Getting into casting

Discussion in 'Casting' started by DaveTNC, Jul 27, 2018.

  1. DaveTNC

    DaveTNC Happy to be here

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    So I finally decided to try casting my own bullets and have some basic stuff on the way. To start out I just got the cheapie Lee melter and a ladle, and a couple Lee 2-cavity 38 special molds (TL358-148WC and TL358-158SWC). I figured I'd start by tumble lubing with Lee Liquid Alox or maybe make up some "Bens Liquid Lube" if I can find the wax for it. Maybe try powder coating later on if I'm not happy with the tumble lubing. And I've got 10 pounds of (supposedly) COWW ingots coming from ebay. Kinda pricey, but it will get me started.

    I've read up on casting in my reloading manuals, the Col. Harris Cast Bullets book, and the Fryxell e-book , and watched some videos, and lurked on castboolits forum for quite a while. I think I have a pretty good idea of how to get started. I still want to get a Lyman's Cast Bullets Handbook and read it before I start, though.

    My first question, of what I'm sure will be many when I actually try casting some bullets - what do I do with the lead left in the pot after I'm done casting? can I leave it in there to cool and just heat it up next time, or do I need to empty the pot and clean it each time?

    Dave
     
  2. Beef15

    Beef15 B or somesuch

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    Leave it unless you're changing alloys.
    Seems to start the melt faster having a layer in there in full contact with the pot.
     
  3. Grits

    Grits I'm a Dirt Bag. Charter Life Member

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    You can leave it alone for the most part unless you change alloys.

    Find you some pewter to sweeten your lead. By sweeten the lead with pewter you will be adding tin to the mix which will make the lead harder. Pewter can be found at goodwill stores. Don't over pay for it.as.a little goes a long way.

    Powder coat is the way to go. You can pan lube but as easy as powder coat is that's the way to go.

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  4. Grits

    Grits I'm a Dirt Bag. Charter Life Member

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    If you can cast you will always have a supply of bullets.

    I cast for .30 cal rifle, 9mm, .380, 38/357, 40 cal, 45.

    Best time of year to cast is fall and winter. To dang hot in the summer.

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  5. DaveTNC

    DaveTNC Happy to be here

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    Thanks, I suspected I could leave it, but wasn't sure.

    I've read that some people cast COWW straight, and some add a couple of percent tin to harden it a little. I figured that starting with 38 special target loads the WW's should be OK for now. But I'll keep my eye out for some pewter just in case or for later stuff.

    And I understand about waiting until fall. But I might try a few soon just to see how it goes.
     
  6. Dave951

    Dave951 Happy to be here

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    I'm running 3 Lee bottom pour pots, two 10lb and one 20lb. Leave the lead in the bottom for sure. I leave mine at least half full. How well your molds perform and make acceptable bullets will take some experimentation. Don't be afraid to turn up the heat. Since I shoot black powder Civil War guns, I have to cast every shot. I've found that minies with a hollow base cast well with lead temp near the max the pot will do.

    Since you appear to be shooting modern centerfire, look into a Lubrisizer. This cool little beastie will size and lube bullets in one pass.

    One other comment, WW lead is inconsistent these days. If you're looking to control the alloy, find some pure lead and add tin and/or antimony yourself as needed.
     
  7. Beef15

    Beef15 B or somesuch

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    I don't shoot Bullseye or benchrest. I cast for 9mm, 357Sig, 38spl, 40S&W, 45acp, 45C and Blackout. I use primarily COWWs, and a pile of clean battery terminals, with some nuclear med containers, and occasionally small amounts of range scrap, tape weights, lead wool, or lead fittings thrown in, some lubed, some PC'd works fine.

    Fit is king. Low velocity/pressure ain't too picky. Make a small run with what you have and see how it goes, adjust from there.
     
  8. cold1

    cold1 Member Supporting Member

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    Buy a lead thermometer and keep notes on which temps give you the best bullets for each mold. They are temperamental.
     
  9. Clicker

    Clicker Member

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    The use of Tin is not really to increase hardness, it does but only slightly, it's real benefit is reducing surface tension. This results in an improvement of "fill out" of the alloy in your mold. The bullets will have sharper edges along their lube grooves and drive bands.

    Powder coating or other coatings such as Hi-Tek are, IMO, the way to go. I have not used my Star lube-sizer in a couple years since I started coating my stuff.
     
  10. DaveTNC

    DaveTNC Happy to be here

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    Thanks for the additional replies.

    Not really looking at a lubrisizer right now. I'm hoping I can shoot these "as cast" and just use tumble lubing or maybe powder coating later on. If that doesn't work out, then I'll consider other options.

    I should pick up a thermometer, thanks for the reminder.

    I knew that tin did more to lower the surface tension and help fill out the molds than harden the mix. Not sure what I was thinking of when I typed that. It looks like I need to be on the lookout for some tin, pure lead, and maybe some linotype to adjust with if the wheel weights don't do good for me.

    But I'm just planning on casting for some 38 special plinking loads right now, so hopefully they'll be close enough. As I get more experienced, I might move into some 9MM & 380. But all of it is just for shootin', no competition level stuff needed.
     
  11. Clicker

    Clicker Member

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    You're on the right track and the Lee Alox should be fine for getting started, just a bit smokey. I would recommend a Lee push thru sizer as I've found the Lee aluminum molds can drop some fat bullets if you don't apply & hold firm pressure when closing and filling.
    Be sure to lube the sprue plate and pins too.
     
  12. Grits

    Grits I'm a Dirt Bag. Charter Life Member

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    Try cast bullets in rifles. I use Trail Boss and make some mouse fart loads. Reduced recoil load are really fun to shoot.

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  13. DaveTNC

    DaveTNC Happy to be here

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    Thanks for the tips, Clicker. The Lee Push Thru sizer looks like an inexpensive solution to fat bullets if I need it.

    What's the best thing to lube the sprue plate and pins with? The instructions that came with the molds say beeswax or Perma-tex anti-seize lubricant. Anyone found something better?
     
  14. DaveTNC

    DaveTNC Happy to be here

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    Grits, I noticed a lot of the older articles deal with casting bullets for rifles. I don't do any reloading for rifles yet. Probably will try it in the future, but not soon. I save any rifle brass I shoot. One baby step at a time...:)

    Are you using Trial Boss in rifle loads? I always thought of it for pistols, but see Hodgdon lists rifle loads for it, too. I've been making light 38 specials with Bullseye and W231, but have been thinking of trying some Trail Boss for that.
     
  15. Beef15

    Beef15 B or somesuch

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    Wax works, antiseize is messy. Synthetic 2-stroke oil is my preference, apply with a cotton swab.
    I lube the pins, pour some bullets, cut the sprue, then thin coat over the whole top of the mold block, cavities have lead in them so they don't get contaminated, and a small drop on the pivot screw.
     
  16. Clicker

    Clicker Member

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    Beef nailed it!
     
  17. Grits

    Grits I'm a Dirt Bag. Charter Life Member

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    Yep. I am using trail boss. Get yourself a copy of.the Lyman cast bullet handbook and you will find rifle loads for red dot, unique and several other pistol powders.

    Don't quote me but I believe that you fill the case with trail boss and dump it on the scale pan and weigh it. Take the weight and multiply by .70 and this is your starting point.

    Great way to introduce kids to centerfire rifles. Can also be used as a way to take small game with out the damage to the meat. Think of it like this, 150 grain bullet traveling at 900fps doesn't know if it was fired from a pistol or rifle. This is why people love the pistol caliber lever action rifles.

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  18. DaveTNC

    DaveTNC Happy to be here

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    Thanks! That's what I'll do.
     
  19. DaveTNC

    DaveTNC Happy to be here

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    I've already got a copy of the Lyman Cast Bullet Manual on the way.

    Always wanted a lever action. Some day...
     
  20. cold1

    cold1 Member Supporting Member

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    Don't get frustrated when you do your first cast and they don't come out perfect. I just use COWW and it took a few sessions to find the right temp for the mold and lead.
     
  21. DaveTNC

    DaveTNC Happy to be here

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    Thanks for the encouragement. I expect it will take a few tries to get the hang of it. Plus I would think that the molds need to be used a little to get broken in. I’m not expecting perfect, or even usable bullets on my first few tries.
     
  22. DaveTNC

    DaveTNC Happy to be here

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    OK, I've got ingots of COWW and Range Lead both coming. Which would be the best to start with for my first try? I'm thinking of starting with the range lead, since I have 50# of it on the way, and only 10# of COWW lead.

    And I have some Lee Liquid Alox coming, thanks to dave33! Getting closer to rolling my own bullets...
     
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  23. Grits

    Grits I'm a Dirt Bag. Charter Life Member

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    You'll never walk by a wheel weight on the ground again.

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  24. DaveTNC

    DaveTNC Happy to be here

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    Tell me about it. I saw one in a parking lot just the other day and picked it up.

    And started looking around for more.:D
     
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