or dipping. Also, generally, lead pots will be wider than the height. I suppose this is more because of how they are traditionally heated (from the bottom).
    Just an old dog, learning new tricks.

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