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Simple Casting Set-up

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by WiskyT, Feb 6, 2010.

  1. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

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    A simple casting arrangement. I'm not sure if the pics are going to show up.

    I cast on my tailgate. I made this pile of 358477's, a "150" grain SWC from a two cavity Lyman mold. They weigh 155 grains with my ghetto lead from the backstop trap at our indoor range. They alloy is very high in lead content and is soft and heavy. I don't know what the mix is, but it is harder than swaged Hornady bullets and softer than wheel weights. I tumble lube them with liquid alox and have no problem with 7.0 of Unique in 357 Mag or 14.7 of 2400 in the same cartridge. They shoot great with small amounts of Bullseye in 38 or a max 38+P load of Unique for a cheap copy of the FBI load.

    Anyhoo, I weighed the pile and it's seven pounds which works out to 320 bullets or so. Setting up letting things melt/heat up takes about 1/2 hour but you can go inside and watch TV during that. I duck out and check on things as it warms up just to make sure there is no fire or river of lead running out of the pot.

    It take 1/2 hour for everything to cool and be put away, again you can do something else like eat lunch while this is going on. You can even go to the store etc while it's all cooling down since nothing is plugged in and the lead is solidified in the pot within a few minutes.

    It took one hour of actual casting to make the 320 bullets. A six cavity Lee is much faster. It makes three times the bullets per cast and the aluminum molds let the bullets solidify almost instantly on a cool day. If I can keep the pot full of hot enough lead, I can cast 1000 bullets in the same time with the six cavity. Generally speaking, the Lee 10# pot I use is a weak link with the six cavity mold. It empties out rather quickly and I have to wait while it gets back up to temp after adding lead.

    So what you see is the Lee 10# pot empty, surrounded by the Lyman mold on Lee handles and the bullets. The Lee ladle isn't much good for casting, but it's just right for fluxing the small Lee pot. A teaspoon from Jack's favorite diner would work, but it has no wooden handle.

    I flux with sawdust. Put it on top of the lead while it's melting. Once all is melted, stir the smoldering sawdust through the melt and let the ashes float on top. They keep the air off of the melted lead and prevent oxidations. It's a bottom pour pot so clean lead out the bottom spout and ash/crud etc left on top doesn't interfere with anything.

    I ran the "10#" pot from being filled to the tippy top to where there was just about and inch left and got 7# of bullets. I don't think that last inch weighed three pounds. I don't run the pot empty because there is no point in running all of the crud through the pour valve.

    Once I was done casting, I set up my hotplate with a 3qt stainless steel sauce pan. It's typical Farberware that got ruined when some baby bottle parts got boiled until the smoke alarm went off. Don't use aluminum EVER. Stainless steel, regular steel, cast iron all good, aluminum bad.

    So a 3qt pot crowned up with range scrap and left to cook for 20 minutes. I then stir the melt and all of the jackets and whatever else floats to the top. I skim it off in with a slotted spoon and put the garbage in my loaf pan. The loaf pan doubles as a sprew catcher.

    So after the 20 minutes I have an empty Lee pot and about four inches of melted lead in the saucepan. I carefully refill the Lee pot with the saucepan and that leaves a small amount left in the saucepan. If there is a significant amount left, I pour a few ingots.

    Then I shut everything off and let it all cool down on the concrete floor. I'm left with a full Lee pot for next time, and empty saucepan for my next trip to the range, 320 bullets, and about 5 minutes worth of putting everything away. The scrap jackets get trashed the next day when I'm sure they are cool enough. The scrap yard close by wouldn't take them for free and told me no one else would either due to the variety of different metal in them scrap.

    The screwdriver is used to cut the sprew and to turn the valve stem to keep the drips to a minimum. I keep the ingot mold under the spout to catch drips and any spillage I get when filling the mold.

    The tailgate works great and folds up when done. I back the truck up to the garage and I have plenty of ventilation, overhead cover, lighting if needed, and satellite radio.

    ETA: The pics showed up. Just to clarify, you are looking at the scrap lead as it is just starting to melt. I haven't removed the jackets yet. The crud in the loaf pan is the ash from the sawdust that was in the Lee pot. I skim it off when done casting and pour the new lead right into the pot.
     

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    Last edited: Feb 6, 2010
  2. BK63

    BK63

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    Nice boolits. I'm still thinking about getting into casting.
     

  3. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

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    The more I look at the pic, the more I want to point out. The cardboard is to protect the tailgate from splatters, which WILL happen. Plywood, sheetrock, towels etc work great. The towle is to drop the still soft bullets on. I drop them on the middle of the towel. When the area gets full, I lift the right side of the towel to move them to the left, they are still too hot to touch.

    Sometimes you will mess up filling a cavity and you're not sure if the bullet will be good. Clear the landing area of known good bullets, drop the suspect ones and examine them. If they are good, leave them. If they are no good, it's easy to use a spoon to get them out of there and into the sprew catcher.
     
  4. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

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    What! No TV with satellite hook-up... how can you work in such primitive conditions? Barbarian. :poke:

    Jack
     
  5. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

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    The Sat TV is inside. The Domestic Tranquility clause of my pre-nup prohibits the the removal of the TV outdoors, or the casting of bullets in the lving room or bedroom. I do have an old desktop with wireless internet in the loading bunker so I can watch the Rockford Files on Hulu while loading.

    In order to save Jack's liver, I used my email program to cleanup my atrocius grammer, spelling and typing. In the process of cutting and pasting, it got all messed up. It should be fine by now, sorry for any confusion.
     
  6. fredj338

    fredj338

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    WEll done WT. It's been raining here all day. I should have been out in the garage casting too. I have no 45-70 to shoot.:crying: If you are going to use that 6cav much, you really need to get the 20# pot, especially if you jump to 45s.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2010
  7. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

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    Fred, I have a plan to make the 10# keep up. I'm going to keep the 3qt running on the hotpot so I have hot lead to keep ladling into the Lee as I go. I'll empty the sprew box into the saucepan as well. That should do it. I have lots of ingots standing by to put in the saucepan if the single load of scrap it holds runs out.

    Of course if the 10# ever croaks, I'll replace it with a 20 pounder.

    I think I'm going to get a Lee 6 cavity in 9mm to use for 9mm and to see how it works in 38/357. I like the Lyman mold enough, but it's a little tedious knowing I could have 1,000 bullets for the same amount of set up, casting, and tear down. Lee has a 125TC that looks like it could do double duty.
     
  8. Bob2223

    Bob2223 Jack's buddy!

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    Good lookin boolets! :thumbsup:

    When using the 6 cavity moulds even a 20 lb pot goes pretty quick.
    Having the other pan and burner ready would be a good back up for a 10 or 20 lb pot.


    Bob