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Mad Dog McGee

Bullet Casters : Need your Advice

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​Like to get some advice on bullet casting furnaces. I have a Lee Pro 4 which leaks, adjustment screw bypasses the needle rod, and won't maintain a set temperature very well. Yes I can cast bullets and spend a lot of time unclogging the spout, freeing the needle rod and trying to adjust the temperature ; but I'd rather sped my time on actually casting bullets.

So which furnace do most of you recommend in the $500.00 or so price range ? I don't won't to buy another problem machine like this one. Thanks in advance, Mad Dog McGee

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Just curious, have you contacted Lee about this?

 

They are normally pretty good about working with you.

 

Then you can save some $ and get another unit more to your liking as well.

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LEE's are not serious machines, RCBS Pro-Melt works pretty good unless you do large volume or cast large (45-70) bullets as it isn't that difficult to out-run the machine. I personally say get a Magma Engineering 40 pounder. Besides having a larger pot it also runs a 1500 watt heater, which you will never out-run. Just keep pushing in ingots and keep going. But it isn't cheap. It also has the option of using 2 pour spouts or one, by changing out the nozzle. which can be done while the lead is melted, if you wish. it also makes it much easier to clean the nozzle/spout as it removes from the machine.

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I've been casting off and on for 30 years. A $40 Coleman stove, a $12 Lodge skillet, and a $20 Lyman ladle will get the job done better and with more control than any lead furnace I've ever worked with. Spend the rest on propane and lead.

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Lee 20 Lb. Lead Melting Magnum Melter - have three, have worked every time I plug them in, thermostat holds a steady temperature and really have no desire to buy another brand after casting thousands of bullets with these pots. Reason for 3, I keep specific alloys in each for Cowboy - BPCR and Schuetzen bullets. For odd ball alloys, have a Lee 5 pound pot that hasn't failed me either. All pots are over 10 years old

 

 

 

453040.jpg

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Don't understand why folks would say the Lee ain't a serious machine. :rolleyes:

I use the same as John Boy, and it has served me well for decades.

Also-I only ladle cast.

Magma must be good-Their price proves this. :lol:

YMMV,

OLG

Edited by The Original Lumpy Gritz

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I have a couple Lee 20# bottom pours. They both were drippers. I was able to get them to stop dripping by lapping the needle rod and pour seat. I used a drill and some valve lapping compound. Every once in a while casting I spin the rod with a screwdriver to keep the seat sealing.

 

Wasatch

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Bought a Lee Pro 4-20 six years ago and it's still working. Yes, have had the occasional plug and leak but paper clip has always taken care of plugs and turning stem has taken care of leaks. Since so many sources seem to think Lee is cheap junk I bought a spare 2 years but it's still in the box.

 

I did build a PID Controller for temperature control and temp hangs at set point +/- 3 degrees or so. I'm a happy caster.

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Got 20 + yrs on a RCBS Pro Melt. Great machine IMHO. Great product support too, rarely needed GW

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another vote for Pro Melt

 

I also built and use a PID on mine to hold temp within 1-2º

PIDs will work on Lees also.

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I can't stand my Lee for bottom pour applications. I admit I'm *very* finicky when it comes to tools; I do NOT like messing with the tools just to get them to do what they're supposed to do. I want them to WORK like they were designed! Lee will get the job done, but you'll spend a lot of time messing around with the tool.

 

For your price range, buy an RCBS. You cannot go wrong with green! I've never used the Lyman pot, which is quite a bit less expensive than the RCBS, but I know a few pards who have burnt out a Lyman.

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I burned out an RCBS Pro-melt once. I sent it to RCBS and they refurbished it at no charge and shipped it back to me. The only thing I had to pay was the shipping to them. Great customer service!

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I use a pair of Pro-Melts I bought in the mid-80's, one for pure lead and one for alloy, so 30 years of casting and no problems.

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Howdy

 

I concur that the Lee pots can be finicky. I have not cast any bullets for a number of years now, but when I did I was always fussing with the needle rod thing to prevent dripping. Not much fun when molten lead drips splatter as they hit the base, the splatter may burn you. I always left an ingot mold under the spout, to catch the drips, would empty it back into the melt periodically.

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Had an old Lyman bottom pour back in the 70s. Like late 50's vintage. Not quite the temperature control I wanted. But a good pot. Lyman not quite making the same quality pots any more, though.

 

Have used two Lee bottom pour pots, both had HORRIBLE temperature control and would never cast without dripping, despite valve grinding compounding the valve and lots of other recommended tinkering.

 

Bought an RCBS Pro-Melt. Lost it to a burglar. Bought a second Pro-Melt. Wonderful temperature control and very minimal dripping problems. Love it so much, got another Pro-Melt for rifle bullet alloy, since a guy was letting a lightly used one go for about $275. :o:P

 

Oldest one probably had 25,000 bullets cast without a problem. The mid-age one is now 12 years old and has cast over 50,000 bullets. Think I'll keep using Pro-Melts.

 

If I get a drip problem now on a pot-full of alloy, I KNOW there is 0.5 to 1% calcium metal in that scrap. It forms a collar down in the spout that is just about impossible to burn out until you add 80-120 degrees F extra heat to the melt.

 

Good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708

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rcbs is my go to. had 2 lee pots leaked +other temp controls . the rcbs working just fine got it set on the best temp for working .i installed a wire shelf that stops the cold lead from going all the way to boddom of pot when the pot drops one inch ireplinish the amount .the temp stays constant and i poor420g for 45/70

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I have the Lee pro 20, the RCBS pro-melt, and the Lyman 200#

bottom pour and have cast 1,000s of bullets with them

 

In my opinion the Lyman was the best, but the RCBS ran a close 2nd.

 

The Lee is a good pot for the money unless you plan to do a lot of casting

 

The Lee is cheap, but you will end up replacing them.

 

A good melting pot will coast more to start, but will be cheaper in the long run

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Dang, this is an expensive thread!

 

Midway has the RCBS on sale and RCBS has a rebate going on for an additional $75 off; so I ordered one!

 

Thanks.

 

I think.

 

:blink:

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Dang, this is an expensive thread!

 

Midway has the RCBS on sale and RCBS has a rebate going on for an additional $75 off; so I ordered one!

 

Thanks.

 

I think.

 

:blink:

If I didn't have 2 RCBS right now I would buy one at that price.

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Thanks Pards , Got a RCBS on it's way . Can't wait till it comes in. Guess I'll keep the Lee for a backup, unless I run out of targets to shoot.

​Way more money , but should be a lot less aggravating. Mad Dog McGee

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I used a Lyman Mag 20 from 1976 till last year when it quit heating. No parts available. Sold it as is to a guy who rebuilds 'em. I bought the new Lyman Mag 25, holds 25# of melt, and has excellent temp control with it's built in PID controller. I also bought at the same time a new Lee Pro -IV 20# pot and a PID controller for it, just to use with pure lead for BP RBs. The Lee drips, the Lyman drips, the old Lyman dripped, a friend's RCBS drips, just something that a bottom pour will do, The Lee drips the most. ESPECIALLY if you don't get all the dross out of the pot. I can see where lapping the needle & seat would definitely help any bottom pour.

 

I like the Lyman Mag 25. The RCBS has the handle for the pour on the left, the Lyman & Lee on the right, plus the Lyman was over $100 less than the RCBS.

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I bought the new Lyman Mag 25, holds 25# of melt, and has excellent temp control with it's built in PID controller. .

 

Please keep us updated with the electronics on the Lyman Mag 25. I've read TONS of reviews saying those just do not hold up well, and they get replaced with a bolt on PID controller after a year or two.

 

 

a friend's RCBS drips

And mine don't, unless I have Ca contaminated alloy that cools in the nozzle. As always, mileage varies.

 

 

Thanks, GJ

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Can one of you pards post instructions for building a PID Controller? I've got an old Lyman MM I'd like to get running.

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The Cast Boolits web site has several fellows who sell assembled PID controllers. Were I interested in more precise temperature control than what the RCBS pot provides, I'd probably install one of those. But I've not had that much need for control. <_<

 

If you want to scratch build, here's a starter post:

 

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?181319-Pid-Controller-Schematic

 

As shown in that post, the PID controller itself is usually just a purchase from Auber Instruments or similar vendor.

 

Otherwise, on the Cast Boolits site, search for PID.

 

Good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708

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Please keep us updated with the electronics on the Lyman Mag 25. I've read TONS of reviews saying those just do not hold up well, and they get replaced with a bolt on PID controller after a year or two.

Thanks, GJ

3 months and it's still working good. Just cast a few hundred. The Lee I bought at the same time has already plugged up solid... Had to take it apart and drill out the spigot...

 

Can one of you pards post instructions for building a PID Controller? I've got an old Lyman MM I'd like to get running.

Here are two: Project - PID on Lee Pro 4 20 furnace and Pid Controller Schematic. I bought one that a fellar that used to advertise over there made... but it didn't work. The PID he installed apparently had a different set of connections that he didn't look at close enough. After taking it apart and studying it, I figured it out. Works great... the instructions I found online are a real treat... if you like incomplete sentences and convoluted interpretations from Chinese.

Edited by Griff

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I started with the Lee pots many, many years ago

 

Have owned several lee pots, still have one and they all either dripped or just ran like a water hose

 

Use it to pre melt the lead for my Lyman and RCBS pots

 

Even had 2 Ballisti- Cast machines for several years. Was turning out 4000 bullets an hour 6 days a week and could not keep up with sales

 

But for hand casting the Lyman was my go to pot over the RCBS

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I have a Lee Pro 4 which leaks, adjustment screw bypasses the needle rod, and won't maintain a set temperature very well.

Mad Dog - read this in the Lee Pro 4 Instructions manual:

Troubleshooting
Should the valve not pour when the knob is raised, it’s most likely
caused by the heat being set too low or the valve rod rotated too far
clockwise. If you’re sure the heat is set high enough and flow
control is open, the spout is likely plugged with sediment. With the
melter at operating temperature, hold a straightened paper clip
with a pliers and feed the wire up the spout opening to force out the
obstruction.
Should the valve drip, simply rotate the valve with a screwdriver. If
this does not cure the drip, check the valve linkage for binding due
to corrosion or damage. The moving points of the valve linkage
should be lubed with a high temperature anti-sieze lubricant, like
Permatex #133 or equivalent, found at any automotive or well-

stocked hardware store

 

http://leeprecision.com/cgi-data/instruct/EL3469.pdf

 

And if this fails to correct the drip ...

Guarantee
Lee Precision products are guaranteed not to wear out or break fromnormal use for two full years or they will be repaired or replaced atno charge if returned to the factory. Any Lee product of currentmanufacture regardless of age or condition will be reconditioned tonew, including a new guarantee, if returned to the factory with payment equal to half the current factory list price

 

And the advice to buy a 40 pound pot, ask yourself - " When was the last time you cast 40 pounds of bullets at one casting session"? I cast 20 lbs of 454190, 250gr bullets using a 6 cavitywith a 20 lb Lee. That's 560 bullets! Almost guaranteed you will never cast 1120 bullets weighing 250gr at one casting session. Save your money and fix the Lee Pro 4 before you waste spending your money

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I have been running 2 large bottom pour Lee pots for years.

As for the dripping get a small vice grip, clamp it to the adjustment screw

the added weight helps stop the drip.

Do it across the slot so not to squeeze the slot together.

When drip starts it is very easy to reach up and spin the vice grip,

I did buy a rebuild kit from Lee several years ago for one of them.

 

 

 

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If you like your Lee, you can keep it.

I don't write this to insult you. Used a Lee for years, not hot enough and it leaked.

Picked up a used SAECO and now I'm spoiled. I run three sets of 6 cavity moulds when I cast. That means in an hour and a half I can cast 1500 bullets. The Lee could never keep up. I could only run two sets of moulds and still had to wait for it to heat. When my SAECO dies, if can't get it rebuilt, I'll probably buy a RCBS.

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Besides 250 grain .45 Colt and .41 Long Colt bullets, I cast .38-55 Winchester and 650 grain .50-140 3-1/4" Sharps

bullets so a 40 pound pot is de rigeur. BUFFALO ARMS is my supplier. I use their ingots so calcium is one problem

of many that I don't have.

 

No brand of pot has lasted the over 60 years that I have been making my own bullets.

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