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Thread: learning the ropes: good sources of scrap?

  
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    ilyaz started this thread.
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    learning the ropes: good sources of scrap?

    I've been experimenting with metal scrapping lately. I have a day job so I am considering this to be more of a "hobby". It started when I went for a walk near my office during lunch time and found dozens and dozens of old and new soda cans in a nearby wooded area where people seem to have been dumping trash for millenia. Over a relatively short period of time I was able to collect there in other similar areas about $40 worth of cans. Not much, but not bad either, considering that I am not planning to make it my day job. Also, I thought of this as a "community cleanup effort with benefits"



    Anyway, now I want to see if I can expand this to other types of metals, but to make it as profitable as possible without (i) spending huge amounts of time and gas or (ii) turning my backyard into a scrapyard. I don't have a truck, just a station wagon, and I don't have hours to spend driving around looking for scrap. I do, however, occasionally see some stuff sitting at the curb in our neighborhood on a trash pickup day. I also take apart computers and computer components.

    I guess this rules out steel and anything bulky regardless of what it's made of. Instead, I should be looking for copper, brass, and aluminum.

    What I am looking for are resources, hopefully in one place, that would describe what type of "expensive" metals can be found in what common types of things people throw away. For instance, does a simple lawnmower contain anything other than steel parts? If I take apart a desktop computer, are there any types of cables that are worth salvaging? How much work is involved before I can take something to a scrapyard?

    I don't know if it's realistic to expect a single resource covering all these questions, but in any case, I'll appreciate any help!


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    Without knowing your situation - where you live and how populated, etc; for what you laid out, I'd suggest looking for copper. Second would be brass. For copper - look for stuff like house wiring. Look up my thread about stripping the insulation off it under "TIPS". For the weight and work involved, that'll be your best bet. Learn to quickly differentiate copper and brass (copper is reddish; brass is yellowish). Quick source for brass is valves - like you see on water pipes. If you live in a metro area with small auto repair shops, think about going to them asking if you can have their junk like brake rotors and drums. This can be done on the weekends. They're usually glad to get rid of the stuff. Rotors are relatively small and heavy #1 iron. For a small number of items, you'll get some "major money". If your station wagon can handle hauling 1,000 pounds (yes it can), get a little used 4'x8' trailer and throw 70-75 rotors in it. You just made a little over $100 and likely paid for the trailer. Aluminum really isn't worth the effort, I don't think. It takes a lot to make a pound and it blows around too easily. But if you do scrap aluminum; learn the difference between the types - Irony, Sheet, Cast and Extrusion. There are wide differences in the value of each. For copper - there are also different grades: ie #1, #2 and Sheet.
    People may laugh at me, but that's ok. I laugh all the way to the bank.

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    A good source is old tv's if you find them. You can usually get 1-2 lbs of clean copper out of them with minimal effort. open the back, there is a cone on the back of the picture tube that is wound in copper wire and there is a degausing cable wrapped in electrical tape around the picture tube. If you feel like going a little farther you can snip all the wire and cords and throw them in a barrel they add up pretty quickley and in my area they pay .50 a lb for them. You can pull the transformers out and the scrap yards will pay for them as electric motors (about 15-20 cents a lb in my area.

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    ilyaz started this thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick View Post
    Without knowing your situation - where you live and how populated, etc; for what you laid out, I'd suggest looking for copper.
    Mick, thanks for all the suggestions. I live in a Maryland suburb near Washington DC, so it's a fairly densely populated area as you might imagine. I work in another suburb with lots of warehouse-type office buildings and wooded areas that all seem to be used for illegal dumping.

    Do you know if it's worth dealing with old lawnmowers. Just the other day I saw two of them dumped near my office. I was told that sometimes they have some cast aluminum parts but are they worth being taken apart?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilyaz View Post
    Mick, thanks for all the suggestions. I live in a Maryland suburb near Washington DC, so it's a fairly densely populated area as you might imagine. I work in another suburb with lots of warehouse-type office buildings and wooded areas that all seem to be used for illegal dumping.

    Do you know if it's worth dealing with old lawnmowers. Just the other day I saw two of them dumped near my office. I was told that sometimes they have some cast aluminum parts but are they worth being taken apart?
    If it has an aluminum deck, I do. The other thing is the motor. You decide if it's worth taking the motor off and sell separately by calling and asking prices for "Light Iron" vs "Motor Blocks"
    then decide if it's worth the time involved - I don't. I do, however, take old lawn mowers and throw them with Light Iron ($120 a ton) but I use an 18' trailer, so I'm hauling 1 to 2 tons at a time. The down side is they take up a lot of room. I "store" stuff on my lot till I've got a good load so there's at least two factors you don't want/have (ability to transport a lot at one time and a place to store stuff). Just hauling one or two lawn mowers by themselves wouldn't be profitable.

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    I find computers worthwhile. Lots of cords containing #2 copper. Then you can break down the rest of the casing and it doesn't take alot of room if you wanted to hold them until you had 100 pounds of it. Be able to stick that in a wagon fairly easy. If you wanted to get the next step, you have some brass connectors as well.. would take a while to build up weight, but store them in a coffee can until it is full. Check ebay for the circuit boards, there are people that are willing to buy them, if the price is right. I have a stack I am gonna post this week and see what happens.

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    ilyaz started this thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjlock View Post
    Check ebay for the circuit boards, there are people that are willing to buy them, if the price is right. I have a stack I am gonna post this week and see what happens.
    I did not think of this, thanks. I did a search on eBay and saw a lot of people selling and some people bidding.

    I would be curious to know whether it works out for you.

    By the way, where do you get old computers or anything else you pull boards from? I found a couple of towers at the curb before trash pickup, and was lucky to grab a couple of old machines off of craigslist before other people got to them, but all in all this was not much. I am curious whether there are better places to search for this stuff. Thanks.
    Last edited by ilyaz; 09-30-2010 at 10:55 PM.

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    Different friends that have computers give me the old ones when they upgrade. If you know someone at the school or and office building, maybe ask them what they do with their computers and see if you could take them if no one else does.

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    ilyaz started this thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 708bigbuck View Post
    A good source is old tv's if you find them. You can usually get 1-2 lbs of clean copper out of them with minimal effort. open the back, there is a cone on the back of the picture tube that is wound in copper wire and there is a degausing cable wrapped in electrical tape around the picture tube. If you feel like going a little farther you can snip all the wire and cords and throw them in a barrel they add up pretty quickley and in my area they pay .50 a lb for them. You can pull the transformers out and the scrap yards will pay for them as electric motors (about 15-20 cents a lb in my area.
    I took apart a few old TVs and monitors and took out the cones and the degausing cables. I can do this and also get all the copper from one cone in about 5 mins, but stripping insulation off of degausing cables is pain in the neck. The question is: is it even worth doing? Am I going to get much more for just the copper from the cables than for the same copper wrapped in insulation? Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilyaz View Post
    I took apart a few old TVs and monitors and took out the cones and the degausing cables. I can do this and also get all the copper from one cone in about 5 mins, but stripping insulation off of degausing cables is pain in the neck. The question is: is it even worth doing? Am I going to get much more for just the copper from the cables than for the same copper wrapped in insulation? Thanks.
    You'll need to decide if the price difference is worth it. "Insulated Copper Wire" will usually bring about half of stripped copper wire ( #1 or #2 Copper, depending on wire type. I took a quick look at the prices here for each and on Aug 12th they were:

    Insulated Copper Wire - $1.18
    #2 Copper 2.30
    #1 Copper 2.40

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    CAS
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilyaz View Post
    I took apart a few old TVs and monitors and took out the cones and the degausing cables. I can do this and also get all the copper from one cone in about 5 mins, but stripping insulation off of degausing cables is pain in the neck. The question is: is it even worth doing? Am I going to get much more for just the copper from the cables than for the same copper wrapped in insulation? Thanks.
    I'll do it when I don't have much else to strip. If I have a lot of other wire, then I just leave it cased. The tape around those wires usually cakes onto the blade and makes the blade sticky and dull. They really are a pain in the butt to stirp.

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    ilyaz started this thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick View Post
    Insulated Copper Wire - $1.18
    #2 Copper 2.30
    #1 Copper 2.40
    Mick, I've been taking my scarp to the same nearby yard, so, of course, I can call them and ask about their current prices. But do you know whether there are any online sources of current prices. I realize that these prices might be different form those offered by a particular scrap yard, but any info is good. I live in Maryland. Thanks.

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    "Current prices" cannot really be compared. For instance, my current prices are much lower than the scrap yard to allow for my profit. The scrap yard where I take it is lower than where they take it in southern Maine and so on. What you might try is start by going to KITCO which shows the LME (London Metal Exchange) from which most other markets are based. Then look online for scrap yards in your area. Basically, the further you're willing to travel, the more you'll get.

    Do an online search for "scrap yard locator", like http://scrapmetalforum.com/

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    ilyaz started this thread.
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    I have a whole bunch of old power supplies from various electronics that's long gone. I cut off all the cables that I guess would go as "insulated cable", and then I tried getting copper wire out of the AC-DC converter transformers. Just taking apart the plastin casing took forever, then I realized I had no idea how to get the copper wire out of the transformers themselves. Has anyone tried this and succeeded?

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    Sorry, can't help you there.

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    CAS
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilyaz View Post
    Mick, I've been taking my scarp to the same nearby yard, so, of course, I can call them and ask about their current prices. But do you know whether there are any online sources of current prices. I realize that these prices might be different form those offered by a particular scrap yard, but any info is good. I live in Maryland. Thanks.
    This might help you since you're in Maryland. They update their prices daily.

    This place is in NJ, which is where we live, but it's a little far from us so we don't go there. They are paying a bit more than our scrap yard so you might find they're higher than your yard too.

    http://www.rockawayrecycling.com/newaspx/default.aspx

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    Hey, just wanted to say thanks for the link. Even though I am all the way
    on the other side of the country, after making some phone calls it seems that
    the prices are within pennies of what is being paid here.

    There is only one yard that posts their prices online, and they only update it about once a quarter
    so it is basicaly worthless. Truth be known, I really don't call anymore. If I am ready to sell I usually just do it.

    This will however at least give me something to look at and watch trends since it is updated daily !

    Thanks again !

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy-Scrappy View Post
    Hey, just wanted to say thanks for the link. Even though I am all the way
    on the other side of the country, after making some phone calls it seems that
    the prices are within pennies of what is being paid here.

    There is only one yard that posts their prices online, and they only update it about once a quarter
    so it is basicaly worthless. Truth be known, I really don't call anymore. If I am ready to sell I usually just do it.

    This will however at least give me something to look at and watch trends since it is updated daily !

    Thanks again !
    You're very welcome!
    Here's a thread I started with some other places/prices too - http://www.scrapmetalforum.com/showt...al-price-links

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    It seams like you already get scrap off of the craigslist free section. That's a great place to find metal containing items. You may also try your luck at estate sales, trying to buy metal items for cheaper than their metal value, although that could possibly prove fruitless. As well as getting rotors and drums at auto shops, try getting their car batteries. Near me, each battery will get me $5. Even if I have to pay a dollars or two for each battery; if I buy 20 batteries for $25 and sell them for $100, I'm pretty happy!


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