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Old January 30, 2013, 11:39 AM   #1
Idaho Spud
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Cast RB's

Poured and shot my first cast RB's for my Pietta 1851 London yesterday. Finally got a day above freezing to do so. Mostly I wanted to try the 375 Lee mold, although I cast a few 457's just for the halibut. Most of you know that every mold is a law unto itself and this 375 Lee mold is no exception. Each has its own quirks. Took awhile to get some passably shootable RB's. They're dropping at @78.8 grs. at almost exactly .375 with the stuff I have. Only got about 50 "good" ones. Definitely like the nib-less result. They have just a small "flat" making loading much easier than the commercial balls I bought.

Gonna wait til spring for any serious experimentation. Nice to get the silver stream flowin' for a while, though.
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Old January 30, 2013, 12:02 PM   #2
PawPaw
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Yes, each mold is a law unto itself, but I find that smoking the mold with a candle helps, as does just a little tin in the alloy to help the mold fill-out.

Generally, those Lee RB molds make very good balls.
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Old January 30, 2013, 12:37 PM   #3
Logan5579
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Casting in cold weather can give you mixed results. I have trouble keeping the mold hot enough when outside temps are below 50 degrees and when I start getting ripples in my castings I know its time to let the corner of the mold sit in the molten lead for a minute or so to warm back up.
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Old January 30, 2013, 01:09 PM   #4
Idaho Spud
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The alloy I'm using has a speck of tin in it. Smoking with wood matches seemed to work better for me with Lee molds in the past. Smoking with candles seemed to leave residue in the cavities, but whatever works for ya is my motto. I think it depends on the composition of the candles. I don't smoke my molds much anymore.

Couldn't wait til ambient temps reached the 50's, that doesn't happen for a coupla months here, except occasionally, when we get those marvelous chinook winds that seem almost heaven-sent. The urge was too great to resist, though, and I got enough good'ns to give me an idea of what these molds are going to produce. Some look upon casting as onerous, at best. For me it's a very therapeutic activity. Come next spring, ah.....well, can't wait.
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Old January 30, 2013, 01:34 PM   #5
maillemaker
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What the smoking does is slows the rate of heat transfer into the mold. It doesn't hang around for long on the mold surfaces, though, so my guess is it just gets you dropping good bullets from a cold(er) mold faster. By the time the smoke is gone your mold should be up to temp.

I cast .454 round balls using Lee's two-cavity mold. I have no problems casting out in my garage, though it's seldom below 50 out there. I cast pure lead at about 750 degrees F.

Steve
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Old January 30, 2013, 01:55 PM   #6
Idaho Spud
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The 457 mold cast decent balls almost immediately. I'd like to hear from those that cast 31's. Must be like casting BB's. I know from my experience that generally the smaller the slug the longer it takes me to get good, filled out results, such as a 100 gr. 380 compared to, say a 310 gr. 44. Anyway, lookin' forward to more of this. My only previous RB casting experience was making .440's in a Lyman mold for my Pop's 45 cal. muzzleloader years ago. That mold made nice ones.
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Old January 30, 2013, 02:27 PM   #7
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I'm probably preaching to the choir but I'll toss in my 2 cents:

New Molds need to be examined with a good magnifying glass and all burrs either scraped or rubbed off all edges. I use an exacto knife and a pencil erasure with good results.

Check all alignment pins and adjust as needed.

Clean with non-Chlorine brake cleaner and a soft brush (Paint brush works for me).

I preheat my molds by putting them on top of the pot while melting my ingots.

I keep my molds hot by keeping them on a hot plate beside the pot.

I keep my consistency by NOT STOPPING TO EXAMINE THE GOODS!
I can't stress this one enough (IMHO). Keep those aluminum molds working, if they cool down you get inconsistencies in the batch (in my experience).
Do your culling after you finish the batch and your next batch is melting.

I rarely have to smoke or condition my molds if get the burrs off and the pins lined up right.

I do use an old hammer handle to "tap" the handles occasionally to get a stubborn bullet to drop but that's the exception to the rule.

When I started casting RB, I could easily buy them for very little money compared to my time I was spending casting them. But, I enjoy the art of casting and have never been sorry for "wasting my time" on it.
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Old January 30, 2013, 09:56 PM   #8
troutcreek
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Commercial Bullet Casting

For a couple years I cast muzzle loading round balls and conical bullets commercially. We did not do it full time but we did go through about a ton of lead per month, maybe a bit more. We used a Bullet Master casting machine that used 10 or 12 (I can’t remember the exact number of molds) double cavity molds. Due to the stresses imposed by the process the machine required steel molds. Mostly we used Lyman molds. I also hand cast things like Minnie balls that the machine could not handle.
In general I liked the Lee molds because they heated well and if cared for lasted a long time. When loading molds into the Bullet Master I inspected each mold looking for the same issues highlighted by Rigmarol. I did not smoke the molds but spent a lot of energy ensuring that the molds were clear, did not have rust, and the vent groves were clear. If bullets stuck in the machine it was likely due to the molds being cold.
Although tin may make the bullets cast a bit better I never used anything except virgin pure lead. A slight amount of tin can harden the lead enough to break the loading lever on a 51 colt style pistol and conical bullets load and shoot better when cast with pure lead.
In general for my use now I prefer the Lee molds because they are more reasonable, work pretty well and have a smaller sprue.
Best regards,
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Old January 31, 2013, 10:15 AM   #9
maillemaker
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I generally like the Lee molds but I have had problems with the aluminum galling from the action of the sprue cutting plate as well as the core pin for Minnie balls galling on the mold halves.

Steve
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Old January 31, 2013, 10:58 AM   #10
Idaho Spud
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Galling has never been a problem for me as long as I lube the sprue plate pivot screw and the mold as per Lee's instructions pamphlet.

BTW, all my 2 cavity Lee's have been Lee-mented (by me). If you're not familiar with this procedure go to the Cast Boolit site. It's fairly easy to do. Not sure if it's OK to link this so do a search.


edit: I should have said all my molds save the two RB's I just received. They will also receive the treatment down the road.

Last edited by Idaho Spud; January 31, 2013 at 11:13 AM. Reason: afterthought
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Old January 31, 2013, 11:13 AM   #11
PawPaw
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maillemaker
I generally like the Lee molds but I have had problems with the aluminum galling from the action of the sprue cutting plate
One good trick with aluminum molds is to coat the top of the mold under the sprue plate with graphite. I use a carpenter's pencil, move the sprue plate out of the way, and scribble all over the top of the block. That graphite stays put on top of the block and seems to help the sprue plate glide without galling.
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Old January 31, 2013, 11:25 AM   #12
Idaho Spud
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Pencil trick works, too.

Great blog, Dennis. Gonna look thru it today.
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Old January 31, 2013, 11:30 AM   #13
maillemaker
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Quote:
Galling has never been a problem for me as long as I lube the sprue plate pivot screw and the mold as per Lee's instructions pamphlet.
Yup, I went and bought silicone lubricant specifically because of the Lee instructions. Doesn't seem to hang around long though.

Quote:
One good trick with aluminum molds is to coat the top of the mold under the sprue plate with graphite.
Clever idea!

Steve
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Old January 31, 2013, 11:31 AM   #14
maillemaker
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Quote:
BTW, all my 2 cavity Lee's have been Lee-mented (by me). If you're not familiar with this procedure go to the Cast Boolit site. It's fairly easy to do. Not sure if it's OK to link this so do a search.
I would like to know more about this. I went to the Cast Boolits site and searched for "Lee-mented" and nothing turned up.

A link would be nice.

Steve

Edit:

Found this?

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...t-Revisited%29
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Old January 31, 2013, 11:44 AM   #15
Idaho Spud
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Steve, there's an entire tutorial w/pics on that site somewhere. I printed it in it's entirety and have it somewhere. The main thing for me was installing the set-screw for the sprue plate. I'll see if I can find the location and link it..............stand by.


edit: Try this....................


http://www.castpics.net/subsite2/Mol...umentation.pdf

edit #2 - I managed to "save" a Lee mold I bought in 1981 by using this method. It still casts a good 158 gr. 38/357 SWCGC bullet to this day. I believe it'll give a longer life-span to Lee molds.

Last edited by Idaho Spud; January 31, 2013 at 01:22 PM.
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Old January 31, 2013, 01:58 PM   #16
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Lee has just redesigned their molds. I have just gotten one of the new designed ones in. They now have locating pins like a Lyman mold has and handles are fitted differently, so "LEE-MENTING" is probably not necessary for this new mold.
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Old January 31, 2013, 02:23 PM   #17
Idaho Spud
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Both of my new RB molds were of the old style. I'm guessing there's still a lot of old stock in inventory. The new ones are a definite improvement, they're made like the 6-holers. Even the six cavity molds can use a little help, though. Unfortunately the RB molds I wanted were only available in 2 cavities.
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Old January 31, 2013, 02:48 PM   #18
deerslayer303
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I like that penciling the top of the mold that was posted. I will definitely do that to all my molds. I don't smoke them anymore, but I do spray them down with brakleen and lube with beezwax. I smoked with a candle last time and I got some weird looking crap on my R.E.A.L boolits, come to find out it was the candle smoke doing it. So I tried with no smoke from a recommendation from another member and they came out pretty.
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Old January 31, 2013, 04:36 PM   #19
TomADC
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I have a small hot plate that I preheat my molds with and set the mold on, got it at wally world cheap enough and works great.
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Old February 1, 2013, 10:01 AM   #20
maillemaker
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I tried the hotplate thing, too, but it was too slow.

Now I just keep a propane torch next to my melting pot. 30 seconds with the torch and you're ready to go and drop good bullets from the first pour.

Steve
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