I'm looking for an easy to find cheap source of white-metal \ tin &
It's for basic casting with the end intention of teaching myself the
craft of model making at home..
I can get solder in 500grm lots quite cheaply - considering this may
have flux in it - would this be OK for at least small scale casting to
Other than that does anyone know of a cheap online seller in the UK or
even better where or what I might look for locally?
In South Brum
If you wanted to use the solder with flux in you could melt it, and
the flux will form a layer on the top of the moulten metal. This
should be quite easy to skim off before using the solder -but it seems
a long way round to me.
PS be careful with this stuff, it will kill you if exposed to it over
time -definately not a good idea in confined spaces.
When I needeed whitemetal for bearings, Geof Treseder the proprietor
of Carn Metals, and a former Geevor tin miner, made me a batch of
material to approximate a tin rich BS alloy and very successful it was
too. He won't handle toxics like arsenic and cadmium, but tin,
antimony and copper are fine.
Although not cheap in absolute terms, it was significantly cheaper
than proprietaty whitemetals, though these have traces of toxic which
impart specialist characteristics.
Talk to Geoff - I found him very informative. and helpful.
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PS......Alec Tiranti of Reading also supply metals for sculptural
casting and they have a useful book on the use of silicone rubber
moulds. Do a search on Tiranti and I'm sure you'll get a hit.
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If it si just for practising I have had pretty good results using old
wheel balancing weights. If you go down to your local tyre shop they
will usually let you have them for the price they get as scrap.
I'm not sure of the comosition but it is harder than lead and many
years ago I had some pretty good success casting toy soldiers with it.
In article , John Ambler
Antimony is almost as poisonous as arsenic (MAC 0.5 mg/m^3 versus
arsenic's 0.2 mg/m^3 for continuous workplace exposure over a 40-hour
It is however used in small concentrations in such alloys, and is not
particularly volatile, so provided you wash your hands after using it
there should be no problem. In fact I would not worry about using alloys
containing small amounts of arsenic provided I knew about it so I could
take care. It is very useful in casting metals as it expands on
solidification (like water, but unlike almost all other substances) and
a small percentage makes the castings crisper. It was used in printing
type metal for this reason.
Cheers folks. There's some useful info there. I need to go and have a
Interesting thought about arsenic... I read that the majority of the
worlds production of arsenic is used in wood production. I wonder how
exposed we already are?
In article , David Littlewood
Sorry, a last minute cut and paste in the above post put things in the
wrong context. It is antimony which expands on solidification and is
useful in typemetal.
Just one point to make, the OP was asking about models which, like it or
not, may well end up being played with by kids so all this talk of lead and
even more toxic elements is surely inapropriate. All that is needed is the
most common type of lead free solder which is tin and copper, readily
available from any electronics supplier such as Farnell and RS without flux
cores, it does have a slightly higher melting point but nothing
I take your point on safety but I did specifically ask about lead \
tin in the subject.
My reasoning really is for ease and simplicity. The lead models won't
be played with by children.
I asked about tin \ lead as I want something easy to practice with. If
the bug bites me and I get to grip with the basic problems I can see
myself moving to whatever metals I can work at home and are good at
taking a cast and strong for fine detail.
For the moment though I suspect half a kilo of tin \ lead will give me
all the metal I need to cast and recast various size practice pieces.
The only models I'll be keeping at the moment will be rough half
figures of passengers to be painted and go inside model coaches away
from touching hands.
There is a slight safety gain also for me as a novice as the melting
point is a little lower and less special preparation will be needed.
I also already have a pair of goggles and some heavy gloves :)
My lead \ tin solder is on it's way to me now and i'm going to try a
few open casts first in some baked off plaster of paris. I'm quite
In article , Pete
Pete, you may need to research the painting of lead figures. Oxidation
of the lead has a nasty habit of bleeding through the paint after a year
or two, or even lifting it off in lumps. I used to paint soldiers in a
mis-spent youth, mostly plastic (which gave no problem) but occasionally
in white metal, and I speak from sad experience. ISTR that there are
recommended steps to at least reduce the damage, which may for example
involve using a base coat of polyurethane varnish. I can't be sure I
remembered this correctly though, so I suggest you research in books for
military modelling or wargaming.
Alternatively, do you really need to use metal? There are other casting
materials, such as resin. I think a company called Alex Tiranti used to
sell the equipment and materials for all manner of casting, including
polyurethane mixes to make moulds for whitemetal casting, to
professional users, don't know if they are still trading.
Fair enough, but frankly the difference between the two is minimal in
The worst danger to watch out for is moisture, pour liquid metal into damp
moulds and you can get an explosion which showers you with molten metal, not
nice as I can personally testify 8-(.
As David has pointed out there is also the issue of painting, I'm into
Warhammer myself so have painted a lot of white metal figures with no
problem but of course they've been lead free for a long time because lead
was banned in toys.
I hadn't considered that. I'll need to read up on this I think.
Maybe I'll leave the little guys for a while.
Wargaming resources sound a good place to start.
I've just won a whitemetal model making book on ebay so I can't wait
to read that to.
Yes but what fun it was :)
I have other ideas for resins but like to keep things tidy and easy.
I'm in my get to grips with melting metal phase at the mo :)
Yes they are trading. I took the hint from a post above and looked
them up. They look quite established now and do a white metal
begginers kit. (I'm going the cheap and cheerful direction for the
Actually I am keeping notes on URLs and sources as I thought I'd add a
footnote to this thread once I had all the basics ready with a list of
resources I had come across.
In the light of the lead \ paint problem I may gravitate quickly to
non lead... but I might as well start somewhere...
Yes :( I'll make sure it is well oven baked
I've microwaved plaster before to dry it out for enamel painting and
varnishing. That seemed to work OK if left in on a very low setting
for a while.
I forgot about the Warhammer crew... That's another resource to add to
the growing list of things I need to read... and I just thought it
would be easy :o))