How many of you cast bullets?
I have been doing it for 50 years! I cast everything from 22-458 cals and every thing in between. I love it. Most of my older molds are Lyman some two cavity, some four. As I get older and weaker I find the LEE bullet molds to be a lot lighter and can cast 6 bullets at a time. I just cast over 2,000 158 SWC's in a Lee mold. As long as you read the instructions and follow the lubrication recommendations you can expect about 25,000 good bullets out of one mold. I have Lyman molds with tons of bullets made, they are very robust but getting too heavy for my aging wrists to hold for hours on end like I used to. The Lyman 20 pound pot I use is pushing 35 years old and it works great. I made a HUGE 20 pound batch of 50/50 bees wax and ALOX 2138F about 35 years ago, I have one three pound coffee can full left. I heat it up on the stove on low heat, melting it. I give it a good stir and pour it into the Lachmiller (now RCBS) Lubrisizer. I get to watch great movies in my gun cave as I size bullets and stack into cigar boxes. I do that with all bullets except 9MM which are too small to fuss with. When doing medical and xray equipment service and sales I got lots of lead from xray machine counterweights. Now in the tire industry I get free lead wheel weights and mix a bit of Linotype to add hardness for rifle bullets. The cost savings even after the equipment investment over jacketed bullets is well worth the effort.
Thank you for your interesting story. Always wanted to but never got into casting. When I was shooting pistol competition I didn't have time for both casting and reloading so I just bought lead bullets.
I've been wanting to. Kind a stuck on how to clean lead and alloy it. I seen folks melt jacketed and see crap floating on that gets scooped up but that doesn't exactly remove antimony or other crap out. Also throwing a knob of bees/paraffin wax as a flux puzzles me. It's sorcery I tells you.
I had to wait until I retired to start casting. Didn't have time before. Great hobby!
I used to do casting for larger, heavier bullets, mostly 45 and 50 caliber. I gave up on it some years ago when the availability of free lead disappeared around here. Linotype is pretty much nonexistant now, and wheel weights are a crap shoot.
Yosh, you do not want to remove antimony from the melt . It is necessary to help harden the lead . Check out cast boolits web site . EVERY thing you need to know is found there.
A flux removes dirt and helps the alloy mix into solution, the alloys bind together and the dirt and dross floats to the top. You can use old candles to flux lighting the vapors to reduce smoke. MARVELUX has apowder flux but I don't like it. It works very well but attracts moisture to your stir spoon and great care must be taken when putting a cold spoon back into the melt. I get 100's of pounds of wheel weights free from work. There is bits of rubber, the metal clips and all sorts of dirt in them. I made a large melt pot from a turkey fryer and a 20 pound propane tank. I engineered a bottom pour spout and use STEEL muffin tins to pour the melted cleaned wheel weights into. You can get a lot of bullets from a three pound coffee can of wheel weights.
The fluxing isn't just someone fluxing around! It actually is supposed to break the surface tension of the lead melt so the alloys can mix in. Thusly it is written in the book of Galena 44-250 KT
My Dad died in 1990, I sure miss him. He worked in the printing industry and even all these years later I still have several hundred pounds of Linotype metal. THANKS DAD! I use straight Lino for rifle bullets and can drive them up to 2,000 FPS with no leading. Too bad the 50/50 ALOX 2138F and Beeswax mix I made 40 years ago is down to one 3 pound coffee can full left. I sure miss the old days of free lead alloys being available everywhere!
Newtire - My background in fluxing comes with jewelry making. In lead all the crap floats when the lead is melted and throwing a lump of wax confounds me. * in sliver by using borax you can push that crap aside. In lead I don't see that with a ball of wax. Now by breaking the liquid lead surface with the ball of was is enough then I'll still call it sorcery.
bpost - Recently I picked up a old copy of G&A where the dude in the article was saying how he uses a printer's furnace to melt the lead (bad image). google can't help me with an image. It just keeps showing me furnaces. Using one?
The old candles work great, toss a chunk in and light off the smoke. Stir, stir and scrape the sides of the pot. All the good stuff will go into solution and all the dirt and junk will float to the top.
My wheel weight cooker is a turkey fryer base and burner I made a few years back. I cut a 20# propane tank off at the curve on both ends. I welded a 1/4" steel plate to the bottom , welding both inside and outside to assure no leaks. On the bottom I drilled a 1/2" hole and made a spout out of 1/2" black iron pipe, welding it all together. On top in a vertical line with the bottom hole I welded a thick nut, I think it is 3/4 or 7/8th size. I used a long bolt that I ground a taper into to act as a seal at the bottom. A 1/4"X 6" rod was welded to the top so I can turn and control the draining. I welded the pot and spout to the turkey fryer to assure a stable base.
It holds a LOT of wheel weights. As it starts to melt, about 10-15 minutes, I start to stir it to get junk to float. I scoop out the metal clips and flux the living snot out of it with old candles. I have a RCBS 20 pound bottom pour lead pot. Using steel muffin tins I can get a lot of bullet lead in a go-fast hurry. The muffin tin sized ingots fit easily into the RCBS pot.
Some things to be aware of. Make sure no water gets into melted lead or the tinsel fairy will burn you badly. There is a lot of rubber junk in with wheel weights so do this outdoors with a slight breeze. Use a hunk of sheet metal to wrap the burner and allow the heat to go where it is needed. It will surprise you how long it takes for a muffin tin full of lead alloy to harden. Picking up several tins at garage sales assures a good supply for your needs. The aluminum tins will work but the get very soft after the first use so I don't mess with them any more.
Say where does scuba weights and fishing weights rank? It's amazing how these weights end up in the pile. I don't even scuba.
Most have some hardness, do the thumb nail test if it glides across with barely a scratch it is pretty hard. If you can easily scratch the surface it is pretty soft. The weights need to resist bumps and impacts from use, dead soft lead is most likely too soft to last long in either application.
I don't wait for ingots to cool. They get set into a large tray and I ,carefully , pour water around them. Its fun and I get a good, exorcism, soundtrack. No burns or fairies from hell.
The state of ct. let a gunshow happen and I scored a newish Lyman 4bay mould handle for $15 cash. I spent hours grinding down a Lee but it didnt hold up. My latest 170 gr Kieth mould is complete and got a work on after looking and seeing a tiny bit of light shine through. Got it hot with the stove and locked down on the vice for a long rest. It looks great now.
I have only been casting my own lead projectiles that I shoot out of sidelock muzzle loaders. Mostly just round balls with a few conicals once in a while. I try to use only pure soft lead but I do have quite a bit of linotype bar\ingots that I may play with and do some blending with the pure stuff to soften my finished projectiles a bit.
I have shot some of the harder lead store bought round balls that are marketed as buck shot in a few of my small bore 32 caliber rifles with good target results. Those tiny .31 cal. balls are a PITA to cast and the buck shot I bought from Midway will last me a lifetime.
I started out with just a cast iron lead pot heated on an old Colman cookstove and dipping with a ladle. Then bought a used Lee 10 Lb. bottom pour melting pot. I had a lot of problems with the bottom pour plugging up and also leaking. Back to the old ways again!