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setting up a Lee 6 cavity mold

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by SSN Vet, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Well-Known Member

    I understand that the mold handles must be purchased separately for the Lee six cavity molds....

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

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

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

    Inquiring minds want to know.
  2. RugerBob

    RugerBob Well-Known Member

    Its actually part of the mold. It bolts to the mold as its part of the spue plate.
  3. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Well-Known Member


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

    DurangoKid Well-Known Member

    I have the Lee 6 cavity in .45 caliber. It is a great mold it throws dead on .452 every time. I just do an Alox tumble and shoot them.:)
  5. flashhole

    flashhole Well-Known Member

    Yes, you will be good to go. I use the same setup for 40 S&W. Works great ..... even better with the Lee Classic Turret Press, Lee Dies, Lee Powder Through Expander, Lee Funnel and Lee Dipper Cups. Lee nailed it with pistol loads. No complaints with my set up. Forgot to add the Lee Bottom pour 20# pot. :)
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  6. Reefinmike

    Reefinmike Well-Known Member

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

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    I'll probably get flamed for this, but I use needle-nose pliers to get the bullets out of my 6 cavity mold.

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

    So I just run up one side with needle nose pliers opened up. Using just one jaw of the pliers, lay the side with the teeth against the bullet, smooth side against the mold, and roll away from the block to pull the bullet out. Run back down the other side, same way. I haven't found any teeth marks on the bullets, and I haven't noticed any damage to the mold. But you obviously have to be very careful not to ding the edges of the mold.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  8. rsrocket1

    rsrocket1 Well-Known Member

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

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

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

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

    Certaindeaf member

  10. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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

    DurangoKid Well-Known Member

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

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    I started out smoking my Lee molds. I read the instructions, afterall. But I used a lighter. Maybe that doesn't work as good as a match.

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

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

    Yup. Good point. I do same as you.

    While I wouldn't mind frosted bullets one bit, I do have to take my time with the 223 mold. Else the gas check shank gets warped and not completely filled when I open the sprue plate. So I don't mind taking the bullets out with the pliers. Gives the mold a chance to cool. Actually, it's usually faster than banging on the mold, anyway. It's like scratching a lottery ticket hoping that all 6 teeny pills fall out by gravity with a couple taps. Then it's another tap.. then another... then by tap #23 when the sprue plate handle has shaken loose, I know this ticket is a loser, and I'm better off just using the pliers and getting them out potentially slower, but reliably, every time! :)
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  13. DurangoKid

    DurangoKid Well-Known Member

    Problem with frosting is not just the looks. The pour is way over heated and the fill on the lube bands are often not correct. When bullets do not always fall out it is usually due to molds getting cold during a run.
  14. blarby

    blarby Well-Known Member

    zipties on the handle where it seats onto the sprue plate are a great reinforcement.
  15. 41 Mag

    41 Mag Well-Known Member

    Lots of great info here, but this one is probably the most important to get going with,

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

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

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

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

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

    Good luck and hope this helps.
  16. evan price

    evan price Well-Known Member

    One good FYI is to start casting a six-cavity by casting only two cavities for a couple casts, then three, then four, then five, then finally six.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    SSN Vet Well-Known Member

    thanks for all the replies...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And my biggest problem is that my bottom spout is sometimes dribbles.
  18. budman46

    budman46 Well-Known Member

    super string...lots of good info if you read it though and follow.

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

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

    SSN Vet Well-Known Member

    I bought my little bottle of Bull Plate lube a couple years ago, but have only just recently fired up to cast again....

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

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

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    I find that if I smoke the inside of the mold with a rich flame out of an Oxy/act torch the bullets just fall out of the mold.

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