Rescue/refurb Ideal molds


September 25, 2009, 11:18 PM
So, I finally ran out of wadcutters from dad's stash, so I had to fire up the lead pot and cast me some bullets. Long story short, I think the molds need some help.

Long story long:

I couldn't find any good how-to references to get started, so I did a bunch of things wrong.

Got the lead melted and fluxed OK.

After about 100 bullets something didn't seem right so I looked harder on the web and found a step-by step guide. Ooops.

I didn't let the molds get hot enough first off. That's easy to fix.

I was using a carpenter's hammer to open the sprue plate. Oopsie, but no damage done.

The molds spent a long time in the basement without bullets inside, and now the bullets needed to be forced out of the molds. In the process I dinged up the top of the molds a little bit so I get about a 1mm triangular flake at the base. The sizer cleans that off without much trouble, but I'm still kicking myself for that. Now I know to tap on the hinge rather than the bullets.

So, I can't seem to get the molds to release properly. I tried smoking the cavities, no luck. There's no obvious rust.

What do I try next? Will they release better after a cleaning with some mineral spirits? Is there any kind of surface treatment that will help? Will this solve itself if I let the molds get good and hot?

I'm willing to try some lapping, but I'd like to see if there are any other things to try first. After lapping can the steel be left in the white?

The molds are a single cavity 158grn SWC .357 and a double cavity 148grn WC .358. Both are steel.

If worse comes to worst, what modern molds will fit Ideal handles?

The bullets I made look OK, so I think I'll shoot them up anyway.

Thanks for your help!


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September 25, 2009, 11:47 PM
A couple of things; Make darn sure the cavities are clean. The best is boiling in water with some dishwashing detergent in it. Then a scrubbing with a nylon toothbrush, then rinsing in the hottest water you can find. That flash drys the mold.

Another thing is then if the bullets don't drop free, there's most likely a burr on one side of one cavity. What I sometimes do is find an old bore brush of the caliber your making. I spin that brush in the cavity with the mold closed. It breaks the edges of the cavity without enlarging the size. I had a lyman 4 cav 45 hardball mold that got real rusty from non use and neglect. I used a 45 pistol brush with a little 4-0 steel wool on it to gently remove the rust, saved that one, still makes good boolits. Caution, I would only do the brush thing on a steel/cast iron mold. Try that on an aluminum mold, you'd ruin it in a hurry!

September 25, 2009, 11:55 PM
I like that idea.

I'll give them a good cleaning and a brushing to start with. Maybe that will be enough.

The articles on lapping seems to be a production worth avoiding if possible.

Any other ideas?


September 26, 2009, 12:51 AM
Worst case you could replace them with Lee molds for about 22.00 each. There are folks over at the cast bullets web site that could help you and maybe even do the repair for you. It is worth checking it out.

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