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Thread: 58 Cal Minnie balls a PITA

  1. #1
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    58 Cal Minnie balls a PITA

    Gentlemen,

    Started casting 58 caliber Minnie balls today for F-I-Ls newly acquired Enfield Rifle/musket repro. Bought it yesterday and bought a Lee mold because it's an hour drive to the ONLY place to buy 58cal ANYTHING.

    Anyway, this is my first attempt at Minnie balls, I cast RBs for myself using a Lee mold. This Minnie mold has a pin to form the hollow base, and is a nose pour (single cavity of course). FWIW, the sprue cutter design is different than on any Lee mold I have used before, very short and has a flange (for lack of a better description) to hit with the sprue cutter.

    This mold is a pain to get good boolits with. My first attempt ran about 40% rejection rate!! I finally got it down to about 25%, but that's still a lot to me. I cleaned/degreased the mold before I started, I'm using pure (as far as I know) lead, I smoked the mold and am running it fairly hot. Most of my rejects are rinkled or improperly filled out bases. Sometimes the mold doesn't close far enough and I get "fins". I've not had any problems with Lee RB or REAL molds before. Is there a trick to getting good Minnies? Do I just need to be patient and refine my technique? I'll get a good boolit, and then the next one out of the mold is a reject, that's why I think it's technique. Is there something to do with the base plug?

    BTW, these 500gr boolits take a DRINK from the lead pot LOL!! Espescially when you're used to casting 158gr boolits (358156) LOL!!!

    All input appreciated.

    SSB

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Sounds like you need more heat for the lead and you need the mold hotter.
    A gun is like a parachute: If you need one and don't have one, you won't be needing one again.

  3. #3
    Moderator Emeritus / Trusted loob groove dealer

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    you need some way to get the pin hotter. It is acting as a heat sink right now, and is cooling the melt too quickly. May want to put it on a hot plate to keep hot, or have a propane torch on low, to get it up to heat. Try casting faster, once you start getting good bullets, and you may not need to heat the pin.

  4. #4
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    Gentlemen,

    Thanks for the quick replies.

    I'm running my pot (a Lee electric dedicated to pure lead) as hot as she'll go. I'll look into keeping the base pin hotter. I've been casting these boolits in rotation with my RB mold, maybe I'm letting the Minnie mold cool too much while filling the RB mold. I'll try again tomorrow using just the Minnie mold.

    Thanks again for the replies.

    SSB

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master

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    It's a big heavy bullet mould and uses allot of lead. Sounds like you are letting it cool too much. Use it by itself without rotation and you should start putting out some good bullets! I have had a little more trouble with my .58 than other bullets but once it gets going I have little problems. Make sure you preheat the mould good!
    Aim small, miss small!

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    add a bit of tin to the melt, it will make a huge difference. I was attempting to cast lee's REAL bullets with some pure lead with little succcess, added some 50/50 solder to the melt and it was like night and day.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy lefty_red's Avatar
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    Can't add much more than the wise words already spoken here.

    I had the same problem with my shotgun slug mold. I THOUGHT I had it hot enough, but it wasn't. Bought a hot plate at the SA and problem solved.

    It takes time for the larger bullet molds to warm up and for the bullet to "set", so don't get into a hurry. But do get a "flow" going.

    As for the mold not closing up, lube the pivot bolt. You might have to tighten it up or losen it up. Also don't forget to lube the block pins that aid in locking up the mold.

    Lefty
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    I'll be needing that for squirrels and such....

  8. #8
    Boolit Master shooter575's Avatar
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    I first started casting with a minne for a repo Italian pipe bomb [zouave] back in 79.I still cast 2000+ minnes a year.They are diffrent and have their own quirks.here is my .02 worth.
    Use dead soft lead.That tin will make them look better but they will not expand reliabley and will cause keyholes and flyers.
    Cast HOT.Keep the lead hot I run my 20lb Lee wide open when full.The temp will climb as the lead level drops.You could dial back then or just refill the pot.I let the melted lead soak for for 1/2 hour at least before I start casting.[lets temp get even?]
    Got to watch the sprue spill over does not run between the handles at the piviot bolt.It gets under the core pin holder is a pain to dig out. Pour fast and let the mould set before dumping the round.This let the minne pull the extra lead it needs when cooling from the sprue.I cast using two moulds. Set one down,pour
    2nd,dump 1st and repour...
    I have also found that when dipping I get the lowest reject rate with 400 gr moulds on up. On a good day I can run 5% rejects,Bad day 20%.Using the bottom pour 50% is about what I get. I am rather fussy on them though
    One thing that has to be prefect is the skirt and cavity.Any wrinkles or voids of any kind goes back into the pot.On a thin skirt such as all the Lees minne moulds it is a weak spot.At best you may get a flyer.worst is a blown skirt.
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  9. #9
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    Those big base pin molds need to be kept going, very hard to use two molds and keep the pin hot. I have used a bunch of them and some would leave an air hole in the bottom of the hollow base and others wouldn't. No amount of air venting changes would fix the problem, neither would casting technique or temperature.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master On Heavens Range. 1940-2008 Slamfire's Avatar
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    Try some 40 to 1 alloy. Has just enough tin to fill out a mold well, and is only twice as hard as plain lead, with a brinnell hardness of 8.5.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I have been casting Minni balls for over 40 years and you want your lead pot and hot as it can get, use a dipper to pour and get your mold hot before you start. I sit it on a hot plate while the lead melts. I use a contact thermometer to make sure its hotter than the lead and start pouring. Pour fast and leave a puddle of lead on top. When the puddle is hard drop the ball and pour again. Lee molds work fine but they are harder to keep up to temperature than the lyman steel ones but I have used both tyes and they make good boolits.

  12. #12
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    Gentlemen,

    Thanks for all the input. I'm running my pot as hot as it will go, I'm dipper casting and I'm pre-heating my mold on a hotplate. I think my problem is cycling 2 molds.

    I'll try again tomorrow, using only the Minnie mold, and try to keep the mold as hot as possible.

    Thanks again for all the replies.

    SSB

  13. #13
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    ..............Yup, all that stuff. Run the pot wide open. Cast as fast as the cooling sprue will let you. Wear a glove and pinch the blocks shut. Be sure the alignment surfaces get lubed every once in awile as this will help them close.

    One last thing, and this made a BIG difference in NOT getting voids over the base pin. File a flat about 1/8" across on the tip of the base pin to get rid of the point. If you were getting a void there this mod will cut the incidence in at least half or make it disappear.

    ...............Buckshot
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  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Heat seemed to make all the difference. A Coleman gasoline camp stove & a cast iron pot using pure lead worked for me.

    The propane stoves I had didn't get the lead hot enough. I also use a big soup style spoon from the $1.00 store & fill that mould full with lead slopping all down the sides.

    Then, you have to get the minie big enough or it won't shoot. I wound up with 2 of those Zouaves and one takes a .575" minie while the other one likes a .580". Also had to glass bed the second one to get it to shoot at all after discovering that someone had glass bedded my first one. Beagling comes in handy here. Track of the Wolf sells minie balls in all different diameters to get you in the ball park. For all the money & time, I could have bought a much snazzier gun to begin with but that is not the "way I roll" unfortunately for me. I guess this helps the guys at Antonio Zoli's factory buy nice Christmas presents for their kids though!
    Last edited by Newtire; 05-09-2017 at 09:52 AM.

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy 59sharps's Avatar
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    keep the mould tilted a little keep a puddle on top the spru I cast mine at 850 deg. found to fast a pour is no good for me to slow gets wrinkles of course. I use a bottom pour pot, never a problem.
    14th VA. CAV.
    N_SSA

  16. #16
    Does all the good advice apply to just the 58 cal or does it apply to 50 cal too?


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  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy 59sharps's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=PtMD989;4042109]Does all the good advice apply to just the 58 cal or does it apply to 50 cal too?


    No 50 cal has its own set of problems HEE HEE.
    14th VA. CAV.
    N_SSA

  18. #18

    58 Cal Minnie balls a PITA

    [QUOTE=59sharps;4042437]
    Quote Originally Posted by PtMD989 View Post
    Does all the good advice apply to just the 58 cal or does it apply to 50 cal too?


    No 50 cal has its own set of problems HEE HEE.
    That's funny. It put a smile on my face.
    I know 1 problem is I don't have mold for 50 cal Minnie.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by PtMD989; 05-10-2017 at 02:00 PM.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
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