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Thread: Help, I give up. I am asking for help

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Help, I give up. I am asking for help

    I have been lurking here for a couple years, reading, studying, and learning. I joined awhile ago and have kept reading. I am stumped right now. I am trying to cast 9mm. I have started competition shooting and if I am too continue I need to cast. I sell tires for a living so for me lead is free. I have a few hundred lbs saved up. I have tried Lee 6 hole molds.....with a little success. Then they seem to get sprung. I figured I got them too hot. So Midway had Lyman steel molds on sale and I picked up a 4 hole 147 grain at .357. I carry 147 grain 9mm so I want to mimick my carry round for competition. The Lyman mold only gave me about 90 usable boolits out of around 200. I am getting some trash that sticks to the mold and will not come off. Looking here I see to heat it up and use bees wax to remove it with wood. I have gotten some of it off......but not enough to get the mold to close all the way. I was casting with my melt at about 750, and with a hot plate I tried to keep my mold at 400, but according to my temp gun it said I was more like 300. Reading here I know the temp gun isn't the most accurate......but it's all I have. I am using the Lyman digital thermometer for the melt temp. Again, I know it's not the best.....but better than nothing I would assume. I found I had my Lee drip o matic turned up way high in the past....no wonder I wrecked the aluminum molds.
    How agressive can I get cleaning my steel mold? I have not used any brushes on it. Can I use a brass brush? I like this boolit design, so I don't want to wreck this mold. My lead is a mixture of clip on and stick on wheel weight. I am fluxing with sawdust, then with bees wax. Then I put more sawdust on top to keep on top while casting. I am sorry for the long post.....just trying to give the experts all the info so I can get the right answers.
    So I am heating up my mold and hitting the dirty spots with a propane torch......and then melting bees wax on the stuck on lead/tin/whatever the stuck on stuff is, and scraping with wood sticks to try and remove the gunk. When not in use the mold is covered in kroil for a couple days for rust protection.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    I use a tooth brush for general cleaning with soap water. A brass of phospher bronze brush should be okay if used carefully. use it with the grooves and vent lines to avoid rounding corners off. Bamboo skewers from the grocery store work well also.
    In my casting tool kit is a set of allen wrenches, a couple screw drivers. A couple of the small firearms maintenance brushes nylon and bronze. a piece of burlap. a piece of flannel. an awl or ice pick. Bamboo skewers and some wood pop cycle sticks with one end cut square and flat.
    The kroil will loosen some of the crud. Some of the commercial release agents are pain to remove and may require a solvent such as mineral spirts turpentine acetone or a non chlorinated spray cleaner. Hoppes number 9 or shooters choice bore cleaner both will remove lead with time and applications. The heat and scrape or brush works also but may just spread it around also. Working in a pan of solvent with the brush will wash the crud off.
    Work slow and carefully think before jumping in here.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy nvbirdman's Avatar
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    You didn't mention if you cleaned the molds. Also, I don't know if you can get a Lee pot hot enough to damage a mold. (I could be wrong on that one.)

  4. #4
    Boolit Master tazman's Avatar
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    On the Lee molds. Is the gap in the middle of the blocks or at one end?
    If at one end, the locating pins may have moved in the holes. This is not uncommon. They can be adjusted back into position and staked in place. The molds may not be ruined.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy wistlepig1's Avatar
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    Try some spray brake cleaner on the gunk. Then us a tooth brush {your wife's} See if that remove the gunk. If that works repeat til clean. Let use know. One thing at a time.

    ďA liberalís paradise would be a place where everybody has guaranteed employment, free comprehensive healthcare, free education, free food, free housing, free clothing, free utilities, and only law enforcement has guns. And believe it or not, such a place does indeed already exist: It's called Prison."

    --- Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County, Arizona

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy Tom_in_AZ's Avatar
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    Degrease molds thoroughly, smoke them.

    Sounds like you need to flux your lead to remove impurities. If they arenít filling out right, your mold is too cold or not enough antimony/tin. Easily fixed by adding some Linotype.

    If it takes longer than about 4-5 seconds for lead to frost over the lead and or mold are too hot.

    Not of these are huge problems, but can be frustrating.

    Aluminum molds are more temp sensitive due to aluminum transferring heat so quickly.

    YouTube is a great source for how to vids!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  7. #7
    Boolit Master


    HangFireW8's Avatar
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    I'm wondering if the sawdust on top is getting into your molds. You don't need sawdust unless you're using crazy high temps, and/or dissolving in Antimony.

    Another possibility is you've got some zinc wheel weights in your mix.

    Some pictures of the crud and the good and bad boolits would help.

    If you really want to win competitions, it's unlikely the high recoil of 147's is going to let you be competitive.
    I give loading advice based on my actual results in factory rifles with standard chambers, twist rates and basic accurizing.
    My goals for using cast boolits are lots of good, cheap, and reasonably accurate shooting, while avoiding overly tedious loading processes.
    The BHN Deformation Formula, and why I don't use it.
    How to find and fix sizing die eccentricity problems.
    Do you trust your casting thermometer?
    A few musings.

  8. #8
    Boolit Mold
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    I did clean the Lyman steel mold before using. Dawn, then brake cleaner. The Lee's......I forget, and they are gone. I only have Lyman steel molds now.

  9. #9
    Boolit Mold
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    The Lee molds are gone. I only have steel molds right now.

  10. #10
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom_in_AZ View Post
    Degrease molds thoroughly, smoke them.

    Sounds like you need to flux your lead to remove impurities. If they aren’t filling out right, your mold is too cold or not enough antimony/tin. Easily fixed by adding some Linotype.

    If it takes longer than about 4-5 seconds for lead to frost over the lead and or mold are too hot.

    Not of these are huge problems, but can be frustrating.

    Aluminum molds are more temp sensitive due to aluminum transferring heat so quickly.

    YouTube is a great source for how to vids!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I am fluxing using sawdust, then a little bees wax. The bees wax really seems to make things flow well. I smoke the mold with matches. I forgot to say that.

  11. #11
    Boolit Mold
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    I know for certain no zinc is in my melt. I know what wheel weights are zinc and what are not in an instant. I sell wheel weights......I have zero problems knowing what to grab and what to leave. I will try leaving the sawdust out. Once I get my mold clean enough to try casting again.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    You can safely use a bronze brush to scrub a steel mold if needed.

  13. #13
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    Minerat's Avatar
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    If you have lead sticking to the face use an unmelted bar of lead to removed it gently once the mould reaches casting temp. The hot lead on the mould will stick to the colder bar. I have had to do this when I cut the Sprue too soon and leave a smear on the top os the mould.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    Don't know it works on all Lee molds but it might be worth a try to get them clean. I got two found at a yard sale clean after trying solvents and a fingernail brush to no avail. I put them in boiling water and added non sudsing washing soda or dishwasher detergent. Rinse them immediately with hot water to remove any residual detergent. Same method I use to degrease small gun parts before cold bluing. Have no idea what kind of stubborn crud was in the aluminum molds but they came out clean.

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    Are you smelting wheel weights before, melting them in your casting pot?
    "Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him; better take a closer look at the American Indian" Henry Ford

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy Tom_in_AZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by huntnman View Post
    Are you smelting wheel weights before, melting them in your casting pot?
    Wow, canít believe I didnít pick up on this.


    Donít do that!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  17. #17
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    Sawdust and anykind of wax is the best flux to use because the wax fluxes the metal and sawdust lets a good portion of the alloys that didn't blend and come to the top to reblend with your mix. Geargnasher when he was on this forum talked about that at length. Sawdust alone is not a do all, neither is wax.

    If you heat the lead build up on your mold with a propane torch till it melts you should be able to rub most of it off with a cotton rag. Over vigorous use of a brass brush can and will ruin even a steel or iron mold. Something may be too hot either your pot or your mold or your casting tempo is too fast. Your sprue puddle should solidfy in about 10 seconds and this varies. By solidfy I mean after the puddle has gotten hard and changed colors a few times. If you notice the color when it first starts to get hard and then after it's fully harden they are different. When it first gets hard it is still very soft and will leave alloy streaks on the bottom of your sprue plate and top of the mold. One old trick to help keep those areas stay alloy free, which is not mentioned much anymore, is to scribble them up with a No. 2 lead pencil. You can even rub the lead pencil in the tapered sprue hole and top of the sprue plate so the sprue will jump off when you whack the sprue plate open. Don't scirbble the mold cavities.

    I try to run my pot at about 720 degrees.

  18. #18
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by vzerone View Post
    Sawdust and anykind of wax is the best flux to use because the wax fluxes the metal and sawdust lets a good portion of the alloys that didn't blend and come to the top to reblend with your mix. Geargnasher when he was on this forum talked about that at length. Sawdust alone is not a do all, neither is wax.

    If you heat the lead build up on your mold with a propane torch till it melts you should be able to rub most of it off with a cotton rag. Over vigorous use of a brass brush can and will ruin even a steel or iron mold. Something may be too hot either your pot or your mold or your casting tempo is too fast. Your sprue puddle should solidfy in about 10 seconds and this varies. By solidfy I mean after the puddle has gotten hard and changed colors a few times. If you notice the color when it first starts to get hard and then after it's fully harden they are different. When it first gets hard it is still very soft and will leave alloy streaks on the bottom of your sprue plate and top of the mold. One old trick to help keep those areas stay alloy free, which is not mentioned much anymore, is to scribble them up with a No. 2 lead pencil. You can even rub the lead pencil in the tapered sprue hole and top of the sprue plate so the sprue will jump off when you whack the sprue plate open. Don't scirbble the mold cavities.

    I try to run my pot at about 720 degrees.
    I did use a pencil on top of the mold the first time I used it. I will try 2 stroke oil today.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbobbo View Post
    I did use a pencil on top of the mold the first time I used it. I will try 2 stroke oil today.
    If you still have lead sticking even after the pencil work then like I said something is too hot or the tempo is too fast. Is your sprue plate tight fitting against the top of the mold? Is it laying flat?

    If anything I may smoke them and I won't use a candle to do that, I use a butane lighter. Some say candles carry over wax in the soot. Think about how we clean our molds when new. The reason is to get the manufacturing oils off them. So why then would we put oil on them again? Now while you're digesting that you can take two stroke oil and put some on the bottom of the sprue plate and top of the mold then wipe them off with a rag!. i believe that is what you mean right?

  20. #20
    Boolit Bub
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    If I had to guess you might of got some some zinc in there I have done it before and it will make you through some **** bullets


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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