By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Forum House Ad Zone

Free sources of materials.?

Add any ideas.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Nick_G08/05/2014 23:30:00
1808 forum posts
744 photos


Today I had to change one of the cartridges in a laser printer. I mused at what salvageable metals may be contained within.

Upon opening and stripping there were 2 off 300 mm x 6 mm rods and 1 off 300 x 5 rod. These had such a high finish on them I initially thought them to be chromed. This proved not to be the case.

I have no idea what grade they are (they are magnetic) but popping them in the lathe they machined easily with a beautiful finish. laugh

These originated from Canon. But I would think each type of cartridge and manufacturer would yield different sizes.

I should add that if you value your marriage and intend to carry on living in the same abode that you should not open one of these in the living room. They may be empty for intended use. But they are not REALLY empty. cheeky It's messy ...................... very.!

So to the point of the thread. What tips do site members have that can be fruitful for good materials that would normally be wasted from unexpected sources.?

Cheers, Nick

julian atkins09/05/2014 00:14:49
1254 forum posts
353 photos

i have some pram axles that turned out to be extremely good accurately ground 1/2" dia BMS.

old fashioned brass curtain rail is extremely useful for miniature loco work where small angle or 'T' section stuff is required. i must have at least 18ft of it left.

an old copper water tank will provide the material for the water tank to be fitted in due course inside a scale 5"g LBSCR wagon for my my current loco. old wooden drawers provided much of the hardwood for the wagon chassis and other parts.

an old door knob provided the top of the outer dome for current loco project 5"g terrier STEPNEY. the cab window rims were made out of an old bell clapper bearing.

a manganese bronze propellor i was given was melted down into sticks to provide much material for bearings and safety valves, and scrap central heating boiler brass fittings were melted down to make frame stretchers for at least 2 miniature locos.

ex- GWR firebox copper stays have been machined and cut up for superheater return bends for at least 4 locos.

a length of stuff found on the beach proved to be extremely good hard phos bronze for bearings.

a length of galvanised water pipe when turned down inside and out made a few chimneys.

butane cigarette lighters provide a source of thin section small 'O' rings.

old schrader valves provide a source of non-magnetic austenitic stainless springs (suitable for whistle valves etc).



Edited By julian atkins on 09/05/2014 00:16:19

"Bill Hancox"09/05/2014 01:15:05
257 forum posts
77 photos

One of my favorite free steel sites is the scrap metal bin beside the service shop where I have all of the maintenance done on my vehicles. The manager told me to help myself because they pay by the ton to have the scrap hauled away. I have found numerous useful pieces. The shop also does small engine repairs so it is not uncommon to find such goodies as snowblower auger shafts amongst the heap.

I pick up the odd very cheap electric motor at yard sales, If they are low end or worn out, I strip them for the copper wire and aluminum caps. I find the shafts very handy for turning mandrels needed for concentric work and they are already center drilled.

Nick_G09/05/2014 02:51:27
1808 forum posts
744 photos
Posted by julian atkins on 09/05/2014 00:14:49:

a length of stuff found on the beach proved to be extremely good hard phos bronze for bearings.


That reminds me of being on a school camping trip to the Isle of sky. I found what was unmistakably a hand grenade on a beach. Ran to go and find a teacher who looked at me very unsure about my tale. (I knew what a hand grenade looked like for gods sake) By the time we got to where it was the tide had come in and he refused to believe me.! The injustice I felt at the time was enough for me to still remember it today.

On the subject of munitions, during the war there was a very large ordnance facility in the town out at Risley. In the late 60's my elder brother (who has always had the common sense of a road killed hedgehog) was with friends on what had been the site. Which although then deserted they were still not supposed to be. - They found a mortar bomb.! They then decided to pick it up and take it to the local police station where they presented it to the desk sergeant. .......................... The reception they got was lets say none too warm. I think they were also surprised that a police office knew such words.! - My father was of course informed, which resulted in brother wishing that the mortar round had detonated. cheeky

Back on topic. What is the quality of sash window cast iron weights like.?


Danny M2Z09/05/2014 03:23:57
963 forum posts
2 photos


Pre-loved floppy drives, hard disks and cd-rom drives contain many useful goodies such as powerful magnets and precision ball-races, stepper motors and tiny metric screws.

Ex-computer power supplies are handy if you are competent to work with electrical devices but be warned, they carry LETHAL Voltages. There are many threads online regarding their safe use.

Regards * Danny M *

FMES09/05/2014 07:57:03
608 forum posts
2 photos
Posted by Nick_G on 08/05/2014 23:30:00:

I should add that if you value your marriage and intend to carry on living in the same abode that you should not open one of these in the living room.

I wouldn't be too keen on opening them anyway seeing on how a specialist disposal route is required normally.

From the HSE website : Toner cartridges, liquid and paste, as well as colour toner – commonly found in printers, fax machines and photocopiers. These should be removed whole and intact so as to prevent the dispersal of toner and then stored in suitable labelled containers.

Not only your carpet but your lungs?

Les Jones 109/05/2014 09:29:36
2257 forum posts
156 photos

I find the strips of stainless steel used to stiffen windscreen wiper blades very useful. Apart from the use for mixing two part adhesives etc. I have made tweezers and tools to pull IC's out of socket also with a chisel shaped end they are good for removing the backs from watches. My latest use for them is to form them into a "U" shape and use them like a hot wire cutter for polystyrene foam. They need about 0.5 to 1 volt at about 20 amps. I just wrap a few turns of thick wire through a toroidal transformer to get the low voltage high current supply. (I had a 24 volt toroidal transformer whose primary winding had failed in my junk box. I removed the original primary winding and and fed the 24 volt winding from another transformer.)


Stuart Bridger09/05/2014 09:51:07
538 forum posts
29 photos

I echo Lofty's point on laser printer toner. Horrible stuff, gets everywhere. It will also wreck standard domestic vacuum cleaners as the particles are too small to be caught the filter. The main constituent is carbon black which is of course conductive... That then gets in the motor and bang. Years ago when i worked in IT service we had specialist vacuums for laser printer maintenance.

WALLACE09/05/2014 10:12:35
304 forum posts
17 photos
Found the odd bit of battered steel bar on the road - but it usually turns like toffee !

Neil Wyatt09/05/2014 10:37:59
19037 forum posts
734 photos
80 articles

Printers aren't what they used to be A lexmark yielded only two precision rods, two small steppers and a nice DC motor.

Back in the day, a Panasonic dot-matrix gave me a good stock of precision rod with close fitting oilite bushes (now in my grinder) and a HP laserjet 4 was a total treasure trove if you add in the optics (just need to find a use for them)

'Rubber' covered rods are best cleaned up with a stanley knife, then turn off the outer layer of metal to tidy up (not a nice process) A second cut will be needed to get a decent finish. This source of material has provided the 5/8" axles for my driving truck.

Finally, take care - that inkjet powder (fine carbon black) is a known carcinogen and shouldn't be inhaled - basically its a box full of 'PM10s' You wouldn't stick you head in the chimney when sweeping it, would you?.


Ian S C09/05/2014 11:12:15
7468 forum posts
230 photos

Window weights, no., 1 test, drop from a good height, a couple of metres on to something hard, if it breaks you can probably forget it, if not, have a go at cutting off the end with the hole in it, hacksaw, bandsaw, if that's ok, stick it in the lathe, it should be OK.

The bars in scanners, and printers seem to be stainless steel.

Good source of steel is old shock absorbers, car and truck. Motor bike front forks. Car brake discs/drums. Car engine flywheels.

For the hot cap on a Stirling Engine, some vacuum cleaners have stainless steel extension tubes about 35 mm diameter, with a .020" wall thickness. In Christchurch there is a shop that sells recycled rubbish, its called the ECO SHOP, a great place to find all sorts of unusual bits and pieces. Ian S C

Bob Brown 109/05/2014 11:23:25
1021 forum posts
127 photos

That reminds me of what we used to call a "float test" drop it over the side of the ship, if it floats it's OK.

Speedy Builder509/05/2014 13:34:52
2613 forum posts
212 photos

Bread makers have nice pancake motors in them with reasonable torque. Go steady when taking microwave ovens apart as the capacitors may still be charged at lethal volts.

I didn't like the Bosch lawnmower battery charger - It leaves a big capacitor charged at 360 volts - strange qind of unit that one !!

Swarf, Mostly!09/05/2014 20:33:52
668 forum posts
73 photos
Posted by Les Jones 1 on 09/05/2014 09:29:36:

I find the strips of stainless steel used to stiffen windscreen wiper blades very useful.



Hi there, Les,

I too have put in store some of those strips. I intend to use some to make a replacement for the lost gib-strip from my 'every-day' Vernier caliper. That will probably require at least 20 mm - I've no idea what I shall do with the rest!

Best regards,

Swarf, Mostly!

Ed Duffner09/05/2014 23:52:52
840 forum posts
94 photos

I took apart my old lawn mower the other day as it was getting old and not too good at doing what it was designed for. The main reason was to salvage the motor and anything else useable. After opening the body plastic, a lump of steel fell out with a very thin black oxide finish, ~ 180mm x 50mm x 20mm. This is now shaping up as a new top slide for my lathe.

"Bill Hancox"10/05/2014 03:06:26
257 forum posts
77 photos

My Dad was stationed in Soest Germany in 1959 when this piece of scrap iron was found in a local pond. The photo was published in "The Beaver", the Canadian Army weekly news. I wonder if the spectators were this close when Flt Lt Waters was extracting the fuse.


Danny M2Z10/05/2014 10:13:48
963 forum posts
2 photos

When the fuse is out, hook up a steam hose and recycle the yellow stuff that comes oozing out.

Cut off a slab, put it in a hole and light it up, perfect to make a cuppa tea on.

(I must admit it was a bit worrying when 'sarge' first showed us this one).

* Danny M *

Richard Marks10/05/2014 10:19:46
211 forum posts
8 photos

Many years ago I worked for a tool hire company and aquired a number of useful things like a hedgetrimmer that just needed a pair of shearpins, a jigsaw that needed brushes and a clean and an atlas lathe that just needed cleaning but one day a diesel steam cleaner was thrown in the skip so I dismantled that and got various bits and pieces from it including the ignition transformer 30KV at 30ma LETHAL but remembering my first home made spark coil made from rusty 6inch nails and copper wire from scrounged transformers and the interupter made from an old bell I thought I could recreate the Jacobs Ladder, using 2 strips of stainless steel from windscreen wipers and a block of wood I recreated the rising sparks as shown in horror films, I wonder if the local hospital will let me have some old body parts, all I then need to do is scrounge some 6 inch bolts and I could possibly create something!

ps sometimes when a road sweeper has gone by it leaves short lengths of tempered steel 2.5mm x .5mm in its wake.

Danny M2Z10/05/2014 10:20:10
963 forum posts
2 photos

* deleted * (rpt)

Edited By Danny M2Z on 10/05/2014 10:22:06

roy entwistle11/05/2014 15:45:04
1525 forum posts

Hi all I have just been given a load of sash weights and I find that, when suspended by the cords and struck with a hammer some will ring others give a dull thud any comments on quality or is it suck it and see


All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Support Our Partners
Eccentric Engineering
Eccentric July 5 2018
Rapid RC
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest