2009 Bullet Casting Workshop Follow Up/Documentation Thread

DukeInFlorida

NES Member
Rating - 100%
53   0   0
Joined
Mar 30, 2009
Messages
4,195
Likes
250
Location
South of you
Thank you again to all who attended, and who provided materials, skills, insight, teaching, tools, equipment, and time for the 2009 Bullet Casting Workshop.

Several of the participants have promised to document sections of the casting process that was covered today. The documentation will be gathered here, compiled into a pdf file, and posted for all to download, use, and enjoy.

This thread is solely for the purpose of posting that documentation from the workshop participants.

If you didn't participate in the workshop, please do not post in this thread.

If you did participate, you can either post documentation here, or email it to me in Word, plain text, or other format: [email protected]

I will compile the entire grouping of submissions, insert the photos that we have, and create the pdf file.

Again, thanks for attending, participating, and helping! And, thanks in advance for documenting what was done today.
 

DukeInFlorida

NES Member
Rating - 100%
53   0   0
Joined
Mar 30, 2009
Messages
4,195
Likes
250
Location
South of you
Preface Section

Preface: This documentation is a compilation of the discussions, questions, answers, activities, and knowledge of those attending the 2009 NES Bullet Casting Workshop. This documentation will be assembled into a down-loadable PDF file, available to the members of the NES forum, and the general public. Neither NES, nor the authors of the final document take any responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the comments, points, tips, discussions, techniques, methods, or handling of lead alloys in the making of firearms projectiles. The smelting of lead is inherently dangerous. Lead melts at a temperature at or above 600 degrees Fahrenheit, and as such any one wishing to smelt lead should heed all of the safety warnings. The postings in the NES discussion forum are only raw materials in the production of the final document. Readers should wait until the final PDF document is published before proceeding with the casting of lead bullets. And, even then, all precautions for dealing with extremely hot metals and dangerous vapors should be taken. NES, and the authors of this document do not assume any responsibility for any injuries relating to any one's participation in the casting of lead bullets, any where, and at any time. The reading, downloading, printing, and referral to these materials is solely at the readers risk. (This section subject to review, modification, and edits)
 

DukeInFlorida

NES Member
Rating - 100%
53   0   0
Joined
Mar 30, 2009
Messages
4,195
Likes
250
Location
South of you
Safety Discussion

Safety Discussion

Before proceeding with the casting of lead bullets, the reader should familiarize themselves with the inherent dangers of melting and casting lead.

Lead melts into a liquid form at a temperature above 600 degrees Fahrenheit. That's hotter than most residential ovens. Liquid lead splashes and sticks easily, and therefore can cause severe burns. Always wear leather gloves when handling hot lead. You should also wear outer clothing that will protect you in the event of a spill or splash.

The temperature of molten lead also creates some additional concerns. Wood, plastic, paper, and most cloths will burn at temperatures less than 600 degrees F. That means that anything that would fall into molten lead will smolder and ignite. You should always melt lead in an area where ventilation is sufficient. You should have some sort of fire extinguisher on hand to deal with fires, should they occur. However, do NOT ever discharge a fire extinguisher into molten lead.

Liquid water will turn into steam instantly when dropped into molten lead. The resultant expansion of steam will cause lead to splash, often violently. Do not melt lead outside in the rain. Also, be careful of other accidental introduction of water: Splashing from dropping cast bullets into water for cooling (normally a beneficial thing to do to assure the bullets are hard), sweating on a hot summer day, dropping wet wheel weights into a pot of molten lead, etc.

Wheel weights used for cast bullets are typically obtained as USED wheel weights, often from tire and repair shops. As such, they are covered with oxidation, paint, oil, grease, and other coverings that will smolder, smoke, and burn when added to molten lead. The amount of smoke can be significant. Be mindful of that when deciding where to melt lead wheel weights.

In addition to good quality leather gloves, you should also wear safety glasses when dealing with molten lead.

Keep children, and others who are not aware of the dangers, away from your melting area.

Do not melt lead when you are in a hurry. The process takes a while (lead takes a while to absorb the heat enough to melt), and you must always be attentive to the process. Accidents can happen quickly.

Do not melt lead in the presence of combustible materials, especially flammable liquids. The heat from the melting process can , for example, cause the propane in a hand-held torch to overheat resulting in overpressure, which could cause the torch to explode.

When feasable, wear breathing protection. Masks and respirators can reduce your exposure to noxious fumes.

This section subject to modification, changes, and edits.
 

DukeInFlorida

NES Member
Rating - 100%
53   0   0
Joined
Mar 30, 2009
Messages
4,195
Likes
250
Location
South of you
Cast Bullet Mold Selection

Cast Bullet Mold Selection - Before purchasing a mold to cast bullets, be sure you know the following:

  • The bullet diameter required for your gun.
  • The metal you will be casting with.
  • How you will be lubricating the bullet.

If you have a new gun, most likely you will just need whatever the standard bullet diameter is for your caliber. For example: if you have a new 30-06 rifle, you will need a mold that casts .308" diameter bullets.

However, the metal that you will be casting with also affects the final diameter of the cast bullet. From the Saeco bullet mold selection guide:

The bullet diameters and weights presented in the list
are based on the use of Taracorp’s Lawrence Magnum bullet alloy (2% tin, 6% antimony, 1/4% arsenic, 91.75% lead).

Bullet diameters and weights will vary considerably depending on the lead casting alloy used. This variation can be as much as 1/2% on the diameter, and 8% on the weight among the most commonly used casting alloys. For example, a .358-158 grain bullet might show a diameter variation of .002", and a 13 grain difference in weight.

Of the most commonly used alloys, wheel weights (.5% tin, 4% antimony, 95% lead) will produce bullets having the smallest diameter and heaviest weight, with such bullets running approximately 1/3% smaller in diameter and 3% heavier than bullets cast with Taracorp's metal. Linotype will produce bullets with the largest diameter and lightest weights. This alloy will
produce bullets approximately 1/10% larger and 3% lighter than Taracorp. Other alloys of tin and antimony, with antimony content above 5%, will produce bullets with diameters and weights falling between those cast
from wheel weights and linotype.

Alloys containing little or no antimony will cast considerably smaller than wheel weights and in some cases will produce bullets too small for adequate sizing.

Within the limitations given above, the weight and diameter of a cast bullet can be adjusted by varying the alloy’s antimony content. The size and weight of bullets of a given alloy will also vary according to casting temperature. Higher temperatures will result in greater shrinkage as the bullet
cools, thereby producing a slightly smaller and lighter bullet than one cast of the same alloy at a lower temperature.

Source: http://www.redding-reloading.com/PDFfiles/bulletchart.pdf

So, if you are going to be casting with wheel weight lead, choose a mold that will supply you with the needed bullet diameter.

NOTE: Some resizing from cast diameters is possible with use of sizing dies, discussed later)

Some pistol bullet molds are available with stick lube type grooves, and others are available with Alox type microgrooves. If you buy a stick type lube mold, you must use stick lube to lube it. And, vice versa.

Rifle bullet designs are such that the high speed of the bullet through the barrel requires stick types lubes which are thicker, and must be applied by using a lubri-sizing machine (sometimes heated).

The bottom line is to make sure that you select a bullet mold TYPE for the size, metal, and lube type that you will be casting for.

You should also be sure to check the reloading data book for reloading data for the particular bullet weight/shape that you will be casting. There are some oddball molds available for which reloading data is hard to find.

Molds come in one cavity, two cavity, four cavity, and six cavity sizes. Not all of those are available from any one manufacturer.

Some of the more common bullet designs/molds are available from:

Lyman Products Corp
475 Smith Street
Middletown, CT 06457

Lee Precision, Inc.
4275 HIGHWAY U
HARTFORD WISCONSIN 53027

Redding Reloading Equipment (Saeco Molds)
1089 Starr Road
Cortland, NY 13045

RCBS Operations
605 Oro Dam Blvd
Oroville, CA 95965

Depending on the manufacturer, and mold quality (which most often relates directly to cost), molds are available in aluminum, steel, or cast iron. The cast iron molds are the best quality, and will last the longest. The aluminum molds start off fine, but soon wear, primarily on the sprue plate/top of the mold surfaces. Avoid sprue plates made from aluminum. The will lose their sharp edge fast, and this will result in poorly cut sprues.

Most of the mold manufacturers will make custom molds for you. If you have some old bullets that you are wanting to duplicate, send them some bullet samples, and they will make you a mold for them. Have an old gun, and can't find ammo for it anywhere? Cast your own lead bullets, and have them make a mold for the bullet size and shape.

While most of this discussion deals with metallic cartridge reloading and the bullets for those, the same applies to old black powder and muzzle loader guns.
 
Last edited:

DukeInFlorida

NES Member
Rating - 100%
53   0   0
Joined
Mar 30, 2009
Messages
4,195
Likes
250
Location
South of you
Raw processing of Wheel Weights

Raw Processing of Wheel Weights-

Wheel weight lead comprises probably 80% or more of the cast lead bullets in the U.S. The raw material is plentiful, of a good alloy for making bullets, and reasonably priced.

Time was that most tire shops and mechanics would give you the wheel weights for the asking. In this day and age of high metal costs, however, most tire shops see the selling of used wheel weights (to the scrap metal dealers) as a basic money making part of their business.

So, be prepared to shell out some $$$ for wheel weights. Between $20 and $40 seems about right for a 5 gallon bucket of wheel weights, which is just about as much as any human can carry. That translates into one heck of a lot of bullets. If you know someone in that business, all the better. Some mechanics who do tire balancing are more willing to give up the wheel weight treasure for free, or at less cost, so don't overlook that resource.

Some tire shops keep their wheel weights in 55 gallon barrels out in back o their shop. Those weights that are stored outside are subject to being wet, a dangerous situation when adding them to a pot of molten lead. Even minor moisture on the wheel weights can cause boiling and bubbling, as documented at the workshop. Be sure to dry the wheel weights (to be safe), prior to using them.

Wheel weights also come in several types:
  • Steel clip crimp on, painted
  • Steel clip crimped on, plain
  • Flat pads, with adhesive stick on

The last version are almost always ZINC based, and should be culled out for the purposes of making bullets. IE, do NOT use them.

The clip on type will smoke like crazy due to paint, grease, and oils that get on them. Be sure to melt them outside, and avoid breathing the noxious fumes.

There are several methods methods for melting the wheel weights, for processing them into "ingots". The method you choose may depend on the equipment you have, and where you can melt them down. At the workshop, we discussed and demonstrated:
  • A length of angle iron can be suspended from metal saw horses by means of a wire. Wheel weights can be placed into the angle iron, and heated with a propane torch. The meltin lead rolls down the angle iron and into a catch receptical. As the steel clips are liberated, they can be knocked out of the angle iron. Use of MAPP gas will speed up thi melting technique siince MAPP gas is hotter than propane.
  • I melting pot with a wire handle can be suspended and filled with wheel weights, and heated with a hand held torch. As with the angle iron technique, the use of MAPP gas will speed up this process.
  • A "Dutch Oven pot" can be situated on a stand, and a large gas burner placed under the pot. Gas buber stands, such as from a turkey frier or meat smoker serve the purpose nicely. During the workshop, we used a custom fabricated stand/burner created to facilitate boiling water for the making of beer.

Notes:
The angle iron technique works fine, but does not allow for any fluxing of metal prior to introducing it to the final melting pot. It is also a constant batch type process. Only some residual heat remains in the angle iron, requiring perhaps more heat than would otherwise be needed for the melting of a given amount of lead.

The small pot approach is merely a smaller version of the Dutch Oven method, and can be successful if no stand or large burner is available. It allows for the small batch of lead to be fluxed, and also dipped into ingot molds, for easier use later in the final melter.

The larger batch Dutch Oven process on the stand was both a fast technique (LOTS of heat from the burner, and a large capacity in the dutch oven, approximately 30 pounds or more) and also allowed for fluxing prior to ladling the molten lead into ingot molds. If a dutch oven isn't feasable, a cast iron skillet is also useful, although lacking in as much volume as the dutch oven. Be sure to use dutch ovens or skillets that will NEVER EVER be used for cooking. Check places like yard sales, flea markets, or Harbor Freight for cheap dutch ovens or skillets.
 

Bob J

NES Member
Rating - 100%
31   0   0
Joined
Mar 30, 2009
Messages
4,588
Likes
421
Location
Quincy MA
Procedure for slugging a barrel using Cerrosafe or the sulfur/graphite mix can be found here:
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?p=677451

You can also find more details on the process in Joe Brennans, "Cast Bullets for Beginner and Expert" (an awesome online reference):
http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/CB-BOOK/?yguid=133709505

Alloy details we discussed can be found here as well as heat treat process:
http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletNotes.htm

The star Lubrisizer was ordered from here:
http://magmaengineering.com/products/54-magma-star-lube-sizer

You can see it in action on youtube here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8Nd...569047C3&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=39

The press docking station came from Pat Marlins:
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=51379

I ordered the Freechex II gas check maker from Charlie Darnell ([email protected]).... He sells them on ebay but if you contact him directly he can sell to you directly...

You can see the Freechex in action on you tube here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GNCVcD4DmE

Arbor press, dutch oven and welder gloves came from Harbor Freight:
http://www.harborfreight.com/

My initial smelting setup uses a fried turkey burner:
http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId=97394-1337-SP-10&lpage=none

Muffin tins for ingot molds as well as stainless steel slotted spoon/ladle came from Ocean State Job Lot:
http://www.oceanstatejoblot.com/home/default.aspx

The flux I used when we were smelting was old candle wax my daughter got at a yard sale.

I got the bullet lube from Lars at White Label Lube:
http://www.lsstuff.com/lube/index.html

Homebrew lube recipes we discussed can be found here:
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=26524

My casting furnace was a Lee 20 pound I got from Midway:
http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct/?productnumber=645810

I got the silicone baking dishes for pan lubing from amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/Wilton-Easy-F...2?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1255452111&sr=8-2

The sprue plate lube I got from the bullshop at:
http://bullshop.gunloads.com/

My molds were group buys on castboolits.com with night owl enterprises (Swede Nelson).

That's about all I can remember for right now.... Let me know if I missed anything and I'll add it....[wink]

Thanks again Duke for an awesome session!
 
Last edited:

DukeInFlorida

NES Member
Rating - 100%
53   0   0
Joined
Mar 30, 2009
Messages
4,195
Likes
250
Location
South of you
Bob, how about some verbose text that we can help build into the document?

And, maybe review what I have typed already (and will soon), and add/modify/suggest.....

Procedure for slugging a barrel using Cerrosafe or the sulfur/graphite mix can be found here:
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?p=677451

You can also find more details on the process in Joe Brennans, "Cast Bullets for Beginner and Expert" (an awesome online reference):
http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/CB-BOOK/?yguid=133709505

Alloy details we discussed can be found here as well as heat treat process:
http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletNotes.htm

The star Lubrisizer was ordered from here:
http://magmaengineering.com/products/54-magma-star-lube-sizer

You can see it in action on youtube here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8Nd...569047C3&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=39

The press docking station came from Pat Marlins:
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=51379

I ordered the Freechex II gas check maker from Charlie Darnell ([email protected]).... He sells them on ebay but if you contact him directly he can sell to you directly...

You can see the Freechex in action on you tube here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GNCVcD4DmE

Arbor press, dutch oven and welder gloves came from Harbor Freight:
http://www.harborfreight.com/

My initial smelting setup uses a fried turkey burner:
http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId=97394-1337-SP-10&lpage=none

Muffin tins for ingot molds as well as stainless steel slotted spoon/ladle came from Ocean State Job Lot:
http://www.oceanstatejoblot.com/home/default.aspx

The flux I used when we were smelting was old candle wax my daughter got at a yard sale.

I got the bullet lube from Lars at White Label Lube:
http://www.lsstuff.com/lube/index.html

Homebrew lube recipes we discussed can be found here:
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=26524

My casting furnace was a Lee 20 pound I got from Midway:
http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct/?productnumber=645810

I got the silicone baking dishes for pan lubing from amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/Wilton-Easy-F...2?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1255452111&sr=8-2

The sprue plate lube I got from the bullshop at:
http://bullshop.gunloads.com/

My molds were group buys on castboolits.com with night owl enterprises (Swede Nelson).

That's about all I can remember for right now.... Let me know if I missed anything and I'll add it....[wink]

Thanks again Duke for an awesome session!
 
Top Bottom