New to cast, am I headed the right way?


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shadow9
November 28, 2013, 09:26 PM
Not to beat a dead horse, but more seek wisdom of those who have been there:
I'm looking at starting cast shooting soon, the commercial boolits I've picked up aren't sized right and lead up the barrel, so I'm going for 1 pistol mold, 1 rifle mold and the basic equipment.
I'd like to go mostly Lee, since their equipment is pretty inexpensive, and there is much less to it than the Lyman series (lyman being best-off with top-punches/bench-mounted sizer-press/wax stick lubes etc.). Also, even when following directions, novices make mistakes - so am I in a good way with going for a $20 Lee mold to start with (in case I mess it up, I'm not down $70+), or should I just go the distance to start with, as it's not easy to mess up a mold?

I'd be also getting the Lubrisizer/ALOX die kit, as opposed to the bench-mounted sizer/press...

Can the Lee Lubrisizer work on a Lee Hand Press? I mean easily, I know the threading on the Lubrisizer die goes with any normal reloading press thread pitch...

Thanks!

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Weber
November 28, 2013, 09:31 PM
What caliber do you plan to cast?

shadow9
November 28, 2013, 11:18 PM
.38 special to start, work up to .357 mag. Rifle likely downloaded .30-06.

Dr.Zubrato
November 29, 2013, 12:05 AM
Great choice going with Lee, should save you time and money. You should slug your barrel, just so you know where you should be at, and from there purchase your mold. With the Lee TL system you can save lots of time by shooting the boolits as cast, don't have to worry about sizing every single boolit, and tumble lube in volume.
38 special is pretty dang easy to cast for, work up your loads, and remember SIZE is king (.001 overbore) followed by LUBE.
Hardness is not that important until you start going into rifle boolits, but I only cast pistol at this point. Check out cast boolits for more info!

My fav 38 spl design is the TL 358 SWC
PS. Just go with a 6 cavity! You wont mess it up (so long as you follow instructions), and you definitely wont regret it!
I did the same, and bought a 2 cav, and I work my butt off to make the quantity of 38 I shoot. I dont regret it now, but I do when I'm really in the groove and pouring great boolits, sucks knowing you could be getting 4 more perfect boolits than the 2 youve got.

shadow9
November 29, 2013, 12:18 AM
Thanks for the heads up Dr.!

I usually run a box of 50-100 max on the weekends (time doesn't permit the actual loading of more than that currently), so maybe the 2-die would work for the time being? Also, I've heard (hearsay) that the 6x dies can cool off on one end before you get to the other...or that trying to fill all 6 with consistency you run into problems...

Oh, and another question - so, measuring bore/grooves via a slugged boolit...I know you'd measure bore then groove...but how do you accurately measure a 5R/5-groove? The opposite of a groove is a land...so do you just use calipers to measure the depth of one of the grooves?

What did you use to slug your barrel? I'll be ordering a 1/2 lb hunk of Cerrosafe to do the rifle chamber, but the only boolits I have for slugging the revolver barrel are 125gr cast lead "penetrators" (have this cute sharp cone point to them that flattens when seated by my seating die...), and those didn't get too accurate a reading last I used them. Should I just fill the barrel with Cerrosafe when it arrives? Also remove cylinder and do the same for that? (plug the backside of all the cylinders and fill to right under the cylinder face)

Dr.Zubrato
November 29, 2013, 01:08 AM
Definitely, the 2 mold will work for those amounts, but remember you may end up shooting more now that you're REALLY saving cash by casting your own!
I have no issues with the end cooling off on the 6cav. It likes to work fast and hot, and the boolits fall right out with no tapping/whacking. I find it works better and can handle heat better than the 2 cav.

You don't have to worry too much about slugging, for my purposes I just use calipers, and since you already have some boolits passed through (pure lead is easier, make sure to lube the hell out of both) just put the boolit contact surfaces into the caliper measuring area, close down, and gentle and carefully turn it in your fingers until the caliper stops reading higher numbers. do it a few times to have an avg measurement. It should slug at around .357 but it's variable.

One of my favorite ways, is put as many fishing weights as you can into the unsized (straight/tapered case) pistol caliber, and take a blow torch to it to melt down the lead. Use a bullet puller to remove the lead slug, lube it up and your barrel. Now just hold it with the smaller end towards the muzzle, and using a plastic hammer, or a heavy chunk of wood knock it in. I use an old cleaning rod to tap down through the gun (move the cylinder out of the way)
You can leave the cylinder alone, its the forcing cone that swages down oversized lead boolits anyway.

I've slugged a buncha barrels, and I've never used cerrosafe, but I'm not saying it isnt good, I just never needed it.

Catshooter
November 29, 2013, 01:14 AM
Shadow9,

Welcome to the world of casting.

Your slugging issues:

Take one of your undersized bullets, lay it on something hard and smack it with a hammer to make it oversize. Now just drive it into the bore. If you made it real big the act of entering the bore will just shave off the excess.

There are several ways to measure an odd number of grooves. You can wrap the bullet with one layer of a .001 feeler gauge and measure that then subtract .002. But don't use a plastic or otherwise cheap caliper for this. You want a micrometer for this work.

As final advice, go here: http://castboolits.gunloads.com/forum.php This forum is the best place to learn about casting on the web, bar none.


Cat

jmorris
November 29, 2013, 10:49 AM
I started bullet casting with a machine I built that was as close of a copy of a magma master caster as I could get from photos and automated it. It is still my preferred way to cast large volumes of bullets.

That being said, I have a half dozen lee molds that work fine and can cast up a little pile of bullets pretty quick. For the leading issue I now coat all of my cast bullets, I get the coating from Donnie at Bayou Bullets.

These are 3 of the different bullets from Lee molds I have.

500 grain .458, 255 grain .429 and a 150 grain .308

It takes less than an hour for some of the molds to pay for themselves in savings.

http://i664.photobucket.com/albums/vv5/qvideo/IMG_20131103_172619_750-1_zps656e6fc5.jpg

Foto Joe
November 29, 2013, 10:50 AM
I'm gonna pipe in here and +1 on the Lee molds for starters. I had the same attitude when I started casting, if I screw one up (and I did) then I'm only out $20 or so. I will however respectfully disagree with the idea of a virgin caster starting with a 6-hole mold though, he'll have enough fun learning to run a 2-holer to start off with. Also as a beginner I suggest that you don't start with a bottom pour furnace either or as those that use them call 'em "drip-o-matic's".

As far as your lube is concerned, the Lee Liquid Alox is nasty stuff. It does the job but if you use it straight don't over do it and if you do you'll know right away how much is too much. If that happens you can either melt 'em down and recast or wipe 'em off with paint thinner (don't ask). Personally I use a formula called 45-45-10 that you'll find on the CastBoolits forum. Basically it's 4 oz of Lee Liquid Alox (that's how much is in the bottle), 4 oz of Johnson's Paste Wax and 1-1.5 oz of mineral spirits or paint thinner (I use paint thinner). It dries much faster than straight LLA and puts a thinner coat on the boolits.

The Lee sizing dies will indeed fit right into your single stage press or turret press for that matter but I'm not sure how it will work on a hand press, it should be just fine though. As stated above, I wouldn't sweat the sizing too much, maybe get one die just for your favorite caliber but no more than that to start with. The Lee molds will drop boolits just about dead on to size using wheel weights or Lyman #2. The sizer die basically just makes 'em round as they won't come out of the mold perfectly symmetrical although you'd need a caliper or micrometer to tell. With the exception of rifle boolits I'd just shoot them as cast.

Eventually if you get as caught up in casting as most of us do you'll invest in a a Lyman Lube Sizer. My first one just arrived on last Tuesday and I'll be heading out to the shop to melt down another pot of tumble lubed boolits and re-cast them so I've got something to feed that Lyman 4500.

Have fun with the adventure and head over to CastBoolits and sign up if you haven't already.

41 Mag
November 29, 2013, 10:03 PM
Lots of advice already given, folks like to help out others with casting. It's like having the chicken pox, once you start scratchin that itch, it just feels better and better as you go along.

Just a couple of pointers in case I missed it up above.

1) You don't necessarily have to use one of the tumble lube designed bullets to effectively tumble lube which ever one you want to use. So if you have you eye on a nice semi wad cutter design in the weight you want get it.

2) The Lee sizing kits DO come either way with the lube or not. If you want to use a tumble lube your best bet would to simply be to touch base with the fine folks at White Label Lubes and pick up a jug of already mixed and and ready to use 45/45/10 formula. It's cheap, shipping is fast, and it just plain works.

3) Whether you go with a Lee 4-20 pot or similar bottom pour or decide to simply use a ladle and pour from a standard pot, get yourself a thermometer right off the bat and use it. You will find it to be one of your best investments if you stick with pouring your own. Lots of folks say they don't need them and they probably don't but alloy was easier to get 5yrs ago much less 10 or more. Nowadays it is not only harder to get in most cases more expensive. No since cranking the heat up higher than need be and ruining what tin might be in your alloy right out of the gate.

The above mentioned site Castboolits, IS a great source of information. Don't get overly carried away right out of the gate however. If you are only wanting to get started with the 38's then get good with them then move into something a bit more. IF you try to do several things at once your going to wind up being confused with this tying to do that, and it can frustrate you really quick. Learn to pour plain ol decent bullets first, then when you have graduated to great bullets for your handguns, then work on the bigger issues of the rifle. It isn't a lot different, but there are a few things which you really need under your belt to recognize what your looking at with the higher velocity ones.

Good luck with it and feel free to holler if I can help out. It might take me a day or so to get back but I'll do what I can.

rsrocket1
November 29, 2013, 11:40 PM
I would strongly recommend going for the Lee 6 cavity molds. I have them in 9mm/38/40/45. No, one side does not cool down before you finish pouring the other side if you use the Lee 4-20 bottom pour pot. Maybe it does if you ladle pour and need to pour several ladles to fill up the mold. It takes me about 5 seconds to fill all 6 cavities as well as a nice big puddle of lead over the sprue plate. After cutting, the sprue goes right back into the pot so I don't have to fill up the pot with cold lead. With about a 10 second cool off before cutting the sprue and dumping the bullets, I can cast about 400 in an hour. That makes set up, casting and clean up, a 3 hour task for about 8-900 bullets.

For rifle or muzzleloaders, a dual cavity mold is acceptable. For handgun, especially a repeater (revolver or semi-auto), 6 cavity and bottom pour is the way to go.

I don't have the time to cast all day, nor do I have the stamina/patience. A couple of hours is just enough to get me lots of bullets and doing it once every month or two is just about the right interval. I usually rotate through the calibers to replenish my stock.

My 38/357 mold is the 358-158-RF. It works nicely for punching holes in paper and has a nice big metplat for other purposes. Even though it has traditional lube grooves, it works fine tumble lubed with 45/45/10 and I shoot them unsized and load them directly into the cases uncrimped in light 38's and roll crimped in heavy 38's and 357 mag loads.

SteelyNirvana
November 30, 2013, 12:09 AM
The Lee lubesizer will fit on the hand press. It looks like it wont but it does fit

Dr.Zubrato
November 30, 2013, 02:05 AM
I agree with rsrocket. Go for a bottompour, you will not regret it in the future, and the prices are really comparable. Mine does not drip, and it's a really simple fix if it does drip, or clog up. And really, you won't regret getting the 6 cav's either. In the end its up to you, and how much you shoot/reload. I do a lot of both, and I find the 6 cav's indispensable.

As for a thermometer, I don't use one (that extra 40 bucks gets me quite a bit of alloy, or 2 lbs of powder!) Just turn it up to 8/9 on the pot until everything melts, and once you see it has, turn it back down to 4/5. Has worked perfectly everytime, with nice shiny filled out boolits. Just leave 2-3cm of alloy left in the pot when you finish, should prevent crap and clutter getting in the spout for a while.

And while we're talking about casting equipment, DONT FORGET ABOUT YOUR SAFETY EQUIPMENT!
LEATHER BOOTS, DENIM JEANS, LONG SLEEVES, HEAVY DUTY GLOVES, GLASSES/FULL FACE SHIELD (more important when you add alloy into your pot, in case there's any moisture on the ingots, or there's any splash) AND DON'T FORGET GOOD VENTILATION!
Don't wear nylon stuff, and cover up any naked skin. Burns are no fun.

GLOOB
December 1, 2013, 12:36 AM
The Lee sizers should work fine on a hand press, so long as your bullets are dropping within the normal size range and you're not using an exotic alloy.

But here's the thing. You will almost never have to size a cast bullet, unless you want to lube it with a lubrisizer or put on a gas check.

If the bullet fits the case without shaving, and if it fits in the chamber without binding, then it's not too big. Most of the time, you will be able to load bullets just as they drop from the mold (using a tumble lube). Plenty of folks think sizing bullets makes them more accurate, but your barrel will do that just the same as a sizer does. It's not like you size 100 bullets and then throw out 50 of them that didn't pass inspection. They all end up going down the barrel just the same. And as long as they aren't too small to begin with, they all leave the barrel the same diameter. Sizing is necessary for commercial casters, because their bullets have to fit 99+% of the guns out there. Your bullets just have to fit your guns. Unless your guns have tight chambers, or your mold is on the extreme end of the bell curve, you will more than likely not need a sizer for handgun bullets. If you do, it'll only be because your reloads aren't fitting in the chamber. If you are finding a noticeable difference in accuracy, you are both an incredible shot, and you have all the other factors nailed down.

Inaccuracy and lead fouling occur when the bullets are too small. Sizing bullets can't make them bigger.

MichaelK
December 5, 2013, 06:12 PM
I have cast a lot, and I have ended up throwing out every single Lee item I've ever bought. I threw out Lee's casting pot after only my second session. Sorry guys, but I think all of Lee's casting supplies are garbage. Carbide sizing dies are OK though.

I like the heft of steel molds more, especially when I'm trying to wack off the sprue plate. Aluminum molds don't have the inertia to stop the mallet swing. I just never got cast bullets as good as with Lyman or RCBS molds.

I make a copy of Lyman #2 alloy by adding 1lb of pewter to 19 lbs of wheelweight lead. I've also used lead-free plumbing solder, but can typically get scuffed peices of pewter cheap at the flea market. I use a Lyman 20lb bottom pour furnace.

I have a Lyman 450 lubesizer, and make my own custom lube out of 50:50 lithium bearing grease and beeswax. Lithium grease containing moly makes a very cool looking black-banded bullet.

I expect my cast bullet handgun loads to give me 2.5" groups at 25 yards. One inch at 50 yards with a rifle.

blarby
December 5, 2013, 09:56 PM
I have cast a lot, and I have ended up throwing out every single Lee item I've ever bought. I threw out Lee's casting pot after only my second session. Sorry guys, but I think all of Lee's casting supplies are garbage.

Next time, find someone who could use them :D

For instance.............

Back to our OP:

You are on the right path shadow- keep us posted, and we'll help where we can.

41 Mag
December 6, 2013, 05:54 AM
I expect my cast bullet handgun loads to give me 2.5" groups at 25 yards. One inch at 50 yards with a rifle.

I get much better accuracy than either of those using Lee molds and my Lee 4-20 bottom pour. I wouldn't go throwing blankets around the Lee products if that the best your much more expensive, and highly advanced equipment can do.

I like the heft of steel molds more, especially when I'm trying to wack off the sprue plate. Aluminum molds don't have the inertia to stop the mallet swing. I just never got cast bullets as good as with Lyman or RCBS molds.


Most folks I know also never use any sort of "mallet" to "whack" the sprue plate with either. If your pouring things at the proper temp and cutting when your supposed to, the sprue plate should slide open with a decent bit of thumb pressure.

I poured up this little 70 pound batch of several different calibers and a couple of different molds including Lee one Saturday. Never whacked any of the molds used..
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=192039&stc=1&d=1386328404

I might be doing it all wrong though, but my molds aren't bent up or out of alignment. I guess I just haven't been casting long enough to learn that yet.

jmorris
December 6, 2013, 09:12 AM
I use an 8" or so section of wooden dowel to knock the sprue plate, never had any problems.

The only Lee item that I think is complete garbage is their bullet feeder. I have cast and shot too many bullets from Lee molds to think they are junk.

Foto Joe
December 6, 2013, 10:19 AM
I was discussing with a gentleman yesterday about the habit of folks to bad mouth certain methods/products, Lee seems to be a frequent target and I do have to agree that some of their stuff isn't of the best quality standard but...

Their equipment and products do serve a very useful purpose. They allow some folks to be able to afford to get into an area of the shooting sports that may otherwise be cost prohibitive. Personally, I'd love to have a Dillon 650 with all the bells and whistles but I don't want to plunk down $1,400 on a simple loading press. Besides, I'm not in THAT much of a hurry nor am I attempting to load up an arsenal for the impending apocalypse either. In the mean time, before someone hands me the dough or the government decides that they've collected too much of my hard earned money over the years and gives some of it back I'll keep plugging along on my Lee Classic Turret and occasionally my Lee Breach Lock Single Stage, they both work wonderfully for my purposes.

Reloading and especially casting is more of an art from than an exact science. Personally, shadow9 I think that you're headed in the right direction although I'd caution you that rifle and pistol casting/reloading can be as different as nite and day. What you can get away with as far as alloy and lube in a pistol may or may not serve you well in rifle. I will say that if you're like a lot of us that get into casting, you will get hooked in a real hurry.

Missionary
December 6, 2013, 10:51 AM
Greetings
Welcome to the wonderful world of lead bullet making.
I did not see the Lyman Cast Bullet Loading Manual mentioned.. That is a good one to get and read. I have been around casting since I was 4 (my dad and his Navy buddy) and still look to that book for reminders and good loads if starting into a new for me caliber.
I also am a Castboolits member and recommend you looking into the place. There is literally thousands of well learned lead bullet launchers who have already "been there" and happy to answer questions.
Been using Lee products near all my casting life on my own. Still use my origonal Lee 45 ACP molds. Have Lee tools down here with me right now. I have other brands and generally you get what you pay for. But I also have had some molds from other big names that were "quality junk". All mass producers have quality control problems that pop up. Steel, brass, iron and aluminum molds all can warp, have burrs, be out of round and be an absolute pain about releassing hot bullets. But there is always a solution.

So have fun. You will never regret being set free from high priced bullets. You may even realise you can now begin to look into some really fine calibers out there like 50-95, 414 Supermag, 38 Long and 375 Whelen. Those are a few that really are great calibers but few places will ever have ammo available.
Mike in Peru

popper
December 7, 2013, 10:14 AM
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/index.php
Check out the coating thread, HiTek or powder coat. works for rifle & pistol and much cheaper than the lubrizier.
You can basically run them full speed.

doubleh
December 7, 2013, 11:55 AM
I use Lee, RCBS, and Lyman molds. Follow Lee's instruction on the use of their molds and you won't have problems and will get good bullets. I actually prefer the Lee's now. They are much easier to hold up in my dottering old age. :D

Don't forget, you can buy about four Lee molds for the cost of the others if you do manage to mess one up.

heycods
February 3, 2014, 04:19 PM
Thanks for the heads up Dr.!

I usually run a box of 50-100 max on the weekends (time doesn't permit the actual loading of more than that currently), so maybe the 2-die would work for the time being? Also, I've heard (hearsay) that the 6x dies can cool off on one end before you get to the other...or that trying to fill all 6 with consistency you run into problems...

Oh, and another question - so, measuring bore/grooves via a slugged boolit...I know you'd measure bore then groove...but how do you accurately measure a 5R/5-groove? The opposite of a groove is a land...so do you just use calipers to measure the depth of one of the grooves?

What did you use to slug your barrel? I'll be ordering a 1/2 lb hunk of Cerrosafe to do the rifle chamber, but the only boolits I have for slugging the revolver barrel are 125gr cast lead "penetrators" (have this cute sharp cone point to them that flattens when seated by my seating die...), and those didn't get too accurate a reading last I used them. Should I just fill the barrel with Cerrosafe when it arrives? Also remove cylinder and do the same for that? (plug the backside of all the cylinders and fill to right under the cylinder face)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErFaJlUVs1Y

Catshooter
February 3, 2014, 04:38 PM
When you say '2 die' and '6 die' are you meaning 2 and 6 cavity bullet moulds? If so, I use mostly two cavity moulds. I have a few sixes but the twos get used much more.

Filling a six (or more) cavity mould consistently just takes a bit of practice. Don't sweat it.

On slugging a bore. I use whatever bullet I have on hand that I know is bigger than the bore in question. I've driven a 45 caliber bullet down a 9mm bore. It just shaves off the excess at the muzzle. Oil the bullet first.

To measure an odd number of grooves, just take a feeler gauge (I use the .001 leaf), wrap it around the bullet, measure and subtract .002.

Calipers are not the right tool for measuring anything closely unless you're a machinist, have the real quality caliper and know how to use them.

A micrometer is what you want. They are worth buying and learning how to use.

Hope this helps.


Cat

GLOOB
February 3, 2014, 04:42 PM
Slugging a bore is way less important than most people seem to think. Firstly, you are measuring only the smallest, most constricted portion of the bore. Secondly, you will usually have plenty of room to play with in the chamber end of things. At least enough room to play where using a micrometer on a bullet is completely superlative. A regular caliper will get you a close enough to play ball.

Use the biggest bullet that will chamber. If that doesn't shoot in your gun, nothing will. If you still have problems, make sure your bullets aren't being swaged by the case. If that checks out, then slug your bore AND check for constrictions. If the bore isn't as small or smaller at the crown than anywhere else in the barrel, you will probably never get a cast bullet to shoot particularly accurately or cleanly unless you can lap the bore and/or cut back the barrel if indicated. If the bore is just plainly too big compared to the chamber or cylinder, opening up the cylinder/chamber with a reamer might be the only way to go. So yeah, there is a reason to slug a bore, but not for the reason that most people do it.

If you slug your bore, just so you can size your bullets exactly 1 mic larger, you're doing something for nothing. You could have just started out with a bigger bullet to begin with. When you're shooting the biggest bullet that will chamber in your gun and you still have a problem, then it's time to poke around.

hartcreek
February 3, 2014, 05:41 PM
I would suggest that you settle on the two void mold being a new caster. For .38 Lee has a 105 gr coned semi wadcutter that seems to work fine form my 9mm and .38s.

You simply can not be set on just one brand as you have to buy for the calibre and sometimes another brand mold works better for a specific calibre.

35 Whelen
February 3, 2014, 08:45 PM
Not to beat a dead horse, but more seek wisdom of those who have been there:
I'm looking at starting cast shooting soon, the commercial boolits I've picked up aren't sized right and lead up the barrel, so I'm going for 1 pistol mold, 1 rifle mold and the basic equipment.
I'd like to go mostly Lee, since their equipment is pretty inexpensive, and there is much less to it than the Lyman series (lyman being best-off with top-punches/bench-mounted sizer-press/wax stick lubes etc.). Also, even when following directions, novices make mistakes - so am I in a good way with going for a $20 Lee mold to start with (in case I mess it up, I'm not down $70+), or should I just go the distance to start with, as it's not easy to mess up a mold?

I'd be also getting the Lubrisizer/ALOX die kit, as opposed to the bench-mounted sizer/press...

Can the Lee Lubrisizer work on a Lee Hand Press? I mean easily, I know the threading on the Lubrisizer die goes with any normal reloading press thread pitch...

Thanks!

There are many things to consider when starting to cast. You can certainly start with Lee moulds and that's fine, but remember they're inexpensive for a reason. Lee moulds are great to start with and even continue casting with as long as you don't plan on doing LOTS of casting, expect really high quality bullets or expect the moulds to last for casting tens of thousands of bullets.

Ditto with sizing. You don't have to size bullets, but the more consistent your bullets are, the more accurate they'll be. That's one of the Lee tools I really like; their push-through sizer. Those puppies will make for some very concentric bullets. When I used to compete with cast bullets in my rifle, I'd always run them through the appropriate Lee die prior to seating them.

Likewise, tumble lubing is an easy way to lube bullets without having to buy a lubrisizer and if you don't plan on casting, lubing and sizing hundreds of at a time it works fine. The down side is it's very messy and you wind up with bullets that look like they've been dipped in brown gravy and that crap accumulates in and gums up your seating die.

I've used a Lee pot off and on for years and have had no problems, but I primarily use an old SAECO pot with a 10 lb. capacity. I'll soon be buying a Lee 20 lb. pot because 10 lbs. of bullet doesn't last very long around this house!

My suggestion would be get good stuff from the start, but buy used. Unless you are seriously careless or rough on equipment, you just cannot wear out or tear up a good cast iron mould such as a Lyman or RCBS. Often I see used Lyman double cavity moulds on eBay go for $50 $60 with handles. thing is they don't depreciate and if a fellow is careful he can use them, then sell them for what he has in them. Same goes for lubrisizers.
Too, if you buy good used equipment and decide casting is not for you, you can easily resell it.

Ahhh...one last thing. I used to slug the barrel of every rifle and handgun that came into my possession. Over time I realized that it really wasn't necessary. Now the only time I'll bother slugging a barrel or cylinder is if I'm having accuracy problems. I just size at or .001" over groove or cyluinder diameter and go from there.

35W

Duckdog
February 3, 2014, 09:20 PM
No offense, but explain to me how an aluminum mold throws a lower quality boolit than steel or brass? I cast for upward of 30 calibers and use both steel and aluminum and can not see one ioda of difference between the boolits out of the two types of molds. My BS O Meter is pegged out on that one. I have some Lee molds that have upward of between 5k-6k through them and are no worse for wear.

If you take proper care of an aluminum mold, you'll have zero problems. If you take care of a steel mold, you'll also have zero problems. Now, let that steel mold rust and see what happens, just as not lubing the pins on an aluminum mold, and you'll end up with crap looking boolits that most likely will shoot fine anyway.

To the OP, it sounds like you're doing OK. Just keep any water out of that pot when you cast or you will see the silver fairy real quick. I had a wet ingot educate me on that about 20 yrs ago that I thought were dry and I was picking lead off the walls, floor, my pants, etc for like a week!

You'll find the biggest challenge will be getting lead once your up and running!

35 Whelen
February 3, 2014, 10:09 PM
No offense, but explain to me how an aluminum mold throws a lower quality boolit than steel or brass? I cast for upward of 30 calibers and use both steel and aluminum and can not see one ioda of difference between the boolits out of the two types of molds. My BS O Meter is pegged out on that one. I have some Lee molds that have upward of between 5k-6k through them and are no worse for wear.

If you take proper care of an aluminum mold, you'll have zero problems. If you take care of a steel mold, you'll also have zero problems. Now, let that steel mold rust and see what happens, just as not lubing the pins on an aluminum mold, and you'll end up with crap looking boolits that most likely will shoot fine anyway.

To the OP, it sounds like you're doing OK. Just keep any water out of that pot when you cast or you will see the silver fairy real quick. I had a wet ingot educate me on that about 20 yrs ago that I thought were dry and I was picking lead off the walls, floor, my pants, etc for like a week!

You'll find the biggest challenge will be getting lead once your up and running!

No offense taken at all!

I didn't say aluminum moulds throw lower quality bullets than steel or brass. I have about six particular aluminum moulds that out of the 50 or so moulds I own, are hands down of higher quality and cast consistent, superb quality bullets when compared to any of my cast iron moulds. I was talking about aluminum Lee moulds, not aluminum moulds in general. And by the way, I own a half-dozen Lee moulds. None of them have over 1000 or so bullets out of them and already the sprue plates are loose and the tops of the blocks are galled because the aluminum is so soft. And FWIW, I cut the sprues on ALL my moulds with a gloved hand, so I treat all of them very gently. On the other hand my NEI, NOE and Accurate aluminum moulds are none the worse for wear because the aluminum is of higher quality as is the construction of the moulds.

A lot of the quality of the bullets is relative. The CAS guys I shoot with from time to time just need some sort of piece of lead to exit the barrel and hit a relatively large target at relatively close range. Given that, I bought a 6-cavity Lee to cast bullets for my wife's .38's for use in CAS. For their use, bullet quality isn't nearly as important as speed of casting. I know the mould won't last as long as a good custom mould, but as soon as it wears out, I'll buy another. On the other hand, moulds I've purchased for casting bullets for my .44's I want to be of very high quality because I want consistent bullets with which to shoot out to 100 yds.

Like everything else in life, you get what you pay for, and there's a purpose for the expensive equipment and a purpose for the not-so-expensive equipment.

35W

USSR
February 4, 2014, 08:04 AM
And if you REALLY want a nice mould, you should try casting with one of these brass moulds - better than either aluminum or steel.

Don

http://www.mp-molds.com/images/Mp-molds_9mm_125_hp_2.jpg

35 Whelen
February 4, 2014, 09:12 AM
And if you REALLY want a nice mould, you should try casting with one of these brass moulds - better than either aluminum or steel.

Don

http://www.mp-molds.com/images/Mp-molds_9mm_125_hp_2.jpg
I recently bought a brass Miha mould in 429421 configuration. Amazing quality and it cast beautiful bullets. I am definitely sold on brass moulds now.

35W

Foto Joe
February 4, 2014, 10:29 AM
And by the way, I own a half-dozen Lee moulds. None of them have over 1000 or so bullets out of them and already the sprue plates are loose and the tops of the blocks are galled because the aluminum is so soft.

I guess you could say that this is a quality control issue with Lee Precision not shipping an entirely finished product. Or you could as I do look at it as great price on an "almost finished" product which I can finish to my liking.

What I'm getting at here is that as you probably already know, you just don't pull a Lee mold out of the box and start casting. I found this out on my very first mold, it's beat up now and has thousands of rounds through it but it does still throw a nice boolit.

I own mostly Lee molds but I'm working on catching up with the Lyman molds. When I get a new Lee mold the first thing I do is pull that sprue plate and deck it with a piece of emery paper on a flat surface. Then I round off the leading edges of the sprue plate so it doesn't tear up the tops of the mold blocks. And I think that the most important part of owning a Lee mold is to make sure that you properly lube that sprue plate. Personally I use a synthetic 2-stroke oil and a friend recently have me a little bottle of Bull Plate which will probably last for thousands of boolits.

I don't use a release agent nor do I EVER smoke the cavities of a mold, why would I want smaller boolits?? What I will do is polish the cavities using a cast boolit that has a screw in it sprinkled with water and Comet attached to my cordless drill for about 30 seconds or so. I don't beat on Lee molds to get my boolits out, if they're properly prepped they actually will throw just as high a quality boolit as a Lyman or RCBS and will last a lifetime.

35 Whelen
February 4, 2014, 01:21 PM
I guess you could say that this is a quality control issue with Lee Precision not shipping an entirely finished product. Or you could as I do look at it as great price on an "almost finished" product which I can finish to my liking.

What I'm getting at here is that as you probably already know, you just don't pull a Lee mold out of the box and start casting. I found this out on my very first mold, it's beat up now and has thousands of rounds through it but it does still throw a nice boolit.

I own mostly Lee molds but I'm working on catching up with the Lyman molds. When I get a new Lee mold the first thing I do is pull that sprue plate and deck it with a piece of emery paper on a flat surface. Then I round off the leading edges of the sprue plate so it doesn't tear up the tops of the mold blocks. And I think that the most important part of owning a Lee mold is to make sure that you properly lube that sprue plate. Personally I use a synthetic 2-stroke oil and a friend recently have me a little bottle of Bull Plate which will probably last for thousands of boolits.

I don't use a release agent nor do I EVER smoke the cavities of a mold, why would I want smaller boolits?? What I will do is polish the cavities using a cast boolit that has a screw in it sprinkled with water and Comet attached to my cordless drill for about 30 seconds or so. I don't beat on Lee molds to get my boolits out, if they're properly prepped they actually will throw just as high a quality boolit as a Lyman or RCBS and will last a lifetime.
I believe the process you described is referred to as "Lee-Menting" over on the Cast Boolit site.

I performed the same steps on a custom Lee mould I bought through a Group Buy. I found out pretty quick that the 6 cavities weren't consistent. I tried lapping them pretty much the way you described and things went downhill from there. That aluminum was SOFT!

35W

Foto Joe
February 5, 2014, 10:30 AM
I left out the term "Lee Menting" simply because there's a lot of folks here who wouldn't be familiar with the term. I'd love to see Lee Precision actually provide a finished "precision" mold but I'm afraid that the price would be commiserate with Lyman or other high end mold makers by then. I do think though that most Lee molds die of owner abuse rather than poor design. I'm really amazed at the amount of new casters that will whack the mold blocks themselves to get boolits to drop out.

I will say that I've never had the inclination to try a Lee 6-Holer or any 6 cavity mold for that matter, I'm just not in that big of a hurry.

mugsie
February 5, 2014, 01:22 PM
You are going to love casting, but be warned - it is extremely addicting! Extremely.
Get yourself the Lee six banger mold, knocks out 6 at a shot. You won't be sorry at all. Start out slow, any mistakes go right back into the pot, so nothing is lost. I can cast several hundred in an hours time on whatever pistol caliber I'm doing. Mostly WW which a little tin solder added in. I lube on the Lyman lubrisizer, which is the hardest part. I never tried tumble lube but some swear by it (others swear at it!)

Just remember, it's addicting.

Wear a mask, be safe and enjoy yourself....

35 Whelen
February 5, 2014, 01:38 PM
You are going to love casting, but be warned - it is extremely addicting! Extremely.
Get yourself the Lee six banger mold, knocks out 6 at a shot. You won't be sorry at all. Start out slow, any mistakes go right back into the pot, so nothing is lost. I can cast several hundred in an hours time on whatever pistol caliber I'm doing. Mostly WW which a little tin solder added in. I lube on the Lyman lubrisizer, which is the hardest part. I never tried tumble lube but some swear by it (others swear at it!)

Just remember, it's addicting.

Wear a mask, be safe and enjoy yourself....
Get yourself a Star lubrisizer. I bought one and can now lube/size bullets in less time than it takes to cast them. Next to a quality mould, it's the best money I've ever spent on bullet casting equipment.
35W

GLOOB
February 5, 2014, 02:11 PM
Get yourself a Star lubrisizer. I bought one and can now lube/size bullets in less time than it takes to cast them.
The only thing faster is tumble lubing unsized bullets. It takes only a few minutes per bucket and the only cost is the lube. :)

35 Whelen
February 5, 2014, 04:49 PM
I tried tumble lubing years ago. I found it to be messy, at best, then I still had to size the bullets which made it a two-step operation. Plus the lube clogged up my deating die. But, to each his own!

35W

Duckdog
February 5, 2014, 08:41 PM
I also tumble lube most of the time, and it will eventually mean cleaning the seating die. I also have dummy rounds to reset my seating die, so no big deal. I rarely try to size, but if you need to seat a gas check, you need to if you are using Lee sizing dies. I personally like them, but like 35Whelen said, to each his own. That's one of the best thing I like about casting is the amount of customizing and preference that can apply while still getting excellent results.

I mostly use JPW on pistol bullets, including 7.62x25 TOK ammo @ near 1500 fps with no gas check and no leading.

While I have an audience... do any of you guys load the TOK and if so, have you used a Lee soupcan 113 gr in them? I've been scrounging for a load in that caliber for that bullet and really can't find much, so I may have to work something up.

Foto Joe
February 6, 2014, 09:04 AM
When I first started casting last spring I tumble lubed everything. Using the straight Lee Liquid Alox I got educated REAL quick about how easy is was to over do it. After I switched over to the 45-45-10 formula things got a lot better. A few months ago I blew all my Cabela's points on a Lyman 4500 Lube Sizer and have gotten myself hooked on NRA 50/50. I still keep my 45-45-10 handy though.

Last week I did a swap with a guy at a tire shop for a Lyman mold, handles, Lee push through and a Lyman ten pound pot for 500 .401 boolits from the mold I got from him. Since I don't have an H&I die for the .401 I tumble lubed and used the push through. Originally I wasn't even going to size the boolits but that Lyman mold was dropping at .405 so I figured it would probably be a good idea. Tumble lubing is quick and easy but I've found that for my purposes the NRA 50/50 lube keeps my 1911's and SAA's a lot happier although it does smoke the muzzle of the 1911's pretty good.

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