Lee vs. Lyman round ball molds


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BSA1
January 29, 2013, 10:24 AM
I am not sure if this question is better answered on the Blackpowder forum or the Reloading forum but I will try here first.

I have everything I need to start casting my own lead ball for my Remmie except the mold. Lyman two cavity mold runs $85.00 plus wooden handles vs. $20.00 for the Lee two cavity mold which includes the handles.

Taking into consideration the material they are constructed of (Lyman is steel) and the hugh price difference how does the Lee compare to the Lyman
with consistency and durability?

As long as the bullet does not have voids in it and will shave lead when loaded I would doubt if it makes a difference in a revolver.

Durability might be more of issue but since I can buy 5 Lee molds for the price of one Lyman even a shorter lifespan of the Lee may still be more cost effective. On the other hand Lyman will probably last a lifetime.

I would guess I am going to cast around 60 balls a month.

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rodwha
January 29, 2013, 10:29 AM
I've asked myself, and though many feel the durability is much better with the Lyman molds, I've not actually read of anyone having a problem with their Lee. They get praised often.

The way I see it is being made of aluminum they heat up faster, but cool faster. Give and take...

For the cost I'd opt for the Lee if/when I get involved. Mostly for the cost as I'd be buying all of the other equipment as well.

frontiergander
January 29, 2013, 01:45 PM
Lee molds are good. They are aluminum so you cant heat them as much, but they do cast a better ball IMO than lyman. The spure on the lee is nice and flat with the ball, the lyman sticks out a great deal.

The lee molds when lubed and taken care of will last a life time.

Ifishsum
January 29, 2013, 05:04 PM
I've got no complaints at all with my Lee RB molds, good value and they do leave a nice flat sprue rather than a tit. Mine cast true-to-size (using pure lead of course, not WW) and shave the same ring as Hornady .454s

44 Dave
January 29, 2013, 05:11 PM
I like my Lee molds, the two I bought this month have new and better alignment pins.

boommer
January 29, 2013, 06:18 PM
Go with the Lee. I have both brands and really for the price diff not worth it .
The Lymans that I have in 45 /50 cuts the sprue a little more proud.

loose noose
January 29, 2013, 06:39 PM
Definitely Lee, I also have the mini ball mould (real) in .50 and .54, it make an excellent bullet/ball.

MCgunner
January 29, 2013, 07:01 PM
I've still using the first Lee mold I ever bought, a .454" 220 conical I bought around 1976. Coming up on 40 years, is that durable enough for ya? All my molds, or most of 'em, are Lee. I don't care for cast iron. You can cool off an over-hot aluminum mold by splashing a bit of water on it or dipping a corner. DON'T try that with iron.

My reproduction .31 mold is brass. I'd guess that Aluminum is as durable as brass which was used a LOT for molds back in the day.

I'll take the Lee and save some money, thanks. If it only lasts me 40 years, I'll be dead by then. :D

The ONE mold I've had to repair was a .358" 158SWCGC Lee mold on which the sprue cutter mount bolt stripped out. I just drilled out the hole and used a small machine screw. Still working and that mold is over 30 years old.

J-Bar
January 29, 2013, 07:09 PM
I am pleased with my Lee molds. Aluminum is obviously less durable than steel, but if you take resonable care...

I run my molds hot enough to cut the sprue with thumb pressure only on the sprue cutter. I wear gloves of course (cheap welder's gloves from Harbor Freight) I hate to see anyone pound on a sprue cutter with a mallet. Not necessary. Run the mold and lead hot, cut the sprue as soon as it solidifies (you can tell when it turns a bit dull), and thumb pressure is all will you need. I can run 3 casts per minute with a 6 cavity mold and a bottom pour furnace when I'm cookin'!

If I were pounding the mold with something, I would opt for steel.

But I'm not.

TomADC
January 29, 2013, 08:03 PM
I haven't cast any RB's with either Lee or Lyman but I do like the Lyman molds much better then the Lee.
I had several Lee molds at one time but I've since sold or given them away.

MCgunner
January 29, 2013, 08:38 PM
This thread got me off my duff and I ordered a box of .454 RB and a Lee mold. The .454 RB is backordered, of course. :rolleyes: I can get .457, but apparently .454 stock is low. I'm GUESSING the bullet companies are concentrating on the stock that's short, like .22LR and 9mm, with their production. Bummer when RB is short. Now, I've got the conical mold I've had for 40 years, but my new '58 5.5" really prefers RB.

I can't buy .22LR at the moment, but by GAWD I can cast RB! :D

TomADC
January 29, 2013, 09:35 PM
Why I don't want to cast for something I buy from here, he does great work and prices are right.

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?87136-Forefather-s-Casting-Shop&highlight=masscaster

rdstrain49
January 29, 2013, 10:39 PM
I have both Lyman and Lee RB moulds. I like the Lee better simply because they case a "spru-less" ball. No real need to keep the spru up during loading.

MCgunner
January 29, 2013, 10:49 PM
Tom, I can buy ball, too, but I LIKE casting. Hell, I even make my own percussion caps and am going to get into making my own black powder. Self sufficiency and, well, it's kinda fun and keeps me out of trouble. :D

Rattus58
January 30, 2013, 02:36 AM
I am not sure if this question is better answered on the Blackpowder forum or the Reloading forum but I will try here first.

I have everything I need to start casting my own lead ball for my Remmie except the mold. Lyman two cavity mold runs $85.00 plus wooden handles vs. $20.00 for the Lee two cavity mold which includes the handles.

Taking into consideration the material they are constructed of (Lyman is steel) and the hugh price difference how does the Lee compare to the Lyman
with consistency and durability?

As long as the bullet does not have voids in it and will shave lead when loaded I would doubt if it makes a difference in a revolver.

Durability might be more of issue but since I can buy 5 Lee molds for the price of one Lyman even a shorter lifespan of the Lee may still be more cost effective. On the other hand Lyman will probably last a lifetime.

I would guess I am going to cast around 60 balls a month.
I've a bunch of Lee molds, several Lyman molds, some Rapine and a couple of custom molds and a smoked lee is as good as any but they score easily and don't last as long as brass or steel.

On the other hand, they are cheap easy to heat.

As a bargain mold I can think of no other that will give you overall service as a lee if it casts a good bullet to start with.


Aloha... :cool:

BSA1
January 30, 2013, 09:16 AM
Thank you for the feedback.

Noz
January 30, 2013, 09:40 AM
My best mold is a MOUNTAIN MOLDS BRASS ONE. All else are Lee's.
I really like the 454 round ball six holer. I set in a month or so ago and made up 43 pounds of 454s. Six at a time and they pile up fast.

303tom
January 30, 2013, 12:22 PM
All my molds are Lee Aluminum Molds & I have never had a problem with them. The only thing you have with the Lyman Steel Molds is less money & a heavy azz steel mold..........

xXxplosive
January 30, 2013, 01:25 PM
Rapine Molds.............?

StrawHat
January 30, 2013, 02:47 PM
Treated prorperly, either mold will last for several lifetimes. I have Lee, Lyman and a few other molds. Some custom, many stock factory molds, as was stated by J-Bar, cut the sprue while the lead is hot, and you won't need to whack at the sprue plate with a hammer. Most of the damage caused to molds is operator induced. I have a lot of Lee 2 cavity molds I got in the 70s or 80s and they are still pouring good bullets. If you get a problem mold, there are cures but cross that bridge later on, if you have to.

The only thing I do to all my Lee molds is once I get them, I cast some bullets to use as a lap and polish the cavities. This gets any oil out of the cavities and removes any burrs.

Rattus58
January 30, 2013, 04:29 PM
Rapine.... Excellent molds.

Last address I had for them

Rapine Bullet Moulds
9503 Landis Lane
East Greenville, PA 18041
(215) 679-5413

David Duarte
Shane Duarte

Noz
January 31, 2013, 09:45 AM
You can damage an aluminum round ball mold by casting dirty lead.

I convinced myself that all of the fluxing was a bunch of crap and totally un-needed. I cast several hundred round balls and when they started looking strange, I looked at my mold. The sprue hole in the aluminum mold had been widened by the abrasiveness of the grit in the lead.
I threw the mold in the junk, ordered a new one and a jar of commercial flux. I now flux as I process the lead to ingots, as I melt the lead into my production pot and before I begin to pour. The final fluxing may take 2 or 3 applications until I am sure all the gunk is out.

kwhi43@kc.rr.com
January 31, 2013, 09:49 AM
All mine are Rapine. Simply the very best.

StrawHat
January 31, 2013, 10:03 AM
All mine are Rapine. Simply the very best.
And, unfortunately, out of business. Last I checked, no one had picked up the line. Too bad, they were good molds.

Hellgate
February 1, 2013, 02:19 PM
I estimate that I have shot about 20,000 .454 RB through my 44 C&Bs. All but a few were cast with a double cavity LEE mold. It is still servicable. I recently bought a 4 cav Lyman .454. I like the LEE balls better but the Lyman is twice as fast so I put up with the big sprue. Get the LEE mold. If it is too slow, go to biglube.com and get a 6 cav gang mold and go nuts with it.

theotherwaldo
February 1, 2013, 05:22 PM
Still using the Lee .451 RB single cavity that I bought in 1975... and the thirteen other Lee molds that I've bought since then. Never had one go bad.

BSA1
February 1, 2013, 08:00 PM
How do you prep the mold before casting?

Olmontanaboy
February 1, 2013, 08:48 PM
I've used Lyman, RCBS and Lee and had good results with them all. The Lee moulds come up to casting temperture faster but do cool down faster too. The Lee molds are a bargin IMO. But I have nothing bad to say about the other molds. I Like the Lyman Minie ball mould a lot better than the Lee Minie though I have both.

Patocazador
February 2, 2013, 10:27 AM
I'm lazy and don't always maintain everything as I should. My steel Lyman molds tend to get a coating of rust just from sitting out in humid Florida. For this reason and the initial cost, I use mostly Lee molds.

raa-7
February 2, 2013, 10:43 AM
Without reading any of the above posts,I can honestly say that a Lee .454 round ball mold would be right for you.I have one and have cast a bunch 500+ so far, without any problems.The aluminum mold works great and looks like it will last a long long time.I think as one cares for an aluminum mold properly,then it will last a life time.Just don,t over heat them,like other molds as well,and when I put mine away, I clean it up and lightly oil it.block and all,, -ron

J-Bar
February 2, 2013, 10:46 AM
How do you prep the mold before casting?
The Lee Molds have an instruction sheet in the box.

Remove any lube from the mold cavities with "any solvent"...I use rubbing alcohol on a Q-Tip.

They recommend using "bullet lube" on the pins and hinges, "Alox Beeswax Mix Bullet Lube", NOT Lee Liquid Alox which would gum things up terribly. I use a scant dab of gun grease on the pins, gun oil on the hinges.

They recommend smoking the cavities with a match, not a candle. I'm lazy and use the Frankfort Arsenal brand aerosol graphite spray, but careful it is easy to over do it. Then you are back to swabbing the cavities with alcohol on a Q-Tip.

Then get the mold up to the right temperature; lay it over the pot for a few minutes, and/or immerse the tip of the mold into the molten lead for a few seconds.

If the mold has more than one cavity, just fill one cavity on the few few cycles to get the mold blocks up the last few degrees. On a six-cavity mold, I will fill the first two cavities for a few cycles, then 3, then 4, you get the idea. I just dump all the first few castings into a shallow cake pan for recycling into the pot until the whole mold comes up to temperature. I know the mold is at the right temperature when I can open the sprue cutter easily. The lead hardens very quickly in a cold mold and makes the sprue difficult to cut. If you fill all 6 cavities in a cold mold, you will have a helluva time getting the sprue plate open!

raa-7
February 2, 2013, 10:52 AM
The reason I say .454" is that I have shot the .451" rb's out of my NA Remington and they're not as accurate as the .454" ball.I already had about 50 of the .451" just to try before I ordered the Lee mold.For serious shooting though I would definately buy the expensive blocks that Lyman sells.That graphite spray sounds like a good Idea.Easier than fooling with matches..

Hellgate
February 2, 2013, 12:57 PM
What J-Bar said 2.0

The only difference in technique we have is I keep the first bunch of castings in a separate pile and once the mold heats up I start dropping them in a diferent pile on the towel. After the session is over I sort the balls for quality. The really horrible ones go into the remelt pile. I generally have only 1 or 2 of those. They have to look REALLY bad to qualify. The rest are graded A, B, or C. Cs having wrinkles that would be an embarassment to loan but as long as they will fit snug enough to not migrate under recoil I'll shoot them in monthly matches or plinking sessions. Same for grade Bs that have minor flaws. The grade As are what I would gladly present as my typical castings. Also, I have recently began rotary (Thumbler's) tumbling them for about 20 min which pounds out the minor defects and easily turns a B into an A looking ball. The sprues on the LEE balls all but disappear. I use under ball lube wads and over ball automotive grease. Shooting a grade C ball at a steel target 10 feet away is gonna make just as loud of a ring as a grade A so why make extra work for yourself? Shoot them skuzzy things!

robhof
February 2, 2013, 01:19 PM
For many years I used to return as much as 70% of my bullets/balls to the pot, saving only the best; then I saw a Mythbusters show where they were trying to get a bullet to shoot in a curve, they took huge gouges out of 9mm bullets and were still getting straight ling groups. I started experimenting with my cast offs and found that groups opened up on higher velocity rounds, but only after 30 to 50 yds., and no noticeable difference on any of my B/p rounds out to 100yds. I get as lot more rounds to the casting session now and use weight to determine competition rounds, just for that extra edge.:D:D

Rattus58
February 2, 2013, 02:12 PM
How do you prep the mold before casting?
In my case, every once in a while I take the blocks apart and clean them usually with a 99% alcohol solution, but any quickly evaporative cleaner away from flame I thinking would work as well or better. Clean toothbrush and air.

Proper lube on moving parts with lucas gun oil for me and beeswax on the sprue. Several of my sprues have scored due to carelessness on my part, but so far hasn't proven critical.

I received a graphite solution from one mold maker that you brushed on and that was the easiest ever solution... pun yes.. early morning here... but I do also use a butane lighter.

As for heating up the mold, I've tried them all, and just wind up casting and recycling for the first few bullets works for me... of course my highest capacity mold is two...

Take your time is what I was advised let the mold adjust itself after pouring and then open the sprue keeping a good grip on the handles.... my methods and I'm stickin to it...

Zeke/PA
February 3, 2013, 12:28 PM
How do you prep the mold before casting?
Dip a corner of the mold into the molten lead in the pot for a minute or two.
Once you start casting the mold will retain the necessary heat.

frontiergander
February 3, 2013, 02:48 PM
a minuite or 2?!!! Thats way to long for an aluminum mold

20-30 seconds max!

Jaymo
February 3, 2013, 10:23 PM
I have Lee, Lyman, and RCBS molds. I like them all.
A buddy of mine also has molds from Ballisticast and Mountain Molds. Very nice molds.

I also have an old TC mold for the .45 Maxi Ball.

scrat
February 3, 2013, 11:48 PM
Why I don't want to cast for something I buy from here, he does great work and prices are right.

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...ght=masscaster


I cast my own. BUTTT thats a hell of a good price. Almost makes me want to write out a check instead of taking out the casting pot

Patocazador
February 4, 2013, 10:25 AM
Why I don't want to cast for something I buy from here, he does great work and prices are right.

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?87136-Forefather-s-Casting-Shop&highlight=masscaster
Link no longer valid.

Rattus58
February 4, 2013, 02:12 PM
Bullshop Bullets is probably whom he is referring...

You might find him by asking the question here... http://thedwbs.com/

Aloha..

Mike OTDP
February 4, 2013, 05:07 PM
I prefer the steel molds. They retain the heat better, which is critical in the larger calibers - to say nothing of Minie balls, which are tricky to do right even under good conditions.

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