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Hello,
     I was looking at the Lyman web sight and there is a disclaimer-type announcement on there that casting bullets exposes you and those around you to airborne lead. So far I've just shot commercially cast bullets but I've toyed with the idea of casting and this bothers me a bit. I have a young son and want to protect his health as well as mine. Living in North Idaho we are constantly reminded of lead because the EPA continually tries to list us as a superfund sight due to mine tailings. (Another issue!) Anyway, it seems to me that handling lead bullets is easier to deal with because you wash your hands etc. But is there a good way to reduce/prevent exposure when casting? How much is too much? Almost all the bullet casters I know around here are old guys and a lot have health problems, but who knows what they are from? Am I just worrying about nothing? I would appreciate any knowledgeable responses. Thanks!!
:confused:    ID
 

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Howdy Id shooter, The best way I can say to avoid The health risk of casting is.
1. never ever use battery lead.
2. keep your casting shop organized. by that keep all lead and skimmings in sealed metal containers and labeled.
3. good ventilation, two windows in your shop with your casting equipment near one of them and a fan at the other pulling in fresh air and blowing towards other window. a vent type range hood over your pot is also another cheap invention to help exhaust fumes.
4. wash your hands and face well after casting, and I even shower after a long casting session due to lead dust on my clothes.
5. no eatin or drinkin while in your casting shop.
6. buy a thermometer, no need at all to go over 800f. and certainally not above 900f.
7. no young ones allowed near casting area or soon to be mothers. PERIOD.
8. I usually keep approx 1000 casted bullets in my loading room which is in the house and I keep lead objects in sealed zip lock bags and put out of reach for my daughter. just a precaution not to get any lead vapors in the house although my loading room is upstairs and not used for any living space except for guest room which joins it.
9. I limit my casting sessions to 3 hrs or less and take a break every hour or so to step outside of building and get a drink or fresh air.
10.use common sense, and keep anything that has the symbol h2o out of the molten alloy or you will realize just how fast you can really move if your not already burnt badly.
11. think safety always.
12. enjoy your new past time hobby in which is very rewarding to you and shootin buddies.
hope this helps you some. I would also reccomend gettin a copy of lymans book on casting very informative to procedures and safety tips. as well as marshalls book on gettin the performance.     have a nice day.  JIM.
 

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Hi, IDShooter:
  I'm at about the same point you are, except there's no young'uns around. Just waiting on the Pony Express for a few more tools before I start. Jim's pretty well summed it up, near as I can tell.

  There's a good amount of info over on the cast bullet forum on lead exposure & poisoning.
Goto http://talk.shooters.com/  
click on cast bullets, then search (binocular icon)and search for lead exposure and lead poisoning (2 separate searches). You probably can think of another search or two.

  Those old boys post more stuff in a day than we post in a week here. Mind you, a lot of it's kidding back and forth. How do you tell if a real bullet caster is running low on wheelweights?  Drive to the back of the Wal Mart parking lot and if you see an old boy with a pail and a pair of pliers trying to look innocent.....

Bye
Jack
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the info guys. Jack, that wheelweights joke reminds me of one of the guys I know! I don't think he has stooped so low as to steal them yet, but he is forever walking around parking lots and auto shops looking like he dropped a quarter!  Thanks again, ID
 

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ID,

Jim made some good suggestions. If I may, allow me to add a few. These days I only cast three or four days out of the year. A couple in late summer and again in late spring. I take a weekend and just cast away. I think it reduces the overall impact if you do get some vapor.

I also cast on my back porch, using an iron pot atop a propane stove. This keeps me completely away from food, cooking utensils, etc. There is also a constant breeze.

And finally, I use disposable painter's masks when I flux to reduce or possibly eliminate the chance of inhaling lead-laced vapor carried by the smoke.
 

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I believe too that lead alloys start to gas at about 950 or so and really start to boil at around 1100 degrees.


Just don't lick any ingots and keep the finished bullets out of your nostrils and you should be fine.

:biggrin:


Regards,

:cool:
 

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IDShooter,  jim lambert hit the nail on the head, I've been casting for approx. 40 yrs. and do most of the things jim mentioned.  Also I never cast at over 800 degrees, usually I stay at the 780 degree mark and have excellent results.  Have fun casting!.
 

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Hi, Guys:
  I cast my first bullets a couple of weeks ago, and got over 250 good bullets, despite making half the mistakes in the book.

  "Heavy as lead" is no longer just a figure of speech when you're dealing with a pot of molten lead. It takes a bit of mental adjustment to realize that your little pot is so heavy and the lead is 11 times heavier and 3 times hotter than boiling water.

  I've never seen this in print, but Mr. Bill Ferguson told me to never use a frying pan for pouring lead because it's too shallow. You start tipping it to pour and suddenly you've got 15 lb of lead on one side and 5 on the other. TILT! He says some people got in real trouble with frying pans.

  I've ordered a thermometer for my next run. The old stove I used has a fixed heat switch, and #1 is too hot and #2 isn't hot enough. Chasing the right temperature cuts into production.

  ID, you may want to tell this to that guy that's always looking for lost wheelweights, or you might not. <!--emo&;)--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=';)'><!--endemo--> The best place to look is at a rough railroad crossing. Lots get shook off there, especially those heavy truck ones that are as big as both my thumbs.

Bye
Jack  
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Jack,
     Congratulations on a successful maiden voyage! Let us know how those bullets shoot. And thanks for the wheelweight tip; I know of quite a few crossings that get used a lot by logging trucks.  HHHHMMMMMM.......:biggrin:
                                              ID
                                               
 

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CONGRATS JACK, THE THERMOMETER WILL HELP TO TWEAK THE TEMPS FOR YOUR INDIVIDUAL TECHNIQUES. WHEN YOU GET ONE YOU WILL PROBABLY BE SUPRIZED TO THINK OF WHAT SOME OF TEMPS WERE BEFORE YOU GOT ONE. WITH THE LARGER DIAMETER BULLETS YOU WILL FIND GOOD BULLETS AT TEMPS LOWER THAN YOU MAY HAVE THOUGHT.  KEEP US POSTED ON YOUR RESULTS AT THE RANGE.        JIM.
PS. DONT FORGET THE SAFETY EQUIPMENT WHEN CASTING.
 

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Hi, Guys:
  Thanks for the advice. I handlubed a few bullets and stuffed them down on top of my standard target loads. The 358655 Cowboy FNs all went into the black, after I or the gun (S&W M28) settled down. A couple of the 452630 SWCs just leaked out of the black with the old .45. (Remington-Rand 1911A1 with a tight bushing, Group Gripper & original barrel.) I should do better with a bit of load development and some trifocals.

  I'm still waiting on a luber-sizer but the Visa needs a chance to come up for air anyhow.

  A couple of first impressions. It seems to me that a casting pot should be as deep as it is wide. That gives you room for the ladle, but enough depth to get a fill. A deeper pot means less molten metal surface exposed to the air, so there's less oxidation and need to flux. Also, there's no danger of the out of balance problem Mr. Ferguson mentioned.

 On the other hand, a pot that's twice as wide as it's high is about right for melting down wheelweights into ingots. You've got a thick layer of clips holding the top layer of weights out of the melt about the time you're 90% done. If you've got a deep pot it takes another 10 minutes for them to melt, but you can push them down into the melt if you've got a shallow pot. After some diddling around, I found an old cake pan that's 3"x7", which is about right for the Coleman stove. It held 35 lb. filled to about 3/4" from the top. It's about all the weight I want on the Coleman, and it's about all it can melt too. (The old Coleman needs a tuneup.)  

  A big slotted spoon is perfect for scooping out clips. It's surprizing how much dirt and junk sticks to the bottom and sides of the pot. The way I see it, the more time I spend cleaning when I'm melting down wheelweights, the fewer problems I'll have when I'm casting; so I'll scrape and scratch and flux until it's clean.

  A muffin pan makes a good ingot mould and it holds more than the fancy molds and is 1/3 the price. I smoked the pan with the acetylene torch to stop the ingots from sticking.

  Next time I'll use 2 old towels for dropping bullets. When one gets loaded, I'll switch to the other. By the time the second is loaded, the first batch will be cool enough to handle. A clay pigeon makes a good saucer for them. A hot bullet won't melt it and no one's likely to take it back into the kitchen.

  The Rowell ladle worked well. It must keep the crud out of the mould, because I only had a dozen bullets out of over 250 that looked good but weighed light.

  After reading about some disasters from molten lead spills, I figure your setup should be twice as sturdy as it needs to be. No extension cords where anyone can trip over them and no shelves or cabinets over the pot.

  I suspect you're right about temperatures, Jim. I was going from 1/4" thick sprues to razor blade thin and back again before I got things under control. Of course, this was my first run, and I was diddling around as much as I was casting.  I was talking to one of the guys who's into BPCR a few days later. He'd just run off 500 bullets and I'll bet he did it in half the time I took for my 250.

  Thanks again for the advice, guys.

Bye
Jack
 

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Jack,

What size Rowell did you end up settling on?

For the clips, I have bought one of Bill's clip straining ladles. It has a 3" scoop on it with perforations. Handle is about 16 or so inches long 5/16" round iron. Really the nuts for scooping out the clibs when you are alloying. Glad I picked one up. Flux generously during your cleaning/alloying so you don't have to heavily flux later when you are casting. The cleaner your casting alloy the better.

I put all the clips/debri in empty metal paint cans with lids to keep the water out when until full.

Try water dropping your bullets into a 5 gallon bucket of water once you get a good rhythm going. Dump the water from the bucket and spread the bullets out on an old towel to dry overnite. By the next day they will be up to 6 or so BHN harder.

Have fun,


:cool:
 

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Hi, Contender:
   I got the 1 lb. Rowell ladle. Figured it would be right for casting, but a bigger one would be better for pouring muffins.  I got about 165 pounds of muffins out of a 5 gallon pail of wheel weights, which should last me 2-3 years, so I'll think about a bigger Rowell then.

   The slotted spoon I used for skimming clips is about 2"x3" with a foot long handle. It's amazing what you can find on the farm when nothing's been thrown out for 90 years. A lot of stuff should have been chucked. <!--emo&:)--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=':)'><!--endemo-->

   It didn't take long to figure out that it paid to flux before I skimmed off the clips. Saved a lot of good metal that way. I used paraffin for fluxing.  What's the score with Marvelux? Seems that there's them that swear by it and them that swear at it.

   I'll have to try water dropping and loading them up to .357 power.

   Lots to learn yet. Thanks again for the advice.

Bye
Jack  
   
 

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Marvelux is not like any "traditional" type of flux. I believe it is made out of a borax material or boric acid. It melts into a goo after it hits the melt.

The best way to use it is to put a half a spoon full into the pot and keep the gob in the center of the melt on the surface. Stir around the outside circumferance of the pot in a circular stir. This keeps the flux in the center. Carefully scrape all around with the ladle/spoon all the while keeping the melt swirling around. The Marvelux goo will trap all the dirt and junk in the melt as it's pulled up from the bottom to the center. It works real well with first cleanup of weights when you are pouring off into ingots. When done, scoop out the goo and dump it. It will stick somewhat to your tools but you can scrape most of it off if necessary.

I don't use it in my bottom pour pot when bullet casting though as there is too much chance of getting it stuck on the valve shaft and such.

Some guys are using kitty litter or sawdust on the top of the melt to prevent air contact from oxidizing the alloy surface on bottom pour pots.

Ladle casting is tougher to keep the oxidation at bay because you are constantly breaking the surface of the melt. Hence the use of a Rowell ladle to pour from beneath the surface.

Aluminum mini muffin molds make some nice little 1/4 lb ingots and they fall right out. Some guys also make ingot molds from angle iron turned up like a trough. They weld them together with dividers set at about 3" apart into a one piece unit of individual cavities.

My alloying furnace is one of those propane fish cooker stand burners that you can regulate. I set an old cast iron pot on it that holds about 50 lbs of alloy. Got it in Sam's Club for about 30 bucks. Hooks to a 20 pounder. Melts a load in about 20 minutes. Then I add to it. I then clean up the alloy and ladle it into ingot molds.

Keep an eye out for some of the old cast iron cooking molds that were used for cakes and muffins and such. They work great too!

For bullet sizing with hand lubed bullets, the Lee sizer dies are tough to beat. Screw right into your press. If I use a certain bullet in multiple guns, I'll get a sizing die for my lubesizer that is the biggest diameter I need. I'll size and lube in it. Then, if I need a quantity of these bullets sized smaller, I'll simply run them through a Lee sizing die. My Contender likes .358 bullets but I'll size the same bullets down again for my Smith 686 to .357 for example using the Lee die. Beats buying and changing lubesizer dies. Also allows you to experiment with different bullet sizes at less cost.

Regards,


:cool:
 
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