View Full Version : Wrinkled Bullets ... Need Help.

July 27, 2010, 06:46 PM
I was doing a little casting today while smelting, and my bullets kept getting wrinkles in them. My lead in the smelting pot was around 650 degrees and my mold was good and hot.

What's going wrong here? I can't seem to get a smooth bullet for anything with these smaller 9mm Lee molds?

I never have a problem with the heavier .50 cal Maxi-Balls for my muzzleloader. It's only the small bullets I have a problem with.

Thanks for the help in advance.

July 27, 2010, 07:09 PM
Small boolits can be a pain to get to fill out. Check a couple of things. Make sure your mold is ABSOLUTELY clean. If you have already cleaned it up really well, do it again.

Molds with small cavities take more pours to heat up than larger cavities (larger calibers). Get that mold hot. Casting at 650* is probably not hot enough. I would bump it up to 750-800* and try it again.

Now for your method....when casting, try not to inspect the boolits after they fall out of the mold. KEEP CASTING and dropping them. Pour as fast as you can. You HAVE to keep that mold HOT. You can cull out the bad ones at the end.

If these tips don't help, then try adding a little tin (they say anything more than 2% is a waste and I agree...start with 1%). Tin lowers the melting point of the alloy and allows the molten lead to stay molten longer and fill the cavity out better.

Good luck!

July 27, 2010, 07:21 PM
I'll try that tomorrow and get back. Thanks.

Forgot to add .... when I was casting at the higher temps... 750+ with my larger bullets ... I would always get a 'frosty' bullet. I was assuming that this was because the lead was too hot.

I will try it at the hotter temp for the smaller bullets and get back.

July 27, 2010, 07:25 PM
Frosty is a good thing.

July 27, 2010, 07:31 PM
If you're using an aluminum mould keep in mind that they lose heat faster than a steel mould so you have to cast faster or up the pot temp a little more. Wrinkles always mean too cool (or oil).

July 27, 2010, 08:20 PM
Can I heat my mold up to temp initially with a MAP hand torch to get it hot?

I've always done that with my large caliber molds, but didn't know if it was ok with the smaller aluminum ones?

I don't leave it on there long. I count to 5 on each side, and that is usually good enough.

July 27, 2010, 08:22 PM
Frosty is a good thing.

I was taught that frosty boolits are a bad thing. Am I wrong in wanting boolits that aren't frosty? What's the advantage of a frosty boolit?

July 27, 2010, 08:32 PM
Its not bad....they are fine to use... just some people are under the impression that they cannot be frosty... but it IS ok.

July 27, 2010, 08:33 PM
Frosty bullets are just fine.This way you know that you are probably getting good fillout. Just stick the corner of the aluminum mold in your lead to heat it up. 5 seconds on each side with a torch is no where near enough heat to get it up to temp. I put the corner of the mold in the melt for 8-10 seconds after allowing it to heat up on top of the pot (while the pot heats up) before casting..and sometimes get wrinkled bullets the first couple drops. Keep casting...quickly...and this should solve your problems.

July 27, 2010, 08:33 PM
Try heating up your mold by dipping the corner in your pot for 8 to 10 seconds.... it will warm up quicker than just pouring till it warms.

July 27, 2010, 08:34 PM
ECHO, echo, echo... :D

July 27, 2010, 08:34 PM
I like how we got the 8 to 10 seconds right on the head.. at the same time no less. :cool:

July 27, 2010, 08:46 PM
Great minds think alike??? I think so! :rolleyes: :D

July 27, 2010, 08:55 PM
It was interesting..yes.:rolleyes:

July 28, 2010, 06:16 PM
What do you mean frosty is OK?
Don't you realize that, just like we have to have really shiny brass that we can see our faces in, we need bullets that have a beautiful mirror shine. We want to amaze our fellow shooters about how wonderful our loads are. You just can't polish a frosty bullet and get that mirror-like shine.
Why, just look at some of those beautifully polished bullets they show in the magazines. Ours have to look at least that good.
Just to add my 3¢, wrinkled bullets mean (1) oil in mold, (2) mold too cold, or (3) molten lead too cold. Never have cast at less then 700°F

July 28, 2010, 07:04 PM
Assuming your Lee mold is up to temperature and there is no oil in the cavities, remember the instructions that came with the mold that talked about smoking the mold? No oil in mold, mold hot enough, melt hot enough = no wrinkles.

July 31, 2010, 09:54 AM
What they`all ^^ said !!:D

The last couple a Lee molds I purchased I deoiled em , boiled em & cleaned em with non chlorinated brake clean & still got wrinkles !!

I think whatever lubricant Lee uses asorbs into the aluminum!!

So I jacked the pot up to 775* & ran the mold hot 1 time until it quit smoking , let it cool then cleaned with purple power & they went to droppin perfect bullets.


July 31, 2010, 10:41 AM
Feel like I've gotten lucky w/ my Lyman moulds. Once they're up to temp-4 to 5 casts-they work like a charm as long as I keep w/ my rhythm and watch melt temp. I use brake cleaner and a lighter to clean them because that's what I happen to have around.
What's purple power, GP100man?

July 31, 2010, 11:01 AM
gotten lucky w/ my Lyman moulds

Well sure, they're steel moulds. Steel moulds hold the heat better and are better than aluminum overall. But would you really want a steel 6 cav mould? I wouldn't. Steel 4 cavs are ok.

I was taught that frosty boolits are a bad thing. Am I wrong in wanting boolits that aren't frosty? What's the advantage of a frosty boolit?

Same here, they used to say that frosty bullets are brittle and will break up and suddenly lately thier ok "the frosty just wipes off with a cloth" is what's said now. Frosty bullets means too hot to me. If you drop the temp the bullets will come out nice and shiney. If the integrity of frosty bullets used to be in question, why is it not in question anymore? Anyone? Metallurgists? Bueller?

10 Spot Terminator
July 31, 2010, 11:24 AM
Food for thought here guys,,, I had one Lyman mould that didnt want to play by the rules when it came to casting with wrinkles. It was prone to leaving either a minor wrinkle or a small void or 2 in over 1/2 of the boolits it dropped be it hot , casting with higher tin content, faster, slower, cleaned , freshly smoked or treated with various release agents. What ended up being the fix for this one as I was ready to chuck it in the trash anyway was this. It was a single cavity mould with a multitude of small driving bands common to a lot of the older Lyman rifle bullet moulds. I took an extremely sharp tipped center punch and ran it down through all of the vent tracks with a stout amount of pressure 3 time each per vent and that did the trick. Also did this for a .357 full wadcutter mould that had a bad time of filling the nose of the mould well either using a bottom pour or hand pouring . "IF" you have tried all of the other common cures listed first that are posted here with no luck you might give this a try but be cautious not to over do it and maybe get some whiskers growing on your boolits.

July 31, 2010, 01:07 PM
You hear so much about avoiding frosty boolits. But you seldom see or hear just what is considered "frosty".

In some peoples minds, anything that doesn't shine as it drops from the mold is considered frosty. That's just plain wrong. A hazy gray surface is not frosty. A frosty bullet is one that looks like a heavily zinc plated or galvanized surface. It also tends to be on one spot on the side of a bullet and in conjunction with a sunken or poorly filled out area.

Frost on a bullet IS a sign of too high temps. It also could be caused by a contaminate in the alloy, like zinc. Another cause is not enough tin in the alloy. A caster keeps increasing the temp to get fill-out, but runs into frosty bullets before the mold fills out properly. About 1% more tin would have cause fill-out at a lower temp and non-frosted bullets.

As for frosty bullets being fragile, that's a new one for me. What sort of logic is that? Actually, frosty bullets work just fine IF they are the right size, meaning they filled out correctly, and they hold the lube better. The lube has a rougher surface to stick to.

Some say straight linotype bullets shatter when hitting almost anything. BUNK! Linotype is a VERY strong alloy, it had to be to withstand repeated contact with paper and rollers on the printing presses.

July 31, 2010, 01:52 PM
I dunno who's logic that was. They was writin that in the gunzines in the mid 80's. I've shot plenty of frosty bullets and never seen any evidence of bullets breaking up. It was written in a gunzine though so must be true ;)

July 31, 2010, 02:17 PM
Edward, you cast for a .44 and .45, don't you? Couldn't tell from that 429451 in your screen name.....:D

I shoot nothing but frosty bullets. They work just fine! As a matter of fact, I shoot Bullseye competition, and frosty cast 200 gr LSWC are great. I do size them to .452, and currently use Javelina Alox--but I also got a lube heater and some Rooster Red set to the side.

However, I will admit that I like purty bullets. So, for these, I kinda did a bit of a polish on the bullets--and I DID hand clean the cases, first with 0000 steel wool, then with Simichrome polish...


But, for rifle that uses them, purty bullets are a necessity...


July 31, 2010, 02:30 PM
Yes, frosty is good. Some frost indicates you are at or just a tiny bit over optimum temp. A lot of frosty is an indication your heat is high but the bullets are still good.
Frosty is your friend.
What you describe indicates cold mould.

July 31, 2010, 02:32 PM
But, for rifle that uses them, purty bullets are a necessity...

Wow! They sure are purty!:eek:

All that's needed for my GRAY bullets is a quick spin in a rag to shine them up. For tumble lubed bullets, I sometimes clean the noses after they're loaded, that shines 'em up real nice!

Ed, that "breaking up" myth may be concerning when shooting steel targets. The theory is that a brittle bullet will shatter quickly, that means it pushes on the steel popper for a shorter duration. I don't buy into that at all. The same idea was popular back when I shot IMSHA, the longer match bullets had a longer duration on target to push over hard-set rams. Bullet construction had a lot to do with it also. Hornady even came out with a silhouette .44 mag bullet that was a heavy solid copper jacket nose 240 grain, with exposed lead base that was very accurate a really smacked the steel.