Tobho's Water Bath Bulk Scrapper for Aluminum

Discussion in 'Furnaces and their construction' started by Tobho Mott, Aug 23, 2017.

  1. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Gold Banner Member

    Another highlight reel from some of my posts at AlloyAvenue...

    This is my version of Bob Ward's Water Bath Bulk Scrapper for Aluminum, as seen here:

    It is very simple, it's made out of one and a third 55 gallon oil drums, some pieces of bedframe angle iron, and a grate made out of 1/2" steel bar. I love using this thing, it is fun to use and sounds really cool when the aluminum starts dripping into the bath buket. It provides its own draft naturally, no blower needed, and it'll turn 3 aluminum car wheels into little blobs suitable for the crucible in just a little over an hour. I do not recommend trying to melt more than 3 wheels at once in it, but I do recommend giving it some feet, so it won't try to sink into your lawn to the point where it could tip over while it's running, which is what will probably happen if you ignore either of those recommendations.

    Pictures... These are from the first time I lit this thing up. It smokes like crazy for a minute, but within just a few minutes there is no more smoke, just flames and crazy molten metal hitting the water sounds.



    Here's some of the yield I got that first run:

    scrappinator 4.jpg

    And here is the rest still needing to be picked out of the soggy charcoal mess:

    scrappinator 1.jpg

    I have adapted the process since then; I use a garden rake to skim off the charcoal that falls into the bath bucket before it gets waterlogged and sinks. This results in a lot less mess to deal with afterwards. The charcoal can be saved and dried out for various uses in the foundry afterwards. Especially if you run a charcoal furnace...

    Here's the grate after a run, some aluminum does end up freezing to the grate, but it can be removed with a little elbow grease and a hammer and angle grinder. Watch out for the underside - those stalactites are razor sharp!

    scrappinator 2.jpg

    scrappinator 3.jpg

    Here's a full video of it in action, from assembly to firing to the final yield. Also featuring some red hot steamy firefly love action!:

    I have tried just using a bonfire to break down wheels. That works too, but I find that if you don't want to end up with a lot more dross, you have to be quick about breakign up the wheels into pieces when they get crumbly, and drag the pieces out of the fire before they actually melt. Easier said than done IMO. I've also used a reciprocating saw with a metal demolition blade - do your wrists a favor and skip that method, though it does work. I've seen other guys using different kinds of power saws that I don't own or know what blade to use for doing this with. I bet a big band saw would be great for this, but I only have a little 8" benchtop one made for cutting wood, I just use it for making patterns.

    So those are the reasons why this thing is my favourite way to turn wheels into melting stock.

    One other thing about using this furnace: Keeping the hose running keeps the bath bucket cool so that the blobs of aluminum don't stick back together. Without the hose staying on, it gets hot enough to actually boil by the time it's done, and you'll have to spend some time bashing the alumiunum stalagmites back apart. The blobs don't literally fuse together, but they will mechanically lock onto each other if you don't keep the bucket cold.

    As always, this is just one of many ways to get the desired result. Hope you guys enjoyed reading about this particular method!

    Last edited: Nov 14, 2018
    Billy Elmore, Jimmy Cogg and Scott K. like this.
  2. OCD

    OCD Silver

    LMFAO [​IMG]

    That tire KICKED your ars.

    Sorry brother but you have to admit it's hilarious watching you and that tire fighting each other.

    Use your skill saw and a 40 tooth carbide blade.
    I use all my old carbide blades for that chore.
    Cut the tire all the way into the rim with the saw until your completely through it.
    Shouldn't take more than 2 minutes.

    And wear some gloves and thick sleeves or welder's leather sleeves.

    Loved the video.

    Thanks for the good laugh, I needed that.

  3. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Gold Banner Member

    I did that part ridiculously wrong on purpose, just to entertain you guys. Yeah, that's the ticket... :)

    Glad you got a laugh out of it.

    (the other 2 tires went down easy)

  4. OCD

    OCD Silver

    Suuurrrrre they did buddy, whatever you say.

    We still love ya none the less.
  5. Jim Edgeworth

    Jim Edgeworth Silver

    Well Jeff, you’ve definitely lost my business. There’s no way that I’m bringing my car to you when it’s time to change the tyres:D
    Tobho Mott likes this.
  6. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Gold Banner Member

    I don't blame you, Jim. It would have been an awfully long drive anyhow. :D

    Plus your wheels would end up getting melted...

    Last edited: Jan 1, 2021
  7. KC M@

    KC M@ Copper

    I like this a lot. I’ve got a hill sized pile behind our shop of scrap aluminum off of campers as well as a massive pile of old pallets to burn. It’s really gotten out of control, I would need a long day and 3 barrels going. Most everything has paint or staples and screws in it but I think the fire would solve that. Run a magnet through it when done and voila. Very great idea indeed.

    question: is the bottom of the top barrel cut out completely?
  8. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Gold Banner Member

    Yes, it's just a cylinder at this point. Works great, but don't put more than 3 wheels in at once or the whole rig may tip over when they begin to break apart and the stack shifts... :eek: If I had to redo it I'd add some little feet to the legs of the stand so it doesn't sink into the lawn when the ground starts getting a bit muddy. I still may do that, as I'm running a bit low on wheelium that isn't still wheel shaped.

  9. FishbonzWV

    FishbonzWV Silver Banner Member

    If those are just extrusions :eek:, it's a lot less messy to dice them by running them across a table saw or circular saw with a carbide blade. Picking the nuggets out of the water bath is a real pain, literally. There will be needle sharp tear drops everywhere and lots of BB size nuggets intermingled with charcoal. All that surface area is oxide and creates lots of dross. Save the bulk scrapper for large items like rims and I bet you only try it once. :D
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2021
    Petee716 likes this.
  10. Petee716

    Petee716 Gold Banner Member

    Is the aluminum from the campers sheet aluminum? If so the bulk scrapper might not be such a good idea. You will lose a lot to oxidation (read burns up). The thinner the metal (more surface area) the more oxidation you'll get. Also nails from the pallets will create real removal issues. Sorry to be a pain about it.

    Tobho Mott likes this.
  11. KC M@

    KC M@ Copper

    Thx fellas. I forgot I asked this and asked again in the general chat. Anyways thank you. I’ll just keep taking it to the scrap yard and just pick out select pieces for melting and use some of the money I make to buy some ingots.

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