Lyle's Tin


Staff member
Let me tell you a little story…..

For our first anniversary, my wife wanted to get me something special, something that I would use, something that would contribute to my shooting, but she didn’t want to buy me a gun or a bullet mould because she “would get the wrong one”. Well, I heard through the grapevine that the local scrap metal yard had some pelletized 90% tin solder that they were selling for $5 a pound, so I told her about that, and we went down to the scrapyard, and she bought me 20 pounds as an anniversary present. This tin contributed to my bullet casting for many years.

A couple of nights later, I told my buddy Lyle about this, as he was wanting to get back into casting, and the commute to his job took him right past the scrap metal yard. A week later, I ran into him at the range, and he said, “I went down to the scrap metal yard to buy some of that tin solder you told me about, but I was too late. It was all gone.” This was entirely believable because they only had about 50-60 lbs left when we bought mine, and the guy told me that it was going pretty fast. I cursed his bad luck, and told him that I would keep my eyes open for “next time”. There was no “next time”, this was a one time contract over-run, and I’ve never seen this 90% tin pelletized solder since.

That was back in 1994. As time went on, every couple of years or so, Lyle would bring it up, and say something like, “Gee, that sure was a great opportunity. I sure wish I could have bought some of that tin you told me about.” We would lament his bad luck, and discuss his casting options, and move on. A couple of years later, he would bring it up again. He bought a couple of bullet moulds, he bought a lead pot, but he never did get around to casting anything.

Lyle died in October of 2010 after a long, tough-willed fight with cancer. He didn’t have any family in the area, so his brother asked for some help when he came in to process Lyle's estate. I was asked to help with the reloading stuff out in his garage. There was a lot of stuff to go through, but thankfully, Lyle was a very organized guy and had everything sorted, labelled, and shelved, and most of his stuff was in ammo cans (he loved ammo cans).

In early 2011, as I was getting down to last of his stuff, back in the back of his garage, there was a shelving unit with targets, brass, etc. in it. When I got all of the cardboard target backers moved out, I saw that there were two .50 cal ammo cans on the bottom shelf. He had kept spare ammo cans all over his garage, but the full ones were mostly labelled and on his loading bench. These had no labels, so I figured they were empty. I reached down to grab the first one and nearly pulled my shoulder out of socket – it weighed at least 50 lbs! I opened it up and found that he had multiple partial bags of shot (mostly #8s, but some #9s and #4s too) in there. Based on that experience, I was a little more cautious and deliberate with the second ammo can. Yup, it was heavy too. I opened it up, and immediately I could hear Lyle’s hearty laugh – it contained 28 pounds of that pelletized 90% tin solder. The same tin he had been telling me since 1994 that he hadn’t been able to buy. He knew that I would be one of the guys helping his family with his estate, and that I would be the one dealing with the loading stuff. He knew that I would open this ammo can and recognize the contents immediately, and know the backstory. He had spent 17 YEARS setting up a very funny punchline that, by definition, would not be delivered until after his death. That’s the kind of friend Lyle was. I can hear him chuckle every time I cast with some of his tin….90% tin solder.jpg