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Thread: Ugly but low cost 2500Watt PID Ladle Only Pot ...

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Ugly but low cost 2500Watt PID Ladle Only Pot ...

    I have been casting for over 20 years, and I never been satisfied with my casting pot. The bottom pour speed/quantify varies as the pot empties, and although the ladle works more consistently, the pot that I have been using (a Lee bottom pour permanently modified for ladle only with a PID) is not quite wide enough for the 4x cavity molds I now use almost exclusively.

    I then saw this pot, and saw how relatively easy was to make a new pot:
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...ight=100+pound

    As with my last project (air-oil hydraulic single stage "Mega Press"), I am being as frugal as possible, re-using what ever I have on hand, trying to buy stuff when absolutely necessary.

    So I follow that posts' ideas/advice to make a wider, ladle only, PID controlled casting pot. After looking for a "suitable" and low cost "bowl" for my purpose, I decided to buy this one - 8" Lead Melting Pot,PartNo L42008 JonesStephens ($25):
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/8-Lead-Me...hens/632843326

    With a pot in hand, I then search for a heating element I could bend around that bowl, just like shown in the post above. Luckily, I found the following one in Amazon for about $13:
    https://www.amazon.com/First4Spares-...rs+%282500W%29

    I also bought the ceramic insulation on Amazon ($25):
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1


    So I am not done, but I will be posting pictures as I make progress

    Will
    Last edited by wquiles; 09-16-2018 at 06:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    Here is the heating element:



    The cast bowl:



    The insulation:





    The heating element's ID was close, but not wide enough to fit the bowl:



  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    But once I broke the piece tying the ends up, it can be expanded to fit once I remove the 3x clamps the keep the rings equally spaced out:



    In fact, I repositioned the clamps to keep the coils in contact with the bowl:



    For a platform, and this is part of why this is an "ugly" looking project, I wanted a way to isolate the heat from the 2500W element, and I found that a front brake rotor worked perfectly to keep the bowl suspended:



    I removed the hanging wire for the bowl, and cut the ears as well:






    Then to provide space between the rotor and the bowl (which I will fill with the ceramic insulation), I cut some scrap steel to make 5x posts for the bottom of the bowl:



  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    The posts worked great:





    So I welded them to the rotor - not a pretty weld, but plenty strong:






    Then to weld the bowl, which is cast iron (tricky, I know). So I took my time, and did quick welds, trying not to over heat the bowl so it would not crack. In between each of the 5 welds, waited for the pot to cool off:





    I am happy to report that I got great welds, and no cracked bowl:

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    Here you can see the Lee pot, modified to ladle only, with my PID controller. I will be re-using the PID enclosure for this new wide bowl:



    Close up of the internals:




    The PID housing is bolted to the rotor using 5 metal screws:



    Leaving enough space to add ceramic insulation later:



    Here I finished wiring it for 220V. Luckily, the switch I used for 120V already was a 2-pole switch opening the black and white return, so I was able to use it again to open both "hots" from the 220V:




    After I checked everything, and ran ohms check everywhere, I had my wife at the 220v wall breaker switch (just in case), and I proceeded to apply 220v power for the first time:

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    Everything ran great. Of course got a little bit of smoke as the element heated off for the first time. Boy was it hot!. I am used to the 120V Lee pot, which of course is totally enclosed, but this 2500W element totally exposed was radiating lots of heat, and fast!:





    Next weekend I hope to start work using scrap steel to build an outer "wall" and top, to fill with ceramic insulation:



    Will

  7. #7
    Boolit Master


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    Pretty neat build. I do have a concern about the heating element location. The pot does conduct heat well, but it seems like when the alloy got low it would get more difficult to effect heat transfer from the element to the pot and to the alloy. Might or not be better to run it lower on the pot? I also have the same concern with the base. Itís super heavy and stable, all good things, but a heck of a heat sink. I guess if performance isnít what you hope it is easy enough to take a step back and modify it down the road.

    Edit - I have never built a pot so I may not know what I am talking about
    "Is all this REALLY necessary?"

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Cool project! I just got a Lee 20 bottom pour, not real thrilled. I have been ladle pouring for over 30 years, old dog trying to learn new tricks.I think Im going to follow your lead and build me an insulated electric melter using my old ladle bowl and (maybe) a stove eye element. I can use my pid for either pot, best of both. Any thoughts on bottom element vs wrap arround?
    ďYou donít practice until you get it right. You practice until you canít get it wrong.Ē Jason Elam, All-Pro kicker, Denver Broncos

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fishman View Post
    Pretty neat build. I do have a concern about the heating element location. The pot does conduct heat well, but it seems like when the alloy got low it would get more difficult to effect heat transfer from the element to the pot and to the alloy. Might or not be better to run it lower on the pot? I also have the same concern with the base. Itís super heavy and stable, all good things, but a heck of a heat sink. I guess if performance isnít what you hope it is easy enough to take a step back and modify it down the road.

    Edit - I have never built a pot so I may not know what I am talking about
    All excellent points. I like your idea of lowering the heating element a little more. The rotor is a heatsink, yes, but I am planning on packing that insulation around the coil and on the bottom of the bowl to try to contain as much of the heat from reaching the rotor. That is also why the bowl is "suspended" and only touching the rotor at those 5x small areas in the bottom. Once covered with insulation, and with the metal cover I plan to work on this (and next) weekend, I "think" it will get hot enough, as my Lee only had 500 watts and I will have about 2500 watts.


    Quote Originally Posted by rking22 View Post
    Cool project! I just got a Lee 20 bottom pour, not real thrilled. I have been ladle pouring for over 30 years, old dog trying to learn new tricks.I think Im going to follow your lead and build me an insulated electric melter using my old ladle bowl and (maybe) a stove eye element. I can use my pid for either pot, best of both. Any thoughts on bottom element vs wrap arround?
    From what I learned by the link I posted from the other project, the wrap around is more efficient at getting better heat transfer to the metal container/bowl, but this is my first such project, so I am definitely still experimenting


    Will

  10. #10
    Boolit Master


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    You will have plenty of power no doubt! Lowering the element may also make the hearing characteristics of the pot more uniform which helps your pid operate more precisely. Probably not a big deal though. Nice build for sure.
    "Is all this REALLY necessary?"

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    That is a great pot!

    Often times, you don't need something fancy, but just built to serve a purpose and to do it efficiently.

    I built the pot and casting machine in that link and actually considered a stove top element. From what I recall, they were lower wattage and I was also building a bottom pour and did not want the element in the way.

    For a bottom pour, lead column height is good, as it give pressure to the lead stream. I run my lee pot full, as it sucks below half full and the 100 pound pot is at least 1/3rd full to maybe 2/3rds to have good pressure. The element on the side works OK in this case, but for a shallow pot that is laddle only, I would try to keep it lower or under the pot.

    I'm glad to see someone else get inspiration from my project.

    The insulation makes a huge difference in the user comfort and the pot seemed to heat up much faster with insulation and outer walls.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    Well, I have been busy building this, and unfortunately fixing this pot. Today I suffer my "second" setback. Lets get you up to date on my failures so far

    I did lower the element a little. In the end (I will explain later), it really makes no difference as the 2500watt element is just massive. But at the time, it seemed like a good idea:



    I then built the outer steel cover:







  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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    Then built the cover:








    Then cut a hole in the middle, so that I can use a marker to trace the internal edge with the bowl:








    Welding is strong, but not pretty - I should have lower the current/heat for the thin material (see lower right corner!):




    I then started with the ceramic insulation:





    After checking electrical connections, I gave it a try:

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    It was getting hot, but never hot enough:



    Right now I have insulation material between the cover and the heating element, so looking at my original inspiration (100 pound pot), I though I needed a later of metal to reflect the heat from the element, and then have insulation between the two metal surfaces:





    It got hotter, but again, not even close, which didn't make sense:



    So I decided to see why it wasn't hotter like the first time I powered. Upon a deep dive I found the first failure - one of the ends got so hot that it shorted!:






    OK, so I need to do a better job separating the coils from each other, which looking back makes sense!. I had another 240v element, so I decided to try it once more:






    Of course, I had to "shape" it for the bowl, so I started with this welding wire spool:




    I then used a brake line bender to make it as smooth as possible:

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    Here on top I have the "old" one, and the new one on the bottom:




    So again, I tried to put them closer to the bottom as I though I needed to do, and this time I keep them separate from each other:






    Like before, I added insulation everywhere:





  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    But then I was checking connections, I was not getting full power. Only one of the two hots from the 220v was "hot". Upon checking I found that when the old element shorted, it damaged the two-pole ON/OFF switch:




    So after a trip to Fry's, I had a replacement switch, and I was ready to try again. Did it work? Yes. For a little while at least. In fact, it got hot like I expected, and I started melting lead








    The insulation worked great and working in close proximity was pleasant. That is, until the temperature got just shy north of 800F. I heard a loud "pop". Oh ****. I turned everything off, when out to eat, and then I got back (being it was cool enough), I did another deep dive. I found the source of the pop:

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    So basically, although I had learned well not to have the coils in close proximity to each other, having the coils really close to the bottom meant that there is little air flow/room for the lowest coil, and that coil over heated and went "pop". This was failure #2:







    So. Since the cast iron transfers heat so freaking well, and the 2500watt element is a little of an overkill, I need to:
    - space the coils more from each other
    - space the coils from the edges


    So I got another $20 coil on its way to me to try for a 3rd time. Wish me luck

    Will

  18. #18
    Boolit Master


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    What an interesting project. I find your work fascinating. It is so refreshing to see someone building from scratch like this. You Da Man! I am sure you will conquer it before long. Thanks for posting the good, the bad, and the ugly.
    Socialism is a philosophy of failure,
    the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy,
    its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery."
    -- Winston Churchill

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy
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    Thank you for your kind words. I hope that with the element arriving tonight I will be able to have a working pot soon

    Will

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    You are super patient good job man keep up the good work

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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