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Thread: DIY 100 pound pot/master caster

  1. #21
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    I think the parts will still get the job done to move 90 degrees.
    I would design it with more movement than that, if you are going to use a motor, you are not going to have the inertia that you would by hand or pneumatics.

    Even then, I wound up with a "sticky" mold and had to add tappers.



    I just used what I had collecting dust. If you already have pneumatics/controls, might be less work to just use them.
    Last edited by jmorris; 01-02-2017 at 05:12 PM.

  2. #22
    Boolit Master



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    wonderful project
    Thanks
    Mike
    NRA Benefactor 2004

  3. #23
    Boolit Master
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    That thing is a monster way to go. Only thing better would be a caster that runs two molds at once.
    Last edited by Plate plinker; 01-02-2017 at 07:47 PM.

  4. #24
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmorris View Post
    I would design it with more movement than that, if you are going to use a motor, you are not going to have the inertia that you would by hand or pneumatics.

    Even then, I wound up with a "sticky" mold and had to add tappers.



    I just used what I had collecting dust. If you already have pneumatics/controls, might be less work to just use them.
    Yes, 90 degrees is just a ballpark and it wouldn't be hard to allow the mold to drop down further. All along, I have kept tappers as an option for mine, since others have done the same. It seems they would add some assurance and insurance to make sure the boolits drop free.

    Right now, I do agree with the pneumatics. Those DIY automation projects look like they have a nice abrupt stop when the mold opens. Hopefully tuning the air pressure or flow will allow the right amount of force without beating the snot out of the mold and machine. There is a bunch of pneumatic parts in those couple boxes that my dad picked up and he said he has played with them on the bench. I haven't messed with them yet, although he says the larger piston has so much force that he couldn't push it in (pushing the cylinder against a bench with his hip) with his body. It is similar in size to what I have seen on another casting machine. There are a couple smaller cylinders that might work for the lead valve or tappers.

    It is still cold and wet in my garage and I am waiting on the new molds, so I didn't do any work on it today. The plan is to run it by hand at first. If/when that portion works as it is supposed to, I will work on automating it. It might not be long between steps but the option to run by hand is nice since I haven't used one of these machines before and I need some bullets and don't want to change the plugs on the PID and deal with the Lee 20 when this thing is coming along. This will be my first time powering a hand operated machine or automating it. I did build my own trimmer, but it uses CTS trimmers for a drill and I just built an aluminum case around the motor and attached a coupler to the motor.

    That video is great as it shows the linkage for the motor and the tappers. You can really hear the motor change sound as the mold moves away from the spout. I also have a couple motors, one with a gear box, and another separate gear box, but I have not torn into them to see if they can be salvaged.


    Quote Originally Posted by Plate plinker View Post
    That thing is a monster way to go. Only thing better would be a caster that runs two molds at once.
    Don't even get me started!

    With two molds, it would drop 40 cal and 30 cal at the same time. A controller, of some sort, could even change how long the lead valve is open for each mold. I could PC the pistol boolits and have my clone GC and lube the rifle boolits at the same time. Right now I don't even cast for 9mm, but do use a number of them for my 9mm AR 3gun rifle. The 9mm moly coated bullets cost me $60 per thousand so I can't yet justify casting my own and I don't have a steady supply of lead.

    It is quite a beast for less than $100 worth of material and parts, so far, not including the PID that I already had.

  5. #25
    Boolit Master



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    Very nice...great looking workmanship.

    But, this is way beyond my skill level, to build and production level for need.

  6. #26
    Boolit Master
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    Sorry pal I have a sick twisted mind. It would be spectacular to do two molds at once though.

  7. #27
    Boolit Master
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    I'm assuming you have seen the commercial machines that have 4+ molds on them. Each quarter turn of the shaft would fill and dump a mold. I think I saw one that had 8 arms as well.

    My grandfather thought of running multiple molds, when he saw this lead pot. He was a maintenance guy for different types of industrial manufacturing plants. One of the places he worked in (don't know if it was maint. or if he made the product) produced batteries. Their lead pots were massive.

    If this machine works like the one Jmorris has, it will far outproduce my needs. It should be fun to watch as I size the boolits, and half the fun is building it myself and then being able to say that I load my own ammo, cast the boolits, and even built the casting machine. Of course, some of the other guys at the range just shake their heads when they see my 40 cal ammo that looks like skittles.

    If you have seen the shows such as "how it's made," "mega machines," "modern marvels" and anything else that shows how products are produced or mined, then you know what type of shows I watch on tv, after I get off the computer and go to bed. They are very interesting to me but also have a great narrative quality that is relaxing and easy to fall asleep to.

    Yes, two molds would be the cat's meow.

  8. #28
    Boolit Master
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    If I had the machines and skill I would do it just because.

  9. #29
    Boolit Bub
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    I have built a similar pot that i use to ladle cast and feed my rcbs hot metal. Would you be interested in building a pour mechanism for me that I could install on my pot?

  10. #30
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by bajacoop View Post
    I have built a similar pot that i use to ladle cast and feed my rcbs hot metal. Would you be interested in building a pour mechanism for me that I could install on my pot?
    If your referring to a bottom pour setup, like mine, it is best to have the pot on hand to make it. This is the first valve assembly I have made and it took many hours to make it up as I went and then to machine the slots for the control lever.

    If you want to send me a message with some photos, I will check them out and let you know if I have any ideas for your pot.

  11. #31
    Boolit Master
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    The mailman brought gifts!

    Now I have two NOE molds and two RCBS molds to run on this machine. The dimensions are close, but not exact, between the different brands. The biggest difference is in the orientation of the sprue plate. The quality of the newer RCBS mold is really nice. The edges are sharp and cleanly cut and they both work well. The NOE molds are almost too nice to use. The craftsmanship is great and you can immediately notice the chamfered edges. NOE just goes above and beyond what they could get away with. The pins in the NOE molds take an 1/8" hex wrench. It is a common size and is beefy compared to the smaller pins in the RCBS.

    The next part may take some slow and tedious work. I have to figure out how to activate the sprue plates and how to hold the molds. It's time to go look even closer at all those pics I have saved and the links I have to videos of the other machines like this.








  12. #32
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    You just need to make the bolt on adapters (like mm010 below but with a hole for the roll pin) that one side fits the slot in the mold and the other side fits the carrier.

    Its the lighter colored part in the photo I posted in #17, held to the mold with two socket head cap screws.

    if you want it to be the same as the magma molds, IIRC they will convert the RCBS mold for you, then just copy it for your other one.

    I would also be very tempted to get a few of their sprue plates vs building my own too. You won't need the stops any longer because your machine will return them to the same spot every time.

    Also in post #17 photo, look on the left side of the mold above the curve rail. See the vertical 1/4" stainless steel rod, it's welded to 1/4-20 bolt and adjusts in or out for sprue plate orientation (I think they just rotate it, not sure MC70 below).

    If you look lower on the left side, just above the shaft but below the "F" carrier on the left, you can see an arm that comes off the shaft with another 1/4" bolt, this one adjusts where the mold stops below the orifice plate, an adjustment on one means you will need to adjust the other. Magma has this incorporated into the operating handle (mc023 below).

    Last edited by jmorris; 01-07-2017 at 09:52 AM.

  13. #33
    Boolit Master
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    The other night, I went out and started to machine some adapters for the RCBS molds.







    These will be cut on the bandsaw and will fit into the F shape holders. The NOE molds will have a different set of adapters. The NOE has bigger pins and the slot is wider/taller. These are a close fit, but not snug. I don't want it so tight that it is hard to swap the molds out and I don't know how much the HR flat bar will grow with the heat of casting.

    Jmorris, or anyone else who has one these machines: Do the screws in the adapter hold the adapter tight to the mold. It appears they push inward and horizontally on the mold and put pressure on the pin/screw that would hold the mold to a set of handles? Then, where the adapter is pinned to the F holders, is there enough play to allow the mold to pivot side to side? Mold blocks attached to handles have some play and this allows the blocks to move a little so that the alignment pins in the blocks determine the final alignment.

    It seems that if the blocks are mounted rigid, the entire assembly with the F holders would have to be very precise. If there is slight play, then the alignment pins should do their job and the two curved rails should also guide and push the mold where it should be.

    The next part is to build the F holders. For this, I have some steel tube which is a good size for a 3/8" bolt to pass through to act as a pivot point. This is not a precise fit, but it has just enough clearance to make it easy for the parts to fit together. It is hard to tell from the photos, what was used for the pivot in other machines.

  14. #34
    Boolit Master
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    The adaptors are held tight against the moulds, but where the pin goes through to mount to the F adaptors, there is some play here to allow it to shake a little at the end of stroke, not a lot, but there is some.

  15. #35
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    It's been awhile, how is the project going?

  16. #36
    Boolit Buddy

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    Amazing talent! Wish I could build my own too..

  17. #37
    Boolit Master
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    I didn't realize that I hadn't updated this thread with what I worked on a while back. The other day, I spent just a little time on it as well.

    After starting on the adapters for the mold blocks, it was time to figure out the F shape arms and make them work together. Here is what I cobbled together:

    These were in my scrap bin and I think the smaller sections were 1/4" thick x 1/2" wide flat stock.




    I drilled the F bracket, after I welded it, by placing it in the mill vise. The two horizontals of the F did not turn out as straight as I would have liked. After I shaped the adapter, I slid it into the F, and marked where to drill.




    This is just a trial fit up of the spacing for the bolts. More or less, I just guessed. There is some round steel tube tacked to the large flat and the bolts pass through the tube. It was also scrap.



    I made a slight change to the spacing and then cut some 1/4" plate in half to form two sides. This was a remnant from the manufacturer that laser cut my welding table....again more scrap. The center top of it is where the laser pierced the plate. I used the band saw to cut this part.



    This is where it got tough. The molds closed, but not straight or easily. I debated on how to adjust this. While others say that the adapter moves in the F arm, I found it easier to allow the mold block to move. The other day I got fed up with not making anymore progress and took the 90 degree die grinder and a 3" 36 grit disk to the adapters where they meet the mold. It gave them enough play to close much better. Now they need some springs to push the mold halves shut.



    The rainy weather has left the garage floor flooded and it had been pretty cold for this area and I have been busy with work and all the work I do for the shooting range, not to mention my neck and back issues slowing me down. It got to a point where I just wanted to see if I could make the molds close and I knew I could make new adapters, so I took the less precise approach to testing them (die grinder mentioned above).

    Another bummer is that I found out the tank on my big air compressor is junk. After getting down on my hands and knees to figure out how to attach casters to the feet of the tank, I noticed some major pitting on the bottom exterior. The inside looked good when I looked down through a 3/4" bung. According to guys on the Garage Journal, it looks like it must have sat outside in the snow, in a previous life. It would really suck to have an 80 gallon tank burst at 175 psi. It doesn't happen often, but the results if it does, are a nightmare. Looks like McMasterCarr has the best option with a new 120 gallon tank that is epoxy lined for $1200. A used horizontal is not easy to find around here and it would be questionable without having a place which could test it.

    The weather has been very warm now and the days longer, so I'm hoping to get back to this project. The rain kept us out of the range for a week or more, due to the creek level. Next weekend, I have practical pistol and will shoot my 40 pistol with bullets from a 5 cavity mold like this (40 160 rn pb) and my 9mm AR 15 which is fed with bearcreek molly bullets. The following day, I have lever action silhouette and will use the NOE saeco 315 PB which I have just enough of to do a single match and some practice. The other new NOE mold for this machine is the saeco but in a GC 2 cav brass. The rcbs molds are for the 30M1 carbine and 45 acp, which are only for fun and practice.

    I either need to get my butt in gear on this casting machine, or set the pid up on the lee 20 drippy and do some more hand casting.
    Last edited by CGT80; 03-20-2017 at 12:45 AM.

  18. #38
    Boolit Master
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    Looking at these pictures makes me wish I had the skill to do things like this. Awesome.

  19. #39
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks for all the compliments guys.

    It just takes the desire and practice. I started out in 2000/2001 while in college with the desire to make some things out of steel. I had done a very small amount of welding and had some experience working with wood and had already been a residential/commercial painter for 5-6 years and had learned to do a number of other trades while remodeling houses.

    It is pretty amazing to look back at what I have learned in 16 years and it is almost all self taught, other than a few welding classes in college and what I picked up online. Metal work isn't my primary business but I have done plenty of paying jobs. Last week I did some repairs to a trailer and yesterday I looked at a restaurant which needs an iron gate and fence on each end of the building to keep the homeless from living behind the place. Today I cleaned up my Melamine desk (built at age 18) and was thinking about how I need to get the new one build that I have had planned for a while. This morning I saw my chiropractor, so I won't be doing any physical work today and I have paperwork to do for the gun club.......that doesn't mean I can't get some sketches and measurements done for my desk, though.

    Thanks for checking out this project. Hopefully it will help others who decide to build a casting machine, inspire a few people to try some metal work, or just entertain the rest.


  20. #40
    Boolit Master
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    I always enjoy seeing what people on here can do. I think yeah i'm not too bad with a welder and lump of steel, but it seems i got nothing on some of you guys.

    Keep up with the build and keep the pictures coming!

    I had plans of copying my automated MC, but the usual thing, life gets in the way. The plan was to have a few machines going at once, so my casting sessions could be reduced.

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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
GC Gas Check