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Thread: cleaning aluminum bullet mold with electrolysis

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    cleaning aluminum bullet mold with electrolysis

    I have an aluminum bullet mold which will no longer cast good bullets, for some reason. I have cleaned it with boiling water, boiling water and Dawn for Dishes, acetone, denatured alcohol, isopropyl alcohol and Methylethylketone. so far, nothing works.
    I suspect the problem started with some zinc contamination in my lead supply. So I am thinking perhaps there is some zinc or zinc oxide that has gotten stuck to the mold, even though I cannot see it even with magnification.
    At any rate, has anyone tried cleaning an aluminim mold with electrolysis?
    Thanks!
    Joe S

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    Rcmaveric's Avatar
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    What do the bullets look like?

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    I don't think you can put aluminum in an e-tank it will eat it.
    Got a .22 .30 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throat reaming? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Shoot me a PM! Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    As far as I know, electrolysis will completely destroy aluminum.
    If you cant see a problem even with a magnifying glass... Have you tried smoking it?
    AKA hans.pcguy

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I would start with a good solvent and tooth brush remove all you can then dish soap and hot water scrubbing and working up a good lather, rinse in hoy water and inspect it as best you can,

    You don't say what the issues are with the bullets so a shot in the dark. If the mould has vent lines make sure they are clean and not plugged. Make sure pins are seating correctly and mould closes and is alighned.

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master

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    If you haven't already, try pre-heating the mould almost to the melting point of lead then cast. The boolits will take a few seconds to freeze but go slow and see how they come out. After a few pours the mould will cool and stay at the right temperature if you keep casting steady.

    As mentioned, smoking the mould or trying a mould release or maybe graphite spray should coat over anything that is on the mould but I doubt any contamination would "stick" to the mould and cause you grief. My opinion.

    Try pre-heating and maybe a mould release before going drastic.

    Whose mould is it (brand)? If a Lee then it is easily and economically replaceable. If an NOE, Accurate, Mihec or other high end or group buy mould that is not cheaply or easily replaceable then think hard about doing things that may ruin it.

    My thoughts anyway.

    Longbow

  7. #7
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks everyone for your comments. The bullets look good superficially, with excellent bases, but the bands consistently fail to fill out. I have tried smoking the cavities, scrubbing with hot water as suggested above, and I do use a hot plate to pre-heat the mold. Have also pre-heated it to the point of almost being too hot.
    I suspect there is some blocking of the vent lines. It is an Accurate Molds product, and the vent lines are very fine.
    I have another one on order, this time in iron, so as of now, the problem mold is basically worthless to me, I might as well try opening up the vent lines. I have a number of small files, not sure exactly what I should use.
    Joe

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy redhawk0's Avatar
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    If its Al...try a needle first before you go too aggressive with a file.

    redhawk

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    Not all who wander....are lost.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I would investigate the lead and the temperature of the lead. You may need a bit of tin in your alloy OR MORE LIKELY, your lead needs to be hotter when you pour.
    I wouldn't use a file on the vent lines. With Aluminum, you can just scribe the lines with a sharp point. They should not be very deep at all.
    AKA hans.pcguy

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master

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    A needle will work but is on the fine side. AN Awl does good, Scribe is good, Ice pick. A bamboo skewers point will do it also. These are easier to hold and contro than the needle or pin. A file will cut a wide line and may cause some finning. Work slowly and carefully you want to remove any build up or dings but not any actual metal.

    Have you cast with this mould alloy combination in the past, what were the results. It may be a temp issue or need a little more tin added. Some times an ounce or so to a 10 lb pot makes a big difference. Another place to look is if your using a bottom pour pot is the stream up to full strength. A restricted nozzle can cause issues with fill out also. Ideally you want to fill the cavity fast so all the metal is still liquid. In very small or large long bullets this can be tricky.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I bought some "steel gravers tools" on eBay from China to try my hand at a little engraving. No good for engraving steel BUT with a good straight edge they may be good for making vent lines in aluminum molds. I will take a chance on sharing the listing on eBay cuz it's cheap and I'm just showing it to help...
    Last edited by ShooterAZ; 11-09-2018 at 10:08 AM. Reason: removed e-bay link
    AKA hans.pcguy

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    Just a shot in the dark here.Sounds like you have the mold clean all the things you used on it shoud do the job with any **** that may get in the mold.So if you ae not getting good fill ad the mold is clean.I bet you up the temp of the melt to try and get fill out?and it does nothing or gets worse?So try going the other way do not clean the mold anymore you likely have all the oxidation off it and it needs to build a little back up.you said the mold no longer casts good bullets.This tells me it did at one time.What temp did you run the mold befor when you got good bullets?Or try running the mold at around 700 to 720.Do this for several sessions casting enough to get the mold up to temp.you can call it reseasoning the mold .this will build up a bit of the oxidation you cleaned off.this may be the problem to clean and to hot of melt.after a few short sessions it may come right out of it and cast great.This sounds like some of the problems i have had in the past.hope this helps.

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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    As others have said either a bit more tin or jack up your heat. I run my aluminium molds between 650 and 700 degrees F.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I would clean the mold with toothbrush soap & water then with a 50/50 mix of white vinegar & peroxide, which should remove minute lead deposits. If you can see anything use a pencil eraser to rub with the mix. Then using the lead of a #2 pencil, color the bullet cavities. Use the sharpened pencil lead to run into the vent lines. Preheat your mold and bring your alloy up to approximately 750 and you should be dropping frosted bullets, but they should be completely filled out. Slowly reduce the alloy about 25 degrees at a time until you find a good spot to stay.

  15. #15
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks Dragonheart, peroxide and vinegar is something I have not yet tried. To address some of the comments made above, I normally cast at 850 degrees, which is where I usually get consistently good bullets. I normally cast with 30-1 but tried 25-1 and 20-1 with no improvement.
    Also tried casting a around 700 degrees with no luck.
    I assume that hydrogen peroxide which is commonly available is what you are recommending, am I correct?
    Thanks!
    Joe

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar is reportedly corrosive to aluminum.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    What usually works for me (assuming the vent lines are clear) is take a bullet from the mold, take a dry wall type screw and screw into base of bullet (I use a lathe to be sure its centered, but not necessary), load bullet with a fine grit (5,000 or so) paste (polishing toothpaste?) and spin bullet in mold. Doesn't take a lot, and it won't increase diameter any to speak of when just cleaning. Bullets drop nicely then.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Seems like you have tried about everything. So you may as well send it to me. I will either get it to work correctly or not. Either way you won't have to worry about it anymore because I will have it.
    Is this not the perfect solution?
    Last edited by Traffer; 11-10-2018 at 01:07 AM.
    AKA hans.pcguy

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffer View Post
    Seems like you have tried about everything. So you may as well send it to me. I will either get it to work correctly or not. Either way you won't have to worry about it anymore because I will have it.
    Is this not the perfect solution?
    This is why I like this group, members who will take on and weather the hardship for others, with no regard to self preservation. Regards Stephen

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by rwadley View Post
    Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar is reportedly corrosive to aluminum.
    And it will rust and pit steel if left for a long soak, so care needs to be given if used to remove lead from a barrel. However it does not effect stainless.

    But if you are using it for the purpose intended to remove those difficult to remove lead deposits there should not be a problem on aluminum, at least I haven't had one in the last 30+ years of using the stuff to clean aluminum, steel & brass molds. I just finished cleaning my RCBS Pro Melt to where it is working like a new one. I know of no other way to get all the buildup out of the pot and especially the spout without damage.

    BTW: It will patina a new brass mold without that long break in time.

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