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Old May 9, 2013, 04:27 PM   #1
armoredman
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Looking for the secrets...

Something tells me I am not fluxing properly. Something like the gunk a the bottom of the pot... I use candle wax as once told me long ago, but it only sort of works. I dip and scrape with an old stainless steel tea spoon, (MAN, would Mom be mad if she could see that...), and I still end up with burnt sludge at the bottom. I spent some time today scraping and shaking to get a lot of gunk out before even lighting it off. Being a Lee Ten Pound Production Pot, a bottom pour, I can't simply grab the Dremel with wire wheel attachment, (wish I owned one of those), and zing out the interior.
I've been using this pot for...hmm...about 6 years?
Thoughts, ladies and gentlemen of the silver stream?
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Old May 9, 2013, 11:37 PM   #2
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Sawdust is your best friend. Any softwood or hardwood sawdust will work. Pine seems to smell the best. DON'T use pressure treated wood sawdust. Put a good layer on top of your melt and leave it there. You need to rouse your melt and work the dross out of the melt and leave the sawdust to turn into charcoal. It will pull impurities like aluminum, copper, zinc etc. out.
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Old May 10, 2013, 04:27 AM   #3
Mike / Tx
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I'm using the Lee drip o matic myself. What I have found to work is to keep the alloy as clean as possible going into it, and also to give it a cleaning about every 6 or so sessions.

I use sawdust to flux at least two and usually three times depending on how much I am smelting in one batch in my big cast iron or smaller SS smelting pots.

I do not do any smelting in my Lee pot, learned that years ago. Sure does put a crimp on things to have it plug up with only about 1/2" of it gone and the rest full.

Once I have my ingots made up, I will then use the paraffin to flux the melted alloy once again in my Lee pot when I begin casting. This is simply more or less to give everything another good stir once up to temp, and get what ever might be trapped in on the sides of the pot up to the top where it belongs.

If I have to add in alloy other than cut sprues I will flux with a green pea sized chunk or so of paraffin once again, just to blend things together well.

Other than that, when I clean the pot, I bring it up to melt any remaining alloy, and using gloves, pick it up and pour that out into a pan. Once empty I cut the power and while it's hot I use one of the wooden handled SS brushes, that look like a tooth brush, to scrub the sides and all down really well. I usually do this with a fan blowing the dust away from me as well. Once I get the insides clean and the thing has cooled down, I pull the valve stem out and polish up the tip as well as the seat in the bottom of the pot using steel wool on the stem and seat. For the seat I just wrap a bit around the tip of a pencil so that it fits a bit better in the top of the hole.

For the hole I root around and find a drill that will just fit into it, and use it like a cleaning rod back and forth to remove anything stuck to the sides.

Once everything is cleaned up I put the stem back in place and heat up some alloy. Once it starts getting up to temp it will usually drip. I just take a small flat blade and holding pressure on it give it a few twist to mate the two again, and it's good.

One thing I DID do with the stem and seat years ago was to lap them together using Clover valve lapping compound. I used the fine grit, and just kept adding a little and turning, just like you would lap in a valve seat. Once I got them all polished up and fitting, most if not all the drips halted. I can usually tell when it's time to clean when it starts to drip.

Anyway hope this helps. I know a lot of folks throw rocks at the bottom pours, but I have a good relationship with mine. I have set up different thicknesses of square tubing and flat bar to give me the perfect height from spigot to mold on all I use. All it takes is simply sliding them in flat and raising the handle.
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Old May 10, 2013, 06:32 AM   #4
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Have a Lyman Mag 20 here. Before every fill I use a drill & a wire cup brush on my furnace's pot as best I can. Surprising how much dirt/rust and whatever is de-scaled and dumped out of it. One reason I suspect for its dirty-ness is my use of boric acid powder which I choose to use a few times during a casting session.
Many who flux use saw dust or wax. I use black powder patching lube. Seems to work good for my application of it. (Really smokey stuff though.) I've heard of others using bullet lube for the same purpose. Those that do say that works really well for fluxing I guess.
If understanding your problem correctly. I believe if you have some sort of residue left because you hardly ever de-scale your pot. I would think that scenario your speaking of is kind of to be expected over time. To be honest I've never encountered a totally clean pot after a long casting session. Those who have maybe can tell me what I'm doing wrong also. lol

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Old May 10, 2013, 08:39 AM   #5
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Something I've notice when smelting Is the different junk seems to settle differently. Some stuff no matter how much I scrap or flux seems to sift to the bottom. Other stuff floats on top and is easily scooped off. So what I generally do to help keep junk out is flux and skim everything I can. Once the top is cleaned off I start pouring into ingot real slow to make sure the junk on the bottom stays there. Once I get to the last 1 or 2 ingots left to pour, I keep note of them and let them go back into the smelting pot, because those will probably get the most junk from the bottom. Then when the pot cools down I dump any loose junk and get a drill with a wire brush and clean the pot. Its amazing how much junk is in the bottom. I notice the junk when smelting scrap or wheel weights.

I try not to put anything that may be to dirty into my casting pot. I think you should have 2 different pots. 1 for smelting into clean ingots and one to cast clean alloy for bullets. This will reduce problems in the casting pot.
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Old May 10, 2013, 01:09 PM   #6
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http://www.lasc.us/Fryxell_Book_textonly2.pdf

Take a look at that "book" written by Glen Fryxell in the above link.

I would copy and paste the most important part of what he has to say about fluxing, BUT I got in trouble with Uncle Nick when I did that before. Simply download the PDF book, then go to page 37 and read through to page 40. All you will ever need to know about fluxing. Glen goes into the chemistry of just how fluxing works and what to use, and what NOT to use.

Since I read that chapter, I began using sawdust to flux with. I saved some from some woodworking projects I made, but it wasn't enough. Sources could be a woodworkers shop, the cut to size area at a Menard's, but the easiest is to go to the pet supplies area at any department store, get some cedar bedding material used for gerbils. A big bag is super cheap, and will last for years.

Then use a wooden stick to stir the alloy with the charring sawdust on top. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pot. Crud can and WILL get trapped against the pot sides and bottom by the heavy lead. Nocking it loose allows it to float out to be skimmed off. A paint stirring stick is ideal for stirring alloy. They're usually free when buying paint.
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Old May 10, 2013, 02:04 PM   #7
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It has been posted before that most/all of the crud that forms on the sides, bottom of the pot are oxides. Therefor, as the wisdom goes, it you keep air away from the lead alloy, the oxides will not form. Now, I can feel that you are going to ask me how that is accomplished. Why, with a layer of melted Boric Acid (available at drug stores). This would only make sense with a bottom pour pot, and not a top-dip pot...it would be problematic trying to get under the molten Boric Acid with a dipper. Admittedly, I have never done this (I am a devote dipper, tried bottom pour for awhile, went back to dipping even when using two six-cavity Lee's at the same time), but a jar of Boric Acid crystals or powder is a small price to pay for an experiment that may pay off.
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Old May 10, 2013, 04:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Admittedly, I have never done this (I am a devoted dipper, tried bottom pour for awhile, went back to dipping even when using two six-cavity Lee's at the same time), but a jar of Boric Acid crystals or powder is a small price to pay for an experiment that may pay off.
dahermit, I can't force anybody to read the PDF from Glen Fryxell, but if you do, you will see that any borate substance will remove oxidized tin from the alloy as an oxide, and will NOT return it to it's metallic state. Stuff like boric acid, and the infamous marvelux are all the same thing, they clean the alloy of oxides. They do NOT return them to the alloy. Continued use of borates will deplete the alloy of beneficial tin.

The barrier effect to remove the molten surface from air contact is accomplished by leaving the charred sawdust on the surface of the melt.

Crud on the bottom and sides of the pot could be just about anything that enters the pot with the lead. Sand, dirt, and especially lead oxide. That's the main reason to NOT smelt/melt scrap lead in your casting pot. Re-claiming lead from scrap should be done in a separate pot, and thoroughly fluxed with plenty of sawdust before pouring the ingots you will be using in your casting pot.
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Old May 10, 2013, 07:28 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info about Boric Acid and Marvelux. I used to use Marvelux but went back to paraffin because it seemed to work better and was a whole lot cheaper.

Quote:
...Crud on the bottom and sides of the pot could be just about anything that enters the pot with the lead. Sand, dirt, and especially lead oxide...
This begs the question: If sand, dirt and lead oxide enters the pot, but being lighter than lead, how does it get to the bottom and sides?
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Old May 10, 2013, 09:07 PM   #10
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You've gotten good info here. Seriously; sawdust is the best stuff going for keeping the melt clean while bullet casting. Cheap and effective beyond anything else out there.
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Old May 10, 2013, 09:55 PM   #11
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Ya can`t do it ,or should I say the lead won`t allow it !!

The lead as soon as the impurity is coated with carbon from what ever source will push paticles out !!!

Wether up sideways or down it`ll push it out , true the majarity will "float" to the top with a bit of help , but as we stir the lead is pushing out impuritys on the path of least resistance .

Ever notice the stuff is very fine dust like , that`s because the bigger stuff floats .

I can`t say enuff about fluxing & stiring it while in the smelting pot !!

I first skim the big stuff & keep the melt at a lower temp (in case I missed a zinc weight or someting I don`t want melted into my alloy) flux a couple of times then turn up the heat & flux some more , how many times ??? I let the melt whisper to me

I used to clean my bottom pours every 5 pot fulls (boiling water in em cleans em like ya would`nt believe , until ya try it)I have extended casting furnace service to every 8 pots .
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Old May 11, 2013, 04:58 AM   #12
Mike / Tx
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One other thing about Boric Acid and Marvelux, they are both hygroscopic (absorb moisture). I have found out the hard way, (visit from the Tinsel Fairy) when I was just getting into melting lead.

Here is a post which gets into some of the issues with it,
Help with marvelux

As a result I just use the sawdust in my main smelting pot, and only paraffin in my Lee pot. I will also add that using a spoon or like mentioned in the link, a butter knife to scrape the sides and bottom of the pot will go further to reduce the issue your having than just about any type flux. If your not scraping the debris loose, it will continue to build up and eventually cause issues with either your bullets or your pot.

I have used the paint stick thing as well as some dowel rod pieces I had laying around. I personally have found that the spoon or knife are much better for getting the stuff to break loose to be skimmed out of my bottom pour. I don't go as far as some that float a layer of carbonized sawdust on top of my Lee pot. I did it once, and as a result I ended up plugging the spout once I got down low enough. Sometimes I get carried away with the 6 cavity molds and will pour the pot empty.
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Old May 11, 2013, 03:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
This begs the question: If sand, dirt and lead oxide enters the pot, but being lighter than lead, how does it get to the bottom and sides?
From cast boolits and the link provided by Mike / tx

Quote:
35remington
12-18-2009, 05:10 PM
" No matter how hard you stir any flux put on top, the specific gravity of lead will prevent it from going into the melt."

Which is why, despite some claims to the contrary, liquid or solid flux of any type that is on the surface of the melt does not "bring up impurities from below." It never did and never will.

Flux cannot clean what it cannot reach. If the dirt is below the surface, floating flux won't release it.

That's why you stir...to bring the impurities to the flux. It won't do it on its own. In the case of a stick, you bring the agent to the impurities.
What he said! Like I said, a paint stick, cedar construction wedges, cedar shingles split to narrow width, or even dowels. They get down to where the lead has trapped the crud against the sides and bottom of the pot. Nocking it loose, allowing it to float out helps keep the pot clean.
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Old May 12, 2013, 11:34 AM   #14
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I see I need some sawdust...but I have no idea where to find any, short of sawing up some scrap lumber in my garage! How much do you stir in, and how long do you stir? I read the book which said the top of the lead needs to be shiney clean, so I stir, scrape and such, (need a small butter knife now), for a few minutes, avoiding the flames, (used candle wax once, stuff caught fire!), then skim and check?
I've been casting for some time now, but I always wondered if I was doing that part right - I learned all reloading/casting off the 'net, nobody local.
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Old May 12, 2013, 12:02 PM   #15
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From my post #6;

Quote:
Since I read that chapter, I began using sawdust to flux with. I saved some from some woodworking projects I made, but it wasn't enough. Sources could be a woodworkers shop, the cut to size area at a Menard's/lowes, but the easiest is to go to the pet supplies area at any department store, get some cedar bedding material used for gerbils. A big bag is super cheap, and will last for years.
I have a big table spoon that I've used for years to scoop up sprues to put back in the pot. I use a heaping spoonful with that. Just place it on top of the melt, then stir it around. It's best to try to force the shavings under the surface of the melt to help char it. I use a paint stick to do that, it'll char and gradually get shorter. Use the paint stick to scrape the sides and bottom of the pot. The idea is to place the carbon under the surface of the lead.

Then leave it there! It has done it's work, the dust and crud will float with the charred sawdust/shavings, forming a barrier to the atmosphere. This keeps the oxygen away from the hot lead preventing more oxidation. You CAN remove it along with whatever crud it has removed. Then put some fresh stuff there, allowing it to slowly char forming the barrier.

This only works for bottom pour pots, as it would get in the way of a dipper/ladle. I suppose you could push it aside to get the ladle full, but there's a chance of it ending up in a boolit!
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Old June 6, 2013, 06:02 AM   #16
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Im using Buck Beaver Flux.
It cost few$$ but seams to do a great job.

Let it "Sizzle" and when its done just mix in.
There is no smoke like you get from saw dust and other "burning" material.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Buck-Beaver-...item4d09f17cec
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Old June 6, 2013, 11:53 AM   #17
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Go to any good garden center and buy a bag of vermiculite . After you have melted your alloy and fluxed it real good put about a 1/2 inch layer of the vermiculite accross the top of your melt. It is an extremely good insulator and keeps the contact from the air away as well as preventing a great amount of heat loss from the exsposed liqidous . It floats nicely and does not break down under alloy melt temps. I picked this trick up working in a high voltage cable mfg. facility where they used this over a a large vat of molten tin that they ran strands of bare copper wire through to coat with tin.
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Old June 6, 2013, 11:28 PM   #18
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[/QUOTE] Im using Buck Beaver Flux.
It cost few$$ but seams to do a great job.

Let it "Sizzle" and when its done just mix in.
There is no smoke like you get from saw dust and other "burning" material.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Buck-Beaver-...item4d09f17cec
[/QUOTE]

This stuff looks to be very similar to,,,--- the same as marvelux or that frankford arsenal ap-cray. A boron type of flux. It'll clean your melt real well, but remove the valuable tin oxide, depleting your tin from the alloy. Then it leaves behind a glass-like deposit that adsorbs humidity from the air.
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Old June 7, 2013, 03:37 AM   #19
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Snuffy, All i can tell it does work for me and work great.
I was reading on another forum that this is best to use.

It does create a film like on top of the lead and that is actually good as it stop the lead oxidation.

I'm not sure about the water from the air but then even if it does i don't see why it should matter?
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Old June 7, 2013, 12:50 PM   #20
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Quote:
I'm not sure about the water from the air but then even if it does i don't see why it should matter?
It's called "being hygroscopic". Meaning pulls water from the air. Leaving it sitting on a steel pot will result in the steel rusting. Getting it on a steel boolit mold, means it WILL rust much faster. I've read of steel casting furnaces being rusted through in just one year, (left unattended for that year).

Most important though is the removing of the tin oxide from the alloy. Any good flux is supposed to REDUCE the oxide back into the melt. The tin is expensive to replace, and if you don't replace it, makes for poor fill-out.
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