Foundry type in a Ludlow

Hello. Can anybody tell me if it’s possible / advisable / or a complete no-no to repurpose worn-out foundry type by melting it using a Ludlow (or a linotype etc)… I have a feeling it’s a bad idea, but I can’t find documentation or advice online to confirm. Thanks in advance.


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I don’t know about using the metal in a Linotype, since I’ve never used one, but it seems to work ok in a Ludlow as long as you skim off the dross thoroughly.

I believe it’s not advisable. Ludlows (and Linotype, etc) use their own blend of metal which is softer (because it doesn’t need to last as long). I think there’s something in the ludlow manual which mentions this.

I believe these machines are more flexible than we give them credit for. From time to time, I run foundry metal in my Monotype Super Caster. Dave Seat has copied a document on his web site from Linotype about how to cast foundry metal alloy levels. I have copied it to Flickr:

I have no experience with Ludlow. However, with higher alloy content, the temperatures are much higher too. I would guess small amounts would work OK. The “enemy” is Tin-Antimony crystals that form very quickly and can deposit in the nozzles, etc. The crystals can also solidify quick enough to mess up the face of the cast type, especially in fine detail areas. Also, if you drop the old type into the pot, your metal content wanders around and you might need to change the machine settings to suit. If you do this, please let the Forum know, an advantage of type casting is it is 100% recycle. Some friends gave me some cruddy old 36 pt. Cheltenham and I made some beautiful new 18 pt. type.

It might just be briefly possible, but definitely not a good idea. ‘Founders’, proper founders type, not the Monotype machine product sometimes wrongly described as such, used a different alloy mixture, with a small but important percentage of copper in the mix. This gave much harder castings, which would last vastly longer in case use, and you paid extra as a result. I think I recall the copper content was around two percent, but importantly for you it called for considerably higher casting temperatures. So an odd founders sort or two in a box of old Monotype metal being recast as ingots for re-use in a Monotype caster with its usual metal being ”10-16” and the rest lead is no problem, but all founders into a Ludlow (or Linotype) is definitely not a good idea. Their metals were much softer.
”4-11” comes to mind. See old publication ‘Printers Metals’ by Frys Metal Foundries of Mitcham in London

Thank you all for the responses, as always, very helpful information. The reason I ask is that over the years I have acquired quite a few cases of metal type which was, putting it mildly, well used. And, with a Ludlow being the next step for the studio I’d love to think I could safely reuse/recycle at least some of it.

@harrildplaten I am using ‘founders’ as a catch all for the type I have that’s in cases. It is most certainly for multiple sources.

I’d imagine a lot of it is in fact monotype type, although i don’t see any apparent way to make sure it’s one or the other.

The last thing I want to do is mistreat the machine, but it would be great to make some of that metal more useful than it currently is.

Would it be enough to assume that anything with a pin mark is founders and anything without isn’t?

(Thanks in advance)

Good assumption but with plenty of exceptions. In general, you will know what you have by the temperature needed to cast it. The 4%-11% mentioned above is a good alloy, perhaps the easiest to cast, as it is the ‘eutectic’ formula.
Just a suggestion, I would not make things too complicated if you are just starting out.

Hi DaveD
Just in passing you might need one day to pick out the much more valuable truely founders sorts, and quite often (tho not always) the nick will be curved rather than the rectangular Monotype one. A little patience might even produce a small fount of something unusual or ancient. Might be fun looking!
Apart from that foundries in Europe at least were quite proud of their products and theres frequently initials or a logo cast on one side. Comps over here knew most of these by heart and so knew where to get strengthening or special accented sorts,