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bullet casting: bottom pour vs ladle.

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by jim in Anchorage, Jul 28, 2013.

  1. jim in Anchorage

    jim in Anchorage Well-Known Member

    I am getting back into bullet casting after a long absence. I need to pick a lead pot. I have two memories of my old bottom pour Lee-
    The sprout was always leaking.
    It was impossible to stir the flux into the alloy because of the sprout control rod. So I am leaning to a plain pot and ladle. Any thoughts on this?
  2. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    While the spout on my Lee might leak every now and again, it always stops if I turn the stopper with a screwdriver. That's why it's slotted for a flathead. I think it's worth the trouble, personally. You can fit a shallow stainless steel pet dish under the spout to collect the drips and still have plenty of room for your molds.
  3. jmorris

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    I don't know about the Lee because I built my own bottom pour pot. The only time it drips is when heating up. I have an aluminum cup I put under the oraface block and remove it once it's hot.
  4. Thompsoncustom

    Thompsoncustom Well-Known Member

    I have a Lee Drip-O-Matic and a Ladle and I find my self using the Ladle method more just because the Lee drops so much no matter how it's adjusted or clean it. If you had a 20lb pot and a Lee 6 Cavity mold than the bottom pour would probably be worth it but I use my 6 cavity with the ladle and it's just as fast.
  5. RugerBob

    RugerBob Well-Known Member

    I think ladle takes to long for me, I use alot of lead for cowboy shooting.
    I flux my lead in a different pot , cast iron and old turkey fryer propane set up. Then pour 1 lb ingots.
    I have a 10 and 20 lb bottom pour. The 20 seems to not drip like the 10, not sure why.
    Both are lee pots.
    When all I had was the leaky 10, it was still better then ladle for time.
  6. KansasSasquatch

    KansasSasquatch Well-Known Member

    I have yet to purchase my casting pot but I'm leaning towards the Lee 20lb bottom pour. I'm told that it's not near as difficult to mix/clean in as the 10lb Lee pot. Supposed to have something to do with how the spout comes out of the pot.
  7. rsrocket1

    rsrocket1 Well-Known Member

    Ditto on what GLOOB said. You'll never get the output with a ladle pour pot. Now if all your casting is for rifle bullets, the ladle pour may be the way to go. I cast for 9/38/40/45 and a 20 pound bottom pour and 6 cavity mould are the way to go.

    I got done casting 1062 9mm bullets yesterday morning in less than 3 hours (start of setup until finished with cleanup) and was done by 10AM. With the 20# pot, I only needed to refill the pot once.

    I keep a Lyman ingot mold under the mold guide and simply dump the drippings back into the pot. My pot doesn't chronically drip and if the drips become regular, I twist the rod with a flat blade screwdriver and the drips stop.

    18 pounds of lead, tumble lubed and ready for an 1100 fps joyride.
  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    I think I get better, more consistent bullets with the Lyman ladle.

    However the bottom pour pot is faster.

  9. JerZsquid

    JerZsquid Well-Known Member

    Could someone get into casting on the cheap with a pot, ladle, and mold - using something like charcoal or coals from an outdoor fire to heat the pot?
  10. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    It sure would not be my first choice as you have no control over how hot a campfire or grill gets.

    And you would be burning the hair off your arms hovering over it while casting.

    A gas Coleman camp stove or electric hot plate with a rheostat would be a much better heat source.

    However, you can buy a real Lee lead pot for $33 bucks.

    When I first started casting in 1962, I did it on my mothers gas kitchen range using an old cast iron skillet.

  11. BruceB

    BruceB Well-Known Member

    This is a perpetual topic among the 30,000 members at Cast Boolits. It has NEVER been satisfactorily resolved, nor will it ever be. Everyone has his own opinion.

    Me? Bottom pour all the way.
  12. James2

    James2 Well-Known Member

    I got a used 10 inch Dutch oven from the second hand store for little, and got 4 cavity molds (38, 44, 45) and a ladle. My heat source is a propane fueled camp stove. Have never tried a bottom pour pot. I get along fine with this setup and can make a lot of bullets in an afternoon. I work out on the patio to keep the stink out of the house. Once that big pot is filled with molten lead there is lots of bullets to be made. :)

    I think a fire would be hard to keep the temp right. Suppose it could be done, but prefer something more easily regulated.
  13. MEHavey

    MEHavey Well-Known Member

    I have had multiple bottom-pour pots from multiple manufacturers over the last 45 years -- Lee, RCBS, Lyman.
    I also came to use straight dipper pour in every one of them as most repeatable/manageable.

    Five years ago I discovered the seemingly no-frills Waage 20# pot (K-4757)


    ... and have now got three of them: one for lead, one for #2, one for 1:30
    (The Lyman, the RCBS and the Lee are now all sitting gathering dust)
    They are perfect geometry, stunningly well made, and dead on accurate for holding exact temp.
    (Call Waage directly if you like - 1.800.922.4365 - for direct sales & significantly lower price)
  14. JerZsquid

    JerZsquid Well-Known Member

    Wow. No frills = $240
  15. 41 Mag

    41 Mag Well-Known Member

    I have to admit my Lee 4-20 drips, but it is usually only one or two spots per session. Usually it is when I am running it pretty hot.

    I did however lap in the seat and stem when I got it though and that has made a big difference. I just used some general Clover valve lapping compound and it took about 30 minutes to get both of them nice and matching perfectly. If I added a little weight to the handle like I hear they come now I bet it wouldn't leak at all.

    I usually pour into either 4 or 6 cavity molds and it is pretty easy to go through the entire pot pretty quickly with the 200+ grain bullets I am usually pouring. I did however pour up some 148gr DEWC's not long ago, and man did I make a pile out of one pot then.

    For the price I wouldn't hesitate to go with one again.
  16. jmorris

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    This is the one I built, IIRC the 3500 watt oven element cost $12 from Sears. Some scrap iron hunks and 1/4" stainless steel rod. I don't remember where the solenoid came from, might have never known. It holds a little over 60lbs.

    You can see a U shaped cut out on the front and 3/4" bar stock ears on the side from when I first built it as just a melting pot to r├ęclame wheel weights.

  17. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

  18. Don McDowell

    Don McDowell Well-Known Member

    I like the 10 lb lee production pot for bottom feeding small bullet moulds. For accuracy in heavy big bullets it's awfully hard to beat a good ladle, coupled with a casting thermoter so you can keep the melt at a fairly consistant temperature.
    I have a 20 lb lee pot, that bottom pour spot is a wreck waiting to happen.Plus there's no practical flow control from that thing and it's terribly hard to get consistant weights. Matter of fact the bottom of that pot fell apart around the spout bushing. Made a terrible mess, but luckily it didn't start a fire..
    I replaced that pot with a Lyman 20 lb pot with the bottom pour . That way I can go either way, and it hold a much more consistant temperature than either of the Lee's ever have.
    What it's really going to boil down to, is what are you looking for from your cast bullets, and how you intend to get there.
    So possibly if money is a concern, get the Lee 10 lb production pot for bottom pouring and the Lee 20 lb for ladle casting, and a good thermometer.
    Or just go with the Lyman or RCBS units.
  19. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    For me? It's bottom pour.
    I tried to ladle & was so slow the melt cooled before I could get a satisfactory pour.
  20. flipajig

    flipajig Well-Known Member

    I use the Lee 4-20 occasionally it will drip but twisting on the stem will stop the drip
    I've ladle pored for my ML with success but as stated its slow running 6 cavity molds it's much much faster.

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