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Work “Hardening” PURE LEAD

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Idaholewis

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Something i found interesting a few years back. Pure SOFT lead is Just that Right? Is it possible to Alter it’s Hardness Reading by Working it? I know Water Quenching will. But i am Talking Sizing, a Smack with a Hammer, etc.?

I did a test with my Cabin Tree lead hardness tester to find out? I took Several Pure Lead Bullets that Didn’t meet my Quality Control from the SAME Batch, These were Cast from Stamped, Certified PURE LEAD. I tested a Few Bullets and got a Dial Reading of .028-.029, Which indicates Pure lead (Cabin Tree Testers use a Machinest Dial, then Matched with a Chart) Pure Lead is .015 to .035 on one of my Charts, and .020 to .030 on Another (slight deviation, But Very Close) Pure Lead has a BHN of 5

I stood a Bullet up on my Anvil, Dropped a Hammer to the Nose/Meplat, I have no way of knowing just How hard i hit the Bullet? But i would Guess 3-4 Pounds of Force, there close abouts? Enough to Just Set the Bullet back a Little (Shorten it slightly) I then Tested that Bullet in my Cabin Tree Hardness Tester, The Reading jumped WAY up, It went from .028-.029 to .048 Which indicates 1-40 Alloy on my Charts. I ran a Few more Tests, the Harder i hit the Bullet, The Harder The Reading. It was impossible to get 2 identical Readings as i was unable to Hit the Lead with Exact Force each time, But i can tell you that PURE Soft Lead Can be Worked to Alter it’s Reading.

I found the Above interesting when i tested it, I stil need to Test this When Sizing .457-.458 Bullets Down to .450-.451, I need to Test Straight from the Mold, and again After Sizing, See if it Changes? If so, how much?
 

MrTom

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Lead compresses. Smacking it with a hammer will compress it so if its tested again it will naturally show is as having hardened.
 

Idaholewis

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Lead compresses. Smacking it with a hammer will compress it so if its tested again it will naturally show is as having hardened.
I wouldn’t have thought so? My thinking is Pure Lead is Pure lead, No matter how you Manipulate it, Twist, Smash it etc. I figured it would Stil Test on my Tester as Pure Lead? NOPE it don’t.

This is why i wonder if Sizing will Change it enough to see it? After all, What is Sizing? Compressing :) You take a .458 Cast Bullet (Very Common amongst us Casters) and Size it (Compress it) Through a Reduction (Sizing) Die to .450-.451, Will it Change it?
 
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Idaholewis

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Water quenching doesn't harden pure lead, only alloys.
Dennis
I have never personally tested it, But I’ve read SEVERAL times where others have said it will? So i just assumed
 
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Idaholewis

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This is a part of Casting that I’ve done very little dabbling in, It gets quite Technical, Making Alloys, Antimony, Tin, Etc. Etc., LASC (Los Angeles Silhouette Club) is packed with info, But it becomes Overwhelming to me.

I bought a Nice Lead Hardness Tester so i can get Accurate Hardness Readings, When it comes to Buying Lead, or Alloys, I get mine ALREADY Made (Stamp Certified) from Buffalo Arms, WAY easier than messing with Trying to Make it, and Duplicate it each time
 

MSalyards

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Weigh out 1 lb of tin and 40 lbs of lead , melt , stir, flux, Done! And pour ingots of course! :dance:IMG_0048.JPG
 

Idaholewis

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Weigh out 1 lb of tin and 40 lbs of lead , melt , stir, flux, Done! And pour ingots of course! :dance:View attachment 6756
I wish they would Sell an alloy in the 6-7 BHN Range, Fill that Gap Between Pure Lead at 5 BHN and 1-40 which is 8.5 BHN, This is something that a Guy needs to make on his own. I know it can be done, I just Hate messing with it! I would much rather buy it already made ;)
 

MSalyards

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I'm still trying to figure out why your bullet got harder after smashing it.
 

Idaholewis

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I'm still trying to figure out why your bullet got harder after smashing it.
I wouldn’t think it would matter if it was Smashed, Rollled, Crimped, Etc. After all It is stil PURE LEAD, But if you take a Hammer and give a Bullet a Decent Little WACK, and Test it, it will Test HARDER, Depending on how hard you hit it? It can test SUBSTANTIALLY Harder!
 

michiganmuzzy

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I'm still trying to figure out why your bullet got harder after smashing it.
When you smash it, it compresses the matter, makes it denser (more dense). If you could accurately measure its volume you would see that its smaller, too. Tho not much. If you melt it back down and recast it into another bullet it will return to its original bhn hardness. The weight will not vary.
 

jlynch75

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I don't understand why anyone wants to make pure lead harder. Why not just use lead that has a alloy added to it?
 

52Bore

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Gold is one of the few, maybe only pure metal that does not work-harden.
 

goco4game

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I wouldn’t think it would matter if it was Smashed, Rollled, Crimped, Etc. After all It is stil PURE LEAD, But if you take a Hammer and give a Bullet a Decent Little WACK, and Test it, it will Test HARDER, Depending on how hard you hit it? It can test SUBSTANTIALLY Harder!
I am curious to learn of your results, because what your saying is contrary to what my understanding is. Most of my info has been gleaned from Veral Smith's book, Jacketed Performance With Cast Bullets, but other sources as well. All I use for testing lead hardness is the artist pencil method, which is not accurate enough to tell the difference between Bhn 5-8.
My (mostly theoretical) take on things:
Water quenching does not affect pure lead.
Work hardening, as in swaging, makes lead SOFTER, not harder. Therefore, cast bullets like the Maxiball and Maxihunter made by TC are harder than swaged bullets like the Hornady Great Plains. Sizing bullets will make them softer, at least where the bands have been worked.
Question: if you squeeze or hit pure lead with a hammer, does it actually compress, or just squirt out in a different direction? Have you ever measured the overall length of a bullet before and after sizing? Could material just be getting squeezed into the lube grooves, making the grooves smaller or are they actually coming out longer after sizing??
My homemade 50 cal tapered mold casts oversize bullets, so I also have to size them down .010" to fit in my Omega.
I'm anxious to hear how your testings come out!
 

Bobby44

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Question. Did you test on the impacted area? Suggest you repeat the impact then test on a side if you can. I can see a surface density change being measured that does not equate to a BH #.
Very interesting.
 

Huckleberry

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Work hardening steel disrupts the molecular structure of it. The iron molecules bond with the carbon ones at a specific temperature and form basically a cubic structure, when it's work hardened you deform that structure. Quenching steel freezes the structures before they form a perfect cube.

I don't know enough about lead to say whether either of those translate but if I had to make an educated guess, I'd say no since both of those are based on a compound of iron AND carbon working together, not a pure element.

It sounds like something that was carried over by someone who knew about quenching and work altering steel but didn't understand how it worked on a deeper metallurgical level. Maybe your sample was contaminated by some left over alloy in your melting pot?
 
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