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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All

My son bought me a bullet casting electric melting pot/device and a couple of molds for my 45 70 an 45LC last week for my 50th b'day. It is something i have been thinking about getting into for ages but havent known anyone who has done it before.
I am not new to loading or bullets and load for more than 10 calibers already and have done so for may years, but i have always used store bought lead bullets. I guess its time i dipped my toe in the water and give it a bash, but i am a bit confused about a few things..
Firstly, i believe the lead fumes are quite toxic, so i guess i can get a mask of sorts or if its done in a large well ventilated area is that good enough ? Secondly, i hear all the time that lead wheel weights are a good source of lead stock so does one just approach a friendly tyre operation and ask them for the scrap lead wheel weights - do gunshops sell lead, or is it something one orders from a special source?
I am sure there are quite a few tips and tricks i will have to learn the hard way, and i suppose there must be an idiots guide to casting available somewhere .... Any good advice from those that currently cast their own ? I dont think it can be too hard is it ? I reckon it must be very satisfying to shoot your own...

Thanks for all those that share some wisdom on this with a first timer...

Cheers
Lad
 

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A well ventilated area with a draft or outdoors is plenty safe. A mask is overdoing it.

Most use wheelweights and other scrap.

There's a lot of advice to give. How about some specific questions to answer what's on your mind?

It's a bit of an art, but it's not difficult.
 

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You do not vaporize lead you melt it. So the fumes are not as toxic as you think. Wash your hands well and lead is not a problem. The thing that is the biggest hazard is burns.
 

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Not to take away from this forum but Cast boolits is a great source of information for casting. Open air and a fan, no need for a mask. Wheel weights are the ideal but there are many other options.
 

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Forgot to add, when casting, one of the best benefits is that when you screw up , you just throw it back in the pot:biggrin:
 

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I agree with not wearing a mask if you have a well ventilated area. I do wear one when smelting dirty WW just because I don't know what's in them. They are usually greasy and covered with lord knows what because I don't bother washing them like some folks do. I don't worry about it when casting with clean lead.
 

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Get the Lyman cast bullet manual. Good instructions and load data. Or the Lee manual. Burns are the the biggest hazard. Make sure your lead pot is stable so it can't tip. And don't let any water get in melted lead. Bullet casting has been my favorite hobby for over 30 years and I'm not tied to what is on the shelves at the local gun shop.
 

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Been casting a long time now but was able to make good bullets from the very first day. Just do your homework and pay attention to the details and you'll do just fine.

Keith
 

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I second the Lyman manual. Also youtube can help you visualize the process. Read the how to section in the Lyman manual and then give it a try.
 

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Casting is not complicated and need not be equipment intense. You have the basic elements at hand, a means of melting and moulds for the melt. Plus one on ensuring the pot is stable and on a surface that can sustain molten metal should you dribble (you will). PLUS MANY on the warning regarding moisture in molten lead, particularly hidden moisture as in washed scrap. Don't was the scrap and if it is wet, put it in an empty pot then introduce heat to boil off the moisture before it can explode. Good luck and enjoy.
 

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YES, keep moisture away! Look for the unlikely source. My worst scare came from condensation off a range hood while casting in winter in Wyoming. Exploded that pot all over the kitchen. Miraculously, the kids and I were untouched. We lived in an uninsulated mobile home way back then and that one water drop came from out of nowhere. I was using an electric pot (LYMAN) on top of our stove so I could use the range hood for ventilation. Sounds good, right? IF the wall had been insulated, it would have worked. After we cleaned the mess, I redid the kitchen, including insulating and sheetrocking the exterior walls.

Get the Lyman Cast Handbook, regardless of what other manuals you get. It is like the bible of casting. Answers questions you haven't thought of yet. Good luck. Complicated? Not as hard as finding ammo during a shortage.....

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Do the bullet molds need any type of lubricating to stop the lead from sticking to the mold or are they mostly of a non stick type of construction ?
 

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No. Some people like to smoke their molds with candle/match, others use commercial mold release agents. I've never had anything stick too much as long as things were kept hot, whether with steel or aluminum molds, single, double cavity or gang. Sometimes it takes an extra tap with whatever you use to pop the sprue plate open, but not much. If water quenching, don't drop too far and splash back into your pot. Gloves, long sleeves, eye protection, a little foreknowledge (Manuals and here), concentration and common sense, you'll be crankin em out in five minutes from first pour. Well, maybe ten...it just ain't that hard. On the other hand, one can get as deeply intricately involved in the technicalities to warrant affliction akin to Marlinitis. See Cast Boolits, but don't say we never warned ya, cuz after you cast em then you get to lube and size em and match em up with a charge and bore diameter and OAL and crimp and...but you know that part already. Pardon my digression.

I do most all my casting in the fall after it's cooled down some but not yet too cold, or similarly in the spring. I'll get three or four molds going at once, depending on the ambient temperature, wind chill, all that, idea being a mold is cooling while the next is being filled...develop a rhythm, a couple five or six cavity molds and a couple double cavities, on a good day, I can pretty much make enough to last six months or so for the most used bullet styles in just a couple, three or four hours.

My first cast bullets decades ago were .490 round balls for a Hawken rifle. Got lead from an old mountain man down the road for $0.25/lb in five pound chunks. Chopped pieces of it off with an axe, melted it in a steel frying pan on a gas stove in the kitchen. He also sold me powder for fifty cents a pound...course, nearly 1F brown stuff he claimed he'd salvaged from surplus black powder 45-70 shells. Said it was brown on account of the horse urine used in the manufacturing process. Killed my first deer with that rifle, 70 grains of that powder and two of those balls patched one atop the other.

I wonder how many other current/past bullet casters started with a muzzle loader...
 

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You will have either a melting pot for use with a dipper or a bottom pour valve pot. The later has a handle or lever of sorts on the side to open the bottom valve. The basis pots require a dipper to be used to transfer molten lead to your mold. It is not impossible to use an old spoon (stainless) for the purpose but controlling the pour will be difficult. You need a large stainless spoon nevertheless to skim off the dross after fluxing (more later) Yes, start with the tyre shops and use wheel weights. They are alloyed with antimony and other stuff to make them harder than pure lead. The steel clips on the whel weights will float to the top and are skimmed off with the aforementioned spoon. After removing the big chunks floating on the top, you need to reduce the surface tension of the metal to help it give up more impurities. A small bit of wax or bullet lube will do the trick. 1/2 cc is plenty. approximate. added to the top of the pot, the wax will melt then smoke and depending upon the metal temperature may burst into flame. You can light the smoke to reduce the stink as you stir your fluxed pot. Here is where a long handle on that spoon is beneficial. As the flames can burn the hair off your hand. Skim off the grey scum and dirt on the surface to expose bright molten lead. A this point the metal is ready to pour into the mold. But is the mold ready? Clean your new mold with some brake cleaner spray or such to remove oil. Oil will cause wrinkled bullets. Read the lube instructions for an Aluminum Lee mold and follow them. for other brands of molds, using them dry or with a light coating of soot from a match. A cold mold will not fill correctly and it may take several dozen fillings to get things up to temperature. A thermometer is nice but you will probably just use the dial adjustment and find a point between solidification and rapid oxidation of the surface material indicated by the appearance of colored oxides gold, purple... Frosted bullets tell you the mold and metal are on the hot side. The books tell you to cool down a hot mold with a damp towel. I plunge mine in a bucket of water with the bullet still inside and withdraw it quickly and let it dry. Some will cringe at this idea but I get away with it. But you must let the mold dry off completely before you think about filling it again. You were warned about moisture by others. I'm going to repeat the warning. Water exposed to molten lead becomes steam with such rapidity that it will seem like an explosion. You want to wear safety glass because of this. Screw the mask, get safety glasses. You will be surprised at how little water on one of those wheel weights it takes to make them spit at you. Over fill the mold with metal so that you form a little button of metal on top of the sprue plate. Once you pour metal into the mold, wait until the top frosts over, before tapping the sprue plate to cut off the sprue. Use wood or plastic to tap the sprue plate. I use a small plastic hammer but a wooden dowel 25 mm in diameter works. A metal hammer will damage the sprue plate. Open the mold and let the bullet fall out onto a terry cloth towel. If the bullet stays in one half of the mold, tap the hinge screw with your wooden or plastic sprue plate persuader. Inspect them when they cool and lubricate and size them. That is a separate topic but just ask if you need help with that aspect. Hope this helps.
 

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go here:
Cast Boolits
read the stickies
Then get a paper copy of the Lyman manual.

Oz is a pretty big place but maybe you can locate another gun nut who is already into casting that can show you the basics.
To quote a signature line from someone on the Castboolits forum, "It's not rocket science, it's boolit science".
Bullet casting is not extremely difficult and it is a fun addition to our reloading hobby.
..
 

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A basic thing that will solve a couple of potential issues: preheat any ingots in a suitable vessel (I use an old cast iron pan) over a hot plate at just under melting temp. This will ensure that the metal will be dry before adding to the pot, and it will lessen the time it will take the pot to get back to casting temperature when it's added to the melt.
 

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El Kabong
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SLUG YOUR BORE

Before you even think about casting, know the size you need to end up with.
Having a mold is easy, making it so you can size them properly is the fun part.

Pan lubing has been done form 100s of years, you do not need a $180 machine to lube them for you.
 
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