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Loophole LaRue, SASS #51438

Casting furnace

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I used a Lee bottom pour pot for many years, cast many good usable bullets with it.  But it dripped and screws kept unscrewing.  Finally got tired of drips, loose screws and bought the more expensive RCBS, and glad I did.  If you can afford the RCBS get it.

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I've been using the same 10 lb Lee bottom pour for over 25 years.  I melt lead wheel weights and other scrap lead down using a cast iron dutch oven and a fish cooker propane burner.  I'd probably be up to getting an upgrade, but what I have works and it's paid for.  I've probably got 30 or so bullet molds, and cast for bullets ranging from .32 S&W to 45/70, and 12 gauge slugs.

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I've been happy with my Lee 4-20. Drips sometimes but I've got a pair of vice grips on the stem. Just a quick turn back and forth and it stops. Many tens of thousands of bullets from that pot. If I was going to cast some serious long range bullets I would get the Lyman or RCBS. Better heat control.

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Moved up to RCBS 30 + years ago.   Great but I hear new ones are hit and miss.        GW

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I have 3 pots , 2 10lb Lee bottom pours , about 20 yrs old , and a Lee 20lb bottom pour , about 17 yr old 

 

 some times they drip , but I have cast a BUNCH of bullets , sinkers , and down rigger weight with em 

 

  CB 

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Eventually, 'bout 20 years ago or more, I ended up with two RCBS Pro-melts - one for hard cast and one for pure lead.

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Depending on the amount of bullets you need and your budget.  Magma Engineering Master Caster. Worth the money for consistent volume casting. 500 -600 per hour. Automation is available to make it hands free.

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If you can find the bullet style and weight in the Lee 6 cavity molds offerings,  give it a try.  I'd reather eat a bug than go back to old iron mold double cavity molds.  They are so heavy and slow.

 

1396928783_Lee401-170TCDec2018.jpg.c59d2f17903248ee3ef7c87ea89612d8.jpg

 

You'll need a sizer.  Look into the Lee APP press.   Sizing bullets is one of several jobs it does well.  But you'll have to pan, tumble or powder coat the bullets separate. 

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31 minutes ago, Warden Callaway said:

You'll need a sizer. 

 


Maybe, maybe not.

 

I have never had to size the bullets from my Lee or Big Lube molds.  Mine drop out of the molds about 0.001” over bore size.  Maybe I’m just lucky but there you are!

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44 minutes ago, J-BAR #18287 said:


Maybe, maybe not.

 

I have never had to size the bullets from my Lee or Big Lube molds.  Mine drop out of the molds about 0.001” over bore size.  Maybe I’m just lucky but there you are!

 

What alloy mix do you use?

OLG 

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Pure lead for my .457 ROA round balls.

 

A mix of wheel weight lead and pure lead for .358 bullets, both 125 and 158 grains.   I know precision casters, those who need extreme precision for long range accuracy will shake their heads and scoff.  But I basically cast by the seat of my pants, adjusting the mix and pot temperature as I go.  I have miked the bullets after every batch and the diameters are consistently .358”.  I tumble lube with Alox for smokeless loads and dip the bullets into beeswax/Crisco for BP cartridges.
 

In my defense, I don’t have leading problems.  You are welcome to inspect my guns whenever you want.  Until I have leading or accuracy problems I will happily skip a sizing step.

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If you decide to get the Lee Get the Pro 4 20 lb pot. Much easier to regulate the flow. I have two of them and for the cost they are great. If I had the money I would definitely go with a larger capacity pot with built in temperature control.

 

BTW shop around as the price varies a lot.

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I have the Magma caster with 43 molds, also have the star sizer which can be a pain in the bum sometimes...!!!

Caster works well but have never got 500-600 per hour , depending on caliber more like 350-450..still beats buying them off someone else...

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12 minutes ago, Painted Mohawk SASS 77785 said:

still beats buying them off someone else...

 

I'd say,  only if you have the time, lead and desire to cast your own.   If you have to buy lead and your time is more valuable by monetary measure or enjoyment,  then just buy store bought in bulk and go on with your life. 

 

I started casting over 50 years ago because it was the way it was done.  The only bullets available were made by the big ammo companies and were too expensive for the average person to buy and shoot in any volume.  Wheel weights were usually free for the asking and made of real lead and alloy.  We cast millions (well, certainly 10s of thousands) on the kitchen stove inside in the winter with a cast iron pot and ladle.  That was before lead was considered a contaminant.  Moved on to a Colman stove outside for in the summer months until getting a Lee 20lb pot.  

 

I only cast now because I have all the equipment,  the time and lots of lead.  Occasionally,  I'm in the mood.  I still end up buying bullets for some calibers and Sawmill Mary will only shoot Missouri Bullet Company bullets with Hi-Tek coating. 

 

5aa7fe6457038_Lead3March2018.jpg.92e64191920711dc10961e2b74647087.jpg

 

I have bullet traps set up on the range on our farm to recover lead.  

 

5aa7fec8015ae_Lead2March2018.jpg.d1c3d4f918f15f47895e7d73997c8aee.jpg

 

And pre-process it into ingots to use later.  And a workstation set up outside to cast bullets. 

 

If I didn't already have all this,  I'd be buying all our bullets, 

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It's not just a matter of desire; hereabouts, we are limited in what we can buy.  We can't mail order reloading components.  When the Governor recently closed all gun stores, there were no sources for any ammo or makings in the state.  We have NH nearby, but the ease with which the government was able to close down gun and ammo sales really started me thinking.  The more independent we can become, and the less we have to rely on retailers, the more likely that we can survive similar events.  I'm still mulling it over.

 

LL

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Please, please, please DO NOT buy a Lee.  The bottom pour spouts leak and the heating elements die.  They are cheap junk, and SO FRUSTRATING to deal with if you're an impatient Type A like me.  

 

RCBS is very expensive, but it will last for generations and if something ever were to go wrong with it (which it won't) they'll fix it for free.  I've never even heard of a heating element going bad.

 

Lyman isn't bad.  It's about half the price of the RCBS last time I checked, but I have heard from one or two casters about a heating element dying.  The price point is nice compared to the RCBS though.  

 

I got on eBay and bought an Ideal.  They are long out of business (bought by Lyman?), and from the looks of this thing it was made in the 1950s or 60s.  It works marvelously to this day.  

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8 minutes ago, Cyrus Cassidy #45437 said:

Please, please, please DO NOT buy a Lee.  The bottom pour spouts leak and the heating elements die.  They are cheap junk, and SO FRUSTRATING to deal with if you're an impatient Type A like me.  

 

I must have gotten mine back when (say 1980?) they made them better because mine is still going.  Didn't leak until recently. I did some cleanup and it helps but not stopped completely.   

 

2 hours ago, Loophole LaRue, SASS #51438 said:

It's not just a matter of desire; hereabouts, we are limited in what we can buy.  We can't mail order reloading components.  When the Governor recently closed all gun stores, there were no sources for any ammo or makings in the state.  We have NH nearby, but the ease with which the government was able to close down gun and ammo sales really started me thinking.  The more independent we can become, and the less we have to rely on retailers, the more likely that we can survive similar events.  I'm still mulling it over.

 

LL

 

 

There is that.  I have probably 500 lbs of lead under my loading bench.   

 

Plus, there is the satisfaction of making something yourself.  I worked in an office for over 33 years.  I sure got tired of working with nothing at to show for it at the end of the day.  I just got in to rest up a bit from making a half cord of firewood for next winter.  Something tangible for my efforts.  

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23 minutes ago, Warden Callaway said:

 

I must have gotten mine back when (say 1980?) they made them better because mine is still going.  Didn't leak until recently. I did some cleanup and it helps but not stopped completely.   

 

 

Probably so.  Lee has always followed a "cost leadership" strategy, but in former times their quality was much better than now.  Everything they have produced since about 2000 is complete trash!

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I haven't done any casting in years, mainly because I've bought all my pistol bullets commercially.  For some special stuff, like .45-70, .50-70, .56-56 Spencer Centerfire, and some other oddball, I used a Lyman bottom pour furnace.  Most of my casting alloy was the equivalent of Lyman #2, using wheel weights and fifty-fifty lead/tin bar solder (about 1 lb of solder to 9 lbs of wheel weights).  Don't shoot much of anything anymore, but that's what I used, and could again, if needed.

Stay well, Pards!

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After I got my RCBS pot I gave the Lee away.  The Lee was just to frustrating.

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Find an older RCBS Pro and go with that. And get a temp guage,  just makes things better. I am down to 1 LEE, which I keep threatening to make into a shot maker, 2- RCBS  and a Magma. I cast for 4 people as I couldn't afford to shoot if I didn't reload, casting is just part of that for me now.  Plus 2 of us shoot BP, so even more worth casting my own. If you use a soft alloy and your mold casts close to what you need you don't HAVE to size them. But you are going to have to lube them anyway so might as well get a lubrisizer. Alox is messy, pan lubing is time consuming and coatings take more equipment, and isn't all that fast to do either. 

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