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Old November 12, 2010, 11:46 PM   #1
shooter_john
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Bullet casting wannabe

Hey guys, I've come to the experts to borrow some knowledge and expertise. A friend dropped off 80# of lead ingots and molded bullets the other day, and since I had been teetering with the idea of casting, that pushed me over the edge.
I plan to load mostly for my Taurus PT1911 as I have a pretty steady supply of 9mm and 40 practice ammo through my work. I may eventually do a little bit of 308 casting just to tinker with from time to time but the 45 is the priority. (And I realize that the rifle stuff will require gas checks, I just don't really know how those get applied)
So my question(s) revolve around what I would need. I know that I need either a fish fryer and a pot or a lead furnace, some molds, mold handles, and lube of some sort. What am I missing? I've been looking at the Lee 6 cavity mold/ handles, and I have a fish fryer and cast iron pot on hand already. Do I particularly NEED a sizing die? Also, I've watched a few videos of various lube techniques on youtube, so I guess I would need a device for lubing bullets either.
Finally, as I understand it, the process is (in a small nutshell)
Smoke or lube molds, pour led, tap sprue plate, drop bullets, repeat... (with a big of safety precautions along the way of course)
Do I have enough of a clue to get started???
Huge thanks in advance guys, I really appreciate your help!
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Old November 13, 2010, 12:10 AM   #2
Edward Horton
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Where and what were the 80 pounds of lead made from?
Specifically did they start out as wheel weights, I don't want to rain on your parade but be careful if you have young children. Wheel weights contain high levels of toxic heavy metals and casting bullets from wheel weights can contaminate the casting area no matter how well it is ventilated.

This information was published in the American Rifle magazine in the 1980s and I stopped casting because of it and had very young children at the time.

I'm sorry but that is what happens when you have Government deregulation that allow manufactures to make more money at your expense.

Be careful and know where your lead comes from.
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Old November 13, 2010, 12:17 AM   #3
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The lead I received is either in bullet form or in Lyman ingots, no idea what it was before that. I do have small kids, but planned on doing my casting outdoors. Would that still be an issue?

And I also forgot to mention, but most on most of the cast bullets that I got, the lube appears to be dried up and cracked. And they are mostly 38's... More 38's than I will shoot in my lifetime in fact. Could I throw them in the pot lube and all or would I need to somehow de-lube them before recasting?

Mods... Please move this to the bullet casting section if you feel necessary. I jumped the gun and forgot that section had been added.
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Old November 13, 2010, 12:22 AM   #4
Ideal Tool
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Hello, Shooter John, dump em' in pot & fire it up! Best do this outside & downwind from house ..and be sure neighbors are friendly and won't call fire dept.! Your going to make a big smoke screen..light fumes with match to cut down on most of it. One thing..you won't need to use any flux with all that lube.
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Old November 13, 2010, 08:50 AM   #5
grumpa72
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Here is a nice primer that I used when I got started two years ago.

http://ezine.m1911.org/casting.htm

If you go with Lee products and don't plan on doing thousands, it is a nice economical way to go.

www.leeproducts.com

Last edited by grumpa72; November 13, 2010 at 09:20 AM.
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Old November 13, 2010, 09:02 AM   #6
dahermit
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...I don't want to rain on your parade but be careful if you have young children. Wheel weights contain high levels of toxic heavy metals and casting bullets from wheel weights can contaminate the casting area no matter how well it is ventilated...
Worse than linotype or other lead alloys? Many of us have been casting bullets for 50 years or so, and have not caused anyone any toxic harm (including ourselves). It would seem you are offering an opinion about something with which you know little. Most instances of children harmed by lead contamination comes from them eating lead based paint.
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Old November 13, 2010, 09:23 AM   #7
grumpa72
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I have grandkids and I am very careful.

1. I only cast when the grandkids aren't around
2. I cast outside and hope that there is a light breeze
3. When I am finished, I wash the driveway down with the hose to make sure that nothing remains behind.

I am of the opinion that if you are careful and follow basic safety rules, then there shouldn't be a problem. Imo, the biggest issue is the temperature of the molten lead and its explosive reaction to water. In addition, the presence of contaminating lead can be mitigated if you keep the lead hot enough to flow smoothly but not so hot as to cause it to vaporize.
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Old November 13, 2010, 09:32 AM   #8
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Quote:
The lead I received is either in bullet form or in Lyman ingots, no idea what it was before that. I do have small kids, but planned on doing my casting outdoors. Would that still be an issue?
Not an issue. Use all the common sence safety precautions, don't eat, drink or smoke while casting and wash your hands before you do any of those. I have been casting for a few years. I have the lead levels checked every year since I have to have blood work done for other reasons and it is always normal.

Quote:
And I also forgot to mention, but most on most of the cast bullets that I got, the lube appears to be dried up and cracked. And they are mostly 38's... More 38's than I will shoot in my lifetime in fact. Could I throw them in the pot lube and all or would I need to somehow de-lube them before recasting?
Just throw them in the pot it won't be a problem. When you melt old bullets, WW's or any other lead to make ingots for casting I would use a turkey frier and a casting pot for casting. Read the sticky in the casting section and it should explain everything in detail. Welcome to casting, it's as much fun as shooting for me.
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Old November 13, 2010, 09:45 AM   #9
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Come on over to the Bullet Casting sub-forum. Great sticky addresses equipment and how-to questions, suitably titled Bullet Casting 101.
Welcome to the affliction!
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Old November 13, 2010, 10:37 AM   #10
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The nanny state and it's EPA ninnies have everybody scared about lead toxicity. Yes it's toxic, but it don't jump out of the pot and bite you! lead does not vaporize,(create fumes), below 1200 degrees, much hotter than an electric casting furnace can achieve. Forget about lead dust! Lead is very heavy, if it is fine enough to BE dust, it ends up on the floor quickly. Just don't eat off the floor or lick it.

John, the lead you have can be just about anything. It shouldn't be too hard to determine what the alloy is. Just cast some bullets, then weigh them. Get some pure lead, cast some more bullets with it using the same mold. The weight difference will tell you a lot about the composition. Also a simple fingernail test will tell you approximately how hard they are. For 45 ACP, you don't need a real hard alloy/bullet. Or better yet, send me a couple of the bullets, I'll run them on my lee hardness tester to give you a BHN,(Brinnel Hardness Number).

Spend some time over on the bullet casting sub-forum. Then came on there and ask specific questions. I, and others , will answer them as you come up with them.
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Old November 13, 2010, 01:32 PM   #11
Edward Horton
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The warning about casting bullets was in the American Rifleman magazine, a study was done about lead levels in bullet casters and plumbers blood. The study stated that plumbers had higher lead levels in their blood than bullet casters. The problem was people who cast bullets using wheel weights had very high levels of toxic heavy metals in their blood.

The article then on to state it was "unsafe" to cast bullets indoors from wheel weights no matter how well the area was ventilated. "ANY" area where casting takes place with wheel weights will be contaminated. The most dangerous period is during fluxing of the wheel weights when the gases given off contain the highest levels of toxic heavy metals.

This article was in the early 1980s when I had a three your old son and a infant son. I'm not a commie pinko left wing cry baby, and I quit casting bullets because of what was written in the National Rifleman magazine and it is "NOT" a left wing publication.

Part of my job as a Inspector at a military depot was reviewing the MSDS sheets for the products bought by "our" Government. So please heed my words, Government deregulation in the United States means our wheel weights are toxic, our boiled linseed oil is toxic and on and on. BUT if you go north of our border in Canada who has much stricter laws protecting its citizens you will NOT find these toxic contaminated materials.

Government deregulation means the rich get richer and the little guy at the bottom gets the shaft. It doesn't matter whether its toxic metals or toxic assets "YOU" are the one who pays for it.

Be careful and do NOT sit with your back to the wind in front of your melting pot your just breathing turbulated contaminated air.

There are many ways to have cheap safe fun shooting reloads, like shooting pistol bullets in a British .303


Last edited by Edward Horton; November 13, 2010 at 01:39 PM.
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Old November 13, 2010, 02:21 PM   #12
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Ed, I cast indoors, in an enclosed bedroom, that's also my loading room. Little if any ventilation. I routinely have my blood checked for lead levels, it has never been above 8.0. Lead cannot be absorbed through the skin, well only .006% can be, so you simply have to be careful about what's on the outside of the skin, hence the warning to wash thoroughly.

Wheel weights are NOT any more toxic than plain lead. In fact they're LESS toxic, because they contain tin and antimony which are far less toxic than lead. It's hard for the human body to absorb lead, even if ingested. Lead salts, well that's an entirely different matter. The lead by-product in primers is lead styponate, a lead salt that's very easily absorbed. It's a fine dust that can be inhaled, then absorbed by the body. The lead compound that makes paint white is lead oxide.

I don't have any problem with you being careful. Your children would have been very easily damaged by any lead in their systems. It's especially bad for developing nervous systems. Or being present while a woman is expecting.

I raised a son while I was heavily into lead casting, and loading shotshells with lead shot. He's turned out to be in the tops of every class he took on the way to become a EMP/paramedic and firefighter in the last 2 years. He helped me load until he was old enough to load on his own. Along with shooting a lot of lead bullets, both outdoors and indoors.
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Old November 13, 2010, 02:52 PM   #13
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Thanks for the reality check Snuffy.
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Old November 13, 2010, 04:10 PM   #14
shooter_john
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Thanks so much for all you guy's help and advice, y'all are awesome. I'm going to tell Santa about the things I need to get me started, so I'll be tuning in here a lot more over the next few weeks more than likely.
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Old November 13, 2010, 09:19 PM   #15
chris in va
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Skip the 6 banger, get a two hole mold. It'll be a lot less complicated when warming up and cutting the sprues. Once you get comfortable with casting, by all means pick up a 6 hole.

The Lee Production Pot IV has worked great for me, and doesn't cost a lot of $$$. Highly recommended.

Please...be careful with water. Just one bit of moisture on a range scrap bullet tossed into melted lead will splatter everywere...otherwise known as the Tinsel Fairy. Wear welders gloves, eye protection and long sleeves/pants. Trust me on this, I've had a visit.

One more thing, it's absolutely imperative to warm up your mold first. Once you have a good pool of molten lead going, dip the mold into it for about a minute, making sure not to get any in the mold itself. Just the very bottom is fine.
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Old November 13, 2010, 11:58 PM   #16
shooter_john
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I was thinking about that earlier Chris... My wishlist contained the 6 hole mold, but I may pick up the 2 on my own. I also went with the Lee 4 20 bottom pour as it seemed to be highly recommended by you guys and others. Also Lee mold handles.

Does the sprue plate come with the mold or the handles? I don't recall seeing that as part of either item.

I'm also glad that I can just toss those 38's in the pot as I was worried about having to go through a bunch of steps to turn them into 45's, but that sounds easy enough.

And lastly, I'm holding off on the rifle molds for now so that I don't have to tackle gas checks right off of the bat. But as I understand it the Lee sizing dies will seat the checks automatically, correct?

Thanks again to all of you guys, I'm really looking forward to getting started.
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Old November 14, 2010, 01:26 AM   #17
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The Lee 2-cavity moulds I'm looking at have handles and sprue plates. The plates are a bit hard to see in photos featuring the cavity's shape. The 6-cavity moulds I've seen don't include handles. I have a 2-cavity Lyman mould and it turns out 45 Colt boolits at a very respectable rate. I think two boolits at a time will meet my needs but that's a call we have to make for ourselves. I don't plan on doing any high-volume shooting so high-volume loading and casting won't be required either.
Lead rifle boolits don't necessarily require gas checks. Higher pressure loads in rifles and pistols shoot better with them but for me shooting cast boolits isn't about high speed, it's about accuracy and the satisfaction of using a high-quality, handmade product.
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Old November 14, 2010, 02:34 PM   #18
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The whole lead scare, is just that. A scare tactic. There is alot worse things in your house than lead. I cast in my loading room, indoors. Lead you cant breathe lead unless its vaporized and that dont happen in a lead pot, you need torch temps. Lead doesnt get in through the skin. It has to be ingested. Don't eat, drink or smoke while casting. And wash hands good afterwards. Take this advice from a man who casts alot, has three small kids, and all of us test 0.0 for lead.
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Old November 14, 2010, 03:19 PM   #19
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Lead is bad! Really, really bad! Please protect yourself and send me all your scrap lead, especially wheelweights. Pull them off your cars' & trucks' wheels, pull them off your neighbors' wheels too! We can't be too safe. Go by your tire store and gather up all their bad wheelweights too! Gather them up and PM me for shipping instructions, I'll dispose of them safely!
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Old November 14, 2010, 05:35 PM   #20
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I`m closer , PM for address !!!


Actual lead or alloys aplicable to lead does`nt put out fumes until ya hit 1200f or so !!

Now the contaminates ON the WW such as oil & paint & fluxing compounds (whatever they may be) burn & fume at alot lower temps !!!

I`ve cast & shot lead on&off since `83 , I have my blood checked every other yr. for heavy metals , never a trace !!!

I smelt, cast (with a fan created cross wind) & shoot outdoors.
I do follow the don`t lick the bullets or fingers & wash up promptly after smeltin, castin or loading .
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Old December 13, 2010, 06:54 AM   #21
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I do follow the don`t lick the bullets
Hmmm....I missed that one appearantly..

....But I have cast and ate at the same time.

..I guess its another one of the ,,,could happen,,things that I dont worry about.
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Old December 13, 2010, 12:01 PM   #22
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I get my blood tested regularly since I started casting, and the only time my lead level spiked was just after I got stupid during a smelting session (melting raw wheel weights into clean ingots) and was drinking a cup of coffee while doing it. My level only spiked to 19 mg/dl, and my doctor told me that the normal range is 0 - 20. 6 months later it dropped to 3. During that time I continued casting and loading, but the difference was that I didn't eat or drink anything while doing it.

The way I look at the dangers of lead is much the same way I look at the dangers of firearms in general--yeah, you can blow a hole in your foot if you point a loaded gun at it and pull the trigger. Thankfully, one can easily avoid blowing a hole in one's foot by not doing that. It all boils down to one thing most of us learned in kindergarten--don't do stupid stuff!

Also, don't take everything you read in American Rifleman as gospel. They recently referred to Elmer Keith as "...an obscure gun writer who achieved a small amount of notoriety in the 1940's and 1950's." Also, just because a guy who casts bullets from wheel weight alloy might have a higher blood lead level than a guy who only casts using commercially produced ingots, that doesn't mean wheel weights are inherently more toxic. I certainly haven't read the article, but if they drew that conclusion based solely on that criteria, then the author was a moron. Consider that maybe wheel weight casters are like most of us--hobbyists--and casters using commercial ingots might be more technical and detail-oriented who might be a little more careful. I'm not saying that's always the case, but you have to be careful of a lot of the "studies" out there.
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Old December 13, 2010, 12:29 PM   #23
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Also, don't take everything you read in American Rifleman as gospel. They recently referred to Elmer Keith as "...an obscure gun writer who achieved a small amount of notoriety in the 1940's and 1950's."
Wow!!! In the early sixties until he died, he was arguably the most famous of the the gun writers. It does not matter if you believed everything he wrote; everybody who read gun magazines knew who he was. "...small amount of noteriety...", my arse.
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Old December 13, 2010, 12:35 PM   #24
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Elmer Kieth???? Never even heard of the guy...
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Old December 13, 2010, 03:25 PM   #25
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Wow!!! In the early sixties until he died, he was arguably the most famous of the the gun writers. It does not matter if you believed everything he wrote; everybody who read gun magazines knew who he was. "...small amount of noteriety...", my arse.
And very ironic too, considering that it was in American Rifleman that he got his first article published.
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