Bullet Casting: a Rough Guide

Discussion in 'General Slingshot Discussions' started by mrjoel, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. mrjoel

    mrjoel New Member

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    This is how I roll. It works anywhere I go in the world. As long as I have my molds, gate shears and ladle, I can scrounge the other materials and make bullets for my sling shots, bb sinkers or sling glands. <br><br>Materials/Tools: <br><br>-wheel weights<br>-#3 Rowell ladle<br>-candle<br>-spoon<br>-square of leather 8"x8" <br>-cardboard box<br>-dry lubricant<br>-gate shears<br>-Do-It slingshot pellet mold, small<br>-street sweeper blade<br>-charcoal/wood<br>-fan(if possible, saves time but not required)<br>-leather gloves and/or leather sheet to wrap around the ladle's handle<br><br>I learned about Rowell ladles from a gun magazine article written by Ross Seyfried in the 90s. He wrote articles about large bore hunting rifles and pistols, developed some wildcat rounds, and wrote dynamite bullet casting articles as well. I liked the design so I bought one. It was a smart purchase. I like the #3 size because it gives you a small pot and a ladle in one unit, and it's capacity is perfect for gang molds like Pete's and casting glands. It's a good size bowl about the size of a full cup, with a bottom pour spout that keeps the dross out of the castings. In the middle of the tunnel leading to the spout are two small holes on the opposing sides to give the flow of the molten metal to flow in to the last drop as it is turned up. They were intended and not a casting error. You can see the tiny holes in the pics below if you look closely. The flow of the metal is incredibly smooth compared to a regular ladle. If you want a ladle for pouring regular 1-4 cavity bullet molds with a sprue plate, go with a #2, especially if you cast in an area below freezing. The capacity enables the melt to stay hot long enough for you to pour your casts and it's significantly smaller and easier to handle than a #3 which is a bit heavy when loaded.<br><br>Alright, first I separate the wheel weights into two piles: one for the square ones which are pure lead and the others with clips which are a lead /tin alloy. Discard the shiny ones that won't oxidize. They contain aluminum and/or zinc. They will ruin your alloy and impair your castings. I save the pure lead for casting BB sinkers for fishing, you can just alloy them together for slingshot ammo. Pure lead seems to oxidize more profusely and is particularly difficult to work with, you really appreciate the bottom pour feature when melting this stuff, it really keeps the crud out your casts. I cannot express how good this ladle works-if you cast lead get one, it's as simple as that. <br><br>As far as safety, I know most people say use welding gloves, but it's just too hot and sweaty to deal with in the countries I live in these days and I lose too much dexterity. Goggles are also a good idea, but in hot humid climates as they condense your sweat, impair your vision and again, unbearable. Eyeglasses are somewhat ventilated and are a reasonable compromise, use them if you have them. I have settled on sunglasses and casting during the day. Avoid sitting cross legged on the ground, as it brings the work too close to your legs, feet, not to mention your other friends down there (Col. Kurtz: "The horror!"), as well as inhibiting you from jumping out of the way in a hurry, it's better for you to be slightly elevated if possible (flat rock, mini stool, enemy K.I.A., etc.), as well as giving you a better view of your work. Keep any liquids or containers containing liquids well away from your work area. I try not to fill my pot more than 2/3 for safety, that does seem to keep spills down exponentially.<br><br>Beforehand I prep the mold by lubricating the moving parts (in this case a hinge) with a dry lubricant as due to the high temps these seem to "stick" better than regular household oil. I also lube the cavities, with this kind of lube I can do this without deforming the bullets, which is likely to occur with regular household oil as it creates a larger bearing surface. I get a good fire going and while I'm at it I heat up the ladle. If possible keep it all at ground level, it seems to minimize spills. If possible using a fan pointed right at the fire to expedite this. It's handy but not necessary, and often one can't get an extension cord to one's fire pit. It's dual benefit is it also blows the fumes away from me, so I use one whenever possible. I use a square of leather wrapped around the handle to manipulate the ladle.Now I add my wheel weights to the ladle. They should melt quickly. Wait for the lead to melt until the surface of the melt has a purplish hue, this will indicate the working temperature. Casting at the right temperature is important as if the alloy is too cool, it will impair your castings. If it is too hot, it will impair your castings. Just look for the aforementioned color on the flat uncluttered area of the surface and you should be in business. <br><br>Debris will form on the surface of the alloy. You might have to push it aside in order to see the base, but don't remove it until you flux the alloy. This means using an agent to facilitate removal of the lead oxide that inevitably builds up on the surface and especially on the walls of your cast iron ladle/pot. There are commercialy available fluxing agents available, I have used Marvelux available from <a href="http://www.brownells.com," target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.brownells.com,</a> it works well as long as you follow the directions. I don't have that available, so I use an old school candle. Beeswax was the usual choice in the days of muzzle loaders, paraffin gets the job done as well. <br><br>All the clips, dirt, oxide etc. will float to the top. Some of the oxide that will form upon heating the lead will cling to the sides of the ladle. These must be removed, if left unattended over time (several sessions) lead oxide will eventually cake to the bowl and get thicker and thicker. It will clog the spout and reduce the ladle's capacity, and furthermore be near impossible to remove at that stage. It's best to flux the metal about every twenty minutes to prevent this buildup or it gets out of hand. As my ladle's bowl does not have that a large capacity, I only need to do this once as I pour several bullets at once in a Do-It gang mold and empty it quickly. To do this scrape the walls of the ladle with the flexible street sweeper blade. Obviously cover the handle portion of the street sweeper blade with a bit of leather or make a wood handle beforehand so you don't burn your fingers. Break off a piece of the candle and put it in the melt. As it burns violently I'll stir it around and scrape the walls of the bowl. You will notice an increase in dross floating up and sticking to the clips from the scraping. Remove the clips and dross with a spoon, removing as little lead as possible. Now I'm ready to pour my bullets.<br><br>Pour the tree (connected bullets from the gang mold), go for a smooth fluid action as you go down the trough, slow enough to fill each cavity. With large sizes you would stop and fill individually as if you were watering plants. I do it that way with my egg sinker/gland mold. Wait about a minute, then open the mold and drop the tree . I have ready a cardboard drop box that has a couple extra layers added to the bottom to pad the tree when it drops, or the bullets will get dented as the tree is rather heavy and the metal is soft, and even more so as it comes out of the mold for a minute or so. The cardboard won't burn so no need to worry about that. Use the gate shears to cut the sprues, package to suit and you're good to go. <br><br>When finished I'll burn some wax in the ladle to melt any lead in the spout (which is a short tube) and scrape out the orange lead oxide. Avoid contact with the oxide as it is quite toxic and can be absorbed through the skin. Oil the surface of the ladle and the mold, particularly the hinges and you're done. If using iron blocks you will need to be more thorough as it is obviously more prone to rust. Also, the heat really agitates the ferrous metal's tendency to oxidize drawing moisture out of the air so don't forget to do this with either item. Wash your hands thoroughly, and dude, I mean wash them like Jack Nicholson in "As Good As It Gets" after you're done. Then do it again. The really nasty thing about lead oxide is it doesn't leave your body so do what you can to keep as little of it off/in you as possible.<br><br>Remember in the back of your head you want to work quickly, as you lose material when you melt the lead, up to 30%, the longer it's molten the more material is lost. You will as well expose yourself longer to the harmful fumes (that would be the up to 30% you lose). The Rowell ladle can be had in several sizes and to my knowledge only available at <a href="http://www.theantimonyman.com." target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.theantimonyman.com.</a> This company sells just about everything you could think of for bullet casting. That, the gate shears and the molds are the items listed that stay with me, the rest of it is expendable.<br><br>Here are some pics of the Rowell ladle to give you an idea of how this bottom pour ladle works. A small Tabasco bottle is included for scale:<br><br><br><br><img src="http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/811/18d6d5ff5394d83386b3223.jpg/" border="0" alt="">
     
  2. onnod

    onnod Im from Holland, isnt that weird?

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  3. mrjoel

    mrjoel New Member

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    This is an article I wrote for the compendium at the RSSF. I can't seem to be able to upload any pics though.