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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
deleted due to disinterest
 

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No need to delete something for lack of response. Now I'm curious what your question was? I just didn't notice the post, originally.

The softest alloy I've shot in .45 ACP was swaged bullets, like Hornady. A fellow in our bullseye league used to get Star 185 grain swaged bullets in bulk, and I got in on some of those. It was fine for gallery (50 foot) loads, but inferior to cast bullets at outdoor ranges. It seems to me, with the right recoil spring in the Goldcup, I ran 3.8 grains of Bullseye under it. Slow target load, but had no leading problems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I actually deleted the post because I wasn't sure what my point was. Now with a sketch and photo I think I can get the idea across:



Sketch above shows two otherwise identical bullets, but the lower one drops out of the mold a bit larger. Both are sized in the same die. The one that started out fatter gets a longer cylindrical section...that cylindrical section now extending forward of the crimp groove.

The photo below shows one of the worst cases:



This is by far the worst of the lot, most don't show but 1/2 that length of sizing forward of the case. Still, near as I can tell, this is what prevents the cartridge from chambering: I believe the cylindrical section of the bullet is now extending well into the leade, enough that it engages the full rifling.

While these deep-seated bullets do indeed swell the case as you suggested, due to the fact they're seating well down into the case where the wall thickness may be greater (than at the mouth), all bullets are sized the same and therefore even the 'nice' bullets swell the case the same way as the 'bad' bullets do. Therefore, I conclude it's this nasty, brutal sizing on the fatter slugs that's causing the failure-to-chamber problem.

Since I've stopped putting soft lead in my pot and am using only wheel weight lead, I seem to have very few bullets that show sizing forward of the crimp groove, and I'm getting maybe 1% failure to chamber...not good enough, but better. I may have to go up a pound or two on the recoil spring and see if that further reduces the problem.

Does this 'analysis' seem reasonable?
 

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Probably a little more going on as well, looking at the bullet's nose. Soft bullets tend to be mashed out as they size, giving that mashed nose section. With the base of the bullet in the sizing die, the nose being compressed by the seating stem, the displaced lead only has one easy place to go: increasing the diameter of the section still to be pushed into the sizer die.

Size one 2/3 of the way, then back it out, and measure the section that didn't quite make it into the sizing die... might find that it's more like .456", and that would explain both the longer bearing area and the uneven nature of that bearing area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Obturation!

Update: I think I'm just not 'getting it'. I cast about 1,500 bullets last night, all from wheel weight lead, and when I started sizing them I was running about 50% junk again...bullets that barely go thru the sizing die without really leaning into the press handle, and complete garbage like the one in the photo above. To say 'frustrating' is being real nice about it. The other symptom: out of the hundreds of pours, I'd say in only 10-15% of them did I get all 6 cavities filled, even after several hours of casting and screwing around with temperatures. In many cases I'd get only 3 of the 6 cavities filled. After getting the lead hotter and the mold cooler, I made some progress, but still not 100%.

Now, if someone were to tell me their mold cavities weren't filling, I'd suspect a cold sprue plate--and that's exactly what the symptom is: lead seems to plug the sprue plate and not flow into the cavity. Yet the mold is hot...probably too hot in fact. Sprues were taking at least a minute to cool. Only other thing I can think of is that this mold has insufficient porting for air to move out of the cavities. It's a new, unused mold, and I've never had this problem before with either the first 6-cavity mold that this one replaces, nor with the new 6-cavity I just got for Christmas. Problems may be related to having followed the Lee instructions (lamp-blacking the cavities using a match flame) or from lubricating the mold with Anti-Seize.

Another session like the one last night and I'll have to start buying my bullets from someone who has a clue...'cause it's obviously not me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I just grabbed a handful of bullets and measured them. They vary in diameter from .448 to .460, with any given bullet varying by .004 or more. In most cases they appear to have the largest diameter in a direction 90 degrees to the parting line. :) These bullets are completely useless to me.
 

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That's the nice thing about casting...just toss the rejects in the pot for another try.

Sounds like the mold blocks are not closing evenly every time. A little droplet of lead on the mold face, losee mold handle hinge, a bit of lead or toehr fouling on the mold alignment pins, or warped mold handles could be the cause.... but the real cause is usually going to fast.

Slow down...fewer casts, but fewer rejects, so it all works out at the end.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I inspect and wipe the mold blocks constantly, even holding them up to a bright light in the shop just to make sure. But, I did have the weirdest symptoms last night--a first for a lot of problems I've not had before.

If the mold is seriously too hot might I have bullets that fat & irregular? I think there's a very good chance I was moving too fast, like you suggested. When I let the mold cool longer than usual, I seemed to getter better cavity fills--sometimes miraculously even all 6 cavities!

It's weird to cast several thousand bullets, improving each time. Then, I switch to a new mold (otherwise identical) and completely lose the bubble, making worse product than my very first batch.
 

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Not too weird... bullet molds are as individualistic about what they need to cast right as rifle barrels are bout what ammo they'll shoot right. Some want hotter lead that others, some want to be in contact with the pour spout...some want the lead to "swirl" into the mold...etc. Even though it can't speak, the mold will tell you what it wants.

Am also hard-core-ruthless in inspecting the cast bullets before bothering to lube or size them, if they aren't going to come out right, won't bother with them and just toss them back into the pot before it cools.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Am also hard-core-ruthless in inspecting the cast bullets before bothering to lube or size them...
But in this case, I was full of crap and you were absolutely right. I might have started out paying attention, but I just looked at the mold as I left it when I completed my session (at about 4:00am in the morning), and it was a mess. Stuff all OVER the mold faces and lead creamed all over the bottom of the sprue plate. Absolutely shameful.

You should never cast too fast, for too long, or when you shouldn't be operating heavy machinery or when you should be sleeping instead. Now I have a real mess to clean up, and 1,000 bullets to do over. Serves me right!
 

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Cavities are too large. I had the exact same problem with my Lee .358 (38SPL) 105 gr SWC 6 cavity mold and my .401 (40 S&W) 175 gr TC 6 cavity mold. Both molds had to be sent back to Lee where they verified that the cavities were too big and sent me new molds which were fine.
 

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. . .You should never cast too fast, for too long, or when you shouldn't be operating heavy machinery or when you should be sleeping instead. Now I have a real mess to clean up, and 1,000 bullets to do over. Serves me right!
If there was ever a learning curve, it has to do with casting bullets. Having been there, done that, I hope to never have to recast a bunch of "rejects" again. While I was learning, I have had to scrap entire casting sessions worth of bullets much to my chagrin. Hope things work out for you as you will find that when the bullets come out perfectly, casting is a very enjoyable pastime.
 

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Try sizing the bullets to .451" If the nose is still keeping the round from chambering, seat the bullet deeper. If the nose is to large in diameter still, return the mould for replacement. http://www.leeprecision.com/cgi/faq/index.cgi[
Mold diameter tolerance

Our bullet mold tolerance is stated diameter, +.003/-.000 inch. We gauge our bullet molds with a "go/nogo" gauge, which tends to result in bullet molds that run on the high side of the tolerance. You could probably use one of our standard molds at as-cast diameter with good results.

If the bullets are oversize or out of round the mold is not fully closing. A build up of lube, splash of lead, or a burr on the mold block faces are holding them apart. Inspect the mold block faces and carefully remove anything that might hold the mold apart. Make sure to lubricate the locating pins with solid alox/beeswax bullet lube, Lee part number 90007. If these steps are followed the bullets will cast dimensionally correct.
 

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Another thing, cast at maximum temperature, both pot and mould. This hotter temp. will cause more shrinkage as the alloy cools in the mould. If bullets get frosted, this is ok as long as you get .451" diameter of the finished bullets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
As is often the case, I was a little over-dramatic regarding the real damage to the casting run. I pulled several hundred bullets out of the ammo can last night and began sizing them, and only had to put about 20 or 30 back in the pot, out of about 300 or so, so far. So, at worst, maybe 10% loss. They's real frosty ones, for sure.
 

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I actually deleted the post because I wasn't sure what my point was. Now with a sketch and photo I think I can get the idea across:



Sketch above shows two otherwise identical bullets, but the lower one drops out of the mold a bit larger. Both are sized in the same die. The one that started out fatter gets a longer cylindrical section...that cylindrical section now extending forward of the crimp groove.

The photo below shows one of the worst cases:



This is by far the worst of the lot, most don't show but 1/2 that length of sizing forward of the case. Still, near as I can tell, this is what prevents the cartridge from chambering: I believe the cylindrical section of the bullet is now extending well into the leade, enough that it engages the full rifling.

While these deep-seated bullets do indeed swell the case as you suggested, due to the fact they're seating well down into the case where the wall thickness may be greater (than at the mouth), all bullets are sized the same and therefore even the 'nice' bullets swell the case the same way as the 'bad' bullets do. Therefore, I conclude it's this nasty, brutal sizing on the fatter slugs that's causing the failure-to-chamber problem.

Since I've stopped putting soft lead in my pot and am using only wheel weight lead, I seem to have very few bullets that show sizing forward of the crimp groove, and I'm getting maybe 1% failure to chamber...not good enough, but better. I may have to go up a pound or two on the recoil spring and see if that further reduces the problem.

Does this 'analysis' seem reasonable?
I ran into this problem the other day. was casting some 380's ( lee mold 356-102 1R)
They were coming out at 105 to 106 grains. When I ran them thru the .356 sizer some of them were really bad. You could see where the sizer started to size them at different lengths.
I'm going to order a .357 sizer and try that next. Giving the old school thoughts + a .001 for casted bullets.
P.S. even a few of them had a ridge at the base from excessive force.
 

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I don't know if this will help or not, but after casting for about 50 years, I have discovered that I get the best bullets when I use two molds. I cast two different bullets and seem to get much better results when I do it this way. I pour one mold full, set it down, and fill the other one. I then knock out the first one and fill it and so on. They seem to stay at a good mean temperture this way. You are all right about one thing. All my molds are individuals and require different treatment. I never had much luck with the gang molds..........
 

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Since nobody else mentioned this (unless I missed it), I think I will. Looking at the picture of the loaded round, the bullet used looks like a RNFP bullet design. OP'er also mentioned a crimping groove. Is a bullet basically designed for .45 Colt being used in a .45 ACP here? If this is the case, there are more appropriate bullet designs to the ACP cartridge. This may not have anything to do with the problem at hand, but could contribute to other problems like proper crimp on a cartridge that headspaces on the case mouth. The .45 Colt bullet (as the OP'er has stated, I believe) seats pretty deeply into the ACP case and I'm not too wild about that idea either.
 

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Lets see, when I cast, I continue to cast until I am done. I do not clean my molds while I am casting. The best 45 ACP mold I have is a Lyman 4C 230 grain .452. I size with a Star sizer and some pretty good lubes.

Bullets not designed for the 45 ACP should be avoided because of problems, like hanging up on the ramp, seated too deep to get AOL for the cartridge, that may create too much pressure and the list goes on.

I don't like going below 200 grains for my bullets and stop at 230 grains. There are many other weights, but they don't preform properly for me. I have a some conical molds and they work, but not as accurate as the tradition RN bullets.

Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Thanks guys. Yes, this is a .45 Colt bullet and yes, it sure does seat deeply. But, I think I've got this issue licked.

So there were a few factors at work here. The soft alloy I was making, in my attempt to get rid of 50 lbs of soft lead I bought, was part of the problem. Sloppy practices made the situation worse: leading on the mold that was too hot, lead getting between the mold faces, etc.

Now that I recognize telltale signs of the mold getting too hot or getting wetted with lead in places, I know to slow down a bit. I've also begun using a little lube on the mold, although I'm currently using Permatex anti-seize and I believe I could do better with the Franklin Arsenal spray-on stuff.

Back to the use of the 452-255 RNFP bullets in the .45 ACP. While they do indeed seat deep (OAL is just 1.16"), I've not had a single one fail to load into the chamber on the Sig--so no ramp problems at all. I'm seeing very, very few failures to go into battery, and I think these are rounds from my early 'lots' and may still contain a few bad bullets.

Also, I'm loading these cartridges with very low Clays charges, so there's still oceans of room in the case under that big boy.

Here's what the ones from last night look like:



So, they're acceptable now, with no sizing taking place forward of the crimp groove. OTOH, you can see here there are still some challenges with mold fill down around the bases of some of them:



No idea what to do there.

Update: I believe I found a build-up of lube at the very top edge of the mold cavity--being sheared off the sprue plate probably--causing the problems at the base of the bullet. It was hard to see with my old eyes-; the lube is gray and of course so is the top of the mold.
 
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