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Discussion Starter #1
Well ya-all I finally am up and running with my casting but I have one thing that I have some concern over. Everyone says lee molds were not very good. Because of price I got one from midway and my good buddy Ray who has been casting for about 20 years, said that I must have gotten an exceptional one because those 400gr bullets were comming out real good. I wish the lube groves were a little deeper but the first 100 rounds didn't led up at all. What kind of a life span can I exspect from them?
Bob
 

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Pooter,
I am NOT a fan of Lee moulds, but if you get a set that works you should use them and not look back. The biggest thing with the Lee moulds that I have used, as far as longevity goes, is the system they use to fit the mould halves together, if they actually do fit together in the first place. If you don't slam them shut, which you shouldn't do with any mould, they should last you quite some time. Another thing that will kill a mould is hitting the mould blocks to free a sticky bullet, make sure you only strike the handle. If your bullets are sticking, you can probably locate the burr or problem that is causing it and fix it, your mould will last longer if you're not pounding on them. Will they last like a set of steel/iron blocks? Most likely not, but they don't even cost a 1/4 of what a steel/iron mould would. Lube grooves don't have to be deep to work well, especially if the bullet is sized to fit the revolver you are shooting it from, and the lube is suitable for your application.

Which revolver are you shooting the .480 in? I like the Raging Bull, but I've only shot the 8.375" model and am still seeking input on the shorter ones. What loads and velocities are you getting out of your revovler?
 

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Make sure you follow the instructions on keeping your mould lubricated. Frankly, I find the method Lee uses to align the mould halves to be superior to the standard pins for use with aluminum moulds. Standard pins will loosen in aluminum which is why Veral Smith has adjustable pins on his moulds. Just use the moulds gently- you're casting bullets not pulling teeth. ;) Aluminum is softer than iron or brass but won't rust on you. Aluminum also doesn't hold heat as long as iron or brass so requires a fairly rapid casting rhythm that may not suit everyone.
Deep lube grooves are a holdover from the old blackpowder days when a lot of lube was necessary to keep the powder fouling soft. Even Elmer Keith stated that that was the reason for the deep groove on his pistol bullets. Notice Veral Smith's bullets have several shallow grooves.
If you have deep lube grooves and some lube is left in the groove as the bullet leaves the muzzle, you'll have an out of balance bullet and your accuracy will degrade. The reason Keith insisted on square grooves for his designs was so that the lube would stay with the bullet. Smith uses curved grooves to give a better hydraulic action in forcing the lube out while the bullet is in the bore (where the lube is needed). I think Veral Smith's grooves are the superior method for smokeless powders.
 

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Sionapryhs hit the nail on the head. If you keep a Lee mold lubed in the critical areas they will last for many thousand bullets.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
KciH
I'm shooting the 480 out of the SRH Ruger 7&1/2. Itried lighter bullets but to get the KO I wanted I was kicking them out at about 1400+ fps. This caused the gun to recoil and jump to much. Zepplin talked me into trying the 400gr and I'm using 20 grs. of H110 and it's leaving at about 1150 fps with very little recoil or jump and no leading. The KO on that is around 31 and the energy is a little higher then the velocity.I have my own range and it kicks the bijeebies out of my steel ram at 100 yards. I set it at 4 inches high at 25 yards and it's real close to point of aim at 100 yards.
Bob
 

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that lee .475 bullet is a **** of a bullet it is very accurate I tried to talk them into making it in a steal mold. Just buy a couple of them there cheap enough.
 

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Taking care of Lee moulds is a piece of cake and if your 480 mould is anything like my C430310RF it will last a long time. There are a couple things you should know before using your Lee mould that aren't discussed in the directions.

First of all, the factory tightens the sprue plate screw down way to tight. Gently back the pivot screw off until the sprue plate just barely opens under its own weight. Try to remove all the burs and sharp edges from the sprue plate without removing the plate from the mould block unless you want to install a set screw to hold the pivot screw in place. I actually install set screws in all my Lee moulds before casting with them because the plate pivot screw will eventually back out too far even when initially left in its factory torqued down position. Don't worry about square bases because when you're filling the mould, the sprue plate should be flush against the mould block (sans obstructions) no matter how loose the plate screw is. If your bases "rivet" when you cut the sprues this is due to either not striking the sprue plate squarely or more likely the mould is not hot enough or possibly a combination of the two. Conversely, it won't matter how tight the sprue plate is when your mould is too cool and/or your not opening it properly; i.e., you'll get "riveted" bases. Actually, when the mould is at the proper operating temperature, the sprues are sheared off, not cut by Lee's extremely inexpensive (trying to being kind) sprue plates.

Regarding lubing the mould... don't use a lube that melts... in any amount. If the lube enters the cavities you're done casting until it's removed. You can use a No.2 pencil to coat the underside of the sprue plate (without removing it) and you'll be much better off. If you follow the directions provided by Lee you'll probably gall your mould after just a few casts. Actually, you'll probably gall the block surface of a Lee mould slightly over time even if you "tune" it; however, I've found that it's not something to worry about and even feel that a few scratches across the block's top aids in venting/base fill out.

The next tip is to purchase a butane lighter to lightly coat the cavities so the alloy fills out nicely. This process even works well on steel moulds if one is having a problem maintaining a high enough operating temperature.

Finally a word about operating temperature. You'll need to run your pot a little hotter than with steel moulds; e.g., at least 750F. 770F, plus or minus 5 or 10F works well for my casting style. You'll also need to pay attention to bullet release because when it requires more than a few gentle raps on the hinge pin to release your bullets, the mould is trying to tell you that it's getting to hot. Some of us cast with two Lee moulds and others not in such a big hurry to make mounds of bullets stick our moulds, sprue plate first, in front of a six inch fan for a count of 3 Mississippi. I know of others who use a wet towel to cool moulds between casts (please be careful if you decide to have water in your casting area since tiny bit of moisture entered into your melt can ruin your day). The point is, you need to make sure you don't "cut" the sprues too soon. Lead build-up on the mould block and sprue plate will be the result of your haste. This can also ruin your day... but probably won't physically injury you... unless, of course, you try to remove alloy from a hot mould.

Good luck,
44
 
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