Making Your Own Round Ball And Bullets


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Dellbert
April 27, 2011, 04:45 PM
In the last few weeks I been trying to set up to make my own lead round ball. Had a friend bring everything over needed to start melting and pouring. My problem is I'm new to the hobby. I wanted to start with the .454 round ball and orderd a Lee double ball mold with the black plate on top to pour through, and cut the tops of the over flow off the round balls. I was just wanting to know do these molds turn brown with use, do you need to use a bullet lube on them. Will bore butter work. After pouring the hot lead, how long should you wait to cut the top off the hot rd balls befour droping them out of the mold to pour the next two. I want to cast all my own round ball, and bullets for muzzle loading. Need to get started on the right foot. I know some of you folks have been at this a good while, I could use the help :confused:

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robhof
April 27, 2011, 05:34 PM
I've been casting for B/p since I was a teen(my 1st gun was B/p). The Lee molds need to be smoked, don't use any lube, use a candle or even a lighter, you want a light carbon coat. Dip the end of the mold in the pot til it's hot, lead doesn't stick to the mold then pour and tap open the sprew cutter as soon as the lead solidifies and repeat. For b/p don't drop in water; it hardens the lead, drop on a damp towel or towels. It takes practice, but you'll get good results rather quickly, also unless badly deformed, don't discard, what could be used as practice rounds.

Bluehawk
April 27, 2011, 07:28 PM
The molds come with directions...read them over several times and you will be good to go!

Texas Moon
April 27, 2011, 07:50 PM
Casting RB's isn't difficult. Sort of a learned art.
1.) Use CLEAN metal. When the metal is molten in the melting pot skim/flux/remove as much slag/dross as you can.
2.) Mould must be clean and dry.
I've found that steel moulds tend to cast better quality bullets easier than aluminum moulds. The mould MUST be up at casting temps are you'll never get decent casts.
Its not unusual when starting up a cast run to get many unacceptable bullets before the mould gets up to the correct temp to work properly. Not a biggie. Set the messedup ones aside and remelt when convenient.
The "black plate" you mentioned is called a sprue cutter. The sprue is the portion of metal outside the actual mould cavity.
When you pour the molten metal into the mould allow it to harden for a few seconds. You can usually watch it as it hardens. Usually goes from shiny to matte color.
Use a soft mallet or wooden block to tap the sprue cutter to cut off the sprue.
Set the waste sprue pieces aside and remelt later.

You want to oil your mould after use. Allow it to cool down and then apply oil to the mould. I use plain old olive oil. A steel mould will rust up very quickly.

There's a bunch of vids over on You Tube that show you how.

ROAshooter
April 27, 2011, 08:04 PM
tex-moon got it right....the alum molds need to be kept hot...or you will see wrinkles/defects in the balls. I started out using the mallet/block method for cutting the sprue...but gave that up and went with a pair of weldors gauntlets...extra thick palms...and covered nearly to the elbow. got faster....less time...between filling and swinging the sprue cutter.....just by "palming" the plate...and not letting the hot bullets drop far to the padded towel....as I learned if you miss the towel the bullets will "splatter" if they hit the hard floor...but I got to the point I could cast a lot of balls in a short time.

Mike OTDP
April 27, 2011, 08:25 PM
Texas Moon has given good advice. I'd suggest putting the mould on top of the pot while the lead is melting to get it warmed up. Keep the lead as hot as possible. Pour onto the sprue cutter and let the lead flow into the fill hole from the side. After filling, watch the sprue - you can see it harden. When it's hard, take a dowel and knock the sprue cutter. With practice, you can knock the sprues right back into the pot. Make sure whatever you drop the bullets onto is soft and non-melting. Pure cotton works best. Synthetics will melt.

SAA
April 28, 2011, 01:00 AM
When I got my first aluminum mould I learned a few things right quick (a round ball mould by Lee as well). Mould preparation is important for any mould, steel or aluminum, or you will likely get "wrinkled" looking balls even after the blocks are up to temperature.

I would boil the blocks in water that has a little detergent in it. Then rinse, air dry and cool, then use a q-tip to thoroughly clean the ball cavities with a solvent like acetone.

The instructions say to melt a dab of candle or lube wax on the sprue plate pivot and top of the mould, but beware, the wax will spread out in a thin sheet over every surface of your mould no matter how little you use, making wrinkled ball after wrinkled ball. You cannot have any oil or wax in the cavities at all! I had to re-prep my moulds and dispense with waxing it to get it to throw good balls from then on.

No need to oil aluminum mould cavities for storage. They won't rust. Do yourself a big favor and keep all oils and waxes away from them.

martysport
April 28, 2011, 01:16 AM
I too had simular problems (see here http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=575530 )
Turned out I just wasn't getting things hot enougth :)
I have since coated my Lee mold with graphite spray (used at work for casting) great results afterwards!!!!!!

StrawHat
April 28, 2011, 07:46 AM
Just remember that any coating that goes inside the bullet cavity will reduce the diameter of the casting. There are better ways to get the bullets to drop from the cavities. I have been casting for years and the first thing I do with a new mold is to clean all the grease, oil, etc from the cavity. Next I pour four or five bullets and let them cool. I use these bullets to polish the cavities and have no problems with bullets dropping free once the cavites are polished.

Casting is fun and it is a learning experience. I have learned you can never have enough bullet molds.

mr16ga
April 28, 2011, 01:17 PM
One thing after you get done with a casting session don't forget to re oil the molds before you put them away are you will get rusty molds and get to buy new molds. Not good. If you have trouble getting the ball to drop out of the mold blacken the mold by blackening the molds by burning a wood match and holding the mold in the smoke. Also it helps to have something soft to let the ball drop onto so you don't dent the soft ball. Weigh each ball to see if there are any hidden air pockets in side. It will take a session or two and you will be turning out bullets like a pro.

Captain*kirk
April 29, 2011, 11:58 PM
+1 to everything said here. I have both Lee (aluminum) and Lyman (steel) moulds. Here's what I've found:
The Lee moulds get up to temp much quicker and start turning out wrinkle-free balls rather quickly....that being said, you have to forge ahead like a production line to keep the mould up to temp, especially if outside temps are cool or you have stiff breezes.
The Lyman mould casts quite a few wrinklies before it gets up to temp, back in the pot they go!...but once you're up to temp the mould stays warm much longer, and I like the finish better....if that matters....so in the end it's a matter of preference.
Keep a candle with you, and when the balls start to stick in the mould, a quick smoking with the candle will eliminate that. No lube required.
Have a box (with sides) with a soft folded towel inside to drop the balls on. Why sides? Bump that table and you'll find out real quick....:cuss:
My suggestion; get set up and plan to cast the first 25 or so as practice...back in the pot they go. By the tie you've done 25, you already know what you're doing. Good luck!

dlon21
April 30, 2011, 03:59 PM
search for 'ammosmith' on youtube, very nice casting vids.

StrawHat
May 1, 2011, 08:39 AM
A hot plate set up beside you casting pot will also help to keep the molds at the correct temperature. Don't be too stubborn to invent new tricks to help your casting. It took me years to give up hitting the sprue plate with a wood handle and switch to a pair of welders gloves, what a difference that change made!

mr16ga
May 1, 2011, 02:14 PM
Hot plate is a cool idea!!

Texas Moon
May 1, 2011, 04:48 PM
I've been thinking about doing a modification to the sprue cutter.
What I'm thinking is drilling a couple of small holes near the edge and adding a short handle.
The handle would give leverage as well as protection from the heat as you swing it over to cut the sprue after a cast.

StrawHat
May 2, 2011, 06:48 AM
Texas Moon ...I've been thinking about doing a modification to the sprue cutter.
What I'm thinking is drilling a couple of small holes near the edge and adding a short handle.
The handle would give leverage as well as protection from the heat as you swing it over to cut the sprue after a cast...

Always worth a try! Make sure a spare sprue plate is available in case Murphy pays a visit. The Lee six cavity molds have a handle on the sprue cutter. I had thoughts of something similar before I tried the welders glove.

Skinny 1950
May 5, 2011, 01:50 AM
I just got a new Lee .440 mold and the lead would not go into the front cavity,seems the thing was so precise that the air couldn't get out. It failed to fill about 50 times in a row until it wore in,now it works great.

Dellbert
May 6, 2011, 11:30 AM
I just came into a good supply of lead. The problem is that the lead was used inside of some kind of wheel. They're not wheel weights, they are soft lead, so soft that you can cut them with a knife. The weights have had double sided tape on them that keep them inside the wheel. I don't know what to use to get the sticky tape side cleaned off. I don't want to put the lead in the pot with that sticky tape side on them. What would you use to get them cleaned off without messing the lead up. I don't think getting that sticky stuff in the melting pot is a good idea. I was told by one person to put them in and the sticky tape stuff would come to the top of the lead in the pot and just scoop it off the top. Is this the right thing to do, or should I try to clean it off the lead first. :confused: Thinks folks for all the other post. It helped me get started with out a lot of trouble. I just ordered two new molds last night. Keep this up and I want have to go to the store for anything but powder. :D

arcticap
May 6, 2011, 11:55 AM
It's not worth the time and effort to clean it off.
The adhesive will smoke & burn first and then if anything is left it will float to the top of the molten lead. Just don't breath in any of the smoke or fumes.

col.lemat
May 6, 2011, 02:11 PM
I did the same thing. Only trouble was the wheel weights I had was really hard. So hard infact as it would cool and I attempeted to cut off the sprew you could see the lead crystillize, so I used it for fish sinkers.

Dellbert
May 6, 2011, 11:47 PM
I love the place. I want to think all of you fellows for posting all the information you have. I believe we have one lady among us, may be more, if I messed one you'll have to forgive me, but think you also. This lead is not the wheel weights like they use on the outside of your car tires. It go's on the inside of some kind of tire, and they tape them on the inside. This lead is real soft, and can be cut with a knife. I'm so new at this that I'm doing it for black powder firearms for now, and not fooling around with the center fire bullets yet. sence I been shooting the black powder revolvers, and rifles, I haven't been shooting the centerfire's much. I only shoot them enough to keep from getting rusty. I carry a colt 1911, and 9mm back up all the time when out and about. For home defense, the wife, and I both have 12ga shotguns. I'm so into these black powder firearms, I just save the centerfire ammo, and shoot these Remington, and Colt revolvers all the time. Hope to get good with casting rd ball, and bullets for them, and .50 cal rifles, then move on to the centerfire stuff later. I don't use scopes on any of my muzzle loader's, figure long as these old eyes work use them. plus it helps keep your shooting skills intact. I don't know bout you guys, and gals, but my dad raised us on open sights. Sorry I got off the subject. :eek: This casting bullets, and rd balls is a good hobby for anyone to get into. Wish I had done it a long time ago. Sure would have saved a lot of money. You folks have been a lot of help to me and others. I'd like to call this forum home. I have two other forums I go to once in a while, but they are not you. ;) Not saying anythings wrong with them. It's just different here. Thinks folks. :)

Southron, Sr.,
May 9, 2011, 11:27 AM
Compared to concial bullest, round balls are very EASY to cast.

Avoid wheel weights. They are usually too hard for percussion revolvers. Also, some contain zinc which makes them much harder to cast than plain old lead.

rhoggman
May 9, 2011, 10:50 PM
Lee 2 cavity molds are not the greatest quality, and my experience tells me that using a wooden block to smack the sprue plate off will dramatically shorten the life of the mold.

Buy some welders gloves.... once the mold gets hot enough you should be able to swing the sprue plate out by hand. Alternatively by a 6 cavity Lee mold if you can they are much better quality.

Smoke the Molds.... Smoke the Molds.... Smoke the Molds....

Grease the sprue plate with some type of high temp grease.

Flux the lead. Must Flux the lead. Throw in a piece of candle and light it on fire if it does not burn on its own. All you have to do is throw in a lit piece of paper towel. Stir the metal while it is on fire, and remove any crap from the surface of the lead when the fire goes out. You should be looking into a mirror after you flux the pot. The surface will oxidize, but make sure you do not cast debri.

The 2 cavity molds should heat up rather quickly. Once you get rolling don't stop. If you add more lead.... flux again.

I use an old camp stove, and the temp stays pretty even I think???? If you have trouble keeping the temp up you will have trouble casting good boolits.

It is not hard you just have to do it a couple of times. I also find beer or wine consumption helps.

Bluehawk
May 10, 2011, 05:34 AM
The best investment you can make if you are casting bullets is a casting thermometer!!!!

Dellbert
May 10, 2011, 03:51 PM
Beer and Wine UUUUUH :evil: Starry I stop drinking long time ago. Wife likes a little wine now and then, :banghead: maybe she can hold my hand, NAAAAA that would mess up my casting all together, sence you need both hands to cast your balls. :uhoh: OK I started to delete that but :barf: Is that better? I'm still waiting on the molds I ordered. in the mean time I just set around casting everything into .454 rd balls. Probably will melt some of them back down and cast bullets for my hawken rifles. You folks were right, once you get the mold hot top, and bottom it puts out nice rd balls. I like that idea of having a second burner around thinks for the tip. Yes I do need to invest in a casting thermometer. I just got set up not long ago. Its taking me a little while to get things the way I want it, sure don't want to be inside the house with this lead. I have a barn out by the house with a top roof hanging over one end of it. That's a good spot out of the sun, or just go inside the barn cause I got the feeling this sommer is going to be hot, hot, hot. If the good Lord willing, you can find me out there making rd balls, and my lap top hollowing for help, from you all. Heck I bet I done molded 1000 .454s just playing around with this stuff. I think you were right about the molds having to get broke in. about 500 to a 1000 should do it, along with the fluxing, and smoking the mold. Thinks again for all the tips. Like my son told me. You could come running out of the house with all those pistols going at the same time, I bet there wouldn't be a sole left here but you. All the cats would be in the next county, and the dogs would have left with them, it would take a fool to stand here to find out what's going on. I told him think you son, but I can only handle four at a time, he would have to handle the other four. :uhoh: That,s called home defense :neener:

Southron, Sr.,
May 10, 2011, 05:51 PM
(1) Only cast in a WELL VENTILATED AREA, remember that some strange fumes can come off of molten lead. You don't want to breathe in those fumes!

(2) Whenever you handle lead, either when loading your gun or casting bullets be sure to wash your hands before eating, drinking or smoking to remove the minute amounts of "lead dust" from your hands.

(3) Keep water well away from molten lead. Back in 1986 I had a 25 pound pot of lead literally blow up on me because one drop of water got in the pot! My clothes were ruined, I had burns on my face, neck and hands. Fortunately I was wearing safety glasses.

While there was no permanent damage to me-I gained a healthy respect for following ALL the Safety Rules regarding casting after that!

Now, Casting is FUN plus you SAVE A LOT OF MONEY and of course, there is a lot of satisfaction making your own bullets!

Dellbert
May 15, 2011, 01:23 AM
My two new molds came in. Sat down Friday night cast one hundred .450/200gr .44 revolver bullets for my Walker. I hope these are the right ones. They seem to fit the Walker just fine, and the other five .44s ok. All I did was sit a couple of them in the opening of the cylinder and turn them to see if there was going to be any trouble getting them to go under the loading lever so you can ram them down on the powder charge. No problems with that. One of those .44s is the brass frame 51 that people seem to not like. I like it a lot, but will not be shooting these bullets out of it. I find these easier to cast than round ball. I'm thinking that with all that hot lead in a hot mold helps keep the heat up better than those smaller round balls do. Not a bit of trouble to cast those 100. With all the tips you folks sent in anybody could do it, with a little time. I like the idea about the hot plate settin on the side, to help keep the mold hot. Tonight I set down and tried out my second new mold. It's a Lee real bullet mold for .50 cal 320gr bullets, only made 50 of those befour the pot needed more lead, so I just stopped after the first pot. I can see right now, I'm going to need a new supply of lead. Maybe I should have ordered the 250gr mold first. This 320grer will more likely be over kill on deer, we'll see. We have bear hear but people in this part of North Carolina won't see one but every once in a while, and those are just passin through. or a cub caught up a tree by dogs. Fellow over in the next county had one of those cameras you put on a tree over feed, that guy got a picture of a bear that's almost in the 400 pound range hanging in one of the shops out here. Those kind don't come through here that often. To the east near the coast, those folks have some pretty good size brown bears running round there. I'm not so sure I would go hunting them with black powder less it was .54 cal or bigger. Me I probable would want my little .35 Remington, or bigger with me for that. Never been bear hunting before, so I'm a little green in that area. :eek:

Captain*kirk
May 16, 2011, 11:39 PM
The 320gr REAL is NOT overkill on deer.
It works very well in my Lyman Trade Rifle in front of 80-90gr. Pyrodex and packs a wallop!

Noz
May 17, 2011, 12:20 PM
Another reason for obsessive fluxing. Grit in the lead will erode the holes in the top of the aluminum portion of the molds. You'll soon have egg shaped and then ragged holes which make really ugly bullets.
Flux, flux, flux, flux.

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