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Thread: Ladle weirdness

  1. #1

    Ladle weirdness

    I've got a Lyman ladle that I normally love, but when casting pure lead it gets a layer of scuzzy weird yellow stuff after a few pours. It clogs up my spout. No matter how much I flux. That is annoying.

    Anyone know what I'm doing wrong?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Are you casting really hot? There are a couple other threads discussing similar findings with pure, and the speculation of some is that it might be a lead oxide. Maybe lower the pot temp a bit, or try pressure pouring to reduce air exposure?

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I'm going to try polishing my ladle to remedy scum buildup. Anyone else done that?

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Please describe your fluxing and cleaning process and source of your pure lead. Are you leaving the ladle in the pot to keep it as hot as the alloy? Do you stir as you submerge the ladle under the surface and then lift the full ladle out of the melt? If you are just scooping off the surface, you are getting the junk in the melt that is just under the surface. Have you allowed the burning wax from cleaning the alloy to smoke the outside and inside of the ladle? Sometimes that will help reduce the slag from sticking to a cooler surface.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I know when fluxing, I stir with my ladle for thirty seconds to a minute and then remove the ladle and scrape the pot and skim with a spoon.
    Last edited by Bazoo; 05-29-2020 at 06:59 PM.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Lead pot's Avatar
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    I have never seen yellow dross on the ladle or top of the alloy but Gray dross is pretty common.
    You don't want that to get pored into the mould to cause an unbalanced bullet.
    Here is what you can do to keep the spigot of the ladle clean even if there is a lot of dross on the alloy in the pot. I use a old wash rag that has lube on it from wiping the coffee pot out I use for lube making. I wipe off the hot ladle when the dross starts sticking on it and that will keep the spigot clean for a long time while casting. When it builds up again just a quick wipe with the lube covered rag and your good to go again.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Thanks lead pot, that's a good tip.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I'm not sure how anyone who has casted with pure lead could have not seen the yellow dross. I've been told it is lead oxide. About the only thing that helps is a heavy wood flux, but that is not good for ladle casting.

    My own method is dump the lead, and tap the empty ladle spout facing up after every few pours. This keeps it clear of all crud.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Bannister View Post
    Please describe your fluxing and cleaning process and source of your pure lead. Are you leaving the ladle in the pot to keep it as hot as the alloy? Do you stir as you submerge the ladle under the surface and then lift the full ladle out of the melt? If you are just scooping off the surface, you are getting the junk in the melt that is just under the surface. Have you allowed the burning wax from cleaning the alloy to smoke the outside and inside of the ladle? Sometimes that will help reduce the slag from sticking to a cooler surface.
    I'm using frankford arsenal flux. Ladle stays in the pot with the handle on a jack stand to keep it warm.

    Yesterday I cleaned it as good as I could and coated it with the Frankford easy out stuff. I know it sucks for moulds but I read that it's good for ladels. I've got a 56# pig coming in the mail afterward I'm going to cast some cores. I use Rotometals pure 99% lead. I did throw some bird shot in there and it turned everything green, even after scraping off the graphite. Kinda weird too I guess.

    I figured the yellow stuff was the cast iron reacting in some way. I looked for an all steel ladle but they are hard to find. Lee makes a baby one but that's just about useless.
    Last edited by Super Sneaky Steve; 05-29-2020 at 11:39 PM. Reason: spelling

  10. #10
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Well I'm bout to take the plunge and polish my ladle.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    I have ladle poured for 55 + years and cast of lot of oure / near pure lead for BP projectiles. I still have the original Lyman bottom pour ladle that I started with.

    I usually flux with a small piece of beeswax - have sometimes used pine sawdust. Those things said . . . .

    I have often run into the same thing as the OP has voiced. Usually, I find it is when I am pouring hotter than usual. I have several hollow base larger grain weight molds that just work better aw far as skirt fill if I run the pot hotter. I'm not "chemistry minded" so I have no expertise as far as what the yellowish stuff is but I have just always figured it was oxidation that was caused by the higher heat. I have also had to clean the Lyman ladle at times when midway through the casting session - usually I just take a small flat bladed screwdriver and scrape the inside of the ladle and deposit the stuff on top of my skim pile - I also made a spout awl out of a nail a bit smaller than the diameter of the pour hole in the spout and used about a six inch piece of broomstick for the handle - that usually works to carefully clean the spout hole - then continue casting. A word of warning though - if you attempt to clean the spout hole with something, do it carefully. One bit of wrenching a bunch sideways when attempting to clean the spout could result with you breaking a chunk of the cast spout out and ruining your ladle. I have never polished the inside of my ladle - if you do yours - let us know if it helps any.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I have polished my dipper. The outside and the pour hole, I removed the rough surface and polished it mirror bright. The inside I did some but not as well. We'll see how it does.

  13. #13
    Try putting a coating of some kind on it. One guy was using an Alox mix. I'm going to try the carbon stuff whenever my wife leaves me along long enough to cast some 680 round ball.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Well, the polished ladle helped a lot with keeping the dross off. It didn't cling as badly and was able to be both wiped off with a rag easily and knocked off with tapping the ladle against my skim can.

  15. #15
    I cast some round ball over the weekend. The Frankford drop out stuff worked great. I made a video. When I have time to edit I'll show you guys.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Super sneaky, I'm looking forward to the vid.

    Bazoo, could you please describe your polishing process? Was that a cast iron ladle you worked on?

  17. #17
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    It is a Lyman ladle. Cast iron. When I bought it I ground off the little feet and the left handed conversion nub. I left the plug screw in that left handed nub, ground it off smooth and peened it to keep the threaded plug from screwing out.

    So to polish it, I used my dremel tool. I used a grinding wheel to remove all the texture from the casting process and then used sanding discs to smooth those grinding marks. Then a polishing wheel with green compound. I wire brushed the inside of the hole with a worn bore brush and then a mop loaded with compound spun in a drill. I used a scotchbrite sort of scrub head to do the inside but didn't polish it.

    If I'd had better metal working tools it would have been easier and faster.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks, Bazoo!

    It turns out I have the same tools you do, as well as a cast iron ladle that cruds up easily. One difference is that my ladle is a Rowell #5 that'll hold just about ten pounds when filled to the point that I daren't take a step with it. Maybe wire cup and nylon flap brushes on my drill are the way to go. Getting into the bottom pour channel might be a no go, but I'd settle for a clean bowl and exterior.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I've been pouring at lower temps lately, about 650 F. I preheat my molds well and the casting goes smoothly. I smelted 300 pounds of pure into ingots and never saw any yellow stuff.

  20. #20
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    Once a year I take my ladle to the wire brush side of my grinder. It keeps getting smoother and smoother.

    The last few years I have been rubbing a coat of thinned Lee Alox onto most of the outside. Let it warm up and cure hard as the pot comes up to melt.
    Then virtually nothing sticks.

    Cured Alox exposed to heat makes an almost enameled baked on coating that not much likes to stick to.

    And yes I have used it on sprue plates also with good success. I like to grab a small ball of 0000 steel wool, dampen it with BLL or thinned Alox. Work the dimples you pour into good then brush out the tops. Again I put mine on top of the pot to cure as the pot warms up.

    I even used it on a lead dripping ladle making lead shot. Once it cured the lead rolled down in nice little balls and dropped into the coolant to set.
    Worked well once it was up to temp.

    Had a few small strings get attached as I was getting started. Just grabbed a paint stick and cleaned them off.

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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