Casting your own bullets.

Discussion in 'Vintage Topic Archive (Sept - 2009)' started by Jarhead1775, Jan 29, 2008.

  1. Jarhead1775

    Jarhead1775 Guest

    Hey guys, I got a Lee Lead Production pot today from a friend with 200 lbs of lead. Any advice besides a well ventilated area will be helpful. I never casted before. Thank you
  2. screwylewie

    screwylewie Guest

    I do most of my casting outside. on safety, first do not eat, drink or smoke while casting. After casting is done take clothes off and wash them and take a shower. as long as you do these lead exposure is kept to a minimum.

    As far as the casting, you want a good hardness to your bullets, lee makes a hardness tester for @ $40. flux your lead to remove impurities (a little wax in the molten lead stirred around has allways done it to me). temperature matters, 700 F is a good starting point. Too hot and your bullets look 'frosty', too cold and you usually have mold fill problems.

    Casting is actually pretty simple and relatively safe as long as you do things 'by the book' and get into a routine (much like reloading).

  3. Jarhead1775

    Jarhead1775 Guest

    Thanks Screwylewie. Is it okay to use old tire wheelweights? I have an unlimited supply of them and I figured it would be very cost effective. Also should I get a temperature gauge to see how hot the lead mix is getting.
  4. screwylewie

    screwylewie Guest

    Wheelweights are ok to use provided they are the older clip on type. the newer ones are zinc based and are not good for casting, one of those in the molten lead can ruin a whole batch of lead (bad fill problems). A temperature gage is very very usefull (without it you are just guessing), I bought one from harborfreight that has a temp range of 500-1000, it has worked well for me. Any temp gage (glass face) that can do that range will work well.
  5. lazermule

    lazermule Member

    Been casting for a couple years

    I have been casting for a couple of years now. The safety precautions listed by Lewie is good advice. Also if you have young children keep them far away of the fumes and residue as they are more suceptable to complications from lead poisoning than adults.

    I have the same pot that you have. 700 degrees is a good starting point, I usually run around 750. I use Lee molds and break them in according to the directions. All of my molds are 2 cavity and the type for tumble lubing in which I use the Lee liquid Alox and it is incredibly easy and works great.

    I use wheel weights exclusively, When melting them flux the mix good and let the impurities and the steel clips float to the top and scoop them off. I have a bar mold and usually do a "prep session" where I will melt down and mold a bunch of wheel weights into lead ahead of time so I have some good stock to start from. The Lee bar mold will cost you about $5.

    When molding I preheat the mold with a torch as they work better when hot. Periodically I lube the mold with some candle wax to prevent galling and overheating. Upon de-molding, I drop the bullets into a bucket of ice water which makes them harder and resists barrel leading better. Also, I find that I end up with a lot better quality bullets as the drop into the water is a whole lot softer than a drop into a bin or a hard pan. One HUGE caution here, place the water where there is absolutely NO CHANCE of it splashing or contacting the lead in any way. If it does (even one tiny drop), you will have a molten lead storm spattering everywhere and that won't be fun. I actually drop mine into a cottage cheese container of ice water that sits on a bench surface 18" lower than the surface than the lead pot sits on. I find that this keeps the water far enough away that I don't have any issues.

    From there I do a quick inspection and then load them into my media vibrating tumbler. This step is not necessary, but I find that it knocks off any light casting flash and actually gives the bullets a dulled finish that the lube sticks to better, or more lube for that matter.

    From there I enter the tumble lube process. Here, I use 2 high tech old peanut butter jars. I add about 1/2 tblspn of Lee liquid Alox to the jar and then about 1 tblspn of mineral spirits to thin it down (I like it to be the consistancy of heavy cream), I then add 100-150 bullets screw on the cover and shake-rattle-and roll the jar around the bench for a minute or 2. Next get out the other high tech jar and I use an old martini strainer or cup strainer to pour off the Alox mixture into the other jar while holding back the bullets. Letting most of teh excess run off next dump the treated bullets on some waxed paper and set them point up to dry. This will make the Alox a little thicker at the base but when you seat the bullets it will push the lube back up a bit and work it into the grooves.

    This is my method, use it or parts of it if you'd like. It has proven to make excellent bullets for me at a cost of next to nothing.

  6. Ari

    Ari Guest

    Any of you use a sizer/luber
  7. lazermule

    lazermule Member


    My plan was to try that after I tried the tumble lube method, but having such good luck with the tumble lube I have looked no further so far. I still may keep my eye out for a sizer lube setup to add to my equipment though. Another one of the bullets I mold is the R.E.A.L. bullets for my muzzle loader and they really are a pain to load so I wouldn't mind running them through a 50 cal sizer/luber and give it a shot.
  8. screwylewie

    screwylewie Guest

    I use an old lyman model 45 (pre 450, pre 4500), which takes lyman,rcbs size dies. I bought it off ebay for $25 shipped w/ 3 size dies. I do tumblelube, like Lazer, with several lee molds as well. I Cast a few times a year, usually spring and mostly outside. My pot is also a lee production pot
  9. Water and molten lead DO NOT MIX!!!! A single droplet of water in your molten lead will result in a lead explosion!
  10. z71silverado98

    z71silverado98 Member

    I threw a cup of water into a pot of lead my father was using to cast fishing weights because i didnt believe it would explode. Very Very voilent and lasts a good while. He was finished casting and told me it would happen. we were safe about it as well, using a styro-cup pulled by a long string to dump the water.
  11. I use all Lee casting equipment and molds for casting. Wheelweights are free and an excellent source of alloy. I like using the Frankford Arsenal casting flux for fluxing the melted alloy. For water quenching the bullets, I keep a 3 gallon bucket on the floor about 3 feet from the melting furnace, which is a Lee Production Pot IV. I like running my furnace around 800 degrees F, although most of the bullets look a little frosty, they are most consistent in filling out in the mold. I keep a small metal pan with water and a folded dish towel in it on the bench to cool the mold when it gets too hot. After filling the mold, I strike off the sprues and turn to the water bucket and open the mold over the bucket to let the bullets drop into the water. Then I turn back to the furnace and repeat the process. I can go 3-5 drops before the mold starts getting hot, usually evidenced by having to start tapping the bullets out of the mold.

    As far as lubing the bullets, I like using both the conventional and the tumble-lube designs. The tumble lube is the fastest and easiest, but the conventional bullets do well with my RCBS LAM II sizer/lubricator. I like using the bullet lubes sold on ebay called Jake's bullet lube.

    I have more casting specifics I can speak of, just can't think of all of them right now.

  12. And DO NOT stick you're finger in the pot. I know I know, seems like it would be cool, but it's not.