Casting round balls, thermometer needed?

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Huntinshep

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If you use a cast iron pot instead of one of those electric pots that controls the temperature should you use a thermometer to keep track of the temperature of the melted lead. Thanks for any suggestions.
 

Griz44Mag

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How many MILLIONS of balls were cast over a campfire or coal bed over the last 500 years?
They did not have thermometers....
The temperature of the lead is important, but not as important as many make it out to be.
It has to be hot enough to flow freely into a heated\hot mold, and cool enough to not frost over (for melt with some alloy in them)
If you get wrinkles, something is not hot enough.
If you get frost, something is too hot.
If you get a bad cast - throw it back in the pot - no big deal.
 

Tom A Hawk

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I have not found this to be necessary. Sometimes larger ball such as Minie's and 500 grain Sharps bullets need higher temperature. If the melt is hot enough such that the balls come out without wrinkles you should be good.
 

Dr5x

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If you use a cast iron pot instead of one of those electric pots that controls the temperature should you use a thermometer to keep track of the temperature of the melted lead. Thanks for any suggestions.
I used a cast iron pot and a dipper. To make certain I was getting lead that was evenly hot enough I would cast about 30 or 25 lead balls and set them aside to be returned to the pot later, and would proceed to cast a few hundred as fast as I could.This way the mold stayed an even heat throughout the serious casting during the weigh out of these balls would fonlya few light weights among them.
Those electric pots sound nice but Think all that higher tech equipment which must be pretty good is really necessary,.Dutch Schoultz
 

Dr5x

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I used a cast iron pot and a dipper. To make certain I was getting lead that was evenly hot enough I would cast about 30 or 25 lead balls and set them aside to be returned to the pot later, and would proceed to cast a few hundred as fast as I could.This way the mold stayed an even heat throughout the serious casting during the weigh out of these balls would fonlya few light weights among them.
Those electric pots sound nice but Think all that higher tech equipment which must be pretty good is really necessary,.
Dutch Schoultz
 

Eterry

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I see no need for a thermometer at all, unless your baking bread.
If the cast bullet is wrinkled, the lead/ mold are too cold. Frosted, too hot. Adapt and overcome.
 

longcruise

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I use a little laser gun thermometer. It probably doesn't record accurate temp, but once I'm getting the right results i check it and maintain that temperature.
 

Kansas Jake

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I don't use a thermometer and have cast round balls for 35 years. If you inspect for wrinkles and pin holes usually you will have good balls. If you really want to get same weights, weigh them and discard those outside a grain or so.
 

Rifleman1776

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If you get wrinkles, something is not hot enough.
If you get frost, something is too hot.
Wat Griz said is right on. I have never used a thermometer in 50+ years of casting. Personally, I want to see a little bit of frosting but if balls cast clean, no wrinkles I leave things alone and just cast.
 

mooman76

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Another way to tell is by how fast it cools on the sprue plate. Once you get started it should solidify in about 2'3 seconds after pouring. If it takes too long, turn the heat down some, it it cools too quick, turn up the heat.
 

tenngun

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How many MILLIONS of balls were cast over a campfire or coal bed over the last 500 years?
They did not have thermometers....
The temperature of the lead is important, but not as important as many make it out to be.
It has to be hot enough to flow freely into a heated\hot mold, and cool enough to not frost over (for melt with some alloy in them)
If you get wrinkles, something is not hot enough.
If you get frost, something is too hot.
If you get a bad cast - throw it back in the pot - no big deal.
I never have used a thermometer. Just use those same rules. Frosty turn down temp, wrinkled turn up temp.... but I’ve only cast ball never conicals.
Any more I use a Callahan bag mold and run about ten at a time then let it rest a bit. Slows down my casting a bit but not that I notice. Running ball is almost as much fun as shooting... almost.
 

dave951

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For round balls, not really needed, just know the signs of a decent cast ball. For minies, probably a good idea since you have to run the pot quite a bit hotter to get consistent quality.
 

longcruise

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Another way to tell is by how fast it cools on the sprue plate. Once you get started it should solidify in about 2'3 seconds after pouring. If it takes too long, turn the heat down some, it it cools too quick, turn up the heat.
That's how I did it for years and got good results too.
 

Scota@4570

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It depends on your standards of the finished product. Since I already have multiple furnaces and a thermometer I use them. I like getting a high percentage of good balls or bullets. When I cast I do hundreds at a time. Having the best tools helps. I also cast bullets on the kitchen stove as a kid with no dedicated tools other than the bullet mold. Need? No. Good to have, yes.
 

EC121

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Because I was an instrument/ electrical tech in another life, I use a 1000deg. bimetal type thermometer. It just makes me feel better to know the temp. I just stand it in the pot and pour away. When the temp starts rising, I add more lead.
 

mooman76

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A thermometer can be a good tool to have, I don't have one myself. I thought about getting one but I have been casting too many years without so I just figured if I did without this long why bother. Like I said though good tool to have but I have seen new casters get caught up in what the thermometer says too much. Their thought was if I cast at xxx temp then that's the right temp for all casting.

There are other factors to consider. Different moulds may cast better at a different temp, the speed at which you cast, type of metal the mould is made of, the size of you casting. A small RB mould takes longer to get up to temp than a large RB and also is a little harder to keep up to temp so hotter lead may be needed. If you are slow caster and fuss around too much, the mould needs hotter lead to keep temp up. Pure lead also needs to be hotter than even slightly alloyed lead to cast well and I have never bottom poured but I believe I have heard it needs less heat. Also as your pot goes down with less lead it needs less heat to keep the lead the same temp. I like to keep my pot level high when I can.
 

Kansas Jake

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Good points mooman76. I will add, I cast outdoors under a garage overhang. Thinks like the outside temperature and amount of wind and probably the humidity effect the temperature needed to cast good balls. Those things also effect the speed of my casting. I usually watch how long the puddle on the sprue needs to set up to pace my casting. One can add to the the amount of lead in the pot and as you mentioned the size of the ball or bullet.
 

sawyer04

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Back in the day I cast lead balls on a wood stove, now, I am wondering how I didn't contact lead poisoning.
 

tenngun

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Because the carcinogens from the wood stove protects one from lead poisoning, but it only works for ML projects.
After shooting ML the smoke that’s inhaled sets up a chemical reaction in the blood stream that protects us when doing ml related things.
 
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