grain algnment using sulfur for hardening bullets

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  • Last Post 25 March 2012
applejack posted this 24 August 2009

Anyone using sulfur to increase the hardness of their cast bullets.  (used as a grain aligner).   LASC gives some specs on hardness after dropping from the mold before and after quenching in water but does not mention what the source of sulfur is.  I have powdered sulfur for my garden and tried some of that and it raised the hardness from 14 BHN to 18 BHN.  Wear a mask though.  Anyone got an answer. 

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Dollar Bill posted this 25 August 2009

Applejack,

You are the man with the answer! We've discussed using sulfer not too long ago, but you're the first person I've seen post some results. I would think sulfer is sulfer, for the most part. How much did you add and what was your base alloy?

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applejack posted this 25 August 2009

WELL!  My friend and I discussed this, sulfur as sulfur also, and decided it was worth a try anyway.  He's a citrus grower and uses sulfur and copper in his groves.  I'm a gardener so I have both materials on hand also.   He's just starting to cast for the first time.  His father used to cast a number of years ago, so he still has his father's equipment.  I'm using a very small pot that I bought in the early 70s and it only holds 4 lbs of lead, so I'm using about a 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sulfur to the pot.  I over did it to begin with and got too much.  It appears that it is only going to disolve so much regardless of the amt. used.  Kinda like you can only disolve so much salt in a quart of water.  I cast my lead ingots back in the 70s and thought i had melted down WWs but when I got to testing the hardness it was more like pure lead. ( I had my own auto repair business for 40 years and I know I used some wheel weights.)  When drop quenching at casting the Hardness was only about 9 BHN.  I then added a little tin and that didn't help the hardness to any degree so then I ordered some antimony pellets and started adding that.  I went about 12% but then cut it back to 6%.  I think I'm about 6 % antimony, 2 % tin and 92 % lead plus a smidgen of sulfur.  Anyway I'm getting a 18 BHN hardness as dropped from the mold into tap water, and they are goodlooking bullets, no voids, no flaws.   I've got some bullets aging now to see what they will do.  LASC also names copper a a grain aligner but I haven't tried that yet.  I'm going to try a batch with copper just to see.  I could never find any arsenic.  I've tried oven heating at 440 degrees, according to the oven thermostat, for an hour and then quenching in tap water.  I can't see any difference so far in drop quench or oven heating, but that was before I added the sulfur.  So many choices and variables.  It just takes time to test them all.  You have to melt the antimony with a torch and then add it to the melted lead.  All my previous casting was for pistol bullets so I didn't need the higher BHN, but now I'm casting for my 30 30 and 32 20.  The sulfur, when added, will start to melt, and then burn and stinks like hell is on fire.  It then hardens into a black mess which I skim off and then stir to mix well.  I'll keep playing with it and try some copper also.  Do you know where to get arsenic?  I'll post what I find.  JDC

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Dollar Bill posted this 25 August 2009

I don't know about arsenic. That's why sulfer is so interesting as a refining agent: it's readily available. I have a 10# bag in the garage for my garden, also. Tin won't contribute that much for hardness and shouldn't exceed the amount of antimony for effective heat-treating, but does contribute enormously to mold fill-out. You might give Bill Ferguson a call (theantimonyman.com). He's a wealth of knowledge on metalurgy and a real gentleman.

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afish4570 posted this 11 February 2012

Used some garden sulfur product to remove any possible zinc contamination in my last smelt of 150# range lead.  Don't have a lead hardness tester. In doing some reading about CU copper is there a way I can harden lead with copper “sawdust".  What method is used to get the CU to alloy into the lead mixture?????:dude:afish4570

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nimrod posted this 11 February 2012

You can get arsenic into your mix by adding Magnum lead shot, its much harder than chilled lead shot. Expensive too but you don't need much a couple ounces per 10# of lead water drop or heat treat it'll take several days to harden maybe even a week.

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nimrod posted this 11 February 2012

You can get arsenic into your mix by adding Magnum lead shot its much harder than chilled shot and does comtain arsenic. Its expensive too but it only takes a couple ounces per 10# of mix. Water drop or heat treat and wait a few days might take up to a week.

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nimrod posted this 11 February 2012

You can add some Magnum Lead shot to your alloy mix it contains arsenic, regular chilled shot does not as I understand. A couple ounces per 10# will do it water drop or heat treat might take a couple days to harden.

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CB posted this 12 February 2012

Around here, magnum shot is cheaper than buying some alloys on the internet & having them shipped in. Our local Scheels has magnum shot for $33.00/25 lbs. I use it to enrich range scrap.

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runfiverun posted this 12 February 2012

sulphur is a grain modifier, it makes the grain in the cooled lead smaller. it also is like arsenic in that it creates surface tension it also acts like a catalyst to the antimony when heat treating. it will leach zinc out of an alloy

i have been able to get copper to alloy in, but had to use tin to keep it in suspension. 10% tin to 3% copper. i also had to use higher than normal casting temps to make good boolits.

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popper posted this 25 March 2012

Cu adds toughness,not much BHN. Should be able to get it from no lead solder. Sulfur is better than As for hardening.

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