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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone... have a few questions about casting.

For starters I have been casting BP and shotgun slugs for a while now so I am fimilar w/ the process...

Doing the math on how much I can get lead/linotype for I am predict to be able to make 38/357mag 148gr wadcutters for approx 1 cent a round, as opposed to the 6 cent per round shipped I pay now.

Assuming I get...
a 6 cavity iron mold
utilizing a 10lb furnace(I believe thats the size we have)
RCBS lube-o-matic 2

I have the furnace and my father purchased the lube/sizer recently to begin reloading for his 45-75 rifle and potentially 45colt... so the only investment I'd have to do is the mold itself.

I go shooting approx 2-4 times a month(closer to 2) and usually shoot 200-250ish rounds each session of this type of bullet... Casting would save me approx $2 a box.

I know that beginning it will be slow but once I learn everything what kind of quantities should I be able to expect in a given time period?

Neglecting heating of furnace, cooling of bullets, reloading the furnace/lube/sizer... what time frame could I complete 500 rds in?

If I was to do this I would probably sit down and spend half a day cranking them out at a time so I have a good quanity and don't have to cast for a while. Trying to see if the savings are worth the time.

Thanks,

MIke.
 

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Mike,
I've been casting for several years now and enjoy doing it. I cast for 357 mag, 30-30, and 45-70. I started casting because it looked interesting and I could save a few bucks. One thing to consider is a six cavity iron mold will cost a few bucks. Do you have a good source for your casting alloy? Some are finding it increasingly more difficult to obtain their alloy at a reasonable price. The days of using wheel weights looks to be coming to a close as the lead ones are being phased out. Once you get the hang of using the six cavity mold you should be able to produce a good amount of bullets in a short time. I would guess you should be able to fill and empty your mold every 30 to 40 seconds at the most. The mold will use up the molten lead fast in your furnace and you will need to keep adding to the furnace which will drop the temp. You will need to wait as the furnace comes back up to the proper casting temperature.
Cary
 

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You have lots more decisions to make before you can answer these questions.

If you want to cast in large quantitiy and minimum time, 6-cavity molds will help, but do it with an Aluminum mold, except if your arms are like Popeye's.

A 10-pound furnace will not keep up with a 4- or 6-cavity mold in .357. I use a 20-pound to cast from and a 10-pound furnace as a melter, and I sometimes fall behind.

The Lead I melt to cast .357 bullets is not the same I cast for muzzleloaders. I like to cast everything hot, even they Lead-Tin-Antimony alloy I use for .357 bullets. I typically use scrap wheelweights, with a bit of Tin added, for .357s. I use pure Lead for muzzleloaders.

For .357s, I can cast four 6-cavity molds per minute when I am really going, with the two furnaces going, with small ingots on top of both furnaces pre-heating, and dropping the bullets from the mold into a 5-gallon bucket of water. Casting this fast may require smoking of mold cavities. Casting this fast will require specialized lubricants for the top of the mold and the alignment pins, and I use Bullplate, which is available through the Cast Boolits board.

Lubrication can be a bottleneck. The Lee Liquid Alox lubing system can be a quick way to lube a lot of bullets quickly, but I prefer the Star lubricator/sizer. The Lee system is cheap, the Star is expensive initially. With the Lee system I can do hundreds per hour, with the Star I can do hundreds per hour.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Lead I'm not worried about, we get it from other sub contractors from work(plumbers)

The alloy we have approx 100 lbs and theres a decent amount on ebay it appears.

The furnace is actually a 20lb one.

Can someone explain to me the lubing of the aluminum molds and the purpose and procedure of it?

In the end did it pay off for you guys to mold... outside of the hobby aspect does it save you money?

MIke.
 

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Taking the new questions in inverse order, casting bullets means I shoot more, I don't really save money.

There is an adhesive wear phenomenon that happens with Aluminum molds at Lead casting temperatures called galling. One can fight it various ways, two things I have tried is the Bullplate sprue plate lubricant I've mentioned. Another is rubbing the top of the mold and bottom of the sprue plate with a "0" pencil. Lee says to use bullet lubricant on the locator pins, but that won't work on the sprue plate.

See here about Bullplate:
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=3412

Regarding galling, you can see the beginnings of it in pictures here:
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=64784&highlight=galling

Here's an advanced case, not due to lack of lube, but more clearly showing it:
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=66758&highlight=galling

A lot of Lead can be had for nothing. Tin is more difficult to find for free, so try to find scrap with a lot of Tin in it, such as high Tin Babbit, etc.
 

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I use nothing but Lee moulds, of single and double cavities. I don't bother sizing my handgun bullets at all, only the rifle ones. I use Liquid Alox for all lube uses. I have no trouble casting 500 bullets in a few hours using a ten-pound bottom-pour pot, even though I have to refill the pot and bring it back to temp at least once.
 

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Lead I'm not worried about, we get it from other sub contractors from work(plumbers)

The alloy we have approx 100 lbs and theres a decent amount on ebay it appears.

The furnace is actually a 20lb one.

Can someone explain to me the lubing of the aluminum molds and the purpose and procedure of it?

In the end did it pay off for you guys to mold... outside of the hobby aspect does it save you money?

MIke.
Mike,
In my application I think it has paid off. Of course for expenses I had to buy all my equipment such as the molds, furnaces, Lee sizers, and some of the alloy I have used. I'm sure I have paid these items off a while back. Some of the pay back will be determined by how many bullets you use and what type of bullet you use. For instance large bullets such as for my 45-70 can cost quite a bit say over the counter while bullets for 357 mag and 38 sp are cheaper. Cost of shipping the bullets is another expense if you do mail order. At this point I am saving money and I really enjoy doing it as well. On winter days when going out to shoot is not an option I can still cast bullets in my shop. With your supply of alloy and only needing to buy a mold and maybe a sizer I think you should go for it. As already mentioned the aluminum molds are cheaper and a lot of people use them with success for many years. All my mounds are aluminum except for one SAECO I have. I can see the quality difference between the SAECO mold and the aluminum Lee molds yet the Lee molds were $20 (two cavity) or less and the SAECO (one cavity) was well over $100. I only cast for my own use so my volume is not that great. The aluminum molds work good for my application and are light to use as already mentioned. There are a lot of people who use the Lee six cavity molds with success.<O:p</O:p<ST1:p</ST1:p<O:p</O:p
Cary<O:p</O:p
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Alright so the purpose of lubing the mold is to pervent wear from moving parts on the hot aluminum? So just apply the idea of keeping all moving parts and contacting surfaces lubed? (other than the two inner faces of the mold)

With dropping them into water to cool, is this an OK thing to do?? It wont quench them and make them more brittle??? Or is that only a characteristic of steel?

MIke.
 

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I assume you talking about moulds and not bullets. I do not think is a good idea to quench or drop any mould in to water to rapidly cool it off.

Just set the mould aside and let it cool naturaly. After all you don't dunk your lead pot in a bucket of water do you?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Sorry, I can see where the confusion was... no I wasn't talking about the mold.. I was talking about the bullets... I ment to ask does lead alloy have the same characteristcs as steel where if quenched becomes harder.... I did some searching and found that it does so I answered the question already.
 

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Elk Whisperer (Super Moderator)
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Yes, quenching does make a bullet harder, but there has to be some tin and/or antimony in the lead for this too be effective. Pure lead won't "harden" by quenching from my experience.

Also, some alloys with harden over time. Wheel weights do this I've noticed. If I let my bullets set for a week or so, I noticed they are harder to size.

RJ
 

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A little arsenic helps as well. If you don't keep that handy on the shelves in the cupboard :eek: then some magnum shot will likely contain a bit.
 

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water dropping.

you dont need to water drop pistol bullets nor rifle bullets if you keep velocity under 2000fts.
if your getting plumers lead and roofing sheets there fine for BP but you will have to add something for smokless powder loads. WW are good save the pure lead for you BP.
 
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