As I alluded to earlier, one reason many people do not sell scrap metal is because they are unfamiliar with the process of selling metal to a dealer. I believe that after reading this chapter, you will feel confident enough to go to the scrap dealer on your own for the first time.
I will go over a typical trip to the metal dealer. You will see that there really is nothing difficult about the process. The only thing that is difficult at all is loading the heavy metal into your truck or trailer.
The first thing that you must do is take an inventory of all of your collected scrap metal. Every trip that you make to the scrap yard costs you gas money and time, so minimize the number of trips, if at all possible.
You should already have your metals separated ahead of time. Usually, when I go to the scrap dealer to sell scrap, I have a pickup bed-load of steel. Put as much metal into the bed of you truck as possible, and then use ratchet straps or tie-downs to secure your load. It is illegal to transport large loads without securing them, and it is also dangerous for you and other motorists.
You may also have enough aluminum to fill a small trailer. If so, you can bring the trailer with you and save yourself a trip. Make sure to secure your load, just as you did with the scrap in your truck bed.
I usually have some non-ferrous scrap to sell, as well. That is where the real money is. You can pack up the inside of your vehicle with boxes of copper, brass, small amounts of aluminum, and other separated non-ferrous metals. For those people without access to pickup trucks or trailers, you will probably only be selling non-ferrous metals, as the ferrous metals are not going to be worth your time. You cannot transport enough volume of non-ferrous metal to make the trips worthwhile.
The only thing that you really have to prepare for is the unloading of the metal at the scrap yard. Make sure that you have your non-ferrous separated, and placed in either heavy bags or sturdy boxes, so that it is easy to handle when you unload at the scrap yard.
Before you leave, check all of your tie-downs, check the tires on your vehicle and trailer, and the fluids in your vehicle. You may be hauling more weight than your vehicle is used to, if you do not normally work your vehicles hard. It’s OK if your vehicle looks like the truck from the TV show ‘Sanford & Son’ when you’re ready to go. It is not supposed to look pretty.
Make sure that you have a pair of heavy work gloves, work clothes, and possibly a flat shovel for scooping loose metal pieces from your truck or trailer. It also doesn’t hurt to have a hammer and crowbar, because sometimes large metal pieces will get wedged together and you will have to separate them.
When you arrive at the scrap yard, there will be an office building with a set of drive-on scales nearby, at the front of the property. Pull off of the road, and go into the office. Make sure that you have your wallet or purse with you.
Go to the main desk, and tell the attendant that you have scrap metal to sell. You will provide your identification, or the attendant may ask you for personal information, address, etc. This information is provided to prevent criminals from illegally selling stolen copper pipes and other high-end metals to scrap yards, and also is used to issue your check when your trip is complete.
The attendant will usually ask you whether you have non-ferrous metals to sell. The attendant will hand you a ticket or sheet of paper with your information on it, and send you back to your vehicle.
If you have non-ferrous metal to sell (which you should), you may be instructed to go to the non-ferrous unloading area first. When you get to the specified location, you will unload your boxes or bags of separated non-ferrous metals one material at a time. Each material will be weighed on a foot scale inside, and then you will deposit the material where the employee tells you to place it. The employee keeps track of the weight of the materials you brought. When you are done dropping off all of your non-ferrous metals, the employee will give his list of weights and materials to the main office for calculation. You may also receive a copy. This process takes only several minutes.
Next, you will sell your ferrous metals, which is usually steel, or mixed metal which is sold as ’Tin’, or ’Unprocessed’. Pull your vehicle onto the main scale near the office building. There will be a large metal area on the scale, where you will center the weight of your load. Usually there is a set of lights that resemble traffic lights near the window of the office building.
The attendant inside the office will look out the window at your vehicle. Once it is positioned correctly and the weight from the scale has been recorded, the light will change colors, and you will proceed through the scales and into the main scrap yard.
Usually within sight of the scales, there will be another employee waiting for you. He or she will take a look at your load, and determine what type of material you have for the payment calculation. Hopefully, you have separated your metal, so that your payment is not calculated using the ‘unprocessed’ rate, as you will be losing significant money.
The employee will make a note on your ticket about the contents of your load, and then he or she will direct you where to dump. If you have all steel, you will be sent to an area where a large magnet will pick up the majority of the metal.
If you have a mixed load, or a bed cap or something else that prevents the magnet from unloading your metal, you will be directed to another unloading area. You will manually unload your metal into a large pile of metal objects. I always have to unload manually, as my truck has a contractor’s rack over the bed. I unload my metal in about ten or fifteen minutes, it is not a big deal.
After you are unloaded, you head back to the front of the yard, re-weigh your empty truck on the same set of scales that you first weighed your load on, and then go back into the main office.
Hand the attendant your ticket. He or she will calculate the value all of your metals sold, and issue you a check for the full amount. It is as easy as that. The entire process should take you about half an hour, unless you have to wait in line to unload, which happens quite often.
I have been to a number of scrap yards, and the process is very similar at each one. If you have an additional trailer, you may have to go through the scales twice. The scrap yard may reverse the order of dropping of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Other than that, things will go pretty much as I explained in this chapter.