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Scrap metal

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wgreeley

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Hello,
As a beginning live steamer, I've been looking for metal sources. Online suppliers are great, but the shipping is almost as much as the stock. Does anyone know of a scrap/cut off/shorts supplier in the Boston, MA area? There don't appear to be many suppliers located in the Northeast supporting home machinists.

Thanks
Bill Greeley
Marblehead, MA
 

Tin Falcon

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I suggest you hook up with the New England Model engineering Society that meets in Waltham http://www.neme-s.org/index.htm
good group of guys.
I would lean towards shorts/ drops cutoff of known material.
mystery metal can be a bear to machine. steel can be anything from 12L14 to 4140. copper alloys can contain berilum nasty stuff to be avoided.
Have you tried to locate a screw machine shop in the area or commercial supplier that does pre cuts. ?
New England brass and tool in Winchester very much supports the hobby and stocks a fair selection of metals in 1 foot lengths they also have 10 pound assortment packs of metals.
http://brassandtool.com/Metals.html
Tin
 

Ken I

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Like Tin suggested - scout around industrial areas for production machine shops - the stuff they scrap off - wow - normally will let you have a bit for nothing - or at scrap value - which is all they were going to get for it anyway.

Alternatively visit the scarp yards that move those large skips about.

Ken
 

Noggin

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Word of caution on using scrap metals, "You can not be sure of the grade of the material" which in most cases is fine, but it could cost a lot more in failed components and replace meant tips/cutters.
 

picclock

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I think the problem of not knowing the metal type is not limited to scrap suppliers. I have bought metals at shows and from suppliers that claim to be one thing and are plainly another - even with the metal type written on the end in felt tip. The problem is that there is no easy fast way to test the type of steel or aluminium you are purchasing. You just have to take the suppliers word for it. Some suppliers in the UK are very good and I have yet to have yet to have a problem with them - I suspect if I did they would look into it and change it. Other metal merchants are just hopeless and you can't believe a thing they tell you. I purchased a sheet of 1mm Aluminium from a not so local merchant which later turned out to be 1/16th inch. Likewise imperial tubing sizes substituted for the closest metric size. And free machining steel seems in some cases to be any old piece of metal with the appropriate number written on the end - and its only until you try to turn this stringy C**P that you realise you've been had again.

FWIW I recommend finding a reputable supplier and paying the extra. If you doing stuff that's not critical or where the metal type doesn't matter then cheap may do, but otherwise I think cheapo stuff just wastes a load of time - and you end up having to buy the correct grade anyway.

WOW - that was quite a rant for me :eek: - I didn't realise how cross that stuff makes me.

Best Regards

from across the pond

picclock
 

Kaleb

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I beg to differ on using scrap materials. I've usually found that the specific number designation does not usually matter, as long as the stuff machines well. You can get some idea on the spot with a pocket knife. If the knife scratches the surface, especially if you see a little thin curl peeling off, it's good to use. If it doesn't scratch, it's too tough to machine. With non-ferrous metals like brass, copper, bronze and aluminium, you can be pretty sure that most of what you find will be good to use except for stuff like aluminium bronze or titanium.
 

Mainer

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Admiral Metals in Woburn has (or at least had -- I've not been there for quite a while) an odd lots store at their warehouse where they sell all manner of aluminum cutoffs and remainders.

I tend to agree with others about avoiding "mystery metal" for any important project. Even with shipping, the amount of material used in model building is small, and one can spend a couple of days machining a part before screwing it up and having to throw it away :big: so the cost per hour of shop time is pretty low.
 

Ken I

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Somewhere else on the forum I posted that mystery metal are no problem where the application is not critical and it machines O.K.

But...

If you are going to invest a lot of hours in a part like a crank or a block then you are far better off starting with exactly the right material for the job.

Ken
 

Antman

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Personally, I don’t even mind paying for scrap, but scrounging is good and it’s environmentally sound too, the swarf you return to the scrapyard takes less energy to melt than if your find had gone straight into the melt. Some stuff is good. Steering rods are tough but you might find one thats leaded (easier to spline). My favourite big diameter length of stock comes from a free old Nissan truck axle hard as anything, my toolpost isn’t even scratched yet, but cuts so cleanly with a light cut. Some scrapyards have a “Reusables” section where you might find stuff like the engineering shops have had enough of like roundstock ends and flame cut thick flatstock shapes that you can have fun sawing up economically. You can sometimes find lengths of keyway stock which cuts nicely. I’d be very wary of trying to mill hard stuff but if you start with the lightest cuts on a lathe or a shaper you should be able to see what you have. Just be careful and chuck it or clamp it tight. Actually once you start making smaller things it’s surprising how your swarf bucket takes longer to fill and you start staying away from scrapyards.

Have fun, be safe,
Ant
 

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