Type Metal

358156 hp

Well-Known Member
As a lead scavenger, I end up with all sorts of different alloys. My primary base metal is range scrap, which primarily runs about 10-12 bhn from my sources, cleaned, and ready to cast. To enhance performance I blend alloys, as do most of us, I don't believe I've ever bought pre-blended, ready to use alloy, ready to cast. I've been barnstorming bullet metal from the beginning. Some time back I bought a small amount of type metal spacers, perhaps five lbs at a throw away price.

These spaced are (were) smaller than the normal lino spacers we normally see, they were perhaps 1/8 in. square, perhaps 1-1.5 inches long, and had a bunch of equally tiny brass spacers which were the dickens to sort out. On one of the long sides they were serrated in a sawtooth sort of pattern. Outside of that, they were unremarkable in appearance. Last night I was ready to whip me up a pot of hard alloy. I started out with approximately 12 lbs of scrap, and once it was melted I added approx. 3.5 lbs of type metal, let it melt into the base metal and fluxed twice with sawdust. Then I added more scrap to fill the pot, and fluxed again and cast samples for hardness testing, unplugged the pot, and called it a night.

This morning I tested the hardness of one of the samples, and the bhn was 22, by my LBT tester! Holy smoke, bhn22 after less than 12 hours. The samples cast very well, great fill out, and harder than hell. The alloy in the pot did not shrink or crater, and looks really good. Now I need to let everything sit for today so I can test another sample at the 24 hour mark. Does my description of the spacers ring any bells for anyone? I'm thinking I must have gotten into some high antimony Foundry Type. Depending on where hardness ends up tonight I may cut the alloy in the pot 50/50 with more range scrap to get down to the 16-18 bhn area. I'm also guessing that the resulting alloy should heat-treat very nicely. I don't have much for pure lead to cut alloys with, it's pretty scarce around here so that wouldn't be an option. What do you think?


Staff member
The alloy is certainly telling you it isn’t Linotype.
I have a bunch of individual letters and they behave more like foundry than mono


Official forum enigma
Foundry type is incredibly hard. I have blended it 4 parts unalloyed lead with 1 part foundry type and resulted in roughly 92/6/2, BHn 15-16.

I used the last of my foundry type about the time we left Ridgecrest in mid-2014. I have two FRBs of monotype (65# each), about 180# of Linotype, 400#+ of blended 92/6/2, and about 275# of unalloyed lead. Given that lead cannot be used to hunt with here any more, I likely have a lifetime's supply of casting metal on hand.


High Steppes of Eastern Washington
To the best of my knowledge, all individual letters are monotype or foundry type. Linotype really means "line of type" used for one printing and then re-melted.

358156 hp

Well-Known Member
It seems like beautiful stuff. I was blown away seeing that kind of hardness after less than 12 hours for an air cooled sample, made with such a relatively small amount of type metal. I was originally planning on casting some heat-treatable 44s from this batch, but I'm almost certain that I'll be cutting it 50/50 with either range scrap or WWs and saving the other half for other projects.


Notorious member
Not too many people still around have seen actual linotype, type (or "slugs) as they were called, as opposed to "glyphs" which were the individual characters of moveable type such as monotype). The linotype machine set the entire line of characters as an operator pecked at the keyboard, casting finished lines into slugs which were remelted daily. Having a eutectic alloy was important to the function of this process. I think the linotype ingots had loops on the end to facilitate feeding the machine's furnace via an automatic mechanism but am not sure about that.

If you have spacers and glyphs it is likely monotyoe alloy or something else which needed to be very hard so as to last through repeated settings and printings.


High Steppes of Eastern Washington
Saw any actual early Linotype set up at museum in Miles City Montana. Smaller than you would think, 6 by 12 and 4 deep. You had to take some heat to make it work.


Active Member
That large single letter being harder then Linotype goes along with My experience.

I've still got some FoundryType that I bought about 30yrs ago. Bought 2 Lee ingot molds just to use the 1/2 lb ingot "slots".

Worked pretty well after I started using a kitchen scale to weigh out ingots of all alloys to blend just right alloys.

That HARD FoundryType goes a Loong way with a COWW to make good bullets.


Active Member
I not only saw it I ran the letter press printing press and associated type Machine that MADE the lines of type. Then set it and made plates then printed it!! ::)

I long ago used up what I had scrounged of that “lead”.

CW, back when I got into the printing industry letter presses and Linotype machines had gone by the wayside for several years as a form or printing but there are still some of both in operations in smaller shops that do specialty printing. Where I work we still have five Heidelberg letter presses on the floor, three small a medium and large windmill that we use for various operations such as scoring, perfing, die cutting and hot foil stamping. I still have a few of the Lino pigs lying around for a rainy day.

I don't get to run any of those letter presses as my job these days is mostly paper cutting and latexing envelopes on an old machine made back in the 1970s. Before that I ran various size offset presses and was a four color stripper for 25 years.


Well-Known Member
Thats what I did. 4color stripper. I didnt run the presses (much) mostly press layout at the end when Computers started on the sceen. I tell ya I dont miss all those overnights and re runs and last minutes changes that effected EVERY SETUP!!