View Full Version : Lee 20# pot ??
02-23-2011, 11:35 AM
I had to sell my Lee 10 pound pot and just
when the weather is getting warm. :groner:
I did get a chance to look at a Lee 20 pound pot and it seemed to look uncomfortable to use. It seemed that you could not see under the pot to well,
as in getting the mold holes lined up correctly. The mold guide is small and doesn't look like it holds the mold very well without it slipping off.
Also seems that you have to lift the mold up quite a bit each time you bring it up to cast. Also have to lift your right hand up a bit to release the lead.
Why not have the wooden handle at a lower position ?
OK my question is -- Am I missing something here ? Is the 20 pounder that much
uncomfortable to use ?
My 10 pound Lee was a pleasure, the handle was right there, easy to lift
and with a little block of wood under the mold I could get the height just rite for the pour.
If I ever get to have another pot so I can cast I was thinking of the 20 pounder.
Am I missing something here ? does it all work out when you start to use it ?.
Or am I reduced to a ladle and a camp fire ?
I got a new ladle for my ingots and now no pot. Why is it so hard to get it all together some times? [smilie=b:
02-23-2011, 11:55 AM
For the money, I love the Lee 4-20 that I have. I sit when casting and can see the stream just fine when pouring. I've used the Lee 2 and 6 cav molds, LBT 4 cavs, and an NOE 5 cav all without a problem. You can adjust the shelf to whatever height you want and I've had few issues with it except for an occasional drip. It simply works for me.
02-23-2011, 12:00 PM
I like mine a lot, I did have to raise it to about chest height but then all is well.:smile:
02-23-2011, 12:01 PM
I've been more than happy with my Lee 4-20 for the price. Of course, I was upgrading from an ancient Potter 4 pounder. The Lee does not drip any worse than that old Potter did. Endemic with bottom pour furnaces I think. I have to agree with all of Sargenv's and Tim's comments as well.
02-23-2011, 12:04 PM
Im perfectly satisfied with my Lee 4-20....
I started with the Lee 10 lbs pot and like you felt uncomfortable at first with the Lee 20 lbs pot. As you continue to use the larger Lee, the easier and more comfortable you become with it. It's kind of like switching from a two cavity mold to a six, there's a learning curve.
02-23-2011, 12:41 PM
I use the RCBS 22lb pot. It has a guide adjustable for height but no horizontal stop. I only have one eye and my depth perception is zero. I can line the mold up to my eye and still be a half an inch off. Something had to be done. My solution was to make a wood block with a slot for the mold about 1/4 in deep. The slot ends so there is a stop. I'll then shim the block for the various size molds. A small C-clamp positions it below the spout. Just slide the mold in and pour. Works for me.
02-23-2011, 01:22 PM
Well if I get another pot I would get the 20 #. I never had a problem with the 10#
Like I said, looking at it and not using it can be misleading. But I know that Lee has been making them for Eons and all you folks use them.
If I get the funds it would be my only option and you guy's have never pointed me in the wrong direction. Sometimes you just got to saddle the horse to see if it will run.
Or point the dog to a rabbit to see if it will hunt.
02-23-2011, 01:28 PM
Just used my Lee 20 lb the other night. Been using a Saeco and RCBS pots, so the side handle was no big deal. One drippy sucker though. First pot I have ever had that gets that hot. Usually ran my little Lee pot right above 8, tried that with the 20 lb and it went to 900 degrees. Put another ingot(3 lb) in the pot to cool it down, ended up casting with the dial set at 6 (705 degrees). Plan on using it for the larger capacity moulds (big 45's and 50's).
Mould guide is a joke. Should have gone from one side to the other. Probably cost them another $0.50 to do so. Must have been designed by someone that doesn't cast boolits
02-23-2011, 01:41 PM
I do think you are missing something. Set your work area up so that the pour spout is close to eye level while sitting and you will be comfortable looking right at the pouring area. Then you won't be reaching down for the operating handle either. The mold guide is in my opinion the best feature of the pot. Set the height of the guide to the height that will get your sprue plate 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the spout. This will keep your flow length short and consistent. A longer flow stream will cool your metal. Your mold will slide on the guide by its bottom and one side. When setting the guide. you also need to rotate it to align your mold so the sprue gate hole is under the spout. Then lock the guide.
So before you tighten the guide, make sure your height is correct and your sprue gate hole is under the spout.
When using the guide while casting, bring the mold in contact with the guide on the left of the mold and on the bottom of the mold and slide it in. Maintain mold contact with the guide. Get the sprue gate hole under the spout and start the pour. Fill each cavity by moving the mold on the guide to each gate and working the pour handle up then down to fill the cavity and get a small puddle of alloy on the sprue plate.
Slide the mold off the guide to the right and down when it is filled .
I swirl cast with this setup and tilt the mold about 5 degrees to the right and position the mold so the flow of alloy is 1/2 the diameter off center to the sprue gate hole. This cures venting problems and allows air to escape while metal is flowing in. This also sets up a swirl of the metal flowing into he cavity. Don't center pour and and gurgle the metal into the gate cutting off the air escape, that will affect bullet quality.
The work height is important to get a good view. My pot sits on a wooden box to get the spout at eye level when I sit on a chair working at the bench and get a good view what I am doing and be comfortable.
02-23-2011, 02:06 PM
Yes, the mold guide is a joke if you don't set it up and use it correctly. Some casters are very good without using the guide at all, Just lock it down and out of your way. Not using the guide leads to big variances in flow length. That, in turn affects metal temperature into your molds as you vary distances and you will have to make adjustments to your casting cadence to maintain the thermal balances of casting for consistent results.
Swirl casting without the guide is very difficult. Some molds don't vent well on their own and swirl casting may be your only remedy to get good results. So if some molds give you grief and don't fill well, give the guide another try and swirl cast.
02-23-2011, 02:49 PM
Now what else would I expect ??
Just down right good advise from everyone.
Charlie Two Tracks
02-23-2011, 06:03 PM
The 4-20 is the only one that I have used. It works for me. It is screwed down in four places on the base. I would not want to think of tipping that sucker over.
02-23-2011, 11:06 PM
My old 10 lb. finally gave up and I replaced it with the 20 lb. I have a heck of a time getting the mould filled because the stream splashes up out of the sprue plate or runs over into the other cavity. What I do like about it is it doesn't drip like my old 10 lb. and I can run my .45-70 535 grain bullets without stopping to refill the pot. I can't figure how you are supposed to use that mould rest, but I'll use the info from this thread and keep trying.
The only problems I had with the 20lbs pot was it dripping. After attempting to adapt different methods of keeping downward pressure on the valve rod such as a spring pulling down the handle or adding a vise grip on the top of the rod itself I finally just made a new rod all together which allows me to add the weight I want to the assembly by adjusting the top bolt length or by adding washers. It also comes out of the valve rod guide (the metal bracket that keeps the top of the rod in place) by simply pulling it out where as the original you have to unscrew the adjusting flow screw all the way out.
02-24-2011, 01:45 AM
You can keep the metal from accidentally flowing into the next cavity by tilting the mold and holding it in a tilt during your pour. You don't have to cast with the mold perfectly level. I intentionally cast with the mold tilted about 5 degrees to the right . I do this to pour off center half the diameter of the sprue gate hole in the swirl casting technique I outlined above. A benefit of that to help you keep from accidentally overflowing into the next gate hole is accorded because with the mold tilted to the right, the overflow goes to the right and away from the next gate hole.
I set my mold guide to guide the mold to a position with the flow from the spout 1/2 inch long and dead center into the gate hole when the mold is level on the guide and the guide also touches the left side of the mold blocks.. But for casting I keep that guide setting and tilt the mold about 5 degrees to the right . My overflow goes off the side of the mold. You can also lift the mold handle up so you tip the mold up in the front and down in the rear, then the overflow will go backward. Tilt a direction that is not toward the next hole.
It also sounds that an adjustment of your flow screw may help. That is a sensitive adjustment. Refer to your manual and understand how the parts work, as over adjustment can cause continuous flow. If you are getting a lot of splash-back on the pour, that is a sign of too much flow needing to be cutback with the adjustment screw. From full pot to the last inch at the bottom I generally adjust the flow screw twice before I get to the last inch to maintain an even flow rate while casting. This is normal and mentioned in your directions.
02-24-2011, 02:29 AM
Gary, good posts!
A few tips I can add or reiterate:
1. Use Bullplate sprue lube on ALL of contact points of the moving parts, reapply every session.
2. Use clean alloy and keep your stir stick off the bottom to avoid sloughing off ash and getting it trapped under the melt. Throwing sprues back into the pot can accumulate oxide dross under the melt (this is because they are denser and sink when added), all this dross and ash will migrate to the spout CAUSING IT TO DRIP and get the bad reputation.
3. Just to be sure, you can lap your valve rod and seat with automotive valve grinding compound before you use the pot for the first time.
4. Keep the guide screws for the valve handle snug, they don't have much for threads to grip and can work loose, once you run them loose for a while they strip. This can be fixed, but it's a pain. Just keep check them prior to each session. I do a quick check each time I apply the Bullplate before plugging it in.
5. Catshooter recently mentioned keeping a large-capacity catch pan under the pot if you leave it unattended for any length of time, or at least always keep one handy. If something does go wrong and you have a leak you can't stop, at least you won't burn down your house! Be prepared for the worst, even a couple of cheap aluminum pie plates kept within reach will be enough to avert disaster.
6. Mount the pot at eye level, drill holes and screw it down, sit while casting, and take the necessary precautions with clothing.
7. If you possibly can, read up on the threads here about wiring a PID controller and SSR to control pot temp, or at the very least use a thermometer and look at it often. The 20 pounder I have is worse than my old 10 pounder as far as temp swings go.
8. You will likely have to make at least two flow control adjustments going from full pot to near empty, unless you are able to cast with the maximum stream. The weight of the lead really does make a huge difference in stream velocity and volume if you cut it down (I usually cut it by 30-50% for a full pot and run near wide-open for the last two inches, YMMV.)
Bottom line for me is, like most Lee products, the Pro-4-20 gets the job done well and is very inexpensive to purchase, but needs special care and a bit of tinkering for best results.
02-24-2011, 12:17 PM
I'll add another caveat.
When stirring alloy in the 20# Lee, be very careful not to bump the valve rod! I've had the rod jump out of the valve seat, opening the spout to full flow. Problem is, there is a small ridge of steel inside the pot surrounding the valve seat. This is a result of swaging the valve seat into the hole in the bottom of the pot. Anyway, once the valve rod hops up into the pot, it's pretty much impossible to get it over the ridge back into the valve seat until the pot's empty and you can see what you're doing. It won't take too long for you to be able to see the bottom of the pot as the pot will empty itself through the wide-open valve, and do it pretty quickly. You'd better have something (ingot moulds or such) handy to catch the flow or it will be all over your casting area. After mine did this twice I bought an RCBS melter.
02-25-2011, 07:28 AM
i like my lee 10lb pot. i dont need guides or anything. of course i am just starting out with 5 cav moulds so we will see how that goes.
02-25-2011, 10:34 AM
The Lee 10# with a 5 cavity is going to keep you adding alloy more than casting. For a cheap move right now it would behove you to purchase another pot. If you have a hot plate use it to have some ready to go.
02-25-2011, 04:55 PM
I got danged tired of my 10# continuously dripping no matter what I tried. I've now switched to their 20# melter and a Lyman ladle. Gonna sit down and try out my new adjustable Brooks PP mould tomorrow. Their sample bullet of 30:1 miked out at .4498". I'm hoping that it goes a touch bigger with some number 2 alloy.
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