Casting round balls

Discussion in 'Shooting Accessories' started by Huntinshep, Dec 2, 2019 at 5:08 PM.

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  1. Dec 2, 2019 at 5:08 PM #1

    Huntinshep

    Huntinshep

    Huntinshep

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    I have never worked with casting lead round balls and am thinking about trying to make my own instead of purchasing them. Wondering about what devices to buy as well as finding reliable sources for soft lead. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks for your help.
     
  2. Dec 2, 2019 at 5:18 PM #2

    curator

    curator

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    Huntinshep: You can get started very economically with a Lee 2-cavity mold and their 4 pound electric lead melter. You can make a small ladle to pour the melted lead. Home cast balls can be much superior in quality to what is available commercially. Pure lead is available from plumbing supply houses, or Rotometals. Expect to pay about $2 per pound. A lead thermometer is a valuable addition as most beginners cast at too low or too high of a temperature. Do some research on this and other muzzle loading forums and you will see many different ways others are successful casing their own. There is a bit of a learning curve, so your first efforts might not be all that great but observation and experience will help you refine your skill.
     
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  3. Dec 2, 2019 at 6:11 PM #3

    Erwan

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    If you can't find lead by a plumber or other buy a Rolled blade of lead for roof repairs, thing that you can found in DIY stores...
    For round balls you don't need any thermometer and if you are using an electrical lead pot LEE just put it at the number 9 till the lead is liquid, then you put the button on the number 3 or 4 and cast the bullets regularly. When the bullets are brilliant and without defaults save keep them: they are good...
    In this way of doing you can't get a different weight between bullets that will exceeding 2gr for .45 caliber.... ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019 at 6:23 PM
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  4. Dec 2, 2019 at 7:04 PM #4

    Ames

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    The horned toad says we should go to Mexico.
    Here in the states new rolled lead flashing is way too much by the lb.
    Get 10 lbs of pure lead from Rotometals and you should be good for a few hundred balls.
     
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  5. Dec 2, 2019 at 8:43 PM #5

    Enfield58

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    I stop casting round balls a long time ago. The only exception is for the round balls that are sixty caliber to be used in the Howdah pistol and 20 gauge shotgun.

    When you look at your time and compare the quality of a swagged round ball to a cast round ball, you might find it just as cost effective to buy them instead of making them.

    I've bought almost 4,000 round balls in .440 diameter for my rifle and pistols. That will last me a very long time and I probably won't ever cast them in that diameter. I can now devote my time to more shooting rather than casting.
     
  6. Dec 2, 2019 at 9:28 PM #6

    jrmflintlock

    jrmflintlock

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    I have been casting ball for over 20 years. I still use a cast iron pot a fire/burner and a lee dipper. I have bag molds and Lee molds. That is all you need. Want is a whole other matter.

    roto metals and sometimes Midway USA for lead. Some say pure others argue alloy.
    I shoot wheel weights. And never had a critter or target complain it was too hard or not accurate enough.
    Good luck!! Have fun! That’s what it’s all about!
     
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  7. Dec 2, 2019 at 10:25 PM #7

    Bassdog1

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    I am fairly new to casting and already prefer my own over swaged. A lead pot,ladle, some soft lead and a set of dies in your preferred diameter. If you know what size ball your barrel shoots best that helps when ordering dies. My 32s shoot .315 balls better than .310 and in a few hours casting I can pour enough for several months worth of shooting. Cast when it is warm enough outside to have some good ventilation, when you can cast nonstop for a while and wear safety glasses, gloves, long pants and some old leather boots or shoes if you have a pair. I have found smaller calibers to be a little harder than the bigger to cast. But once I got into it I learned some tricks pretty quickly.
     
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  8. Dec 3, 2019 at 12:50 PM #8

    Griz44Mag

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    IMHO - Casting IS part of the experience. I enjoy the time I spend casting and readily offer to share my time casting with others who do or want to cast for themselves. I will not cast for others, but anyone can ask and come over - I will share my pots and molds. I have been known to pick up molds at garage sales or flea markets that I don't have a gun for, then look for the gun to fit the mold. It's part of the hobby and is very enjoyable.
    Pure lead is always for sale on E-Bay, do your shopping and will usually find it for less that 2 bucks with free shipping (in quantity)
     
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  9. Dec 3, 2019 at 9:19 PM #9

    Ames

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    The horned toad says we should go to Mexico.
    Yeah. That's what I thought too. I was very surprised at my range test this fall. Compared round ball in 2 sizes for my 45 flintlock. Changed powder loads. Changed lubes. Changed patch thickness. Saved the targets to read like a book.
    The swaged preformed the worst. Sorry, but that's what I got. And they were my go to balls. No more.
    As far as time to cast them? Not in the equation. I cast in my free time and it only takes away from smoking a cigar with a stout on my front porch.
    And the cost of lead is minimalized as I save my target loads from my own range and melt them down again. I have enough for over 6K round ball 45's and will never have to buy lead again. A few pounds here and a few pounds there. Next thing you know you have hundreds an will be hooked on casting your own.;)
     
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  10. Dec 3, 2019 at 9:25 PM #10

    longcruise

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    Now that's downright genius right there. :)
     
  11. Dec 4, 2019 at 12:14 AM #11

    Griz44Mag

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    CAUSE ---> EFFECT
    My wife is yet to understand........... But she knows it makes me happy.
     
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  12. Dec 4, 2019 at 12:15 AM #12

    Kansas Jake

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    I used a camp stove, steel sauce pan and a gravy ladle to start casting before I got better stuff. Still use Lee molds. Just be safe. And you don’t need a bunch of fancying stuff.
     
  13. Dec 4, 2019 at 4:56 AM #13

    Nessmuck56

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    Get a lee pot..some lead...and a mold... E72BE7F4-BE13-4399-B630-37D38F724F2A.jpeg
     
  14. Dec 4, 2019 at 4:42 PM #14

    Rifleman1776

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    Much agree. And it is a relaxing avocation in itself. Free lead used to be readily available but that has come to an end in recent years. Paying $2.00 a pound for lead seem almost sinful. :(
     
  15. Dec 4, 2019 at 4:54 PM #15

    Zonie

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    All you need is a pot to melt the lead in, a stove to heat the pot, a steel dipper with some sort of heat proof handle on it, some lead and the bullet mold.
    I used a Coleman white gas camp stove along with a cast iron pot and a heavy ladle I found at a Salvation Army store when I started casting and they worked great.

    I must mention that you should NEVER use an aluminum pot to melt the lead in.
    Although the melting temperature of aluminum is 500 degrees F hotter than the melting point of lead, aluminum looses almost all of its strength when it gets up to the temperature that lead melts at.
    That means, the pot can look just fine but just touching it with a ladle or moving it on the stove can cause the entire bottom of the pan to fall apart. There have been cases where the aluminum pot wasn't even touched and just the weight of the lead in the aluminum pot caused it to fall apart.

    Have fun with your casting. :)
     
  16. Dec 4, 2019 at 5:37 PM #16

    Frontier's

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    dont pay $2 a pound for lead! The market price on clean lead from the recycler is 55 to 60 cents per pound.
     
  17. Dec 4, 2019 at 8:24 PM #17

    M. De Land

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    Round ball casting is the perfect place to start as it is the easiest projectile to make. I'd recommend a Lee melting pot without the bottom pour feature ,a good RCBS or Lyman ladle, a good lead thermometer and Lee round ball aluminum molds.
    You can get some nice lead from dental offices that the x-ray film comes in or at least used to. It makes very good round ball castings. Roof vent lead is also pretty good alloy as it is pretty pure lead.
    I like to get the lead to about 750 degrees F. and the mold needs to be about the same temp for a good fill out. I let the mold set on the rim of the melting pot to warm up with the alloy. I like to see just a bit of frost on the casting which hurts nothing and insures a full diameter fill out. If you see wrinkles then either the melt or the mold is not hot enough. If you see excessive frosting then the mold is to hot.
    The molds when new need to be stripped with acetone and then smoked with a candle or match. They do not need to be black with soot. A very thin film of smoke is all that is needed to make the balls drop out of the mold easily.
    Never strike the mold blocs with your wood or rawhide mallet to remove a ball . Strike the mold handles at the rivet that hold them together.
    After you get the molds and have stripped them with acetone get a carpenters pencil and coat the top of the closed mold, the underside of the sprue plate and the sprue hole funnel. This will keep lead from sticking on these surfaces.
    Another thing that should be done on any mold is to remove the sprue plate and stone the underside flat and smooth removing any burrs from the sprue plate hole. Do this before coating with the carpenters pencil.
    Sprue plate tension is important as if to loose the ball will have a ragged sprue and if to tight the steel plate will gall the mold top. This is especially important with aluminum blocks which all Lee molds are.
    Keep any lube out of the mold as you will have to strip it and re-smoke to get good castings again.
     
  18. Dec 4, 2019 at 9:27 PM #18

    Kansas Jake

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    upload_2019-12-4_15-17-16.jpeg

    Above is a set up similar to what I used to start casting 40 years ago. The most expensive item was the mold. The pan and spoons were thrift shop bargains. The stove a $5 garage sale special. You don’t need welding gloves, a set of winter leather gloves will work. I still use this set up to clean recovered range and plumbers lead. I now usually use a Lyman Big Dipper electric pot and dipper for casting. As others have mentioned don’t wear synthetic clothing. Cotton or wool only. I often wear a denim jacket even when it is warm when casting. If I have water for drinking it is set away from my portable casting bench. I drop cast balls and bullets into a several layers of a old cotton t-shirt.
     

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  19. Dec 4, 2019 at 9:31 PM #19

    longcruise

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    Yeah, that's what I do and the recycler let's me pick and choose. However, not everyone has a recycler in the neighborhood or anywhere nearby.

    I have heard of rotometals on ml sites for ages but I just looked them up. Can only say for our members that if it's your only option, then you have my sympathies.
     
  20. Dec 5, 2019 at 3:25 AM #20

    Scota@4570

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    That depends on where you are. Here on the left coast lead it hasmat. The recycler will pay you about 50-cents but will refuse to sell to individuals at any price. If you can get lead at 50-cents stock up before the insanity spreads to your area.
     
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