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Cast Bullet Cost Calculator

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by mmorris, Aug 1, 2008.

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  1. mmorris

    mmorris Member

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    -I figured out how to attach a zip of the excel file- :D
    View attachment CastingCostCalcMM.zip

    While waiting for my (backordered) equipment to arrive, I’ve been getting into trouble reading about casting lead bullets. :uhoh:

    Haven’t even adjusted my first die and I’m off on Phase II equipment purchase. Can’t somebody send me some pills or something?:confused:

    Molten metal, precise procedures, explosions of lead when you drip sweat into the melting pot (I sweat like a fire hose). How can I resist? :fire:

    Not that I entertain ANY idea that I can save money by spending hands-full of it on things I can live without, but I did have to run the numbers in case swmbo got nosey about the details. I looked a little, but I didn’t find any casting calculators. I did find some very nice reloading cost calculators, but I wanted to know if “one-dollar lead” was too expensive to justify casting. So, I was just going to work up a three or four cell spreadsheet, but retirement makes you do funny things. It’s not great by any stretch of the imagination, but it tells me that it’s not too late to start.

    So, if anyone is interested in a bullet casting cost calculator in excel, I’m glad to share it.


    Mike
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2008
  2. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    FWIW, water on top of molten lead generally just sits there and sizzles. It's water under the molten lead that causes problems. It instantly turns into steam and in the process of escaping into the atmosphere splatters lead around.

    So sweat away. Just don't sweat onto your ladle and then shove it into the pot.
     
  3. mmorris

    mmorris Member

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    Maybe if I sweat on an ingot that has a little honeycomb or surface voids and then drop it in without a pre-heat?

    Come on, it has to be dangerous or everyone would be doing it. wait, everyone is doing it!
     
  4. 454PB

    454PB Member

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    Now that's hard core, Mike!

    Take a chill pill......it's easier to hide your casting expenses than it is to explain to the wife how the spreadsheet works. Maybe you could tell her you have been mining wheel weights at Wal*Mart!

    The tough part is hiding those credit card charges for $80 bullet moulds.
     
  5. mmorris

    mmorris Member

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    Duplicate deleted
     
  6. Bitswap

    Bitswap Member

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    I do a little forging and casting, mostly alumium, brass, steel and lead.

    Lead is very easy to work with. A plain ole fire or hotplate will melt it (about 600 degrees if memory serves). That means you don't need anything 'special' to work it: dedicated cast iron skillets/pots work fine and safe.

    No reason you can't use wheel weights. You can add some tin to make it harder as you probably already know. You can clean up the lead in a molten state with additives that will bring the imperities (slag) to the top so you can skim it off. Midway sells these things.

    The only thing I'd recommend is doing this over dirt or sand outside. Concrete will explode if something molten is dropped on it. Not sure if lead is hot enough to do that, but I know molten alumium, brass and steel will. A wood bench will work since it is very forgiving to heat but wouldn't hurt to cover working areas with an alumium cookie sheet.

    The molten temperature is important. Not to hot, not too cool. Some casts need a few throws before a good product is made. Unlike water, solid lead will sink in your melting pot, so do a few casts at first and throw the results back into the pot.

    Protect yourself, pretty much goes without saying, but there are speciality bibs, gloves and headshields designed for casting. I would definatly get the gloves at least, weilding glove will work. Most of the specility gear is designed to handle intense heat from forging steel. Rawhide leather works too.

    If your sweat is dripping into the pot, your sanding too close. Everything should be done at arm's length. If you stir the pot perodically any water in there won't be a problem.

    Water and molten metals do not mix. The danger here is that the water will turn to gas quickly and throw droplets of molten metal around. No matter how small, a drop of molten lead is not something you want to deal with.

    Be safe and have fun!

    I'm going to add something about cloths you should wear. Wear cotton or wool shirts and pants. Pollys are not good. Pollys will melt and adhear to your skin while cotton and wool won't. Best is wool but most practical is cotton. Flannel is up there as well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2008
  7. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Member

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    Oops...dooplikashun.
     
  8. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Member

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    MM,
    That's a nice calculator! But please tell me you're not buying lead for bullet casting! Wheelweights are out there and available. You just have to be dilligent in looking. I have never in my life paid for any of my bullet metal. Keep your eyes and ears open. Some will come along. If nothing else, go to your local pistol range and pick-up/dig the lead bullets out of the backstop.
    35W

    P.S.- And a drop of water on top of the melt WILL cause a little mini-explosion. I've done it myself many times!
     
  9. mmorris

    mmorris Member

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    Thanks, 35W. I made the calculator to find out what the worst case would be as things seem to always get more expensive and less available as time goes on. It turned out to be a way to put all the info I've been reading into perspective as I thought about the casting process.

    I just hate to think about all the WW's I didn't take when I could have over the 38+ years I was in the automotive repair field :cuss:

    Mike
     
  10. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    A big 10-4 on that one. I wanted to get some WW's before I bought my casting equipment to see if it would be worth it. I had trouble at first but stick to it and it will pay off. I found two places that give me weight for free. They give them to others also so I don't get huge quantities but plenty for my needs. I get maybe close to two five gallon buckets a month if I want to check in often. I have around 300 pounds of ingots and 300 pounds waiting to be smelted. Not bad for free.
    Rusty
     
  11. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I've done it too, with no problems. Maybe physics are different in my garage.
     
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