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Thread: Has anyone ever had any luck with a Lee aluminum mold?

  1. #41
    Boolit Master RKJ's Avatar
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    You might get a hot plate and heat your molds on it. I kept getting wrinkles until I started using one, it made a world of difference.

  2. #42
    Boolit Bub

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    An old trick I use for cleaning different things that need to be scrapped. I grab an extra set of chop sticks. The bamboo sticks are tough and can be shaped to fit the job with out scratching the surfaces. GW PS Am a cheap #$%

  3. #43
    Post a picture of the reject bullets. The more experienced casters here can tell right away what's not right.

  4. #44
    Boolit Buddy AlHunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rickf1985 View Post
    I cleaned the mold several times during the session with brake cleaner
    Chlorinated brake parts cleaner leaves a residue. Non Chlorinated only.

    If you doubt me, squirt some of the regular stuff on your fingers and rub them together. You'll feel it.

  5. #45
    Boolit Buddy
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    I don't think you can even buy chlorinated brake cleaner anymore but I assure you it does not leave a residue. 50 years as a mechanic and I would know for sure if I sprayed cleaner in a drum or rotor and then put the shoes/pads on and they glazed over that there was something left over that should not have been there. And those companies would have gone out of business very quickly! What you feel on your fingers is your skin reacting to the chemicals! You are not supposed to get it on your skin. Yes, we all did it and I am sure we will all pay for it. Many of my mechanic friends have died from skin cancers, not to mention mesothelioma from brake dust. Now, carburetor cleanor CAN have other chemicals in it that leave residues. Mostly top cylinder lubes

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rickf1985 View Post
    One thing I have found is also the issue with lubing the sprue plate contaminating the cavities. No matter how light I go it ends up in there. I have tried beeswax, 2 stroke oil, candle wax. All gave me issues and I ended up spraying it down and starting over. Lee also recommends using never seize as a lube, I have tons of it as I am a mechanic but I hate using it as it gets on everything. In saying that I can picture it getting all over the mold. Has anyone tried it? And what do you use?
    full synth 2 stroke oil.
    Using q-tip ...one drop of oil... rub q-tip on the HOT sprue plate, and not on the mold. The volatiles will smoke off instantly, leaving just a residue that will not run into cavities. During casting, you may need to reapply (rub q-tip on plate), you know if this is necessary if there is slight alloy buildup on plate.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rickf1985 View Post
    Well, This is an interesting thread. If you read the thread from start to finish you will see that obviously I am not the only one that has issues with these molds. The interesting part is that the solutions cover the entire range of what some say to do and some say to never do. Some people say to use brake cleaner and some say to never use it, but both of those people are having success. Some say oil and some say wax for lube and no for the other but both are having success. Some say smoke and some say never. See what I am saying here? It seems like everyone had problems and kept trying until something worked for them, even if it did not work for someone else.
    I am open to all suggestions but I will tell you that of all the suggestions mentioned so far I have tried 98% of them. I am not new to casting, been doing it off and on for 50 plus years. And I thought about the zinc but first off I have had the alloy tested and no zinc. plus when I melt down my wheel weights I do it very slowly with a thermometer in the pot and as soon as they are barely melted at about 600-650 I scoop out the clips and anything else floating. I have caught one or two zincs but I am pretty efficient at pre sorting. But zinc melts at 750 plus so I am nowhere near melting in a zinc at 600-650. And as I have said several times, all my steel molds are producing perfect bullets at the same temps with the same alloy and the same pour methods. I don't think I mentioned pour methods, I am using both bottom pour and ladle. Basically I am trying anything and everything to try to find the sweet spot. And yes, I have also put the mold right against the spout on the bottom pour pot. I think that was what plugged up the mold.
    This is so true. many ways to skin a cat.
    There are a few other members here that only cast with Iron molds, so if you never get the hang of casting with Lee molds, you won't be alone.
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  8. #48
    Boolit Master
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    i cast with lee molds 223/308 several /357/45-70 all work fine for me .did have one mold that cast boolits fine except 2 thou undersize ,gave it to a friend who wanted an undersize mold as he is powder coating his boolits

  9. #49
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    I bet the folks at Lee read this and are quite entertained by all the gyrations we go through instead of following the simple directions packed with each mold.
    Last edited by Tar Heel; 12-03-2021 at 06:25 AM.
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  10. #50
    Boolit Buddy AlHunt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rickf1985 View Post
    The interesting part is that the solutions cover the entire range of what some say to do and some say to never do.
    All that means is that Lee molds tolerate a wide avenue of operating conditions and methods

    However, with lead in the vent lines, you ran that one way too hot and may have baked in some kind of contaminant. The mold can probably still be recovered. It's just a lot of work.

    Check to see if you warped it before you spend a lot of time trying to fix it.

  11. #51
    Boolit Master
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    Are you pouring bottom pour pot?
    Ladle casting?
    Is there residue in bottom of the pot?

  12. #52
    Boolit Grand Master OS OK's Avatar
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    "Geez....whatt'a read this thread, it leaves me shaking my head in disbelief!"

    I'll give it to'Ya straight up, how to make things work...every time, any mould ... steel, brass or aluminum.

    CLEANING...Pert'near any solvent will dissolve oils on the surface but oils get into the micro-pores of the mould metal. If you want clean, boil it.
    Bring it to a rolling boil for 10 minutes with with a dab of Dawn in the pot. Do this two times.
    I disassemble my moulds so I get the oil out of every place including screw threads & threaded holes.



    When you pour the top 1/3 of the water off, put it under the faucet and replace the water on the opposite side of the pan as you pour...keeps the oils on top of the soapy water and going over the edge and out.

    After boiling two times, boil a third time in fresh water only...now you will have 100% of that pesky oil out of any part of the mould.



    DRY THE MOULD...sit it in the bright sunlight or on the wood burner stove, anywhere it'll heat up to 150º or so and allow it ample time to dry completely. Since I'm in the kitchen using the wife's stove already I dry moulds in the oven at 325ºƒ, they dry pretty quickly, even in the screw holes.





    Yeah, I know...I can already hear the whinning about all the time & work involved. If this is already too much for you or anyone else, just disregard this post and move on.

    Now...if you have stuck with this...LUBE IT WITH ANTI SEIZE.
    Use a q-tip or swab and use it sparingly...don't glob it on, a little goes forever. Anti Seize is made to use in very high temperature applications, it doesn't burn off part of it's ingredients and leave a thick or carbonized scum behind. It just stays there doing it's job 2 or 3 times longer than any other lube I ever tried to use.
    Other oil type lubes get hot and get thin and meander all over the mould, eventually they get over in a cavity and your casting just irons them into the pores of the metal again.
    Put it on threads of the screws, put it on the underside of the sprue plate & rub it in until you can't even see it or feel it anymore (rub with a clean cloth and try to rub it all off...it will remain in the pores of the sprue plate). Dont get any in the fill holes of the other side of the plate.
    Put it on the edges of your tongs that come in contact with the mould so that the aluminum does not gaul on the steel tongs. The mould halves need to swing on the tong easily so that they come together without effort (align)...otherwise the pins will bang up the edges of the female side of the mating holes and eventually make the mould halves not come together perfectly, you will start seeing light through the mould.



    If your sprue plate is not sharp, place it on a 400 or 600 grit sand paper on a piece of glass or granite or something dead flat and smooth...put your fingers in the fill holes and sand lightly in circles until the entire underside of the plate is shiny around each of the sprue holes, that sharpens them.



    REASSEMBLE...Your mould is spic & span clean & lubed properly & ready to cast like a house-a-fire.

    PREHEAT THE MOULD...any way you want to, I suggest a hot plate oven with a BBQ thermometer in the topside so you know how hot the mould is preheated. I suggedst 300 ~ 400ºƒ...usually the mould will cast perfect cast within 2 fills & throws, many times on the first fill.

    CADENCE...I think you already know about this but with aluminum being such a great metal to transfer heat, I sit my filled mould down on the base of my pot to allow the heat to run out of the mould for about 3 or 4 seconds. That'll keep it cool. You can get a piect of scrap metal or better yet a chunk of aluminum to sit it on and the heat will fly out of the mould. Now you can pick your cadence up without overheating and casting small casts.



    This little single cavity Ideal will fit just under the edge of my mould guide and sit there without falling off but I place larger moulds over on the base of the Lee 10 pound pot to cool.

    That's about all I have to say in addressing your wrinkles and oil problem and I might add that I cast at 700ºƒ, sometimes 25º hotter in the winter when the shop is cold. I can still overheat the mould if I go too fast even at this low end casting temperature.

    charlie
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  13. #53
    Boolit Buddy
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    Excellent write up. Is that mold knocker a piece of dowel with a piece of PVC pipe on it?

  14. #54
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tar Heel View Post
    I bet the folks at Lee read this and are quite entertained by all the gyrations we go through instead of following the simple directions packed with each mold.
    This kind of tickled me. I actually read the directions that came with the Lee molds and they were spot on. When in doubt read the directions.
    Britons shall never be slaves.

  15. #55
    Boolit Buddy
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    I read the directions for the 9mm and got perfect boolits from it but they are small, smooth boolits. I also got a 311-041 mold and I did the exact same thing and I have never, ever gotten good bullets from that mold. I found a ton of flash at the parting line of every cavity so all the boolits were sticking in the mold. The boolits just look like crap even if I get rid of the wrinkles. They look dirty even though the lead is spotless. The same batch of lead makes perfect boolits in other molds at the same time. This, and the mold I am working with right now, the 452-255, are the main reason for this thread. I should say that I bought a 2 cavity 45 cal aluminum Lee mold that makes perfect boolits........ But it fell apart! One of the newer style molds where the handles are part of the mold. Super cheap construction. Thin handles with a steel pin in an aluminum block that gets heated and cooled constantly. Did they really expect those pins to stay in there for very long? Since I bought it second hand there is no warranty, "Send it in and we will fix it or give you a new one at half price". Better than nothing I guess. Any of the other mold companies would give you a new mold in a heartbeat if their mold failed. Then again, you get what you pay for.

  16. #56
    Boolit Grand Master OS OK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rickf1985 View Post
    Excellent write up. Is that mold knocker a piece of dowel with a piece of PVC pipe on it?
    Yes it is, also has about 600 grains of lead poured in a hole at the end.
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  17. #57
    Boolit Buddy
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    I love my Lee molds so much that I sold almost all the others.

  18. #58
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by OS OK View Post
    Yes it is, also has about 600 grains of lead poured in a hole at the end.
    I am stealing your idea! I have been looking for a decent knocker and I certainly was not going to buy one.

  19. #59
    Boolit Grand Master OS OK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rickf1985 View Post
    I am stealing your idea! I have been looking for a decent knocker and I certainly was not going to buy one.
    The neet part is that you can give the sprue plate a light tap with a little inertia in the whacker and you don’t need to hit hard, especially on multi cavity Moulds where you let it sit a little too long and it got good’en hard.
    a m e r i c a n p r a v d a

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  20. #60
    Boolit Buddy
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    Well THIS is interesting. I was looking around for info on one of my Lee molds that the pin that holds the mold to the handle fell out of and I came across this from Lee. This sort of goes against everything I have been hearing about how you are supposed to run Lee aluminum molds hot. Which is also what I have found, at 450 it is going to be wrinkle city. And I thought you were SUPPOSED to set it on the pot and also according to my instructions on the last mold I got which I JUST read yesterday they tell you to dip the corner of the mold IN THE LEAD until it is hot!!!!! And if I am casting steadily with 750 degree lead that mold will get over 450 real damn fast!!!! And it will stay there the whole time I am casting. Guess I have destroyed that mold huh? Well, it is one of the few Lee molds that gives me good bullets, up till the pin fell out. I will stake the pin back in and continue to destroy the mold I guess.

    The maximum operating temperature should be limited to 400 degrees with the absolute maximum of 450 degrees, for a maximum of 30 minutes. At 450 degrees the pins will turn a pale straw-yellow. Any temperature above this will excessively reduce the tensile strength of the aluminum block by annealing. Once this overheating occurs, the only option is to send it in for replacement.

    The aluminum molds will not overheat by simply casting but can be overheated by preheating with a hot plate, torch, setting on top of the pot to heat up or immersing in molten alloy for an excessive amount of time.

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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
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