lead bullet casting

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by johnlives4christ, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. johnlives4christ

    johnlives4christ Former Guest

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    long story short.

    i seen an old casting pot on ebay. looked to be about 2 inches in diameter. you obviously put lead in it and heat it till it melts to pour it in your bullet molds.

    i have some lead, but it isnt clean. i have wheel weights. and they have the steel clips on them. and since i aint been watching them too much now they all are rust colored.

    so how do i clean up the weights before i smelt them? or do i need to, and how do i get that steel piece out of there?



    reason im asking is because i figure i have the lead, and now im thinking about getting a black powder rifle of the hawken type or the like and playing with all the stuff.

    thanks for the help.

    ~john
  2. RugerBob

    RugerBob New Member

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    The metal clips will just float to the top. I would not melt dirty lead in a bottom pour pot. But thats just my opinion. I smelt mine in a old cast iron dutch oven over my turkey fryer. You don't need to clean them. Make sure they are completely dry if you decide to wash them off. Water and molten lead DO NOT mix. Bob
  3. army mp

    army mp Member

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    First off you do not want to use wheel weights for Muzzle loaders. Its to hard, you need almost pure lead. As to melting, I use an old cast iron Dutch oven. The clips float to the top. After I have fluxed and skimmed the trash out I pour the clean lead into Aluminum muffin pans . These clean pigs go into My Lee 20 pound pot
  4. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Why?

    If I was casting balls for my revolver, and needed to take a 375 ball and force it into a 360 chamber, swaging it down to size and cutting a ring of lead off it as I did so, then, absolutely, I want the softest lead I can get.

    But if I was casting balls for my Hawken, and was using a 490 ball in my 500 barrel, with a patch, the patch is what is being forced into the rifling. The hardness of the ball should not matter.

    Now, I'm not saying you are wrong. I've read that same thing for years - "for muzzle loaders you need as close to dead-soft pure lead as you can get". I just wonder, why?

    Anybody ever shot patched hard balls in their rifle? How'd that work?

    But, John, they're right. As soon as you melt the wheelweights, the dirt and the steel clips, being lighter than the lead, float to the top and are easily removed.

    Oh, and you would be melting the lead, not smelting it. Smelting is what you do to crushed rocks (ore) to get the metal out of it. Once you have metal and are melting it to cast as something else, that's just melting.

    I've noticed most northerners seem to say "smelting".
  5. Haligan

    Haligan Well-Known Member

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    Very good advise from all here. But one more thing and it's a biggie.
    Lyman has a very good casting book. It goes over everything from soup to nuts on making your own projectiles from muzzleloaders to handgun, to rifle.
    I do a fair amount of casting and I've made some small goofs in the past, but you gotta read a book or be their when someone is actually doing it. We're talking 700-800 degrees here ! Hot metal ! Casting is a really good hobby but we haven't even touched on ventilation, barely touched on fluxing, mentioned water and molten lead, and what the best thing is to start with, well that's a conversation you only want to have with a bunch of info under your belt.

    Lyman reloading manual for Cast bullets.
  6. army mp

    army mp Member

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    The problem comes from as cast size. A bullet or ball will cast smaller from pure lead than from say wheel weights. I am not saying it will not work in your rifle. As all barrels are not exact Diameter . But you could end up with a ball stuck half way down the barrel. Mold manufacturers make and recommend pure lead for this reason. An example of this is a Bullet cast in pure lead at .3578 in W/W would be .3584 or lyman Number 2 would be .3590
  7. army mp

    army mp Member

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    Haligan
    Good point on the Lyman cast book. RCBS makes a good one too. I have cast for years and have a copy of the Lyman. Casting is something the more you learn the more you find out you need to. Muzzle loader balls are a good place to start. But when you get into Rifle and pistol Bullets the fun starts. Then you are in a whole new world.
  8. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    army mp, that makes sense. Hadn't considered the shrinkage as they cool. That could very well be it.
  9. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

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    I have shot wheel weight round balls and Minnie balls in my muzzle loaders for years without any kind of problems. That is not to say that a problem might not arise tomorrow. Just my .02 worth.
  10. johnlives4christ

    johnlives4christ Former Guest

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    main reason i am asking is that i am going to get a black powder rifle at some point in the future and i am going to get into reloading at some point as well. and casting my own just seems like a part of it that i couldnt resist.


    alpo. I AM NOT FROM THE NORTH! i reckon i've just heard people use the word incorrectly.


    but yeah, if it involves anything guns i want to know all about it.

    ruger bob said " i would not use dirty lead in a bottom pour pot" and others said basically to melt it in a cast iron dutch oven, then skim the impurities off the top. okay. so i think i understand the concept of doing that, and then casting little ingits of clean lead for using in a pot to pour into the mold. what i dont understand is any of the dangers involved. so i will be on the look out for a book concerning this. thanks for the advise everyone.
  11. johnlives4christ

    johnlives4christ Former Guest

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    i know car batteries have lead in them. in a situation where bullets are hard to come by, is there any way a person could get the lead out without getting washed in sulfuric acid?
  12. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    You don't want to use car battery lead. The chemicals added to car batteries, to make them "maintenance free" become very bad when melted. You melt the lead, the non-lead stuff floats to the surface, and you skim it off as "dross". Now, this dross, with the calcium and other stuff from the maintenance free batteries, when it gets wet releases nerve gas.

    If you get a copy of Lyman's Cast Bullet Handbook, 3rd Edition http://www.amazon.com/Cast-Bullet-H...e=UTF8&s=sporting-goods&qid=1253062024&sr=8-3 there is a very good chapter on why you should NOT try to get lead from car batteries.

    I know you're not from up North. I've given up on correcting them. When Southerners say it, I figger they just heard a Northerner, and don't realize they are wrong. So I correct them. :D
  13. MAGNUM44

    MAGNUM44 New Member

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    Ruger Bob has it down pat on what you should do when melting dirty lead etc, don't forget to flux the lead clean & do not skim off to much of it for you will take off the tin that's in the lead which you need for good lead cast bullets, There are a few forums out there for casting .com & other one's check around they are very helpfull for newbies as well as the experienced caster's Try to find a good sorce of Linotype lead I find it the best stuff so far that Iv'e been using for years for my 44 mag & spcl bullets
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2009
  14. johnlives4christ

    johnlives4christ Former Guest

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    okay i have another question.

    i have a berm that made out of firewood. and after a few years of shooting it is like sawdust so i can go pick up all the bullets, lead and copper mixed some of it.

    so if i threw the old bullets in the mix, the copper wouldnt melt, but it would rise to be skimmed off right. same with old 22 bullets?

    ~john
  15. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    You are correct sir.

    Al(channeling Ed McMahon)po

    Also, if you had any little pieces of wood or paper or other trash in there, they would burn, turn to ash and float to the surface, too.
  16. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    The lead melts, the copper doesn't. If you have FMJ bullets, the lead will be liquid, but the jacket will still be holding it. When I have jacketed bullets in my melt, I take the jackets out, one at a time, with a pair of needlenose. Pick 'em up an tilt 'em so the lead pours out. Don't want no nasty surprises.
  17. gazzmann

    gazzmann New Member

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    Lead roof flashing, the type used around sewer vents is extremely soft.
    You can always harden it a little by using small amounts of wheel weights.
  18. jroco

    jroco New Member

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    When I was using scrap lead, To get control over the hardness, I mix wax and skim several times until nothing rises to the surface. Then I add weighted amounts of tin and, if I'm after hardness, crushed antimony. That way I can reporduce the hardness from one batch to the next.

    I tested each batch using a hardness tester, and by weighing a known volume.

    In the last year, pure lead, and tin/antimony alloyed lead has gotten so cheap that I've been buying it from a local foundry (in 50 lb ingots). The only problem is cutting it up so it fits in my pot.
  19. Rocket J Squirl

    Rocket J Squirl New Member

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    You can cast roundball with pure lead. Its too soft for modern rifles.

    I take all the calculation out of it and use linotype, gas checked ( 22-25BHN) for my smokeless powder rifles. Along with +2500 white lube, I have no leading problems. Fore the rifles I load for, cant do 2500 FPS.

    Wheel weights (WW) are BHN 8-10. DOnt clean them, just melt them and skim the junk off the top.

    Be advised, some of that junk (looks like sivler oatmeal) is the other metals.
    Take that away, and you back down to pure lead.

    You have to use flux to keep it all mixed up.
  20. Popgunner

    Popgunner New Member

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    I'll second the NO CAR BATTERIES for lead.

    My father-in-law was an avid caster & he played around with car batteries & all sorts of chemicals for lubes. He worked in his garage in the wintertime with the door closed. He developed pulmonary fibrosis which is where your lungs quickly turn to scar tissue. He was dead within 7 weeks of being diagnosed. The doctors blamed cadmium from the car batteries & other chemicals in the heated vapors he was breathing.

    R.I.P. Ken
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