Casting in .50 cal

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  • Casting in .50 cal

    Ok, so casting is a good thing to get into.
    I need a bit more knowledge, got a half baked idea and went with it, its not as simple as pouring fishing sinkers....
    Couldn't wait any longer to get all the fancy gear.
    Things i sort of got right.
    Vessel for melting lead - check ( same saucepan used for sinkers)
    Heat source - check ( portable stove )
    Molds - check ( makes no difference that i have good molds if i have no skill)
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    Things i got wrong - temperature - I'm thinking this is really important now, need a temperature gauge.
    Something that stays hot while you pour gently, found that as soon as we took it off the heat it cooled to quickly - need a ladle
    Molds not correct temperature, lead was setting as soon as it hit the mold - hints on correct temperature anyone?
    Pouring ladle - straight from the pot is not good.
    Drinking continuously while waiting for lead.
    These are what i'm trying to achieve.
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    I'm guessing by the bluing on the 3rd one in, I'm way to hot.
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    On the upside i made a couple of ingots which i think are pretty pure, the ingot mold is idiot proof.
    So tell me how to improve, hints, tricks anything.

    Not convinced the pics are gonna show

  • #2
    I can see the pictures.
    Wrinkled bullets suggests oil/degreaser still in the cavities or mold/alloy not hot enough. Shiny bullets suggest alloy too cold. Too hot shows as frosted bullets not like this.
    Blue colour suggests too little heat and not enough fluxing. Stir in and then remove some very dry sawdust.

    Casting is more art than science and great fun - you are well on the way to lovely bullets. I would suggest:

    A very good clean of the molds - degreaser, scrub with a toothbrush then a clean with metho, scrub with a clean toothbrush and metho, allow to dry.
    More heat - can the camp stove get hotter? I don;t have a thermometer and turn out good bullets, it seems you just need a good deal more heat under the pot.
    When the lead is melted, flux with dry sawdust and stir it through, lift the lead up and pour down through the sawdust. It will be smokey but will remove impurities and lead oxides and give cleaner lead. Scoop and dispose safely this burnt sawdust. Do this intermittently during the casting session when crud accumulates on top of the lead.
    Pre-heat the molds and ladle, either by lying on top of the pot or ideally on an electric hotplate.
    Use a ladle, don't pour from the pot!!!
    The little Lee ladles are crap, too small to keep the lead hot. I have a Lyman type Ladle:

    The benefit of this type is the lead is draining down from under the surface so debris on the alloy surface does not get into the mold. Some people do use a kitchen type lade if it pours well.
    The first few pours will be too cold but will serve to heat the mold and sprue plate. Pour a very generous pool on top of the sprue plate to warm it initially. This sprue puddle is important as lead is pulled down from this into the mold as the alloy cools.

    Don't drink and cast . Two reasons - it increases you chance of lead poisoning to eat/drink/smoke while handling lead and any water in the hot molten alloy will cause a steam explosion. The so-called tinsel fairy.


    • Guest's Avatar
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      Not used to the new system, i used to see them in the preview, i trust it now.
      The cleaning process you mentioned didn't take place, gave them a bit of a wipe and then did the cigarette lighter thing to prepare them.
      Your spot on with oil/ degreaser in the mold as i sprayed them with lanox, cause nothing sticks to that stuff
      Good info on the ladle, cheers, all the gear is hard to get hold of here, no one stocks it, everything will show up in good time.
      We also had no flux, does sawdust take the place of the lube in a tube i've seen?

  • #3
    PM me your email address and I can send you some casting "how to" information

    What is your rifle and the twist rate of the barrel?
    Hold still varmint, whilst I plugs ya!


    • Guest's Avatar
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      Lyman Deer stalker 1 in 48 in stainless.

      Click image for larger version

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      PM inbound

  • #4
    For a new Lee mold I give them a good scrub with the toothbrush and degreaser to remove any remnant cutting oils. I then use metho to remove the degreaser and let dry. Don't use anything too abrasive - aluminium mold blocks are soft and easy to scratch.
    I know the Lee instructions state to smoke the mold however I don't do this. A good smooth mold should drop bullets without any treatment in the cavities. If people do smoke molds the carbon builds up and with time can fill vent lines and even make the bullets smaller. If a Lee mold does really not want to release, use the Lee-lementing process:

    and this pdf, half way through after his mold drill and tap tips is he Leementing method I use with a nut on the top of the mold:

    Edit - I will state that Mike Venturio, editor of the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook 4th ed does state he smokes a mold occasionally when it wrinkles and everything else has been trialled - contaminants, alloy heat, mold heat.

    Fluxing with sawdust:

    The Glen Fryexll free eBook goes into using sawdust to flux in detail:


    • Guest's Avatar
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      Good info there, cheers
      Will certainly give the sawdust a go.

  • #5
    So i ended up with a bottom pour LEE pot, bottom pour rules to make it easy to pour into molds, i had no problem with the temperature, had to keep turning it down a little as the pot got emptier, this is i'd reckon as the element is just one ring down the bottom, at one stage there i looked at the temp to see 850F, probably a little warm.
    Anyways i managed to pour 109 minnies, and 25 round balls and the same in 320gn REAL's, no overly happy with the quality, but is my first go with at least some of the correct equipment. So i'll see how they go, unsure as to how fussy this gun is.
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    Then the fun bit, testing.
    I used a patch and ball as control as i knew it threw these pretty consistantly, still does.
    Anybody explain to me why the heavy minnie goes slower but flies high?
    Was set up at 50m only, 26 degree day with about 3 knots breeze over the shoulder.

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    • plourbag
      plourbag commented
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      Without entering thedark realms of barrel vibrations/oscillations, etc., a simple explanation for slower slugs flying higher is that the barrel rises with recoil - a projie that leaves the barrel later therefore flies higher as the barrel rises more.