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Old October 11, 2007, 08:08 PM   #1
Sigma 40 Blaster
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How hard and time consuming is casting

OK. I have had enough of the local guys claiming "rising resource prices" are making their lead bullets more expensive...half of these guys hit the tireshops for used wheel weights and I've seen a few re-claiming some fired bullets.

I was buying some tires this weekend in a small town and they gave me several buckets full of wheel weights...I'm debating about getting into the casting scene but am a little leery of the time investment AND killing myself due to lead poisoning or screwing up somehow.

I wasn't scared to get into reloading but something about having a vat of molten lead in my shop just makes me a little nervous. Is it as hard as it seems to a newbie and will the money saved (a hundred or two a month) justify the time spent casting a couple of thousand .40 cal and 9mm's a month?

Any input or experience is appreciated.
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Old October 11, 2007, 11:22 PM   #2
rwilson452
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I went in with a friend and we bought a Brinkman propane turkey cooker and a 5 qt dutch oven to melt the wheel weights into ingots. two 1 lb X4 ingot molds. I built a table to bring the cooker up to table height. you need a heavy apron gloves and a face shield. wear heavy clothes and foot wear when working with molten lead. Molding bullets is as much art as it is science. I would warn you that molten lead and water react violently when put together. Lead melts a 650 degrees. water boils at 212. you will be working with lead that is around 750 degrees at least. put them together and you get instant steam under pressure. splash lead on bare skin and you have a third degree burn instantly. You can get bullet molds in single double and six cavity molds. Doubles are easy to work with sixes that some time to work out the kinks. Mold temperature is critical. Lyman has a book on molding bullets. a good read. I have a Lee botttom pour electric pot that I mold bullets with. so it's a two step process make ingots from the weights and bullets from the ingots. you will want to make the ingots out of doors. you willl have a lot of impurities in that bucket of wheel weights so you can make quite a stink making ingots.
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Old October 12, 2007, 09:50 PM   #3
Paul B.
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Well, I think the lead poisoning deal has been overstressed by the ecofreaks. As long as you take reasonable precautions that should not even be a problem. I've been casting bullets for a bit over 53 years now, at times under what could be called at best lousy conditions. That is, unventilated areas, eating, drinking and when I smoked, smoking while doing the casting. FWIW, some was on a commercial basis for a gun shop I worked for many years back now. The point being, when all the fuss about lead poisoning and the hazards of working with lead sprouted up, I got worried and had my blood lead serum levels checked. Well, the upshot was the lead level in my body was well below what was even considered normal. Since I started getting the lead level checked with my annual check ups, they've lowered the allowable amount of lead level in peoples bodies. My levels are still a bit below the new standard.
Go ahead and cast bullets to your hearts content. Just don't eat, smoke, drink or do any other thing where your "contaminated" hands might go. When you're done, change clothes, wash up thoroughly and you should be just fine.
Oh, and drink some orange juice every day. it helps flush any lead you may get in your body out a lot faster.
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Old October 12, 2007, 09:57 PM   #4
The Tourist
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I cast bullets for just short of thirty years. Whether it saved any money is a subject of debate, but I enjoyed it as another aspect of our sport.

Free time is more important to me now than a few bucks. I was a very picky bullet caster, and my rejection level of culls was very high. But that's what I wanted, and I enjoyed reloading perfect bullets.

I always kept safety in mind. I can think of only one time where a friend and I cast inside, in his basement. All other times I cast outside, usually on sweltering hot days because the bullets seemed to turn out better.

I consider casting akin to developing your own film. It's not really needed, just another facet.
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Old October 13, 2007, 08:19 AM   #5
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It's amazing how many things we lived with without concern before the professional scare mongers started running in circles crying loudly, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!" so they could get more frderal money to "study" the issue. Then, without fail, their expensive "study" would "prove" their intial theory!

So many people got scared of lthe ethal effects of second-hand smoke, radon gas and freon gas, asbestos, floride in water, deadly lead! in paint - bird shot - cast bullets and fishing sinkers even tho it is a naturally occuring metal in the earth, sugar and surgar substitutes, salt, meat and eggs, suntans, formaldahyd in uphostery and insulation, swimming in the ocean, el nino and increasing hurricanes, electric waves from TVs and cell phones, both Global Warming and Cooling, etc. Science said it's true and they can't be wrong, right?

Well, the fears goes on and on. So much so that we need an on-line "Fear Central" to keep them all posted for us! (And someone to delete most of them as more recent "studies" show the first findings to be badly flawed.)

OR, we coul just use a bit of common sense, such as Paul B. suggests, and a bit of moderation to avoid the bowel-rolling fear so many liberals live with each day.

ADDENDUM THOUGHT ON THE GLOBAL WARMING NONENSE:

Assuming we could even KNOW what the ideal temp is, we have little ability to change it, one way or the other. No matter how hard we try or how much we might return to a 10 th centry life style, the sun controls earth's temps. (Don't expect the fear mongering elitists to change their life styles though, no one could really expect THEM to live without heat or AC or big autos!)

The "scientists" now claim a one degree temp increase over the last century but they can't tell us what tonights temp will be within that degree of accuracy. Then they sheephishly admit most of that increase occured in the first half of the 20th century, long before the world had autos or power plants or AC, etc.!

I don't know what the "average world temp" is but assuming it to be perhaps 55 degrees, a one degree temp change on the absolute temp scale means it's a bit less than a .2% increase, world wide.
Folks, that ain't gonna cause the polar ice caps to melt away even if it doubles during this centry!

Al Bore aside, the sky is NOT falling, cast your bullets in peace.
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Old August 29, 2008, 08:42 AM   #6
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Hey Paul B; there are some "endangered" rattlers around here they call the Mississauga rattlesnake. Many of them die from lead poisoning every year; the high speed kind. I have yet to see a treehugging ecofreak throw themselves in front of said rattlesnakes and plead for the life of the slithering demon nor have they even made their presence known in the nothern deer woods demanding that all of us stop our all out assault on Bambi's dad.
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Old August 29, 2008, 09:45 AM   #7
HOGGHEAD
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Bullet Casting

Bullet Casting is just like anything else in life. You get out of it what you put into it. You can get started for little money, or you can jump in and buy it all. I bought my turkey fryer on E-Bay for $27 shipped. You can pick up a bunch of stuff on E-Bay. And you can also buy good used equipment on the "CastBoolits" forum. Casting is a no-brainer. Just develop a cadence, and go for it. Nothing difficult, and lots of fun. As far as lead poisoning is concerned-no problem. Put a fan behind your pot and draw the air off the pot. Put the fan in front of a door or window, and blow the air out. It is that simple. When smelting and casting I wear gloves and eye protection(no brainer). A heavy apron would be nice, but I do not have one. I have splattered lead before, it hurts for a second or two, but it is not the end of the world. No real drama here.

When I cast my 45-70 with WW that I get from the tire store I can shoot 500 rounds for less than $100. So casting can be very cost effective. That price is after I have my components but brass for a 45-70 does not wear out. Tom.
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Old August 31, 2008, 02:56 AM   #8
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If your're worried about how much time it takes to cast or wether it's cost effective as to time vs. product. LEAVE IT ALONE. You don't have the patients to do it right unless you change your mindset. It's not about saving time nor is it about saving money. Although, on occasion these two factors are a side benefit. It's all about the "Look I made this myself!" The satisfaction and the relaxation one gets from doing it yourself also comes into play. So unless you are willing to slow down and enjoy the art of casting, don't bother. You'll just wind up disappointed and possibley hurt by getting into a hurry.
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Old August 31, 2008, 09:04 AM   #9
CraigC
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Al Bore aside, the sky is NOT falling, cast your bullets in peace.
Excellent post!!!
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Old August 31, 2008, 09:09 AM   #10
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Casting your own allows you to shoot odd cal. rifles for penny's by not having to buy expensive jacketed stuff. Every day shooting becomes cheaper and easyer on you as your not using full charges of powder. A lead bullet can go only so fast and if you keep things moderate you shoot more. TF
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Old August 31, 2008, 10:11 AM   #11
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I was shooting IDPA yesterday. A fellow on my squad saw me loading my cast loads into my 1911 45 magazine. He asked where I got the boolits. They're my own, I said. He was immediately interested. He asked what it would take to get into casting. I said $100.00 would be a basic set-up for one caliber, if he had the time, a source of lead, and a place to do it.

He then asked how much it cost me to load that box,(50 shells), I was taking the rounds out of. I said about $3.00! His jaw hit the ground! See, I got about 1200 pounds of lead free for the hauling from work,(it's nearly pure, soft lead). My only material cost was 30% of my lead alloy is linotype, which I just paid $1.50 a pound for. I don't figure my time to be worth anything, it is really FREE time!


The greenies and their "you're gonna get killed by lead fumes" is a bunch of BS! After 40 years of casting and shooting lead boolits, I had by blood serum lead levels tested last summer. It was 5.0! I'm not worried. Just be sure to NOT eat, smoke or even pick your nose while handling lead. Then be sure to wash your hands thoroughly when you're done.
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Old August 31, 2008, 10:27 AM   #12
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Sigma, I was in your shoes just a short time ago and debating on casting my own. After alot of research and reading, I finally took the plunge. Now, After making thousands of cast bullets I am loving it like the day I started. It was an initial investment and I got some good deals on equipment and lead but once you have what you need, Your done with the investment part of it(Not realy and it goes on with buying new stuff). Now its time to sit back, Relax and enjoy the process and the bullets that YOU make and not out of some box on a store shelf. As far as health concerns, All the above members have great advice as to staying safe with casting. Its mostly common sense that your dealing with a molten metal that produces some bad fumes and so long as you keep your face out of it(And other body parts), You will be fine. I have a room that I cast in and I make sure it has good ventalation with fans in either window. One for taking in fresh air and the other to suck it out. All my ingots are done outside on a turkey fryer and then labeled with the mixture they are and stored in baggies for future use because its easy to get them confused if not labeled(They all look the same). Good luck with casting and once you start, You will love it and realize what you have been missing. And yes, Its cheaper but more time consuming and I think its all well worth it in the final product.
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Old August 31, 2008, 10:31 AM   #13
dahermit
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casting

If you do not cast your own bullets you are probably fooling yourself as to how much you really shoot.
Casting removes the cost of the bullet from the equation that is stated: How much can I afford to shoot?
(I have been casting since 1963.)
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Old August 31, 2008, 01:08 PM   #14
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I just started casting earlier this year. The best advice I can give you is to figure on a smelting setup and a production setup. A lot of the same tools can be use in both setups. For both setups it cost me around $200. I get wheel weights for free. After work in the evening in around three hours I can smelt around 400 pounds of lead. Using a Lee ten pound bottom pour pot I can cast 600 bullets in about three hours. It doesn't take much to pay off the equipment then the bullets are free. I am loading 200 grain LSWC for 45 auto for $3 per 100. Like the others said it is more for the love of the hobby, if it is just about saving money you probably won't like it. Here are a few pictures of my setup, hope this helps.


I bought a Bayou Classic 186,000 BTU burner online for around $40 and a six quart dutch oven at Harbor Freight for $12. It will melt lead fast.


I bought some wax at the craft store for flux, 20" slotted spoon to scoop clips and a 24" solid spoon to clean the top. Spoons were $3 each.


Made my ingot molds out of scrap steel and my wife bought me a couple of cast iron muffin pans.


This is around 350 pounds done in about three hours.


Here are the 600 bullets done in about three hours. You will have to add in time to lube and size.


The only thing else I had to buy to cast was the mold and the bottom pour pot. I bought a Lyman sizer with a heater so I'm into casting for a total of about $330. The only thing else I will have to buy are molds for other calibers I want to cast for.
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Old August 31, 2008, 01:25 PM   #15
kraigwy
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Casting bullets is not hard, there is no way I could aford to shoot as much as I do if I didnt cast bullets.

With care cast bullets are every bit as accurate then factory bullets, in some cases more accurate.

I dont just cast pistol bullets, but rifle as well. Thats where you really cut down ammo prices

An example, I have a mold, that uses 3/8s copper tubing for jackets, using cast bullets in my 375 H&H. I can shoot them as fast and as accurate as factory bullets.

I use to cast bullets in my M1A and M1 for gallery practice, shooting at NRA Small Bore targets to keep me in shape for High Power in the winter off season.

Lvman makes an excellent Cast Bullet Guide and ReLoading Manuel, That will get you well on the way.

Also try http://www.castbulletassoc.org/forum/

Hope the mods dont mind posting another Forum here,
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Old August 31, 2008, 02:41 PM   #16
snuffy
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Lyman makes an excellent Cast Bullet Guide and ReLoading Manuel, That will get you well on the way.

Also try http://www.castbulletassoc.org/forum/
After seeing this link several times before I decided to join today. Sure would be nice to be able to post on there. Is there a curing time before I can post? Maybe they have to check to see if I some kind of BG or had been banned at some time past? I'm sure it's a good place to belong to, or I wouldn't have spent $17.00 to join.
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Old August 31, 2008, 05:02 PM   #17
kraigwy
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After seeing this link several times before I decided to join today. Sure would be nice to be able to post on there. Is there a curing time before I can post? Maybe they have to check to see if I some kind of BG or had been banned at some time past? I'm sure it's a good place to belong to, or I wouldn't have spent $17.00 to join.
No sir, you dont have to join the Cast Bullet Assn to join the forum. But it does take a little bet after you sign up on the forum for the moderators to e-mail you to confirm your membership to the forum. Maybe being labor day weekend is the hold up.
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Old September 2, 2008, 09:33 AM   #18
jmorris
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How hard and time consuming is casting

I watched a friend cast fishing weights and figured the dip and pour method was not for me. I found some photos of a magma bullet caster and made my own. I automated the process with solenoids, homemade timer circuits and gear motors. I used a PID controller to keep the temperature steady. It’s not super fast at 470 RPH+- however, you can size them concurrent with casting (I also built an automated pneumatic sizer) and that saves half the time.






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