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Bigslug, bullet casters

JayJay Senior MemberPosts: 3,809 Senior Member
Squirrel!!

Easy, now!! EASY!!! Don't get all crazy on me..  :D  

If a guy was to maybe think about trying this out on a very basic level, what's some good starting points?

Just 45-70 for now. Very basic.. I just want chunks of lead that will fly toward a piece of paper/steel and have a reasonable chance of hitting where they were aimed and without leading like crazy..

A buddy of mine has acquired 6 boxes of gas checks for me, so an RCBS 405 grain GC mould is in my Midway cart, ready to be put on back order.  Also in the cart are a Lee Production Pot, Lee 500 grain pointed bullet double cavity mould, RCBS mould handles, Lee Alox lube, a Lee bullet sizer..  Since I have no local supplies for lead right now, Rotometals is on the radar for maybe 20:1 or 25:1 alloys to start with..  I might also skip the Lee pot and just go with a cast iron pot and dipper for the time being. Not looking for high volume, just curious to see what it's all about. 

Nothing ordered yet...  Just my ADHD brain at work...

Talk to me, Goose...

Replies

  • sakodudesakodude Senior Member Posts: 3,825 Senior Member
    Does the lee sizer also apply the gas check? I probably have excess lead enough to fill an if it fits it ships box if you want it. Unknown alloy.
  • sakodudesakodude Senior Member Posts: 3,825 Senior Member
    I’ve got a couple spare dippers as well.
  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 6,748 Senior Member
    I read about it alot.

    Good boots
    Ventilation
    Glasses/goggles
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    sakodude said:
    Does the lee sizer also apply the gas check? I probably have excess lead enough to fill an if it fits it ships box if you want it. Unknown alloy.
    Yes, the Lee sizer says it will crimp the gas check on while sizing.. I'm mainly thinking of going that route because I don't want to get into a full size sizing press right away. 

    I appreciate the offer on the lead. I might hit you up on that. Being new at this, I'm not sure what I could mess up with an unknown alloy.. But if the consensus seems to be "go for it," I might get with you. Thank you.
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    I read about it alot.

    Good boots
    Ventilation
    Glasses/goggles
    I have off and on as well.  I'm sure a Lyman cast bullet book will be on the short list of things to pick up as well.

    I'm also aware that a lot of care must be taken as far as no moisture in the lead.
  • sakodudesakodude Senior Member Posts: 3,825 Senior Member
    I use this stuff to cast 45-70 myself, it shoots well. It scratch’s easy so its not overly hard but with a gas check it’s not leading. 
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 11,629 Senior Member
    Anything wrong with wheel weights?  Not a bad alloy as is.
    Concealed carry is for protection, open carry is for attention.
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    Gene L said:
    Anything wrong with wheel weights?  Not a bad alloy as is.
    Nothing wrong with them at all. Don’t always know what the alloy would be, but it’s a common practice. I just haven’t been able to source some. I’ve checked with several tire shops around over the years, just to see, and they all say they send them to recycle or have someone who picks them up and they won’t sell them. Maybe I’ll come across the right place some time. 
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 11,629 Senior Member
    Offer them a little cash for the recyclers.  Or for whoever saves them for pickup.  That's how I got mine.
    Concealed carry is for protection, open carry is for attention.
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 20,875 Senior Member
    With the number of wheel weights being made from zinc now, I'd be cautious using WW for casting. Zinc + lead = bad juju
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 8,152 Senior Member
    Ladle casting - some swear by it; I swear at it.  Good method for casting singles out of a large mold, I suppose, and it's proponents say it's great for consistency.  I find it requires about three more hands than I have.

    Consistent temperature control is a big help.  The addition of a PID controller really upped our game, but a pot with a thermostat at least keeps you in something like a zone.

    Slug your bore with pure lead and size .001" to .002" over.  Pound casting and other deeper mysteries of the universe can wait.

    Some of Lee's equipment is awesome - their 1 and 2 cavity molds, not so much.  They'll have the potential to make a decent bullet, but don't count on them lasting.  Their 6-hole pistol molds get a lot more respect, but no experience with them myself.

    Since you're in the early stages of dunking in Alox as opposed to lubri-sizing to really fll grooves with a good amount of lube, I'd stick with gas checks until you get your sea legs.

    Gene's right about wheel weight being great stuff, however he's a bit in the past - lead weights are pretty much extinct and you have to sort out a lot of zinc and steel.  Usually not worth the quest.  It pays to always be on the lookout for old stuff, as well as printer's lead, pewter, X-ray shielding, etc..., but Rotometals gets it done.

     


    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    Thanks guys. I appreciate the input. 

    I’ve narrowed my cart down to the RCBS 405gr GC mold, a set of mold handles, the Lee Production Pot, and a few bottles of Alox. I’ll order a little lead and maybe hit up Sako and see what I can offer in exchange for his generous offer. That’ll get me started without breaking the bank. I’ll also see about slugging the barrel. 

    That brings me to my next question.. How should I go about sizing? I was drawn to the Lee setup due to price and simplicity. I can just put it on my existing press and go. But, it’s advertised as being .457. Unless I slug my barrel, I don’t know if that will size them properly. But I’m not ready to dive into a full on sizing press yet. Is it possible a Lee sizing kit will be good enough to get me started? Especially if I’m using gas checks?
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    edited July 3 #14
    Also, the same buddy who got the gas checks is working on a massive estate sale deal that I’m slightly involved in. Part of that estate includes well over 1000 pounds of lead shot. Probably closer to 1500 pounds... would that be any good for melting down and blending for a bullet alloy?
  • sakodudesakodude Senior Member Posts: 3,825 Senior Member
    Jay said:
    Also, the same buddy who got the gas checks is working on a massive estate sale deal that I’m slightly involved in. Part of that estate includes well over 1000 pounds of lead shot. Probably closer to 1500 pounds... would that be any good for melting down and blending for a bullet alloy?
    That will work fine, bags should be marked as to the alloy. I used to buy recovered range shot and melt and cast with it. No problems. i f you want any of what I have just shoot me an address, It's on the house.
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    Thanks bud. 

    I did did a little reading and it seems like chilled shot has about 2% antimony and mag shot 5% antimony. If that’s the case, maybe 1% tin mixed in and have a pretty hard alloy...🤔

    I appreciate your offer. Let me see if I can work out a deal for this lead shot. I’m gonna see if I can get 500 pounds of it for a good price. Then I won’t have to trouble you. If that doesn’t work out, I might take you up on that generous offer.  Thank you. 
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    There’s also an OLD RCBS Pro Melt furnace on the bench at that place as well.. 🤔
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 8,152 Senior Member
    DEFINITELY jump on a pile of old shot if you can get it - ESPECIALLY if the antimony percentage is known.  Based on what I've seen, expecting 5% is being generous.

    I might suggest that you do your initial work with binary lead/tin alloys.  While a bit more expensive, it has the advantage of being stable, and the hardness of the stuff does not vary based on temperature, cooling, and age-after-casting variables.

    The challenge with adding antimony to the mix - especially from scrounged up "mystery metal" of unknown makeup is that you can have trouble figuring out where the hardness is coming from - tin, antimony, alloy interaction between the two, heat-treating effects, etc...  None of that is intended to scare you off, but at the "baby steps" stage where you're learning metal manipulation and don't have the ability to test alloy hardness it can be a bewildering set of variables.

    The good news is at the hot pistol velocities most "antique" .45-70's are run at, things are fairly forgiving - moderately hard alloys of 12-16 BHN with gas checks should serve you well.  It's the higher pressures, speeds, and precision target applications where the nerdiness really needs to jump in.

    For most modern .45-70 bores, you're probably looking at a .458" groove diameter and will want a bullet sized to .459"-.460".  If you're bullets are dropping at .457, you can count on a little "slugging up" caused by the combination of pressure and squeezing out from the lands/bore diameter, which is probably down around .450".  To reinforce, gas checks are your friend until you get your equipment built up.

    Pro Melt is a GREAT furnace, especially when run with a PID.  I can confirm that the Lymans are drip-o-matics.  No experience on the Lee.

    TIN is absolutely your friend, and Rotometals sells it in little pellet format that allows easy addition of small amounts.  One of its functions is to reduce the surface tension of lead (much like soap in water) and allow for better mold fillout.  On that topic, a digital kitchen scale with a tare function is a MUST.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • SpkSpk Senior Member Posts: 3,861 Senior Member
    If you end up working with mystery metals (lead of unknown blends) a hardness tester could be very handy.

    Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience -- Mark Twain
    How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and [how] hard it is to undo that work again! -- Mark Twain

  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 3,809 Senior Member
    Awesome. Great info. Thanks, man. Much appreciated.

    Ill be meeting up with my buddy in a bit and see what it looks like. Part of the estate deal includes 8 Dillon presses, fully set up. Which I am partly invested in. So, I’ll have to see what happens from there’s...
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