View Full Version : More first bullet problems!

August 18, 2009, 06:18 PM
I was wondering if you could tell me what im doing wrong.

I'm using lead sheets although i have WW's (i haven't used them because im not sure whether they are alloy or not--i have all different shapes and sizes!)

Using a Lee 20lb bottom pour melter (this is my only melting pot)

I will post pictures if you have any questions about what certain things look like.

I use clear wax-type parafin to flux.

I use a Lee 6-cavity mold (it's what i got) for 230gr RN tumble-lube bullets.

The bullets come out cracked-looking. The top of the melt is iridescently-colored (picture below). I emptied out the melting pot today to clean the inside--there is a hard, powdery, yellow buildup all over the inside of the pot.

I used to sit the molds on top of the pot to heat them up, but since i read another forum post saying to submerge them i now do this.

FUNNY STORY: the first time i ever fluxed, i didnt know that flames could come out of the top of the melting pot, in a sort of chicken-with-his-head-cut-off fashion, i started freaking out and unfortunately my molds were caught in the flames. one of the mold cavities (as does a large portion of the outside of the mold body) now has some dark brown buildup that a toothbrush, brake cleaner spray, soap and water, and carburator cleaning spray have failed to take off. This cavity gives me bullets with a sort of droplet-looking effect on them. I'm having a helluva time getting this stuff off.

Here are pictures of bullets (different angles), top of the melt, and the melter i am using.

August 18, 2009, 06:21 PM
also, my valve does not like to pour on its own with the heat set below 6 or 7... i have to heat it with a propane torch because the lead solidifies in the valve, preventing full range of motion and preventing liquid lead from dropping.

August 18, 2009, 07:25 PM
Okay, here's what I think. The lead sheets you're using are nearly pure lead. There may be a trace of tin in them, but no more than ½ %. That's why you have bullets that look like they do. You are WAY TOO COLD on both mold temp and lead temp. Casting bullets using pure lead is very difficult. You have to run that pot wide open, the hottest you can get it. Then you also have to preheat the mold very hot and keep it that way.

Best thing you can do if you want to keep using the sheet lead, is get some tin in that soft lead. 2% or better will lower the heat needed to get good bullets, and increase the fluidity of the lead and help fill-out of the bullets. Best way to do the tin add-in is to get some lead free solder. Get the 95-5 with the 5% being antimony. For a 20 pounder, you should put ½ pound of the lead-free solder in it. That would get you a 40-1 ratio. If you could find some bar solder, then toss a whole pound of it in. That would result in ½ pound of tin since most of it is 50-50.

Another solution is to use some of those wheelweights. I strongly advise AGAINST trying to melt wheelweights in your casting pot. Use a separate steel or cast iron,(no aluminum), pot over a heat source like a camp stove to melt the WW.

Also, be aware that some WW now are made of zinc. A small amount of zinc in bullet metal will ruin it. So, to keep the zince out you have to be careful when melting the WW. Zinc melts at 787 degrees. WW melt at 625 to 650 degrees F. The zinc WW will float on the molten lead IF the temp is below the high 700's. Then you can skim them off along with the steel clips and other crud.

August 18, 2009, 08:02 PM
yeah........what Snuffy said! :D He hit the nail right on the head!

August 18, 2009, 08:05 PM
Do not completely "submerge" your mold when preheating. Just the corner of the mold is all that needs to be submerged. I also don't dip it up to where the mold halves meet. If you do this you run the risk of getting mold in between the blocks and will have to be cleaned out (resulting in finned bullets). ALSO....make sure your mold is ABSOLUTELY CLEAN! ALL the oils from cutting the mold MUST be removed. I use carb/brake cleaner FOLLOWED by a good scrubbing with dish soap and a toothbrush.

August 18, 2009, 11:16 PM
i use mean green & a tooth brush to clean aluminum molds, with hot water .

August 25, 2009, 11:48 PM
thanks guys! I appreciate all of your input very much. Have you heard of smoking your molds with matches? how does that work? does it work at all?

August 25, 2009, 11:51 PM
Also, i have completely drained my melting pot and there is a yellow powdery substance that i suspect is ionic lead (RE: bad!) all over the inside of my melting pot. Any suggestions on proper safe removal of this? If it is ionic lead I'm sure i would want to protect my skin from it, as it will seep into your skin as soon as 10 PPM of water vapor in the air touches the ionic crystals.

August 26, 2009, 12:13 AM
When I am sorting out the wheelweights, the obvious giveaways are "Zn" (zinc) or "Fe" (steel) marked on the weights. The lead stick-on type can be easily bent and are nearly pure lead. The Zn and Fe ones take a lot of effort to bend at all. For the clip on type weights, I keep a pair of pliers or wire cutters handy. Clamping down on lead weights will distort the weights with very little effort. The other ones are definitely much harder.

Clip on wheelweights make great bullet alloy as is. For handgun velocities (below about 1300fps), just cast them and allow them to air cool. For rifle velocities (above 1300fps), you want to either gas check them or "water drop" them to get the hardness much higher and not lead your barrel so much. You could also heat treat them in the oven for a while if the boss ain't going to be around for a few hours.

Be careful when melting the wheelweights. If you happen to contaminate your alloy with zinc, you are pretty well S.O.L. It is next to impossible to get good mold fillout with contaminated alloy and is a pain to get cleaned out of your pots. A good indicator of zinc contamination is a layer of crud that looks kind of like oatmeal floating on your melt. Contaminated alloy can be used, but to have any success, you have to have temps way high and then you run much greater risk of lead poisoning gases as well. Always make sure you have a very well ventilated location whenever you are melting your lead.

You can avoid the zinc contamination by keeping your temps down below about 750 or so. Most guys even keep them below 700 and can skim them off the top with the rest of the garbage.

Good luck and happy shooting.

August 26, 2009, 05:48 AM
What the F is ionic lead? Sounds like you might be a chemistry teacher or something. As far as smoking molds, I am not a fan of it. I just make sure my molds are very clean, and hot, and they usually drop out just fine. Sometimes smoking a mold can clog smal vent lines in the mold and this can lead to improper fill out of the cavities. Smoking cavities is my last resort if those dang bullets just wont drop from the mold. As far as how to do it, light a match and put each cavity over the flame until you can se a little carbon deposit left in each cavity. Good luck!

August 26, 2009, 12:40 PM
Yeah what the H is ionic lead¿ Metallic lead cannot be absorbed through the skin. Lead salts have a better chance, but I've never heard of ionic lead.

As for smoking molds, I too am not a fan of doing that. But if you must, don't use anything that burns any wax, like a match,(they're coated with wax to make them burn longer). Candles the same thing, they can deposit oils on/in the mold cavities. A butane lighter is best, if you insist.

Same goes for mold release agents. They can and will plug up the vent lines in the face of the mold blocks. Also they will reduce the overall diameter of the bullet produced. It can't help it, anything that takes up room in the cavity will result in smaller bullets. So, if you're happy with the size you're getting, be aware the bullets will be smaller after you coat the cavities with ANYTHING!

August 27, 2009, 04:08 PM
Salts are made of ions, he's talking about lead salts. Bright yellow would be lead sulfide, looks like he got some sulfur contamination in his alloy.

August 28, 2009, 07:53 AM
If you want to melt those WW's the easy way get a cast iron pot and a casting thermometer. Throw as many as you can in the pot, don't worry about sorting. Melt everything from 650 to 700 degrees and nothing will melt but the lead weights. The zinc, steel and whatever else can be skimmed off with the clips. I have always done it this way and have never sorted WW's or had contaminated lead.


August 30, 2009, 08:02 PM
I went through the same thing. I found out if I put my mold on a burner and let it get good and hot, it will produce nice looking bullets at the correct size. If my mold isn't hot, the bullets go right through the sizer, if it is hot, the bullets go through with some effort and you can see they are being sized.

I drop my bullets in cold water to keep them from getting dented up.

If the bullets come out shinny, then it is at the correct temp. If they come out dull, the lead is too hot, just turn it down a little......although they both shoot just fine. ;-)

August 31, 2009, 09:58 PM
never have your mold on top of furnace when you flux, and stir or burn the paraffin. Fumes of paraffin will send you back to cleaning your mold again. I use strong solvent then boiling soapy water wit toothbrush. I've always had to do minor-delicate tuning on lee 6-cav, filing or cutting sharp edges to allow molds to close completely, or to improve venting. There is a lead sulphide? which is yellow(it completely plugged my pour hole once).good luck