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Thread: Ladle Casting - how many cavities can you pour?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Ladle Casting - how many cavities can you pour?

    Howdy gents,

    I have been ladle casting for quite a few years now and am very happy with it. I generally cast with 2 cavity molds. I typically only cast rifle bullets or pistol bullets for small game rifle loads in 30 cal.

    In anything above 22 cal, I generally stay away from 4 cavity molds. I have a 4 cavity NOE 3118 clone that pours ~115 bullets. I have a real hard time getting quality bullets past the 3rd cavity This could be a technique issue, but from my observations I am just running out of lead on the pour for the 4th cavity. I'm using a pretty standard 1.5oz lyman bottom pour. I do like to pour a pretty big sprue.

    Recently I have been getting more and more involved with CMP type formats of shooting and therefore shooting at a much higher volume. So I wish I could start using a 4 cal mold for 180ish grain 30 cal bullets, but I hesitate to buy anything because of my results with the smaller weight 4 cavity mold. I realize I could switch to bottom pour, but that's another whole rabbit hole I'm not willing to go down as of yet. If that's my only option I would rather just stick with 2 cavities for the near future.


    So, for you ladle casters out there. Are you able to pour 4 cavities, with low reject rates in something like a lyman 311291 or another basic 30 cal bullet around 180 grains? If so, what are the tricks/tips you are using?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master s mac's Avatar
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    Sounds like you need a Rowell ladle, they make a few different sizes, all larger than a Lyman.

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I use a rcbs ladle ( its slightly bigger than the lyman) Im not sure it would do a heavy sprue and 4 180 grn cavities though it will be close. The #1 rowel will but its a tight fit in alot of electric pots.

    I normally pour heavier bullets in 2 cavity moulds. My bullets are 360 grn - 550grn and the rcbs does this with some over pour left. If your lyman doesn't you can pour 2 cavities and then refill it, more movement but should give 4 good bullets.

    My ladle technique is a little different than most. All my sprue plates are vented to the far end with a lip left on them. I also re cut the angle so the top is bigger than the base of the bullet. My ladle only leaves the pot when filling the mould. I start at the farthest cavity and pour a fast quick fill. moving to each cavity fill and let any "extra" over fill running back into the pot. This keeps the base and sprue molten longer as the bullet cools from the nose first sucking in all it needs as it cools. This also gives more time for gases and air pockets to work out. The vented sprue also gives a very consistent sprue every pour. This may not be as important but I think it helps. When I make a run of bullets (usually 4 hours at the pot) I bring the alloy up to temp and preheat the moulds. Flux with wax and wood chips. I then throw the first 10 - 15 pours back in the pot. From here I keep them I dont sort or inspect them, just pour at a brisk pace with the 2 moulds. My normal spread after visual defects are removed is around .5 grns on a 550 grn batch.
    The other thing i do is when setting up I lay a stack of towels down 6-8 on top of each other. When the pile reaches about 100 I remove that towel and set aside leaving the next towel in the stack in place. THis keeos hit bullets from hitting the cool ones and getting dings distortions

  4. #4
    Boolit Master


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    I find I have better results and more consistent bullets filling the ladle for each cavity. I can get two full bullets with a 44 caliber 285 grain mold I have with one dip, but the bullets weigh more consistently with filling the ladle for each cavity. I have a 3-cavity 140 grain 30 caliber mold and I can fill all three with one dip. I haven't tried pouring those with a seperate dip of the ladle. I used to always pressure cast and was the only way I could get good crisp bases but recently have gotten better at hitting the sprue hole and get good bullets without the nipple sitting in the sprue plate.
    Good Luck,
    Rick

  5. #5
    Boolit Bub
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    Hi Dimner,
    I’m a ladle pourer. My 9mm molds are all LEE 6-cavity or MP 8-cavity molds. I use a #2 Rowell ladle. I usually fill half of the cavities and then quickly refill the ladle to finish the rest. I get very good quality with few rejects if I keep the ladle at least half full. Metal and mold need to be the proper temp. I usually cast a few moldfuls and just throw them back then start production casting. I cast with 3-4 large cavity molds alternating between them. Usually have to cast with one 4 or 5 casts and then go to another one for a few casts then back to the first one. This goes on until they’re all up to proper temp. Then I can fill a mold, set it down, fill another, etc. sounds complicated but works well for me. My pot on top of a propane stove holds 50 pounds of metal so I can add fresh metal a little at a time without it lowering the pot temp too much.

    With my LBT 44 molds, 240 and 300 grain bullets, I usually fill 2 cavities, redip the ladle and finish out. Usually have none to very few rejects this way.

    So to sum up, you need a ladle that hold more metal. Works for me.

  6. #6
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    Rowell#2 here as well. It definitely exceeds the Lyman and RCBS. Needed to shorten the Rowell handle by a couple inches to give it better balance. This is used in cavities greater than three.

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  7. #7
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    I use both an RCBS ladle and bottom pour, it depends on what I feel like doing that day.

    To answer your question, I think with the RCBS ladle you could feasibly fill a four cavity 180-ish grain mold with one full ladle. I have successfully used it with a six cavity Lee custom .38-55 mold by filling three then refilling for the last three. I think I also used it when first trying a four cavity Lyman 452460 (207 grain with my alloy) but I don't remember for sure.

    Robert

  8. #8
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    I use an RCBS ladle with a shortened handle and have no problem filling a six cavity .45/255 mold with one pour.
    Without the dark night, you would never see the bright stars...

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  9. #9
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    I used to ladle cast everything, but only 2cav Molds. Couldn't get more then 3 good bullets from a 4cav mold.
    When I switched to a bottom pour pot for 4cav+ molds I stopped except when blending alloys. Still ladle cast a 1cav mold for bullets used in hardness testing.

    Still ladle pour RB & Minie balls for Black Powder using 1cav & 2cav molds.
    I like doing it to.
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  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master
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    I cast and fill up to 6 cavity molds with my #2 Rowell ladle..That is the ONLY ladle you should use. I have all of them and the Rowell ladle is by far the best for quality consistent pours.

    Most of my casting is done with a Lee bottom pour pot, but there are times when I use a ladle also.

    If you are after a ton of good boolits in a hurry, consider a Lee 4-20 bottom pour pot! I generally cast 250-300 boolits in a short session with 99% quality drops.

    banger

  11. #11
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    gwpercle's Avatar
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    With my new larger Lyman ladle I can usually do three cavities if I'm careful , start out with a dipper full and don't leave too much sprue puddle . Much easier to pour 2 cavities then refill ladle .
    I'm getting old and now a 4 cavity NOE aluminum mould is all I care to cast with...hand and back strength is no longer what it used to be . NOE 3 cavity aluminum moulds are now my favorites , more production than a 2 cavity but not as heavy as a 4 , 5 or 6 cavity which wear me out in an hour or two now days .
    Gary
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  12. #12
    Boolit Man
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    Never used anything but an RCBS ladle dipper. Can fill my LEE 40 and 9mm 6 bangers easily, any of the SAECO or RCBS 4 holers. I generally keep a wet towel and cool it occasionally, and alternate between the steel molds too.

  13. #13
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    I just started ladle casting maybe I'm doing it wrong but I started doing 330 gr 454's and use 4 cavity moulds and do not have any problem with fill out using a small lyman ladle. I just pour the 2 cavities farthest from the handles, then refill the ladle and do the last 2. If I am doing it wrong please let me know!

    I'm getting good fill out in all cavities and once the mould is warm almost a 90% keeper ratio, even with HP pins in. When using the bottom pour I only get about 70% keepers.
    Steve,

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  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    My single and doubles cavity molds I use the old Lyman ladle. I don't like the new style Lyman ladle. More than 2 cavities I use the RCBS ladle. Some of the longer molds get half the holes filled with one ladle full then another full ladle for the rest of the cavities.

  15. #15
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    yall are better men than me,im a bottom poor man,i tried the ladle pooring and the arms of my wheelchair make me sit to low at my table,so I made a mess of my table and very few usable boolits lol

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy pcmacd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimner View Post
    Howdy gents,

    I have been ladle casting for quite a few years now and am very happy with it. I generally cast with 2 cavity molds. I typically only cast rifle bullets or pistol bullets for small game rifle loads in 30 cal.

    In anything above 22 cal, I generally stay away from 4 cavity molds. I have a 4 cavity NOE 3118 clone that pours ~115 bullets. I have a real hard time getting quality bullets past the 3rd cavity This could be a technique issue, but from my observations I am just running out of lead on the pour for the 4th cavity. I'm using a pretty standard 1.5oz lyman bottom pour. I do like to pour a pretty big sprue.

    Recently I have been getting more and more involved with CMP type formats of shooting and therefore shooting at a much higher volume. So I wish I could start using a 4 cal mold for 180ish grain 30 cal bullets, but I hesitate to buy anything because of my results with the smaller weight 4 cavity mold. I realize I could switch to bottom pour, but that's another whole rabbit hole I'm not willing to go down as of yet. If that's my only option I would rather just stick with 2 cavities for the near future.


    So, for you ladle casters out there. Are you able to pour 4 cavities, with low reject rates in something like a lyman 311291 or another basic 30 cal bullet around 180 grains? If so, what are the tricks/tips you are using?
    432.

    No, really, I have cast lots of four and six cavity molds w/o issues.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have a 6 banger 45 acp, 230 grain mold that I use a ladle with.
    My ladle is not really a normal ladle. I use a 2 oz kitchen ladle w/ a 3/32” hole drilled in the bottom. It is basically a mobile mini bottom pour pot. It works great. It’s really fast, and makes good boolits.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
    DHDeal's Avatar
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    RCBS ladle and I can fill a 4 cavity MP 432GC mold with a big sprue on top. An Accurate Molds 4 cavity 45 300E is about all that particular ladle can do. I have a Rowell 1 pounder (dont remember the number) and it is just too heavy to use for any period of time.

    I'll pressure cast when I get a cavity that won't play nice and I probably get 95% keepers once everything is up to temp.

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    Minerat post # 13 nailed it IMO.

    I also cast with the smaller lyman ladle. On 6 cavity molds at either the third or 4th I refill the ladle. No problems.

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    You know... I never thought of re-dipping. What a terribly easy solution I'm kinda ashamed I did not think of it. I'll give it a try this weekend.

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