Ask help to cast my first round balls

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marco

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Dear sirs,

I have never casted a round ball.
I do want to make small batches in my backyard (using a mask, etc). Let's say, 50 round balls.

I don't want to buy a electric pot melter.
I do want to use a small iron pot over a propane flame.
I already have a Lyman type lead ladler and the bullet mold.

And I have some lead bullets collected from the shooting range to melt.

But I do not have any experience.

Would you guys point me the correct direction so I can cast some round balls with minimum problems?

QUESTIONS
Did I need anything else?
I see some people using lingot pans..is it necessary?
what would be the best size and shape of a small iron pot to use along with a Lyman ladler?

I am thinking to buy this pot (not affiliated):


Does it fill my needs?

Thanks a lot
 

Jaeger

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First: wear gloves and eye protection when casting balls. Create your set-up so that you can SIT while you are doing this. If possible, sitting on the concrete floor of a garage (well-ventilated) works well. Watch this YouTube video and others to see how it's done. Using a small iron ladle with pouring spouts is okay until you buy and electric pot. That's how I started, and it works well if you are careful handling the ladle. By the way, I use a stout wooden dowel or a sawed-off hammer handle to knock the sprue cutter back with each casting.
 
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personally i would not sit on the floor while casting. this would put my boys in direct line of any spills and useless as they are anymore, i am quite fond of them as they are! jm2cents
all the rest of the above advice is great.
the other thing i must stress is have NO liquid (water, soda, beer etc.)close to your pot of molten lead. introduce the two and you will have a miniature volcanic eruption.
the reclaimed bullet lead is mixed alloy and not the optimum for round ball. but it will get you into the learning curve needed for casting.
best of luck and be safe.
 

flntlokr

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Dear sirs,

I have never casted a round ball.
I do want to make small batches in my backyard (using a mask, etc). Let's say, 50 round balls.

I don't want to buy a electric pot melter.
I do want to use a small iron pot over a propane flame.
I already have a Lyman type lead ladler and the bullet mold.

And I have some lead bullets collected from the shooting range to melt.

But I do not have any experience.

Would you guys point me the correct direction so I can cast some round balls with minimum problems?

QUESTIONS
Did I need anything else?
I see some people using lingot pans..is it necessary?
what would be the best size and shape of a small iron pot to use along with a Lyman ladler?

I am thinking to buy this pot (not affiliated):


Does it fill my needs?

Thanks a lot
No need for any kind of special pot. I used a small ss kitchen pot for years, and dipped lead with a bent-up tablespoon. You will need some sort of flux to clean your lead when it melts. I use bits of paraffin (candles) or beeswax, or one of the commercial fluxes available. (melt the lead, skim off the crap that floats to the surface, then mix in a pea-sized chunk of wax, and stir it in. It will usually burst into flame. Wait until it stops burning and skim the impurities again. Place a corner of your mold block in the molten lead for a couple of minutes to heat it up, then dip some lead and fill the mold in one pour, leaving some over-pour on the top (a pool of over-pour helps prevent air spaces in your cast balls resulting from the contraction of the lead in the mold sucking in air as it cools.) wait until the over-pour has set, and look for a small dimple in the surface (may not always be there) knock the sprue cutter away with a wooden dowel, open the mold, allow the ball to fall out. (you may have to tap the mold gently on the hinge to shake it out). If the ball is wrinkly, your lead or mold is too cold. (cast a few more to heat it up) If the ball is frosty looking, your lead is too hot (won't affect your shooting, but let the lead cool off a bit). I always let the cut-off sprue fall back into the melting pot. This is all a lot easier and safer if you just put out the few bucks and buy an electric pot. BE CAREFUL!! Not a bad idea to find someone experienced to help you get started.
 
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I use a coleman stove and an old iron pot to cast.
Read what the members above me posted and read it twice. Take this serious. Use thick gloves and face protection.

Here are a string of my posts when I was first learning. The fellas here really helped me learn the skill. Now when I cast bullets and roundball I am rather surprised to see a reject rate of higher than 1 per 20 casts


 
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This is why you ALWAYS wear face protection. When I cast I always wear this mask. As I can't see up close with my glasses on this little splat of lead would have landed right in the corner of my eye. This was the last time I cast, never had it happen before. I consider myself a skilled hobbyist at my current level of ability doing this. If I can have a mistake like this happen a rookie damn sure can.


PXL_20221004_174856137.MP.jpg
 
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This is what I use on a camp stove outdoors. But if there is a cool/cold breeze blowing I have a hard time keeping the temperature hot enough.
i always wrap the lower portion of the pot with a skirt of tinfoil or whatever they call it nowadays, with the skirt surrounding my burner.
that is if i am using open flame for casting. have gotten so lazy i have 2 lee electric pots , one for pure lead for muzzleloading and one with alloy for the other stuff.

Marco, i cannot stress enough that your molds be moisture free!
i was casting years ago and had a mold on the back porch. the night had been foggy. i dropped a dipper full of lead into that mold and it went off with the report of a 30-06! lead all over me, the kitchen counter, the ceiling, and even some through into the living room on the curtains! wife came home while i was franticly cleaning. she just stood there and pointed out the back door! was cold sleeping in my gunshop.
 
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TDM

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It may have already been mentioned above, but a very important first step is preheating your mold. Place it close to your flame or heat source and let warm up thoroughly. And plan to dump your first few batches of balls back in the mix. The mold needs to be hot to prevent voids from forming in the balls.
 
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Dear sirs,

I have never casted a round ball.
I do want to make small batches in my backyard (using a mask, etc). Let's say, 50 round balls.

I don't want to buy a electric pot melter.
I do want to use a small iron pot over a propane flame.
I already have a Lyman type lead ladler and the bullet mold.

And I have some lead bullets collected from the shooting range to melt.

But I do not have any experience.

Would you guys point me the correct direction so I can cast some round balls with minimum problems?

QUESTIONS
Did I need anything else?
I see some people using lingot pans..is it necessary?
what would be the best size and shape of a small iron pot to use along with a Lyman ladler?

I am thinking to buy this pot (not affiliated):


Does it fill my needs?

Thanks a lot
I'll try and share my limited experience with casting since I just started doing some of my own round balls and it went pretty well. I learned a lot and finally figured it out for the most part, but I am not an expert so take what I share with a grain of salt. Here is what I use for my setup. A propane camp stove, an old cast iron pan I picked up at the local flea market for $5, a cast iron ladle (not pictured), and an old towel. I prepped the molds (not pictured) by cleaning them with alcohol and then I blackened the molds using a butane lighter, then put a dab of anti-seize lube on the sprue cutter and the steel mating surfaces where the mold comes together. Your mold should have come with directions for all this. It took what seemed like forever for the first ingots to melt, then the rest melted reasonably fast, I leaned my molds against the pot while melting the lead to try and get them up to the heat level they needed to be to prevent wrinkles in the balls. It worked ok, but I still had several wrinkled balls in the beginning. I used an old screwdriver to tap on the molds when they stuck, don't hit the molds themselves. I cut the sprues above the pot so they just fell back in to be melted again and opened the mold above the towel so the balls dropped free. Once the molds get hot enough you can really rock and roll with spitting them out fast. I wore safety glasses and leather boots (pants legs on the outside of the boots) and used one of my leather welding gloves on my left hand which handled the mold handles because it got kinda warm on my left hand.
Dear sirs,

I have never casted a round ball.
I do want to make small batches in my backyard (using a mask, etc). Let's say, 50 round balls.

I don't want to buy a electric pot melter.
I do want to use a small iron pot over a propane flame.
I already have a Lyman type lead ladler and the bullet mold.

And I have some lead bullets collected from the shooting range to melt.

But I do not have any experience.

Would you guys point me the correct direction so I can cast some round balls with minimum problems?

QUESTIONS
Did I need anything else?
I see some people using lingot pans..is it necessary?
what would be the best size and shape of a small iron pot to use along with a Lyman ladler?

I am thinking to buy this pot (not affiliated):


Does it fill my needs?

Thanks a lot

It may have already been mentioned above, but a very important first step is preheating your mold. Place it close to your flame or heat source and let warm up thoroughly. And plan to dump your first few batches of balls back in the mix. The mold needs to be hot to prevent voids from forming in the balls.

Dear sirs,

I have never casted a round ball.
I do want to make small batches in my backyard (using a mask, etc). Let's say, 50 round balls.

I don't want to buy a electric pot melter.
I do want to use a small iron pot over a propane flame.
I already have a Lyman type lead ladler and the bullet mold.

And I have some lead bullets collected from the shooting range to melt.

But I do not have any experience.

Would you guys point me the correct direction so I can cast some round balls with minimum problems?

QUESTIONS
Did I need anything else?
I see some people using lingot pans..is it necessary?
what would be the best size and shape of a small iron pot to use along with a Lyman ladler?

I am thinking to buy this pot (not affiliated):


Does it fill my needs?

Thanks a lot
You don't need to spend a bunch of money for a melting pot. I bought this used cast iron pot at a flea market for $5 and it works great. It may be a little big for small batches, but I generally cast around 500 at a time and it works great. Like others have mentioned, be prepared to cull the first 5 or 6 casts unless you warm up the molds really well. I've included a picture of the bad versus good cast. I put plastic wrap on my pot to keep debris out of it when in storage. The dept is almost 3 inches and the diameter is 9 inches. Wear leather boots when casting because sometimes lead escapes the laddel or splashes.
 

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TDM

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Dear sirs,

I have never casted a round ball.
I do want to make small batches in my backyard (using a mask, etc). Let's say, 50 round balls.

I don't want to buy a electric pot melter.
I do want to use a small iron pot over a propane flame.
I already have a Lyman type lead ladler and the bullet mold.

And I have some lead bullets collected from the shooting range to melt.

But I do not have any experience.

Would you guys point me the correct direction so I can cast some round balls with minimum problems?

QUESTIONS
Did I need anything else?
I see some people using lingot pans..is it necessary?
what would be the best size and shape of a small iron pot to use along with a Lyman ladler?

I am thinking to buy this pot (not affiliated):


Does it fill my needs?

Thanks a lot
Scott has laid it out very well for you.
 

Notchy Bob

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You have gotten lots of good advice about safety, as well as technique. I can't add much.

I will say that I prefer to cast outdoors, standing up. I use an iron pot on a camp stove set on a utility or picnic table in the back yard. I use a cast iron pot from Lee Precision. I think Lee has discontinued these, but Lyman and RCBS still make them. As noted, there are all sorts of heavy pots you can use, but I like the dedicated, purpose-built lead melting pot because it has a wide, flat bottom to prevent tipping, a bail, a pour spout, and a lip opposite the pour spout that you can grab with pliers to facilitate pouring your leftover lead into an ingot mould or whatever.

I also use a Lyman dipper. I found that when the two halves of the cast iron dipper head were joined, the pour hole in the spout was out of round, and I thought it was too small. So, I drilled mine out to 13/64". If you do likewise, start with a smaller bit and work your way up gradually. The larger, round hole provides a faster, more even pour.

By all means, use your salvaged lead for starting out. However, as one of the fellows said, "range lead" is typically some form of alloy. Balls cast from this lead usually work fine in smoothbores, but may be a bit harder to load than pure lead balls in your rifle. The harder material is more resistant to forming to the patch and your bore, and harder alloys also tend to drop out of the mould slightly oversized. For example, I have a .600" round ball mould that drops .603" balls when using scrounged range lead. Most round ball moulds are intended for casting pure lead, which will drop out of the mould more easily and will more likely be true to size. For patched round balls, you'll want to eventually get some pure lead.

You don't need a lot of elaborate equipment just to cast a few balls, and I would like to commend you for your initiative. I like to read the nonfiction literature of the early 19th century, and there are plenty of accounts of people casting bullets, or "running ball," with just a ladle (which did double duty for melting and pouring), a mould, and a campfire. One fellow (John Kirk Townsend) even described using an old spoon as a ladle.

Let us know how it comes out.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

SwanShot

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No need for any kind of special pot. I used a small ss kitchen pot for years, and dipped lead with a bent-up tablespoon. You will need some sort of flux to clean your lead when it melts. I use bits of paraffin (candles) or beeswax, or one of the commercial fluxes available. (melt the lead, skim off the crap that floats to the surface, then mix in a pea-sized chunk of wax, and stir it in. It will usually burst into flame. Wait until it stops burning and skim the impurities again. Place a corner of your mold block in the molten lead for a couple of minutes to heat it up, then dip some lead and fill the mold in one pour, leaving some over-pour on the top (a pool of over-pour helps prevent air spaces in your cast balls resulting from the contraction of the lead in the mold sucking in air as it cools.) wait until the over-pour has set, and look for a small dimple in the surface (may not always be there) knock the sprue cutter away with a wooden dowel, open the mold, allow the ball to fall out. (you may have to tap the mold gently on the hinge to shake it out). If the ball is wrinkly, your lead or mold is too cold. (cast a few more to heat it up) If the ball is frosty looking, your lead is too hot (won't affect your shooting, but let the lead cool off a bit). I always let the cut-off sprue fall back into the melting pot. This is all a lot easier and safer if you just put out the few bucks and buy an electric pot. BE CAREFUL!! Not a bad idea to find someone experienced to help you get started.
 

kyron4

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personally i would not sit on the floor while casting. this would put my boys in direct line of any spills and useless as they are anymore, i am quite fond of them as they are! jm2cents
all the rest of the above advice is great.
the other thing i must stress is have NO liquid (water, soda, beer etc.)close to your pot of molten lead. introduce the two and you will have a miniature volcanic eruption.
the reclaimed bullet lead is mixed alloy and not the optimum for round ball. but it will get you into the learning curve needed for casting.
best of luck and be safe.
Does the fingernail test apply ? I ask because I often melt down a mix of bullets from my berm . 9mm , 38, 44, etc. I pour then into small 1 oz. "pucks" to use for casting. I test with my thumb nail and if it leaves a mark I consider it good to go , whether 100% pure or not I don't know. What are your thoughts ? -Thanks
 
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