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casting round ball

anderskandersk Member Posts: 3,627 ✭✭
I have purchased all I need for casting round ball. Anybody have any "hot tips" on how to do it right? I'm a total rooky to casting lead!

Comments

  • hillbillehillbille Member Posts: 14,086 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    don't do it barefoot.......once the mold is up to temp, you will get on a roll, the first half dozen you can throw back in the pot to melt again till the mold gets right, then just make them. I use an old pie pan with about a quarter to half inch of water to drop them in, and also an old peice of broomstick to tap the mold open and close with. just remember if you mess up just remelt them and try again.
  • firstharmonicfirstharmonic Member Posts: 1,057 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    What kind of mold did you buy; Aluminum (Lee?) or iron (Lyman/Ideal?).
  • He DogHe Dog Member Posts: 50,935 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Do it outdoors or with huge ventalation.
  • dandak1dandak1 Member Posts: 450 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I cast using aluminum and iron moulds but much prefer the aluminum. You didnt say which you have, nor did you mention bottom pour or ladle method of casting. First is safety...safety glasses, leather gloves, outdoors for ventilation, etc. You really need to read the beginning books on this topic as well as the manufacturers recomendations for their molds regarding lubrication of the pins and degreasing.
    I cast round balls from pure lead. Any mold must be oil free or it will cause problems...degrease the mold. Melt the lead, flux using commercial flux or just throw in a pea size piece of bullet lube. It will smoke and then catch fire. When it burns out stir the mix with your ladle then skim the top of all impurities and start casting. If aluminum blocks you can start keeping round balls after maybe 5 casts, if iron it may take up to 15-20 before the mould is hot enough. I personally dont drop mine in water. Water and molten lead can be catastrophic. I drop mine onto a clean cloth. Really, you will learn fairly fast...this stuff used to be done over a campfire under threat of grizzly or indian attack so you and I with electric pots, thermostats, etc etc are well ahead.... The learning curve is fast. The little "hints" that you read about will come almost naturally to you as you continue casting. For example, I used to strike the sprue plate with a striking stick...but found for soft pure lead my gloved hand works fine and is way faster. I coat all my molds with mold prep compound which greatly stops sticking. Before I had this though I used a wooden match to soot up the cavities...had to re-smoke them maybe every 50 casts. Frosty appearance or small threads where the lead flowed into the vent lines? Too hot of a mold, open the blocks, set them down and with a spoon pick up the round balls and place them in a can. Turn down the lead temp slightly. By now the blocks are cool enogh to cast w/o problems. It will come naturally to you with a little thought. Good luck and keep us posted.
  • andrewsw16andrewsw16 Member Posts: 10,728 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Remember to have fun. Don't get too * about the castings being absolutely perfect. If you are just going to be using them for plinking, you decide just how smooth they need to be. Once your molds get up to temperature and you get a good rhythm going, you'll be able to make a good pile in a short time. I never used gloves since I like to be able to control the mold handles with more sensitivity, but, definitely no nude or barefoot casting. [:D] Splashes sting.
  • anderskandersk Member Posts: 3,627 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Lyman two cavity iron mold ... still getting ready ... kind of apprehensive about hot lead but I'll get over it!
  • andrewsw16andrewsw16 Member Posts: 10,728 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Don't be too worried. Other than a major splash or spill, getting a small bit of lead on you is no big deal. It just stings for a short while. One big suggestion though, WHEN you eventually splash a small amount on your hand, SHAKE it off, don't brush it off. Then just run some cold water over the spot for a minute or two and get back to work. [:D]
  • GatofeoGatofeo Member Posts: 230 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Keep any and all water away from the molten lead: drinks, sweat, sprinkler, rain, etc.
    When water hits molten lead, it often goes into the molten lead and is instantly converted to steam. The steam expands instantly and sprays molten lead all over the place.
    Buy a total face shield, even if you wear glasses. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, full length pants, leather shoes (canvas or polyester melt if you splash lead on them, burning your foot), and gloves.
    Don't have a shelf above the pot from which anything can fall into it.
    Cast outdoors with plenty of ventilation.
    Don't let the neighbors observe you, or the Political Correctness Police will be all over your keister for poisoning the environment! In the space of one generation, lead has gone from being a useful metal to a deadly poison that will creep into your children and slay their brain cells overnight.
    Of course, MTV's been doing that for years but that doesn't count.
    Lead is toxic, but not deadly. Avoid transferring it from your hands to your mouth or nose, the membranous areas.
    Wearing gloves will prevent this, as well as protect you from heat.

    Realize that your first bullets will be wrinkled until the mould reaches the right temperature. Just keep casting. Don't stop to admire what you've done, or you'll heat from the mould.

    Let the bullets drop on a soft, heat-resistant surface: some old jeans, cotton pillow case folded into layers, etc. Definitely not something like foam rubber or polyester.

    You'll need to cast balls of pure lead. Dead soft lead. Wheelweights are too hard, so don't consider them. Plumbing lead is dead-soft, or you can order pure lead from various companies on the net. A plumbing supply store may have it.

    Have fun. The first casting is full of mystery but don't let it frustrate you. After a few minutes, when you start producing shiny balls without a wrinkle, you'll be hooked!
  • andrewsw16andrewsw16 Member Posts: 10,728 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Just a minor disagreement on the lead hardness. If you are casting round lead balls with the intention of loading them with cloth patches, don't worry about the hardness. Hard or soft will both do fine. It is the patch that seals in the gases and engages the rifling, not the lead. On the other hand, if you are casting minie balls, which are actually hollow based conical bullets, the softer the better. You want the skirt to flare out under pressure and engage the rifling and seal the gases in.
    Have fun. [:D]
  • GatofeoGatofeo Member Posts: 230 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Alas, I must respectfully disagree with you Andrewsw16.
    While the patch is the seal between the bore and ball, the soft lead ball does get impressed slightly by the lands (high spots) of the rifling, through the patch.
    This is verified by seating a patched ball, not firing it, then removing it. In a proper fit, you'll see light impressions of the cloth on the lead ball, before it is fired.
    The impressions are more obvious on fired balls because the soft lead ball "bumps up" from the pressure of the gunpowder's gases behind it, being slightly pushed into the grooves of the rifling.
    A hard ball will work, but it's more difficult to seat even within the patch. And it won't be as accurate because it won't "bump up" as readily to fill the grooves.
    I learned this lesson years ago, when I experimentally cast some .490 balls of Linotype. Even in the lubricated patch they were much harder to push down the bore.
    Not as accurate, either. My CVA Mountain Rifle will easily deliver 1-1/2" groups at 50 yards from a benchrest with soft lead balls. With these Linotype balls, I was getting groups between 4 and 6 inches.
    Soft lead balls, even in the patch, has some "give" to them and will go down the bore with less resistance.

    But Andrewsw16 is right about using very soft lead for hollow-based conical bullets.

    My counsel: Use pure lead, or very soft lead. If you can't dent it with your thumbnail, it's too hard.
  • bambambambambambam Member Posts: 4,813 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by Gatofeo
    Alas, I must respectfully disagree with you Andrewsw16.
    While the patch is the seal between the bore and ball, the soft lead ball does get impressed slightly by the lands (high spots) of the rifling, through the patch.
    This is verified by seating a patched ball, not firing it, then removing it. In a proper fit, you'll see light impressions of the cloth on the lead ball, before it is fired.
    The impressions are more obvious on fired balls because the soft lead ball "bumps up" from the pressure of the gunpowder's gases behind it, being slightly pushed into the grooves of the rifling.
    A hard ball will work, but it's more difficult to seat even within the patch. And it won't be as accurate because it won't "bump up" as readily to fill the grooves.
    I learned this lesson years ago, when I experimentally cast some .490 balls of Linotype. Even in the lubricated patch they were much harder to push down the bore.
    Not as accurate, either. My CVA Mountain Rifle will easily deliver 1-1/2" groups at 50 yards from a benchrest with soft lead balls. With these Linotype balls, I was getting groups between 4 and 6 inches.
    Soft lead balls, even in the patch, has some "give" to them and will go down the bore with less resistance.

    But Andrewsw16 is right about using very soft lead for hollow-based conical bullets.

    My counsel: Use pure lead, or very soft lead. If you can't dent it with your thumbnail, it's too hard.


    IMHO,the lead catches .001"-.002"(~same as a human hair) all the way around on the barrel rifling. Not much, but enough to say it does.
  • andrewsw16andrewsw16 Member Posts: 10,728 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Perhaps you are using roundballs cast just a bit larger than what I use. The ones I use in my Kentucky and Hawken rifles do not catch the lands at all without a patch. If I do not use a patch, the round ball free falls the length of the barrel. Logically, that means my round balls are not engaging the lands. But, with a patch, the round ball has a nice tight fit and provides excellent accuracy. I can only assume from that, that it is the cloth patch engaging the rifling and not the lead. Yes, if you pull the ball before firing or can find one after firing, you will see impressions on the ball, but those are caused by the compression of the lands on the cloth and from the cloth into the lead. Actually, the best way to find what works in YOUR particular gun is to try a soft, a medium, and a hard cast ball. Each gun I've ever owned seemed to have it's own favorite. In mine, the snugness (is that even a real word?) of the patch affects accuracy much more than the alloy of the ball. Best of luck in your shooting. [:D]
  • bambambambambambam Member Posts: 4,813 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    The lead I shoot is soft. And no round ball is perfectly round. The tight patches will have places that the lands press the patch into the ball and displace a VERY small(.001-.002) amount of lead. My patches are normally ~.010 w/ ~.490 balls. Sometimes I use .015 patches and they are tight!

    I was agreeing with you, but providing example of the RARE times the rule doesn't apply.

    .490 in a .500 bore almost always will never get a ball to touch the barrel unless you have out of round balls or realy tight patches.

    My gun, as well, doesn't like tight patches, favoring the thinner ones.

    I'm going to try those new full caliber bullets from Hornady. They look like a Power Belt bullet. They dont have a plastic base, its all one piece bullet with hollow base. Like a maxi or mini ball.(can't remember which)
    http://www.hornady.com/store/50-Cal-300-gr-FPB/
  • fishkiller41fishkiller41 Member Posts: 50,608
    edited November -1
    "Season" your molds with "PAM" cooking spray an heat few times befor U actually start pouring lead.[;)]
  • v35v35 Member Posts: 12,710 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Center the sprue upwards.
    Have a good thickness of folded cloth to drop your balls onto as they are very soft and will deform if not well cushioned.
    Use very hard, high thread count material for patches. Denim, mattress ticking, linen, drapery material will make an accuracy difference.
    Make a short starter with about 1/2" nub to start your greased patch load into the rifling before using the ramrod.
    A wooden mallet isn't a bad idea.
  • anderskandersk Member Posts: 3,627 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I'm getting the knack of casting my own round ball. I've done it about ten times now. But I must say that I seem to have much less problems with my Lyman .495 mold than I do with my Lee .490 mold.

    Which brand works best for you?

    Any good hints on succeeding with the Lee aluminum mold?
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