Considering Casting My Own


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Bacchus
December 28, 2002, 06:12 PM
I've been handloading for a little over a year now and have found that I really enjoy it. Now I'm thinking about casting my own. I know that Lyman has a manual on casting--are there other references that would be good for a beginner?

I've read about some of you getting wheelweights for free. I'm looking for material or someone that will explain wheelweights, where to get them, and how to test them so you know what kinds of metal you're getting.

Thanks!

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PDshooter
December 28, 2002, 06:29 PM
What cal, are you thinking about casting for?

I only cast for 45ACP 38s

Its alot of extra work. I sit down and cast maybe 3or4 times a year. I'll crank out up to 4K at one sitting.
You just might think about buying cast bullets.

Nanook
December 28, 2002, 06:36 PM
I'm considering casting also. I've been picking up wheelweights from friendly tire shops while I go through the books learning about it. The way I figure it, it's a good skill to have, much like reloading itself.
And considering some of the more whacko pols talking about bullet taxes and so forth, it may just come in handy in the future.
Especially in our state, PDshooter!
:rolleyes:

Jorah
December 28, 2002, 06:42 PM
re-use all of their wheel weights! I'm considering asking the guy who owns the local range if I can sift some of the dirt in the backstop for old bullets.

I'd probably cast .44 spl, .45 acp, and .30 cal rifle bullets for my '06; supposed to shoot real nice.

-J.

gorf
December 28, 2002, 06:46 PM
I would be interested in knowing how long it takes to cast 1000 45acp bullets. I'm talking actual molding time. Anybody know?

444
December 28, 2002, 06:56 PM
I am a new bullet caster. I have casted a few thousand bullets, but got into it within the last year or so. I think it is a lot of fun. Getting the metal is the issue for me. A buddy of mine got a five gallon bucket of wheelweights at a local tire shop. We melted it all down. It was kind of a pain; they throw other junk in the bucket that you have to get out, every weight has a steel clip on it that you have to get out. But, if you want "free bullets" that is the way to go. I found that I actually enjoy bullet casting so the idea of saving money isn't my primary motivation. So, I use lead shot purchased in 25 pound bags for use in shotshell reloading. It give me bullets of adequate hardness for all but the most extreme loads. I am currently casting for .357, .44, .45, .308" rifle bullets, and .311 rifle bullets. After casting, the bullets are sized, lubricated, and if required a gas check is applied. The last three steps are normally one operation in a bullet sizer. The bullets exhibit very nice accuracy. In the rifles, they provide a very substantial savings over jacketed rifle bullets and allow me a lot of practice with light, low noise, low recoil loads.

For me to cast 1000 .45 bullets, it would take probably a whole day of casting. Back in the days when I was deep into action pistol shooting, there is no way I could have kept up with my bullet consumption by casting. It would have taken all my time. I had enough trouble just keeping up with the loading.

For most people, subjects like this boil down to money. IMO, unless you have a lot of time on your hands and are looking to start a new hobby; I would just buy cast bullets. But, if you see this as something that will be fun, and may someday be your only source of bullets because of legislation, then jump right in, the water is fine.

Frohickey
December 28, 2002, 07:08 PM
Yeah, I'm interested too, but I haven't taken the plunge on getting a lead furnace/pot.

What are people's thoughts here about electric vs gas/propane lead furnaces?

I'm guessing here is that for casting bullets, you have to be pretty consistent as far as technique and temperature, or else you will get inconsistent results. Too hot/cold of lead temperature, too fast/slow of pouring into the mould, etc.

Anyone know of a good place selling cheap/used lead furnaces? I'm thinking like $50 for a > 40lb furnace.

Bacchus
December 28, 2002, 07:22 PM
I'm not really trying to save money, although that's important, too. Right now, I use cast bullets in 38 and 44.
They're inexpensive (About $20. per 500 bullets) ordered from Midway.

What I'd like to do would be to cast some hollow points and experiment with different weights. I also think it's good "insurance" in case the price of ammo skyrockets.

I would also cast for 308.

PDshooter
December 28, 2002, 08:04 PM
So far I'm been getting my W/W for free. The local tire shop looks at them as "Haz-Mat":rolleyes: Just last week I picked up 50lbs for free.
Yes! I do enjoy casting, but it can be a real pain in the A$$!.
I bought a bunch of used stuff off a guy about 15yrs ago, that how I got started.
My "Favorite mold is a original H&G-68 6 cavity it cost big bucks at the time. But it is the BMW of molds! :cool:

444
December 28, 2002, 08:22 PM
A guy I work with told me that his dad works at a tire shop and they have 55 gallon drums full of wheel weights sitting there. So, of course I told him to find out if they would give them to me. They told him that they sell them for scrap and they don't give them away. So, I quit asking anywhere else. I figured this one shop doesn't know anything all the rest don't.

KP95DAO
December 28, 2002, 08:36 PM
My wheel weights cast me .20/lb when I buy them. I have a relative who was in the car repair business for years and knows many and those folks give it to him free of charge.

I have used Lee furnaces and molds for twenty some years and I would advise getting the Lee six cavity mold. You will have to buy the handles seperate from the mold; but, they are used on the other Lee six cavity molds. It takes me about one hour to cast right at 700 bullets. This does not allow for the initial 20 minutes to bring the pot up to temperature with it full of new lead.

The main thing is to make sure you wear safety glasses and a long sleeve shirt and long pants and shoes. Hot lead will burn you. I know, DUH! You will learn. Also make sure that your lead (wheel weights) are dry when putting them into the pot and even then NEVER put you head or body over the pot!

Lyman is probably the best book out there for the price. Getting advice from someone who has been at it for a while is the best way.

For me it is another enjoyable part of my pastime and gives more self sufficiency against the day.

Edward429451
December 28, 2002, 08:51 PM
The last time I paid for WW's, I got a brim full 5 gal bucket for $2.

AFAIK, they aren't allowed to reuse WW's, that guy was pulling your leg...Takes me most of a day to cast up a 1000 slugs from a double cavity mold.

You gotta buddy up to the guys in the tire shops to get em free. Drink coffee with them, compliment their girlie calenders, shoot the breeze a little. On the way out they go "Here take em'"

rick_reno
December 28, 2002, 11:21 PM
I used to cast; still have the pot, moulds, 200+ lbs. of fluxed wheelweights that are in ingots. Why did I stop? I found I enjoyed shooting more than casting, and I can buy really good cast bullets.
I used to get my wheelweights at a local tire shop where I would buy tires. Buying tires seemed to grease the free wheelweights into my truck - I'd usually get 2-3 buckets of them everytime I bought tires/wheels/whatever. The one thing in casting you never want to do is put something with even a minute amount of water into a casting pot with molten metal. This is very dangerous. So...when you get ready to melt and flux your wheelweights - make sure they are dry before you start adding to your hot pot. When they melt the clips float to the top, have something handy to scoop them and the grime off the top with. Some general tips I found useful - cast bullets in a very well ventilated place (outside is ideal), warm your moulds up before using (set them on the side of the pot); all moulds (Lee - inexpensive; RCBS, Lyman, etc) work well - Lee won't rust but I found they can get too hot; I'd suggest two cavity moulds for starting out. I have an RCBS sizer with heated lube plate I used to use - I switched over to using a Lee sizer, it screws into the Rockchucker and is cheap and easy. I used the shake and bake method of lubing toward the end of my casting life - it worked for me.

Pointman
December 28, 2002, 11:44 PM
I picked up one of those propane turkey fryers at Lowes on close out for $40 last spring. Unlike most of these things it came with a large cast iron pot instead of an aluminum one which won't work. And the stand is incredibly heavy. The large pot heaped full of ww melts and pours between 60 and 80 lbs of ingots. From a cold start to ready to flux and skim takes 40-45 minutes.

The ingots (9lb ww, 1lb lino) then go into a Lee pot for pouring. I use Lyman 4 cavity dies for 200gr swc 45's and 2 cavity for everything else.

Because I tend to only cast a few times a year I prefer to use a Lyman sizer with a heater and the Thompson hard lubes. The bullets store better and the lube doesn't all stick and come off.

I have been drooling over the production possibilities of the Lee 6 cavity molds with that nice looking sprue cutter. But frankly I'm a little wary of aluminum molds. With the steel Lyman molds I have to be careful to pace myself or I start getting frosted bullets (molds too hot)... anyone here have experience with the Lee 6 cav molds??

KP95DAO
December 29, 2002, 05:52 PM
Pointman,

Refer to my above post. I have three of them.

PDshooter
December 29, 2002, 09:30 PM
Yes, I have 3 Alum, molds 2 cavity from NEI. Takes forever to cast out a bunch of 38s:(
My 6 cavity mold is a H&G68. My cast Temp, is around 750-900F the hotter the better! I get frosted bullets all the time. It all go's down range:D

JPM70535
December 29, 2002, 11:56 PM
For as long as I can remember,tire stores and service stations have been glad to give or sell wheelweights for 8-10 cents lb.
A propane butner such as those that come with Crawfish boiling pots, and a cast iron pot provide an easy way of separating the trash from the lead. Use a soup ladle to pour 1 lb. ingots.

Do your casting, both of the ingots and bullets only in a well ventilated area (lead vapors are hazardous.)

A Lee 10 lb. electric pot with a bottom pour spout makes filling the mold much easier than using a ladle. It takes about 15 minutes to heat a 10 lb. pot.

Use either aluminum or iron molds, 2 or 4 cavity. For efficient use of time use 2 molds so after you fill one it can cool while you fill the other. alternate between molds and it is easy to cast between 700-900 bullets in a couple hours. ( I use molds of the same caliber but different caliber molds just mean you get 2 different calibers that need to be kept separate.

Lube and size finished bullets. (Lubrisizer or spray on lube )

5 or 6 sessions per year, winter time preferred (it's hot work) and you have 3500-4000 bullets.

One thing, figuring what my time is worth I don't think I've ever saved a dime by casting my own but it is fun

Pointman
December 30, 2002, 12:28 AM
Thanks KP95DAO and PDshooter!

My Lyman 4 cav molds are the 068 so now to decide between the lighter SWC styles and the TC styles. Or, another set for the 068's!

Decisions, decisions.....

cheygriz
December 30, 2002, 12:31 AM
I've been casting for 35 years. A few things I've learned over the years.

NEVER, NEVER even consider any mold with less than four cavities!!! If you can find a good used Hensley and Gibbs ten cavity mold, thats even better! (assuming you can buy it for less than the price of a newCadillac!)

Lyman electric furnaces, and Lyman four cavity molds are superb.

Find a good used Star lubrisizer if you can, otherwise buy a new Lyman 450

ALWAYS WEAR OSHA APPROVED INDUSTRIAL QUALITY SAFETY GLASSES AND A GOOD QUALITY OSHA APPROVED PAINTERS' MASK WHEN CASTING!!

ALWAYS CAST IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA!!!!

dfrog
December 30, 2002, 09:38 AM
Can't see trying to figure what your time is worth, unless you are casting instead of working.

PDshooter
December 30, 2002, 09:13 PM
I hope I can post a pic. NOW!:eek:

braindead0
December 31, 2002, 09:06 AM
PDshooter: dang, that sprue cutter looks like a pain in the arse, way to close to the handles...

PDshooter
December 31, 2002, 06:53 PM
Nope! smooth as silk!
Now if you drop it on your toe! OUCH! H&G molds where so well made he would put a ser,# on them.

EchoSixMike
December 31, 2002, 08:51 PM
The only time I cast bullets is when you can't get them fairly cheap, cast by someone else. The long range 45 caliber bullets(500gn USG) and the true Keith styles are either too pricey or just plain unavailable. For black powder loads in the three groove 45-70 Trapdoors, you need to use 20:1 no antimony lead bullets, which are usually a PITA to find. I just cast a bunch of them from the desired alloy, and that's it. For 45ACP, 44Spec 240gn SWC, 38's and 9mm I just buy at the gunshow or from Midway. S/F...Ken M

Paul "Fitz" Jones
January 16, 2003, 03:12 PM
I have sold many thousands of lead melting pots, lead smelters, bullet molds and lubricators.

The best molds ever made are from the founding California Saeco company made of Meehanite cast iron that does not deform at bulletcasting temperatures like steel and aluminum does. The Ca-Saeco company made Premium quality molds that made bullets to "Win in Competition" their motto. I have 20 H&G molds in my collection from 6 to 10 cavities and used them for years. They only create practice quality bullets. I have had two bulletmaster machines each with Ca-Saeco 2 cavity molds turning out 4,800 cast bullets per hour for me and sold 39 machines.

The best ever bullet lubricator is the San Diego made Star luber that with my innovative idea of nose first sizing can lube bevel base bullets in a fourth of the time of any other luber. My invention of bevel base bullets at the Ca-Saeco company required less case mouth belling of cartridge case mouths and worked well in progressive and automated reloaders and cut case replacement costs from case mouth splitting.

I am selling off some of my collection of bulletcasting tools new in the box from the 1970's and your asking for my sales list will gain you the secret formula of Ca-Saeco Green lube containing automotive STP which reduces bullet resistance in the bore, needing less powder for the FPS and reducing the number of bullet lube grooves needed in the design of Ca-Saeco bullets creating a bigger driving band surface to grip the rifling.

Any tire shop reusing tire weights are ripping their customers off as reused weight steel clips do not hold on the tire rim as solidly and are thrown off nullifying the cost of balancing the tires.

Ask for tire weights for fishing sinkers as nowadays no one need know that you own any guns especially minimum wage tire mounting employees. Only a burglar need know that you are prepared to defend your home and family.

The most accurate bullets come from molds with a maximum of 4 cavities where the sprue swings from the middle of the sprue block. Sprues that swing from the end of a block or the hinge create bullets of increasing weights the further they are away from the hinge.

H&G design molds still exist as they were bought by Netherlands Ballisti-Cast company with a second factory in the USA. 10 cavity molds are no longer made.

Back in the 1940's Ca saeco determined that the best molds could be no larger than 4 cavities. Last year subsequent company Redding Saeco made larger cavity molds to make more money but when the inherent inaccuracy of the bullets produced were discovered by the customers they discontinued the excess cavitity molds and sold off their remaining inventory to some unsuspecting customers that believed in the Saeco name.

In buying bulletcasting and reloading tools the old adage applies of "You Get What You Pay For"

Ask for my Old Timers Sales List at coffeyn1@juno.com

Enclosed is an attachment showing the darker color patterned gunstock quality walnut grips and the boxes that Ca-Saeco molds with handles were sold in in case you see one in an old timers reloading room or at auction. Being of lifetime Meehanite cast iron they will last for generations.

cheygriz
January 16, 2003, 05:03 PM
Paul,

Are the Star lubri-sizers still being made? I haven't seen one advertised in quite some time.

Paul "Fitz" Jones
January 16, 2003, 06:28 PM
I was the top salesman of the San Diego Star Company and received or picked up at the factory ten Universal Reloaders and ten Star Lubers a month. Since the factory would rather make than clean and repair the machines they suggested that I be their authorized Star Reconditioning Center and I stocked a very large supply of parts.

I had a severe lower back injury in 1979 and put everything into storage til last spring when I came online. I have new in the box Star Reloaders, Heads, Lubers and parts but am sold out of caliber conversions so have been offering to buy them on the net along with unwanted or inherited machines and accessories.
I am the list owner of the Star Reloaders Discussion and Support group started in Sept last year. Besides discussing the machines we talk about the quality of components needed by progressive reloaders and the information discussed applies to anyone that uses a reloading die. We currently have 56 members and since we own and operate the most expensive and most accurate machines ever made we have some top competitors and reloading businesses that use the Stars and contribute information to the list. We sell, swap and loan items to each other and we are a sociable group. Anyone is welcome to read our archives but to post to the list you must own or have the use of a Star Reloader or Luber.

You are welcome to ask for my "Old Timers" Sale sheets of my current list of Fitz Pistol Grips, Star and C-H tools, extensive brass collection and California Saeco bulletcasting tools that I have with me from trips to my family ranch.

Paul "Fitz" Jones
January 16, 2003, 06:40 PM
The rights to the Star Lubricators was bought by the magma company of Arizona. They are making a cheaper quality simplified aluminum version of the original Star lubers. Unfortunitely the famous name companies I represented have had their owners pass away and the companies have gone through one or more hands with the products becoming cheaper quality and taking advantage of the old quality name products. Cast iron molds have changed to steel and aluminum, decades of increases of fuel, labor and materials costs has forced the changes.

My original Saeco patent all Steel Lead Hardness Tester that I sold 99% of the production of is now made of aluminum. A list owner told me that the steel version is "Head and Shoulders" over the current aluminum version.

Many of the original name products are now collectables including most of my 1970s stash.

Paul Jones

Thumper
January 17, 2003, 12:49 PM
For me, casting is it's own reward. One of the most relaxing things I can think of.

Paul "Fitz" Jones
January 17, 2003, 01:13 PM
My casting buddy was partners in a machine shop and he made a block for a line from a propane tank to come into and 4 torch lines come out of with torch nozzles at the ends pointed at a Saeco Cast iron bottom pour pot bare of electronics. We also had a Saeco cast iron 20 pound electrical pot to heat lead and we stacked the traditional one pound ingots around the top to preheat. We used H&G 8 cavity molds in 45acp caliber and a 10 cavity H&G 38 target molds we had identical pairs. I would cast for 20 minutes switching molds of the same caliber so they did not overheat while he poured liquid lead into my bottom pour pot and tipped preheated ingots into the electric pot and restacked more ingots on top. We switched places every 20 minutes to give our wrists a break. We dropped the hot bullets from the molds into a 5 gallon bucket half full of water and when the water reached the top we ended the session. It was common at the time in the 70s to drop the bullets on a carpeted surface. We found later that dropping the bullets into water case hardened them enough for the difference to be read on a Lead Hardness Tester.

When we switched to the more precision Premium Quality California Saeco 4 cavity molds it was a lot easier on our wrists and we then had the best cast bullets available for Competition.

The cold winter evening in the garage with the heat of the flames and cold beer and socialization gave us some really good friendly memories and was one of the happiest memories of my life.

PDshooter
January 17, 2003, 08:10 PM
My favorite mold!
H&G68

cheygriz
January 17, 2003, 09:56 PM
Paul,

I have similar memories. In the late seventies, I and three friends had a small commercial reloading business that serviced primarily the LE community. For a couple of years,we cast our own bullets. We had two .38 148 full wadcutter H&G 10 cavity molds, and two .38 158 SWC H&G 10 cavity molds.

We used two 20 pound Saeco open top electric pots for melting and a Lyman 10 pound bottom pour for casting. And we used a 30 gallon drum, cut in half, for dropping the bullets into cold water.

We also had two star lubers, one set up for each bullet type. We made our own bullet lube out of STP oil treatment, paraffin and an ingredient that I'm hesitant to mention.

I agree with you about the wonferful memories, the cold nights, the hot lead and the cold beer.

We outgrew the ability to cast our own and started buying bullets. Our two C-H progressive reloaders gave way to an Ammoload machine, and our line expanded to include 9MM, .45 ACP and .357 Magnum.

I had to leave the business a couple of years after that, but I still remember the pleasure of casting and loading thousands of bullets/cartridges in an evening. I especially remember, and miss, the comraderie.

Paul "Fitz" Jones
January 17, 2003, 10:59 PM
Cheygriz, you may have bought some equipment from me when I was in business as Paul Jones of San Fernando or Sylmar California. I convinced C-H to change the Auto Champ and H presses to 4 position presses to hold a taper crimp die and also added the Safety blast tube. I still have parts and caliber conversion kits for the C-H tools. I personally sold the majority of the Auto Champs and Star Universal Reloaders produced in the late 1970s.
Many of the progressive reloaders I sold had my C-H printed little Blue booklet. "How To Live With And Love Your Progressive Reloader"patented in 1979. When I came on line last spring so many fellows wanted one that I had to do a reprint and still have a small supply.

lead foot marv
March 31, 2007, 03:26 PM
master paul fitz jones sir
it would be a great pleasure to meet with you for some old time lead casting and a beer or ** 37 and learn a little of your philsophy it sounds like a worth while journey. BUT this may never com to pass.Iwill ask if there is a possibility that you would have a thermostat control for the furnace we are all so proud of It was and is probably the best ever built for casters
DO you or does any one on the line have the original equipment for building that was used for making the furnace and was there just one size furnace thank you keep writing the info is needed leadfootmarv

fatelk
March 31, 2007, 09:02 PM
Looks like a lot of experience on this forum. If and when I get back into casting this is where I'll come for advice.

I've casted many thousand bullets and have had my share of problems and questions. I stopped last year when I was diagnosed with cancer. I know there is likely no relationship with the lead, but want to get a better set-up with an exhaust fan before casting again. BTW- cancer's gone, I'm fine now (mostly).

I've mostly used Lee melting pots and molds. I have a couple 6 cavity molds but had trouble with the bullets shrinking on one side, too hot maybe? I also fiddled around with a couple hollow point molds and couldn't get them to fill out completely. Not hot enough??

As to the issue of time, this is why I may not get back into casting. I turn down overtime at work all the time. One day of OT pays enough to buy several days worth of cast bullets. With two young kids to raise I'll be needing all the OT I can handle just for bills.

Wheel weights- I used to get them free or cheap all the time years ago. I gave up on them a while back when I was told at a tire shop that they couldn't give or sell them to me because they were reclassified as hazardous waste and they had to pay a haz waste company to come get them; if they sold them to me they could get a big EPA fine.
I realize now that that was BS.

TEDDY
March 31, 2007, 10:47 PM
Paul Jones:I wondered if that was you.I have a question who made the Saeco furnace?I have one as does an engineer at Redding and both have been trying to get new thermostates.I wondered if Lymans old furnace was made by Saeco.I once had the furnaces rebuilt in Modesto?
ted jones aka WILDCATT@AOL.COM

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
April 1, 2007, 09:40 AM
For those who are seriously interested in getting into cast bullets, here is a website for a forum that's specifically about cast bullets:

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/

Regards,

Dave

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