A series of TIPS from my recent Cast Lead Bullet Workshop – Rendering Pot
Category : Reloading
The recent workshop, my first in ten years, since moving to Florida, was a huge success. I covered the subject of casting lead bullets, with the able assistance of several of my casting friends as assistant instructors, from beginning to end. From gathering up raw lead materials, to lubricizing the castings.
The subjects were covered in great detail, with each student taking home a book, which I self published, as a reminder of the hundreds of small details that all lead to success with casting lead bullets. I thought that I would feature some of the highlights from the workshop, as the subject of a few postings in this information area of my web site. I hope these articles will serve as a great reference for those of you inter4ested in, or already casting lead bullets.
The first of these articles actually was used during the first portion of the workshop, just after the safety meeting. We covered use o0f a rendering pot for cleaning up gathered lead. And, the pot we used was made from a non-usable 20 pound propane tank. Here are the instructions for making your own:
Old 20 pound propane tanks often become available for a couple of reasons:
- They won’t pass current pressure or safety requirements
- They have the old style filling valves, which propane dealers will not fill
Propane as a gas does not have a smell, naturally. The manufacturers of this gaseous fuel make it detectable by adding an onion smell to the gas. Even when completely empty, the insides of the tank may still smell of onions. And, that smell might linger until heat is applied to the tank in use. As long as the propane is gone, there is no chance of explosion from only the onion smell.
- Open the valve, and make sure the tank has no remaining propane.
- The first step in the conversion is to use a hefty wrench and remove the brass valve from the top of the tank.
- Turn the tank, with the valve now removed, upside down, and allow the tank to sit like that for several hours. Even though the tank may smell of onions, there won’t be any remaining flammable gas inside.
- Locate the horizontal welded seam around the middle of the tank. Draw a line all the way around the tank, approximately 2” above that horizontal seam.
- Draw another line, approximately 3” above that first line. < The 3” ring is important
- Drill a series of holes around the tank, in the middle of that marked section. Pre-drill the holes about ¼”, and then go back, and make them bigger, say ½” in diameter.
- Using a cutting tool of some sort, cut the top line of the marked section first. That allows you to use the bottom of the tank, the portion that you will use for the pot, for stability. You can use an angle grinder, a hack saw, or perhaps even a scroll saw with a metal cutting blade. A clearance hole might be required if you use a saw blade.
- Once you have the very top of the tank removed, then cut the remainder of the ring off the bottom of the tank using the same technique you used for the top of the tank.
- The base that comes with the propane tank won’t be stable enough when filled with lead, so the next step is to tack weld the ring squarely to the bottom of the tank. Grind/file all sharp and rough edges so that you don’t get cut while using the rendering pot.
The new ring base will provide enough sturdy support to handle a full load of molten lead, approx. 100 pounds.
Place the pot assembly on your propane burner stand
Fill the bottom portion (not more than 1/3 full to begin with) with lead to be rendered, and ignite the flame.
Your rendering pot is ready to start rendering into clean lead ingots. Note: The holes in the ring allow the burner flames a place to vent to. After the first five minutes of heat, the onion smell will be completely gone.
I would like to thank an old friend from Northeastshooters.com, who’s screen name is Patriot. He came up with this design, and provided me with the images.
At the workshop, we raffled off 4 of the empty tanks, which already had the valves removed. I got them, for free, from my local propane supply company who had a pile of them, destined for the scrapper. He was happy to donate them for the cause. You might check around and see if you can also come up wuith this raw material for the rendering pot. It will sure make your rendering process easier.