View Full Version : Just cast my first bullets. What went wrong?

C Philip
August 10, 2009, 08:31 PM
I just cast my first bullets, and I think I have some slight issues. About 40% of the bullets I cast have some kind of wrinkles in the nose, as shown in the first photo below. Is this due to the lead not being hot enough? The other 60% looks good and smooth. The second issue is that all of the bullets, even the ones that look good, have a round mark from where the sprue plate hole is. Since the base is important for accuracy, I'm guessing this could be a problem. I am using a Lee 2 cavity mold casting straight wheel weights and quenching the bullets to harden. I know wheel weights already have some tin, but perhaps I need to add more?


August 10, 2009, 08:49 PM
Your heat is off. Just experiment with that first, and then if they are all wrinkled, you need some tin.

As for accuracy, these are handgun bullets. Which means you will be shooting them in a handgun. Handguns are hard to shoot well. Whatever loss of accuracy compared to a pretty bullet will be in the noise.

August 10, 2009, 09:01 PM
I find a little tin solder about (12in of wire to a large cast iron pot) with my weights helps the alloy fill out the mold especially with SWC bullets.

Another thing could be mold temp did you remember to heat your mold by diping it in the lead before casting? The way to tell if it is warm enough to start is the lead will not stick to the mold.

At proper temp the mold should be hot enough to give you a second or two of molten sprue before it hardens. Any longer cool it with a damp cloth any less dip it in the lead to warm it or cast em faster try to keep the mold in the butter zone.

August 10, 2009, 09:16 PM
You need to run your pot hotter, as stated above. With a hotter pot, you should have better fill out and the sprue will stay softer (not molten) longer. When the sprue cools in about 4-5 seconds you should be getting excellent boolits. If your sprue cools too quickly you will tear the sprue at the base of the boolit, which is your other problem. Tin should be your last resort. Tin lowers the lowers the melting temperature, so the lead alloy stays molten longer in the mold, thus allowing the boolit to fill out better. It won't solidify as fast. If your mold is aluminum, I would preheat it by sticking the corner in the molten lead until no lead sticks to it. Good luck!

August 10, 2009, 09:19 PM
After looking closer a your pictures, it looks like your mold is dirty too. Lee molds especially need a very thorough cleaning to remove the oils/metal shards from when it was made. I use carb cleaner followed up by a scrubing with hot soapy water and a toothbrush.

August 10, 2009, 09:29 PM
As others have mentioned, it looks like you are running too cool. Since you are using wheel weights I wouldn't add any more tin until you ruled everything else out first. I like brake cleaner to get the oil and junk out of the mold.

August 10, 2009, 09:29 PM
I agree your mould was too cool still.

C Philip
August 10, 2009, 09:39 PM
Thanks for the suggestions. The mold was brand new, and I cleaned it with mineral spirits then smoked it as per the instructions, so I don't think it was dirty, but it's possible I smoked it too much or something. The sprue stayed molten for only about 2 seconds, but I did heat the mold by dipping it in the pot until the lead didn't stick to it. I'll clean it again and try running the pot hotter and see how that works. Thanks again.

August 10, 2009, 10:21 PM
Are you using a bottom pour pot? There's good pours and bad pours....nice and smooth.

August 10, 2009, 10:43 PM
Either mold or alloy or both were not hot enough. I heat my mold by placing it on top of the pot while alloy is melting and coming up to casting temp. It may take several castings to get the mold up to temp even if the alloy is hot enough. Note: if you start getting frosted bullets, then the mold or alloy or both is/are too hot. If that happens, open mold and let it cool briefly; also reduce pot/alloy temp slightly. If wrinkles start appearing, you have gone too far. A little experience will allow you to stay between the too cool and too hot limits with more consistency. Good luck.

August 11, 2009, 12:54 AM
Several things;

As stated by others, you are too cool in either lead temp or mold temp. Also I see a lot of dirt in the metal on the sides of the right boolit. I'd say you need to flux the heck outa that metal. Use wax of some sort, AND stir the pot with a wooden stick, making sure you scrape the sides and bottom of the pot. That dislodges dirt from the bottom and sides where the molten lead is holding it. I bet you melted those wheelweights in the same pot you're casting from!?

The bases look like that because you didn't get the sprue plate clean. Lee uses a water soluble oil to cool the cutters that make the mold and sprue plate. That stuff is very difficult to remove. DON'T use carburetor cleaner, it contains oil. You're trying to get rid of oil! Take a pot, fill it so you submerge the entire mold, use a dish washing detergent. Turn the heat on to boil the water, let it boil for 10-15 minutes. The heat and soap will get rid of the coolant oils.

I seldom smoke any of my molds. I know lee says to do that, I don't feel it's needed. I like the clean crisp lines on the boolit, smoking seems to make things sort of rounded.

WW need some more tin than they contain. You want AT LEAST 2% tin, WW have less than 1%. That alone will help. If you buy lead-free solder, make sure it contains 95% tin and 5% antimony, not tin and copper, or silver.

Old Grump
August 11, 2009, 01:01 AM
As stated mold is to cold. I never keep my first few bullets, just dump them in a pan and remelt them. I only use them for heating my mold. I have had those sprue dimples in some of my 45's but at 25 yards it didn't seem to make much difference. They were low power target loads so I don't know what effect they would have in a full load at 50 yards.

This is where the feel for it comes in and it becomes more art than science for me. First day after a long lay off few of my castings seem to come out right in the beginning but by the end of the day I'm back in the groove and subsequent days it's like riding a bike.

Finally got rid of my little camp gas stove and got an electric pot where I can control the heat with a thermostat, much better now. You didn't say what your melting rig is but if you have an electric pot you might have to make a heat adjustment and/or slow down after lead additions. Not a good time to be in a hurry.

If you haven't read it yet this thread might be of interest to you.


August 11, 2009, 04:45 AM
When I was casting .357 bullets in a Lyman mould I used lead,tin and antimonium and never had a fluke.Paul

August 11, 2009, 04:27 PM
Looks like the first ones I cast with wrinkles. Mould is too cold. I dip mine in the lead and leave it sit for 2 minutes sometimes longer sometimes less. Normally the first two drops are frosty and then I adjust from there.

long rider
August 12, 2009, 06:20 PM
OK you guys, hats off to you guys who got this forum
going, this is great, this fits my jacket, as the saying
goes, i got this mould from this guy at the muzzle loaders
its a 454 rb mould, and the makere name is ideal ? not
heard of them, i paid 10 bucks for it, but i just put it to
one side for about a year now till i say this forum, allright
here we go, so i went and got me a camping stove and
i snock one of my wifes small pans, i have a big block of
beeswax, and i have these old led boots what i have had
for years, so i set to work, melt the sons of a guns down
not to sure how much beeswax to use, i did this outside
even in 140 temp here in mesa az, anyway the first few
was hard to get out of the mould, so i put a tad bit of
beeswax in the mould, works good, so i made my first
200 rb cool;) i hope i can get 45 colt moulds to fit the
old handles. the big prob i have is getting led tyer shops
do not give them out, so i say roto metals in frisco,
$1,78 a pound but you have to buy over 55 pounds i
think to beat the shipping? any tips you can give me is
cool in my books, thanks to all who got this going,
lets kep it up.:D

long rider
August 12, 2009, 06:35 PM
C philip sorry guy did not mean to hi jack your thread,
i should have started a new one, its been a while i
have bin away.:o

August 12, 2009, 10:36 PM
$1.78 a pound for lead is insane. Tell them to go pound sand. I can go to the scrap yard and pay .40 a pound.

August 14, 2009, 12:37 PM
Lead is up right now, but anything over $0.45/lb is ridiculous... any recycling center that takes it will usually sell it for at or under 45 c/lb

August 14, 2009, 12:53 PM
I love reading this stuff. I have no interest in casting my own...yet, but I love having the info tucked away in my head in case I do decide to start some time. :D

August 16, 2009, 08:47 PM

your as bad as i was , cast 1 & stop to look at it LOL!!
we all did it , as soon as the melt got runny we went to pourin!!

get ya self a thermometer & get the temp up to `round 650-700 , the mold will tell ya when & pre heat the lee 2 holer by dippin the corner in the melt until the melt does`nt stik any longer & the first will be as good as the last
cast untill frosty ,then back the heat down .

i use a short one for frying turkeys $8.00 in my area

hope this helps