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smallie42

Migrate from lead to lead free in Lee production pot

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Hi Everyone, 

I used to fish tournaments and stopped for about 10 years for the kids...  I made my own jig heads with a lee production pot for many years, but here in New England lead is worse than the Taliban...  I would like to know if anyone else has tried to go lead free and still pour with their pots that had lead in them.  I have bought some tin and bismouth and an alloy from Rotometals that is "lead free".  My plan is to pour the remaining lead I have into egg sinkers that are above the lead restrictions, then start pouring smaller jigs with the new metals.  I know the pot will probably always have some lead residue...  Has anyone else gone through this process?  Any tips/tricks, suggestions?

 

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I live and fish in Massachusetts and have been pouring lead free alloys since 2012 when MA prohibited the use of lead under 1 oz. in freshwater.

The alloy I use most of the time is from rotometals.com:

https://www.rotometals.com/lead-free-bullet-casting-alloy-88-bismuth-12-tin/

Set the pot at "3."

Do NOT heat the mold. DO coat the mold liberally with:

https://barlowstackle.com/Casting-Release-Spray--P361/

Bismuth expands as it cools and this must be used to remove the finished casting from the mold. Depending on the mold, you can reasonably expect 2- 6 dozen castings before you need to spray another coat. I've been making Do-it's Poison Tails, ball jigs and Midwest Finesse jigs. Football jigs I cast from pewter but you could probably use the 88/12 as well.

I powder paint at 325º for an hour for a fully cured finish. Again, you can experiment with this too, but all of the above works well for me.

Feel free to post or PM for more specifics.

 

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HI Will, 

Thanks for your input, much appreciated!  I usually coat my molds with soot from a candle.  Do you think this will be sufficient, or is the spray worth it.  I already bought some of the lead free 88/12, as well as some tin as I already bought pure bismuth.  I will pour a 75/25 to use up what I have, then stick with the 88/12.  I have about a thousand 3/o Owner needle point round jig heads I have been sitting on for years. I modified my do it molds to handle them or gami's. I also hand file my ball head molds to produce a longer keeper barb.  One of my favorite molds is a 1/8 oz ball head with a 3/0 owner hook... fish get hooked just looking at it, lol.  I also had a custom spider jig mold made, not sure of weight,  I use it in 25ft+ vertical jigging for smallies.

I had a conversation with Keith Kline the other day, we talked fishing and when I talked about pouring he really came alive, I think he misses it.

Edited by smallie42

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smallie42,

The release spray is worth the investment. Try it.

I don't know if there's a formula for determining the melting point of an alloy, but the post below is about results from using Rotometals'  281 bismuth/tin alloy (58% bismuth/42% tin):

https://www.bassresource.com/bass-fishing-forums/topic/162966-six-degrees-of-separation/?tab=comments#comment-1844299

I'm assuming that you're powder painting. If so, let me pass on a source that smalljaw generously recommended to me:

https://www.tjstackle.com/

I use both their fluid bed and powder with good results.

When I first made the transition to lead-free, the question arose, "How do I match a 1/8 oz. jig head with existing molds when my alloys weigh only 85% (88/12) or 62% (pewter) of lead's weight?"

My approach has been to match rod/reel/line to make a balanced presentation. I'll leave you with a pic of a pewter, hair and hackle football jig from a 1/4 oz. cavity:

IMG_3548-M.jpgIMG_3545-M.jpg

I don't think much anymore about how POed I was initially about having to make the transition to lead-free.

 

 

 

 


 

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i switched over my pot from lead to lead-free. i emptied it out, took it apart and scraped it as clean as i could. did end up buying a new valve rod because it was heavily caked in lead that wasn't easily removed.

i buy bismuth and tin separately and mix them myself. anything between 75% to 85% bismuth will work just fine. the tin is added for strength, otherwise the bismuth is too brittle on its own.

buy the drop out spray. you need it 100%.

when curing the powder paint in the oven you need to reduce temp and extend duration. trial & error

 

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On 7/17/2019 at 5:56 PM, ipt said:

i switched over my pot from lead to lead-free. i emptied it out, took it apart and scraped it as clean as i could. did end up buying a new valve rod because it was heavily caked in lead that wasn't easily removed.

i buy bismuth and tin separately and mix them myself. anything between 75% to 85% bismuth will work just fine. the tin is added for strength, otherwise the bismuth is too brittle on its own.

buy the drop out spray. you need it 100%.

when curing the powder paint in the oven you need to reduce temp and extend duration. trial & error

 

 

On 7/17/2019 at 5:56 PM, ipt said:

i switched over my pot from lead to lead-free. i emptied it out, took it apart and scraped it as clean as i could. did end up buying a new valve rod because it was heavily caked in lead that wasn't easily removed.

i buy bismuth and tin separately and mix them myself. anything between 75% to 85% bismuth will work just fine. the tin is added for strength, otherwise the bismuth is too brittle on its own.

buy the drop out spray. you need it 100%.

when curing the powder paint in the oven you need to reduce temp and extend duration. trial & error

 

Hello, new to the forum, where can I purchase bismuth & tin?  I too need to provide a "lead free" alternative.

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Just a quick search of Rotometals website shows a casting alloy of 88% bismuth and 12% tin. I know some of our members use these guys to purchase metal. 

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Welcome to TU, DWYMAN,

I've been using this alloy, above mentioned by Apdriver, for several years and it works fine. Set melting pot at "3".  Cure powder paint at 325º.

https://www.rotometals.com/lead-free-bullet-casting-alloy-88-bismuth-12-tin/

Coat the mold cavities thoroughly with mold release because the bismuth in the alloy expands as it cools.

https://barlowstackle.com/do-it-molds-and-lead-molding-supplies/lead-melting-pots-ladles-and-accessories/?sort=featured&page=2

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I have been away awhile, had to recover my password. Retired, currently spending cold days with two heaters comfortably working in the garage with three Lee pots researching alloys and techniques for the manufacture of lead free split shot, trolling sinkers, shad darts and other stuff. Carefully cleaned the pot previously used for lead as I believe there are now viable worthwhile alternatives and it is so nice not to have to worry about poisonous exposure. Just bought bismuth in bulk at $6.50 a pound, pure tin in bulk at $12 a pound, zinc at $12 a pound on eBay and am experimenting with various combinations for various purposes.

Alloys of bismuth/tin for shad darts or jigs intended for powder coating are problematic.  Even with very low percentages of tin they still bubble out at 350 degrees or become soft and sag. Looks like either pure tin if light weight is not an issue or otherwise pure bismuth is the way to go, these darts weather 450 degrees just fine. Hopefully powder coat paint will minimize risk of fractures of pure bismuth darts.Will use alloys for acrylic painted darts and jigs that will not be heated.

Playing with just how little tin I need to add to otherwise pure bismuth trolling sinkers to minimize risk of brittle fracture that are nearly 90% the weight of lead. Tomorrow will swinging trolling sinkers of various alloys on a length of fishing line against concrete floor to see how much tin is needed for acceptable durability.

Having real trouble buying a new Hilts removable split shot mold LMSHOT-1-R that produces better tin removable sinkers than Do-It molds, using an ancient Hilts bought on eBay. Commercial tin removable split shot not found in bulk, size 5-7 costs 50 cents each, maybe 25 if you find a sale, costs me 3-4 cents each to make, really need that new Hilts mold. Dolphin Sports does not answer the phone or respond to email, they have the Hilts franchise now, are they still active?

Looking to get and give advice. I make a lot of lead free shad tackle to share with fellow shad fishermen on the Connecticut and Chicopee rivers. Been thinking about offering my stuff on eBay, have found nothing there or on the web like my stuff for sale.

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Welcome back to TU,  cat_in_the_hat.

Right off, I have to tell you DO NOT use an alloy with zinc in it. I was told this by someone on Lee's help line who said zinc will eat through the liner of the pot and make a "hot mess."

I've never had an interest in blending my own alloys and, as I've said above, I get good results from Rotometals'  Lead Free Bullet Casting Alloy which is 88% bismuth/12% tin.I don't remember the source but I read that this alloy is about 85% the weight of lead.

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I now realize zinc is a bad idea, now double sealed and put in away with the lead before I had the occasion to work with it. Yesterday's bismuth/tin alloy run passed the brittleness test but shad darts could only survive 350 degrees without degradation so did two more runs today, the first insufficient rise in Lee pot melting temperature, the second run looks promising. A trolling sinker survived 17 slaps on fishing line against concrete floor without chipping, good enough. Temperature tests coming this afternoon, will consider it a success if shad darts withstand 400 degrees for an hour.

Dolphin Sports sent email saying Hilts mold on its way, more on tin removable split shot later.

 

Edited by cat_in_the_hat
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Tin is a very hard metal compared to lead.

I'm not convinced a split shot made of tin will be abel to be opened and closed properly.

I know when I was making pinch on sinkers last summer I had to use pure lead or I couldn't close them by hand and I worried the ears would break off. Pure lead sure fixed that issue.

I'm also confused as to why your finished jigs need to survive 400*f for an hour?

You can cure powder paint at lower temps then that if need be. And I usually cure at 20 -25 minutes.

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I am casting tin removable split-shot sinkers, no doubt they are not as easy as lead but OK with the right tool.Tin is hard, cannot be closed reliably not to slip by hand or ill-advised use of teeth. The answer is to use a snub-nosed pliers where the biting surfaces are close to the pliers fulcrum, regular long nosed pliers not so good. After some experimentation my choice the $1.99 pliers from Harbor Freight, clip the 20% coupon from newspaper or online, get the pliers for $1.60 and a free flashlight for your fishing bag.  Stay away from large tin sizes above 5 or 7, larger sizes require bigger pliers. Lead under one ounce is illegal in Massachusetts where I do much shad fishing. I have been able to remove removable tin sinkers from line without trouble but I would not plan on using them a second time.

I was designing bismuth/tin alloys that people could mix themselves if they choose. In the past few days of experimental trials, I have settled on two:

Bismuth/tin 92/08
This alloy has 84.5% the weight of lead and can withstand 400F for over an hour, suitable for shad darts and jigs or any roundish lures intended for powder coat baking. Alloy has sufficient tin to lessen pure bismuth's brittleness of a champagne glass. Shopping carefully on eBay, this alloy costs about $7.50/pound to make.

Bismuth/tin 80/20
This alloy has 82% the weight of lead and increased tin makes it more resilient than 92/08 alloy to bumps and knocks, suitable for sinkers and jigs/darts intended for painting not powder coating. Survives 350 degrees heat but barely with some tin bubbles, could be used for powder coat heating not to exceed 300 degrees. Shopping carefully on eBay, this alloy costs about $8.50/pound to make.

I developed the 92/08 alloy with a good margin of error so anyone can set any toaster oven at typical 350 degrees and not have to worry about melting or softening jigs if toaster oven temperatures get more than a little too hot at 350 setting like mine does. I use a separate quality oven temperature gauge and do not trust oven settings. I came up with the 350 benchmark because that is what I read online or heard on YouTube in multiple locations. I personally have no experience using powder coat pint, just with acrylics that are air dried.

I now have the means to replace lead in all applications with pure tin or bismuth/tin alloys so will now do so even where not required by law such as here in Connecticut. I will be selling my lead ingots/tackle for cost of materials soon. It is so nice not to have to worry about toxic exposure in casting lead or handling the product. I also will be recasting my stock of Rotometals Bismuth 281 to Bismuth/tin 80/20 to increase density and heat tolerance.

 

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