View Full Version : Cold weather casters...how?

01-29-2012, 05:48 PM
I moved this last year from Texas to Iowa. It was great at first, i have a basement now and a seperate reloading room, moved my casting and brass polishing outside. Now in winter its difficult to keep the mold and alloy temps in the right range. I get them too cold or have to turn it up and then its too hot. How do you guys in the cold weather get it done? Keep mold temp even? I usually get it too hot, then cool it off, and then its too cold, get it right for a few evolutions, and its too hot....and round and round i go.

Also i ran into a unexpected problem, i was getting decent bullets and they were coming out 2-3 thousands small. thought my mold was too cold....it was 20F when i did that. any help? should i just buy a propane heater? whats the trick other than doing it all before its this cold outside?

01-29-2012, 05:54 PM
You have to get your mold up to temp and keep it there. I also run a hot pot ( Little hotter than normal molten lead) It takes a little tinkering. Keep a pace and keep going. Your mold will drop temp real fast

I kinda learned in the cold weather so I grew in into it.. Maybe I'm doing it different and don't know it.

01-29-2012, 06:05 PM
Why cast outside ? I have done all my casting inside for 50+ years. Melting WW's and blending alloy, that is outside work but casting - in the basement for me. Mould temp is easyr to maintain and much more comfortable casting inside. YMMV

01-29-2012, 07:32 PM
Screw you, traitor! :kidding: :kidding:

You go moving away from the greatest state in the union (clear, calm, and 65 degrees outside right now, BTW), you're on your own to figger that one out.:bigsmyl2:

Seriously, just add a good 30" vent-a-hood over your casting pot and pipe it outside right above ground level with galvanized steel pipe. Cheap and easy. Crack a window if you have one to let fresh air in, or pipe it in from the other side of the room. Hard-wire and extension cord on to the unit and plug it into an outlet. Look for vent hoods at your local Habitat For Humanity, they have super deals on new or slightly damaged units.


01-29-2012, 08:08 PM
I cast in the garage all winter long. I don't find it any different from casting in the summer. Get the old hot and keep it that way. If you can't keep the mould hot you are casting too slow!
I find that it is more about the rhythm than it is the temps. Keep your rhythm up and the mould will stay plenty hot.

And Gear, this part of the country isn't so bad. We have way more public land for hunting that you do. Is there such a thing as public land in Texas? I am only 2 hours from Des Moines, not such a bad place. Now the far side of Iowa is odd, too close to Chicago. Yuck.

01-29-2012, 08:33 PM
Yup, Texas is almost entirely privately owned. What little public land there is has very limited, if any, hunting. Mostly black powder or bow hunts for deer managment in the state parks, it's a lottery thing.

Being privately owned sucks for most people who don't own property, but paid hunting is big business here, and we don't have thousands of unsupervised yahoos from the cities crawling all over the countryside leaving trash and shooting up every roadside pullout or park road, either like many states do.


01-29-2012, 09:14 PM
paid hunting???
people pay you to hunt on thier property? i'm coming to texas.
i just drive up the canyon for 10-15 minutes and hike off into the distance.
if i knew people paid me to hunt.....

01-29-2012, 09:20 PM
I do cast outside and keeping the pot and mold hot takes a little finese. I generally keep the pot hotter than normal, I also shield the work area to keep down the cooling drafts and I also tend to cast faster as it help to keep the mold hot.

01-29-2012, 09:31 PM
Luckily I have access to private land for deer hunting. Couldn't pay me to hunt public land during deer season.
We had a chance to moe to Texas years ago for my wife's job, she didn't want to go.

Cold weather casting is really not that tough. It just takes an understanding aout what is a proper mould temp and how to keep things at the right temp.

01-29-2012, 09:41 PM
I set up my casting bench up in the barn and in the winter you have to check on the temperature more.
Any other time it can get warm in there and I just open the door some with a blower going to help out.
Here what is bad is when the sand is blowing out side and you can't open the doors up.

01-29-2012, 09:46 PM
I cast in a shed so it a little protected from the weather. What I try to do is go into summer and winter with a big pile of boolits. But sometimes I get caught with my pants down and have to cast some in the hot or cold. Luckily in MO if you can wait a few days the weather will change

01-30-2012, 12:54 AM
Try casting outside in conditions like this;




Other than smelting, I cast inside. Now that I have central air, I'm even comfortable in the summer.

It was great at first, i have a basement now and a separate reloading room, moved my casting and brass polishing outside.

Then the basement is where you should cast. That's where I started when living at home.

Iowa Fox
01-30-2012, 01:37 AM
This has been an exceptionally mild winter in Iowa so far this year. Some years we have snow up to the eves and temps that do not get above zero for 30 days straight.

I usually try to build up a pretty good stash before cold weather sets in. If I do need to cast in the winter I use an electric pot, nice clean ingots, and dipper in the basement with a little ventillation.

Smelting is for the summer months.

01-30-2012, 07:42 AM
I lived in Houston to lots of years and then Lubbock for college, Go Red Raiders! Then military moved me around the east coast then back to Lubbock to recruit. I got out of the military and somehow landed a Job with John Deere in Iowa. They do hunt deer a crazy way here (down right dangerious IMHO) but its not so bad, have to fingure out liitle things like casting.

I'll look around for a vent hood, I'll have to talk the wife into it. She already thinks I'm poisoning the entire neighborhood with my fumes (from the casting).

01-30-2012, 08:14 AM
Yup, Texas is almost entirely privately owned. What little public land there is has very limited, if any, hunting. Mostly black powder or bow hunts for deer managment in the state parks, it's a lottery thing.

Being privately owned sucks for most people who don't own property, but paid hunting is big business here, and we don't have thousands of unsupervised yahoos from the cities crawling all over the countryside leaving trash and shooting up every roadside pullout or park road, either like many states do.


You also don't have all that public land removed from the tax roles! One of my pet peeves is this idea that a state, county, town, village, college, school, church, etc. is somehow exempt from taxation, but the individual is responsible not only for his own property, but making up for that public/exempt property too.

01-30-2012, 08:14 AM
I have a room in the basement I cast in. I do all of my smelting outside, but I grew up casting in the basement and when I built my own home I set it up so I could cast in the reloading/gun room. I cast in the winter months and shoot in the spring, summer, and fall.

Best wishes,


Forrest r
01-30-2012, 08:16 AM
I live in NE Ohio right on Lake Erie & we get cold winters & do all my casting in the winter anymore. Iíve have tailored my casting style/technique to be able to do so and found itís actually easier to cast in the winter. I do more volume casting because of this owning 3 6-cavity molds, 5 4-cavity molds, 2 2-cavity molds & 1 1-cavity mold. Volume casting works the best in the cold once you get everything dialed in, run with it.
The equipment I use lets me cast up to 40# runs at one time. It consists of a hot plate, lee 10# production pot 4, a propane stand (bottom half of a turkey cooker), 10Ē cast iron skillet & a ladle.

The hot plate: I set mine so that the mold is hot (medium high). I want the lead to have a hard time solidifying & just want to start smearing on the first pour. This lets me control the temp of the sprue plate by letting it cool to where you get good pours/bullets. If your sprue plate temp is too cold the bullets donít fill out & itís so much harder to get it back up to temp in cold weather.

The lee pot: I run the pot the same temp that I would any other time. I want good strong fast pours (consistent) so I never empty it more than Ĺ way unless Iím out of lead to restock it. The small cheap lee pot will pour a fast heavy stream of lead (excellent for casting) at fist when its full & will slow down to a trickle by the time its 1/3 full, too slow to keep the mold an even temp in cold weather.

The propane cooker: I fill the cast iron skillet full of lead & flux it. I try to keep the full skillet (30+#) at the same temp as the lead in the lee pot or a little hotter. The name of the game is to keep it close to where Iím casting so that when the lee pot runs down I can refill it quickly with clean hot material.

The mold: I only use 1 mold at a time in cold weather & like to get it on the hot side with a hot plate. Itís easier to let it cool down to the temp you want to use it at rather than trying to heat it up with pours of lead. I also use bigger puddles on the sprue plate in the cold, the sprue plate has to stay hot or it will cool the lead too quickly causing problems in the moldís cavities below.

So basically I want everything up to temp & ready before I ever start casting. I never put the lead from the sprues back into the lee pot; they go into the skillet right after I refill the lee pot. I try to run/keep the mold hot by pouring fast enough (cadence) that I have to watch for the lead smearing under the sprue plate. I can put the mold down to do something like refill the pot (a pot 1/2 empty is quicker to fill) or dump the sprues bask into the lead. But I can do those things in 15 to 20 seconds, I only do them when I get the mold hot enough the lead is starting to smear & Iíll leave a pour in the mold complete with the uncut sprues still attached to the bullets. That slows the cool down of the mold & allows me to feel the cool down by how hard it is to cut the sprues off. I just want the lead at an even heat, the lead to pour fast & run the mold on the hot side.

When I do my casting this way in cold weather it takes a 1/2 hours to get everything up to temp and get started and then another 2 hours+ run out of material/lead. It actually goes pretty quick & the bullets pile up fast with the 4 & 6 cavity molds. Some of the bullets I cast in the last month.



01-31-2012, 08:57 PM
I cast year round in my garage. Course in the winter, being a potter, and having my kilns in my garage, I cast when I am fireing. Works for me!

MT Gianni
02-01-2012, 12:25 AM
I cast in the shop outside. I hate to cast in the summer as it it already over 80 so do most of it in winter. Carharts, a good hat and a hot plate for the molds and run your pot hot. I usually am done after 3 hours but can build up a stash through the winter.

02-07-2012, 04:12 PM
Living in Northern Canada, a guy learns how to deal with the cold.
Thankfully this winter has been astronomically warm!
Up to this point, we have only had temps below -35F for 3 days! Wow!

I cast in my garage with no heat. The heat from my casting gives the ambient temp a boost. Its very comfortable.

02-07-2012, 04:20 PM
I cast in my garage, heat with a wood stove, very comfy.