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Thread: A newbie casts his first boolits!

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    Talking A newbie casts his first boolits!

    So last spring I started gathering up wheel weights, this summer I smelted them down into lead muffins and ordered casting equipment. It all finally showed up a few days before I went sheep hunting, then back to work for a week, sick for a week, off moose hunting for a week then back to life, etc, etc...... Well I finally got a chance to try out my new stuff and cast some boolits. After getting setup, melting down 8 2lb muffins, messing with the heat, a mold not hot enough, etc. I finally started dropping some booits. I ended up with over 300 255gr .452 boolits and about 40 or so what figured are rejects. A guy I work with who casts looked at those and said he would shoot all but a couple of them. Anyway, what fun it is to end up with nice shiny projectiles from of all things... wheel weights!

    Things I learned.

    At first I was dropping the lead into each cavity one at a time (up down with the handle) like in the pic. Then I realized I could just do a steady stream and fill em all up. Once I got the melt and mould up to temp I had a pretty good rhythm going.

    I need to redo my water drop system, I think some of my rejects are from hitting other bullets in the water. I'll do it different next go around.

    I need some good sprue plate lube. I used a little parafin wax that I use for fluxing.

    I think I need to get a thermometer to take the guesswork out of the melt temp and the mold needs to be up to a good temp as well.

    I'm also wondering about cooling the sprue plate a little on a wet rag just before cutting the sprue.

    Here's some pics of my first go round...


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    Default Ahhh... nice little silvery nuggets!

    The closeup pics make them look sort of rough but they are smooth. The lighting reflected quite a bit. I weighed a few of them and they come in at 255-256gr. Now for the next step. Size and a lube job. I'll just try the Lee Alox on these. Maybe try some pan lube on a future batch. I measured a couple and it looks like they are dropping at .452. I'll size them anyway.


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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    RIGHT ON SNYD!!!


    You know i was just wondering about that the other day... as i was packing my dutch oven and the wife asked where my big one was

    all is good i can't wait to hear how they shoot up and react to it..
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

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    Ya, thanks again Vince for the smelting pot! See the pile of lead muffins that have come out of that oven About 400 lbs so far! When I start casting 44's I'll let you know. I've got a mould for some 200gr .429ers. Should be good plinkin boolits like these 255ers for the 45 Colt.


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    Default Hardness test

    Snyd,

    Looks like some great work! Have you done a hardness test on them yet?

    What charge are you planning on pushing them with? Plincking/traget use only or any hunting self-defense intent?

    Ralph

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    "I'm also wondering about cooling the sprue plate a little on a wet rag just before cutting the sprue."

    I wouldn't do that. Can't say for sure that there's a chance of warping from the sudden cooling, but I can say this: Once you warp a sprue plate, you're going to be buying a new one. What a PITA!!

    What makes you want to cool it in the first place?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    "I'm also wondering about cooling the sprue plate a little on a wet rag just before cutting the sprue."

    I wouldn't do that. Can't say for sure that there's a chance of warping from the sudden cooling, but I can say this: Once you warp a sprue plate, you're going to be buying a new one. What a PITA!!

    What makes you want to cool it in the first place?
    I've read and seen videos of guys doing it to cool the sprue just a touch. I guess to get a clean cut on the base of the bullet. My line of thinking is yours though.... "why do it... and what if it warps the sprue" That's why I'm still wondering about it.

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    My experience has been that if I'm not getting a clean cut, I'm just swinging the plate too soon. Maybe they're objecting to waiting quite so long for the lead puddle to cool, but I just incorporate the brief wait in my routine. I'm always watching the puddle for the dimple to form as the bullet hardens, using that as my gauge of when it's time to swing the plate. If you swing it before the dimple forms, there's a pretty good chance of getting a hole in the bullet, whether you can see it or the sprue cut conceals it.

    And that's the single biggest cause I've found for varying bullet weights, provided a bullet is otherwise fully filled. I'm suspicious that cooling would harden the puddle surface before the dimple has a chance to form and conceal the fact of a hole forming. Hope you can follow that description of what's going on.

    Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but in terms of casting routine, I figure it would be a trade off in time and steps between waiting briefly for the puddle to harden, or adding and extra step of force-cooling it with the wet rag.

    If you try it, let us know how it turns out. I'm naturally curious, but not particularly inclined to add another step.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph View Post
    Snyd,

    Looks like some great work! Have you done a hardness test on them yet?

    What charge are you planning on pushing them with? Plincking/traget use only or any hunting self-defense intent?

    Ralph
    I do not have a BHN tester so I have not done a hardness test. I guess ww alloy is about 8-9 and water dropped plus some time can get them to 13-20??

    Anyway, I'll load these with 9 grains of Unique for the 45 Colt and shoot them in my Redhawk and 454 levergun for plinkin. I might load some up in 454 cases with 11 gr for the levergun but there's really no need for that just for shootin.

    I have a 350gr GC grain mould for the 45 Colt hunting/bear protection full power loads. I still want to get a 325-335 gr mould for the 454 levergun. The 350gr boolit has a huge metlplat and won't feed in the levergun in 454 brass. But the 45 Colts will feed in it fine.

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    Nice!

    I'm would be interested to hear the POI variation between these 255 grain bullits and your heavier 350 grain loads listed on a previous thread. I would expect a lighter slower round to change POI. Or do you think 9 grains of quique will give the same velocity and POI with the 255 grain bullits?

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    Snyd

    Very nice looking bullets for sure .You did a fine job and they should work for you.
    My BHN on straight WW runs in the neighborhood of 11-12.5 .
    With water quenched bullets mine run in between 20-24 BHN .
    As for the damp rag method those guys are more than likely speed casting thus you would need to cool the spru plate so you can get a flat cut on the bullet rather than a tear or smear.
    If you have lee molds or LBT molds with the thin spru plates I would not use the damp rag method as you might warp them , not sure .
    I have around 100 molds from about every mold maker from the last 30 years and from some new mold makers from over seas and have speed cast with at least half of them and not one problem with the spru plates warping .The bullets were from 400 grain and smaller.
    I have a a couple molds that cast big bullets such as 1615 grain and 975 grain and you can not speed cast with them as BrownBear mentioned you might get bullets that have holes in them and if you do harden the spru puddle and drop the bullet it might not be fully hardened and will either dent really bad or just fall apart .
    If you need to wait for your spru to harden you might try running two molds at a time .
    As one is cooling you are filling the other.
    If you use this method of speed casting be cautioned of having water around liquid lead as one drop will amaze you in the splatter you will get showered in !!!!!!
    Just my .02 worth

    On a side note you have now started a journey that there is no return and no cure for .
    The magical silver stream has taken hold and at every turn you make you will be looking for the little silver nuggets in parking lots, garage sales ETC
    My wife is always amazed when walking through parking lots I can spot a lost wheel weight that I have to go out of my way to pick it up and put it in my pocket !!!!
    Like I said no cure Snyd .

    Enjoy

    RR
    Practice does not make perfect !!!!!
    Perfect Practice makes perfect !!!!!!!!!!


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    Snyd if you are getting damage when dropping them in the bucket might I suggest a deeper bucket. I use a 5 gal bucket about 3/4 full. The added volume and depth cools them down before they get to the bottom so they don't damage each other.

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    What I am about to say will go against a lot of what you have heard/read but.... Hard cast bullets are not the best for all applications!!! I know that you have done throat work on some of your hand guns and this will allow them to use a wider hardness of boolit without trouble. Boolit fit and throat barrel sizes are very important. Softer boolits tend to swage to fit unmatched throats/barrels better than hard ones especially where pressures are low (plinker loads). Poor fitting hard boolits will usually lead where a softer boolit may not. So, if fit is not right, an air cooled ww may be a better option for plinker loads and for that matter even loads up to 1600 fps or so. Oh, if water dropping, be real careful about returning rejects back to a hot pot. If you have one that has a void in the base that still has a drop of water in it, you will get a visit from the tinsel fairy. Very nasty fairy.
    You may want to add just a little more lead to the sprue to prevent sprue freeze up before it draws the last bit of lead in the mold at freeze up. I don't like the idea of cooling the sprue plate as I want the base to be the last place to freeze for best fill out on the base. This is not a major problem on the larger calibers but can be a pain on the little ones (22,25 )and such. Better to wait just a little longer before cutting sprue. A small cheap Wal Mart fan blowing across the mold can help a lot to keep the mold and sprue cutter from over heating and making you wait so much. You may already know but ( cast boolits ) is a wealth of people with a lot of experience with casting boolits. By the way, You are hooked now!!! Another very good site to google is ammobrasstrader. Good looking bunch of boolits.

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    Thanks guys for all the input and reminders that water and molten lead do not mix. I appreciate it much. I think I'll stay away from cooling the sprue. What I was doing worked. I did watch the sprue for dimples and gave it a few seconds.

    rbuck351
    If you don't water quench, what do you drop the bullets on so they don't get damaged? I'm going to cast some 150gr RN for my 38's and 200gr for my 44. Air cooled wheel weights should be hard enough I would think. Ya, castboolits forums have helped me a ton.

    Ralph
    This summer I was shooting some 360gr/H110 and some 255gr/Unique loads. The boolits were some my friend poured very close to these from the lee mould. They had a different point of impact. Can't remember for sure how much. I'd have to look at my notes and targets.


    RangerRick
    Ya, the silver stream has taken hold. I was able to score 2 more buckets of ww's last week for nothin! However, I did return a bucket (full of beer) to the generous souls who made my day! Also, now that I've been sorting and smelting I have about 3/4 of a bucket of stick-ons and last summer managed to talk a guy out of a linotype pig. He owns a print shop and still had some pigs cut in half he was using as door stops. He had more but is hanging on to it. His old linotype machine is at the Pioneer museum here in Fairbanks. So, with ww, linotype and soft lead I should be able to mix up alloys for different uses. But for now for what I'm doing I think ww will work good. I'm not casting for rifles except 454 in my levergun. It shoots 335gr at about 1950 fps. Maybe if I get a 300-335 gr mould I'd add some linotype to the ww for the 454?

    Oh, and the wife is trained! She picks up ww's for me on her walks downtown

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    ""Oh, and the wife is trained! She picks up ww's for me on her walks downtown""

    I hear ya .
    My wife had just came from a business meeting and was all dolled up when she stopped by the tire shop to have her winter tires put on and while she was waiting she asked the young guy behind the counter if they had any wheel weights they would like to get rid of ??
    The guy thinks abit says ya I can get you a bucket of WW .
    So my wife drives around to the back of the shop where the guy is taking WW out of a full 55 gallon barrel and after a few minutes the guy says this is taking to long and they were backed up with customers and he had to get back to work .
    She asked him would you load the whole barrel of ww with that fork lift into the back of my truck for $25.00 ??
    The guy agreed and off she went with a huge smile and a very loaded and squatted mid size truck .
    Yep she is trained !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    RR
    Practice does not make perfect !!!!!
    Perfect Practice makes perfect !!!!!!!!!!


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    Quote Originally Posted by RANGER RICK View Post
    So my wife drives around to the back of the shop where the guy is taking WW out of a full 55 gallon barrel....
    Dang! I've gotta get my wife trained a little better

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    My experience speed casting by cooling the sprue plate on a wet rag parallels that of Ranger Rick's. I routinely do it with moulds from Lee, RCBS, Lyman, Mountain Moulds, and Ballisticast and have had no problems whatsoever--all the sprue plates are just as flat and straight as the day I bought them.

    Sometimes I'll alternate two different moulds though, and if I do that I don't do the wet rag trick.

    Congrats--your bullets look great!

    Mike

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    Very nice! It took me awhile to get the hang of casting hot enough to get good mold fillout. After ~1000# of ww's I definately got the hang of it.

    I also agree that water quenched ww bullets aren't always the best way to go, and I find that more and more I use air cooled ww bullets.

    As far as how to drop them w/o damage, I put a stack of red mechanics rags about 4 deep on the bench and let them drop from the mold onto the rags. Just the right amount of cushioning, and they are cotton so they don't melt from the hot bullets.

    I also use the wet rag trick on the sprue plate. But the best way to get production going is to cast two molds. While the sprue on one is setting up your cutting the sprue on the other mold, dropping bullets, and refilling the other mold. It's amazing how many bullets you can crank once you get a rythm going, and so long as you have a big pile of ingots.

    Lee liquid alox works well on mild to midrange loads. If your gun will chamber the bullets unsized, you'll likely get your best accuracy unsized. I used to just smear lube on the bullets and run them through a lee sizer to wipe off the excess lube size the bullets. Not too time consuming, but my thumb would get sore from smearing lube in the bullets. Also a bit messy.

    As far as commercial lubes, get LBT blue. I've tried most of the others and there is a marked difference in accuracy, more then I would ever believe if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. You can also make up an excellent lube by mixing beeswax with moly/lythium axle greese ~50/50 mix. It's a soft gooey lube, accuracy is steller, leading is minimal to nonexistant. I did have one guy complain that he didn't like how the lube made his gun dirty. Me, I'm more concerned with how a gun groops then whether it gets a bit dirty.

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