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Discussion Starter #1
Hello from Scotland

Well ive finally did it ! Thanks to this site and all the talk of cast bullets.Got a heck of a lot to learn still but ive made a start so i can only get better.

I used the Lee 310 .430 bullet mould and straight wheel weights (from buses)
I require these for a Marlin .444p rifle (still not arrived yet) Using basic kitchen scale i make them out at 20 grams which i believe makes them approx 325 grain ? Does this sound about right for this mould and wheel weights ?? I will of course get the exact weight and diameter measured.

I wonder if some of you could advise on the only problem i seem to have come across, so far ? From the mold i first cast about 40 bullets at one sitting of thse i only kept 25. The reason for scraping the others was due to lack of definitionin in the bullets ridges ? Some were slightly "rounded" as was the base ? Others had nicly defined grooves and base.

At first i believed that the mold was too hot or the metal was too hot, but this morning i cast another 40 or so bullets with much better results.
Now i think the problem was in fact the reverse mold and metal too cool ? Or perhaps just the metal too cool ? What do you chaps reckon ?

Also how many bullets can this mould produce in one casting season ? And what factor determine this ?
Could any one recommend the best lube i could use for  these bullet in my .444p (should be here April)

Regards Englander
 

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May I suggest that you keep a couple of your best efforts in a safe place to use for comparison with your efforts in a year or so.
Another suggestion, get some 50/50 bar soldier to supply you with a bit of tin to make casting and the bullet fill out easier. This may raise you percentage of keeper.
If the alloy or the mold is too hot you sprue will take a very long time to cool, the bullets will be frosted. While out and about, see if you can find a an old aluminium griddle, cast aluminium skillet. Something cheap, thick heavy constructed aluminium to use as a heat sink. Fill the mold with hot lead and let it cool on the aluminium.
What are you using as a heat source to melt your lead!
Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hello jim

Im using a gasoline burning stove. I have some bar soldier, but wanted to try wheel weights only to see the results.
could you explain the "heat sink" bit  further ?

regards Englander
 

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Heat Sink
When I get to casting I use two 4 cavity molds with a RCBS 20 pound pot. I use Saeco molds, cast iron and they get hot and stay hot. This heat will eventually slow me down because I have to wait for the sprue to cool down so I won't tear the base of the bullet, when I cut off the sprue.
What I do is set one mold down on a piece aluminium plate, actually a 'No Parking' sign, to cool while I fill the second mold. The alum. draws the heat out of the mold, helping keep the mold temp down and over time, speeding up the production.
With you Lee mold this heat sink idea may help keep the temp down and speed up the sprue cooling/solidifying.
Jim
 

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Your mould is going to have to warm up, so the first few casts will not produce good bullets.  

As the mould warms up you will find that your reject rate goes down.  Your own level of fatigue / concentration will be the limit to what you can do in one session.

When you have to add metal to the pot, it will probably take a while before things heat back up and you get good bullets again.

What are you using for flux?  This is a key factor, if the alloy isn't fluxed then it will have impurities and make it harder to produce good bullets.

If you can find a temperature that the wheel-weight alloy fills out the mould, then no need to add tin.  But just 1% or 2% will help, and not cost much.  Makes the bullet at little more ductile and helps hold together when it hits the critter.  If the bullets are just a little frosty, not a big deal.  I would not reject them on the basis of that.  Sometimes you have to run wheelweight alloys a little hot to get the mould to fill out.

Lube... that's a good question.  Is there anything at all you can find locally?

If you have to make your own, some sort of grease mixed with beesway will probably be the best bet.  Perhaps some of the other casters can suggest a homemade lube that isn't too hard to make.

Bullet weight... your mould is probably calibrated for Linotype or Lyman #2 alloy, either of which should be less dense than what you have.  So it sounds about right for you bullets to come out just a bit heavy.

Congratulations!  Any way for you to post a picture of one of your creations?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hello Mike

For flux im using parrafin wax, lube well i can get any Lee lube.
Sorry no pictures, thats a bit to technical for me at present.
Assuming my bullets are coming out at 325 grains bearing in mind they are made of wheel weights what sort of velocity do you think they could handle ?

Ive got a lot to learn, but im having alot of fun along the way, for me the ultimate achieve will be dropping me first Deer with a home cast home loaded bullet.

Regards Englander
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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With good lube... and I'll leave it to others to define 'good'.... I'd suspect that 1800-2000fps would be easily attainable.

Wheel weights make a pretty good bullet, really, and will even give a bit of expansion in that velocity range without shattering.

Oh is that a gas check bullet?  If plain base, the ports may cause problems at higher velocity, but might work OK at slower speeds.
 

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Englander,

For flux, (one that won't flash at high temps like wax), try using some dried pine-pitch.  Just a little dab the size of your little fingernail will flux a 20 lb. pot nicely!  I don't know what you have in your neck of the woods across the pond, but anywhere a pine tree has been injured, beetle-bored, or pruned, there will be sap oozing out, and solidifying into nice, hard amber colored chunks that can easily be collected.  Just a few ounces of dried pitch will last a long time for the average bullet caster.

Interesingly, I've used just about any concoction imaginable to flux lead alloys, and have found nothing better than pine-pitch.  It does smoke a bit, but you should be casting with good ventilation anyhow, so it shouldn't be an issue.

Happy casting!

Marshall

Oh, Mike,

The Lee .430-310 FN is a gas-checked bullet, and carries two crimp grooves! <!--emo&:)--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=':)'><!--endemo-->
 
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Englander,

Welcome to the fold of 444 shooters.
I've been using the Lee 310 mold. Wheel weights  give me 326gr counting the Hornady gas check and my lube.I push them to 2225fps so far with no leading, I also quench while molding.
The recoil with these loads is VERY noticeable.
I learn something new every time I visit this site, I'll have to try Marshall's sugestion about
pine pitch. Good luck with your new toy.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hello from Scotland

Thank you all very much gentleman ! What ive learnt from this site over the last few months is mind bogggling !
I shall have to hunt down some Scots pine, a local park has some nice mature ones, im sure the kids will enjoy hunting amber.

Measured the bullets to day they seem to be 325 grains (un-gas checked) and 0.4315 ish ,do you think adding more solder would increase the diameter slightly ?

You realise when my Marlin .444p finally arrives, i probably wont even be able to shoot it ! First i will have to wrestle the guys at the club to get it back ! Im sure it will raise a few eyebrows.

Regards Englander
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Jack R

Wow-thats some load ! 2225 f.p.s ! Bet that rattles your teeth !
Can i ask what powder, load,lube etc you use for this load ? Also is the stated velocity calulated or actually chronographed ? Also which rilfe you are putting it though ? Sorry for so many questions old chap its just im trying to get every scrap of info i can on what is a highly unusal and rare calibre here in Britain.

Regards Englander
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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That diameter of .4315" is good news indeed, you can use either a .432" or .431" sizer and probably get good results.

I'd be tempted to lube them 'as cast' (without sizing) and see how that works.  Stand them up in a pan, pour melted lube in the pan till it covers the grooves, let it harden, and make yourself a 'cutter' out of a cartridge case to free them.  A fired cartridge works well for this.  Either cut the case head off, or drill out the flash hole and push the bullets back out of the case with a nail.

You're on your way!

I noticed that no one has come up with a lube suggestion yet.  So... I'll make a suggestion.  Get some beeswax, and good quality wheel bearing grease.  Mix 50/50 and *carefully* melt them together in a pan (remember that the beeswax is flammable and has a low flash point), and add a little ground up bar soap ('Ivory' brand or any soap without perfumes, etc).  Stir until well mixed.

Start with a small batch till you get this figured out.  Might as well make lube, you're making bullets!
 

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Bear in mind.. or is it Bare end mind
Ohh well
I've never made my own lube but for those times when it got tough or the Federales were getting real rambunctious I learned and remembered a home made lube formula.
1/3 bees wax, 1/3 parafin,1/3 cosmoline. You could add graphite, a bit of soap, throw in some bacon grease for good smelling smoke.
One fellow used Preparation H for cast bullet bench rest shooting.
Jim
 

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Englander,

I just can't let this topic of bullet lube pass by without addressing the issue.  

Bullet lubrication, aside from improper bullet fit is probably the the number one reason for cast bullet load failure!  Bar none!

For a little background, we here at Beartooth used a bullet lubricant from LBT, their Blue Commercial lube.  Well, when LBT went out of business, we had a quantity of the lube on hand, but as we all know, when you use something, sooner or later you run out of the product.  As we neared the end of our supply of the LBT lube, we evaluated over thirty commercial bullet lubricants for performance, and selected a lubricant from one of the better known bullet lube manufacturers here in the USA.  That's all they sell, is bullet lube.

A year ago December, the whole US was plunged into an unseasonable deep freeze type cold spell that lasted the first three weeks of the month that year.  Along with the cold spell, a series of customer reports came rolling in as well, all reporting that the bullet shipments they had recieved from us were minus their bullet lube!  The lubricant had become brittle from the cold, and turned into a flaky powder in the bottom of the bullet boxes!  Every box of bullets shipped between the 3rd and 19th of that month we had to replace because of this problem!

We shut the business down entirely from 19 December 2000, until 28 February 2001 while we evaluated bullet lubes.... literally dozens of them.  Every commercial bullet lubricant imaginable!  We even tested bullet lubes from the Netherlands, Holland and Germany in our search for a bullet lube that would work in all climatic conditions and perform to a level that would prevent leading, and deliver excellent accurracy from 700 fps loads to 2900 fps velocity levels.  During this time we tried just about every home-brew recipe that we could lay our hands on, tried dozens and dozens of our own recipes as well (many of which were very satisfactory at given velocity levels, but not suited to commercial bullet production).  Too we worked very closely with two different US companies in developing bullet lubricant.  Finally after over two months of being totally out of production, over ten thousand rounds of ammuntion being fired in testing, and complete notebooks filled with targets, notes and observations, recipe data and research, we struck upon a suitable lubricant for our bullets.  We finally went back into production on 01 March 2001.

All this I relay to impress upon you the importance of bullet lubricant in your cast bullets.  All lubes aren't created equal!  And yes it's true that most any reasonable concoction will serve adequately at .38 special pressure and velocity levels, it takes a combination of a whole host of dynamics to provide proper bullet lubrication in the bore when pressures and velocities approach those you are striving for with the .444 Marlin.

Yes, we've tried the grease/beeswax combinations, both synthetic and petroleum based greases, the special whiz-bang concoctions calling for ivory soap for polymerizing agents when heated to X degrees, the whole shot, all to say that most are grand experiments, most with marginal yield in terms of ballistic performance.  

Too, virtually all dry additives to bullet lube (graphite, moly and motor mica) tend to be of no perceptible benefit when added to components intended for cast bullet lubricants.  Yes, I know it's a trendy thing to do, but they really don't do anything except fulfill the urge to try the newest and greatest fad.

My advice to you for lubing your new bullets, is as mentioned, to pan lube them, and use a cutter made from a cartridge case, or to dip lube them (by far the easiest!)  To dip lube, take a bullet with the gas check pressed onto the bullet shank, and while holding the nose of the bullet in your fingers, dip the projectile into a shallow metal container of bullet lube that is just hot enough to be molten.  The bullet is cold, and the bullet lube will adhere to the bullet just like making a hand-dipped candle.  after dipping, place the bullet nose-up on a paper towel to cool, and at the same time wipe the bullet lube off of the bullet base.  then run the bullet through your Lee bullet sizing die, and you'll have a well lubed bullet with filled out lube grooves.

As for bullet lube?  Buy the best you can find!  Bullet lube is THE most insignificant cost component of your whole bullet making experience!  One 1"x4" stick of lube will lube over 1500 average bullets!  Don't filch on bullet lubes!  If after having good experience with your cast bullets, and feeling confident of your abilities, and have a good solid benchmark of reference for what a cast bullet in your gun is capable of when using quality lubes, and you want to experiment with developing your own recipe, great!  However, you'll only have disappointment from the start if you start out that way!  Trust me, it's hard enough to develop a good lube when you understand what it's supposed to do, and how a bullet lube works in a load... let alone when you're a newbie to the craft of cast bullets!

Sorry for the long post, but I couldn't see letting you stumble over something with such an insignificant expense factor in your bullet casting experience!

God Bless,

Marshall



<!--EDIT|Marshall Stanton|Mar. 30 2002,08:40-->
 

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I've had excellent results with the lube sold on this site; pushed it to 2300+ fps in my .308 with no trace of leading.  It does require a heater for the lubesizer though.
Good shooting
Mark
 

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Preparation H?  Sounds like a real 'Silver Bullet' to me!!!

All joking aside... Englander, why don't you make a list of all the lubes you can get, and post the list here.  That way people can give you the pros and cons of each one.  Marshall is right, you are just starting out in this venture and don't need the aggrevation of wondering if the lube is causing problems.

When you get your bullets shooting with a good commercial lube, then you can experiment with some homemade lube, and have a reasonable basis for comparison.
 

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Hi, Englander:
     Congratulations on your first home cast bullets.  I just started casting this summer myself.

     Adding tin won't likely make a bigger bullet.  The antimony in the alloy gives you a bigger bullet than straight lead, since it's one of the few things that expands when it solidifies (like water into ice).  Tin does make it easier to make a good bullet, and I'd recommend a beginner start with 2% tin.  You have enough problems on your first attempts without fighting with an alloy that might not be suited for your mould. You can back the tin off later.

    The Scots Pines in the driveway didn't any pitch worth picking on them.  There was a tiny bit on some sapsucker (woodpecker) holes.  Some branches need pruning and I'll see what happens when the sap starts running.

    A themometer sure is a help when you're casting on a gas stove.

Have fun
Jack
 

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Lots of good advice here but if your 444P is a little wide in the grooves, as is mine, you might have trouble getting the finest accuracy possible with straight wheels weights and Lee430310.  The problem is the mould will barely drop a .432" bullet and that's pretty much what is required for optimum performance from the 444P.  To get the widest possible bullets from Lee430310 you'll need to get the weight down with some tin (less shrinkage).  My Lee430310s are dropping from the mould at right around 298 grains (18BHN) and five rounds will shoot into one hole at 50 yards when backed by several powders in the Re7 to H335 range.  Also, get yourself a thermometer and maintain your melt at approximately 770 to 780F.  A lead ladle with sufficient volume such as the one made by RCBS is essential... Lyman's ladle is too small for the best results.  There's definitely an art to casting good bullets with Lee430310.  The mould does its best work when it's hot and it'll tell you when it's too hot by not easily releasing the bullets.  Once you find that sweet spot and maintain the proper melt/mould temperature, you'll cast very uniform bullets with this mould.  You'll also know when you've hit the sweet spot by the way the sprues cut.  If they resist cutting and the sprue plate tends to ride up on opening to leave somewhat of a rivet, the mould is too cool.  On the other hand, if the sprues tend to shear off easily and leave a slight depression, you're in the groove (this feature may vary with alloy type).  Oh yeah, I almost forgot... apply a LIGHT coating of soot from a butane lighter to help mould fillout... be careful not to clog up the very fine vent lines though.  This can also be done with a wooden match, but they tend to pile on too much soot and are more difficult to control.  One other thing about Lee moulds in general is that they come from the factory with their sprue plates torqued down to tight.  I get my best results with Lee moulds when the sprue plates almost open under their own weight.  Some may scoff at a loose sprue plate but it's always held properly in place by the lead dipper before alloy enters the mould... I have no idea what the result may be with a bottom pouring furnace.  If the sprue plate pivot screw should become too loose, as it generally does, this is remedied by the addition of a 6-32 set screw through the side of the block.

44
 

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Englander:
One tip I've found very useful with all moulds, whether of aluminum, brass or steel construction:
Smoke the cavities a bit with a lit candle. That soot will help fill out the mould. I believe it's because the soot holds the heat a bit longer, but that's just my guess.
Anyway, it works on all moulds. And more to the point, smoking a mould often helps me get good bullets when a mould is otherwise balky, no matter what alloy I use.
As was mentioned, the use of tin will help the flowability of your alloy too.
As for lubricants, my favorite recipe dates to the 19th century, at least, and works for both smokeless and black powder loads:

1 part paraffin
1 part mutton tallow
1/2 part beeswax
All measures are by weight, NOT volume. Mix the ingredients in a large, screwtop jar set in a pan with 5 to 7 cm of boiling water.
This gives you a double-boiler effect and is the safest way to melt these ingredients.
Stir the ingredients together with a clean stick (I use a disposable chopstick from a Chinese restaurant).
Allow to cool at room temperature. Placing it in the refrigrerator may cause the ingredients to separate.
Store it with the lid tight, in a cool, dry place.
When I need some, I remelt it by the same method above and pour what I need.
I think you'll find this a very good lubricant for your .444 loads. I use it in my Marlin .45-70 and a variety of other calibers.
 
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