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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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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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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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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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