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Old November 6, 2013, 04:41 PM   #1
9mmfan
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Cast Iron Prep

So I got my hands on an old Dutch oven for when I finally get around to casting. It has some minor rust, so I'm going to clean it up and season it as I would any other cast iron.

If my venture into reloading is any indicator, I will spend the next year or so collecting piecemeal, so the seasoning is with more of an eye for storage. It will be kept out in the workshop with my gun cleaning/reloading stuff so there will be absolutely NO chance of someone confusing it for something that can be used for food use. I'm dim enough without chancing lead poisoning.

My question, finally, is when I get ready to smelt, is there anything special I need to do before using it? Will the seasoning (I use Crisco on my skillet) have a negative impact on the lead, or will fluxing remove any impurities that might result?

Obviously I am new to the concept. I have been reading some, but haven't seen this subject touched on.

One more question, when it comes time to get the burner, what is a good BTU rating? Seems like the high pressure burners are where it's at.

I thank you in advance for any and all info. It's going to be a bit, so there's no rush. Just curious.
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Old November 6, 2013, 04:55 PM   #2
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Any "seasoning" you apply to the Cast Iron will certainly burn-off and likely smoke when you melt lead in it. For lead melting use, there is no reason to season the Dutch Oven. As for Cast Iron ingot molds, I seem to remember that any grease or oil will cause the ingots to stick in the molds. It is likely best just to use the Dutch Oven in its rusty state.
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Old November 6, 2013, 05:04 PM   #3
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Any "seasoning" you apply to the Cast Iron will certainly burn-off and likely smoke when you melt lead in it.
Lead melts somewhere above 600 degrees .....

I "recondition" (meaning "burn off the carbon and start over") my cast iron in the oven by baking at 475 (or using the 'selfcleaning" setting) and them greasing it and smoking it on the stove top ....

I'm prety sure you'll burn the grase out of it if you get it hot enugh to melt the lead.
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Old November 6, 2013, 05:22 PM   #4
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You're not "cooking lead". As for the rust, leave it there. It will float to the top to be skimmed along with the other trash that's in your scrap lead. Almost nothing is heavier than lead, it all floats on top of the lead.

As for burners, any turkey fryer is just right for smelting.

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Old November 6, 2013, 07:01 PM   #5
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If it makes ya feel better about it being cleaner use a wire brush in a drill to clean it up some.

One thing I did with mine though is to weld up the rings on the handle so there's less of a chance of the handle separating from the pot. (I hang mine from a heavy duty chain from a well supported hook in the ceiling of my shop so I don't have to lift it to pour)

I do 50#'s at a time in mine to control my % of lead/antimony/tin for a ~12 bnh. Lifting 50# is no big deal... 700 plus degree molten lead and pouring it is a whole nother story.
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Old November 6, 2013, 07:50 PM   #6
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wow thats alot of saw dust.
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Old November 6, 2013, 09:48 PM   #7
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My dutch oven for alloying/smelting gets no special care, unless it's so rusty that I feel the need to hit it with steel wool and some 60 grit sandpaper, before getting the melt going.

Anything that's loose, or that I scrape off while stirring, will float to the top with the rest of the trash.

As a bonus, none of the lead will stick in a rusty dutch oven. However, some will stick on perfectly clean cast iron surfaces. ...In my mind, minor surface rust is actually helpful.


I use a turkey fryer burner rated for 55k BTUs. It's more than enough for my 8" dutch oven, and I can't imagine anything I could put on that burner, that it couldn't handle.
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Old November 7, 2013, 12:59 AM   #8
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All good to know and helpful. Thanks.

I figured any "seasoning" would cook off. I didn't know if it would be better to get it super hot empty beforehand or let the smelt take care of it. Seems largely unnecessary after reading all this. I was just concerned about the rust getting out of hand when it wasn't in use.

Thanks again for shedding some clarity on the subject.
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Old November 7, 2013, 10:14 AM   #9
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Stick it in one of those extra jumbo ziploc bags with some desiccant and it won't get any worse. When you're ready to use it hit it with a wire brush and you're done.
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Old November 8, 2013, 02:00 PM   #10
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That's not a bad idea either. I may give that a whirl if it looks like it needs it. Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old454
wow thats alot of saw dust.
When 'ol Daffy fluxes 'em, they stay fluxed!
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Old November 9, 2013, 07:03 AM   #11
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I work with lead for a living, I've been at it for 20 years and the "Old Timers" I learned from taught me well. Is that a lot of sawdust in that pic? Maybe so. Was my alloy clean when I poured? Absolutely.
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Old November 9, 2013, 11:43 AM   #12
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Yessir, I imagine so.

This is exactly the type experience and wisdom that caused me to ask here in the first place. As I took another look, seems my memory was rustier than my pot. There is a bit of surface rust on the sides of the interior. Should clean up quite easily.

As I get closer to casting myself, I will continue to look here for more info and likely ask other questions.

I REALLY want to know as much as I can before futzing around a ~700 degree vat of molten metal.

Thanks to each of you for your time and input, it is appreciated.
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Old November 10, 2013, 02:09 AM   #13
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I've been looking for it for 3 days, and finally found a picture of my dutch oven....

This is pretty average for its condition:



Just a side note...
I limit that set up to 60 lbs of alloy in the dutch oven (about 50% full). I figure the burner stand can't handle more than about 90 lbs, and I don't want to find out the hard way, that I misjudged how much weight I had in the melt. As is, I might already be overloading it. That burner/stand is only rated for up to 32 quart cook pots. (~75 lbs, with a pot full of water).
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Old November 12, 2013, 12:32 AM   #14
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Thanks for the pic. Bayou Classic seems to be a popular choice.
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Old November 12, 2013, 12:47 AM   #15
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I posted this a while back, it might help you to head in the right direction:

http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...ng+quick+start

http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...ng+quick+start

http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...ng+quick+start

http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...ng+quick+start

As for general cautions, I'll reiterate the following:

You do NOT, under ANY circumstances, want anything wet around your casting setup. Period. Full stop. If water or moisture gets into your melt or ingot molds you run the very real risk of having the whole pot come right up at you.

I was very lucky--I poured molten lead into a 10 lb. ingot mold that had moisture in it. I saw the whole thing start to rise and turned away quickly. I ended up wearing 10 lb of molten lead across my back and down my arm. There were some good splatters that hit my glasses, too. Thank heavens I was wearing a heavy jacket; I simply shrugged out of it. The glasses stopped the almost certain loss of at least one eye.

I did get a splatter on my lip--in a second it caused a deep tissue burn.

If you are careful, casting is good for saving money and keeping yourself on the range. But do not take any shortcuts with safety.
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Old November 12, 2013, 10:47 AM   #16
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Yessir, I had read about folks' visits from the "Tinsel Fairy." Sounds pretty scary, and it never hurts to be reminded. I had figured on getting a flip up face shield in addition to glasses as part of my accoutrement. Kinda like wearing plugs and muffs. Don't want any part of those burns.

Caution is always good advice.

Thanks for the links, BTW.
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Old November 12, 2013, 01:44 PM   #17
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I use a dutch oven also. You don't have to do anything special to it - it will get burned out and the $hit will float on top of the lead to be scraped off.

I made a big sheet metal baffle that surrounds my oven while it sits on the burner, and then I lay a piece of fiberglass insulation on top of the dutch oven. This allows all the burner heat that would be lost going around the sides of the pot and into the air to be constrained around the sides of the pot - more energy is going into the pot instead of into the air.

Steve
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Old November 13, 2013, 01:39 AM   #18
9mmfan
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That sounds like a pretty good idea. Have you done any testing to find out the time difference vs. without the insulation?. Sort of makes an oven out of the whole shebang.

I'm always fascinated by the little tricks and ingenuity that folks figure out. The black powder guys are particularly hardcore.
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Old November 22, 2013, 01:58 PM   #19
jamaica
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Quote:
My question, finally, is when I get ready to smelt, is there anything special I need to do before using it? Will the seasoning (I use Crisco on my skillet) have a negative impact on the lead, or will fluxing remove any impurities that might result?
Any oil in the pan is not a problem. It will quickly burn off as the kettle gets hot. Until it does, it just acts as a fluxing agent. Oil your pan if it makes you feel better, but its not necessary. As noted, the rust is no problem either. The oxidation floats up and is skimmed off after fluxing.

Any kind of animal or vegetable oil, fat or wax can actually be used for flux. I have used deer tallow and beeswax since I seem to have those on hand most of the time.

Yes, cover up, including wear gloves and eye protection.
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Old November 22, 2013, 06:24 PM   #20
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Hey that's a very nice series there Powderman. I too am considering casting bullets. I've got a couple of questions.
1-Without having a hardness tester, how do I know what hardness these lead weights for fishing are?(about 4 oz each), they certainly don't seem as soft as pure lead.
2-Rotometals has Lyman #2 Bullet Ingot (90% Lead, 5% Tin, 5% Antimony), what mix of this would be used in say a 20 lb load of lead? How is that determined?
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Old November 22, 2013, 07:04 PM   #21
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Testing hardness with pencils. Not as accurate as a bonifide Brinell tool but will get you in the ballpark.

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...s-with-pencils

Alloy calculator:

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...loy+calculator
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Old November 22, 2013, 11:09 PM   #22
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Swampman---you have me with those questions! I have never tested hardness of the bullets that I cast; I have always used a good look at the barrel--and a cleaning--as the indicator.

You see, lots of people are (IMHO) operating under a misconception when it comes to lead bullets. You will see people using harder and harder alloys. This is a mistake. You want a relatively soft bullet. Why?

When a cast bullet is fired, it obturates--swages out--to fill the bore. This is what gives cast bullets outstanding accuracy potential. At the low pressures usually encountered on firing handguns, a hard cast bullet will not obturate, and hot gas will escape around the bullet. This will actually assist in the deposit of lead in the bore.

I have always used straight wheelweights for handgun bullets. They are not too hard but they work very well. For my BPCR, I have a limited amount of pure lead that I use for these bullets.
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Old November 23, 2013, 04:33 PM   #23
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So would the Lyman #2 be too hard? I've seen lots of folks mention that particular alloy, either buying it or adding a touch of 50/50 bar solder to pure lead. They seem to be pleased with the results. It has also been suggested that straight COWWs seems to closely mimic this particular alloy, if they can be obtained.

I was thinking about getting some of that when I finally get ready to jump into all of this, unless I happen upon some pure lead, then I am fairly confident in my ability to work up the ratios and alloy it myself.

I am interested in casting for .45 Colt (255 grn SWC) and .38 special (158 grn, also SWC). I will need some pure lead, as I will also be casting balls for a black powder revolver.

It is my understanding that the hardening comes from the antimony, and the tin helps the alloy to fill out the mold?

What is really stinky is I used to live down the street from an el cheapo tire shop. I really should have hit them up for some weights when I first started considering this.

Methinks there are likely more folks out here in Parker County into this sort of thing than there were in East Dallas. Per capita, at least. Next time I'm visiting my old stomping grounds, I should pay them a visit.
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Old November 25, 2013, 05:22 PM   #24
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For .45 Colt, and .38 Special there is no need for super hard alloy if they are being shot at normal levels. They have been making the lead bullets for them out of pure lead for over a hundred years. Most times they are swagged lead. Cast will have the lowest amount of tin they can use, and still get good fill out.

Size trumps hardness.
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Old November 25, 2013, 06:53 PM   #25
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What M&P said
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