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Hardening cast lead bullets

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by thodge, Jan 15, 2009.

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  1. thodge

    thodge Member

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    I have read an article about dropping your cast bullets in a shallow pan of water. Does anyone pratice this? And how hard does it make the alloy? Your input would greatly be appreciated.
     
  2. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    This is done when the bullets are dropped from the mold. It does harden them, but when sized, they work soften a small amount. They can also be tempered in the oven after casting, but that's another issue. I used to harden my bullets, but haven't in quite a number of years. If I need harder bullets, I vary the alloy accordingly.

    I suggest you purchase the Lyman Cast Bullet Manual. It's all explained in there.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
     
  3. NuJudge

    NuJudge Member

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    If dropping from the mold, it has to be a deep bucket of water. A shallow pan will not get it done. You can also heat cast bullets in an oven to somewhere near the melt point, then water drop.

    I do this. I do it not just for hardening, but also for material handling purposes. I use a lot of Lee 6-cavity molds, and using a box with an old towel results in the bullets dinging each other soon. Using water, they're hard enough by the time they reach the bottom that they don't.

    The mechanism has to do with tieing up the Lead deformation mechanisms.

    CDD
     
  4. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Cast Bullets

    Water dropping of bullets was invented to elimitate the costly alloy using tin and antimony. http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5464487/description.html I fine water dropping to be a waste of time when casting bullets with the proper alloy. Water and hot alloy can explode it they come in contact with each other. While antimony is used to harden the bullet, the mixture of tin is critical, for while antimony mixes with lead in its molten state, it will not remain mixed when it solidifies. If tin were not added, we would have pure antimony crystals surrounded by pure lead. A bullet of this type , while it feels hard , would certainly lead the bore and eliminate all potential for accuracy. In a lead-tin-antimony mixture, the antimony crystals will be present just the same, but they will be imbedded in a lead-tin mixutre. As the bullet cools the tin will form around the antimony-lead keeping your bullets from leading the bore. I have read that this process can take up to 24 hours as the alloy oxidizes. If your going to size a cast bullet, wait 1 day.
     
  5. sqlbullet

    sqlbullet Member

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    I drop directly into a small bucket of water. It is a 1 gallon ice cream pail about 2/3's full. I keep it at least 5' from my lead furnace to minimize any splashing from the pail to the molten lead.

    If I drop a 'bad' bullet, it must be thoroughly air-dried before it can go back in the pot. I generally just accumulate these and melt them with the next back of scrap when I am refining ingots.

    My tests show this roughly doubles the air cooled BHN. They also age harden, so a 24 hour delay before sizing, shooting, testing hardness is advised. Air cooled bullets from the alloy I use (unknown composition) test 13-15 and water dropped bullets between 25 and 30. I use a lee hardness tester and test the nose and sides of bullets.
     
  6. 38 Super Auto

    38 Super Auto Member

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    Water Dropping - Increased BHN at no cost

    I water drop out of convenience. I have always done it that way. I get remarkable BHN #s out of water dropped WW alloy I drop into a cheap SS mixing bowl and I drain on an old towel afterward. Most of my projectiles are for .357 mag, 38 super, 40 short and weak, .308 WIN and some 45 ACP. I don't feel the need to harden 45ACP bullets.

    As I understand, there has to be a small amount of Sb in the alloy for water quenching or heat treating to effective.
     
  7. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Last edited: May 5, 2009
  8. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Yes, it works, how much harder depends on the alloy. It is not needed in many applications. What bullet & caliber?
     
  9. Floppy_D

    Floppy_D Member In Memoriam

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    I've always water dropped my bullets because I like the sizzly noise they make when they hit the water. Also, they don't get dings when I drop them in the water. Mostly, it's the sizzly noise.
     
  10. SciFiJim

    SciFiJim Member

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    You only have to burn you fingers a couple of times on hot boolits before water dropping starts looking like a good option.:fire: I air cool my .45 ACP but water drop my .357. I use a five gallon bucket about 3/4 full and a folded towel underwater in the bottom of the bucket.

    I like the "sizzly" noise to.;)
     
  11. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm member

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    That guy wasted his money. Water dropping has been done for decades. He didn't invent anything. Same for heat treating then water dropping. Yippee for a worthless patent!
     
  12. lgbloader

    lgbloader Member

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    Well there you have it. I finally realized why I water drop my boolits. I like the sizzle sound as well...

    LGB
     
  13. saltydog452

    saltydog452 Member

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    Not taking anything away from previous post, but you might want to consider temperature of the liquid lead.

    I don't know about your casting skills/tenhnique/rhythm, etc., but it generally took a while for me, the pot, moulds, to all get on the same page temperature/cadence wise and that resulted in a bunch of culls.

    The sprue and the soon to be culls are hot and, while the metal is expanded and then dumped in bucket of water, the molecular pores of the hot lead, when they contract, trap moisture.

    When you put the fully dried sprue and culls back into the pot, be ready for a possible boil over of the liquid lead as it reacts with the trapped water in the pores of the sprue/culls.

    salty
     
  14. SciFiJim

    SciFiJim Member

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    My sprues are cut onto the work bench before turning to drop the bullets from the mould into the water bucket. Any culls that are water dropped are saved to be remelted from a cold pot and ingots at the start of a new casting session.
     
  15. Larry Burchfield

    Larry Burchfield Member

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    Water hardening

    I go to all the trouble of adding ice to my water bucket and try to keep it fairly cold and then I age my bullets for 30 days to help harden them also.
    This work for me
    Larry Burchfield
    SEABEES/RVN/67/68/69
    DAV
     
  16. dagger dog

    dagger dog Member

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    thodge,

    See if you can get your hands on a Lyman Cast BUllet Handbook, besides being good reading ,it will also explode a lot of on line myths. Then cruise over to the gunloads castboolits web site and you will find even more info on this aspect of the shooting sports hobby.

    If your lead contains enough arsenic they will harden if water is used for quenching. If you use wheel weights as bullet casting material it can be combined with enough tin to form the Lyman #2 alloy, it will harden to about a brinell hardness of 22 if cast at high temp and water quenched and let set to normalize for a spell. When used with a good bullet lubricant and gas checks if needed you can drive them plenty fast with out the problem of leading.
     
  17. Floppy_D

    Floppy_D Member In Memoriam

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    *ploink tsssssss* *ploink tssssssss*
    I love it! I'm gonna heat the pot up this Sunday, just so I can hear it again. :D
     
  18. fecmech

    fecmech Member

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    Why would you want to wait a day to size a water quenched bullet? IMO all that does is increase the sizing effort required on you and your sizer. Size some the same day you cast and size some a day later, you will notice a big difference. If I water drop and can't size the same day I put the bullets in my freezer. That pretty much stops the age hardening for up to a week and they size with the same effort as same day castings.
     
  19. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    "I put the bullets in my freezer." : < ) LOL

    :D What ever floats your boat. :rolleyes:
     
  20. fecmech

    fecmech Member

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    243--You still did not answer my question, why should you wait a day to size??

    You may LOL if you wish but age hardening is accelerated by heat and retarded by cold, you may be unaware of that.

    You will never get an explosion dropping hot bullets into water. Water ON hot lead is no problem, water UNDER hot lead is a big problem!
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2009
  21. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Just info i have pickup up from reliable sources.
     
  22. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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