Tricks and Tips for Scrap metal Collecting


There are a number of ways to make recycling Scrap metal easier and less costly

  1. Remember the Scrap Metal prices go up and down with the markets, usually on a weekly basis.  Sometimes waiting is the best thing to do.
  2. Sort your scrap for best return
  3. Choose a dealer and stick with them, chopping and changing to make a few extra cents on the price is a waste of time and does not build up a reputation with your dealer.  Once you get in the know with a dealer, little 'slips' in up-scaling will usually be overlooked giving a better return for your scrap.
  4. I have 3 angle grinders: 1 x 9 inch, 1 x 6 inch and 1 x 3 inch.  To save money once the nine inch disk is worn down it is fitted to the six inch grinder, then onto the 3 inch grinder. 
  5. It has been proven that filling car batteries with water to make them heavier is a complete waste of time.  The time it takes to fill them for the marginal increase in weight and the sheer disapproval factor from your scrap dealer makes it not worth while.
  6. I have used both Oxy/Acetylene and Oxy/LPG cutting torches, for cost and speed on scrap metal you cannot beat Oxy/LPG. The cut is a lot rougher than an acetylene torch but for scrap metal who cares.  Plus Oxy/LPG is the only torch I've seen that will easily cut through railway iron.
  7. Always be careful when it comes to chemicals and contaminants, safety glasses, gloves and dust masks are all needed when handling scrap metals.  It is very easy to become complacent and end up with cuts and scratches.
  8. Apply correct lifting techniques for heavier items to prevent injury.


Refrigerators and Air Conditioners

These appliances are a great source of copper, brass and aluminum.

Stripping (up-scaling) these is very easy, undo every screw, cut copper piping with good tin snips or side cutters (hacksaw or angle grinder works as well) .  You will also get copper/Aluminum Radiators.  The older style Fridges have copper heat exchangers on the back and often the case is full aluminum.

A word of warning: Refrigeration equipment may contain refrigerant under pressure, it is best to strip these out doors or in a well ventilated area.  A small nick in the copper tubing will release the gas if they still have pressure - safety glasses are a must have.

When Not to Scrap

Sometimes the metal objects collected may have more intrinsic value as they are rather than sending them to the scrap yard.

A wise old scrappy once told me "never to sell things you pick up for scrap metal for anything  less than double it's scrap value". (Thanks Peter R.)

For example, a lawn mower may contain $10 worth of cast aluminum, good rule of thumb is $20 minimum for the mower - otherwise send it to scrap.

Other Items of note :

Wheelbarrows - These are very popular as garden ornaments, people seem to love filling them with dirt and planting things in them.  Often they can be sold for more than the scrap value.

Steel Wheels - The type from antique farm implements, again they are often sold to collectors or for garden ornaments.

Old Farm Equipment and Boat Anchors - similar story, people love them as garden decorations.

Tyres on Rims - often these can be sold to wrecking yards if they still have reasonable tread on the tyres.

Certain Car Types - In Australia for example, HQ Holden racing is a very popular sport.  Parts and panels are becoming harder to get for these makes of vehicle so it may be wise to check first before sending these items to scrap.

Small petrol stationary engines / whipper snipper motors - Usually you will find repairers of these in your local area, and they will often purchase these for parts or resale.

Old Cans / fuel containers / oil drums - There is a surprisingly large market for these kind of antiques in good condition.  There are also a number of drum recyclers in Australia that will pay good money for used 44 Gallon / 200 Litre drums - check the phone book.

Pool pumps and electric motors - These often have a high resale value compared to scrap, especially now that a lot of people are storing grey water or rain water on their properties.

I would also suggest looking in the "Wanted to Buy" section of your local paper or the Trading post.  There are often ads for people wanting to buy old washing machines, Fridges, Freezers and Stoves/ovens.  These people will usually pay a lot better than scrap prices as they refurbish them and on sell them.

Ultimately they will all end up as scrap eventually, but there is nothing wrong with prolonging the usability of these things.


Antique electronics

Surprisingly, there is quite a market for this type of  stuff to collectors, and you never know what you may find.  If you have any of that type of electronic gear or old electron tubes etc, Please go the electronics page for more information on how to dispose of this antique stuff. Or contact me!



Getting Serious

I wanted to add a section regarding my experiences with larger scrap metal such as cars and trucks, water tanks and grain silo's.

 My First Truck, with suzuki on the back


I started off with a small 6 tonne Hino, eventually got a 4.5 tonne tipper with a crane fitted and  an 8 Tonne Isuzu with an old 3 TON (imperial) crane fitted. (actually the crane was welded directly to the chassis behind the cab but thats another story :-)

 This big yellow crane below is what was fitted to the Isuzu.  The Bedford it's on in the pic was sold for the motor as it was still running perfect after 30 years.  The Tray on the ground was also refurbished for the Isuzu.

 Only problem with that crane was no Down Pressure, which I will explain later.

I've had a lot of fun collecting this type of scrap.


I was travelling down to Geelong from Sydney, and as has happened to me before, just on the Sydney side of Holbrook I broke down (blown head gasket) and had my brother come up in an even bigger truck from Geelong to pick me up. 


 A  few tips for Larger scrap items.

Local scrap dealers usually collect cars and trucks, some pay, some will take for free. If you do not have your own truck a scrappy will pick up these larger items for you.

In the past I have had trucks and buses I have been given for scrap.  Local Tow truck operators will usually help with relocating vehicles like these to the scrap yard for you for a cut of the scrap value (that makes it a good deal for both of you).

I have also been given shipping containers and caravans, same deal, a local guy with a tilt tray was able to move them for a small fee to the scrap yard and i still made a profit from the scrap value.

A LPG cutting torch and heavy duty angle grinders become invaluable for the larger items.  I courtesy of PR Transport have a petrol Brick saw that has been modified for scrap metal with a large metal cutting disk - this is great for remote locations but murder on the arms after extended cutting :-)

The Picture Below is PR transport removing an old hopper from Fyansford Quarries in Geelong.  The Hopper needed to be dismantled to remove and weighed in at around 18 Tons.


The Winch


My Brother introduced me to winches, as my 4x4 had one fitted.  At that time he was driving a tilt tray fitted with a winch also.  On the 4x4 the winch was ideal for dragging scrap out of the bush and hard to get at places.  One great tip I learned from him was the use of a "snatch block".  Most serious 4x4 people should be familiar with this device.

This allows you to winch things around corners.  A good example of this was one my Brother showed me where he had to remove a car body with no wheels from a suburban back yard through the garage.  There was no way the truck could fit through the garage (typical modern garage with roller doors at either end..


Different types of Snatch Block

This is where the winch and snatchblock came to their own.  First the car was dragged across the yard inline with the garage using the snatch block.  Then turned and dragged through the garage and up onto the tilt tray.

Snatch Blocks are commonly used by serious 4x4 drivers to extricate themselves from sticky situations.

Picture showing the use of a Snatch Block.


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