Cold Weather Casting

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  • Last Post 29 January 2011
Lefty posted this 16 January 2010

This is the time of year that I have the most time to devote to casting  bullets.  Like many of us I suspect, I do my casting in the garage and provide ventilation by opening one or more doors.  Last week I cast 400 bullets when the temperature was 6 degrees F in the garage.  Yesterday I made another 400 while the temperature was 19 degrees.  We have a heat wave moving in today and I think the temperature should get over 20 degrees in the garage.  I will probably cast another 400.

Yesterday the temperature of the mold kept migrating any time something interrupted my pace even slightly.  I found that I had to control my ladel perfectly to direct the alloy in the exact center of the sprue hole and then continue the pore for 2-3 seconds after the cavity was full.  The second cavity I then pressure fed by placing the ladel spout into the sprue hole as I pored.  The alloy had to be kept about 100 degees hotter than it needs to be when casting in shirt sleeve weather.

I ended up with 5%-10% rejects which is quite high for the mold design I am using.  I assume other northern types have similar problems.  Not everyone can have heated garages and vent hoods.  Are the tricks of the trade which can make cold casting a little easier or quicker?

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CB posted this 16 January 2010

I use a hot plate with a tortilla skillet on it to keep my molds warm, and also use that arrangement to bring my molds up to temp with it.

When the weather is cold, I do have a slightly higher rejection rate. Currently I use a small torpedo heater to keep the area warm, but probabaly I will buy a 30K BTU propane heater and a couple of 100 pound propane bottles for next winter.

My 2 car garage got converted in my machine shop, welding shop and smithy.

Jerry

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Lefty posted this 16 January 2010

I use a 40K propane heater occasionally but ventilation really becomes a priority and you may lose most of the heat.

It was 26 degrees in the garage today and actually my speed was pretty good. I was able to ladle into both cavities all of the time. I lost about 5% because of slightly rounded edges on the base. They would have been fine as foulers or plinkers but I decided to recast rather than segregate.

I have 1000 bullets now. By time I figure this cold weather process out, I will have enough bullets for this summers matches.

Has anyone tried heat lamps to keep the casting bench warm without creating the need for more ventilation?

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CB posted this 16 January 2010

That is a thought, but maybe one of those ceramic electric heater maybe be better.

Jerry

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CB posted this 18 January 2010

I cast with a fan in the window above the casting pot in the garage. But I have a complete double layer heat shield set up around my pot to keep the melt at my preferred cast temp of 800 degrees F.. I have a small 120 volt fan inbetween the layers of the heat shield with vents out the front to help keep me warm. I have little doors that I can control the amount of hot air coming out of the set up. So what I think you need to do it take your temp up a bit, that will help keep your mold hot. I also use an electric hot plate to preheat the mold but I stick the corner of the mold into the melt for a bit before casting to make sure I have it up to temp.

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Lefty posted this 18 January 2010

Directing the heat from the pot via a fan - now thats creative! Could you post a picture?

I cast another 300 bullets Sunday morning when it was 22 degrees in the garage. I turned the temperature up on the pot which allowed me to pore both cavities as long as I avoided letting the alloy run in off the sprue plate. rejects were less than 5%. I did try to work faster than normal to keep the mould hot - about 150 bullets per hour.

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redball2 posted this 18 January 2010

Do you use a bottom pour? I cast in an open shed with a permenate set up and with a lee 20 pound pot and dip. if you use a hot plate to preheat the mould you should have no trouble down to 20 degrees. simply dress warm and go at it. casting bullets is an art not an exact science as the conditions are always changing. the ambient temperature is never the same and that has an effect on the out come.

Jim Wilcox

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Lefty posted this 18 January 2010

I dip. I have cast 1300 bullets since I started this thread and I am getting better. However my thirst for improvement applies to my cold weather casting the same as it does to my mediocre shooting so I am always looking for ideas.

I also hope this discussion is helpful to others who live in the northern states.

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32HR MAG posted this 18 January 2010

Well.You have accomplished one of your goals,helping others in the north country.I have been waiting for warm weather to start casting.Now I know I don't have to wait.The temps are very mild <30's daytime> for January for the last week and a half.The outlook here is for more mild temps.

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canalupo posted this 18 January 2010

Lefty

It's a little chilly in North eastern PA. Average range is around 20 above to 5 below this time of year. A foot or two of snow pack and 2000 ft elevation does not help.

I use a propane venturi burner to heat 40lb lead plumbers pot over a homemade chimney type stove. My stove is a piece of 8 inch steel smoke pipe with a grate on top and burner is up from the bottom (similar to a plumbers stove). The mold can be kept warm over the side opening around base of pot and I ladle pour bullets. It is much to smokey to use inside. So I made a little three sided lean to for a work area. Works for me and I don't have to jump start any cars or tractors to clear work area.

Good Luck

Bob D

 

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Lefty posted this 20 January 2010

Bob I think you are more hardy than I am. I cast outside but only after it gets up above 40 degrees on the south side of the garage.

I have now cast 2,000 bullets since I started this thread. I started out focusing on good bullets with little thought to technique or speed. After focusing on doing it “right” during 6 extended casting sessions, not only is the quality good, but my speed is better than it ever has been during warmer weather. By turning the pot temp up some and then working quickly, I am now casting almost 200 bullets per hour. I think the additional speed is due to never having to wait for the mold to cool. I can make nice frosty bullets just as fast as I can ladle and drop the bullets. Maybe (just maybe) cold weather casting has some unexpected benefits.

I am still going to build a dedicated bench complete with removable heat lamps as well as a hot plate. I'll share when I have pictures.

Thanks to everyone for the input.

Jim

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Lefty posted this 06 February 2010

I miked a bunch of my cold weather bullets yesterday. One or two moulds dropped bullets slightly smaller than normal. I don't know if this was a shift in alloy composition (different wheel weights) or that I was running the mould too cool some of the time. Can you have a mould hot enough to fill out but still end up with slightly undersized (.0005 to .001) bullets?

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Bongo Boy posted this 12 February 2010

Similar conditions here, and similar problems. I use a low cajun cooker (about a foot off the floor), and a 5 quart dutch oven, generally about 1/3 to 1/2 full--about 30 lbs of lead I'd estimate.

Anyway, I run the setup only about 3 feet, at most, inside the double garage door. It's not been as cold here as where you are--but maybe in the low 20s when I'm casting.

If I have to take a break, I set the mold on the cast lip/handle at the rim of the dutch oven, and if the mold has gotten way too hot, I set it down on an ammo can positioned about 2 ft off the floor. I crack the main garage door only about 6 inches to relieve carbon monoxide, and wear an MSA lead vapor mask. I don't open the service door for cross ventilation, and just rely on the one big door being cracked open.

A hot mold will cool under those conditions in about 15 seconds, I'd say.

My rejects last night, in two hours, were due almost entirely to the lead stream sticking to my ladle cup and preventing a thin stream, which in turn means I couldn't drop the stream into the sprue hole and watch the cavity fill. I just started another thread on that pesky topic. Averaged maybe 1 reject in 6.

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Lefty posted this 17 February 2010

a cast iron ingot mold draws moisture if you allow it to cool while sitting on a cold garage floor or similar cold porous surface. This is ok if you dump the ingots while the mold is fairly hot but if you allow the mold to cool completely with the ingots in place bad things can happen on the next fill. I proved this yesterday much to my dismay. I will cool my ingot molds on a steel plate from now on.

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Richard Pickering posted this 19 February 2010

Lefty, Winter is for sizing and lubing. Summer is for casting. Speaking of iron pots, some years ago I left my Lyman iron pot outside and when I recovered it there was some orange crystalline substance in it. I wiped it out and began to heat the pot over a Coleman stove. Have you ever had the privilege of 600 deg cat pee ? RP

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Lefty posted this 17 December 2010

It is winter once again. I was casting rifle bullets yesterday. The mold is a loverin style nose pour mold. The sprue holes are relatively small. I could only get the cavities to fill out if I refilled the ladle with fresh (hot) alloy between each cavity. Obviously this slowed production and as I learned last year, the slower the pace the more difficulties I encounter in cold weather. I suspect heat lamps directed onto the work surface might help. I may have to wait for warmer weather to cast with this mold.

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Lefty posted this 17 December 2010

Jeff Any chance you could send us a picture of your heat shield setup? Jim

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CB posted this 18 December 2010

I'll try to get some pics tomorrow

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smokiejoe posted this 20 December 2010

You should be out ice fishing and not wasting your time casting bullets

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CB posted this 20 December 2010

Darn Joe are you nuts? Its cold out there..

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smokiejoe posted this 20 December 2010

Jeff: You out of antifreeze

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