setting up a Lee 6 cavity mold


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SSN Vet
December 3, 2012, 11:17 AM
I understand that the mold handles must be purchased separately for the Lee six cavity molds....

But many of the videos I've watched on You-tube show a third handle attached to the sprue plate, and the operation looks very easy and fast with this third handle.

But when I look at the handles for sale on line... all they show is the pair of "scissors" type handles, and not the third handle for the sprue plate.

Can somebody who has set up a Lee 6 cavity mold with a handle for the sprue plate tell me if that handle comes with their 6 cavity mold handle or does it have to be adapted from another set of mold handles?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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RugerBob
December 3, 2012, 11:33 AM
Its actually part of the mold. It bolts to the mold as its part of the spue plate.

SSN Vet
December 3, 2012, 12:01 PM
great...

so it sounds like if I buy the 6-up mold and the Lee handles, I'll be good to go?

DurangoKid
December 3, 2012, 04:46 PM
I have the Lee 6 cavity in .45 caliber. It is a great mold it throws dead on .452 every time. I just do an Alox tumble and shoot them.:)

flashhole
December 3, 2012, 06:50 PM
Yes, you will be good to go. I use the same setup for 40 S&W. Works great ..... even better with the Lee Classic Turret Press, Lee Dies, Lee Powder Through Expander, Lee Funnel and Lee Dipper Cups. Lee nailed it with pistol loads. No complaints with my set up. Forgot to add the Lee Bottom pour 20# pot. :)

Reefinmike
December 3, 2012, 09:31 PM
A tip i learned early on- heat up your mold before casting unless you want to break the sprue cutter handle! If the mold isnt nice and hot, you will have difficulty with cutting sprue plate and bullets that dont easily drop. I just sit my mold on the electric stove burner set to 6 for ten minutes, then crank it slowly up to 8 for a couple minutes and then run it out to the pot and start casting! when everything is the perfect temp, things go so smoothly. its a beautiful sight to see all 6 boolits drop right out upon opening the mold. with my 38 tl 158gr mold, I can cast 650 an hour and rarely do I find any rejects per thousand... maybe one every 2,000 boolits.

GLOOB
December 3, 2012, 09:52 PM
I'll probably get flamed for this, but I use needle-nose pliers to get the bullets out of my 6 cavity mold.

The 2 cavity molds drop just fine, particularly with bigger bullets. Sometimes it takes a couple taps with a stick, but no big deal. But 6 cavities of teeny 55 grain pills are sometimes hard to knock loose banging with a stick or shaking around. Some days they all shake free just fine. But some days, it can take awhile to get that last one or two to drop, and I will knock the sprue plate nut and handle loose every now and then, from all the banging/shaking, adding even more time, bad bullets, and frustration.

So I just run up one side with needle nose pliers opened up. Using just one jaw of the pliers, lay the side with the teeth against the bullet, smooth side against the mold, and roll away from the block to pull the bullet out. Run back down the other side, same way. I haven't found any teeth marks on the bullets, and I haven't noticed any damage to the mold. But you obviously have to be very careful not to ding the edges of the mold.

rsrocket1
December 3, 2012, 09:55 PM
You can also heat up the mold by sitting it on the edge of the furnace as it heats up. Dipping a corner into the melted lead gets it to the final temperature. Don't dip too much or if the mold is too cool, the lead will stick to the mold. Also, don't do this with a non-Lee mold. Iron molds will warp.

Be sure to close the sprue cutter handle completely, or you won't get enough leverage to cut the sprue and could break the sprue plate handle. If you do leave the handle out a little, use a flat blade screwdriver where the sprue plate lever pushes against the mold to give you leverage. No harm done.

Also be sure the lead is frozen before cutting the sprue or else you will get lead smeared between the sprue plate and mold (pain to remove unless you used the right amount of mold release or Bullplate or 2 cycle synthetic oil on the plate).

The Lee 6 cavity molds are great and are the best thing to use to produce 100's of bullets in no time.

Certaindeaf
December 3, 2012, 10:03 PM
You should get flamed.. or smoked. lolz. Try smoking your molds, or better yet, get some Bullplate. good stuff. Here's a little talk on it just chosen at random. I think the guy mighta died but replacement is still available if you sleuth a bit.

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?79690-Bullplate-isn-t-Bull

Certaindeaf
December 3, 2012, 10:05 PM
Also, to warm up that mold, in addition to the above, after heating it up, pour one or two cavities only closest to the pivot to check it out and increase the number as it warms up/is proven.

DurangoKid
December 3, 2012, 10:16 PM
The LEE aluminum block heats very fast. The Lee will work best with an alloy heat of 800 degrees. Make sure you time your pour not too fast or you will get frosted bullets. When you pour make sure you see the sprue sink in the mold before cutting. When the bullets stick in the mold hold a lit match under each cavity and smoke or carbon each cavity to allow bullet release. When casting the most important process is to flux the lead before and during the casting session. Flux and stir the pot blending the top residue back into the lead untile you only have a grey dust on the surface to remove. When not fluxing and removing dross you are throwing your tin away not good.:)

GLOOB
December 3, 2012, 10:51 PM
I started out smoking my Lee molds. I read the instructions, afterall. But I used a lighter. Maybe that doesn't work as good as a match.

Smoking reduced bullet wrinkles for me. But I find that a perfectly clean, nonsmoked, Lee aluminum mold makes perfect bullets without wrinkles if you just bump up the temp a tiny bit. I don't get wrinkles, even on my tiny 223 bullets.

Smoking didn't seem to help any of my sticky bullet molds release a bullet, though. Maybe one or two bullets, then they started to stick, again. The temp of the lead/mold seemed to be the biggest factor. Once in awhile, I'll get a good run where they all just fall out. Then for awhile, they won't. I haven't found any burrs in my 223 mold, but there's one or two of the bullets that sometimes won't fall out until the mold has cooled forever.

When not fluxing and removing dross you are throwing your tin away not good.Yup. Good point. I do same as you.

Make sure you time your pour not too fast or you will get frosted bullets.
While I wouldn't mind frosted bullets one bit, I do have to take my time with the 223 mold. Else the gas check shank gets warped and not completely filled when I open the sprue plate. So I don't mind taking the bullets out with the pliers. Gives the mold a chance to cool. Actually, it's usually faster than banging on the mold, anyway. It's like scratching a lottery ticket hoping that all 6 teeny pills fall out by gravity with a couple taps. Then it's another tap.. then another... then by tap #23 when the sprue plate handle has shaken loose, I know this ticket is a loser, and I'm better off just using the pliers and getting them out potentially slower, but reliably, every time! :)

DurangoKid
December 3, 2012, 11:25 PM
Problem with frosting is not just the looks. The pour is way over heated and the fill on the lube bands are often not correct. When bullets do not always fall out it is usually due to molds getting cold during a run.

blarby
December 4, 2012, 12:34 AM
zipties on the handle where it seats onto the sprue plate are a great reinforcement.

41 Mag
December 4, 2012, 06:42 AM
Lots of great info here, but this one is probably the most important to get going with,

Also, to warm up that mold, in addition to the above, after heating it up, pour one or two cavities only closest to the pivot to check it out and increase the number as it warms up/is proven.

Most folks recommend starting with the 2 cavity molds, but I jumped right in with the 6'ers and went for it. I read plenty on the tricks and such that are poste up over on the Castboolits site and there are plenty.

I started out casting the .452 C300RF for my 454 and knowing up front they were going to be put through some pretty rough service, and knowing from past experience with severe leading I wanted to be sure I did all I could to keep things on the minimal side.

One thing I DO highly suggest is getting the thermometer for you pot to monitor your alloy temp. This will go a LONG ways in keeping things more consistent. With my set up, and pouring the 300's, I usually warm up the mold on a small hot plate to around 350-375 degrees, while the pot is coming up to temp. I run my alloy, straight WW with 4" of 95/5 solder per full pot, between 650 and 685 degrees. If I start getting up higher they start to frost up and are not even in weight. The frosting doesn't hurt as much as the difference in weight as most of this will be found in the diameter, which if using the TL bullets can decrease the ring depth which was referred to above, when sized.

Start off no matter what temp you decide on pouring one or two cavities at a time and this will heat up your mold. Pour through 6 or so like this then add a cavity and so on until your dumping all at once. The biggest thing with the 6'ers is they drop you pot level fast depending on the bullet your pouring, as it drops if your using the Lee model, or similar electric, the temp will rise as the lead leaves. You have two options, cut back on the temp control or add in cut offs, to lower the temp. When you add in new lead the temp will drop and usually freeze the spout up for a minute, while this goes on set you mold across the top and keep it warm.

These are just some simple starting out tips, there are plenty more that will come up as you get into it. If you read through the stickys and such on the Lee molds elsewhere, you will be WAY ahead in the game as those folks have them figured out as best as anyone.

Good luck and hope this helps.

evan price
December 4, 2012, 08:05 AM
One good FYI is to start casting a six-cavity by casting only two cavities for a couple casts, then three, then four, then five, then finally six.

If the mold blocks are not up to temp the lead can go hard too quickly, and the leverage to cut the sprues of six cold bullets can and will cause the sprue plate cam lever to snap off. There's a guy who makes aftermarket steel bar-stock cam levers, but by bringing them up to temp slowly you can make sure not to snap the sprue lever.

Look over all six cavities' edges with a magnifying glass. I sometimes find burrs or rough edges or machining marks. This can cause hard to release bullets. A sharp razor blade can carefully trim those bits down. Be careful not to gouge the mold.

Make sure you lube the pivots for the sprue cutter plate, the alignment pins, and the sprue plate to top of the mold with a good high temp lubricant.

Don't bang, strike, or hammer the blocks with anything metallic, don't clash the blocks together, and don't let it run without lube on the lube points. The mold is actually a precision machined instrument and should be treated like one.

If you have to tap on the mold to get bullets to fall out, tap on the handle hinge pin. I use a fiberglass handle that came from a cheap hammer that I broke off.

Be wary of getting lead blobs and spatter on the face of the blocks, this will cause the blocks to not close all the way and you will get fins on your bullets.

Once the mold gets good and hot it will start casting great bullets. I like them right on the borderline of frosty, as long as it is filling out the bases and bands.

SSN Vet
December 4, 2012, 02:21 PM
thanks for all the replies...

Though not a first time caster (see my other two recent threads) I'm not exactly a salty dog either. I presently cast 150 gr. 30 cal and 230 gr .45 cal with Lee two cavity molds, with pretty good results....

I use the Franklin spray to coat the cavities, but then I take a Q-tip dipped in white gas and clean the mold faces to ensure the mold closes tight and the tiny vent lines aren't plugged. This has worked well for me.

I used to use a drop of LLA to lube the mold, but just ran Bull Plate Lube for the first time and am very pleased with it.

I cast with a Lee 20 bottom pour production pot, and use an industrial thermometer mounted on a home made stand. I ran the pot @ ~625 F, but on my last session, the temp seemed to be all over the place. I think it is because my stand doesn't put the thermometer tip all the way to the bottom of the pot and as the level went down, so did the temp. So I think I may not have been getting an accurate reading.

I pre-heat my 2-up molds by setting them on top of the casting pot, and I drop my .45 bullets into a damp diaper and quench my .30 cal bullets in a pail of water with a diaper in the bottom

In the past I've cast with straight WWs, but on my last melt, I added in ~20% lead roofers flashing to each smelt pot full. So I'm looking for an inexpensive source of tin to add to the casting pot. I'll have to pick up some 95/5 solder at the hardware store and try that.

I smelt over a single burner white gas camp stove, and though I have to be carefull not to put to much weight on it, it get's much hotter than propane stoves. Unfortunately my smelt "pot" is only a small cast iron skillet, as I've yet to find a cast iron dutch oven on the cheep.

I use lube "cakes" for my 30 cal and have been experimenting with LLA and Rooster lube for the .45.

I'm leaning towards a new 6-up Lee mold for casting 125 gr. 9mm RNs. But I may have to settle for another 2-up mold.

What I really need is to get another pot to pre-melt my lead, so I don't have to wait for my big pot to heat up again after adding sprues, bad bullets and fresh ingots.

And my biggest problem is that my bottom spout is sometimes dribbles.

budman46
December 4, 2012, 02:44 PM
super string...lots of good info if you read it though and follow.

i like lee's moulds, especially the six-cavities...low cost and weight, good quality.

aluminum's weakness is galling from lead smeared under the sprue cutter. bullplate (no longer available?) or 2-cycle motor oil applied sparingly stop smearing, even cleaning off smeared lead. it works so well one can throw rifle bullets which bend because you can cut the sprues without smearing while the slugs are still plastic.

SSN Vet
December 4, 2012, 03:04 PM
I bought my little bottle of Bull Plate lube a couple years ago, but have only just recently fired up to cast again....

of course I managed to spill the bottle on my bench :(

but the bench has a smooth top, so I was able to scoop up most of what spilled and get it back into the bottlel.

jmorris
December 4, 2012, 03:06 PM
I find that if I smoke the inside of the mold with a rich flame out of an Oxy/act torch the bullets just fall out of the mold.

AABEN
December 4, 2012, 03:30 PM
I'll probably get flamed for this, but I use needle-nose pliers to get the bullets out of my 6 cavity mold.

The 2 cavity molds drop just fine, particularly with bigger bullets. Sometimes it takes a couple taps with a stick, but no big deal. But 6 cavities of teeny 55 grain pills are sometimes hard to knock loose banging with a stick or shaking around. Some days they all shake free just fine. But some days, it can take awhile to get that last one or two to drop, and I will knock the sprue plate nut and handle loose every now and then, from all the banging/shaking, adding even more time, bad bullets, and frustration.

So I just run up one side with needle nose pliers opened up. Using just one jaw of the pliers, lay the side with the teeth against the bullet, smooth side against the mold, and roll away from the block to pull the bullet out. Run back down the other side, same way. I haven't found any teeth marks on the bullets, and I haven't noticed any damage to the mold. But you obviously have to be very careful not to ding the edges of the mold.
Have you smoked your die? I smoke all my dies before using! That makes them work!

AABEN
December 4, 2012, 03:33 PM
thanks for all the replies...

Though not a first time caster (see my other two recent threads) I'm not exactly a salty dog either. I presently cast 150 gr. 30 cal and 230 gr .45 cal with Lee two cavity molds, with pretty good results....

I use the Franklin spray to coat the cavities, but then I take a Q-tip dipped in white gas and clean the mold faces to ensure the mold closes tight and the tiny vent lines aren't plugged. This has worked well for me.

I used to use a drop of LLA to lube the mold, but just ran Bull Plate Lube for the first time and am very pleased with it.

I cast with a Lee 20 bottom pour production pot, and use an industrial thermometer mounted on a home made stand. I ran the pot @ ~625 F, but on my last session, the temp seemed to be all over the place. I think it is because my stand doesn't put the thermometer tip all the way to the bottom of the pot and as the level went down, so did the temp. So I think I may not have been getting an accurate reading.

I pre-heat my 2-up molds by setting them on top of the casting pot, and I drop my .45 bullets into a damp diaper and quench my .30 cal bullets in a pail of water with a diaper in the bottom

In the past I've cast with straight WWs, but on my last melt, I added in ~20% lead roofers flashing to each smelt pot full. So I'm looking for an inexpensive source of tin to add to the casting pot. I'll have to pick up some 95/5 solder at the hardware store and try that.

I smelt over a single burner white gas camp stove, and though I have to be carefull not to put to much weight on it, it get's much hotter than propane stoves. Unfortunately my smelt "pot" is only a small cast iron skillet, as I've yet to find a cast iron dutch oven on the cheep.

I use lube "cakes" for my 30 cal and have been experimenting with LLA and Rooster lube for the .45.

I'm leaning towards a new 6-up Lee mold for casting 125 gr. 9mm RNs. But I may have to settle for another 2-up mold.

What I really need is to get another pot to pre-melt my lead, so I don't have to wait for my big pot to heat up again after adding sprues, bad bullets and fresh ingots.

And my biggest problem is that my bottom spout is sometimes dribbles.
I have a chunk of lead hanging on the spout handle. It works good.

GLOOB
December 4, 2012, 03:43 PM
Yeah, I've smoked them. That helps for the next drop or two, then it no longer works for me. It just makes the bullets drop slightly smaller. The only difference I've seen from smoking the die is you can cast at slightly lower temp without wrinkles. I no longer smoke my dies, and all my molds drop just as fine as before. It's just my 55 grain mold that has two bullets that stick.


What I really need is to get another pot to pre-melt my lead, so I don't have to wait for my big pot to heat up again after adding sprues, bad bullets and fresh ingots.
What I do is drop the sprue right in the pot, before it cools down. I don't collect them separately and then add a whole bunch of cool sprue to the pot. Esp with my Bator mold. The sprue is bigger than the bullets. Collecting the sprue from this 6 cavity mold would be wreaking havoc on my pot level!

And my biggest problem is that my bottom spout is sometimes dribbles.
1. There's an adjustment screw on the top. Make sure that it's set to allow the rod to lower completely.
2. Keep a flathead screwdriver by the bench. When it starts to dribble, turn the actual rod (not the adjustment screw) back and forth a few times while putting downward pressure on it. That's why the rod has a slotted top.

3. Every now and then you may have to clean out a clogged spout. Completely empty the pot. Flux, stir, and pour out most of the pot into ingots, then turn it over and dump out the remaining lead into the ingot mold. Then you can take out the rod and clean off the dross. To get the rod out, you can unscrew the adjustment screw near all the way, then just slide the rod by it. You can completely remove the whole shebang by unscrewing the lag bolts on top and bottom of the handle mechanism. You can heat up the pot with the rod removed and clean out the spout with a drill bit. A 5/64th's is a perfect fit, and with the pot heated and empty, you can just stick it through the bottom of the spout and spin it with your fingers. (If you're daring, you can do this with leather gloves or pliers while the pot is full, but it's hella hard to spin the little bit with gloves on!) Clean the top of the hole with a Q-tip. Then chuck up the rod in a drill, put some lapping compound on it, and spin it in the hole to clean off any gunk on the part that forms the seal and to ensure a good fit.

BTW, to clean off any dross stuck on the pot, I use stainless steel wool gripped in a pair of forceps. I dip the wool in a tray with a dash of diluted muriatic, and this dissolves most of the metal oxides stuck on the sides. (Many metal oxides look like dirt/rock and readily dissolve in acidic solutions. I. e., diluted muriatic will dissolve most of the crud left in the pot.) Then I wipe it down real good with some cloth patches in the forceps, dipped in water. This can fairly quickly get the pot close to like-new condition! Just wear rubber gloves, do this outside, and keep your face away from the pot for the fumes. And if you're not going to use it for awhile and you live in a humid environment, you might want to wipe it down with a baking soda solution to neutralize the residual acid salts leftover, or even wipe it down with an oily patch. The lee pot is stainless, but contact with muriatic has a way of leading to corrosion. Just remember to fire it up outside, the first time, if you use any oil.

SSN Vet
December 5, 2012, 12:04 AM
Here's a snap of the stand I fabricated for my thermometer .... I bought the thermometer from an industrial surplus cat for ~$15 + S&H.

175761

175762

SSN Vet
December 5, 2012, 10:27 AM
I decided to go with the a 2-cavity mold, as in the final analysis, I don't shoot enough to need the higher production rate of the 6-up.

And this way, I can get two different molds for less than the price of the 6-up mold (w/ handles).

So I'll soon be adding the TL356-124-2R as my primary 9mm plinker.

and the TL358-158-SWC for .38 spl. / .357 fun.

This on top of my current .45 acp casting, will pretty much convert me over to 100% home cast shooting for my handguns... and enable me to keep up my hobbies in the coming tight financial times. Got to love 4 penny reloads!

Time to visit the guys at the garage for more wheel weights :)

I may even have to pick up a few ammo. cans at this rate ;)

Certaindeaf
December 5, 2012, 10:42 AM
Sounds like a good idea. I've got a couple old dinky Lee singles that I can cast like a maniac with. They never overheat and I just go fullbore.. I'm always surprised how fast I can go/how many I cast with those using a dipper and glove.

dragon813gt
December 5, 2012, 07:54 PM
Bullshop is not dead as alluded to in an earlier post. They moved out of Alaska and are back up and running.

Smoking a mold is not the answer. Search CastBolits for "Leementing" on how to make a Lee mold work. Lee molds are notoriously rough. Get rid of all the burrs, possibly clear the vent lines, preheat your molds on a hot plate and you should be good to go. I will also suggest picking up a quality mold from one of the custom makers if you have the money. I have plenty of Lee molds. But they are all being replaced w/ higher quality molds from the custom makers.

I will also suggest that you don't run your pot at 800 degrees if it has any tin in it. There is no need to run it that high for non hollow points. Even w/ my Cramer molds, which require a lot of heat to keep the pins hot, I don't run much over 750.


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RugerBob
December 6, 2012, 10:29 AM
When I cast its usually for more then 1 caliber at a time. So, while my 20lb bottom pour is warming up I de grease my 4 cav lyman steel mold, let air dry and use Frankford easy drop on it. Set it closed on a elec hot plate to warm up. Then get the 6 cav out and check it out and smoke or spray it. I also use a Q-tip and oil guide pins and round line up pins. Set that on hot plate. Add more lead to pot to top off. While thats melting I set up whats needed, gloves, safety glasses, drop pan with several layers of denim as I remove each layer when I get a few hundred on it. By the time I grab the 6 cav, I have no return to pot as well heated evenly and cast till pot low, redo, and then get to 4 cav steel and no heating needed and all 4 good.
Set pot temp at 7.5 by dial and turn to 7 by time I pour, when add more put back to 7.5 and pour at 7. I guess I need a temp gauge, maybe one day.

budman46
December 6, 2012, 10:37 AM
mentioning bull shot's sprue lube is 2-cycle motor oil wasn't to cut the guy from any business, i thought he was done. a pal remarked that bull plate's stuff looked like 2-cycle oil. i experimented; it worked.

i'm glad bull shop is up and running...they have lot of good stuff.

GLOOB
December 6, 2012, 05:56 PM
When I cast its usually for more then 1 caliber at a time.
I thought you were gonna go on to say you alternate between two molds every other pour. I've been thinking of trying that method. After I've dropped several dozen bullets, and the mold is really hot, I have to wait just a little bit between pours to get the best-looking base/shank/sprue cut. And I cast at what I think is a pretty low temp. Just hot enough to get out the wrinkles. I've never gone above 6 on my Lee pot, and I don't get much of any skin forming on the top of the alloy. I usually only flux before completely draining it, to clean it or switch alloys.

dragon813gt
December 6, 2012, 06:50 PM
The numbers on the Lee pot really
mean nothing. More power to the people that cast w/ just them. But the temp variation on a single number from when the pot is full to empty can be up to a couple hundred degrees. Mine will easily shoot to over 800 on a medium setting when full to not even above the melt point when it's at the point where the flow is reduced. Temp matters when you have a percentage of tin in the pot.

As for bullplate being two cycle oil. It sure is close if the oil is a fully synthetic one. I still have a lot of the sample bottles of both bullplate and the oil you get when purchasing an MP Mold. They both work equally well.


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RugerBob
December 7, 2012, 09:23 AM
The numbers are just set points, if I go around 6 1/2 on my 20lb its slows and won't pour well. 7 - just seems to work well on mine.
I was gonna try swapping molds between pours, but the hassel ( to me ) just wasn't something that fit comfortably.
I just set out the molds I plan to cast with that day. Usually about 800-1000 rounds w/6cav for 45LC and 600 or so of the 4 cav steel mold for 45 acp. May also do about 200 45/70s. If I do this a few times during winter I'm usually set for the other 3 seasons.
I usually have the wife run the lube sizer as I find it extremely time consuming and the only part I slightly dis like. I'll load or prep brass as she will help there to if I ask.

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