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Lee Pro 4-20 pot gone wild!


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I had topped it off with a couple more ingots and the temperature dropped enough the spout got cold a froze. (30° out)   I went in to get a drink and let the heat come up.  

 

1507413059_LeepotgonewildJan2021.thumb.jpg.89dd577350cba5fe7beb2367dc373e14.jpg

 

I really wasn't going very long. WAHA! I went ahead and emptied it out.  I need to do some major maintenance on the valve spout and rod. It's been aggravating me for a while.   I just made do. 

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I've had one drip a pretty good pile while I was heating a new batch but I've never seen that before. 

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I spring-loaded the handle on mine to avoid that, but I never leave a heating or cooing pot alone. Too many cases of people burning down their casting area.

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Are you holding the inside part so it won't turn? Pretty sure it isn't threaded into the pot.

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11 minutes ago, Springfield Slim SASS #24733 said:

Are you holding the inside part so it won't turn? Pretty sure it isn't threaded into the pot.

 

I'm holding the whole pot.   I've sent a report to Lee to get instructions.  But I'll likely take the pot out of the case to see better how it's made.  If it's pressed in, I can drill, cut it off to get it out.  But I better have a replacement on hand.  Although this pot has earned its keep, it's not a good time to shop for any casting equipment. 

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When the pot is cold and empty, clean off the 'valve stem' the best you can and chuck the threaded end in a cordless drill.  Put a big dollop of valve grinding compound on the other end, and use the drill to polish the internal part of the spout.  Repeat until the mating parts are nice and shiny.  Mine doesn't drip anymore.

 

Regards,

Jackalope

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Those kind of leaks made me toss my Lee production pot and go to the RCBS ProMelt.   Absolutely no regrets, and closer temperature control too.

 

But if you want to stay with the Lee, use Jackalope's method above.  That would hold mine drip free for perhaps 5 loads.  Then, it would get a little debris in the spout and start dripping again.

 

Good luck, GJ

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19 hours ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

Those kind of leaks made me toss my Lee production pot and go to the RCBS ProMelt.   Absolutely no regrets, and closer temperature control too.

 

But if you want to stay with the Lee, use Jackalope's method above.  That would hold mine drip free for perhaps 5 loads.  Then, it would get a little debris in the spout and start dripping again.

 

Good luck, GJ

That "debris" is called dendrites and is easily removed from the spout. It is caused by impurities in the alloy. Check Lymans cast bullet handbook, it explains the whole problem and solution. It is not a problem with the pot.

kR

Edited by Kid Rich
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kR, how did your dentures get in the lead pot? Hopefully you won't be using them after that.

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Well, gotta disagree with you there, KR. 

 

Dendrites are simply the tree-shaped structure formed as regions of lead alloys that cool at the same time within a solidified bullet.  Above the melting point of a lead melt, there are no dendrites.  Dendrites in lead alloys are like icy slush in very cold water.  Part of the liquid has crystalized into solid (ice) while cooling right at the freezing point, but some of the liquid has not yet frozen.  I've never found anyone claim dendrites form in the pour spout of a lead furnace when it is being run warm enough to cast a completely melted alloy.  Lyman's chapter on Metallurgy of Cast Bullets  does not say this either (just checked).

 

Lee pots have a couple of major problems.  One is the temp control, which I have measured to be less accurately controlled with the Lee snap-thermostat than the RCBS thermocouple control. 

 

As well, the design of the spout and valve stem in the Lee is not as conducive to self-cleaning during casting.  If there is ANY dirt or even cooled lead in the inside channel of the spout, the valve does not clean itself very well.  That is where Lee instructions say that you have to twist the valve rod periodically to help it clear the solids from the spout.    The valve "stopper" shape that RCBS uses in the bottom pour is a long cylinder with a round nose.   You can't twist the rod during operation - it's pinned into the lifting arm.   But I find you never need to, as the cylinder-shape tip cleans the whole length of the channel every pour.

 

I have used Lyman, Lee and RCBS pots now over 50 years of casting lots of lead alloys.   I really find the RCBS pot to be much better at controlling temps and preventing drips and runs.

 

Now, for ultimate temperature control, some folks use a PID controller with a thermocouple in the molten lead alloy.   I might try that one of these days, when I have an extra $150 and some time to set one of those up to override the factory temperature control in my RCBS pots.

 

good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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Garrison: I built both my PID's, not really rocket science. And there is no set-up to over-ride the RCBS pot, you just plug the pot into the PID and it turns on and off to control temperature. Just turn the dial all the way up on the pot so it is always on.

  As for the dentrites, all I know is the LEE seems to be plagued with them and my RCBS and Magma aren't. 

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Yep, the setup I was talking about was figuring out a solid thermocouple holder that can be removed quickly to clean the pot, and the programming of the PID controller.  Overriding the RCBS pot temp control, as you state, is just a matter of turning it's factory thermostat dial to full-burn.

GJ

 

 

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Don't overthink it.

 

Thermocouple.JPG

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10 hours ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

Yep, the setup I was talking about was figuring out a solid thermocouple holder that can be removed quickly to clean the pot, and the programming of the PID controller.  

GJ

 

I took some 12 gauge wire and went from the top of the adjustable mold guide rod to the center and made a number of turns around the thermocouple.  it's loose enough to allow the thermocouple to be lifted out (I have a lid on my pot).

 

in the picture you can also see how I changed the handle to a pull-down configuration

 

P1010069

 

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I am in the process of building a PID controller for my Lee pots. Went all out and the price is still under $100.00

 

The PID controller is smart and will learn as it goes.

 

Inkbird AC 100 to 220V ITC-100VH Digital PID Thermostat Temperature Controller 40DA SSR Black Heat Sink K Thermocouple

 

Will do like the others and mount to the top of the pot so it can easily be removed.

K Type Thermistor Temperature Sensor Probe Temperature Controller,100mm / 4" Long Probe Thermocouple Probe Diameter : 5mm / 0.2"MT-205-100mm5x100x2

 

Smallest project box that everything will fit in.

Zulkit Junction Box Blue Metal Rectangle Project Box DIY Electric Enclosure Case Preventive Case Electrical Box 7.9 x 6.5 x 3.5 inch

 

20 Amp Commercial Grade Tamper Resistant Single Outlet, White

 

Antrader 2pcs IEC 320 C14 Male 3 Pins Screw Mount Inlet AC Power Plug Adapter Connector Socket AC 250V 10A Black with Wires

 

Bought this on ebay as it was a lot cheaper

OKIl Panel Mount K-type Thermocouple Miniature Socket Plug Connector

 

Once I have it all together I'll post pictures and a wiring diagram.

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14 hours ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

Well, gotta disagree with you there, KR. 

 

Dendrites are simply the tree-shaped structure formed as regions of lead alloys that cool at the same time form within a solidified bullet.  Above the melting point of a lead melt, there are no dendrites.  Dendrites in lead alloys are like icy slush in very cold water.  Part of the liquid has crystalized into solid (ice) while cooling right at the freezing point, but some of the liquid has not yet frozen.  I've never found anyone claim dendrites form in the pour spout of a lead furnace when it is being run warm enough to cast a completely melted alloy.  Lyman's chapter on Metallurgy of Cast Bullets  does not say this either (just checked).

 

Lee pots have a couple of major problems.  One is the temp control, which I have measured to be less accurately controlled with the Lee snap-thermostat than the RCBS thermocouple control. 

 

As well, the design of the spout and valve stem in the Lee is not as conducive to self-cleaning during casting.  If there is ANY dirt or even cooled lead in the inside channel of the spout, the valve does not clean itself very well.  That is where Lee instructions say that you have to twist the valve rod periodically to help it clear the solids from the spout.    The valve "stopper" shape that RCBS uses in the bottom pour is a long cylinder with a round nose.   You can't twist the rod during operation - it's pinned into the lifting arm.   But I find you never need to, as the cylinder-shape tip cleans the whole length of the channel every pour.

 

I have used Lyman, Lee and RCBS pots now over 50 years of casting lots of lead alloys.   I really find the RCBS pot to be much better at controlling temps and preventing drips and runs.

 

Now, for ultimate temperature control, some folks use a PID controller with a thermocouple in the molten lead alloy.   I might try that one of these days, when I have an extra $150 and some time to set one of those up to override the factory temperature control in my RCBS pots.

 

good luck, GJ

Joe try reading the chapter on alloys, if I am wrong then so is Lymans. The dedtrites are actually aluminum that is present in the alloy and will melt at pot temps then cool enough when they get in the spout. Try reading that chapter. If you still disagree then I can't help you.

kR

Edited by Kid Rich
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So I looked it up. Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook, third edition The Metallurgy of Molton Lead Alloys, Impurities section, Aluminum, page 51 "these dendrites tend to clog small orifices which operate below the temperature of the melt e.g. the spout on a bottom pour pot.

If you think differently your entitled to your opinion. I've been using Lee bottom pour pots for close to 25 years and it takes all of 30 seconds to get rid of the dendrites and continue casting. I still have the first one I bought and it still works fine.

kR

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Well, aluminum has an EXTREMELY low solubility in lead alloys at normal casting temperatures.   And, I just reread all chapters of Robert Block's mini-book on metallurgy of lead alloys in Lyman Cast Bullet 5th edition, and he never even mentions aluminum in lead alloys other than showing the minuscule solubility level in a chart. 

 

Oh, I see you have been reading Lyman's 3rd edition from your latest post.  I think some of the knowledge from the 1970's may have been replaced by a better solubility figures on aluminum now available.

 

Anyway, the formation and collection of crud/cooled alloy/dross DOES tend to clog bottom pour casting spouts.  Sometimes a little propane torch application to the spout clears it up.  That is then when I bump up the temperature of the melt another 10 or 20 degrees, because I have an alloy in the pot right then that needs just a little more temperature to stay fully molten as it passes the spout (which is always a little cooler than the pot itself)..    

 

It's the run-away drip that occurs with Lee pots that is real dangerous.   I have also found by practical experience it is very unwise to walk away from a Lee pot that is full of alloy.  It seems to take advantage of a missing operator and drain some or all of the pot.   I used to have to stick a large cake pan under the spout to catch the runaway even if I wanted a bathroom break.  

 

So, you may enjoy using Lee bottom pour pots, I and many other casters don't. 

 

Good luck, GJ

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So what do you do during this 30 seconds? Don't leave us hanging.

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I have a small vice grips on the top of the stem. When I get a drip I just turn it back and forth once and it usually stops. Sometimes I just need to bump it to get it to stop.

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7 hours ago, Kulshan 20262 said:

I fixed my Lee pot.  I gave it away!

If you have that problem again, please consider me in implementing your solution. :D

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44 minutes ago, El CupAJoe said:

If you have that problem again, please consider me in implementing your solution. :D

 

I just picked up a new spout at Grafs and Sons 20 minutes ago.  I'll repair this one and keep using it.  A little drip don't bother me enough to buy another.

 

Right now,  new lead pots of all kinds, brands and features are sold out for practical purposes.  

 

 

 

Edited by Warden Callaway
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I have the RCBS ProMelt II. While I have not had the runaway lead issue, I do get some dribbles. I also get the spout freeze up and need to run the digital controller higher to get it not to do that.

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5 hours ago, El CupAJoe said:

If you have that problem again, please consider me in implementing your solution. :D

Sorry Joe, it went on the classified ads a long time ago.  The RCBS Pro Melt I replaced it with is not going anywhere.

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6 minutes ago, Kulshan 20262 said:

Sorry Joe, it went on the classified ads a long time ago.  The RCBS Pro Melt I replaced it with is not going anywhere.

I have a Lee 10 Lb dipper pot that works well enough, and I cast with my friend who has a PID controlled 20 Lb Lee Production pot, but I'm always happy to help a pard dispose of unwanted casting equipment.  :D  

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I just got around to casting round balls with my "refurbished" Lee pot.  Works good as new!  That is a little drip between casts. But for less than $5 for the new spout, it works for me.

 

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On 1/17/2021 at 9:22 AM, Warden Callaway said:

I had topped it off with a couple more ingots and the temperature dropped enough the spout got cold a froze. (30° out)   I went in to get a drink and let the heat come up. 

I worked at a lead smelter for 23 years, and we had kettles that held 120 - 140 tons of lead. They sprung leaks regularly, some big, some small. What a time consuming mess to clean up when they were big ones!

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