Lee Tumble Lube Bullet Molds


July 31, 2007, 11:35 PM
I've been reloading for about 13 years. I've always used commercial cast bullets, but due to prices, I'm considering casting my own. I've got at least 50lbs. of wheel wieghts that would make good .45 pills.

I've been looking at the Lee tumble lube molds. Curious what the story is on these. They appear economical and the 6 cavity looks like the deal for getting production out. The claim they make about not needing to size these bullets is interesting. I'd appreciate any experience anyone could share about these.



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August 1, 2007, 12:17 AM
I used a 2 cavity mold years ago for 38 special bullets and they loaded and fired fine. The liquid alox was a little messy to use but not horrible. Just make sure to use a wood stick (nothing metal) to knock open the spruce plate when casting.

August 1, 2007, 08:35 AM
I used to cast a .208 Gr. .44 WC bullet for shooting in the .44 Spl. It shot very well using Lee Liquid Alox or Rooster Jacket (http://www.roosterlabs.com/products.html) lubes. They are not real messy. Put the bullets in a SS bowl, shake em around, pick em up with hemostats, set them upright on wax paper and let them dry.

August 1, 2007, 03:21 PM
If you are going to use a Lee 6-cavity mold, you will find you need a lot more than 50 pounds of Lead on hand, especially if you are casting .45 bullets. You will need more than a 10 pound furnace to feed it (I duplex, using a 20 pound bottom pour to cast from and a 10 pound furnace as a melter). I can get 24 bullets per minute for sustained periods. My experience with Lee as-cast diameters is that they run about the right diameter, but this can be varied by alloy content, metal temperature, smoke or graphite spray, and other variables.

Some of the suggestions I got on the Cast Boolit board was to use graphite or Bullplate lube between the sprue plate and the blocks, preventing galling and lead accumulations between them, as well as graphite smoke or spray on the cavities and block faces. Something I came up with on my own was to drop hot cast bullets into a 5 gallon bucket of water to prevent dings and nicks in the bullets, as well as make them harder.

I have limited experience with the TL design, but intend to get more. My only negative experience so far with them is that if you let the lube get on the bullet nose and do not remove it, it will build up in your seater die and gradually your bullets will get seated deeper and deeper. After discovering this, I did two things: buy Dillon seater dies (which allow cleaning without losing seater adjustment), and whenever possible (holding the bullet with large tweezers) dipping just the grooved portion of bullets in Lee Liquid Alox thinned with mineral spirits, then sitting it on its base.

There is a guy on the Cast Boolit board who buys the lube from the same people Lee does, and sells it a lot cheaper.

I will note that in the impact area at Camp Perry right after the pistol phase of the National Matches, I picked up some .45 200gr TL SWCs. They were far outnumbered by the FMJ's, swaged SWC's, and H&G 68 cast bullets, but they were there. Bullseye shooters use wimp loads, so the only distortion on the bullets was the rifling marks.


August 1, 2007, 03:37 PM
I'm a huge fan of the TL design. I cast them up and water drop them right from the mould. I use an old cool-whip container to lube them in.

Place about 50 bullets in the container and put some liquid alox on top of them and swirl away. Lay them out on a piece of wax paper to dry overnight and then I size the next day. The Lee sizers are great for this. Your final size will depend alot on what alloy you use. I believe all of Lee's info is set up for wheel weights or Lyman #2, can't remember which. After sizing I lube a second time, let them dry, and box them up.

The lube can build up in a seating die, but mineral spirits cuts through the liquid alox very quickly. I clean my seater plug about every 100 rounds. Often I'll load them into cases and if I feel like having beautiful (rather than utilitarian) cartridges I'll wipe the tips of the bullets off with a mineral spirit soaked rag. I really quit doing this when I realized it didn't effect function one way or the other.

Edit to add: I have not had good luck with the dipping method. It is very wastefulof lube. And I found I get better results when cutting the alox with a bit of mineral spirits.

August 1, 2007, 04:31 PM
i use the lee 230 gr TC single lube groove design in a 6 cavity mold. I really like it. the reason i got that over the TL design is someday i might get a lube sizer, and id rather have a nice thick lube groove on my molds.

i sized a bunch to .452 and they shot great, but i didn't like the extra step. i tried using them as cast, and once in a while got a failure to go into battery. so what i found works for me is:

unsized bullets loaded straight, then run through a FCD.

they shoot great for me!

Rod B
August 1, 2007, 05:23 PM
I have had excellent results with the Lee T/L bullets.

I cast them in 9mm, .38 & .45ACP.

Go with the six cavity commercial mold, it's faster & in my opinion a higher quality product.

August 1, 2007, 08:57 PM
If you want to save even more money, lube with Johnson's Paste Wax. You can buy a can for $5.00 in just about any hardware store, and it works very well. I put some in an old pan then drop warm bullets in and swish it around. Spread them out on an old cookie sheet or something similiar, and set in the sun to dry. You can read about using JPW as a lube on castboolits.com if you want more info.

August 1, 2007, 11:38 PM
That's interesting about Johnson's wax. I've got a container on hand for preserving my table saw surface. I may have to buy a mold and and production pot. If I go with the 230grn I could probably load for my ACP and my Colt in .45. Does anyone have a favorite weight that is more accurate?


August 2, 2007, 12:54 AM
Maybe I got a bad mould or something, but I recently made a whole bunch of 150gr RN .358 TL bullets with the 6 cavity Lee mold, and they most definitely did need sizing. They were slightly out of round and as much as .360 on the fat side. Yes, I was using them right, matched up perfectly, nothing keeping them from closing. I'm thinking about calling Lee to see if this is normal or if I got a bad set of moulds.

August 4, 2007, 01:52 PM
i'd call them. if it just dropped fat bullets thats one thing, but out of round just isn't right.

Vern Humphrey
August 4, 2007, 02:50 PM
I've used Lee moulds for years -- including a 6-cavity .45 230 grain tumble lube and a .38 6-cavity 148 grain wadcutter tumble lube. I use liquid Alox -- float the bottle in hot water and it liquifies, then squirt over the bullets, shake the container until they turn golden brown and spread on waxed paper. Keep lubed and dried bullets in a sealed container until ready to load.

Be sure to periodically clean your bullet seating die -- it will accumulate lube and change seating depth as it does.

August 4, 2007, 04:44 PM
I've used the TL moulds since about when they first came out.

I still prefer to use the Lee TL, but I cut it by about 30% with Mineral Spirits.
I lube them in a plastic 1gal bucket which I dedicated to that purpose about 15yrs ago.

I usually lube about 500-700 at a time and it takes bout 2 tablespoons of lube to do that many. I get perhaps 10,000-15,000 bullets lubed per 4oz. bottle of lube. After lubing, I spread them in the boxes that Winchester packs 5M of primer in, with the flaps removed. I usually let them dry over night and they're then ready to load.

My .38's usually run about .360", (I'm on my 3rd 148gr DEWC-TL 6-cavity mould, or about 3million made.......) I've got WC, SWC, and RN tuble lube moulds. I shot/tied NRA PPC National records with these bullets/moulds so accuracy is about as good as the guns are capable of. (Technique and materials are critical however..............).

I haven't gotten good results with the TL moulds for 9mm or 10mm. These have driving bands that aren't adequate for the pressures. IMO However, I've had exceptional luck with the Non-TL moulds used with or without the Tumble lube (If not tumble lubed, I lube and size in a Lyman 450 with SPG or NRA 50/50 lube, -preferable for 9mm or 10mm/.40S&W). My best moulds for the 9mm are 120gr TC, and 125RN. For the 10mm/.40 it's been the 180gr TC.
All are 6-cavity moulds.

If the bullets aren't round, it's because the moulds haven't been adequately degreased. This is important and critical on these aluminum moulds. It takes me approximately 15min to clean the moulds before first use, but I'm getting perfect bullets within the 3-4th filling after reaching casting temp.

And yes, you'll go through 50lbs of lead really quick !!!!!

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