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NZ Printing Museum theft

Started by Dave Hughes, August 04, 2010, 12:48:34 PM

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Printle: A Printing Word Game from Metal Type

Dave Hughes

Many thanks to Graeme Howe, a Metal Type veteran, for sending in this article from his local paper, with a picture of our old friend Bill Nairn.

The article speaks for itself.

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Unfortunately Linotype metal is in demand to make bullet projectiles. I was scrapping a model 48 Linotype at the Caboolture museum and was in the process of bailing out the metal pot when a forklift drive, who was picking up the discard parts for scrap asked if the metal was shot. I told him no we were keeping it. Ken the boss was standing near by informed me that the driver was a member of a gun club and the metal was ideal for making bullets and that gun clubs etc were always after him for Linotype metal.

I did a little research on the internet  and obtained the following information.

On a hardness scale of 1:10, pure lead is one and linotype metal, which is 85 per cent lead, 11 per cent antimony and four per cent tin, is 10. If you hit a piece of linotype metal with a hammer it will most likely shatter rather than flatten.

The presence of antimony provides a couple of other advantages. One is that it lowers the melting point of the lead alloy and improves the fluidity of the lead. This allows it to precisely fill the form of the bullet mould.

The other is that it counteracts the shrinkage that is normally present when molten metals cool and thus the bullet's finished size is very close to that of the mould in which it is cast.

For most target pistol applications, linotype alloy is unnecessarily hard and a waste of valuable ingredients. Also, with the change in printing technology, linotype technology has almost disappeared, so getting supplies of the alloy is now difficult.

So I would recommend that the police should look at gun clubs in the area to see if a large quantity of metal is being offered for sale.
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast

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