View Full Version : quenching bullets
12-26-2006, 04:58 PM
i have read here and other places about dropping the lead on a soft surface once molded and then into cool water.....wondering if that is necessary (the cool water) and why.....
also is it necessary to add tin to WW to harden the bullet...i currently mold 44 - 430 -240 TL and will be adding 452-230 bullets....
12-26-2006, 05:24 PM
Suggest you spend a few bucks and buy a Lyman manual and read the area on casting. Also suggest that you read through the threads on this web regarding what you are asking. There is a wealth of knowledge here that will answer your questions, develop a few more that you will want to ask, and you just can't help but learn.
12-26-2006, 05:28 PM
If you want to harden the bullet, drop it from the mould directly into water to quench it. Best if the mould is running on the hot side. Don't wait or the quench will be much less effective, if at all. This will result in BHN 20-27, depending upon how quick the quench is. Air cooled normally run around 12 BHN about two weeks after casting.
Tin is more to help the bullet fill out the mould cavity, and only mildly helps hardness.
It's still a valuable addition, but on the costly side. Use only as much as needed to help the bullet fill out all the sharp corners.
12-26-2006, 05:30 PM
Welcome to the forum...
Water quenching is generally not "necessary". I find it very convenient to drop into a bucket of cold water. Soft bullets don't get deformed dropping on top of each other, I never have to stop to shift the pile, etc.. Bullet metal containing trace arsenic (WW for instance) will harden some when water dropped from a hot mold. How much is not nearly as predictable as conventional heat treatment, but it is a lot easier.
WW metal "as is" will cast just fine in most cases. Adding a percent or two of tin may help fill out in troublesome molds.
12-26-2006, 05:57 PM
I quench my bullets for convienience as others have mentioned. Its just easier to have a bucket of water to drop the bullets in than keeping a pile next to the pot. My WW bullets come out about 10bhn air cooled and 14bhn when quenched.
12-27-2006, 12:38 AM
I agree with these.
Drop 'em into a bucket of water.
I found dropping them onto a damp towel usually deformed the bottom side and most had the fuzz impression in them too.
They just seem to come out a lot better and a whole lot faster with less hassle to drop in a bucket. Plus, you, nor anyone else won't be tempted to pick one up to take a look at it and burn the hell out of your fingers.
It's like majic, tell someone "don't touch they're hot, and sure as hell $20 says they'll reach for it right then even if you're still welding on a hunk of iron".
I've found you can almost count on nearly everyone doing it.
Nah, I ain't a gonna admit to doing it myself!!
Play it safe, make 'em cold,
12-27-2006, 04:02 AM
Welcome Quiknot- Try just straight WW first and see how it performs in your guns with your loads. Each gun adn load combo is pretty much a law unto itself, so you gotta try it to know for sure.
I sometimes quench my boolits, mostly when I try a hot load to hopefully negate any leading problems caused by poor fit and a somewhat soft alloy. I LIKE a soft alloy, but thats just me. Quenching straight WWwill not change the ulitmate touhgness or ductilty or the WW alloy but does appear to add some strength to the alloy as far as stripping in the rifling. There are others here who can explain the theory much better than I.
For general plinking, target shooting and most hunting it shouldn't be needed, but may be something you want to try anyway.
12-27-2006, 10:41 AM
I like to water quench. I like the "sizzle" the bullets make when they hit the water:-D Kinda goes along with the "fire and molten metal" attraction that I think most of us have.
I use an idea I got from this group to keep water from hitting my mold when dumping the bullets. I put a cloth secured with a bungee over the mouth of a 5 gallon bucket filled with water with a slit in the center. I make sure the cloth is wet. The bullets hit the wet cloth, roll towards the slit and fall gently into the bucket.
12-27-2006, 10:49 AM
Well I will add my limited thoughs to this thread, I use straight w-w for casting (clip on mostly with some lead stick on blended in when casting ingots) .45 and .38 and according to my Lee hardness tester they are 19.3 bhn when quenched which is harder than air cooled bullets (I do not remember the number on air cooled).
12-27-2006, 11:46 AM
One thing I noticed in your original question is that you said the bullets were dropped on a soft pad and THEN placed in cool water.
I'm sure you've noted that when the responders have answered, they say that the bullets are dropped DIRECTLY from the mould into cold water. The final hardness of the bullet is affected both by the magnitude of the temperature change, and the speed of the temp change. The greater the change and the faster the change, the harder the bullets will be.
To slow the fall of the hot bullets, and to minimize splashing around the quenching bucket, I tape a cloth over the top of the 5-gallon pail, with a slit cut in the center of the cloth. The cloth is drooped into the water, so a hot bullet falling from the mould lands in a shallow-water area, cooling it instantly, and then it slips through the cut in the cloth to land on the bottom of the pail.
It is critical to keep water out of any metal being added to the pot. While a stray drop of water falling into the pot will just hiss and bounce around until it evaporates, if any water gets on metal before it enters the pot, and is carried below the surface of the melted alloy, a violent steam explosion will occur and molten lead will be splashed ALL over the place. We call this "a visit from the Tinsel Fairy", and it is NOT a pleasant situation. BE CAREFUL!
Glad to see you made it over here from The High Road.
12-27-2006, 12:55 PM
Bruce. I think you should post your speed casting method again. It works great. I printed it when I saw it posted. I am glad I did because I couldn't find it later. If it is still posted, just let everyone know how to find it. Thanks again.
12-27-2006, 01:12 PM
I have done it both before.Quenching and air cooling.I see no reason for quenching if bullets are hard enough and no leading in the bore is pressunt.If good lube is used like the Lee brown alox they is no need for quenching in water.
Im out of here,
12-27-2006, 04:01 PM
thanks for all the advise
12-27-2006, 04:18 PM
"Bruce. I think you should post your speed casting method again.......if it is still posted, just let everyone know how to find it. Thanks again."
I discovered that the way we access articles has been changed, but "Speedcasting" is still available.
Go to the toolbar atop each page, and click on "Homepage". Over on the left will be a column of available links, one of which is "Articles". Click on that, and you'll find all the Cast Boolit Articles, including mine.
I'm glad it's working for you.
12-29-2006, 11:56 PM
My system is: I attach a 2ft section of automotive alumin. flex tube ( like the one that goes from the manifold to the breather) To a large funnel, then I temp attach this to my table with the "spout" in a bucket of water (cold) and cover the bucket with cardboard (no splash) Then knock off the sprues and drop the boolits in the funnel..........
Just my .02 HTH:-D
12-30-2006, 12:53 AM
I've found no matter what the matterial IF my hot just cast bullets
land on anything before the water they'll be deformed.
Even a gentle ejection onto a wet cloth will leave the fur marks.
That's why I drop directly into the water. sometimes it's not real cold
other time's it's been in the shop all winter and I'll just take the ice off
the surface. It don't work to drop them onto the ice, that flattens one side.
I hold them in the mold til the sprue frosts over, drop that into the pot,
then drop the bullets in the water. By then, there should be no question
of them still being soft in the middle.
Never tried the slit cloth trick, may give that a try. Doubt I'll be doing much
casting in the shop this winter, unless it warms up some.
Happy New Year everyone,
01-01-2007, 08:55 AM
I recently investigated the effects of quenching with the help of the Lee hardness tester. My bullet alloy is usually a hotch potch of reclaimed bullet heads from the range backstop and wheel weights supplemented with a dab of tin from bar solder.
Normally when I cast, I just allow the dropped bullets to air cool on a folded rag then gather them up and size/lube as required. However after reading the Lyman book I decided to try hardening the bullets as I was getting leading in my .45 HK USP and figured it may be a way to cut down the problem.
I managed to "aquire" an old portable electrical oven as I guessed that heating lead in something that is destined to provide my supper was not a great plan !
The bullets were placed in a preheated oven at 450F and allowed to heatsoak for an hour followed by immediate quench into a 2 gallon bucket of room temperature water. The bullets had taken on a golden hue from the heat and didn't appear damaged by the process. They were then sized/lubed as normal.
Testing with the Lee tester showed a marked increase in hardness. The treated bullets are approximately 4X harder. Which surprised me as I thought that my "as cast" bullets were quite the thing, but I now think this will be an important step in my casting process.
Initial sessions with the HK have also shown a drop in the leading and smaller groups too! Due I think, to the hardening cutting down some variability in velocity.
Happy New Year to the Cast Boolit Crew !!
Jon Hill (Nearly, but not quite, in the UK)
01-01-2007, 02:05 PM
To avoid splashing of cast's in bucket I place about a 3 inch layer of the strofoam package peanunts on water surface no splash no problem. If you don't have any of the styrofoam peanuts guess you will have to order a new mould or two.
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