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Making your own lead weights.

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Huan

New Member
Jul 4, 2004
957
162
0
I have just spent the afternoon making a heap of weights.
For those of you who have thought about it and may try it at some point, I can give you a few tips.
Firstly get your lead together, It doesn't really matter where you get it from, try the neighbours roof;) if you are really stuck.
Just one thing DO NOT Use old lead from Car batterys it is toxic and generally nasty.
the cleaner the lead the easier the process will be for you.

This is a heap of old roofing lead that I found around the place.
It wasn't the cleanest and I spent a lot of time skimming the scum off the lead, I recommend clean lead.
Before you even start melting the lead down lets talk safety.

Safety gear, Please don't take short cuts with this stuff, Its not worth it. Spearing fish is much harder with one or no eyes.
The last time I used this gear a piece of lead had some water trapped inside, I did not realise this and had just put it in the crucible when it exploded.
Had I not been wearing all the gear I would have lost my sight and been burned by lead splash.
Fortunately, my boots long pants and heavy cotton shirt buttoned up to the neck saved me from being burned and the face shield was covered with lead splatter.
I also use a Disposable respirator mine is a 3M model but any type that is suitable for welding/metal fumes is suitable. Don't do this indoors.
You can also see my gloves and a can of silicone mould release. I only used these fabric and rubber gloves for cutting the lead sheet up.
I used heavy suede welders gloves for the hot work.

Here is the process in action.
I have two moulds to speed things up.
In the foreground are the moulds full of lead and some leads that I have just tipped out onto the wood.
You will find that the finish on the weights is better after the moulds reach working temperature.
I also put a small piece of candle wax into the molten lead to bring the scum to the surface, small means about the size of a pea.
What I haven't shown here is the piece of metal that I use to skim the rubbish off the top of the lead.
anything will do but remember once used for this, you can't eat off it again.
Here is the process I use step by step.
1. Don all the safety gear and fire up the burner.
2. Add some lead to the crucible and wait till it melts, add some more, do this slowly and carefully.
3. Once you have enough lead melted put a small piece of wax into the pot and stir it, all the bad stuff will float to the top and can be skimmed off.
4. Preheat the mould , by pouring a weight.
5. Let the weight cool and tap it out onto a wooden block.
6. Pour the first weight.
7. Repeat steps 2-6 until all the lead is gone.
You could end up with a lot of leads...


My tips
As you can see, I have a piece of Aluminium plate about 4mm in thickness,I use this as a heatsink.
The lead and the moulds cool faster when laid on this.

Get a big can for the lead scum it is heavy and poisonous.

No matter how hot the day is don't be tempted to take off the safety gear, one drop of sweat will make the lead in the crucible explode and you won't like that.

I use a wooden stick to stir the lead if the lead starts to turn blue and the wood smokes, the lead is too hot, add more lead to bring the temperature back down.

When pouring lead slow and steady is best , too fast and the lead may splash causing damage and pain.

I always put the first few leads that I cast back into the crucible as the finish is not as good, once the mould is up to temperature keep up a steady rythym of pour, add lead, skim, tap out, pour......and the finish will be better.
Have fun and stay safe.
 
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Amphibious

Working Class Spearo
Mar 17, 2002
2,775
300
0
40
I'll have to find some of those moulds :D I have moulds for Hardcast Rifle bullets - but no dive weights yet :D
 
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ajwaverider

New Member
Jan 3, 2004
422
30
0
45
Huan. .Your weights look better than mine when they were new,and they came from a dive shop.Good job. Strech was messing around making some round ones when I visited him and it got me wanting to try it.I'm thinking about making some round molds myself.
 

Huan

New Member
Jul 4, 2004
957
162
0
ajwaverider said:
Strech was messing around making some round ones when I visited him and it got me wanting to try it.I'm thinking about making some round molds myself.
You talking about the bullet type weights? a cylinder with a slot in it?
I thought about making those by splitting an aluminium tube in half lengthways and machining a slot in the middle.
the alloy plate that forms the slot in the weight has to be cut diagonally so that it can be tapped out easily.
could be an interesting project, but for now I think I have all the weights I require..... ;)
 

defofthecrown

Morone saxatilis
Mar 8, 2003
298
30
0
41
Thats funny Albert, I just bought 25lbs of lead a few weeks ago and it's sitting around while I devise a way to make my own mold (i don't think my fancy plastics will help me here).

Huan, thanks for posting the detailed technique, that will certainly help once I have a mold to work with. It seems like you have two blueish weights from superheated lead. I like how they look, can you do this intentianlly or does it weaken the lead or make the process unsafe b/c of the lead 'boiling'? Also my lead is dirty do you need to scrub it or can you skim/burn off the impurrities? It has a ton of surface area unfortunately.
 

Huan

New Member
Jul 4, 2004
957
162
0
I didn't really go out with the intention of making funky blue leads, it just happened, some were gold coloured so maybe it was impurities in the lead maybe paint or that kind of thing.
I don't think the colour changes anything in the structure of the weight.
I think it is a lot easier and safer to get as much dirt of the lead before it is melted,cold lead doesn't burn as bad as the hot stuff :)
If I was you I would get a scrubbing brush and get to work or maybe a power washer to make it easy.
no matter what you do , make sure that the lead is DRY before you start melting it.
Bad things happen otherwise.
To help minimise the risk after the first "experience" I got a small piece of roofing lead and when I was melting stuff that I wasn't entirely sure about I used it as a lid.
it gets hot quick though.
 

Bill

Baron of Breathold
Oct 17, 2001
1,805
332
188
81
For the round weights, using galvinized plumbing parts makes it easy. I've used 3/4 and 1 inch threaded pipe slit lengthwise. The slot seems to work better if you file it off centre and by cutting a ring off a pipe cap you can hold the two sides together easy. Use part of a rubber belt to fill the slot while pouring lead. I switched to blocks of lead that are drilled and threaded because they are easier to change.
Aloha
Bill
 

defofthecrown

Morone saxatilis
Mar 8, 2003
298
30
0
41
Bill thats kind of what I'm looking for. It like to make a weight thats kind of like a hand sanding block in cross sections or flatened 'D'-shape. I'd also like to have a loose belt slot and tap a hole in the middle of the weight for a nylon set-screw. I think this is a fairly popular SoCal design. If anyone knows how to make a mold for this please post it here.

Based on my poor description I decided to do a quick sketch...
 

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Huan

New Member
Jul 4, 2004
957
162
0
Just in case anyone is thinking plaster of paris may be good.
I tried a few years ago and unless the plaster is Bone dry you get a kind of volcano thing happening which isn't funny.
I believe that you could make a mould out of plaster but it would have to be oven dried.
 

ajwaverider

New Member
Jan 3, 2004
422
30
0
45
Huan said:
You talking about the bullet type weights? a cylinder with a slot in it?
I thought about making those by splitting an aluminium tube in half lengthways and machining a slot in the middle.
the alloy plate that forms the slot in the weight has to be cut diagonally so that it can be tapped out easily.
could be an interesting project, but for now I think I have all the weights I require..... ;)

Yeah that's the ones. I'm not sure how I would put rounded ends on them and still be able to pour lead in it though.
 

ajwaverider

New Member
Jan 3, 2004
422
30
0
45
defofthecrown said:
Bill thats kind of what I'm looking for. It like to make a weight thats kind of like a hand sanding block in cross sections or flatened 'D'-shape. I'd also like to have a loose belt slot and tap a hole in the middle of the weight for a nylon set-screw. I think this is a fairly popular SoCal design. If anyone knows how to make a mold for this please post it here.

Based on my poor description I decided to do a quick sketch...

I think I could fab up something but it would be a 2 part mold.
Def does the belt pass straight thru and the set screw hold it in place?

You know i've never seen anything but standard scuba weights in dive shops around here.As a matter a fact they all sell the same things .One of the many reasons I do diy and buy online.There is a new dive shop opening in a month and I hope they will break tradition.
 
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defofthecrown

Morone saxatilis
Mar 8, 2003
298
30
0
41
Yes the belt passes straight through. My drawing got cut off, just pretend the left border is the edge of the weight and that's pretty much what I was going for. I'm thinking somewhere in the neighbor hood of 2-3 lbs. I think Metridium may have the right idea with just routing a rectangle out of hardwood but if you can make a taper I'd be interested in hearing how. Would there be a parting line down the middle?
 

Bill

Baron of Breathold
Oct 17, 2001
1,805
332
188
81
Deft
My blocks are just 1x1.25x2'' or 2x2x1 with one or two holes drilled and tapped. On one set the holes don't even go all the way through. It looks neat but causes another problem. The nylon screws would bind up and break off so I switched to SS. The blocks are tapered and rounded a little. I just made up a male plug, out of balsa wood, to look like I wanted and cast it in plaster of paris. The first time, I casted the screw hole too, then I figured it would be easier to drill it later. The idea came from Gary Thompson but I didn't see how he did it. Still planning to make 1" radius hemi spheres to go on a Marseille belt some day. It would be a lot better streamlining but I'd need 10-12 of them. Also trying to figure out how to mount a 6# lead bar between my shoulder blades, that could be the best place for weights in CB.
Aloha
Bill
 
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defofthecrown

Morone saxatilis
Mar 8, 2003
298
30
0
41
Ah, I think I see. If your longest dimension for the weights is 2" than you must be bolting the weight onto the belt for attachment correct? I was making some sketchs last night and I was thinking 1x2x3.5. It seems a 2" width would let the weight belt curve nicely. I figured if I routed a block out of wood I could also cut a narrow slot from the side to insert a 2" wide steel bar to create a belt slot in the weight.

Is there an advantage to bolting weights on the belt other than ease of manufacture? I suppose there faster to change out too. Also, if you could list the actual weight of your two sizes that would be helpful in determining final dimensions.

Thanks,
Chris
 

Bill

Baron of Breathold
Oct 17, 2001
1,805
332
188
81
You have the idea. I don't like the slot because any dimension over the belt width will dig in at some time or other. That's why I changed from the bullet style. 1x1x2 comes to about 2/3 pound with a little rounding, tapering and a nylon screw. Lead is about 2.75 cu inches per pound (95 cc per kilogram I think). The two inch width works good on the front and OK on the back but is a little less comfortable if you have to mount them on the sides too. I also made a 3# weight to fit the small of my back and help seal the suit but in 70+(21C) water it's more comfortable to wear the belt down on the hips.
Aloha
Bill
 

Old Man Dave

Offline
Feb 19, 2005
3,574
1,134
0
If you live long enough nothing is new. I've made hundreds (thousands?) of "H" weights using commercially made moulds. These moulds are usually made from an aluminium alloy and I'm sure are still available mail order. I've also made my own version of these moulds from welded steel. Currently I'm using my own version of cylinder weights made in my own designed and made steel split mould with a removable steel tongue for the belt slot. You need to either fix each weight with a stainless self tapping screw or group them in small numbers and use a sliding belt clip (available from dive shops). I'm going to fire up my digital camera and will post pic's of all my moulds and weights.
P.S. It does help if you are a trained engineer and have spent 35+ years teaching Design Technology and alsohave a mega workshop to make all this stuff.
P.P.S What about shot belts. They look the biz but have never tried one and have been stumpted on making the shot (no way I'll buy it).
 

Huan

New Member
Jul 4, 2004
957
162
0
To make shot.
Get a steel can any size but I used a baked bean can.
Turn it upside down and punch a load of holes with a nail in the base.
Grip the side of the can with a vice grips securely like a handle.
Melt your lead hold the can over a water bath and pour the molten lead into the can.
In the bottom of the water bath you will have shot.
Vary the size of the holes to make different sized shot.
 

Old Man Dave

Offline
Feb 19, 2005
3,574
1,134
0
Have tried to attach 4 pics showing commerial aluminium mould which makes 2lb up to 4lb "H" weights, self made steel mould for "H" weights from 3lb up to 6lb, self made split steel mould for barrel/tube/bullet weight of approx 1.6lb (couldn't find the tongue) and lastly my spare belt loaded with tube weights made in my own mould. Belt is super comfortable - best I've ever used. Can supply more details, drawings, construction info etc if anyone wants them.
 
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