Monday, September 17, 2012

Lead for the Centerboard

Last week I found a great local source for lead. The wooden centerboard needs 45 pounds, or so, of lead to prevent it from floating up into its case. I have been reading about casting lead on various threads on different forums for some time now and the one common issue in all the threads is where to obtain lead. Several months ago I asked several local tire shops (a frequently cited source for lead) about wheel weights. All of the shops I spoke with either re-use their wheel weights or take them to a recycler. The ones that recycle them were not interested in saving any weights for me. So, I was concerned about where to obtain lead.

Buying 45 pounds of lead at the retail level did not seem cost effective to me. Down-rigger weights, scuba weights, lead shot, sinkers - all proved to be too pricey for me.

Three different people, when asked, suggested Greenville Steel. Okay, I've seen their shop on Michigan 91 but it doesn't look like it would have lead… (yeah, an assumption): Steel is in their name; their sign mentions steel fabricating and their building looks very neat and tidy - almost pristine. When I asked in the office if they handle lead, the woman at the counter asked me how much I was bringing in? No, I want to buy some. She seemed amused that any one would want to buy lead…

Looks are deceiving. Greenville Steel is a "recycler" (what used to be called a "scrap yard" and before that a "junk yard"). The yard out back behind the pristine building and tall white fence is full of stuff - including lots of lead. The bin of clean lead must hold several tons of the stuff and the bin with dirty lead was larger. Actually, the guy in the yard was more than amused that I wanted to buy lead. Not sure why that strikes anyone as funny but it does.

These five pigs of clean lead weigh a total of 67 pounds and cost me $30.00. I was pleased with the price (less than $.45/lb.) and that I found a source for lead.

I'll melt some of the lead to cast the weight for the centerboard. The rest will be cast into a 10kg weight to be used to measure the bend in the spars for my balance lug sails.


  1. While you're at it, make a sounding lead. Just a thought.
    I was hoping to get much more than that for some scrap I have. Sounds like the price of lead is down. (no pun intended.)

  2. Good idea!

    I get the impression scrap metal prices may vary considerably from region to region. One thread I read suggested clean lead was priced between $1.25 and $1.45 per pound when available in Washington state. That was a couple of weeks ago so I had those figures in mind when I was at the scrap yard. Pleasant surprise to pay only $.45/pound. There's probably someone out there that thinks I paid too much...