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Thread: Very first mold!

  1. #1
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    Very first mold!

    Today I received my very first Boolit mold. It is a Lee 356-102-1R and the excitement is building! Right now I have it in a cup of mineral spirits to degrease and then I have some other metal cleaner that was made for electrical contacts and such.

    Now somewhere I remember reading about heat treating these molds before using them but I cannot find the thread. So if anyone can point me in the right direction I would appreciate it.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Wheelguns 1961's Avatar
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    Use a toothbrush and some dawn to clean. Then I heat cycle mine 3-4 times. Then I clean it again. Then I try to cast with it. It works for me. YMMV. By heat cycle, I bring it up to casting temp which is usually #3 on my hot plate for an aluminum mold. This takes about 20min. Then I let it cool to room temp.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    When you heat cycle these exactly how are you doing it and at what temp for how long?

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    My first Lee Precision mold was a 356.125RN. It dropped .358 so it workerd great for my S&W 459 and later S&W M13, mostly shot as .38 Special. I am at close to 700K cast from that mold (35 years and counting) and is still my go to for 9mm and 38sp. I did have to re-tap and replace the sprue plate screw at about 500k.

    I own the 102gr RN, and bought that mostly for .380 ACP, but occasionally 9MM. The 102RN and it also casts fat, suitable for .38sp. Of late, I use the 102rn for 9mm launched in an AR15 chambered for 9mm. I like Lee, but I do have some RSBS, SAECO, Lyman, and NOE molds.
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  5. #5
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    Congrats on the first of many molds. I have not heat treated any lee molds and they seem to work fine for me. Washed in Dawn and scrubbed with a toothbrush then dried.
    Preheated on a hot plate and Beeswax on the pin. Start casting.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master bosterr's Avatar
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    Mineral spirits may leave an oily residue. Dawn dish soap or brake clean or acetone may be a better choice.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by kmw1954 View Post
    When you heat cycle these exactly how are you doing it and at what temp for how long?
    After getting mould free of grease start casting boolits , don't worry about the boolits, cast at a good pace to heat the mould . I cast until the boolits start showing frosty...good and hot . Fill the cavities , set the mould on top of the pot , cut the heat off and let everything cool down .
    Repeat the process two more times . Start with a degreasing , I use acetone or brake cleaner to degrease ...I don,t like water in my moulds...causes rust !
    Throw all these boolits back in the pot ...most will have defects .

    After the three heating and cooling sessions the oils will be out and the cavities seasoned and you should be casting like a champ .

    Look in the stickies for additional info on prepping lee moulds and breaking them in...good info to follow .
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master OS OK's Avatar
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    I boiled mine for 15 minutes with the Dawn dish soap...poured the soapy water and oil off, filled with fresh hot tap water, softened well water and boiled again.
    Put the pan under the faucet and ran hot tap water so any remaining soap and oil would go over the edge first.



    Put it in the oven next, preheated to 400Ίƒ and let it sit for 30 minutes.



    Brought it out each time and let it cool to room/touch temperature.
    After three cycles, I assembled & lubed the screw threads, sprue hinge & alignment pins with hi-temp anti-seize.



    I rubbed graphite into the pins and their connecting hardware so the HP's wouldn't stick and they'd slide in and out with ease...
    After that it was ready to pre-heat once more...this time to cast with.
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I take a much lazier approach, and it works fine for me. I scrub with dawn dish soap and a tooth brush and rinse under water. I then use a Q tip to lube the alignment pins and hollow point linkage if it has it with Klotz R50 2 stroke oil (any 2 stroke oil works). After that I heat up and cast as normal. After a few casts I'll lube the sprue plate with bullets still in the cavities to prevent oil getting in. I don't heat cycle, I personally don't think it does anything. It does no harm either. This is exactly the same whether its a brand new mold, or one decades old.

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    I am super lazy by comparison. I spray a new mould liberally with B12 carb cleaner. When dry, I smoke the cavities with kitchen matches. Then I cast boolits. Low tech but works for me.

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  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Texas by God View Post
    I am super lazy by comparison. I spray a new mould liberally with B12 carb cleaner. When dry, I smoke the cavities with kitchen matches. Then I cast boolits. Low tech but works for me.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk
    B12 isn't playing around. It is the only old school carb cleaner left. Don't get it on your skin. It does a phenomenal job of cleaning stuff.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    Well I'm hoping it's nice outside tomorrow and not raining and I can again hopefully give this a go!

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    I wouldn't bother with the mineral spirits. Its just a thin oil anyway.

    I'd go straight to dish soap, dry it off, then the carberator cleaner.
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  14. #14
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    Welcome to our addiction. Counselors are standing by 24/7/365 on this site with answers to every issue imaginable.

    Wear your protective equipment, and enjoy yourself. If your first batch is less than perfect, you are in good company. Pick out some, size if needed, lube or coat, load and shoot em. It’ll give you a sense of pride and encourage you to develop your art.
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  15. #15
    Boolit Master flyingmonkey35's Avatar
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    I use carb cleaner myself

    And Franklin arsenal drop out spray for lee molds.

    Easy stuff.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by WheelgunConvert View Post
    Welcome to our addiction. Counselors are standing by 24/7/365 on this site with answers to every issue imaginable.

    Wear your protective equipment, and enjoy yourself. If your first batch is less than perfect, you are in good company. Pick out some, size if needed, lube or coat, load and shoot em. It’ll give you a sense of pride and encourage you to develop your art.
    YES...THIS ^ ^ ^

    Seriously, While I have many expensive molds, that I have heat cycled, I have never heat cycled a Lee mold.
    I just wash a Lee mold with hot tap water and Dish soap and a toothbrush, let it dry, then preheat on a hot plate or the top of the Lead furnace...and start casting. You are almost guaranteed to have wrinkly boolits with the first several casts of a new lee mold. No worries, just keep casting. What you are looking for is a rhythm that the mold likes...which is basically the amount of time in between pouring and dropping and re-pouring. Varying those times will vary the temperature of the mold...which is the KEY factor in having a mold dropping perfect boolits.
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    wash them then start casting ,after the first few you will be up to temp and all should be well

  18. #18
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    100% agree!!
    Quote Originally Posted by bosterr View Post
    Mineral spirits may leave an oily residue. Dawn dish soap or brake clean or acetone may be a better choice.
    Just wash hot soapy water and rinse then cycle just like powder coat. 400/20 minutes and air cool repeat. (No handles of coarse.)
    Then when ya start casting set the mold on top Of the pot and let it get HOT! Your cadiance will determine next course of events. But expect to trash the first 2-10 castings for wrinkles or something. If getting wrinkles still you are either too cold or you still have something forein on/in the mold. Turn up the lead and spray the mold out with brake cleaner Aerosol. Then continue casting. Some times it takes a bit sometimes your good right outta the gate. One never really knows.

    Its fun and fulfilling. Hope you enjoy as much as we all do!

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  19. #19
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    Since no one really answered his question as to WHY the heat cycling.......

    The molds are machined from rolled long bars of aluminum or brass. Those rolled bars then get cut into chunks of the right size and machined. What the heat cycling does is relieve the stress from the rolled bars, so that the two halves of the mold will align more properly from the very first pour into a cavity. Obviously, just pouring 750 degree lead into the mold cavities eventually does this stress relieving anyways. It almost gets into Ford/Chevy type arguments. There isn't any real right or wrong answers. Same with cleaning the machining oils from the manufacturing process.

    Welcome to the world of making your own. I strongly recommend that you read the FREE book from our own member, Glen Fryxell, "From-Ingot-to-Target-A-Cast-Bullet-Guide-for-Handgunners":
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...or-Handgunners


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  20. #20
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone! Have a few chores to do this morning and then I hope to get outside and try this new mold and attempt my first casting session.

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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