Round Ball Casting


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B00SS
October 21, 2008, 06:55 PM
I'm about ready to start casting round balls. I just bought a used mold that came without instructions and have a few questions:
What are you using to heat the lead?
Once melted, just pour?
What is the cooling time before the round ball is ready to remove?
Any tips would be great. Please share your (safe) shortcuts and any advice.

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CWL
October 21, 2008, 07:43 PM
I just googled "casting bullets" and got 977,000 hits...

Only looked at the first 3 and they all tell you how to cast lead.

BEFORE YOU START: LEAD FUMES ARE EXTREMELY TOXIC! Only work in indoor area that has modern ventilation system or outside where you can have a moderate breeze moving the air.

The easiest way is to get a electric lead melter (cheap ones are just ladles with a heating coil inside it).

Melt lead skim crud off-of top, pour melted lead into mold, wait a few secs and tap open. If balls haven't correctly set, just throw them back into the melter and try again. Do not use water to try and quicken this process.

There is a bit of trial and error involved depending on your melter, mold, alloys and environment. I used to mess around with my lead melter but got sick with the fumes and decided it wasn't worth it for me.

PRM
October 21, 2008, 07:43 PM
http://www.tackletogo.com/elleadmelhot.html

I use an electric melting pot, when it melts skim the slag off the top of the melted lead with an old spoon. Use a ladle to dip and pour the melted lead into your mold. It will harden almost as soon as it is poured. Let fall out and cool, cut your excess spru off if your mold doesn't have a cutter. Do this outside or well ventilated area.

Chawbaccer
October 21, 2008, 08:57 PM
I use an old hot plate, a plumbers pot and a cast iron ladle. When your lead melts toss in a chunk of wax of some sort, maybe a bit of candle, crayon or a piece of parafin. This will flux your lead and make the impurities rise to the top for easier skimming. Some will put the mold in the pot to pre-heat it, I like to just start casting to get the mold hot. It won;t take very many until the mold is at casting temp. Then you have to set yourself up a rythem, If you go too slow your mold will cool off too much and if you go too fast the mold will get too hot. If your bullets are gettin a frosty look your lead is too hot, and if you are getting wrinkles it is too cold. The bullet should set up right away, you will see it in the spru. Use a piece of wood to cut the spru and open the mold, drop the bullet on something soft or into a bucket of water. DO NOT drop molten lead into water.

BHP FAN
October 21, 2008, 09:09 PM
If you're going to be doing this much,do yourself a favor,buy a bottom pour furnace.A good one can be had for under sixty bucks from Lee,over on Midway shooting supplies.I still have my lead pot and ladle in case of long term power outage,but seriously,I never use them anymore.You can get sick from lead fumes,and a big bead of sweat rolling off your forhead into a pot of lead can send molton metal everywhere.With a bottom pour mold you're always getting the nice pure lead off the bottom,not the crud you'd normally have to skim off the top.You can sit or stand at a safe distance with your casting furnace on a sturdy backyard work bench in the open air,not inside inhaling fumes.The little valve at the bottom shoots a precise stream of molton metal into your mold,and the whole operation costs little more than a quality pot and ladle [actually about the same as an RCBS manual set up] it's safer quicker and much easier to use.I think you'll thank me.

BHP FAN
October 21, 2008, 09:15 PM
Chawbaccer is spot on about fluxing,I use a chunk out of my grease cookie [75%beeswax 25%crisco,a dash of Bore Butter for texture and smell] stash for black powder cartridge reloading,as a flux agent.

Loyalist Dave
October 22, 2008, 08:50 AM
Casting round ball for a muzzleloader...,

First you need nearly pure lead, as lead alloys such as wheel weights tend to shrink less when cooled, so they are a tad larger. NOT a problem as they shoot fine, but if you already have a good powder/patch/ball load, and you switch to wheel weights, you may find the patch/ball combo is too tight to load. Not to worry, just go to a thinner patch but check as if the patch is too thin and gets cut, your accuracy will go out the window.

Back to casting...,

I melt my lead in an iron pot over an outdoor fire. When the lead is melted I toss in a 1" cube of beeswax, and it melts and burns, and then skim off the blue-black crud on the top of the lead (which is mostly lead oxide). Then I put the ladle in the lead to heat up, or it will get a deposit of lead on it and not pour straight. IF the ladle picks up lead, then let it sit for a minute in the melted lead, and it will come up to temp and stay clean and pour nice.

If I don't pre-heat the mold, the first few projectiles will not be correct, probably only a half-sphere. I count to ten after pouring, then knock it out, and repeat. This heats up the mold. (Normally I pre-heat the mold by setting the mold portion in the coals for about 1 minute).

When the mold is getting close to proper temp, the ball comes out as a sphere, but it will probably be wrinkled. That means the mold is almost correct temp. Keep pouring and tapping out the projectiles, and the mold will heat further, then it will give you nice, shiny, smooth bullets. WATCH the sprue (the bit where the lead is poured into the mold) and be sure you don't get an air pocket.

IF you get bullets that appear "frosted" instead of shiny, the mold and lead were too hot. Not a problem really.

As for cooling the round ball, you have a choice. I like mine to air cool. The biggest thing I go up against is white-tail and they aren't too big in my neck of the woods. So a nice, soft bullet works great! I know some who drop their ball into water for a faster cool so get a harder bullet (I don't know if it's that much of an improvement to make a dif), BUT if you do that you can't recast those bullets while working the rest of the melted lead. ANY water that hits that melted lead will turn to steam and pop, causing melted to lead to fly everywhere, while you're standing next to it. :eek:

IF you want or need a harder bullet, then a better idea (imho) is to use an alloy (such as the wheel weights I mentioned above), and change the thickness of your patch.., it's safer.

LD

sundance44s
October 22, 2008, 09:20 AM
One tip ...save the remains of those smelly candles the wife buys ...they are great for fluxing your lead melt ..just cut a tumbnail size chunk off and drop in the pot ..it`ll smoke untill it burns but smells nice ...LOL

dogrunner
October 22, 2008, 12:23 PM
BOOS:

I have cast bullets for a lotta years, both for smokless and black and I'd make a couple of suggestions to you.

First, the suggest for a dedicated lead pot, either the ladle type or a bottom pour is a worthy investment. Secondly, do as recommended and stay with what you know to be pure lead (roof vent sheathing is a good source for BP bullets).

Don't know what kind of mould you have, but if it's one of Lee's aluminum ones then your technique'l be a little different than with a steel one. First, in either case the mould has to be clean, you can do this with either a good dishwashing detergent like 'dawn' or you can use lighter fluid....just make sure that no oil residue remains in the cavity (s). In the case of the Lee moulds, you have to 'smoke' the cavity with a wooden match or similar source that'l deposit a carbon coverning in the cavity. You also have to lightly lube the steel alignment bars on the mould bottom.....as well as the "v" on the sides.....if you don't then the mould will mis-align and can even 'gall' when you open or close the sprue plate......If you mould is Lee's then they'd probably give you an instruction sheet free tho!

Anyway you look at it, you have to get the mould up to a proper casting temperature to get good bullets, you also don't want to exceed it because then they get a 'frosted' look, tho they'll still shoot OK.

I know I've made this sound a lot more complicated than it really is, but you do need at least a usuable ladle, and if you are using a 'homebrew' pot, then try to get a small cast iron one........makes keeping the temp. right a lot easier.

Also, I strongly suggest you look at the "castboolits gunloads" site for really good info on the subject.

Not difficult at all, a LOT of fun, and easy to learn.....Enjoy!!

rjsixgun
October 22, 2008, 12:25 PM
When you throw the wax in your pot you can light the smoke with a match, helps to burn off the smoke so you dont have to breath that too.

B00SS
October 22, 2008, 05:49 PM
Awesome. These are exactly some of the type of tips I was looking for. Thanks so much, gentlemen.

Calibre44
October 22, 2008, 05:58 PM
Heay Booss – some great advice here to get you started. Casting is great fun and makes sound economic sense.

My advice is to wear safety glasses. Hot molten lead and water just don’t mix. If you are casting outside – do a good 'rain check'. Just one splash of water in the pot will end in tears!

Stay safe and have fun!

Quickdraw McGraw
October 22, 2008, 08:05 PM
BOOS,

A lot of good info provided here. As dogrunner indicated you might want to check out castboolits.gunloads (http://www.castboolits.gunloads.com/). It's a great forum with a lot of helpful gents!

Good luck

rjsixgun
October 23, 2008, 07:26 PM
Not sure what your casting for but I found the Lee 45 ACP to be very accurate out'a my 1858 Remington.

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