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Old June 18, 2005, 11:36 PM   #1
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Need new casting equipment - haven't spent any money yet - help me out here ;)

OK guys,

Reading the posts here and other venues in the last few weeks has got me to the point of pulling out my casting equipment.

To be honest, I ought to hold a funeral for the old stuff I have. The small melting pot is rusted, the furnace got bent from the last move and what few blocks I have are all iron and look like a boat anchor from the 30's. I need a new hammer and some of my pins are missing. Just about all of what I have is Hensley-Gibbs. Are they even in business anymore ? I can't find their website.

This being the case, I am probably going to just retool from ground zero. I have looked around various sites and Lyman, Lee and RCBS are the first mfrs that came to mind for hobby casting, since I can't find HG. I don't want cheapo stuff, but I am hoping to avoid a second mortgage to pay for it.

I really want to go with a bottom pour furnace and about a 10 cavity mold(s) would suit me fine.

Any suggestions on where to start ? What is hype from the advertisers and what works well ? Is Marvelux still the way to go for flux ? I see catalog info about aluminium molds, are they worth the time to use ? Does anyone make molds in stainless ?

I did find a couple of buckets of wheel weights and a small chunk of linotype, but I know I will need more lino. Where do you guys get it today ?

Someone bring me out of the dark ages here...


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Old June 19, 2005, 10:10 AM   #2
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BigSlick, I'd put a lot of effort into salvaging H&G gang moulds before I'd junk them. The RCBS bottom pour pot is accounted better than Lyman, but someone went to the trouble of tracking down who makes that for RCBS and they have a wider line under their own name. Can't recall that name at the moment, but it should be findable by Google.

I use and like the Lee six cavity blocks. Casting technique with aluminum is a bit different and you have to be a little more delicate, but they make fine bullets, and the price is certainly right at $35 for six cavity blocks from the mail order places. You should give them a try before you look elsewhere. You might hate them, some folks do, but many of us love them.

Thing to remember with aluminum blocks is to start hot and decrease temp as you cast. They will get too hot so many of us use some kind of cooling technique. Mine is to cast with two moulds with the one that has just been filled resting on an aluminum heat sink when I am in a hurry. When I am feeling lazy, I just slow the tempo down.
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Old June 19, 2005, 10:42 AM   #3
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I'd salvage them moulds too. If you don't want to, I'll pay postage!

I'm not terribly fomd of aluminum moulds. I cast outside and the slightest wind cools em too fast for me and I get a lot of rejects w/wrinkles. Gimme steel any day. Maybe its just that I'm so used to using steel moulds.

Buddy up with some tire shops. I have more ww's than I'll use in 10 yrs for free. Buddy up with a plumber or two. They'll drive by and dump those old (pure) lead toilet bins & drain piping in your alley and thank you for it, just to be able to get em off their truck. Stinks to high heaven to melt em down but worth it. Low vwlocity rounds need no additional hardening, and a little 50/50 added will let you drive em to mag levels.

Our old propane grill w/ side burner is what I use. No fancy equipment is really needed. Spend that money on moulds. Buy extra dippers and throw casting party's with your friends. They'll help for the cool factor and want to learn. You walk away with a much higher production for the day. Tom Sawyer action heh heh.

I'll defer to the others for specific equipment reccommendations. Most everybodys moulds are good. I use candle stubs for flux, works fine and freeish.
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Old June 19, 2005, 11:19 AM   #4
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Lee all the way

I have had a new Lee pro 4-20 for about a year. It has a 20lb. capacity and a completly vertical bottom pour valve for less leaks. Also a marginally useful mold guide. I also tryed and like the Lee 6 cavity molds. I have 3 now, 2 .44's and a 451 200 r-f. They work just fine. They tend to get too hot if you keep pouring without a break, so I use two, sometimes 3 at a time.

The pro 4-20 has enough heat sinc to be able to drop a cold ingot into it and keep on casting. Try that in one of their smaller 8 pounders, it'll require a wait while in struggles back up to casting temp!
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Old June 19, 2005, 08:31 PM   #5
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Sorry but Wayne Gibbs retired several years back and closed the shop. H&G moulds are no longer available. I wish Wayne well but also wish someone had been available to take over the shop and continue their tradition of making the finest moulds I ever used. Hope you can somehow salvage the H&G molds.
I used a Saeco furnace for many years and tried replacing it with two different Lyman furnaces. BAD! Both Lyman furnaces suffered from spout freeze up even in Houston weather. Currently am using RCBS furnaces with good results.
Have never liked aluminum casting molds. Older Lyman molds (60's-70's) are still good but newer Lyman molds rusted to ruin after just one usage so I abandoned that brand. Older Saeco, RCBS, and ALL H&G molds are still fine. All molds stored in airtight, pressure sealed box with dessicants.
Marvelux is still far and away the best flux I have found. I use old candles when melting original wheel weights and casting pigs with furnace One but use only Marvelux when remelting pigs and casting bullets with furnace Two.

Good casting and be safe.
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Old June 20, 2005, 08:09 AM   #6
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Rusted Old Melting Pot

You have only two choices.
The LEE group has 2 pots I woould consider. One is a 10 pounder and the other is a 20 pound pot.
Both LYMAN and RCBS have basicly the same pot. I think they could both be made by the same manufacturer. Both pots require you to run the heat wide open.
You have a choice of "Aluminum" or Heavy that wastes energy.
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Old June 20, 2005, 10:26 AM   #7
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I don't know who makes RCBS furnaces but mine:
1) Do NOT suffer spout freeze up like the two Lymans did (even after factory service/adjustment), and
2) Do NOT have to be run wide open. My thermostat dials are set between 700-750 and work fine for me.

My first preference would be a pair of original SAECO furnaces as made when Bob Modisett owned the company. Unfortunately that is not possible and Bob is no longer with us.

Good shooting and be safe.
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Old June 20, 2005, 02:56 PM   #8
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steel vs aluminium molds

I think it boils down to what you learned on. I learned on lee and they work for me. I have a bullet sticking problem with steel molds. aluminium molds heat up faster and cool faster but I have mastered that. When the bullets come out a little frosty looking I know it getting too hot. I tap the mold on a wet rag. To get the molds up to temp, I put the mold open and upside down on top of the pot as it heats up. generally it's hot enough by the time the lead is ready to pour. As aluminium is a very good conductor of heat, even with a 6 cavity mold it still heats up very well. I took me longer to get in a groove with the 6 cavity mold.
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