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Old October 1, 1999, 09:47 AM   #1
Kent White
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I was wondering what might happen if I simply dropped cast bullets fresh from the mold into , say, a 5 gallon bucket of water. I would guess it would have a hardening effect, but I would like to hear from someone who may have tried this before I attempt it.
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Old October 1, 1999, 02:45 PM   #2
Jack Straw
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Kent,
Go for it. Be careful of water splashing though. I took an old ironing board cover and clamped it to the end of my casting table. The other end is clamped to a 5 gallon bucket. This forms a sort of heat-resistant chute that the bullets slide down before hitting the water. Just make sure that the cover is clamped about 1/2 way across the bucket mouth and with enough tension so that the still soft bullets don't hit the edge of the bucket and get dinged up.

If you're using an alloy that responds well to water quenching (something with wheel weights for instance) you definitely get a harder bullet. If memory serves, WW goes from a Brinnell hardness of 9 to a water quenched hardness of about 27.

Good casting!

Jack

[This message has been edited by Jack Straw (edited October 01, 1999).]
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Old October 1, 1999, 05:39 PM   #3
TEXAS LAWMAN
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Ditto. I've had good experiences quenching .45 slugs from the mold and using wheelweight metal. Sometimes I add a little linotype to boost the tin and antimony content. Wheelweights probably have a little arsenic in them which will enhance hardness. Tin does not harden lead significantly but improves castability. Antimony does harden lead appreciably. Arsenic helps also.
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Old October 1, 1999, 10:44 PM   #4
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Ditto 2. I drop bullets for my 44 Mag right into a 5 gal. bucket of cool water. The depth of the water also acts as a medium to slow their fall to the bottom to avoid any distortion as they are relatively soft. Drain the water and carefully spread them out on an old absorbant towel to dry. After about 24-48 hrs they will achieve maximum hardness. Then over a number of months the hardness will drop off a small amount and level off.

W/Wts. are probably the best responding alloy to this treatment. Arsenic and antimony are the key here.

I've shot through a single layer of 1/8" steel with a midrange load (1150FPS Approx) at 20-25 yards.

They are excellent for hunting though and stay together remarkably well. I had one that I recovered from a deer that looked like it could be used again. Lyman #429360 SWC

KEEP ANY WATER AWAY FROM THE MOLTEN LEAD.
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Old October 2, 1999, 08:42 AM   #5
Kent White
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Wow! Thanks for all the good info, fellas! I mostly shoot cowboy action shooting, but this is all useful.
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Old October 2, 1999, 10:35 PM   #6
swifter...
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Try floating an appropriately sized sponge on top of the water, drop bullets onto that, tilts, no splash...



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Old October 2, 1999, 11:58 PM   #7
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Kent. Seems like everybody is getting good results just dropping the hot bullets into a bucket of water. Brings up certain points though. When you lube your bullets, do you also size them? From what I have read, this will wipe out the hardening affect of water quenching. All my bullets must be sized down, so after casting, I size them to the proper dimensions. Then I cook them in the oven at 450 degrees for at least one hour. The bullets are in a little basket I made out of quarter inch mesh screen with a wire handle. After the bullets have baked for the hour, I rapidly remove them from the oven and immediately drop them, basket and all into the water. Them I lube them with a sizing die that is at least .001-2 oversize so as not to touch the bullet's sides.
Works for me.
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Old October 3, 1999, 11:44 AM   #8
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Paul, I have heard both sides of that one. I fully size mine and honestly, have had no problems. Some argue that the lands in the barrel will soften the area of the bullet they come in contact with when fired too.

The trick with water dropping is to get a good casting rythm going. That way the hardness will be uniform throughout the batch.

With your oven heat treatment, you are virtually guaranteed a uniform hardness throughout the batch,although more labor intensive.(I have to try this someday)

The main reason I look to harden a bullet is to give it the ability to resist slumping under the higher pressures of magnum loads and thus overcoming the bullet lube's film strength. I think that sizing a bullet that was heat treated may soften the area that is actually sized by the die. However,I don't think the overall hardness of the bullet is affected very much at all.

I use LBT bullet lubes exclusively and have had good luck with them. Occasionally I'll switch to a Gas check design if I'm worried about leading with softer alloy.

Heck, with water dropping, if I can shoot through 1/8" steel at 25 yards with a crisp round hole, I don't need any more hardness than that for what I'm hunting.

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[This message has been edited by Contender (edited October 03, 1999).]
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Old October 3, 1999, 01:45 PM   #9
Paul B.
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Contender. I would think that the rifling would not affect the hardness. The bullet passes through so quickly, that any effect would be negligible. I think that the softening effect that occurs after sizing the bullet may take from several hours to maybe even days. If you are loading your bullets and shooting them shortly thereafter, the bullet may not have been seriously affected.
When I cast bullets (mostly for rifle) I do from 1 to 2 thousand at a time. Then I size, oven treat and put then into coffee can storage. When I plan to load some, I lube and gas check them.
I do get more uniformity this way with usually a variance in the BHN of 2 or 3 on the scale.
I don't bother heat treating handgun bullets. I have not yet seen the need.
I also feel that my method is definitely safer. While I have never had water splash into molten lead (God forbid) I did sneeze once in the direction of a pot of molten lead. OOOOOOOWWWEEEEE! :O The results were spectacular, and I looked as if I had a case of the measles. Fortunately, I wear glasses and my eyes were protected. Now, when I am casting, if a sneeze or cough rears its ugly head, I damn well turn away from the pot. That happened about 38 years ago, but some things do stick in ones mind.
As old Elmer Keith once said, "I believe in letting every man scratch his fleas in his own way."
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Old October 3, 1999, 02:16 PM   #10
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Old Elmer was a wise man.

Say Paul, How do you arrive at the right temperature for the oven heat treat?

I have more pure lead than wheel weight metal and water dropping let's me get away with a weaker mix of w/w to lead in my alloy.
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Old October 4, 1999, 12:51 AM   #11
Reddog
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I have to agree with Paul B.. Sizing does cancel a lot of the hardness you've achieved with quenching. Age will too. If you're shooting these bullets in a handgun, you'll have better luck with bullets that aren't so hard. When I want a hot load in a 44 mag., I just go to a gas checked bullet. In a 30/30 I load a gas checked bullet with a pea sized ball of dacron on top of the powder. I can load them nearly as fast as jacketed bullets. I use straight wheel weight metal. Keep it fluxed good, so all the antimony doesn't seperate out. Reddog
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Old October 4, 1999, 12:47 PM   #12
Paul B.
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Contender. To arrive at the right temperature, take some of your reject cast bullets and place them in the oven at say 450 Degrees. Be sure to stand them on end. Let them sit at that temperature for about 10 minutes. Raise the temp about 10 degrees, and let sit for about 10 minutes more.
Keep this up until the bullets start to slump. Reduce the temp by 10 degrees and that is the optimum setting for heat treating. One very important point, and I cannot stress this enough. Get the heated bullets into the water as fast as possible. The minute you open the oven, those bullets start cooling. If they cool too much, they won't heat treat properly.They are also very fragile at this stage.
Me? I just use 450 degrees for a minimum of one hour and let it go at that.
Wheel weights fluctuate somewhat in their composition. One batch of WW's with one pound of linotype added casts out at 12 BHN before hardening. The next batch, again with one pound lino added came out to 8 BHN
The first batch came from WW's I got way back in 1971. The newest batch, about 6 months ago. I haven't heat treated that last bunch yet. Too busy getting ready for hunting seasons. The first bunch will treat to about 20 BHN. Don't know about the second, yet.
I add the lino to put enough tin in for easier casting.
As the real hardening agent is antimony, adding a quantity of magnum bird shot would bring that softer alloy up to snuff.
As that bullet was made up for my 30-30, the softer alloy may work well as is. I have used the older wheel weights "as is" for deer hunting with the 30-30, and they work quite well untreated. Usually one shot kills with decent chest cavity hits.
I once ran a test, using well soaked newpapers set out at 100 yards. I fired two rounds of Federal brand 170 bullets, and two Lyman 311291 cast bullets of wheelweights. The cast bullet came out of the newspapers about 10 percent lighter than the Federals, but the frontal mushrooms were exactly the same. Accuracy was, for all practical purposes, the same.
My latest cast bullet project is to duplicate the .303 Savage's origional load in the 30-30. These rounds were, for practical purposes, non-identical twins. The Savage just had a heavier bullet.
(190 gr. at 1950 fps) From reading articles back in the 30's, these old timers said the .303 Sav. was a much better killer than the 30-30. The penetration was better. They even used the round on elk.
Contender. If you want to try the oven treatment, just keep it simple. 450 degrees at one hour or more. Works for me.
Paul B.
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Old October 4, 1999, 03:09 PM   #13
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Thank you much Paul. That's some great information. Cast bullets in the old mid-bore rifle cartridges has always interested me, however, I've never really done any experimenting in that vain. I have a contender carbine barrel reamed to 30-40 Krag that I might try some cast experiments with.

Speaking of the newer w/w's, there sure is some junk in them.(aluminum,zinc,etc.)Less antimony too. I get alot of heavy truck weights that you can see don't fill in well due to the contamination and stay shiny longer. Otherwise,you can't really tell.
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Old October 4, 1999, 08:54 PM   #14
TEXAS LAWMAN
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I've not tried the oven heat treatment but read lots about it in the cast bullet books years ago. It makes sense and I'm neither a metallurgist nor a chemist.

Because of the U.S. EPA and its attempts to ban lead, I have put away over 1,000 pounds of wheelweights so that, regardless of new regulations, I will have the materials to cast fishing sinkers and bullets. Getting rid of the steel wheelclips is a problem!
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Old October 5, 1999, 12:41 AM   #15
Long Path
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TX LAWMAN: My dad (a Tx LEO himself) used to use an old cast iron pot to melt all of his wheel weights down in on a Coleman stove in the garage, before pouring ingots into a one-pound Lyman ingot mold. The steel clips, of course, could be removed easily with tongs, and the wheelweights were now in a more usible form.

Good casting, gentlemen!

L.P.

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Old October 5, 1999, 01:14 PM   #16
Paul B.
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Contender. This is why I add a pound of linotype metal to the wheel weights. It adds more tin. Get thee to a hardware store, and get a roll of 50-50 solder, and add that to your melt. I believe they come in one pound rolls, so you will be adding about one half pound of tin to the mix. See if that cures the problem of bullets not filling out. After adding it to the melt, flux well and make sure it is thoroughly mixed.
You might even start out with half a roll, and see if that cures the problem. It usually doesn't take a whole bunch of tin to clear this up.
Paul B.
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Old October 5, 1999, 11:07 PM   #17
GreybeardB
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Lyman has a formula for what they call "#2 aloy". I don't have it handy, but it's in one of their loading manuals.
It's based on wheel weights plus tin.
Makes good 122gr 9mm bullets.
I lube them with Master Lube from Brownels & load to 1170 mv with no leading problems.
They function flawlessly in my 92f & are as accurate as any jacketed bullet.

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