View Full Version : New Mould Prep
04-01-2005, 02:17 PM
A new RCBS .44 Keith mould should be waiting for me when I get home. This is the first steel mould I have purchased or used. All others being Lee. I saw recently a thread on the old site which had some posts on preping a new mould but I have not been able to find it again. The thread had various ways of preping a mould from boiling in soapy water to brake cleaner. What is the best way to prep and break in a new steel mould if any?
04-01-2005, 03:57 PM
Bigscot...Normally RCBS moulds don't need much break in.
My normal procedure is to wash/degrease with denatured alcahol. vent the top where the mould connects with a fine stone and then coat the top of the mould with spray moly as well as the underside and top of the sprue plate.
Sit the mould on top the pot and let it warm while the lead is melting and by the time it's hot enough to cast with, the mould's warm and usually after 8-10 bullets it starts dropping good bullets....especially with a big cavity like the Keith .44 which heats the blocks pretty quick. Once it starts dropping good bullets, drop the casting tempo back a bit or you'll start getting incomplete bands due to the mould being too hot.
The key as you pointed out is to get ALL of the preservative grease out.
Man, you live in my old stomping grounds. I went to HS in Sanford and college at NC State./beagle
04-01-2005, 08:40 PM
Thanks for the help Beagle.
But I am getting discouraged now. I cleaned the mould with denatured alcohol using an old tooth brush and wiped it out with several q-tips. Heated the mould and started casting. Never got a good bullet to drop.
I then let the mould cool and cleaned it again. Same thing. It was hard to get 2 bullets to even fill to the sprue plate much less get one to drop full. The ones that did fill to the sprue plate were wrinkled and or did not fill out completely. I have some Lee moulds which work better than this one and at 1/3 the price including handles. :x :cry:
Anyone got any recommendations on getting this new mould to work?
04-01-2005, 08:55 PM
Try really heating the mould up hot with a benzamatic propane torch. First I would pencil up the bottom of the sprur plate and the top of the mould with a no. 2 pencil. Get it hot, not red, just good and hot and then cast one see what happens. Mine you, it will take the sprue a long time to cool with the block this hot. If you use a bottom pour pot, skip the heating with the torch part and put the sprue tight up against the spout and pour and then move it off wee bit and let a sprue puddle form. Ater trying these to things report back.
04-01-2005, 09:26 PM
I'll try getting it hotter. I use a hotplate and ladle the lead into the mould. I thought about heating mould up more and even rested the mould on the burner for a little while but was afaid the mould might warp Never had a problem with doing it this way with the Lee's.
04-01-2005, 09:57 PM
We're just talking about getting it plenty hot, like I said not cherry. It shouldn't warp it, some casters even dip corner of their mould in water to cool them down when they get too hot, with no harm. BruceB's fast casting method involves cooling the sprueplate and sprue off ona damp cloth pad, works great and you can read about it in the stickies or Cast Boolit Articles here. If that mould is clean and vented right, it should cast. Just let us know what you do and report back.
04-01-2005, 10:34 PM
..............Bigscott, you do not need your mould blocks hotter then the alloy, and when successfully casting the blocks will be cooler then your alloy. If we assume your blocks are clean then what I would do is to first set the base of the blocks on top of the hot alloy for a good 30 count, or until when lifting it off you don't have a big solid hunk of lead floating there.
If you can't lay the base on the melt, hold the blocks via the handle straight up and down with the end of the blocks just slightly in the melt for a 30 count. Since the heat has to pass up the lenght of the blocks, the cavity closest to the heated end will naturally be hotter. Then try casting. Make sure the sprue is solid before striking the sprueplate over.
If the slugs still aren't as nice as you'd like, smoke the cavities. Use a butane or Zippo lighter. Do not use a candle, or paper match as these have wax and the flame will deposit a wax via the smoke. Once smoked again set the mould block's base or end on your alloy as above and retry.
I've done this many times. Usually what happens is the blocks are way too hot and the sprue will take a bit of time to set up. Especially with aluminum blocks. Dump the slugs and re-fill at a kind of slow pace until the boolits appear as you'd like to see them. Usually your slugs will be perfectly formed, may have some whiskers from alloy flowing into the vent lines, and will have a surface appearance of a crystallized structure.
As you cast, this appearance will change into a frosted or dull silver-gray surface and you should still have a perfect boolit. Continue casting a bit faster to maintain this appearance.
Wrinkled boolits is a sign of insufficient heat. It's either alloy or mould block temp.
As far as prepping a brand new mould goes, I use carb cleaner. Have the sprueplate swung over so as to have as much of the blocks and the underside of the plate exposed. As you are aware the Lee moulds require lubrication, and so does iron or steel mould blocks. I don't lube the alignment pins but I do lube the sprueplate pivit.
04-01-2005, 11:39 PM
What do you use to lube the sprueplate pivot on iron or steel mold blocks?
04-02-2005, 04:18 PM
Thanks for the all the help. I finally got both cavities to drop good boolits. Most did not fill completely to the corners but pretty close. I did get some filled out completely. Will the boolits which are not completely filled out work?
What is the best way to store a steel mould?
04-02-2005, 08:24 PM
I hate to confuse you here. On a mould such as a 250 grain Keith, the bullets will go through four phases. The first is wrinkles where the mould isn't hot enough. The second is good bullets that are filled out shiny and then start to frost as the heat goes up. The third phase is frosty bullets that are not filled out completely. The fourth phase is frosty bullets that are filled out but will have whiskers and this is the point where you smear molten lead on the bottom of the sprue plate and top of the mould and the fun begins.
This is all induced by the temperature of the mould.
The third condition is caused becaue the mould blocks won't dissipate the heat fast enough. When this happens, slow down your casting tempo until you start getting good bullets on every throw.
When you're throwing 500 grains of hot head into blocks, the iron moulds just can't get rid of the heat as do aluminum blocks so you have to slow down the casting rate some with big bullets.
The big 500 grain Lyman .45 bullets in the small blocks are real bad. Sometimes, it takes a pace of one bullet per minute to get good bullets./beagle
04-02-2005, 09:36 PM
That is of course (what you said about hot and really hot moulds) unless you use the BruceB fast cast method. It really speeds up casting and cools the mould faster.
04-03-2005, 04:02 AM
What do you use to lube the sprueplate pivot on iron or steel mold blocks?
I use Javalina boolit lube. Usually in the course of things you'll get some lube seepage past the bottom of the lube-size die. I just put this in a old 35mm film can. To apply it I have a really tiny little jeweler's screwdriver. Get just the faintest little blob and touch it to the washer under the head of the pivit bolt. You'll see it suck underneath. Enough gets on the shoulder of the bolt, hole of the plate and a tiny bit goes under the plate between it and the block half to really ease things up.
Now if you put on too much, the stuff will suck up under the sprueplate and find it's way (naturally) into the closest cavity. After applying the lube swing the plate all the way around so you can see the immediate area around the pivit. If there is just the faintest bit of 'wetness' you're in good shape. If it's more then halfway to the cavity, I'd wipe it off just to be sure. Once or two times of looking and you'll know what's enough.
04-03-2005, 10:40 AM
I just wash my molds with hot water and dish soap. I built a mold oven that was shown on Shooter's I believe. It is an electical box with the lid hinged and a thermometer installed. It sits on a hot plate and adjusted to 500 degrees. I put the mold in the oven when I turn on the pot. When everything is hot, the first boolit out of the mold is perfect.
I use Rapine mold prep and it will also protect your mold in storage. Make sure you coat the cold mold all over, inside and out. If you oil, wax or spray your mold, you have to start all over cleaning it every time you want to cast.
If the boolits are not filling out when it is clean, the thing isn't hot enough. After you get good at it you can tell if all is well by the time the sprue takes to harden. It should take a little while so I run two molds and the sprue on the first will be ready to cut after I pour the second mold.
If you add heat with a propane torch, play the flame all over the mold and don't hold in one spot. Dipping works good but the sprue plate will still be cold and might need some extra heat from the torch.
Once the mold is up to temperature and you get a rhythm going, you will cast the pot empty without any rejects.
Beagle has some great info and like he says, too hot is no good either.
04-03-2005, 04:10 PM
44man pretty much sums up how I do it, except I may clean a mould with acetone in addition to scrubbing with soap and water. You'll know when the mould is too hot, it seems to take the sprue forever to get solid and you'll start getting lead smears on the bottom of the sprue plate and top of the mould. These will first be evident with an arced line of smear the same size as the sprue hole. The bullets will be really frosted also. About frosted bullets, they are ok to shoot. In fact alot of us will cast all frosted bullets. With a Lee mould you will find that you have to cast really fast to get it too hot, then too even if you can in some cases. After you get this hang of this it's be old hand to you and you'll be hopelessly a cast bullet maker and shooter forever. Make sure to pass this trade/hobby down to others that shoot and don't cast and my not even reload. Get them started.
04-04-2005, 05:20 AM
Star, I an eleven yo son who likes to hunt and shoot. Has not got into reloading much. I guess he lets Dad have all the fun. My 8 yo daughter likes to help me out some. I let her pull the handle when resizing or priming. My son shoots a .243 and one time I had him resize his brass. I am more than willing to pass it on.
In fact, a friend across the street has a boy and girl. They come visit every other weekend. (Divorce) He is really into guns. We talk some, shoot air rifles etc. One day I am going to get him down to the range, shoot a bunch and let him restuff the shells. And it would be perfectly alright with his Dad.
I have taken him squirrel hunting once.
08-16-2006, 05:51 PM
This is all so dang confusing!! I may have some casting equipment for sale If I cant figure it out.
Bad luck Bill
08-16-2006, 06:33 PM
Stay with it and remember to step away when you get frustrated. I had a few problems and everyone here helped me out really fine. You'll really love casting and reloading if you stay with it, it's very rewarding and may save you a little cash in the long run. what kind of problems are you having?
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