View Full Version : source for lead

Alan Peck
08-24-2011, 03:03 PM
I need about 600 lbs of lead for a keel. It is my understanding that tire stores will no longer give you discarded wheel weights.

Any ideas on where to buy lead at a fair price?


Michael D. Storey
08-24-2011, 03:08 PM
Guys who tear apart old buildings sometimes find old lead drain pipes.

Junk yards are a secondary source.

Plumbers, too. (In fact the word 'Plumber' comes from the french for lead, ploumb)

It is my understanding that some kind of skimming equipment may be in order if you use 'dirty' lead, which is what old drain pipes surely are.

lastly, try boatyards, who may be dismantling old boats which may have keels.

08-24-2011, 03:32 PM
I've accumulated about 5000 lbs of wheel weights, and still get them here in Maine. time to start melting them down and selling it off to fund the boat project.

Alan Peck
08-24-2011, 05:00 PM
emichaels: I am curious about your wheel weights. Did you get them some time ago?

It was my understanding that it is now illegal for tire stores to give or sell used lead weights to the public.

Does anyone know if this is factual?


Nicholas Carey
08-24-2011, 05:44 PM
emichaels: I am curious about your wheel weights. Did you get them some time ago?

It was my understanding that it is now illegal for tire stores to give or sell used lead weights to the public.

Does anyone know if this is factual?

ThanksA little google-fu says

The EPA is concerned about lead wheel weights.
Car manufacturers have agreed to stop using them as OEM equipment.
The three major manufacturers of wheel weights in the United States stopped distributing lead wheel weights in 2009.
Some states have made it illegal to sell them or install them, though you'd have to read the laws in your state for the specifics.
So the net effect that I can see, is that if a tire store sells/gives you his dead tire weights, you're likely to get quite a bit of dross in it. The new tire weights are steel, zince or some sort of composite. Steel wouldn't be a problem when you melt the weights down as the steel will just float on top of the lead. Zinc might be a problem though: lead melts at 328 deg C; zinc at 420 deg C. Heat your lead pot up too high and you might get a nice lead-zinc alloy that you probably not interested in.


As of April 1, 2011, it is illegal to sell or install a wheel weight in New York that contains lead. The state joined several others that have enacted laws banning the manufacture, sale and use of lead weights. California’s law went into effect on January 1, 2010. Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Vermont and Washington also ban the product, and several other states have considered a ban.

The automakers have already agreed to stop using lead weights as original equipment, and the three major manufacturers of wheel weights in the United States stopped distributing lead weights in 2009. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a voluntary nationwide initiative in 2008 and began a rulemaking process in 2009, which may eventually translate into a mandatory federal ban. The weights have been banned in the European Union since 2005. Automakers, tire makers and the aftermarket are turning to three main substitute materials: steel, zinc or composites.

If lead weights fall off tires, there is concern that they then become environmental hazards or contaminants in the metal recycling process. In the environment, the weights may be ground into fine dust particles and turn into lead oxides, hydroxides or bicarbonates. Lead particles and chemical combinations also pose the risk of contaminating surface and ground-water supplies

08-24-2011, 07:38 PM
Alan, since you live in Tallahassee, you may have some contacts who work at that other university in FL. There is no doubt some research carried on there that involves the use of radioisotopes. These materials typically are shipped in thick-walled lead containers that are disposed of at some expense after receipt. If you can make some contacts with the department there that collects and disposes these containers, they may give you all you need. User kenjamin is in Tallahassee and I believe used to work for that other university in Fla so he may be able to help.

Good luck.


Bob Smalser
08-24-2011, 11:43 PM
When the local quick stores are buying old lead-acid batteries for 4 bucks each because of the scrap value of the lead, you can expect whatever you do find to be expensive.

Check with the scrap yards servicing Gulf Coast shipyards.

08-25-2011, 07:41 PM
Lead keels are a scrap by-product of hurricanes. Unless you had not noticed we have one working it's way up the East Coast as I write. When a vessel becomes a CTL/ Constructive Total Loss and becomes a salvage burden to a marine underwriter the vessel has to be dealt with and either trucked off or removed from the site. Many are repaired and sold again but many are broken up and thrown in a dumpster. In bad Cat losses there are literally hundred of lead keels to be had and though many are purchased by the metal dealers the quantity often overwhelms the market and they will no longer offer on them. Go find a Cat Loss surveyor and let him know you are interested but don't be picky. In other words none of these surveyors want to deal with somebody who only wants X amount of lead and can't remove it. You want lead be prepared to removed it and in ONE PIECE and the price will amaze you.

08-26-2011, 02:15 PM
Not to sound too much like Chicken Little (of "The sky is falling! fame) but we may want to consider stockpiling lead for future projects. As the EPA ratchets down on loose contaminants at some point they will undoubtedly start viewing lead keels as potential hazards. My other hobby is motorcycles, we just spent a number of years getting Congress to exempt kids motorcycles from a Consumer Product Safety Commission ban on lead in products marketed to children. Apparently the lead inside the batteries posed too much of a potential health risk.

I live in a state where lead wheel weights have been outlawed since 2009, so I'm poking around for lead sources too, 680 pounds to be exact. I have discovered a local foundry that offers keels as one of their products, I will have to do more research to see what the most cost-effective way to get my keel cast turns out to be. After taking a class on casting bronze last weekend I am leaning more towards handing the project off to the pros, the set-up time for doing it myself is not inconsiderable, though not without it's own rewards. But Wee Seal is next winter, I have a smaller project in the works for 2011/12.


08-26-2011, 03:35 PM
I seem to remember seeing some lead strips at Bass Pro shops for the people who want to make their own fishing gear. Not practical for the amount needed for a keel, however. Check CL and yard sales for old diving weights. You may be able to eventually get enough that way. They're not cheap new, and lots of them are plastic coated now to prevent contamination of the environment.

Brian Palmer
08-26-2011, 04:41 PM
Call one of the companies that operate the secondary lead smelters. That is where it comes from, mostly, in large quantities.



08-26-2011, 04:59 PM
Any ideas on where to buy lead at a fair price?

Check craigslist. Where I live people are contantly selling scrap lead for cheap on craigslist.org

Jay Greer
08-26-2011, 06:05 PM
You might invest lead futures and demand the actual product when they mature.
One person I know did it and got enough to cast an entire J boat keel.

09-10-2011, 08:18 PM
Be careful when buying wheel weights these days . I guess over the last few years There is some other type of weight being used Not lead at all ! I think there are to many people eating the real lead ones