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Thread: Time spent melting and then casting?

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Time spent melting and then casting?

    I'm new to the forum and did not see this addressed in a FAQ - if the answer is there and I missed it, please send me a PM with a link and remove this post.

    I've been loading powder coated lead for pistol for almost 2 years now from various online vendors. Local indoor range has offered to sell range scrap at a very discounted price and about the same time, YouTube decided that I really want to watch casting videos. I'm about ready to jump in BUT how much time should I have in mind for melting/making ingots and then for casting the actual bullets (newbie - should I be using the alternate spelling here?). 2 hours chunks of time are very do-able, 3 hours not so much, and 4 hours + would be a rare luxury that I am not sure I would devote to casting.

    The first few times for each process with the associated learning curves don't count, what I am curious about is a year after I jump into the hobby, how much time will I be spending to melt (clean, flux, ingot-ize)... call it two 5 gallon buckets of range scrap and then later, how much time to cast hmm... call it 100 bullets (is that a reasonable production goal for a casting session?)

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Boolit Bub
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    I'll leave it to more experienced "smelters" to answer the amount of time to get 10 gals of lead into ingots.

    For boolit casting, your rate depends greatly on what mold you're using. A one-cavity vs. a 6-cavity there is no comparison in speed. 100 bullets is highly doable in less than an hour. Most of my casting sessions are 45-90 minutes. I use 2-cav, 4-cav and 6-cav molds. In about an hour I will do probably 200 bullets, and I'm rotating through several molds. Focusing your efforts exclusively on a 6-cav, or two, you could do many more.

    With gas heat your melt time will be low. I often light up the 10# Lee pot, go inside to change into casting clothes, and when I get back out the lead's nearly melted. I've found it's very practical to just do a quick casting session.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Melting scrap into ingots is going to depend on the heat source and setup. I use a wood fire pit and set the cast iron pot on hot embers, toss in some more wood and then come back half an hour later. It probably takes about an hour start to finish to melt down 40 pounds but that hour only includes 5 minutes of work.

    I donít recall ever timing myself but I know I could easily cast 500 bullets in an hour with a 6 cavity mold.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
    Huskerguy's Avatar
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    There are multiple variables in your questions. For the melting into ingots I assume you have an old turkey fryer that can put out some heat. I have one and an old plumbers pot that is much slower. How many ingot molds do you have? That can slow you down as well. I have 6 mostly full buckets of range scrap, nasty stuff, but good lead and free. I will do it all in a long, nice, cool and windy spring day. It wears me out but dragging all the stuff out is a lot of work as well.

    As for casting, as was said, number of cavities makes a huge difference. I usually try to fill my 20lb pot twice in a session, which is about all I want to do. So figure 18 or so lbs, 7,000 grains divided by the size of your bullet. I too, start melting my pot while I am doing something else. Once things are hot, get after it and pour like crazy.
    Last edited by Huskerguy; 01-24-2022 at 09:46 AM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    There is a search feature in the upper right hand corner of the page. Type in your question and see if your question is answered. Here is a link to re-melting range metal that might help you figure out what you need and the time you have to devote to the project.

    https://castboolits.gunloads.com/sho...0+pounds+scrap

  6. #6
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks for the responses so far. I was worried that casting would end up being an all-day affair. Seems like I can be productive in 2 hour blocks of time. Great. I'll keep reading as more posts come in, but I found the 182 page "From Ingot to Target" book in the FAQ and then will have to decide how much of my current vision for how all this works (based on YouTube so very much subject to change as I learn more) survives.

    I suspect questions about what type of casting pot to get and what a good 147 grain 9mm mold is have been repeatedly answered so as I lurk for a while and learn. Plus, my work is seasonal and busy season is almost upon us - April 19 may be the start date for my casting journey (gee 1 guess on what I do for a living with that clue )

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    For me, smelting scrap lead into ingots took quite a bit of time. I didn't have a very powerful burner so doing roughly ten pounds of scrap lead into ingots took nearly an hour. A more powerful burner and larger smelting pot would have made things MUCH quicker.
    I also purchased lead from an indoor range and use it quite successfully.
    I use a 20lb Lee pot for casting. When full, it takes about 25-30 minutes to get up to heat. Using a six cavity mold, I can crank out about 600-900 boolits per hour. A lot depends on the size of the boolit. Smaller calibers don't take as long for the mold to cool off and can be refilled quicker. Also smaller molds don't run through as much lead and therefore don't need to refill the pot as often. 200 grain 45ACP boolits only get 35 boolits per pound. You can run the pot out in less than an hour if things are going well.
    You will also need to consider time spent sizing and lubing the boolits. Powder coating is another method that requires time due to the curing process.
    For powder coating, you need to be there all during the process since the curing is timed. With a lubrisizer you can do it as you have time since there is not normally a warm up period(unless using hard lubes).

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    Processing scrap is limited by your ingot molds. With a turkey fryer burner I can melt the 60# that fits into my melting pot in about 10 minutes, it takes little time to fill the ingot molds and the bulk of time is spent waiting for lead to cool so you can dump the ingots out and refill the molds. If you have enough molds to empty your melting pot all at once it can be under 20 minutes to process and pour into ingots from a cold pot to a empty pot and full molds.

    For casting my primary match bullet I use 2 matched 8 cavity mounds in tandem and can cast out a 25# pot in about 45 minutes (around 1200 bullets).

    I use hi tec coating which takes about 80 minutes of bake time for two coats on a thousand (4 250 bullet batches for 10 minutes x2 coats) but it’s is all offline stuff that you can have going on while doing something else.

    Sizing I do on a star clone or a Lee APP that I feed with a mr bullet feeder and can do about 4000 a hour. I do this while baking another batch.

    From scrap to finished coated and sized bullets for the 60# that fits into my scrap processing pot (about 3000) I have about 5 hours total invested.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    For a shortcut on the number of molds issue, I use standard muffin pans. Full size has fewer ingots but a over a pound each, the mini muffin pans have make more ingots but a smaller size. The important thing is, they're cheap. You can get a half-dozen pans at the size you want for pretty cheap at walmart, and empty the pot in no time. When the pan is full you just have to let it sit until it's cool enough to turn over and dump out the lead. Then you can fill it again.

    They don't have to be nice pans, either. After all, you're going to fill them with lead. So a stack of cheap muffin pans stacks for easy storage, doesn't cost much, and will let you melt and empty a large pot in a short time.

    Sent from my Pixel 5a using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    It takes me an hour to melt and pour 150lbs of lead scrap or wheelweights into ingots. I can cast 500-750 bullets, depends on bullet weight, in 2 hours from loading the pot to finish. PC takes about an hour from coat to finish. Sizing 750 bullets takes about an hour. I load about 300 rounds on the Dillon in an hour.

    I usually do the cast, coat and size in an afternoon. Bullets are still fairly soft and don't put much stress on the sizer. Depends on the alloy and time after casting how hard they are.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy Iron369's Avatar
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    Idk what kind of ******** process people here try to sell you turning wheel weights into loaded bullets within an hour. If you arenít doing it for the pleasure of the process, youíre not going to be rewarded.
    On a small scale, you arenít going to compete with commercial production. Idc what anyone here says. Without thousands invested and lack of automation, you canít compete. You can produce what YOU need for YOUR firearm to achieve itís best performance based on what YOU do. DisclaimerÖ
    Your results may vary. My opinion usually is wrong; ask my wife.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy 414gates's Avatar
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    The most variable factor is the melting of the scrap, because it depends on what you're using to melt the scrap, and how much there is. A high pressure gas powered burner under a cast iron pan is much quicker than any electrical unit for processing scrap.

    I built a large gas powered melter that melts 300 pounds of scrap in one hour. It has a 600 pound capacity, but I've never done that much in one session.

    If all you have is a lee 10 lb pot, it's going to take all week to process your two buckets of scrap.

    The second factor is the pot you use to pour into moulds. I built a small one for bullet moulds that takes 40 minutes to get 40 pounds of ingots to pouring temperature.

    The small Lee pots work well enough for a few pounds of lead at a time - the smaller the pot the longer it takes to melt the ingots.

    100 bullets can be done in under one hour, depending if you use single, dual, quad or six cavity moulds. The more cavities in the mould, the less of one hour you will take.

    The third time factor comes in getting set up to cast. Unless you have a dedicated casting area, it takes some time to get all the equipment together in the designated area ready to begin smelting or casting.

    I devote a few days a year to casting bullets outdoors, when the weather turns cool and the wind picks up. It takes some time to assemble and move the setup outside and get all the bits and pieces on hand ready for use, so that stays in place for the couple of days I'm casting, then packed away again till the next year.

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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    Time spent melting and then casting?

    When processing range scrap (1/2 full 5 gallon bucket) Iím dedicating about 2 hours to melt it down into ingots (outdoors, turkey fryer and large cast iron pot). Keep the jackets and recycle them for $$$.

    Typical 10 pound pot to heat up and cast the entire pot while recycling the sprueís back into the pot Ö just about one hour. (Thatís with a 2 banger mold) ( much longer if Iím casting 95gr projectiles vs some 1oz slugs)


  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy Iron369's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TjB101 View Post
    When processing range scrap (1/2 full 5 gallon bucket) Iím dedicating about 2 hours to melt it down into ingots (outdoors, turkey fryer and large cast iron pot). Keep the jackets and recycle them for $$$.

    Typical 10 pound pot to heat up and cast the entire pot while recycling the sprueís back into the pot Ö just about one hour. (Thatís with a 2 banger mold) ( much longer if Iím casting 95gr projectiles vs some 1oz slugs)

    Thanks for being honest.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy Iron369's Avatar
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    I enjoy my time melting wheel weights into ingots then ingots into bullets. Idk how much time I spend. I do it because itís what I like to do.

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master

    Wayne Smith's Avatar
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    For bullet casting you can easily do it in a couple of hours - and that includes the time for the lead to melt.

    Smelting, or melting sourced lead into ingots, is another matter. It is more room and equipment intensive, and you should figure on dedicating a Saturday or day off to do it. You won't require all that time, but to be relaxed and enjoy the process you don't want to be rushed. Once you have done it a couple times you will get into a much more relaxed state and know how your process works. Having room to set up and a friend to help makes the process faster and much more enjoyable.
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Not sure who these guys are, but some of the replies are not realistic. 10 minutes to melt 60 pounds of scrap, seems impressive and it is. You won't do that and you won't have 600 useable boolits an hour after turn-on your pot. Set aside as much time as it takes to get the lead in to ingots, after that it is much easier to work for shorter time frames. You want to do this when your work ISN'T in its busy season. Good things generally aren't happening when you are racing around molten metal. You will become more effiecent with experience.
    Take a kid to the range, you'll both be glad you did.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master





    SSGOldfart's Avatar
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    You can't really put a time on art,as you have already seen/read.
    Casting is art and science mixed together, read on. And welcome to our world.
    Simper-Fi
    I started out with nothing and I still have most of it left.
    Paralyzed Veterans of America

    Looking for a Hensly &Gibbs #258 any thing from a two cavity to a 10cavity

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Your question is simple but not simply answered.

    On a separate topic, I had questions about how much effort it took to pump up a PCP air gun with a hand pump. That is a much easier question but got all sorts of answers. I went and found a couple of YouTube videos and that was educational.

    I smelted range scrap once but it was all lead bullets. If you have jacketed bullets in the mix it will take longer...I think a lot longer. So not easy to answer IMO.

    As to casting bullets...I figure about 80-100 bullets per cavity per hour. With a Master Caster about 350-400/hr with a 2 cavity mold.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  20. #20
    Boolit Master

    fivegunner's Avatar
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    Good post, I melt and mix my lead in a 350+ lbs johnson furance the one thats in my avatar , works great . but for me the real work is sorting out the lead wheelwights form Zink and steel ,It takes alot of time. I still have several 5 gallon buckets to make into Ingots. after I get them sorted out It will take me a full day to put them into nice Ingots. If I was Rich , I would just buy boolits And have more time for other thing`s in Life.

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