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Old January 17, 2013, 07:35 AM   #1
308Prepper
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Noobie has several questions..

A few questions fer the ‘experts’ about casting.

Let me begin by stating I’m a total noobie when it comes to casting bullets. I’ve been hand loading for 40+ years, but casting would be a new adventure for me.

Been looking at the equipment available, and of course it goes from the inexpensive Lee brand, to the more expensive, RCBS, Lyman, Star, etc. I of course wish to spend the least, but get the most from my investment.

Have a pretty good handle on how everything operates, except for one step with the Lee equipment. Bullet greasing into the grease rings during sizing. The RBCS, Lyman, etc, all use grease sticks in the press, which of course is forced in the groves of the bullet, during sizing. The Lee does not do this, so how does one add grease to the grease rings?

I noticed that Lee markets molds labeled for ‘tumbling’ with grease, which have smaller rings. Does the initial adding of grease before sizing, tumbling, then running the bullets through the sizer, move the grease into those small rings? If so, aren’t the bullets a greasy mess, since it appears the grease is over the entire bullet, instead of in the rings only?

Also, noticed with the RCBS, Lyman, etc, that one constantly has to manually keep pressure on the inserted grease stick, in order for the grease to be forced into the grease rings. Is there a press on the market that automatically keeps the correct amount of pressure on the lube, eliminating this step? Sorta like a grease gun used in the auto repair process?

Lead. I’ve been informed that the tire stores around me no longer give/sell their old balancing weights to the public. New EPA rule maybe? Don’t know, doesn’t matter. So, alternate sources for lead suitable for casting bullets?

I’m not necessarily considering getting into bullet casting solely to save money. I’m looking for every avenue to become less dependent upon reloading suppliers (Midway, MidSouth, etc).

Take care
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Old January 17, 2013, 08:39 AM   #2
reloader28
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I've never used the tumble lube type, but if you want to get into casting cheap, go with a Lee 2 cavity tumble lube mold and Lee sizing die. The Lee sizing die comes with lube. Dip the bullet in the lube, size it, let it dry overnight and your ready to load it.

You can buy lead on ebay and I suppose there are other sites. I have a stockpile of wheel weights and lead pipe. Its not a law, but the EPA scumbags have bullied everyone into thinking that they cant sell you wheel weights anymore.

I use cast bullets for 95+% of my shooting. If its a caliber I own, I have a couple molds for it. I love being self sufficiant. Theres no better feeling then hunting with a bullet you made and it performs every bit as good as the most expensive jacketed bullet on the market.

You really need to go to the castboolits.gunloads website. Best info on the planet.

Last edited by reloader28; January 17, 2013 at 08:48 AM.
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Old January 17, 2013, 08:51 AM   #3
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As far as tumble lube bullets, Lee sells a liquid Alox compound that you use by putting a couple handfuls of bullets in a bowl, add a few drops of the compound, and tumble until all are covered, then set out on wax paper to dry overnite. You then size and lube again. The bullets will be very slightly tacky even when dry, I roll mine across a rag with cornstarch sprinkled on it, kinda like the flour rag your mama used when making biscuits. No, biscuits don't come out of a can. Lead WW are going the way of the dodo, but there are other sources. You can often buy from scrap yards, advertise on Craigslist, there is plumber's lead, roofing lead scrap from roofers, check with smaller tire shops, use your imagination. Bear in mind that WW make good bullets as is after you get rid of the steel and zinc ones, zinc will ruin your alloy. Plumbers lead, roofing lead, and lead stick-on WW are basically pure lead and are only good for muzzle loaders, otherwise it must be alloyed to bring up the hardness. Try going to www.castboolits.gunloads.com, there is more info there than you can digest in one reading. It's a fun game, enjoy! GW

Edit: after reading the above post, be very careful when buying WW lead off of fleabay, I have read of others buying stuff that turned out to be contaminated with zinc. If your heat is high enough it is possible to melt lead and zinc together and zinc ruins the alloy forever.
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Old January 17, 2013, 08:51 AM   #4
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Thank you sir(s) for the info. Off to that site I am.

Take care my friend
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Old January 17, 2013, 09:13 AM   #5
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Sister In-Law is a pharmacist at a major hospital here in NC. Sent her a message too see I can acquire isotope cores...
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Old January 17, 2013, 01:01 PM   #6
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I would see if you can acquire a couple hundred pounds of lead first, before investing in casting equipment. Tell everyone you know that you're looking for scrap lead (if appropriate of course) - you might be surprised how much you can shake out. I found several people who had been saving it for some reason or another, and are glad to get rid of it and see it get used for something.

I currently only cast handgun bullets, and all of my casting equipment is made by Lee. So far I've never had to size a bullet, I just lightly tumble lube them as-cast with thinned liquid Alox and let 'em dry overnight before loading. I used to have leading issues with many so-called commercial "hard cast" bullets - but it hasn't been a problem so far with the ones I've cast and lubed myself.

Last edited by Ifishsum; January 17, 2013 at 01:43 PM.
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Old January 23, 2013, 08:58 AM   #7
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Found a source of wheel weights, so I took the plunge into casting my own.

Made my first ingots this past Saturday, and cast my first bullets last night. After several attempts, I found the temps that the lead and molds need to be. At least in my case!

I decided to go the economical route (Lee Precision) and to my surprise the equipment performs very well. Went with the 110VAC 4-20 furnace, a Lyman thermometer, the Lee tumble lube molds, the small Lee press, with the Lee sizer dies, using ALOX for the lube. So far, so good. I’m going to run some hardness test before I attempt to load some cartridges, so not too cause any problems down the road.

Just wanted to say thanks to the folks in here for the excellent advice.

Take care.


Last edited by 308Prepper; January 23, 2013 at 09:06 AM.
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Old January 23, 2013, 04:45 PM   #8
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Prepper I would suggest skipping the sizing on a couple. Load them as dummy rounds, and see if they chamber. If they do forget the sizer. Oversized is what you want. No matter how hard they are if they are not oversized enough they will lead your barrel like nobody's buisness. Fit is king. Hrdness takes a very far back seat. Guys that cast for hollowpoints will run either pure, or almost pure lead without gas checks to get expansion out of them. When oversized htey do not lead up the barrel.
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Old January 23, 2013, 08:55 PM   #9
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What he ^^^ said I run a 12bhn alloy as hard as I want in a 357 ,but they`re as big in dia. as the chamber/throats will allow !!

A better tumble lube is Recluse (named after a castboolits member) ,45% Alox , 45% johnsons paste floor wax & 10% mineral spirits. warm with hot water & mix it good.

It dries qwiker , not near as stiky !!! If ya do mix ya some up & apply it don`t be fooled by the appearance of the bullet ,it`ll look as if it all ran off or look to thin a coat to work , but it does !!
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Old January 24, 2013, 08:44 AM   #10
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Another thing, dont bother checking the bullet hardness for a few days.
It takes around a week for a bullet to get its approximate final hardness.
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Old January 24, 2013, 01:50 PM   #11
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Thanks again too all....
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Old January 25, 2013, 05:40 PM   #12
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Only a couple of things I might add to the already great advice given.

One is if you will pick up some fine or extra fine lapping compound, and lap the bottom of the stem to the seat in your pot you will find it will be MUCH less likely to drip. Least I did with mine, they might have improved it since I got mine quite a few years back.

Quote:
Sister In-Law is a pharmacist at a major hospital here in NC. Sent her a message too see I can acquire isotope cores...
If you hit the jackpot on these^^^, you will find it is great alloy to cast with. Might be a bit of a pain to smelt down the large cores, but well worth the effort when you start pouring bullets. Along these lines and while your browsing the other casting site, look under the Lead and Lead Alloys header and look up the Alloy Calculator, and download it. It will come in pretty handy if you stick with this. And if your not overly blessed with mathematical skills like myself, you might also download a shareware program called Convert for Windows. It will make your life so much easier when converting pounds and ounces to blend up an alloy.

All that said with the straight WW alloy about all you might find you need to add will be a strip of 95/5 solder to your pot before you begin to pour. I usually add in about a 4-6" strip to a full pot. IT sure helps out with the fill out on those TL bullets. If you have some around give it a try.

I don't know if it has been mentioned about when your smelting your ingots up to use sawdust as flux? If not it works GREAT, just throw in a handful across the top of your alloy while it's in the smelting pot, and allow it to turn black. It you want you can use a match or lighter to help it along and reduce some of the smoke. I usually do it twice and follow up with a finger nail sized chunk of candle wax. Basically just cut a chunk off and stir it in. You will want to use a long ladle for that however as the paraffin will flame up pretty vigorously. While its burning stir stir stir, then skim off the residue that comes to the surface, and then pour, pour, pour your ingots.

THe bottom line is the cleaner it hits your pot the better the bullets it will make up and the less gunk you will accumulate in the 4-20. I usually flux with a pea sized chunk of paraffin again after the 4-20 gets up to temp, and while I am adding in the piece of solder if it needs any. The large ISO cores really don't need anything which is why they are so great.

Anyway hope that helps.
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Old January 25, 2013, 08:49 PM   #13
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Check this out on the isotope lead .

http://fellingfamily.net/isolead/
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Old January 26, 2013, 11:58 AM   #14
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Hardness isn't a big factor in the slower handgun velocities, bullet fit is more important. Wheelweight or iso lead is pretty much optimal for handgun bullets. When using TL bullets I generally tumble lube, let dry, size using Lee's push-thru sizer and apply a second light coat of LLA. Sizing is not generally necessary but I feel it gives me a more consistent bullet, also the easiest way to install a gas check where applicable.
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