Starting something new..

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by TheOldMan, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. TheOldMan

    TheOldMan New Member

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    Well, new for me anyway..

    I guess this was eventually gonna be my reloading evolutionary step. With the price of commercial ammo being what it is and what it has been, reloading was a logical thing for me to do. Now it's even more logical to me to start casting my own bullets. In my town, the price of a box of 500 S&W hit $68 :eek: The price of 50 AE is not much better. I know I can order and get better pricing from places like Midway but .... I've been thinking of casting for some time anyway so I thought this was finally the time to poop or get off the pot.. I got the nod from my boss ( the wife ) and placed an order with Midway and Brownells to get everything I need to start casting for 500 S&W. I'll be trolling the local tire stores for used wheel weights starting today.

    My stuff should get here tomorrow.. Once I get my self rolling and comfortable with the S&W bullets, I'll order molds for other calibers. I even watched videos on copper plating at home so we'll see if that happens later on.. One of our own: duelist1954, has posted vid's on youtube that take you through the casting process and even gave out a recipe for home made bullet lube that takes the cost of 45 acp down to just a few pennies per round so I'm really looking forward to my eveolutionary step... :)
     
  2. PanBaccha

    PanBaccha New Member

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    Lots of luck to you. I wish I can do the same. But knowing me I just might slip up somehow and pay for it on the range. :(
     

  3. Staestc

    Staestc New Member

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    I'm having as much fun casting as I do reloading! Good luck with it and let us know how it goes.
     
  4. TheOldMan

    TheOldMan New Member

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    Will do.. With a little luck, I should have something to post this weekend .
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012
  5. ktmboyz

    ktmboyz New Member

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    Good luck with your new venture, I want to follow this and see how it goes. I have thought about it but its a lot of added work and time for the end result. Kind of curious how long it takes to cast how many rounds.

    Pick through your weights good , we are now using steel weights and lead are becoming a thing of the past and you prob wont see them around much longer. Grab em and stock up on em while you can.
     
  6. Trez

    Trez Well-Known Member

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    Casting is fun! If you do mess up, just put them to the side and remelt them. The first few always come out funky until your molds reach the right temp...
     
  7. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've been casting for over 45 years, and it's still fun!:D
     
  8. TheOldMan

    TheOldMan New Member

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    Well after checking all of the "chain" tire stores, I finally found some local shops that would sell me their used wheel weights.. All in all, I got 700 pounds of weights for about $98.

    All but a couple local guys where bound by EPA rules and either had to sell to a company for disposal or they were reusing them and would not turn them loose. But with 700 pounds now sitting in my shop, I believe I've got enough to get me started. It's true about the lead getting scarce. I'm told most are going to steel weights and my supply may dry up in the near future. When I get a little more cash, I'll pick up some more..
     
  9. TheOldMan

    TheOldMan New Member

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    I do have a couple questions..

    All the videos that I've watched show the smelting taking place in a seperate pot on either camp stoves or turkey deep frying burners.. I've got both setups but am wondering if "A" Is it absolutely necessary to use a setup like this? and "B", If so, what type of pot do I need to use? I'm thinking stainless steel (?).. I'm assuming something this large is needed when smelting pounds and pounds of wheel weights .. Also I'm seeing that tea candles are being used or beeswax as the flux agent..

    Any help will be appreciated.
     
  10. oldpapps

    oldpapps New Member

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    A view...
    Scrap lead is scrap and will have all kinds of 'stuff' (I cleaned that up) in it. If you have a 'bottom' feed pot, that 'stuff' is bound to plug it. I have an old electric Lee pot that I pre-melt in. After melting and fluxing, I use a dipper to fill ingot pans. When done, I dump the little pot and all kinds of 'stuff' is or was in the bottom.
    For fluxing material, paraffin used for canning is cheap and readily available.

    Watch out for water (any water), flux well before cleaning the dross from the top of your melt, don't loose the tin.

    Lead is lead is lead but there is some additives that have been put in some of it that I have never been able to cast with. I'm not a metallurgist and don't have a clue what it or they are. My way around this was to pre-melt the little pot full, make a sample cast and if all went well good, if not, dump the pot and try to determine which types of scrap were the offenders (some of those flat with sickie back wheel weight as I remember).

    Remember: ventilation and lots of it and protective equipment. Hot lead is HOT!
     
  11. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    The three most common elements used by a bullet caster are Lead, Tin and Antimony. Lead (pure Lead) is a really crappy metal to make bullets out of.

    You need some Tin to lower the melting point, improve the flow characteristics and harden the bullet. W/o tin, the bullets will not have nice charp edges.

    You need some Antimony to harden the alloy. 3-5% Antimony makes a nice pistol bullet for velocities up to about 1200 fps. Rifle bullets need more.

    Stick on wheel weights come in two varieties, Pure lead and zinc. Zinc melts at a much higher temp than lead or lead alloys. I melt the stick on weights and skim off the zinc weights that float on top.

    Clip on weights come in two varieties Lead/Antimony alloy and Zinc. Once again, melt them down and skim off the zinc weights. Generally the Lead alloy weights are about 3-4% Antimony. If you want to push the velocities up higher, get some Linotype alloy from a place like Rotometals and add a bit in. The industry standard for Linotype is 84% Lead, 4% Tin and 12% Antimony. It is pricey, but the addition of one lb of Linotype into a 10 lb pot of wheel weights makes a very pretty, hard bullet that is suitable for the 500 S&W.

    An electric furnace from Lee, Lyman or RCBS is perfectly fine for what you want to do. I run two RCBS bottom pour furnaces when I am initially processing the metal. Melt about 4 lbs of wheel weights, skim off the clips/slag. Add weights in like increments skimming after each melt and then flux the pot. Once skimmed/fluxed/skimmed, you are ready to pour ingots. I like to melt a batch and pour into ingots so I have a consistant alloy that is clean and ready to melt for bullet casting. I keep the Virgin lead ingots separate from the wheel weight (lead/antimony alloy) ingots and Linotype. I can then choose the blend I want for the intended use of the bullet.

    Get the "Cast Bullet Handbook" from Lyman and read it cover to cover.
     
  12. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

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    For safety, when casting I wear a leather shop apron, leather gloves, and a full face shield.:)

    All that stuff is a pain, but it's saved me from injury several times.:eek:
     
  13. TheOldMan

    TheOldMan New Member

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    Thanks for all the input guys... I've pretty much got everything I need to get started. Weather permitting, I'll be smelting this weekend. I want to clean and seperate the weights as best I can before then.
     
  14. TheOldMan

    TheOldMan New Member

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    Well the weather here in the middle Georgia area did not allow for me to do any smelting.. I did stop by Lowes Saturday morning and got what saw dust they had to use for fluxing.. Had to buy a trash can to put it in though.. LOL Anyway, I'm anxious to get started. Got "everything" I need to do it now just need it to stop raining..
     
  15. TheOldMan

    TheOldMan New Member

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    Ohhh K

    Bright sunny morning so the wife and I went out to do some smelting.. My wife was interested to see the process so she came out with me to help... We only decided to do about 20 pounds of weights and it's a good thing because I realized that my choice in melting pots was not very good.. I used an aluminum pot which I thought would be sturdy enough to handle the heat.. It was not. During the process of melting the lead, the pot became deformed and started to meld itself to the frame of the burner I was using (turkey deep frying base).. When I added the saw dust and started stiring, I noticed the pot was deforming in the middle.. Not a good thing at all and could have been worse if we'd had more lead in the pot. I will post pics of the pot but for now, pics of the ingots we got out today. Not the best mind you but good for our first start I think..
     

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  16. TheOldMan

    TheOldMan New Member

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    Pic's of the pot I used..

    Wifes out shopping for a new Stainless pot to use for smelting... Here's what we started with this morning and what it looked like when we shut down:
     

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  17. TheOldMan

    TheOldMan New Member

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    And btw..

    The rest of my casting equipment.. 440 gr. bullets for my 500 S&W.
     

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  18. TheOldMan

    TheOldMan New Member

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    Alright.. I do have another question.. Wife picked up a stainless pot... Want to know if it will work as my melting pot.. Not a heavy gage of stainless but stainless none the less..
     

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    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
  19. Staestc

    Staestc New Member

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    Stainless should work fine. I use and old big aluminum pot but it's really thick. Old Caphalon I think. Your pot should not have melted. I am wondering if you just heated it too fast before the lead melted and got it too hot!
     
  20. TheOldMan

    TheOldMan New Member

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    Could be.. Gonna go with the stainless. I did find a heavier gage pot that I was no longer using in the kitchen so we'll see how it works with me bringing the heat up a little slower..

    Thanks for the help..