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Adventures with Hot Lead

Discussion in 'Reloading Ammunition' started by CaddmannQ, Feb 12, 2017.

  1. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

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    8,165
    I acquired the gift of some old casting equipment from a friend today and I think it's possible that I might start melting lead pretty soon. He had been given these many years ago, and he cast a few bullets and decided it was too hard.

    There is a crucible a ladle, and a bullet mold with sprue cutter and handles.
    20170212_000453.jpg
    The Crucible is bronze & looks like an insert for some commercial electric pot of some kind, but that was not available and totally unknown.

    1486890402377-1742143010.jpg

    1486890663450-1339163377.jpg
    It is very well made and undamaged.

    The ladle is just stamped steel with a wooden handle. Typical inexpensive import tool, but appears to be serviceable. The thermal mass is not what I would wish for.

    The bullet mold is a Lee, and it makes .38 caliber dog-point wad-cutters. I weighed one that was cast by my friend 30 years ago, and it was approximately 155 grains.

    20170212_004126.jpg

    This could be quite serviceable for the 357 lever gun. In any event I will need the sizing die.

    The bullet mold is aluminum which means it will heat and cool quickly.
    20170211_235420.jpg

    In order to make this all work I want kind of a little mini Foundry set up that will keep everything nice and hot in a containment of some thermal mass, like brick or clay. In other words a mini electric oven...not quite a forge.

    This is a lead plate, about 25lbs. I poured several of these from recycled wheel weights, back about 1980.
    20170212_010201.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2017
    hombre243 and Rossignol like this.
  2. nitesite

    nitesite Sheepdog Moderator "Philanthropist"

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    5,752
    Oh, you are going to have fun.

    How is your lead supply. Need some?
  3. nitesite

    nitesite Sheepdog Moderator "Philanthropist"

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    5,752
    What do you use for sprue plate lube?
  4. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    For heat, you can use a simple fire made from sticks if you must. But since we live in a world of convenience, I use a small propane burner stove.

    Beeswax is what I use to lube my slug mold.
    CaddmannQ likes this.
  5. Bobster

    Bobster .30-06 Supporter

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    2,108
    And smelting is to be done in a WELL ventilated place, but you knew that already...
    nitesite likes this.
  6. MikeD

    MikeD I'm Your Huckleberry Staff Member Global Moderator "Philanthropist"

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    Following this. I bought some equipment to cast bullets and 50# of lead a while back but still haven't bad a chance to follow through with it. I have more hobbies and ideas than time.
    nitesite likes this.
  7. nitesite

    nitesite Sheepdog Moderator "Philanthropist"

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    5,752
    You guys that are smelting and getting into casting~~ you ROCK~!!!!!
    John A. likes this.
  8. hombre243

    hombre243 .30-06 Elite Member

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    1,050
    The mold and ladle are both Lee. The pot could be out of an old electric furnace that someone jerry rigged.

    Once you start pouring lead that way you will want to upgrade...unless you are just nostalgic and like doin it the hard way. Either way, good luck. Roto Metals is a site to buy lead of all hardnesses if you cannot find lead wheelweights. Most are zinc or have zinc, and zinc ruins lead for casting and cannot be removed.
    nitesite likes this.
  9. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

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    8,165
    The lead I have seem to cast okay, but I didn't try to make anything small out of it.
  10. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

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    8,165
    Well I made & shot these wad-cutters.

    Everything chambered & shot well.
    20170301_090718.jpg
    Accuracy is about what you'd expect from a wad-cutter but they sure do make a nice hole. :D

    20170301_090615.jpg

    Now I'm thinking I would like to cast some shotgun slugs, but I don't know which would be the best mold to use.

    I'm going to shoot them from Smooth Bore guns so I was thinking about that Lee Key-Drive thing.

    I'll have to dig around and see what I can buy.

    BTW, those wad-cutters ran really nice in the Henry levergun and in the SAA six shooter as well.

    I also shot some factory cast semi wad-cutters in which I used 0.4 grains more powder, and they were definitely faster and more accurate.

    I started with a very soft load ;)
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
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  11. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    Those cast bullets are nice. Reminds me of the Lone Ranger.

    Get the lee key/slug.

    There are 2 sizes.

    The 1 ounce, which is what I have does pretty good, but if I could do it over again, I'd get the 7/8 oz.

    For the main reason, if you stand them up on their nose and lean it over to the side, the 7/8 oz always corrects its' center of gravity, much like a shuttlecock does in badmitton.

    Don't get me wrong, the 1 oz does fine. But I believe the 7/8 Lee has an advantage.

    You can also charge the powder to 1 oz. data and get a slight velocity boost using the 7/8 too because it's a touch lighter. It may not be a lot more, but in this sport, you know how it is. Guys will do anything they can to squeak 25 extra fps out of something ;)
  12. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    This is a good video, but watch closely at 1:10-1:16'ish to see what I mean about it correcting itself.

    CaddmannQ likes this.
  13. dieselmudder

    dieselmudder .30-06 Elite Member "Philanthropist"

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    2,197
    Iraqveteran8888 is currently doing a YouTube series on bullet casting. He covered making the bullet lube.
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  14. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

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    8,165
    I shot a couple more targets with wad-cutters today and from what I can tell at 100 yards my handmade wad-cutters are just as accurate as the factory wadcutters.

    Which is about like saying that you can shave your face just as well with a machete as you can with an axe.

    With a little practice I was able to hit the 100yd bull's-eye with the Henry Lever gun.
    nitesite likes this.
  15. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Messages:
    8,165
    Hey guys, I kind of let this thread die because I've been busy with other, guns and working on my boat in anticipation of some good fishing this year.

    In the meantime I've been collecting various other lead as it presents itself, and I did buy some official Alox bullet lube, just because it was available.

    I actually think that the WD-40 anti-corrosion Lube works ok to preventing leading, and keep the bullets shiny in Storage, but I don't know about long-term seepage or damage to the powder. I wiped the bullets off before seating them but there was still Lube in the grooves.

    ( my cell phone cannot seem to spell can of lures Channel lures Canal doors.... see what I mean?)

    Anyhow I still intend to get a mold for shotgun slugs and I bought reloading equipment for the 45 automatic Centerfire pistol and I'm going to load some killer slugs for those.

    I even bought dies for the tiny 380 autos, of which I have not yet posted photos. 14943404893461742450701.jpg
    Last edited: May 11, 2017
  16. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    Yeah, I'd avoid any liquid lube like wd40. I'd separate that batch from the next ones and shoot them up first at the range.
  17. nitesite

    nitesite Sheepdog Moderator "Philanthropist"

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    CMQ~ If you have some liquid Alox lube you should look into the 45:45:10 mixture.

    Straight liquid Alox takes quite some time to dry, usually measured in geologic periods (grin).

    But 45% Alox:45% Johnson's Paste Wax:10% mineral spirits melted over low heat and then bottled is very quick drying in mere minutes and it works great!

    One batch lasts forever.
  18. nitesite

    nitesite Sheepdog Moderator "Philanthropist"

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    5,752
    CMQ~

    How much more powder did you use to compensate for the bullets being seated outside of the case?
  19. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

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    8,165
    Oh none. I was just making Cowboy loads for plinking.

    I wiped off all of that lube that could be wiped off with a cursory wiping. And then I let it dry before I seat the bullets. That stuff doesn't actually dry. It sort of gels up, and so far it has worked.

    But I still have dozens of loads to shoot that I have not tried yet. They're busy Aging in the safe.

    I was going to keep them for a while and it see how they work, with that Lube, but it's a moot point now as WD40 has quit making it.

    Anyhow I will try the Alox, but I decided to get a toaster setup to powdercoat boolits. Maybe when I quit concentrating every effort on my boat I will get back to this. Okay after fishing season maybe ... .
  20. nitesite

    nitesite Sheepdog Moderator "Philanthropist"

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    5,752
    To be quite honest, without going back to see what your powder charge was with those 148-gr button-nose full wadcutters that you seated so far out, I am stunned that you even got them to exit the barrel from a lever gun. Pressure and velocity must have been very low. And you shot them at 100-yards?

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