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Thread: Session 5, still learning.

  1. #1
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    Session 5, still learning.

    Today was my 5th session at beginning casting and a brief summery of the event.

    First this that still strikes me is the amount of time it takes to get set up and then to get the lead melted. Time from start set-up to first cast was roughly 75 minutes. Really beginning to believe this hot plate and pan is not the most efficient method or equipment to do this. Next I noticed that after about 100 drops the mold was starting to over heat and I started getting heavily frosted bullets. Also began to see what I think was heavy oxidation on the surface of my melt. Again this pan is 5.5" wide and I am ladle pouring. So I wax fluxed.

    Let thing cool a little and resumed casting and then only lasted about 15 minutes before I myself got winded and had to stop. Turned the temp down and was going to take a break until I sat down and determined that I probably should quit. After looking back to the last session I realized that I only lasted about the same amount of time before I had to stop. Actual time spent casting was about 45 minutes.

    So all of this has got me thinking about the process and the equipment I am using or should be using. Evaluating this I think what I need is a pot that will heat up quickly and maintain temperature for the time it will take to pour 4-5lbs. as that seems to be my physical limit before I get tired and need to stop. As a reference I have been resting for an hour already and still do not feel as though I could resume casting yet.

    Knowing this what suggestions do all of you with much more experience have suggest, I have no experience with any of the commercial electric pots but I am thinking the 4# Lee is too small to use the Lyman Ladle and the 20# Lee pots are too big. What to do!

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    Rcmaveric's Avatar
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    For casting. I use the Lee bottom pour 20lb pot. I get the tv set up. Get my casting area set up and ergonomic. Then hit play on the movie and get confrotable then go to town. I normally make about 60lbs of bullets before i get too tired.

    Melting down and making ingots is a whole nother story. That is taxing and tiresome. Plus I have to finnish what I start, so if there is 800lbs of wheel weights. I aint stoping till its all down. I pay for that hard headedness latter.

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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Not to be too personal, but do you have any physical constraints? Some aspects of casting can be changed to make things easier if you do.

    For instance, if standing while casting is tiring, maybe sitting might allow you to cast longer (do take pains to allow good freedom of movement, though - I think it's important to be able to move away from the pot quickly in case of an emergency). Smoke, fumes or odors from the pot may cause or add to respiratory problems. Good ventilation and a fan blowing across the casting area away from you could be a big help.

    If you think through what all the various motions and actions that are needed to complete one casting cycle, you can arrange the pot, tools, landing area, etc., for maximum efficiency: with everything at the right height and position to prevent too much reaching and bending, each cycle will be faster and easier. Have enough light too. For me, squinting and craning my neck to see is physically tiring.

    Can you leave your casting area set up in an area where you do other tasks? If the pot is full, just turn on the heat and then do something else in the area that lets you not waste the time while still not leaving the pot unattended. Also you will save the effort of setting up and then later stowing all the equipment when done for the day.

    Just some thoughts. I hope they're of some use.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    I would ask what part of you is getting tired and worn out?


    Arms? Ladle pouring has you doing a lot of arm work: (lifting the lead out of the pot with one hand and then pouring it into molds held by the other) consider a bottom pour where you are essentialy handling the lead half as much.

    Back? Consider building your own casting table, to fit your body. Doesnt have to be fancy, mine was built out of scrap wood, but it fits me perfect. Short of building your own, figure out how to modify your current set up to fit you better. A simple block of wood to raise the pot could do wonders.
    Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy Valornor's Avatar
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    To echo what others have said you really probably want to give some thought to the ergonomics of your set up.

    Personally I prefer casting seated and using the Lee #20 bottom pour pot. Iíll cast all afternoon, and I wouldnít call myself ďFitĒ. Like you pointed out depending on your set up, it takes 20-30 minutes for the pot to begins to get up to temp.

    I know some people label pour but I think itís worth it to get a bottom pour set up.

    I usually get the pot set up the first thing, and then set everything else up as the pot warms up.

    Usually my fatigue will be my back. Iíll get pretty stiff after sitting there for awhile.


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  6. #6
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    The 4 pound pot is small but usable with the Lyman ladle. I have one, the issue is not so much the physical size but the lack of capacity. You can't cast 4 pounds of lead with the 4 pound pot. You can only get 2.5 to 3 pounds out of the pot before you start scraping bottom and need to refill. Just about the time you get your rythme you need to refill the pot.

    I cast about ten pounds before I need a break. I refill the pot and rest while it comes up to temperature and I'm ready again. Sometimes I'll cast 30 pounds before I get tired and give up.

    From plug in till casting is about 30 minutes for the Lee pots. I personally think you should get the 20 pound magnum melter and be done with it. You will not be disappointed and it will help you to overcome some of the small issues you're having.

    I learned on a Coleman stove with a cast iron skillet. I spent half my time figuring out the wind, the heat, and so forth. The magnum melter is so much less frustrating. You have enough alloy you don't have to refill the pot until you're ready to have a sip of water or set and take a breath.

    That gray stuff you describe is oxidized alloy and you can ignore it until it either gets on your nerves or you start getting inclusions. Otherwise you'll flux a LOT.

    When you flux, experiment with how much wax you need. Too much and you'll get melted wax setting on top of the melt a long time. Too little and you have a hard time gettin rid of the oxidized alloy. I use a marble sized piece most often. Throw it in and let it cook a minute, it might it might not burst into flames. Then, stir, a lot stir for two minutes continuously, scraping the sides and bottom of your pot. Then skim the junk off. Those little tips is how I have learned, sadly no thanks to any of the manuals I've read.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Session 5, still learning? For me it's session 5000+ and I'm still learning. The day you think you know everything about casting is the day everything will go wrong and you'll realize just how little you do know!

  8. #8
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    I have advanced cardiac and vascular disease with advanced P.A.D. in both legs. So yes I have physical disabilities and as the years have pasted I find I get fatigued easily. Yes I fight denial about the condition, I just didn't realize it has progressed as it has in the past year.

    Right now I'm working on a picnic table outside. I have plenty of area to work and keep everything pretty handy. I feel I have the right height for ladle pouring and it seems part of the problem is just the pace I must maintain to keep the temperature even. Using a 102gr. two cavity mold and I find I must move pretty quickly to get the temp up on the mold even with setting the mold on another burner on the hot plate. Then after about 75 drops I then need to slow down or the mold over heats and starts dropping very frosted bullets.. So far I have found that with these last two session that by the time I get the mold cooled back down to were it's dropping nice bullets I am physically feeling the effects and getting fatigued to were I feel I need to stop.

    For some unknown reason, most likely from years of safety training, I just do not feel comfortable sitting in front of molten metal. Just don't feel I could evacuate fast enough in the event of a spill or tinsel fairy explosion. Maybe half seated on a stool would work but then I would need to elevate the pot.

    Today left me thinking that the time it takes to set-up and melt lead is minor issue while the fatigue issue is more of a factor. I do not have a problem setting up and doing shorter runs more frequently than trying to get it all done at one time. Though there has to be something that is faster than what I am using to get 15lbs of lead melted.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    The threat of the tensil fair is dangerous but it happens due to carelessness or complacency. You have to get moisture deep enough under the melt for it to explode instead of boiling off, about an inch deep from my personal experiences. Warm tools in a flame or gently brushing them across the surface of the melt will make you safe.

    For heating up the mold faster, you can dip the corner of the mold into the melt until the lead falls off of the mold. Then its hot enough. Takes about 20 to 30 seconds.

    For the mold getting too hot there are things that you can work into our rhythm to control temp. I find the best way for me is to use two alluminum molds at the same time. I can cast with with two molds until the pot is empty and not over heat them. I also dont mind light frosting of the bullets.

    If i am using a single mold. I will use kitchen sponge in a dish of water. Cast 2 or three times and then swipe the mold across the sponge. Then cast 2 or three times, repeat. Becarefull you dont cool it too much or too quickly, you dont want to warp your mold.

    I find temp control of iron molds much easier than alluminum due to thermal conductive properties.

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  10. #10
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    Maybe I should have stated, Session 5 and still learning the basics.

    I have thought od getting a 4lb pot and then using the hot plate just to keep molten in while I ladle from the small pot but then I'm running 2 devices. Then I've just spent time watching videos of the bottom pour pots but it still comes down to the tempo that is required for that small mold to maintain proper temp..

    Wife tells me I just need to work out more and I tell her I'm long past that!

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
    JBinMN's Avatar
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    kmw1954,

    I am not gonna try to offer any "tips", based on your description of your limitations.

    I too, have some health issues & limitations , including a limited income.

    Regardless of that, I am all in for helping someone else out, who is showing the motivation that you have been showing to everyone here in trying to get casting in a way that suits your limitations and helps you get a product that you can use to continue to shoot your firearms...

    I would donate $20.00 to your getting a bottom pour pot.

    Anyone else in, and want to help out?
    2nd Amend./U.S. Const. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

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  12. #12
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    JB, Thanks for the offer but that isn't needed as kind as it is. My hold up in buying a new pot is determining which one is the correct one. The hot plate and pan served it's purpose and cheaply provided a way for me to determine that this is something I want to pursue. Now I need to determine which pot is going to fit my needs best. Which again as I always state my needs and your needs do not match. What works for me most likely doesn't work for anyone else or maybe it works well for everyone.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmw1954 View Post
    JB, Thanks for the offer but that isn't needed as kind as it is. My hold up in buying a new pot is determining which one is the correct one. The hot plate and pan served it's purpose and cheaply provided a way for me to determine that this is something I want to pursue. Now I need to determine which pot is going to fit my needs best. Which again as I always state my needs and your needs do not match. What works for me most likely doesn't work for anyone else or maybe it works well for everyone.
    OK. The offer still stands though if you change your mind.


    2nd Amend./U.S. Const. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    ~~ WWG1WGA ~~

    Restore the Republic!!!

    For the Fudds > "Those who appease a tiger, do so in the hope that the tiger will eat them last." -Winston Churchill.

    President Reagan tells it like it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6MwPgPK7WQ

    Phil Robertson explains the Wall: https://youtu.be/f9d1Wof7S4o

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I think you would find a bottom pour pot with a mold guide to be much easier to cast with and much easier to maintain the mold temp with. I believe it would involve less motion with your arms.

    I cast at my work bench in the shop and I sit. But I sit on a stool so I do have more freedom of movement than being in a chair. Also, a simple distraction such as listening to a radio may help with the fatigue. Casting with a buddy does that for me. We talk guns, hunting, ect back and fourth and the time flys by.

    I also don't mean to get personal but I'll match JB's offer. PM me so it will be private.

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    If I remember correctly, you're casting small pistol bullets. I would ditch the ladle pouring for now and go with a Lee 4-20 bottom pour pot. Save the ladle casting for when you decide to cast rifle bullets. You won't believe the time saving you'll have sitting and using a bottom pour.

  16. #16
    Boolit Bub
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    I'll second getting a Lee 20 pound, bottom pour pot. I have used one for several years. Yes, they leak some but, the lead remelts.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    The bottom pour is a lot easier to use. I have the lee 10 lb pot I have had for 25 years and now a 20 lb. they are a lot less arm movement when casting. I like the 10 lb pot but the 20 lb is nice for when Iam doing a big batch. If your only doing a smaller batch the 20 still will work fine just unplug when done. I always like to leave my pot half full when done or higher to keep the rust away inside the pot. But that’s just how I do it . The sponge or damp towel really works great for cooling the mold every third or fourth cast .

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I've been casting 6 years and I'm still learning. I'm just now to the point I can cast without problems and solve problems that do arise. I'm still experimenting with my setup and where I like everything. Still learning things that help with better bullets with more keepers. I didn't have a mentor other than all the folks here I've learned from.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Remember, frosty boolits shoot just fine. Better too hot than too cool. Bottom pour may be the way to go for you. I find it much nicer for
    most of my needs. The 4-20 is a good pot for the money, lapping the pour rod into its home inside the spout will solve most of your dripping problems, combined with a few heavy washers alongside the wooden pour handle. Or drop 3-400 for an RCBS or another higher end unit. You wonít regret it either way. Best of luck.


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  20. #20
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    Great thank to all respondents and thanks for the support.

    So far I have been leaning towards the Pro 4-20 over the Production IV as it is a bit wider and doesn't have the angled rod which would make it easier to use the ladle in if I felt the need to do that. Also like the idea that I can flux with saw dust and then leave a layer top on to prevent oxidation.

    Still contemplating moving the process into my upstairs reloading room and installing a vent fan. There I also have a higher bench top that may make it easier to sit on a stool and do this to relieve some strain. I am optimistic that this can be worked out. Once again I don't see an issue from having to cast smaller batches a few times a week rather than casting a whole bunch all at once.

    The hot plate and pan was taking me over an hour to get 15lbs of lead melted and hot enough to start casting so today when I got tired I thought of turning down the burner 1/2 way but didn't want to have it sitting waiting on me to rest and then have to reheat it back up to temp.

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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