Made 300# or ingots for casting bullets today

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by forrest r, Aug 8, 2021.

  1. forrest r

    forrest r member

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    Been wanting to do a large batch of #2 alloy for casting rifle bullets. I've been doing small batches (18#/20#) of 14bhn alloy (91/4.5/4.5) and #2 alloy (95/5/5) at a time. A large batch will allow me to cast a more consistent bullet not only from casting session to casting session, from mold to different mold.

    Having the same elasticity and malleability from an alloy with different bullet designs is huge when trying to identify issues with bullet failure.

    So I did up a 100# batch of #2 alloy to cast rifle bullets with. While I was at it I made 200#+ of range scrap ingots to feed the pistols and revolvers.
    OiVSKNX.jpg

    A lot of pulls of the trigger are in those ingots.
     
  2. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    Huge batches of good alloy is definitely a win. I dont have a way to melt over 30 pounds currently and even making that big of a batch can get expensive depending on where you start. My current reserve is rmr scrap made Ito ingots which averaged around 8.5 bun. I use that currently for 45 and 38. When I want 357 I add superhard until I'm in the 11 range. Havent cast rifle yet but based on it being more demanding your efforts make a lot of sense to me.
     
  3. Hooda Thunkit

    Hooda Thunkit Member

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    A large batch is absolutely the way to maintain consistent alloy. I see some folks mixing alloy by the pot full, 10 or 15 pounds at a time, but it makes more sense to do a big batch.

    I recently mixed up 50 pounds of #2 alloy (90-5-5), and sent it off to be analyzed. It came back what I wanted, so now I just need to try it out. I've been shooting straight CWW for so long it's hard to change.

    ETA: When first starting casting, I was surprised to find out how much I enjoyed just rendering scrap and making ingots.

    Melting stuff is fun!
     
  4. bluejay75

    bluejay75 Member

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    How did you determine your mix? It always feels like I’m just guessing at the formula. The only thing I actually are my 60/40 tin:lead solder usually ended in something near 15:1.
     
  5. WiTom

    WiTom Member

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    I have quite a bit to melt down, but it's just too hot for me right now. Going to wait the fall. Good job,.
     
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  6. jebova2301

    jebova2301 Member

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    Same here. Have about 400 pounds of scrap that needs melted, but this 95 degree weather along with 85+% humidity just makes it too unbearable.
     
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  7. forrest r

    forrest r member

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    That's just really don't know that's why I made a big batch.

    Was give +/- 60# of 50/50 tin/lead sticks from a retired plumber that I helped for years. Tin plays a huge role in making alloy along with getting antimony to combine with lead lead.

    I always go 1/2 % higher on the tin just to make sure everything alloys out. A good way to tell if your alloy is tin poor is when it's clean/fluxed you skin a lot of shinny dross out of the pot when melting ingots to cast bullets with. The shiny dross is mainly antimony.

    I use pure lead and mono-type to make my #2 alloy. If the mono-type isn't depleted my alloy will be correct. The extra 1/2% tin makes sure everything stays in the alloy along with adding to the mix. Antimony is there to make the alloy hard, big deal. The real strength of the alloy is in the tin, elasticity of the alloy.

    Mono-type is 9% tin 19% antimony 72% lead. Using a 4 to 1 formula (4 parts lead to 1 part mono-type) I end up with +/- 4.75% antimony 4.25% tin. I add 2# of 50/50 lead/tin and 1# of mono-type and call it good.

    This is the lead alloy calculator I use to help figure out what my alloy's are
    https://castboolits.gunloads.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=45784&d=1341560870

    Well worth playing with!!!

    At the end of the day a rock hard alloy means nothing, elasticity and malleability of an alloy is the goose's golden egg.
     
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  8. forrest r

    forrest r member

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    Ya it was on the hot side the day I made these ingots, 90* and +/- 95% humidity. Was also windy so I put my setup in the shed and left the door open. The setup is a cut in 1/2 propane tank that holds up to 200# of range scrap & a propane turkey fryer stand. Was 117* in the shed, needless to say it was iced down beverages and sweat equity that day.
     
  9. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    Do you water quench?
    I've not tested it, but word is that hardens it up a bit.
     
  10. kcofohio
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    kcofohio Contributing Member

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    @forrest r , you're fortunate for the gift of 50/50. Tin prices has skyrocketed in this last year or so. :thumbup:
     
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  11. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    I started when I tried to size the day after casting and ruined a bunch of bullets. I also quench after powder coat mostly to cool them off, but to regain hardness if possible.
     
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  12. lightman

    lightman Member

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    That was a good days work. Even though it was hot you have a nice pile of ingots to show for the work. I also like to do larger batches. My pot and burner will handle 400# but stopping at 350-370# leaves enough room for me to scrape and stir aggressively. Wheelweights have been my go-to alloy for several decades and thats one reason that I hand sort my weights. I just don't want to chance getting unwanted Zinc in a batch that large.

    I save my years accumulation of scrap and a buddy and I will get together after hunting season and help each other using my shop and burner. Word usually gets around and we'll have a few different guys stop by to visit while we are working. Like Hooda Thunkit, I enjoy melting the stuff! Heck, I even enjoy the sorting.

    As a coincidence I just came in from sitting in the shop door and sorting through a bucket of weights while I sipped on an adult beverage. I'll get up early in the morning and stop by the donut shop for some fresh hot donuts and be at the tire store when they open.
     
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  13. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    Just weighed some samples of my cast bullets and know exactly why the big batch is a good idea. One lot is 155.0+1 for the 20 I checked and the other lot was 152+1. The white lot has 3/4 of a bar of superhard so they must be bhn 15 or 16 where my last lot was 11. Still a baby in this game so I'll get it figured in the next decade or so.... :)
     
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  14. lightman

    lightman Member

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    From your weighed samples I would say that you caught on pretty fast. Casting is a learned skill and doing it is how you learn. I made some ugly bullets when I first started.
     
  15. GoldieMI
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    GoldieMI Contributing Member

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    I still make some ugly bullets, just dump them back into the pot for another try is all lol.
     
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  16. jebova2301

    jebova2301 Member

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    If you don't mind me asking, what kind of pot and burner do you have that can hold that much? I'm currently doing mine in a cheapo cast iron skillet over a turkey fryer, and the skillet can only hold about 70 pounds at a go.
     
  17. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    It depends on the exact alloy, but water quenched wheel weights usually come out somewhere around 18-22 BHN - much harder than air cooled. The closer the alloy is to pure lead, the less hardening you will get, which is something to consider with the prevalence of pure lead stick-on weights these days.

    One complication is that water-hardened lead alloys tend to "drift" over time, so if you cast up a bunch to have on hand, the ones you shoot a couple of years from now might not behave the same as the ones you shot today.
     
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  18. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    ^^^ That certainly makes sense.
     
  19. lightman

    lightman Member

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    My burner is a homemade jet burner. Basically a steel frame with a burner under it. The burner is a piece of 1/2" pipe with a tiny hole drilled in it with a piece of 1-1/4" pipe welded over it for a chimney. It resembles the head on a weed burner without the handle.

    The pot was given to me years ago. It was a valve cover from a high pressure railroad tank car. It looks like the valve covers that you see on bulk propane tanks only much heavier. I cut the hinges and hasp off of it and welded on a pair of handles to help move it.

    I can melt a pot full of wheelweights or range scrap in about 20 minutes. To get 375-400 pounds in it I have to fill it with the weights piled up so high that you can't get anymore in it and then skim off the clips once it melts, turn it off to let the lead harden and then add enough to pile it up again. I won't add cold lead to molten lead. Oh yeah, its very loud when its turned up!
     
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