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Old 04-18-2013, 18:17   #1
NMOFT
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Babbit Metal

What exactly is it? I saw some ingots in an oil field supply store today and all they could tell me was it has a low melting point and they use it on the pulleys and cables on pulling units. Can it be used to harden bullet alloy and if so how much in a 10 pound pot of pure lead to make a 15 BHN alloy similar to Lyman #2? Or will it ruin a pot of lead? Any help will be appreciated.
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Old 04-18-2013, 19:04   #2
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It depends what base the alloy is and what type of application the babbit is for.

A plain lead base babbit has around 80% lead, 5% tin and 15% antimony with a melting point around 650 degree.

A lead base coppered has 75% lead, 10% tin 14% Antimony and less than .5% copper and melts around 700 degrees.

A tin base has no lead 90% tin, 7.5% antimony and the rest copper with a melting temp around 725 degrees.

The tin based is a high load high speed babbit and I would say may be what the oil field uses. Babbit is old school and not used nearly as much today as it was in the early 20th century and prior.

Really you could probably make bullets out of any of it but it will take some experimenting to get the hardness you are after and make sure the bullets come out the right sized.

If you can get it for free or very cheap I would say it is worth the effort. Tin prices are also quite high per lb. If the babbit you get is Tin based you could scrap it and use that money to buy a lot of scrap lead.

Last edited by dkf; 04-18-2013 at 19:10..
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Old 04-18-2013, 20:00   #3
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Keep in mind that Lyman #2 is overkill for 99% of all pistol shooting. Even the crappiest lead alloys can be made to work well in pistols with careful powder selection.
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Old 04-18-2013, 22:33   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkf View Post
It depends what base the alloy is and what type of application the babbit is for.

A plain lead base babbit has around 80% lead, 5% tin and 15% antimony with a melting point around 650 degree.

A lead base coppered has 75% lead, 10% tin 14% Antimony and less than .5% copper and melts around 700 degrees.

A tin base has no lead 90% tin, 7.5% antimony and the rest copper with a melting temp around 725 degrees.

The tin based is a high load high speed babbit and I would say may be what the oil field uses. Babbit is old school and not used nearly as much today as it was in the early 20th century and prior.

Really you could probably make bullets out of any of it but it will take some experimenting to get the hardness you are after and make sure the bullets come out the right sized.

If you can get it for free or very cheap I would say it is worth the effort. Tin prices are also quite high per lb. If the babbit you get is Tin based you could scrap it and use that money to buy a lot of scrap lead.
Good info. Thanks!
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Old 04-18-2013, 22:41   #5
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Originally Posted by WiskyT View Post
Keep in mind that Lyman #2 is overkill for 99% of all pistol shooting. Even the crappiest lead alloys can be made to work well in pistols with careful powder selection.

I've been using straigt wheel weights in my .45 acp at about 900 fps and they do ok. Now I want to try some cast bullets in my .357 and .45 colt at 1200 -1300 fps and want a harder alloy.
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Old 04-18-2013, 23:17   #6
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Jeez. I'm using 3:2 clip on wheel weights:stick on and if they're sized correctly, they run fine. For magnums, I use straight clip on wheel weights and water quench them out of the mold. If Little Stevie's fancy testing-majig is correct, they're coming out at 18 bhn... just short of linotype hardness. No problems.
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Old 04-19-2013, 13:59   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NMOFT View Post
I've been using straigt wheel weights in my .45 acp at about 900 fps and they do ok. Now I want to try some cast bullets in my .357 and .45 colt at 1200 -1300 fps and want a harder alloy.
I run 158's made from range scrap at 1200fps in 357mag no problem.
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Old 04-20-2013, 00:30   #8
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As dkf notes, depends on what the babbit is. A good place to start would be 2-1, pure to babbit & see how it casts & shoots. Obviously, you want to blend in a smaller test batch, like 4-6#. Add more pure if it seems too hard, go to 1-1 if it seems too soft.
I haven't found many handgun applications where straight clip ww alloy doesn't do a fine job as a bullet alloy. The 357sig/357mag running hard might be an exception.
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Old 04-20-2013, 17:44   #9
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Thanks. Back in the day a good friend I used to cast bullets together. We used range scrap mixed with wheel weights. In .38 spl. and .44 spl. they did fine, but at .357 velocities we had to use gas checks or our gun barrels leaded up pretty badly. We also used the same alloy to cast .30 rifle bullets and those need gas checks as well.

I've just now gotten back into it and I'm finding that my .45 200 gr SWCs lead the barrel of my 1911 at around 900 fps. I think the problem is Iím using tumble lube because I don't have a bullet sizing press yet. So my interim solution is to cast harder bullets, especially since I'm going to load some hotter loads for .357 and .45 Colt.

My plan is to cast 50 200gr. SWCs with wheel weights and water quench them, 50 with 10:1 plumbing lead/babbet metal, and 50 1:10 water quenched. I'll load them up and see what leads and what doesn't. Then I'll proceed to the hotter loads.

I recently bought a pair of Ruger Bisley Blackhawks and the bullet sizing equipment will have to wait until my savings account has recovered. In the mean time I can use what I have available and keep on shooting.
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Old 04-20-2013, 18:58   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NMOFT View Post
Thanks. Back in the day a good friend I used to cast bullets together. We used range scrap mixed with wheel weights. In .38 spl. and .44 spl. they did fine, but at .357 velocities we had to use gas checks or our gun barrels leaded up pretty badly. We also used the same alloy to cast .30 rifle bullets and those need gas checks as well.

I've just now gotten back into it and I'm finding that my .45 200 gr SWCs lead the barrel of my 1911 at around 900 fps. I think the problem is Iím using tumble lube because I don't have a bullet sizing press yet. So my interim solution is to cast harder bullets, especially since I'm going to load some hotter loads for .357 and .45 Colt.

My plan is to cast 50 200gr. SWCs with wheel weights and water quench them, 50 with 10:1 plumbing lead/babbet metal, and 50 1:10 water quenched. I'll load them up and see what leads and what doesn't. Then I'll proceed to the hotter loads.

I recently bought a pair of Ruger Bisley Blackhawks and the bullet sizing equipment will have to wait until my savings account has recovered. In the mean time I can use what I have available and keep on shooting.
I run a heavier and softer bullet at 840fps in 45ACP with tumble lubing and they don't lead. What powder are you using? If it's a fast powder, try backing the load down a little. Or, try a slower powder like Unique if you want to run them that fast and it should work well for you.

If you are already using Unique or similar, disregard my advice.

Also, use the liquid alox as is. I got bad leading and lousy groups when I used various "solutions" such as JPW mixed with the liquid alox.
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Old 04-20-2013, 19:23   #11
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I'm using 5.8 grains of bullseye. I've got lots of unique on hand, I'll check my reloading manuals for charge weights in .45 ACP. I just finished up a batch of .44 spl. with 7.5 gr unique and a 250 gr bullet. I find unique to be kind of dirty in a revolver but very accurate.
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Old 04-20-2013, 19:29   #12
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What diameter are the bullets you are using. Sometimes leading can be the cause of an undersized bullet.
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Old 04-20-2013, 19:35   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NMOFT View Post
I'm using 5.8 grains of bullseye. I've got lots of unique on hand, I'll check my reloading manuals for charge weights in .45 ACP. I just finished up a batch of .44 spl. with 7.5 gr unique and a 250 gr bullet. I find unique to be kind of dirty in a revolver but very accurate.
I have used Bullseye in several cartridges with cast bullets. There is a point somewhere just below 5 grains where it starts to lead. I can't really say why and it's kind of odd since I'm talking about small cases like 9mm and bigger ones like 45ACP. 5.8 may be fine in terms of a being a safe load pressure wise, but I think it is past the leading zone with bullets that aren't diamond hard.

Try something just short of max with Unique or maybe just 5.0 of Bullseye and see how it does. It might be easier than tinkering with alloys. Of course, there is nothing wrong with working on a better alloy, it's just that better alloys cost money and since you already have other powders, I find it cheaper and easier to adjust powder charges.
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Old 04-21-2013, 08:51   #14
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What diameter are the bullets you are using. Sometimes leading can be the cause of an undersized bullet.
I have shot some as cast and some sized to .452 in a Lee die. Sizing to .452 seems to reduce the leading. I haven't slugged my barrel so I don't know the exact bore diameter, just assuming its .451-.452.
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Old 04-21-2013, 08:54   #15
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Originally Posted by WiskyT View Post
I have used Bullseye in several cartridges with cast bullets. There is a point somewhere just below 5 grains where it starts to lead. I can't really say why and it's kind of odd since I'm talking about small cases like 9mm and bigger ones like 45ACP. 5.8 may be fine in terms of a being a safe load pressure wise, but I think it is past the leading zone with bullets that aren't diamond hard.

Try something just short of max with Unique or maybe just 5.0 of Bullseye and see how it does. It might be easier than tinkering with alloys. Of course, there is nothing wrong with working on a better alloy, it's just that better alloys cost money and since you already have other powders, I find it cheaper and easier to adjust powder charges.
Now that you mention it I've shot some reasonably hot loads with unique in .38 spl and .44 spl with no leadind problems.

I want to keep my .45 ACP loads in the 900 fps range so I'll try Unique as well as experiment with casting alloy. Thanks.
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Old 04-21-2013, 11:19   #16
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