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Bullet Casting

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Author Topic: Bullet Casting  (Read 3685 times)
Navy Six
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Posts: 92

Only Blackpowder Is Interesting


« on: November 19, 2015, 03:36:13 PM »

I enjoy bullet casting. Started doing it when I discovered apparently no one offered commercial lead bullets for some of the more obscure(to them at least) Old West calbers. I've had about 20 years experience. I'm certainly no expert, but I've tried to educate myself as much as possible over this time.
A recent experience had me scratching my head and laughing at the same time.
 I purchased a multiple cavity mold(in 38-40 and 44-40) from a mold maker of outstanding reputation. They were beautifully done. I began to cast with these molds using the ladle pour method, something I've done many times before with other molds. I tried every trick I knew(metal temp., smoking the mold,pouring height & rapidity, etc), but after several hours and several hundred bullets, both molds were giving me a rejection rate of nearly 50% which is way too high.  gaah About a week later I tried casting with the same two molds but this time I used my bottom pour pot. What a difference! Nearly every single bullet was good. I was using the same lead mixture,fluxing,temp. etc. I have never experienced such a disparity of success before. Luckily I had both types of casting furnaces, which allowed me to find the method which worked best for ME USING THAT PARTICULAR MOLD.
I'm not trying to scare anyone away from bullet casting, as I said I actually enjoy it. A little tiring, but results bring a great deal of satisfaction. I still don't know what factors caused my initial lack of success, but it had nothing to do with the quality of the mold. So I saved myself the embarrassment of blaming the mold maker! cowboy
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Wild Wilkie
Sr. Member
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Posts: 316


Long Time Cowboy Wild Wilkie


« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2015, 07:01:30 AM »

Are there contaminates in your lead that float to the top of the ladle?  Maybe the purest lead sank to the bottom.  I have only cast some .36 Cal round ball years ago and don't know much about the process. I did take a few chemistry courses, and once I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.  What kind of defects were you experiencing?  Wrinkles, Porosity, etc.  That could be due to gasses forming from contamination.  I am sure you heat the mold so that the lead does not cool too quickly.

Wilkie
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Navy Six
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Posts: 92

Only Blackpowder Is Interesting


« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2015, 12:49:32 PM »

Wild Wilkie, thanks for the suggestion about the contaminates floating at the top of the ladle. I was using a Rowell one pound bottom pour ladle so the lead was coming from the bottom. Beautifully simple solution to the problem.
Most of the defects were bases which were rounded and/or not completely filled out. I've usually heard this is due to: 1) temp. of lead or mold too low, 2) rate of pour too slow, or 3)rate of pour too fast which doesn't allow trapped air to escape. Since the base is usually considered a critical component of an accurate bullet, I needed to solve this problem. Of course lead contaminates can always be a problem. I pick up my lead where ever I can. My scientific "test" is to scratch the lead with my thumb nail to see if it soft enough for my Blackpowder loads. God only knows whats really in it. I will add a little tin if the bullets are to be used in cartridges. Tin helps the mixture to flow better and fill out the mold but that is what I was using in this case.
Since I do this for fun to keep me Cowboy shooting, I have the luxury of time to experiment which a commercial caster doesn't have. Next time I cast, I'll just throw the bad ones back in the pot. By the way, I stayed in that same Holiday Inn Express. cowboy
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StrawHat
Full Member
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Posts: 206


« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2015, 05:36:21 AM »

...Most of the defects were bases which were rounded and/or not completely filled out...

When I have a mold that refuses to give me good fill out on the bases, I take a fine fine and make one pass along the top seam of the mold to provide an outlet for the air to escape while the lead comes into the cavity.  Right where the seam of the mold and the sprue plate meet.  One pass on each mold half, roughly 45 degrees.  If this doesn't work for you, there are a couple more tricks I can suggest.

Kevin
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Knowledge should be shared, not hoarded.

Knowledge I take to my grave, is wasted.

I prefer to use cartridges designed before my Father was born!
Navy Six
*
Posts: 92

Only Blackpowder Is Interesting


« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2015, 06:38:46 AM »

Thanks for the suggestion, Strawhat. I've heard of that before but have been too "chicken" to try it. At least not yet. As I cast outdoors and the weather has stared to turn here in the northeast part of the country, I don't know if I have any "casting weather" left this year. Fortunately I have a nice "pile" of completed cast bullets all ready to be loaded for next season. guns
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