last updated on : 03.01.2011 - Select Items Listed Your Satisfaction And Value Guaranteed
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Copyright:  Mike Sillett


1. Intro
2. Tools
3. Materials
4. Procedure / technique

Photo of a home made, teeter-totter style Penny Sorter / Comparitor with a zinc penny at the front of the platform.

1. Intro

In my 'Write-up' about 'At Home Copper Mining For Fun and Profit' I go into the financial rewards that can be accumulated by sorting copper pennies from zinc pennies presently in circulation.

This tutorial is intended to serve only as an introduction into 'Copper Penny Sorting'.
The home made Penny Sorter / Comparitor described here is useful for sorting copper vs zinc pennies and will help in deriving a bit of profit but is NOT to be considered an essential piece of business equipment.
If you are going to dive in and do this sort of thing 'big time' you will need a 'big time' comparitor.

There are many people that make handsome profits, seemingly unbelievable to those unfamiliar with the subject, by sorting the copper pennies from the zinc pennies found in penny rolls purchased at banks.
To sort pennies in large quantities they use coin comparitors specifically calibrated to separate copper pennies ( 3.11 grams ) from zinc pennies ( 2.5 grams ). Such comparitors can cost from a low of $34.00 to somewhere in the neighborhood of $500.00 for a Ryedale. However, the expensive ones can sort up to 18,000 pennies per hour so they do pay for themselves very quickly when large penny sorting operations are conducted.
Some Franchisee's of automated coin sorting machines ( e.g. such as a Coinstar or a Penny Arcade ) get the benefit of coin sorting two ways:
1. - They charge a % fee per dollar in coins deposited, usually from 6% to 9%, AND as a side benefit,
2. - They reap huge profits from the pennies deposited by sorting out the copper pennies.

Currently, copper pennies are being bought online by bullion investors / speculators from individually owned websites or such popular sites as eBay.
It's easy enough to check by Googling ' penny bullion ' or ' penny sorting '. You will find plenty of listings on websites and on eBay.

Certain pennies dated 1982 and prior are copper ( 3.11 grams ).
Certain pennies dated 1982 and after are zinc ( 2.5 grams ).
So you can see that in the year 1982 some of the pennies are copper and some are zinc ( the U.S. Mint wised up during that year ).
You will need to weigh the 1982's to tell the difference ( unless you have a musical ear like Mozart and can hear the difference in tone between copper and zinc pennies when dropped on a hard surface. It is said that the copper penny has a certain ring to it in the 12 kHz range. Apparently my ears do not have the ability to hear 12 kHz. It may be due to my tennitus. I can drop pennies all day long and never be sure ).
In any case, the ' Penny Sorter ' of the type such as this tutorial describes, does the sorting by comparing the weight differential.
In addition, although many of the pennies can be sorted by date, you will come across some really dirty or very corroded specimens where it is difficult or impossible to tell what date it is. Rather than taking the time to clean it to see the date it is easier to just set the penny on the ' Penny Sorter'.
If it dips down it's copper, if not it's zinc.

2. Tools

Tin Snips
Krazy Glue or hot glue.
File or knife.

3. Materials

A flat piece of metal or hard plastic for making the platform.
Crazy Glue.
Something to make a fulcrum from ( such as: metal rod, threaded rod, small tube, dowel, etc ).
Nuts, bolts, screws, washers, magnets, lead tape ( optional but very handy ), etc.

photo showing various parts that can be found around the house and which can be used to make a penny comparitor.

Here are several various parts strewn about which can be used to make a home made 'Penny Sorter'.
Picture frame edging ( great for making the 'Platform' ) is on the bottom.
The black discs are magnets.
Upper right is a paperboard type thread protector tube with a couple of bolts stuck in each end.
Some various nuts, bolts and washer thingies, Krazy Glue and threaded rod complete this tapestry.

4. Procedure

You will need something rigid in order to make a platform from. It could be metal, plastic or wood.
A weight of some sort may be needed at one end, depending upon where the fulcrum is situated.
A fulcrum ( a pivot point or axle ) is needed for the bottom.

                                                                                                This will illustrate:

photo of an illustration of the teeter-totter type balance scale.

I have already made them on short notice using a popsicle stick ( platform ) and 2 twigs rubber-banded together( fulcrum ) above and below the popsicle stick.
Another version used a Giant Eagle Rewards card and soda straw ( see penny up & penny down ). They're nice to use while away from home on an 3 or 4 day trip. With the variations in style all that is required is to have the fulcrum situated off center enough so the pennies can be used to calibrate the sorter you intend to make.
A popsicle stick and a paperclip also work in a pinch in the same manner. I mention them only as a way of exemplifying that there are many alternative methods of making a ' Teeter-Totter ' style penny sorter.

Here are a couple of views of one I made using a piece of metal edging from a cheap picture frame ( platform ), a piece of threaded rod Krazy Glued in place ( fulcrum ), some magnet pieces and a piece of steel ( weight ).
Using the magnet pieces allows easy calibration because all you need to do is place a copper penny on the front of the platform and move the magnet clump around behind the fulcrum until it is in the place where the copper penny is heavy enough to dip the platform downward. Once you find that the penny dips check to see that a zinc penny placed in the same place just sits there. If it does you just calibrated it!
A few drops of Krazy Glue applied to the magnets and steel piece will keep it there good enough. It's ready to use. Don't drop it though. It is only krazy Glue afterall.

Looks like a rocket sled - cool !
photo showing a home made, teeter-totter style balance scale for penny sorting made of picture frame edging, threaded rod, magnet pieces and a piece of steel.
Rear view photo showing a home made, teeter-totter style balance scale for penny sorting.

Note that the fulcrum is situated rear of the platform's midpoint.
Why do you suppose I did that ?
It's so that the front of the platform sits a bit higher off the surface to make it easier to place a penny on the front.

Once you have it all calibrated it is just a matter of placing a penny ( not dropping it ) gently on the front of the platform.

photo demonstrating the gentle laying on the platform of a penny to be checked.

Placing a penny, Memorial Side up, on the front of the raised platform.

If the penny has no effect, that is, if it just sits there, then it is a zinc penny.

Photo of a home made penny sorter with a zinc penny at the front of the platform.

Bad penny.

A dip down and it's a good penny.

Photo of a home made penny sorter with a copper penny at the front.

Good penny.

Here is one made from the same picture frame edging, a piece of brass rod, a heavy brass bolt, a nut and some washers.

photo of a penny sorter showing an alternative construction method: Brass bolt threaded into platform rear and nuts / washers used to adjust weight.

Another construction method. No magnets this time.
The rear weight is adjusted by adding or removing the little washers.

The one below uses a different method of making the weight for the rear. The platform is drilled at the rear so a brass bolt can be threaded in place. The weight can be adjusted by adding nuts or washers of different sizes / weights until just the right amount is discovered by attempting a calibration as described above.
Just keep adding or removing various nuts and washers until the right combination is found.

photo of the rear of the threaded bolt  / nut & washer style penny comparitor.

This teeter-totter balance scale is made using a brass bolt threaded into place after the hole is drilled at the rear of the platform.
The adjusting of the weight is done by addind or removing nuts and washers.

Here is the simplest one. A platform, a fulcrum and a weight ( metal washer ).
The fulcrum is made from a thread protector cut to the correct width and Krazy Glued in place. Bolts are then inserted into the holes from each side. The heads of the bolts are a bit wider which raises the penny sorter off the surface for penny placement.

photo showing the penknife blade being placed in position for a tap.
photo showing the fulcrum's manner of construction - a paperboard type thread protector Krazy Glued on the bottom of the platform and a bolt inserted at each side.

UPPER PHOTO - The top surface of the platform has a metal washer at the rear. It is of just the right weight AND in just the correct place to make this penny sorter calibrated.
LOWER PHOTO - The fulcrum is made from a paper thread protector Krazy Glued in place and then the threaded end of a short bolt is stuck in the holes at each side.

Hopefully there are all kind of ideas nurturing in your mind right now as to what kind of stuff you have available around the house to make some sort of penny sorter. More than likely you will make a better model than those I have shown.

You might even decide to get into the penny sorter manufacturing business -lol.
At the worst, you should have a soda straw and credit card handy.

Time to go give it a whirl !



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