View Full Version : Cheap and easy cast iron stock

03-22-2004, 08:46 PM
I'm sure I'm not the first to stumble into this.

I had a request to turn a part from cast iron for a repair job a friend of mine was doing. I thought for a second about where I would go locally to find cast iron bar stock - no thoughts.
The next step (usually the first step) was to dig around in the scrap pile for something I could use.

On the way out the door, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a window I recently replaced that hadn't made it to the trash can yet. BINGO! The window weights were about 1-3/8" dia. and worked perfect for the 1-1/4" bushing I needed to make. I have a pile of them I was saving for some reason - I just never thought of them as bar stock before. Shame on me, I guess.

Just thought I'd pass this idea along.

03-22-2004, 09:03 PM
You were lucky the sashweight was usable, at all. My experience -- and the experience of most people who try to use sashweights -- is that they are total garbage as raw material.

But you never know. Sashweights were typically made from the dregs of a pour. Depending on what remained in a given crucible of molten iron -- or was skimmed off -- some sashweights might turn out to be of halfway decent iron. But I think you'll find that most aren't.

Alistair Hosie
03-22-2004, 09:13 PM
The old sash weight from my house are full of small to medium pits,gunge, and blow holes so I think here they may be useless too.Alistair

03-22-2004, 09:20 PM
Sounds like I just got lucky. I had my doubts, but it sure worked like a charm this time. Maybe "charmed" was the word of the day today.

03-23-2004, 07:04 AM
What are sash weights?

Rob http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

03-23-2004, 08:18 AM
Not being a carpenter, here goes the best way I can explain. Sashweights are castings, of who knows what, used as window weights. They are found in older houses. They were secured along the side of the window (glass) frame, usually with a piece of rope, run over a pulley in the casement, into the wallspace. They were used in casement windows to help in raising windows and, along with the fitting of the window in the casment, keeping them in the position you wanted. I still have two very large windows in my house that use sashweights. I have checked into replacement windows for such, due to the cost, and because of their size, the original ones will stay! As others have said, what the are cast from is most likely slag or anything that could not be used for anything else.

[This message has been edited by ERBenoit (edited 03-23-2004).]

[This message has been edited by ERBenoit (edited 03-23-2004).]

John Stevenson
03-23-2004, 09:02 AM
Easyist way to check sash weights is to wrap the weight in a sack bag and using a glove strike the weight on the floor hard.
They will snap in the centre.
Examine the metal, if dull grey all over chances are you have a decent one and as they are cast horizontally both sides should be good.
If there are bubbles, flaws, shiny spots, shiny surface or any visible impurities you have a bad one.
It's just the luck of the draw. I have come across say 10 where all have been good and another 10 where they have all been bad, depends on the pour of the day.

John S.

03-23-2004, 02:16 PM
I guess I've had metalworking in my blood since I was a little kid. I used to put the weights in a sock and smack them against my brother's thick head, but none of them snapped (though my brother did a couple times). http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Al Flipo
03-23-2004, 05:52 PM
Bearing and power transmission supply dealers sell small lengths of bearing bronze, they also carry short lengths of cast iron, very nice and uniform in grain structure. Window weights are pure sh*t.

Peter S
03-23-2004, 06:14 PM
Childhood memory - sash weights rattling inside the walls during a minor earthquake.

Weston Bye
03-23-2004, 07:47 PM
Childhood memory- Dad had a contract to tear down several houses to make way for an expressway. Back then you could knock them down and burn them on site. I got the job of salvaging the metal -cast iron pipes, furnaces and bathtubs, etc. I would sift the ashes of the fire for the still hot sash weights. It was winter and I picked up one with nice dry gloves, warm, but I could hold it for a while, and threw it into the snow. Didn't wait long enough and dug through the snow and picked it up. Snow on my gloves flashed to steam and burned me. No permanent damage, but a tender hand for a few days.


03-25-2004, 01:12 PM
Ive used old camshafts as a cheap (FREE) source for cast Iron. Audrey

03-25-2004, 01:47 PM
A friend just gave me a 12.5hp Briggs & Stratton lawn mower engine that had slung a rod thru the crankcase, as a source of aluminum for casting. It had two big chunks sandwiched around the throw of the crankshaft, which appear to be CI. (Harmonic balancer I think.) Kinda irregular shaped but useable for small parts. Also the flywheel and starter ring gear appear to offer a useful piece of CI, about 10-12" in dia. Haven't tried cutting into them yet.

Jerry B
03-25-2004, 02:34 PM
Peter S,
Recent memory: Raising the windows the other day and hearing the weights rattle. The cats looked at the wall and in their eyes you could see them thinking: "There is SOMETHING in there and it is edible and I know it!" http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

03-25-2004, 07:43 PM
Usually ones introduction to sash weights is by having to lift a window where both sash ropes have broken and the window is incredibly heavy and must be propped up with a stick. Don't ask me how I know. Uncrichie...