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Old August 11, 2012, 06:33 PM   #1
Smokey Joe
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Help! Problem with lead for bullet casting...

Casting along, using wheel weights we smelted earlier today. Nice clean ingots put into RCBS bottom-pour casting furnace. Molten lead running well, casting good bullets, when suddenly the lead starts to run slowly, then drip, then almost stop. Furnace set at 725° F. Tried lower and higher settings to no avail.

Wot the heck went wrong??? I now have a casting furnace half full of lead that won't run out the bottom.

Suggestions? Please?
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Old August 11, 2012, 07:20 PM   #2
Vance
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Sounds like you didn't get all the dirt out of your lead. Bring the pot up to casting temp, then use a wire to clean the nozzle. Have a catch pan under the nozzle. Wear gloves and long sleeves and use pliers to hold the wire you use to clean the nozzle.
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Old August 11, 2012, 07:43 PM   #3
Edward429451
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It's dirt in the spout. Sometimes tapping on the furnace will clear it, other times it will at least let you empty it into an ingot tray so you can pull the valve out and clear the restriction.
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Old August 12, 2012, 12:00 AM   #4
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Been there done that on my Lyman mag pot , think it was a peice of rust ???

Took a big paper clip & bent an inch L in it used the little vise grips to hold it though & have a pan/ingot molds close at hand to handle all the melt !!

I got mine unclogged & unstoppable , no burns or bad spills , I empty & clean it `bout every 5th pot now .

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Old August 12, 2012, 08:42 AM   #5
dahermit
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The problem with bottom pour casting furnaces is that the valve frequently gets clogged no matter how clean your alloy starts. Oxides will form and plug or partially plug the spout and have to be poked out from below. Lee instructions include twisting a screw driver in the the slot on top of the rod to seat the valve.
I avoid the problem completely by being a ladle caster instead of a bottom pour caster.
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Old August 12, 2012, 11:26 AM   #6
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Thx for advice!

Will be cleaning the nozzle today--I think I've devised a tool that'll get all the way up.

Thanks to all for taking time to consider my dilemma and offer advice!
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Old August 13, 2012, 02:35 AM   #7
dunerjeff
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If you have a breeze blowing past(or a fan on you that hits the bottom of the pot), the spout can also "freeze" up. In that case a propane torch for a few seconds on the spout will get it running. Thats another bad issue with my Lee's,I don't know if the Rcbs does that also or not.
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Old August 13, 2012, 04:15 AM   #8
gorin
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I've had this happen with Lee bottom pour pot at first. Then I realized I was running it too hot and it was forming oxides that were eventually clogging the valve.
Now I keep it at a much lower temperature and never have to clean the valve. I also don't remove the flux from the pot until I am done casting for the night, the burned wax forms a layer on top that prevents oxidizing the lead.
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Old August 14, 2012, 08:49 PM   #9
Smokey Joe
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Update...

Well, got the nozzle cleared, finally!

It only took 2 days of fooling around, plus the use of a dremel tool with a cone-shaped grinding head, lots more torch heating, more use of my bicycle-spoke poker, partially dismantling the furnace, and a scraper of my own design.

Got that done too late in the day to try a new batch of lead in furnace--will do that tomorrow. I will flux faithfully! I will not heat the lead hotter than 650°. I will scoop off the dross regularly.

Learnt my lesson. Just hope the cleaned-out nozzle works!

Will keep y'all informed.

And a hearty Hi-Yo-Thankyou, to all who gave advice.
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Old August 17, 2012, 09:45 AM   #10
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Final update...

Got bullets cast. Have been doing all the above in my garage, w/the big door open, for ventilations' sake. A little breeze does get in. Apparently that's enough to cool the pouring nozzle on the furnace.

So, when the furnace pour slows to drips--having fluxed, and using clean lead in clean pot--I turned on a propane torch and gave the nozzle a shot or 2. Nozzle responds by un-plugging and running great.

Cast up a nice mess of .452 semi-wadcutters.

Following day I set up my Lyman lube/resizer--it's the old model, and they say it doesn't fit on their heating pad, but I got it to fit anyhow--and sized the bullets to .451 and lubed with Orange Magic.

Worked slick.

Thank you one and all for all your helpful thoughts and advice!
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Old August 19, 2012, 07:58 AM   #11
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Some folks have reported that oxides in the valve can be avoided by keeping a layer of molten Boric Acid on the surface of the melt to keep the lead alloy from forming oxides in the first place.
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Old August 19, 2012, 02:11 PM   #12
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Have the same pot same problem occasionally. Run your temp a little higher. That's why its plugging. Most forget that a little part of the pots nozzle is out in the open air. And most of its orifice is wide open to the air also. Don't drill. You'll oversize it's orifice or make it passage out of round and eventually have a leaking pot with and un-adjustable pot valve to stop its trickle flow.
Kudos to dahermit and his suggestion.
Been doing the Boric Acid thing many years myself. Reason to do: I don't like stirring a piece of wax at all into hot dross to make a good flux. So if I can do it one time for the entire pot full I'm happy. As long you don't break the surface tension of a Boric Acid sprinkle. You'll be able to draw that full pot down to nearly empty without having to flux over & over because of its tin separations. (that means don't throw your molds sprue cuts back into the pot) Just flux it once early after melting. And reasonably quick sprinkle some Boric Acid over its entire surface. Tip: Just a little bit of Boric Acid goes a long ways. I use a salt shaker to do it for me. A simple but very effective way to cut your fluxing down.
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