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Thread: Rust in Lee 4-20

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy wendyj's Avatar
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    Rust in Lee 4-20

    I had some gunk in my Lee pot last weekend. I cleaned with boiling water and baking soda and a wire brush and seemed to get it all out. Looked like sticky candle wax stuck on sides and bottom. Pot has never leaked and this is the way I cleaned it in the summer. I keep it inside a storage building with no heat or air. I left it about a 1/4 full off good lead and checked it Saturday and see traces of yellowish colors where the lead isn't at and it appears to be rust. I have thought about emptying again and spraying some PB blaster and going back over with the brush again and cleaning again with some white vinegar and storing inside the house when lead cools down. Any other ideas or does anyone else store with no heat and high humidity? Noticed all my stainless skimming and stirring tools have the same gunky wax buildup on them. I heated with a torch and boiled it off of them. I used beeswax as a flux with clean ingots. Never happened until I used the beeswax. I had been using pet bedding and tall kitchen candles instead. Saw a new pot on EBay for $8.00 and was wondering if sides have to come off unit to replace it or just unscrew top and bottom.

  2. #2
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    I don't have a great answer about your yellow wax-like residue...but if you only put lead and beeswax in the pot, there is only one of those things that is yellow and wax-like. Also, I cleaned a used Lee pot where the previous owner used Marvelux. If that's used heavily, it'll rust your liner, it will also leave a yellow hard residue that is more chalk-like than wax-like...and it will also plug the valve.

    I think you need to completely disassemble the unit to replace the Steel liner. I'd also replace the pour spout and nut at the same time, because if they are rusty, you may destroy them, trying to remove them to re-install on the new liner. You can get those three items from Lee's website for free, but will be charged for actual shipping...which is probably cheaper than fleabay.

    Also, if and when you replace the spout, before I'd put Lead in the melter, I'd use some abrasive like valve grind compound to the spout and valve rod, then spin valve rod to 'mate' the two parts. This procedure helps reduce/eliminate dripping.

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Not to worry, it's normal for a Lee pot to get cruddy and even some rust. I have three Lee pots, the oldest is 40 years old. I mainly use Marvelux for fluxing, which according to urban legends attracts moisture and causes rusting/oxidation. When I was still using wax as a fluxing agent, I had about the same results you report. It did no harm, but I do a thorough cleaning every few hundred pounds anyway. I use a dental pick to keep the valve clear while I'm casting.....that keeps dripping to a minimum. I just open the valve and insert the pick from the bottom and give it a few strokes, the lead flow is maybe 200 grains that puddles below the valve and is returned to the pot.

    You'll go nuts trying to keep that pot completely clean and rust free, learn to live with it.
    You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    Rust doesn't hurt the lead mixture since rust will float to the top. The heat from the hot lead will burn any moisture out of the rust before the lead melts.
    I have two very old ten pound production pots that got submerged in water for 4 days when my basement flooded one time. They were ugly with rust, but I let them dry out and they worked fine.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy wendyj's Avatar
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    Thanks all. I've been lucky. Mine doesn't leak or hasn't yet. I'm sure one day it will. Usually when I clean I run a 22 caliber brush through pour spout and worse I've had is let lead get too cold and took a torch to the bottom for a few seconds and back up and going. Melting in 25-30 degrees not as easy as in the 70's and 80's.

  6. #6
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    Mine doesn't leak or hasn't yet
    well, I surely wouldn't be swapping out the liner if you don't have a problem, other than a bit of surface rust.
    that's my 2˘

  7. #7
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    There are several types of lead oxides. One, called Litharge, is yellow, and another, called Red Lead, looks like iron rust.

    There is no practical, home-shop way to prevent lead from oxidizing if you melt it, so one can expect these colors to occur and persist in the pot.

    I enever had a “waxy” deposit in a pot. I often use candle wax as a flux but burn it off as I stir. But enough of it, unburned and unskimmed, could mix with the oxides and leave a deposit around the edge of the surface of the lead.

    Unless you see pitting in the steel, probably not to worry.

  8. #8
    Boolit Bub
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    Pile me on Wendy, they just rust a little. If I feel like mine gets a little to bad (low temps and hiiiiigh humidity like you said) Ill use some motor oil wiped on lightly to combat the rust. Motor oil will stay where spray oils like wd40 and pb will slowly evaporate. As soon as you fire up the pot next time the oil will burn off quick enough.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master Walks's Avatar
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    454PB,

    Marvalux causing rust is no "urban legend".
    I have experienced it. I bought on recommendation of a Cust. Serv. Rep at a leading mail order place.
    Started to have RUST showing up in my RCBS pot liner that I had never seen in the previous 20yrs of use. Rusted my liner in a week. Emptied the last inch out of the pot, cleaned/scrubbed all the rust away.
    Never used Marvalux again, never had a rust problem again.
    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy wendyj's Avatar
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    I've been using pet bedding and candle wax. Saw somewhere where people were using Lizard Litter for flux. I bought 25 lbs when I was vibratory tumbling brass but am using FART with SS pins now. Plenty left over if it makes a good flux.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walks View Post
    454PB,

    Marvalux causing rust is no "urban legend".
    I have experienced it. I bought on recommendation of a Cust. Serv. Rep at a leading mail order place.
    Started to have RUST showing up in my RCBS pot liner that I had never seen in the previous 20yrs of use. Rusted my liner in a week. Emptied the last inch out of the pot, cleaned/scrubbed all the rust away.
    Never used Marvalux again, never had a rust problem again.
    When I started casting, I bought my setup from a guy getting out of casting, he had Marvalux that I put on a shelf. Used sawdust as flux, worked great. Found the can of Marvalux, thought I would give it a try. Big mistake. I used it and had rust on molds, handles and the Lyman pot. Everything. Quit using the Marvalux and the rust problem went away. Gave the Marvalux to the club cheeepskate, he thought he had died and gone to heaven, somebody GIVING him that valuable stuff. Hope he had better luck than I did with it.

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I live in a low humidity climate, perhaps that makes a difference. I have had no bad side effects using Marvelux on any of my equipment. I cast indoors without ventilation, and the lack of smoke is important to me, By the way, I've been doing this for 45 years, I don't encourage anyone else to do it my way, I've had no ill effects.
    You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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    FWIW, I wouldn't worry about the rust. I leave mine outside in a covered but unheated/air conditioned area. I've got surface rust in mine (been using the HELL out of it for 6 plus years). any rust that comes off will float to the top of the alloy and you can just flux and skim. The next $$ I spend on a pot will be to replace mine when it finally dies. I've probably cast 20 or 30 thousand boolits out of it and it still going strong.

  14. #14
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    Mike W1's Avatar
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    I didn't have any luck with Marvelux years ago but wasn't using it correctly. Going to add a couple files I'd saved since that time.

    From: bill ferguson <alloymetalsmith@theriver.com>

    You would get better flux dispersion with a salt shaker. Dark foam is too
    much flux, dark crust is way too much flux. The flux and residue are water
    soluble and wash out easily. Just dry the pot.

    From: Plabovitz@aol.com <Plabovitz@aol.com>

    Hard for me to imagine the evils of Marvelux, I have used it for over 20
    years and really like the stuff...I use two LEE 10 pound pots, cast about
    500 pounds a year and clean the pots once every year or so, what are you guys
    doing?

    I fill the pot with ingots, when the entire pot is full to within 1/2 inch
    of the top and up to temperature (that is important) I flux with marvelux,
    about >1/3 a teaspoon

    If the temp is right, it melts and sort of foams, I stir vigorously with a
    stainless steel teaspoon that has been pre-heated (that is important

    I then skim this black-gray slag from the melt, it solidifies into a glassy
    substance and then I commence to casting, no mess, no residue and great
    looking alloy with NO SMOKE

    When I am done, the pot is empty, occasionally I will scrape the sides if
    they need it but that is it, no rust (and I live in muggy NE Ohio) and this
    stuff stays in my basement

    From: <yodar@NetZero.net>
    Date: Thursday, April 06, 2000 3:39 PM

    I use(d) Marvelux religiously following my chemist father's usage when he introduced
    me to casting bullets. A flux functions by changing the surface tension on the melt and
    providing an amalgamating agent to gather particulate contaminants, trap them, for easy
    removal.

    Few use Marvelux right, in my opinion...They use too much and they remove it too soon
    leaving black slime in the pot which has caused me some corrosion damage in the past.

    I sprinkle with a salt shaker until the surface has a monolayer of crystals. I WAIT till the
    temperature of the melt caused the water of crystallization to be driven off as bubbles. I
    wait until the anhydrous crystals then melt together and fuse into a glassy crust.

    THAT, my friends is fluxing according to the way they do it at the smelter. You may or
    may not ever have seen SLAG, but you have just made slag in your post. The crystalline
    crust stuff aggregated all your solid contaminants into something very easy and neat to
    remove.

    I repeat this process on the "sorta" clean once-fluxed alloy and stir it in like we usually
    do, but I still wait till is forms a crust before removing. I repeat the process till the color
    of the slag is as light as I can get it.
    Last edited by Mike W1; 11-30-2018 at 09:34 AM.
    Mike

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  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I normally use bottom draw pots. I don't skim the sludge off the top until it has lost all the dark coloration. I then re-flux and again leave the slag on top. There's no reason to remove it, it provides an oxygen barrier which is helpful.

    One important point, always preheat your stirring device, no matter what flux you use. Marvelux does absorb moisture, so your stirring device can cause boiling and even eruption if it's not preheated.
    You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    My casting pots, which mainly get beeswax for fluxing, are usually full of alloy, molten in use and solid in storage, so no way for me to see the side walls, but my big propane tank scrap pot is mostly empty between melts, where pine sawdust, pine needles and red candle wax are used for flux. I get red and yellow powdery scale on the sides of the big pot, that develops between uses. Some of it might be iron rust, but I think that Bent Ramrod might be right that it's mainly lead oxides. In any case, the sides get scraped down with the next melt, and I don't see either color in my ingots, so I guess it all is reduced with the next fluxing or skimmed out with the dross.

    I've got a lot of dross that I plan on trying to recover residual alloy from. I'll report back if I find a lot of yellow or red powder in it after fluxing.

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    I have had red, yellow, and the occasional blue colored stuff develop at various times over the years. It changes depending on the particulat batch of lead I am using and where I acquired it. I expect it is mostly lead oxides of some kind. Some will flux back in and some gets removed with the dross.
    It has never been a problem for me.
    I do get build up on the sides of the pot. It gets exposed as the lead level drops. I just scrape it off and get rid of it to keep it from plugging up the spout.

  18. #18
    Boolit Mold
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    When I lived in a humid climate, after the pot cooled down I sprayed the inside of the pot with Pam. Prevented rust and burned off the next time I fired up the pot.

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra1911 View Post
    When I lived in a humid climate, after the pot cooled down I sprayed the inside of the pot with Pam. Prevented rust and burned off the next time I fired up the pot.
    I like that idea.

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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