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Old October 10, 2011, 11:02 PM   #1
TripHlx
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Potential newbie caster

Hi guys. I'm seriously considering casting bullets along with reloading ammunition, partially to save money, but also because it interests me as a hobby. I was wondering if any of you guys could give me some advice on getting started, and maybe relay some of the good/bad experiences you've had related to the process? Also, suggestions as to a good way to set up a reloading/casting area indoors would be awesome, and pics of your preffered setup would be great too. Thanks a ton in advance guys!
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Old October 11, 2011, 04:00 PM   #2
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Read the sticky on the top of the forum page and browse all the threads on this forum. Then head over to Cast Boolits. That is where the die hards hang out. You will find out the difference between a bullet and a boolit.
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Old October 11, 2011, 06:36 PM   #3
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Help is just a click away !!!

Be Careful that ya don`t go into overload !!!!

Here`s a link http://castboolits.gunloads.com/

Enjoy !!!!

See ya in a week
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Old October 11, 2011, 06:54 PM   #4
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I still use my initial starting set up.

I use a stainless steel stock pot for melting down wheel weights. I do that outside at a friends house using an old stove burner. (Tried melting WW inside one time. Will not do it again. My apartment smelled like burned tires for a couple of weeks.) I pour ingots, For the actual bullet castin I use an old cast iron skillet. I ladle pour. I bought a couple of Lee Moulds off of Midway.

Total price was less than $50. In fact the only actual money I have spent has been on the Moulds, and Liquit Allox. The rest was freebie stuff from friends.
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Old October 11, 2011, 07:25 PM   #5
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You may have heard this before, but please heed. Do your casting in an outdoor area or a very well ventilated place. Avoid fumes as much as you can. Handle the lead and cast bullets as little as possible and wear gloves when you do. Lead is poisonous and dying of lead poisoning at an early age is no fun. Or even at a late age.

Jim
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Old October 11, 2011, 09:23 PM   #6
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It would be helpful if you could give some more information.

1. How much money do you have to spend on this?

2. What cartridges do you want to cast for?

3. Do you have a source of lead alloy?

4. Where do you want to do this (garage,shop, spare room)?

I started at least 10 years ago with a modest set up I have added to over they years. I don't claim to know it all but I have learned a few things. Another good source of information on the subject is this site.

http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletNotes.htm

Cary
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Old October 11, 2011, 09:28 PM   #7
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The dangers of lead fumes are usually overexaggerated. For lead to vaporize you have to have your melt around 1200*f. Normal casting temps run about 1/2 that...around 6-700*F. I have cast in my basement in the winter with all the windows closed. I am still alive and lead levels are normal.

It is not a good idea to smoke or eat while handling lead. Handle the boolits as much as needed... Just wash you hand throoughly after casting or handling lead.

Gloves are a good idea because casting is HOT.


Don't let the hype scare you. Just be mindful where you are casting to make sure nothing (ie kids, dogs, cats, etc) will knock over your pot.
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Old October 11, 2011, 09:43 PM   #8
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I use thick leather gloves, kevlar arms gyuards, goggles, sweat band and hat, and a lap protector, usually an old towel. For splatters, completely sufficient. I would recommend a bottom pour pot to start with, instead of ladle pouring, but go with what you can afford and want to try. It IS a fun and productive hobby I enjoy, tomorrow I'm gonna load up some more 9mm boolits I cast a week or so ago.
I don't smelt, but buy wheel weight lead smelted, but with wheelweights becoming scarcer, might also look for a lead supply house - I have a close one that makes bullet metal for casters.
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Old October 11, 2011, 09:48 PM   #9
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All of the above. Plus Lyman's 4th Edition Cast Bullet Handbook. My initial outlay was more than the rifle I was trying to cast boolits for and I'm up to two 20# furnaces and more than a few moulds but it actually takes very little to get started. Very little more than a heat source, a sturdy pot, a ladle and a mould are required. Safety shouldbe your first concern and should always be an important part of your casting activites. Just like reloading; this is serious stuff and careless folks can be badly hurt.
GP100Man warned you, it's a whole new world in Cast Boolit land. I joined over there a short time ago and spent a few dozen hours just reading threads and stickies. Some of the folks over there are a bit rude to newbies but hang in there and you'll learn more than you thought possible, then you'll learn you've just scratched the surface.
IMHO decades, maybe even a century or more, of technology, for lack of a better word, was lost with the advent of smokeless powder and jacketed bullets. These folks and others like them are true scientists and are trying to recover this technology using modern tools and techniques.
When you fire a cast boolit, even better a cast boolit over blackpowder, you touch history.
Welcome to the asylum! If you have any questions some veteran casters hang out here and they're a bit friendlier and they like newbies. They put up with me posting piles of boolits and ammo and the occasional newbie question.
I've been loading for decades but casting is new and exciting for me, hope you enjoy it at least half as much as I do!
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Old October 11, 2011, 10:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
You may have heard this before, but please heed. Do your casting in an outdoor area or a very well ventilated place. Avoid fumes as much as you can. Handle the lead and cast bullets as little as possible and wear gloves when you do. Lead is poisonous and dying of lead poisoning at an early age is no fun. Or even at a late age.
That sounds like an add for the EPA! Them and their scare tactics have everybody out to ban lead in anything.

The reason wheel weights are becoming scarce is somebody thinks they're going to jump off the cars tires, band together and kill all humans. BS enough people, you can get away with anything.

There's a vast difference between smoke and fumes or lead vapor. As ICH said, lead only just STARTS to vaporize ABOVE 1200 degrees.

Handling lead boolits is NOT dangerous. Elemental,(metallic), lead is NOT absorbed through the skin.

I've cast in a closed up spare bedroom for many years.. My lead levels are normal. I also load, shoot lead boolits, sometimes indoors. Washing is THE most important thing to remember, never stop loading to eat of go about your day without washing your hands and face thoroughly.
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Old October 12, 2011, 03:12 PM   #11
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WOW... I'll be honest guys, this is much more of a response than I ever hoped to get, and I appreciate it very much. I'm reading everything I can find, and will have Lyman's casting handbook on the way as soon as payday comes.

Cary: To answer your questions, I'm attempting to start casting for about $100-$150 US. I'm going to start off simple and cast for .38 Special and 9mm Luger at first. I have a small source of lead wheel weights at a fair price, I'm more that willing to smelt them myself. As for a place to do the work, I have a small amount of room outdoors to smelt my scrap lead into ingots, and a small storage building (insulated, and powered ) for all my projects. I'm already planning on picking up a 3M respirator and some replacement cartridges. Cheap as can be considering the protection in provides. I believe I have most of the other safety gear I need.

After doing some more reading and research, this is beginning to look like a hobby I can really get into. I appreciate all the feedback guys, and thank you again! Anything else you guys have to add is more than welcome.
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Old October 12, 2011, 05:29 PM   #12
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This is a good furnace to consider. I love the thing and you can’t beat the price.

http://www.midwayusa.com/Product/645...rnace-110-volt

You will have to tumble lube to stay in your budget. A couple of good molds to consider.

http://www.midwayusa.com/Product/366...truncated-cone

http://www.midwayusa.com/Product/164...semi-wadcutter
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Old October 12, 2011, 05:59 PM   #13
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Shooter: That is actually the exact furnace I was eyeballing for startup. I have another quick question though, why would I have too tumble lube? I was considering pan lubing with a simple homeade lube.
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Old October 12, 2011, 06:03 PM   #14
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Tumble lubing is faster than pan lubing. Sounds like you are well on your way towards addiction, so I would just go ahead and get the standard lube groove molds and pan lube...because if I know any better you will have a lubrisizer in the near future...

Save your pennies and dont buy the respirators...

Save your Benjamins and buy one of these :

http://www.magmaengineering.com/prod...tar-lube-sizer

or if you don't shoot high volumes then one of these:
http://www.midwayusa.com/Product/458...and-lubricator
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Old October 12, 2011, 06:08 PM   #15
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ICH: The lubrisizer is being called a 'forecasted expense' at the moment.
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Old October 12, 2011, 06:17 PM   #16
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I hear ya!!!

I started pan lubing, the tumble lubing, then got a Lyman 4500, then finally ended up with the Star.

Just trying to save a fellow addict a couple steps.. LOL!
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Old October 12, 2011, 06:36 PM   #17
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I personally haven't cast a boolit for any 9mm, but from what I have read it CAN be a bit of a pain in the backside.

That said, go for the 38 initially, and get your feet wet. Remember that any boolit can be tumble lubed and if you want to use a harder wax based you can always pan lube just as easily.

I highly recommend looking up White Label Lubes, and get their version of the Alox, same as what Lee sells only more for cheaper. He also sells a couple of stick lubes meant for the lubrisizers which can just as easily be used as a pan lube option.

On the molds and sizing dies I would personally recommend sticking with the Lee molds until ou have an idea of what your doing and where you really want to go. There are a lot of folks who downgrade the Lee molds, but to be honest, if you cannot use a Lee how do you expect to use one that cost 4-5 times more? For roughly 20 bucks you can get a two holer or for another 18 you can get a 6 banger. Me I went with the 6 right form the start. I started off only using the two end holes then graduated up form there. If you get the 6 banger be sure to get the handles as well.

As for sizing, well depending on what your bore slugs to, you may or may not need to size the Lee boolits, depending on your alloy and temp. I use the .452 - 250gr RF right from the mold in my 45 ACP with the Alox lube and it runs just fine. I haven't tried it in my 45 Colt yet but do not see any reason why it shouldn't work equally as well. I'm shooting the .452-300gr GC Lee in my 454 and it shot tighter than I can hold it to 50yds and the hog I rolled rear over ears a couple of weeks ago would testify they work really well. LOL

One last thing I would suggest, start putting away a little here and there to pick up alloy when you can. WW are great, if you can find them, I can't in my area. I have been picking up small batches from forum members and will consolidate it all into one homogeneous alloy when I hit 6-700 pounds. That way at least when I get ready to pour up something for the bigger revolvers I know it will be consistent. I don't mind having a smaller portion set aside for special projects, but my main focus is the 41,44,45C - 454 revolvers.

Good luck and don't be afraid to ask,

Later,
Mike / TX
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Old October 12, 2011, 07:21 PM   #18
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Another way to do the lube/sizing on the cheap is the Lee sizer, it works great with the TL boolits and even comes with a small bottle of lube. When that runs out White Label sounds good but I keep ordering sizers so I'm good for awhile. One little bottle of LLA lasts quite awhile! Rooster Jacket seems to work great on TL boolits also, dries hard and shiny and works fine for my 800fps .45's.
I started with a 4500, ICH, guess that's another thing I got bass-ackwards. I think maybe TH can get by without one for pistol boolits, for a little while, but agree he needs to keep a spot open on his bench. I'd allow 16-18"
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Old October 12, 2011, 10:29 PM   #19
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The Lee Pro 4-20 is the furnace I started with and still use. The only problem I have had with it is some dripping from the spout while using and that can be fixed with a few turns with a screw driver on the rod for the valve. At the price and features it is a great furnace to enter the hobby with. At this time I have 7 of the Lee molds and one SAECO. Once I learned to cast with the Lee molds they work fine for my use. I purchased the one SAECO mold because it was a design that Lee did not carry. It sounds like you are off to a good start. Read all you can and don't hesitate to ask questions. All of us started at one time and most are glad to help some else get into the hobby. As for casting alloy I started with a certified casting alloy such as Hardball to learn the ropes with and then switched over to wheel weight alloy. With the eventual demise of WW alloy I plan to purchase from Rotometals and company in CA. It will increase my cost but I will still be able to make bullets for less than I can buy them and I enjoy doing it. Here is their web address if you want to look them over.
www.rotometals.com
I ordered some alloy from them a month ago and was pleased with their products and their service.
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Old October 12, 2011, 11:05 PM   #20
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A couple suggestions that I would have is to do your smelting and casting in separate pots. The smelting is best done in something other than a bottom-pour pot. The junk that is removed from your alloy can and will cause your bottom-pour to drip like there is no tomorrow. Using only cleaned alloy (like in ingot form) will help keep the bottom-pour pots drip-free a lot longer.

If you use cast iron for your smelting pot, do not tap on it while it is hot. (Some people have a nasty habit of tapping a spoon to get everything off of it) Doing so runs a greatly increased risk of your pot cracking and leaking a lot of molten metal (~700 degrees) all over your bench and possibly even you. NOT FUN!

Also, casting 9mms can get kind of finicky. The .38/.357 moulds are generally much more forgiving the new caster, and are easier to learn on.

Set your moulds on the edge of your casting pot as you melt your alloy. It will heat the moulds up and you will be casting pretty boolits in a hurry.

Finally, most people will say you don't need any more than 2-3% tin in your alloy to allow for good mould fillout. With clip-on WWs, adding 1% tin to it usually is sufficient.

Be safe, have fun, and welcome to the addiction!
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Old October 13, 2011, 12:02 AM   #21
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I keep wondering why people say 9mm is so hard to cast for - I do it, use the Lee 124 tumble lube RN and the Lee 125 grain single lube groove mold, both tumble lubed. Might be getting a hardlubing setup tomorrow, though.
Cast works JUST fine in my 9mm handguns.
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Old October 13, 2011, 10:50 AM   #22
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I think 9mm is "hard" to cast for because most of the available molds for 9mm are alot of the time not big enough (as in diameter). My Sig 9mm slugs at .3565". If I were to buy a 9mm mold at .356" I would have a leading nightmare.

The high pressures also have a lot to do with the trickiness.

For 9mm, it is IMPERATIVE to slug your bore, as you should do with any other firearms you intend to shoot cast from. Also, go at least .001" over your groove diameter. I go .0015 over. Myt 9mm boolits are sized at .358" Good quality lube is important too. I prefer Carnuba Red. And lastly, your alloy must not be too hard. Harder is not always better. I use air cooled wheelweights.

Good luck!
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Old October 13, 2011, 09:42 PM   #23
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Odd. My Lee tumble lube mold drops at .360, the single lube groove at .358, and the new Lyman 356402 conical drops at .362. I use the first one for 9mm and 38 Special, going to size the Lyman's to .358 for 38 special use as well.
I also use air/towel dropped wheelweight metal, BHN is probably around 9 or so. They work, lube with lee Liquid Alox.
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Old October 14, 2011, 12:42 PM   #24
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This is great guys, I appreciate all of your responses. I'm almost definitely going to get my feet wet casting for the .38 before I move on to the 9mm. I've read a lot about how finicky/tricky it can be to cast for in this forum alone. I was thinking about using water quenched wheel weight alloy for the 9mm, and air cooled for the lower velocity .38 Special. The more I read, the more I'm thinking this is the perfect hobby for me. I've got some basic gear on the way now, and I'm building a special bench in my storage building to make a reloading/casting/gunsmithing setup. I'll see what I can do about posting pics when I get it all done. Thanks again for all your help guys!
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Old October 14, 2011, 01:28 PM   #25
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No need to water drop your 9's.
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