lead melting.....


July 26, 2007, 03:18 AM
hi all, fairly new to reloading but need opinions/input.I want to start melting my own lead. Nothing speciel , just from tire wieghts and what not to start.Any opinions on a cheap starter furnace with a bottonm pour spout?Loading 45LC and soon to be loading 45/70. Thanks all Bob

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July 26, 2007, 03:35 AM
I have experienced excellent results with the Lee Pro-20 electric pot. Bottom pour, and very easy to use, to boot.

To use wheelweights, though, it would be best if you were to melt them first in a separate pot, clean up the melt, and use your bottom pour pot for casting only.

I use a turkey cooker burner, with a small cast iron pot. Use a small pot because that thing can get HEAVY, when you put alloy in it. I wait until it melts, fish out the metal clips, then flux with Marvelux (available from Brownell's) to clean up the alloy. I'll then pour ten pound ingots (got the mold from Magma Engineering).

Make sure that you do your melting OUTSIDE, and position yourself upwind from your pot.

July 26, 2007, 05:30 AM
+1 for the Lee Pot, and +1 for smelting the wheel weights into ingots using a Turkey Fryer and an old dutch oven. (to avoid "dirtying" your casting pot) If you don't have a dutch oven then you can pick one up from Harbor Freight for $15. I wish I had known that before I stole my wife's from the camper! :)

I use dry sawdust for the flux to clean the lead, and I made my own ingot molds by welding up some angle iron with end plates. There are good pictures/threads on how to do all this stuff on http://www.castboolits.gunloads.com

Don't let any of it intimidate you . . .it's not any more complex then reloading but it can seem a bit overwhelming at first.

Have a good one,

July 26, 2007, 06:48 AM
This is something for someone who does a lot of shooting. Don't do this until you do a lot of shooting.

Also don't eat anything or smoke while casting. Don't put your head over the pot. All of this because your nose and your mouth are the most common route for Lead to enter your body, usually in the form of fine particulates.

I like the Lee 6-cavity molds. With them I can reach sustained speeds of 24 bullets per minute. This does require me to run the furnace and mold very hot, drop all the bullets into a 5-gallon pail of water, and have a second furnace melting lead which I dump into the one I am casting from.

I like 20 pound furnaces. Casting .45 LC or .45-70 bullets, you'll drain a 10 pound furnace too quick.

Lyman's and RCBS's one and two-cavity molds are more durable than Lee's. Lyman's 4 cavity molds are excellent, but really heavy. All the Iron molds are slow to get into action, compared to Lee's aluminum molds.

Lee will make custom 6-cavity molds in just about any design you want. Even .45-70 bullets.

The Cast Boolit board has a lot more tips and tricks, such as graphite or Bull Plate lube between the top and the actual blocks. They also do group buys on custom Lee molds, which brings costs down from $100+ to roughly $60.

Ed Gallop
July 26, 2007, 07:29 AM
I use a Lee Production Pot IV and like it very much. Used a pot and dipper before so can appreciate it. Wish I had used another pot for wheel weights though. Lots of ugly residue in dirty wheel weights. Cleaning the Production Pot is a pain and can't get it all off the walls and bottom. Can't wash it out.
Had to clean out the drain with a wire now and then because of the residue.

I do not wear a mask and am not as careful as I should be but do my casting alone in the garage. I leave a door open or window in the winter but know I inhale potential harmful vapors. I'm an old Grandpa and doubt the amount will make a difference. Hell... I already have most all the symptoms anyway. :-( Ed

Signs and symptoms in children are nonspecific and may include:
Loss of appetite
Weight loss
Abdominal pain
Pallor from anemia
Signs and symptoms in adults

The signs and symptoms of lead poisoning in adults may include:
Pain, numbness or tingling of the extremities
Muscular weakness
Abdominal pain
Memory loss
Reproductive impairment in men

July 26, 2007, 09:32 AM
thanks for the great advice guys. I do have an outside storage shed.I fry turkeys on thanksgiving and christmas, so I just need a pot for dirty lead. After reading this I went and looked at the lee pots, nicely priced, thanks again all, Bob

July 26, 2007, 12:24 PM
Here's my set-up.


here's the lead I was smelting BEFORE fluxing.


And then after fluxing ready to pour ingots.


Then a few of the ingots I made that day.


Here's what I was smelting.


That's a multi drill head counterweight, a big machine,(natco), for drilling and tapping holes in an axle bowl. There were 40 of them on that machine, each weighing 90 pounds. It is nearly pure lead. Alloying that with some Linotype gives me boolits with nearly the same content as wheelweights,(17-3)

+1 on the lee pro 20! After years of casting with a lee production pot,(8 pound capacity), the 20 pounder is a joy to work with.

Also +1 on the lee 6 holer's. I have 4 of them, they ALL work well. Another +1 on the bull plate lube from the bull shop in AK. Get that from the cast boolits board.

It's just the best mold lube you can get. The secret is that it is a special high temp lube that won't burn off. Most molds need some lubrication on the guide pins, pivot points for the sprue plate, and hinge pin. Especially the aluminum molds, like lee and NEI.

Quickdraw McGraw
July 26, 2007, 08:52 PM
Did you have to cut that up, how do you get that monstrosity melted down?

That's alot of free bullits!

July 27, 2007, 01:00 AM
Did you have to cut that up, how do you get that monstrosity melted down?

That's alot of free bullits!

Yeah, that is too big and heavy to try to melt in in one piece. IIRC it was reloader Fred that clued me in on how to cut lead up. An ordinary circular skill saw was used to cut those into 4 pieces so they would lay on the bottom of the pot.

Also, the harbor freight 6 quart, 12 inch, dutch oven is what I intended to use for smelting. I bought one, set it on the turkey fryer, it cracked nearly in half shortly after the heat hit it!:eek: I returned it, they replaced it. The clerk at the Appleton store mentioned "seasoning" it per instructions in the box. I got it home, no instructions! :scrutiny: I did a search on their website, found the instructions.

Seasoning amounts to one hour in a regular oven at 350. That should stabilize the cast iron so it won't crack. The pot in the pics belongs to a friend, it's been used for years to smelt lead.

July 27, 2007, 08:59 AM
that's just beautiful. I've never seen that much lead before, and probably won't again in my lifetime.

I wish I lived in wisconsin so I could stop by and see what 3600 lbs of lead looks like.

Hold on, let me add this up real quick.... if there's 7000 gr in a lb, and a 45acp has a 230 gr projectile, then you've got enough lead laying around for about 110,000 bullets....a LOT more if you're doing smaller projectiles.

What you going to do with all that lead? that's more than I could shoot in a lifetime.

July 27, 2007, 11:46 AM
I wish I lived in wisconsin so I could stop by and see what 3600 lbs of lead looks like.

Me too!;) Sorry if I misled you, but I ONLY got 13 of them. That's still a lot, more than I can use for quite a while. Some were taken when I heard about their availability, I was lucky to get what I did. The company was scrapping out the old machine, they would have had to "safely" dispose of it otherwise. I was told, if the DNR asks, you don't know where you got them!:cool:

I gave one to a buddy that had given me quite a lot of wheel weights in the past. He makes sinkers, the type that crimp in the line. Wheel weights are too hard, they break when bent. He's going to keep his eyes open for Linotype, he's a scrap man/re-cycler, might run into some for me.

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