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Thread: Mold Conditioning

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Mold Conditioning

    With my two most recent mold purchases (both Lee 2 cavity aluminum molds), I scrubbed them in hot water and Dawn detergent with a toothbrush before anything else. I smoked them with a butane fire starter and got the mold up to temp and started casting. I simply could not defeat the wrinkles so I scrubbed again and smoked again. It worked and after about 4 heat cycles the good boolits started coming at the first pour. Sure enough, casting with the second mold last night on it's 4th heat cycle, the boolits were good after a few cycles and off I went with nearly zero rejects. The mold needed a short time on the hotplate in the middle of the run but I was back to good casts in no time.
    I don't enjoy struggling with a new mold but it sure feels good once one has a seasoned mold that reliably quickly casts good boolits. I do still run into problems trying to keep these molds lubed without causing wrinkles. A single drop of sprue plate lube on the pivot of the sprue plate can ruin bullets for a number of casts. Sometimes I give up and go scrub the mold and resmoke it.
    My point in this post is to encourage a new caster or someone who is fighting a new mold to not get discouraged. Use good cleaning, smoking and lube practices. The mold should get better each time you get it out then eventually will settle in.
    Don't forget also, you have to learn what each mold wants. The 401-175gr TC mold wanted my non adjustable analog Lyman thermometer to indicate about 650. The 452-230gr RN was looking for around 700 or a little higher. I resisted going that high but once I got there I was rewarded. That temp on the 401-175 would have caused severely frosted castings.
    Here are a few of last night's 45ACP (452-230RN) session.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
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    It is all false, seasoning a mold. I make my own molds and a wash with dish soap is enough. First boolits are perfect. You are not cooking with a cast iron pan. Just what do you do to aluminum?
    I have hundreds of molds, my own and from every maker and all work the same. I have no notes in a book for any. Every single mold takes exactly the same process. I don't care, steel, cast iron or aluminum. Brass takes more heat.
    Break in a mold. Explain how. Magic dust?

  3. #3
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    While I can't explain it, I've had some brand new molds that cast good boolits right out of the gate as 44man states, but I have also had some brand new molds that seemingly needed 3 or 4 or 5 casting sessions before they would cast with good results. I don't know why? I treat all new molds the same. I always clean a new mold with hot water, dish soap, and a tooth brush. I don't smoke a mold. I do lube a mold with a synth 2 cycle oil, which brings me to one hint I'd like to offer...

    A single drop of sprue plate lube on the pivot of the sprue plate can ruin bullets for a number of casts. Sometimes I give up and go scrub the mold and resmoke it.
    I think one drop is way too much, and may be causing your wrinkles ...I follow the instructions in this stickied thread, see post #2 and #3.

    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...ld-Lubrication

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    oxidization.
    getting aluminum to form that 'seal' on the surface takes a bit of effort.
    just like building up the patina in a brass mold or getting a steel molds cavity's to turn that blue color.
    once you get that to happen you changed the surface of the metal itself into something else.

    Jim:
    your using an aluminum that is a whole nuther world away from what LEE is using.
    it's all an educated guess,,,, till the trigger is pulled.

    this opinion brought to you by mister low-tech solution..

  5. #5
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    I laugh at guys that say smoking makes boolits smaller. You are talking billionths of an inch. Smoke if it helps. Don't let anyone say it makes a boolit smaller.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by runfiverun View Post
    oxidization.
    getting aluminum to form that 'seal' on the surface takes a bit of effort.
    just like building up the patina in a brass mold or getting a steel molds cavity's to turn that blue color.
    once you get that to happen you changed the surface of the metal itself into something else.

    Jim:
    your using an aluminum that is a whole nuther world away from what LEE is using.
    Yes I use aircraft for mine but I have so many lee molds too. The only thing I hate is the thin sprue plate. But for metal I see no difference at all.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Harter66's Avatar
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    I bought a brand new Mountain Moulds mould and gave it a bath and a Qtip rub down with NOEs secrets formula sprue lube got it hot twice and bang perfect bullets . My first NOE has run the recommended pre treat and a dozen sessions and finally I got 25 straight pours last weekend with all 4 cavities making proper bullets . The other 9 ran just like clock work , bath , 3 heat cycles , preheat pour perfect bullets . The last few moulds regardless of source have been bath , heat pour . Except for an older Lyman 4 cavity that looks new and is new to me . I like to near never got a good bullet out of it in its first run with me last night . Being pre-owned and having lube traces I just gave it a look over and a tee shirt wipe down and put it on the hot plate while I waited on the pot bigger moulds take longer​ to get hot so I ran a few of 2 others in singles like 50-60 pours netting about 80 keepers . It took 10-15 pours to get 1 keeper after about 20 pours it found its groove I guess but I poured a ladle in it and 1 on it every cycle and the blocks still don't look blued but I did get 45-50 keepers out of 120+ . Sometimes a mould just doesn't want to play nice until you find that whatever place . Sometimes it is X number of cycles sometimes it is just a need to run hot or cold from the usual window and sometimes you get 1 that you can do everything exactly wrong and get perfect bullets out of the box .
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  8. #8
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    I'm another one that sees improvement after 4-5 casting sessions with Lee molds. Smoke them from the first use, too.

    My secret is it works for me--glad other people don't need to do this--wish them well in all they do.

    It's not a big deal for me and it works so I can't ask for anything more.
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    no seasoning at all unless on pizza
    pour and empty all comes around soon enough
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  10. #10
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    Not to disagree with some but I do find that all my molds, brass, iron or alum, cast better bullets after a few 100 than when brand new. Is tat because all oil or machining fluids are gone, probably. Regardless of how I clean them, they all work better after "seasoning".
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  11. #11
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    Take a new mold, clean with a Q-tip and acetone or lacquer thinner and start casting.

    Have your metal up to temp and after a FEW pour/empty/pour cycles your running good bullets.

    Forget the soap and water!

    Crusty Deary Ol'Coot

  12. #12
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    I think wrinkled bullets may well indicate that something was left in the mold after the cleaning. Some sort of film from the detergent/soap? I dunno. But wrinkled bullets are in my experience, more a result of cold metal or some sort of substance in the mold that's causing it. FWIW?

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Oklahoma Rebel's Avatar
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    quick question, with a steel mold can you touch it to a wet towel if it is getting to hot, like how it is done with aluminum, or will the steel warp? I have only had aluminum molds, and am gonna get a steel one soon, (accurate) and don't know what I need to know. thanks, and sorry for the iterruption
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oklahoma Rebel View Post
    quick question, with a steel mold can you touch it to a wet towel if it is getting to hot, like how it is done with aluminum, or will the steel warp? I have only had aluminum molds, and am gonna get a steel one soon, (accurate) and don't know what I need to know. thanks, and sorry for the iterruption
    My method is to make a little container (about 4x6) of Al foil, doubled, and fold up an old washrag in it - slosh it with water, and when the IRON mold sprue plate gets too hot (lead runs off like water), turn the filled mold upside-down on the rag for a few seconds and let it steam like a champ. Won't hurt anything, but I find a fast casting tempo needs the cooling.Click image for larger version. 

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  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    I use the damp rag on my steel molds a lot more than I do on the aluminum ones.
    I just open the aluminum ones and wave them in the air for a minute to cool them down.
    it's all an educated guess,,,, till the trigger is pulled.

    this opinion brought to you by mister low-tech solution..

  16. #16
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    I've been casting 45 years I have Hennsly&Gibbs, saeco, lyman, Ideal and 3 lee's(some of my lees went in the scrap). some molds work great from the first day and some are a pain. Some of my molds work better with smoke some don't. Some like 700+ degrees some less. I clean my molds with a brake cleaner and nylon brush. never new of a casting technique that worked 100% of the time all the time. I cast for 450 bushmaster, 375 H&H, 270. 7.62x39, 300 blackout. and of course most of the handgun calibers

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by runfiverun View Post
    I use the damp rag on my steel molds a lot more than I do on the aluminum ones.
    I just open the aluminum ones and wave them in the air for a minute to cool them down.
    Waving​ has become a part of my cadence for Lee molds especially. I too find a couple of heat cycles produces the best a mold will throw. I also found that a good cleaning combined with a hot plate completely eliminated wrinkles and made casting more pleasurable and removed almost all frustration.
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    In regards to lube and wrinkles, I should have been more clear. I cleaned the mold and ran it dry to see if I could duplicate the wrinkles. I was molding great from both cavities then lubed the sprue plate and immediately had wrinkles. I've had to rewash a mold to fix that or I have waited it out with a dozen or more cycles to get rid of the wrinkles. In any case, I got through it all and the 2 cavity Lee mold is doing great!
    I too use a hotplate to preheat the mold and maybe drop it back on for a minute or town in the middle of a run if I feel the mold is colling down a little.


    Quote Originally Posted by Blackwater View Post
    I think wrinkled bullets may well indicate that something was left in the mold after the cleaning. Some sort of film from the detergent/soap? I dunno. But wrinkled bullets are in my experience, more a result of cold metal or some sort of substance in the mold that's causing it. FWIW?

  19. #19
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    I have used WD-40 to cut as a lube, coolant when I make a mold and also water soluble oil and it washes off with soap and water. I don't bother with solvents. Take the blocks out of the vise and head for the sink. Pre heat and pour.
    Of course I have to make the sprue plate and I use 1/4" stainless that needs cut on a face plate. I mill the steel first, locate and drill first, then need a lathe tool to cut the tapers. A counter sink will burn up in the steel. I got it free and my blocks are scrap aircraft aluminum. It is tough stuff. It does not oxidize. Lee molds are near pure aluminum but it will still cast at the first pours for me.

  20. #20
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    WD-40 is not water soluble.
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    Currently casting for .223, .308, .30-06, .30-40 Krag, 9mm, .38/.357, 10mm, 44 Mag and 45 ACP.

    I like strange looking boolits!

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