Do not collect tyre weights for your lead ballast.

(please note, this is a catch up post, I’ve not been on blogging this past year)

One day mid 2017, I deemed the hull of the sharpie fair. Which it isn’t (in my mind). But it’s fair enough which is fair-enough. Frankly I was sick of the machine I had created that turned epoxy and lightweight filler into dust for my vacuum. It was time to move on.

I had been visiting my local tyre purveyors, namely the lovely folks at Bridgestone Select Norwood, to collect tyre balancing weights, I had hundreds of kilograms, which when added to what Robert Ayliffe (my lead faerie) has gifted, got me to the magic 480-ish kgs. So I went foundry hunting.

This exercise lead down a pricey path. I got the first quote for casting the tiles at over $150 per tile from a leading local crew. And this took six months to get the quote! So I chased down a little gem in Bowden, such a striking throwback to when a factory playing with seriously heavy metal sits amidst dense housing. The Bowden crew wanted over $3000 to do the casting. They cited the cost of electricity, but after touring the premises, I reckoned the cost of site clean up will make the running cost insignificant. They are virtually gutter to gutter with residential, and the feeling that their days are numbered was overwhelming.


It’s one of those sad realities of a city growing up. I spent much of my youth in Brompton at my Grandparents’ place around the corner from this factory, and I loved the blend of industrial and residential. But like Trump and kindness, it just incompatible.

For a moment I considered doing my own casting, thinking about blending my own residential with industrial. And I would have got away with it if I hadn’t been thinking…


When looking further afield for an alternative, I called on Callington Cast Iron, and met with Jim who quoted me $35 per tile to cast, that would total $455…Quite a difference from over $3k. Just in-case he had second thoughts, I delivered all of my lead as quickly as possible.

More lead at the foundry

After a week went by, Jim delivered me some news. The tyre weights are useless. Hardly any lead in them, and what can be extracted is not worth the effort…

Bullet biting time. I had to buy lead from a scrap dealer, I hit the phone and found the best price is $4 per kilogram at KCM Metal.

KCM Metals - king of lead at the right price

Knowing you have to spend the money, you should get on with it and smile. This is meant to be fun. Thankfully KCM was a joy to deal with, the owner has a good sense of humour and runs a great little business, I hope he is getting rich, it’s a dirty business in every way. I especially love the T-Rex he owns. We should all have a large pre-historic killer nearby on a leash.


Two trips with the van, and much cash parted with then back to Callington Cast Iron: Initially I gave Jim thirteen styrofoam ‘plugs’ that were to be used in a lost casting method, where the molten lead would vaporise the foam that was packed in casting sand. This produces the best shaped tiles, with square sides. But because of the trouble with the tyre weights, he chewed through a few of these. Jim talked me into making a wooden plug, which would need tapered edges to remove from the sand. Not ideal, but workable.

So by Autumn ’18, I had lead tiles in hand.


About paulatkins

I own a 3rd generation family businss printing for lovers of photography. My favourite hobby is building and sailing wooden boats.
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4 Responses to Do not collect tyre weights for your lead ballast.

  1. Ed says:

    I’m not sure how many years I’ve been following your blog but it has been a few or more. Every time I’ve about given up hope of seeing another post, you surprise me again. I can’t wait to see the boat when it is finished.

    • paulatkins says:

      I do carry some guilt for not keeping up with the blog, and I all truth, for not having finished the boat by now! For me it’s progress before post, I want to feel some forward motion before I tell the world (again).

      Thankyou for being patient and your supportive comments. I think about boat building daily, and love the feeling of progress, I’m far from giving up. I am frustrated, but engaged.

      Best wishes for your journey!

  2. Ed says:

    I do understand that “Paul’s Boat Blog” is about his boat and if there is no progress there is no posts. I know this because I have built a couple boats (wood canoe and kayak) myself over the years and want to do more (much larger boats) in my future but my family and lack of a proper space haven’t been conducive to that. So I am living vicariously through you and others until my time arrives. Keep up the good work and I hope she sails fair when the time comes.

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