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For the average round ball muzzleloader shooter aluminum molds from Lee are best because they are a fraction of the price of other molds. Beyond that other criteria will likely with chose the material for you.
 
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Both have their advantage’s and disadvantage’s. Both will definitely produce adequate ball’s.

Quality? I’d give the nod to steel molds. In my experience they produce a superior ball with little to no seam line’s or inclusion’s. The aluminum mold’s that I’ve casted with aren’t as well constructed. Don’t get me wrong! I’m definitely not looking down on aluminum molds. They too can produce a well made ball but I’d have to give the nod to steel molds when it comes to quality! They are just a better quality of mold.

Bringing the mold up to temp? The aluminum mold definitely comes up to temperature a lot quicker. After the casting session is over they cool down faster as well! The steel mold will definitely stay up to temperature a lot longer than the aluminum mold. Has the ability to sustain a constant casting temp for longer periods of time! Of course after the casting session is over the steel mold takes longer to cool down as well! For me this is not an issue. When you develop a steady, constant casting rhythm both types are more than capable to produce a quality ball.

Maintenance? The aluminum mold in my opinion are easer to maintain. They do not rust with the exception of the sprue plate. The steel mold needs to be looked after and properly maintained. For me personally, this is not an issue due to the fact that I take care of my equipment at all times. I place a light coat of oil on my steel mold’s when not in use. Rust is never a problem but could be if I went the lazy mans route.

Cost? The steel mold is definitely a lot more expensive than an aluminum mold. Again, they are better in quality. You definitely get what you pay for when it comes to molds. If you have deeper pockets the steel mold is the way to go! Again, I’m not turning my nose up at aluminum molds! In my personal opinion and experience, the steel mold is superior over the aluminum mold.

Lastly, I would only say use what you can afford. Both will cast quality ball’s

Respectfully, Cowboy
 

kemart17

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thanks for the input cowboy. i am trying to find a mold in the .355 to .358 range for my .36 underhammer. no luck yet
 

smo

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kemart17 said:
thanks for the input cowboy. i am trying to find a mold in the .355 to .358 range for my .36 underhammer. no luck yet


Your gonna’ need a thin patch, and if using the wooden ram rod you may have problems loading after firing a couple of shots.
 

fleener

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Jeff Tanner will make a mold for you and you will get it in a couple of weeks. Made of brass.

Just google him.

I had him make one for me in .730

Fleener
 
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Hello Kemart
If you have an original 1970's vintage style underhammer rifle by Numrich you will find a .350 mold is what you are looking for.
That size of ball works very well in those barrels, and perhaps the mold is easier to find.
Also, you can shoot .38 cal hollow base wadcutter bullets from your rifle with very good accuracy.
Fred
 

hanshi

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Among my large collection of molds are steel, aluminum and brass. I don't think steel molds are necessarily "higher quality" than aluminum molds but I do have a couple of aluminum molds, from a couple of companies I won't mention, that can't measure up to the steel ones or to the fine Lee aluminum molds. Both kind need appropriate care.
 

kemart17

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the underhammer i made is of parts from pecatonica. the barrel is a colerain .36. first test was with a .350 ball and .015 patch. i was amazed at how easy the ball seated. after firing 20 shots. ball still seated easy. maybe its the round bottom rifling? only gun i have with a barrel like that. i have built many other muzzleloaders. they all need swabbed after several shots cause patch/ball getting tight from fouling. just thinking a larger ball might work better, be more accurate. i also have some .018 patches i want to try. the groups i was getting were 1.5 in and vert string 25 yds. i am pretty sure the barrel will do better then that. with the barrel being new could take some shooting till it settles down though.
 
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kemart17 said:
aluminum or steel ball mold, which is best and why??

Speaking of one aluminum molds source, a .350 ball mold had from Lee actually had the "no sprue" tangential cut off carried a little too far. In place of the sprue the balls had one flat side. Never knew where'd one of them would go.
:rotf:
 

M. De Land

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Both have their advantage’s and disadvantage’s. Both will definitely produce adequate ball’s.

Quality? I’d give the nod to steel molds. In my experience they produce a superior ball with little to no seam line’s or inclusion’s. The aluminum mold’s that I’ve casted with aren’t as well constructed. Don’t get me wrong! I’m definitely not looking down on aluminum molds. They too can produce a well made ball but I’d have to give the nod to steel molds when it comes to quality! They are just a better quality of mold.

Bringing the mold up to temp? The aluminum mold definitely comes up to temperature a lot quicker. After the casting session is over they cool down faster as well! The steel mold will definitely stay up to temperature a lot longer than the aluminum mold. Has the ability to sustain a constant casting temp for longer periods of time! Of course after the casting session is over the steel mold takes longer to cool down as well! For me this is not an issue. When you develop a steady, constant casting rhythm both types are more than capable to produce a quality ball.

Maintenance? The aluminum mold in my opinion are easer to maintain. They do not rust with the exception of the sprue plate. The steel mold needs to be looked after and properly maintained. For me personally, this is not an issue due to the fact that I take care of my equipment at all times. I place a light coat of oil on my steel mold’s when not in use. Rust is never a problem but could be if I went the lazy mans route.

Cost? The steel mold is definitely a lot more expensive than an aluminum mold. Again, they are better in quality. You definitely get what you pay for when it comes to molds. If you have deeper pockets the steel mold is the way to go! Again, I’m not turning my nose up at aluminum molds! In my personal opinion and experience, the steel mold is superior over the aluminum mold.

Lastly, I would only say use what you can afford. Both will cast quality ball’s

Respectfully, Cowboy
 

M. De Land

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I've made molds from mild steel but production and custom molds are usually made from fine grain cast iron along with some of aluminum and brass. I think the fine grain cast iron has a name something like Mehanite but spelling may be wrong.
 

M. De Land

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I've made molds from mild steel but production and custom molds are usually made from fine grain cast iron along with some of aluminum and brass. I think the fine grain cast iron has a name something like Mehanite but spelling may be wrong.
Steel does not cut as cleanly as does the fine grain cast iron when a cherry is used and probably does not transfer heat as well either. I have used aluminum molds from Veral Smith and Lee , both work very fine and aluminum is a better heat distributer.
 

M. De Land

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Steel does not cut as cleanly as does the fine grain cast iron when a cherry is used and probably does not transfer heat as well either. I have used aluminum molds from Veral Smith and Lee , both work very fine and aluminum is a better heat distributer but gall easier than either steel or cast iron.
 
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