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Using an electric pot for casting balls

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Jaeger

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I bought a used Lee electric pot from a buddy for a good price and yesterday I tried casting some balls with it. I was expecting some minor issues and maybe a new learning curve when using it. Wellllllllll.......I found it was extremely easy to use, convenient, less messy, safer than using propane to heat a ladle, and on and on! When I went to sort out the finished balls, looking for wrinkles, bad casts, etc. I didn't find any! I found some balls with a little hole in the sprue, but I think that is remedied with better timing and better technique at the end of each pour. It's so much better than screwing around with a propane torch, and jockeying a mould and ladle in mid-air for a good pour. It's like going from a bicycle to an automobile. I'm impressed.
 

rdlowe

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Cool. So are your pouring directly from your pot into a mould with a pour spout, skipping the need for a ladle?
 

Carbon 6

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Sounds like he is using a bottom pour pot and holding the mold tight against the spigot.
That's OK, but you need to back away slightly when done and bump the lever to fill any void and leave a larger spruce.
 

ZUG

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The Lee pots are one of the easiest to use and the most purchased by the novice and experienced caster. I have a 20 pound bottom pour and a 20 pound non bottom pour pot. These two pots serve me well whether I use a Lee aluminum mold or a Lyman cast steel mold. When I was casting modern pistol bullets for my pistol bullseye competition shooting I use 8 and 10 cavity H&G molds and had a 40 pound propane fired cast iron plumbers pot going and I use a ladle to pour with. I had a pile of lead on the ground at the side of the burner for pot refills. I'd cast on a Saturday and sized & lubed on Sunday. I'd be set for a while and only had to worry about the reloading part with my Dillon 550 press.
 

mooman76

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I put of buying a electric pot for years and don't regret at all buying one. In fact I bought a bigger one later on and last year bought a used one for cheap. Having more than one pot I can have pure lead in one and alloy in another.
 

rdlowe

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Yes, exactly. First time I've used one and it is pretty slick.
If you get a chance, post a pic or two of your setup. I’m going to be getting started casting soon, so if you’d share your success and failures it would give me a better starting place too.
 

Jaeger

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Sounds like he is using a bottom pour pot and holding the mold tight against the spigot.
That's OK, but you need to back away slightly when done and bump the lever to fill any void and leave a larger spruce.
Thanks for the good tip. I already figured I had to do something at the end of the pour to get rid of the air hole. I already figured out that I had to ease up just slightly, but the "bump" is a good idea.
 

Carbon 6

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Wiggle might be a better word than "bump" but I think you get the idea.

Also, if they are not deep holes and are contained to the sprue (if your balls have actual sprues) I just ignore it as they get pounded closed when the sprue gets flattened by my ball starter during loading.
 

mooman76

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Leave a good size puddle on top sprue, that way when the lead cools and sucks down some, it has lead to fill the void. If you don't already know, lead melt and water do not mix. Any water get below the top of lead melt(like damp lead) there will be an explosion like you wouldn't believe. If you have a bottom pour, do not turn it on and walk away. More than a few people have turned their pot on just to find their bench covered with lead when they returned.
 

Jaeger

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If you get a chance, post a pic or two of your setup. I’m going to be getting started casting soon, so if you’d share your success and failures it would give me a better starting place.

Work in a well-ventilated area. Think safety when you are doing this! In looking at my own quickie set-up, it might be better to clamp the electric pot to the object it's sitting on/ Make sure you won't bump it or knock it over; flying molten lead is bad! I use a Lee mould, so I also use a piece of hardwood to rap against the sprue cutter and open it up, then to rap the mould itself after you use the handles to open it. The balls should fall right out. An old hammer handle is good for this purpose. You will also use the handle to re-close the sprue cutter so that you can pour again. If you use an electric pot, you have to use clean lead, or at least somewhat clean lead. Even then, I use an old teaspoon to remove any scum or debris from the top of the molten lead. After you have poured the lead into the mold and given your wrist a shake and a twist to make sure the lead inside the mold is distributed, and after cutting off the sprue, you can give the open mould a rap and let your balls fall onto an old bath towel that is folded over. It probably won't burn the towel and gives the balls some place soft to land. Avoid using acrylic carpeting like I did in the photo, because the balls may melt the fiber and stick. Don't ask how I know this. I use a two stage process for all this, because my lead source is all the fishing sinkers I find at the bottom of a river every time I scuba dive there. I have to melt these down in a regular ladle and flux and clean the lead to make clean lead ingots, which then goes into the Lee pot. Again: Safety! The pot is very hot! The mould is very hot while being used! The newly cast balls and the cut off sprues are hot! Don't ask how I know this. When you are done and the newly cast balls are cooled off, you can pick them up and play with them while inspecting them. It's very satisfying! If I've forgotten anything, or if any of the great guys on this forum have suggestions to add, let's hear them.
mould setup.jpg
balls.jpg
balls.jpg
 

oldwood

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Me too , Sam. Been using this Lyman ladle for 40+ yrs.. I like it 'cause it's self skimming. Gets that last little bit of dross trapped and is easily dumped out after several dips of lead , then , start again. I use it in combination w/ larger mouthed Lee pot. I have both bottom pour Lee pot and standard Lee pots. I like the bottom pour pot for calibers below .58 , and get better results w/ ladle pots for bigger calibers up to 87 cal. , my largest........
Us old farts enjoy much more entertainment molding bullets w/friends , than plunking hard earned $'s down for a box of balls.........oldwood
 

mushka

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I use a Lee 10# bottom pour electric pot that I got in 1980 for casting unmentionables. It actually doesn't care what it is pouring for, it just pours and pours. 40 years I've been using it and it's like the ever ready bunny, just keeps on making bullets.
 

Newtire

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For years, I used a gasoline fired Coleman in the garage with doirs open on both ends. It got the pure lead hot enough to make big maxi-balls with no wrinkles. Switched to an electric Lee and learned to live with the leaks and ran it hot for big slugs and large Minies. The gasoline worked the best for larger slugs and my new Lee buckshot mould likes gasoline the best. Propane just didn't get hot enough using the small Coleman's that I picked up at the thrift store. Now, I have an RCBS I picked up for $20 at a yard sale for the smaller projectiles and open up the garage and use gasoline for the buckshot (18-cavity) mould. I still only get about 12 buckshot per pour useable. It's enough though. My experience may not be the same as others. Just saying what works for me after 40+ years.
 

TomV

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If you get a chance, post a pic or two of your setup. I’m going to be getting started casting soon, so if you’d share your success and failures it would give me a better starting place too.
Yes please, i am going to start this process also
 

gustrolland

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The Lee pots are one of the easiest to use and the most purchased by the novice and experienced caster. I have a 20 pound bottom pour and a 20 pound non bottom pour pot. These two pots serve me well whether I use a Lee aluminum mold or a Lyman cast steel mold. When I was casting modern pistol bullets for my pistol bullseye competition shooting I use 8 and 10 cavity H&G molds and had a 40 pound propane fired cast iron plumbers pot going and I use a ladle to pour with. I had a pile of lead on the ground at the side of the burner for pot refills. I'd cast on a Saturday and sized & lubed on Sunday. I'd be set for a while and only had to worry about the reloading part with my Dillon 550 press.
I have used electric pots for over 45 years, and I've had as good of results with Lee as any of the other brands. I've used bottom pours and used a ladle, and have came to to conclusion that I like using ladles the best. It's really up to you whether to use a ladle or not, but when I was starting out I checked with some casters that were well known for their shooting. All three of the shooters used a ladle and said about the same in that you usually cast a better ball or bullet that way! But I have had a few moulds in the past that I had better luck with using a bottom pour. But at this time I use a ladle for all my casting, and I cast for more than 30 calibers have over 50 moulds of varying sizes and weights.
From Too Tired To Flinch- Divide, Oregon.
 

bisleyjohn

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I sit my Lee 20lb in an oven tray to catch any spills. No ladle, just ‘overfill’ (that’s why molds have a sprue cutter.) spent yesterday casting .577 and .69 only about a dozen failures. Let your mold cool occasionally to avoid ‘frosting’ Welders apron, gloves, boots, face mask and GOOD SAFETY GLASSES!
 

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