Bullet/Roundball molds: Brand preference


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Plastic Cowboy
September 14, 2006, 02:52 PM
Well here's the deal, currently I pay about $10/box of 100 round balls at Cabelas. The local scrap yard sells pure soft lead ingots for $0.60/lb. so I've decided to start casting my own roundballs (my dad already has a melting pot, ladle, etc)

While shopping I've noticed that Lee aluminum molds are very inexpensive (about $18 including handles) compared to the iron ones made by Lyman and Dixie which run well over $50. Also the handles are sold seperately for the iron molds so they they are actually closer to $100. With such a huge difference in price I just have to know what the difference is.

Does anyone have experience with these? Is it worth it to drop the extra $$$ on an iron mold or does aluminum work good enough? What is the disadvantage to using the cheaper Lee Aluminum block molds? Why would someone pay close to $100 for an iron mold when Lee aluminum is less than $20?

I appreciate your opinions and advice?

Thanks
:)

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Smokin_Gun
September 14, 2006, 03:02 PM
I have 5 molds Lee .380, .452, .457, .490 R.B. & .575 Minnie Ball. All Lee molds aluminum. The Aluminum molds cost about $20, heat faster, cool faster and make great bullets for me. I'd say $20 to see if you like casting and if the molds suite your fancy you've saved puttin' out $50 to $90 for steel molds and handles. But think too is a personal and cost effective purchase.
Hope this helped.

pohill
September 14, 2006, 05:20 PM
I agree with Smokin'...
I have a Lee .380 mould because I can't seem to find .380 roundballs. I also have a .375, a .454 and a .490, all bought from Track of the Wolf. They work great. I bought a Lee Electric Melter (bottom pour). You save a ton of moola casting your own roundballs, even though it is a little time consuming.
Then, there's Tap O Cap to make your own caps...

4v50 Gary
September 14, 2006, 09:43 PM
Rapine. But I also have a Lee and a RCBS or two.

Steve499
September 14, 2006, 10:18 PM
I'll echo the others. I have 6 or 7 Lee aluminum molds and 3 steel molds of various makers. In the past I've owned several other steel molds. Even though the Lee molds can be a little fragile and have a tendency for the sprue plate to gall, they are my preferred brand. I won't choose any other if Lee offers the mold I need.

By all means start casting. You'll wonder what took you so long to do it!


Steve

jackinil
September 15, 2006, 09:51 AM
Rapine,Lyman.Try EBay or the N-SSA bulletin board for used molds for the best deals.I also have RCBS and Lee.

sundance44s
September 15, 2006, 12:02 PM
Can`t beat the price of the Lee molds ..and they come with handles .. (some of the other more expencive molds don`t ) I`ve got at least 10 different size Lee molds from round ball to 45/70 bullets ..no problems with any of them ..and i cast alot . 80 lbs of lead a year .

Plastic Cowboy
September 16, 2006, 01:28 AM
Thanks everybody- I appreciate your responses. Looks like I will go with the Lee.
Heck, for $18 I can't really go wrong. 200 rounds and the thing will pay for its self!!

Have fun and be safe!!
:D

Loyalist Dave
September 19, 2006, 08:40 PM
TWO IMPORTANT TIPS

First, with a brass or aluminum mold, be sure when heating to keep the mold closed, as heating apart can cause problems. (they heat so fast they can do so uneven, so won't fit together so good sometimes, and you just waste your time making bad bullets.)

Second, If you air cool your lead bullet, it will be the softest, so will expand wonderfully when harvesting game. If you drop the lead into cold water (make sure you don't get water in the mold or splash it into the melted lead in the pot) you end up with a harder ball that some prefer for target shooting.

LD

Plastic Cowboy
September 19, 2006, 11:18 PM
Great advice Dave- I've never heard that before but it makes sense. Thanks!!!

Zeke/PA
September 20, 2006, 09:45 PM
Over the years, I have made several aluminum mold blocks both for bullets and for fishing lures(bucktails).
In my opinion aluminum is far superior to the "iron" molds as aluminum heats faster and maintains the heat better.
Plus none of the usual fooling around like "smoking" the cavities etc.
The sprue plate on Lee molds can be an issue.
On my Lee molds, I removed the furnished sprue plate screw then drilled and tapped the block for an appropriate machine screw size and installed a lock washer between screw head and sprue plate.
During casting, keep sprue plate just tight enough to avoid flash.
An occassional touch of beeswax across the bottom of the plate wouldn't hurt.
Happy casting.
Respectfully, Zeke

Plastic Cowboy
September 25, 2006, 12:39 PM
Well- I got my Lee double cavity .454 roundball mold from Cabela's yesterday. I'm going to try my hand at casting tonight after work. My dad already has a 10lb electric pot and ladle I can use.

Does anybody have any tips that might help me get good balls right away so I can reduce "trial and error" and shorten the learning curve?

I guess I need to put a drop of beeswax or paraffin into the melt to flux it...but I don't have either. I will stop at wallyworld and see if they have come canning paraffin but I am not sure:(

The instructions also say to lube the mold with bullet lube while my dad says he never did this....how important is it really??

Thanks guys-

sundance44s
September 25, 2006, 03:33 PM
Useing an eletric pot .. will make getting the mold hot a problem .. and you won`t get good balls untill the mold is hot .. i use to heat my mold with a propane tourch so it wouldn`t take so long dropping bad balls .. now i melt over fire and just lay the mold close to the flame untill it`s hot enough .. as far as treating the molds ..light a candle and hold the mold open over the candle flame and smoke up both sides inside of the mold first ... this will help keep the balls from sticking ...and to flux your melt just cut a chunk of wax out of the candle about the size of your thumb nail ..drop it in and mix it in .
if your balls have frost on them the lead is too hot .. if they have wrinkles all over them it`s too cold .. it`ll take some pratice but when they are right they`ll be bright and shiney and smooth .. good luck .

Steve499
September 25, 2006, 11:20 PM
I never flux my lead pot when using pure lead. I was always under the impression fluxing and stirring the lead was a way to keep the alloys in solution rather than floating to the top. I really don't think it serves any purpose whatever with pure lead. If there is some other stuff in your lead mix, fluxing would keep it in where if you didn't flux you could skim off the top and maybe have purer lead left behind.

As far as lubricating the mold, I try to keep the sprue plate lubed at it's pivot but not much else. If you get any lube into the cavities on the mold blocks you will have bad bullets until you get it ALL out of there. The Lee aluminum molds I own have never been lubricated and haven't rusted yet.:)

Steve

Smokin_Gun
September 26, 2006, 02:52 AM
An ever so small piece of parafin at a time is used to flux the lead and will ignite as it starts smokin' or while smoking strike a match to the pot.. What the parafin does is bring the impurities in the lead to the top so you can skim them off.
Keep your mold on top of the electric pot to keep it hot, I usually leave the last balls I cast in the mold when taking a break.
If you have a propane torch it heat the aluminum mold up pretty fast. Otherwise you'll see when the mold is hot enough as the balls will come out pretty good lookin'. I inspect after the spot runs dry, or i'm done casting. Some of the balls may not be perfect and that's expected. As long as they are all full size they'll shoot fine...I still seperate some of the less perfect ones, just cause. I still soot them all and they seem to hit my targets just fine. That'll have to be your choice. Mostly cosmetic.

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