Spout Freeze

  • Last Post 11 December 2012
Uncle Russ posted this 06 December 2012

OK Lads here is my problem and it is becoming a real pain in the posterior. LEE 20lb Production Pot. 685 deg melt temp. Alloy hardness Saeco 8-9, stirred, cleaned, fluxed regularly.

The spout flow slowly decreases to the stopping point. Have made a pointed wire tool to stick up spout expecting crud plug. No. Propane torch heats spout to start dribble and holding handle up quickly increases flow to maximum. Like melting ice in a frozen hose.

What is potentialy wrong with my Cadilac of lead melting pots? :thinking:

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Duane Mellenbruch posted this 06 December 2012

I had the same problem until I started casting at 700-725 minimum.  It gets worse in the winter in an unheated shed.  The nozzle is in the center of the bottom of the pot.  It is about as far from the heating elements as it can get.  This happens to me every time I add ingots, or return too many sprues to the melt. The valve linkage may act as a heat sink so it is cooling even faster. 

One of those butane lighters with the long reach will heat the nozzle to clear the clog and a catch pan is handy to keep under the nozzle. 

And it is always possible you have a little copper in your melt just to complicate matters even more.  Doubtful, but something to consider if you use babbit. 

I use the 20 pounder for 6 cav molds and the 10 pounder for 2 cav or rifle molds as the nozzle is closer to the heating element and I can see the flow better.  Just the nature of the beast.  Duane

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onondaga posted this 06 December 2012

http://www.castbulletassoc.org/view_user.php?id=5818>Uncle Russ:

Your pointed wire tool poking around in the spout may get the spout temporarily running, but here is what you may be missing:

The pin will only clear the middle of the spout hole, oxide scale hanging onto the walls of the spout hole can be stubborn to remove and that scale will increase. That also has some thermal insulation that is giving you the cold spout stopping your flow.

Regularly maintain your pot. The spout cooling and flow limiting signals me to clean the pot and spout. At the end of a casting session empty the pot completely into ingot molds. Steel brush the pot clean while still hot with a shop vac collecting the dust, or quickly go outside and wear a mask. Use the pin and clear the spout before it cools too.

Let the pot cool. dissemble the valve and operating lever from the pot. Use a 3/32” drill and run it through the spout hole. The original spout hole size is 3/32...You will notice that scale has made it smaller.

With the parts off the pot it is a good time to chuck up the valve rod, spin it and pinch it with steel wool to bring it to a shine. I also make a Q-tip looking polishing bit with a short thin dowel and steel wool to polish the valve face where the rod touches to stop flow.

With the valve spout hole renewed to 3/32", now stop using a pin to clear the spout. Use a 1/16 or3/32” drill held with a pliers and heat the spout if you need  when casting and you have a clog, but use the drill and not a pin again. A drill held in a pliers will actually shear off oxides and clear the spout much better than a pin can possibly do. Just work it up and down in the spout.


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Uncle Russ posted this 07 December 2012

Thank you Gentlemen: I forgot to mention I had already boiled out the pot. Disassembled, steel wooled the spout rod. Cleaned the nozzel but did not drill it. Wire wheeled pot interior. Was casting at about 715 deg but it was taking forever for the sprue puddle to solidify. Bullets are bright and shiney. Well filled. Have not checked size yet but not too critical for these 9mm wunder bullets. Makes noise, comes out of barrel, strikes earth, somewhere. Yep, it's a wunder 9. :rpdfire:

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Pigslayer posted this 07 December 2012

I do as onandaga says but go a step further. I remove valve assy. completely and clean out the spout cavity. The cavity accumulates crud! That should solve it!

If someone else had of done to me what I did to myself . . . I'd have killed him. Humility is an asset. Heh - heh.

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cityboy posted this 07 December 2012

This is one reason I always used a dipper.


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R. Dupraz posted this 07 December 2012

What “cityboy” said + a 20# Waage pot.


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Uncle Russ posted this 08 December 2012

R. Dupraz wrote: What “cityboy” said + a 20# Waage pot.


Who, what, where is a Waage pot? :thinking:

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R. Dupraz posted this 08 December 2012

Uncle Russ:

It's a 110V 20# commercial/industrial soft metal melting pot with temp control. Sold by Waage Electric Inc. Got mine some yrs back when I started shooting BPCR.Seems that I paid $120.00 for it and had to call because it wasn't on their web site.

Just found them on the net. But don't know if they still sell the one that I have.

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oscarflytyer posted this 08 December 2012

DIP! dip... JK! But all I have ever done is dip!

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Dale53 posted this 08 December 2012

I have a couple of RCBS pots. The only time they freeze the spout is when I throw in too many sprues and it cools down the melt. I simply grab the torch and heat the spout and it's goood to go in a minute or so.

FWIW Dale53

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Chargar posted this 08 December 2012

With pot at casting temp (with alloy), I take a proper size twist drill bit held in a pair of vice grips and clean out the cold spout. When it starts to flow, it will take out any cold alloy left behind.

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Uncle Russ posted this 09 December 2012


Is this a process, or the person involved?

Sorry, could not resist and about the same as I think of casting ladles.


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CB posted this 09 December 2012

Don't you be talking about my ladle like that :).

Duanes trying to reform me, but I still reach for the ladle first.

My Lyman pot has never experienced spout freezing, but since I only bottom pour for “blasting” ammo, I'm probably not the best source of info on that.

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Duane Mellenbruch posted this 09 December 2012

We should all be able to agree that tools have their special place.  I do use the ladle when casting samples for hardness testing when I melt scrap or blend alloys.  But for all of my other casting, rifle and pistol, I tend to bottom pour.  Bottom pour is much quicker for me for filling the multi cavity molds.  If I were into competition where I was going to weigh each individual bullet, I would likely use the single cavity mold and the ladle and see how the consistancy was.

I do not think I will ever get to that point though.


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Uncle Russ posted this 10 December 2012

Once more, Duane 1, other guys 0. Next round!

Duane pretty much nailed the process as I practice it also. With PID control Duane you can get those match results WITH the bottom pour pot. Just our findings here in the great Pacific Northwest.

Maybe its the Kansas air? Come try some of ours. :fire

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Duane Mellenbruch posted this 10 December 2012

I am seriously thinking I need a nice controller.  I have been working with antimony and it would be a lot easier if the pot temp stayed at a consistant temp.   I had some nice information from Bill Ferguson and tried a few things after discussing them via email.  Finally had enough time to work with it a little.  There is a lot of temp fluctuation with the Lee 10 and 20 pounder,  but it does work and I am going to have to spend time in the shed making small tile sized ingots to add to my casting alloy or soft lead to refresh my supply of casting alloy. 

I am just in the habit of the bottom pour pot, and if the temp was under a little better control, I would expect to have a consistant flow from the pot.   Nozzle freeze may result in poor mold fill out and just waiting for the temp to return to normal can be a negative factor as well.  It would certainly keep the pot from overheating as the melt level drops when casting with 6 cav molds.  Or 3-4 ounce slabs of enrichment alloy.

I do have plans to try some of the air in Northern Idaho early summer, so one never knows.   Time will be rather at a premium though so will have to see what works out.  Duane



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delmarskid1 posted this 10 December 2012

When I cast at higher temps and don't feel like waiting for the sprues to set I keep a jar lid with a damp pad of cloth to one side and use it to cool the cutter. I just watch for the sprue to clabber up and turn the works over onto the pad. If the mold begins to get too hot I touch the bottom as well. I don't do this with my “best girl” bullets but to pile up pistol bullets it works pretty well.

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onondaga posted this 10 December 2012


Of course, the thermodynamics of casting is a juggling of temperatures and times to get a method working satisfactorily for each individual. You mention your cooling with a damp pad in a jar lid to cool your cutter plate.  I have tried that also, and have also tried a small fan.  The puddle and plate cooling does have a drawback for my juggling thermodynamics that works for me.

What sticks out to me is that when I rapid cool like that, I get what appears like more Antimony migrating and  resting in patterns on the surface of my sprue puddles. The Antimony on the surfaces of the puddles increases the effort needed for the sprue metal  to re-alloy with the metal in the pot, no matter when I return the sprue metal to the pot. This makes successful fluxing a bigger job for me.

My alternative to a cooling like you use is a different timing schedule that leaves my sprue puddles more clear on the surface without the Antimony patterning. And, I don't re-flux for a whole potful when bottom pouring .

I get the 6 cavity mold up to to casting temperature on the pot top and then micro torch the cutter plate evenly about 10 seconds so I won't have cold short pouring or too rapid solidification of the sprue puddle on the first pour. I pour a continuous sprue filling all 6 cavities. I watch the sprue metal carefully and define a timing that I can easily cut sprue  leaving a smooth cut without any smear or chinking out of metal from the bullet bases.

Now is the significant change  in my timing from yours. I leave the mold closed with the cutter open and select a timing to cool the metal in the cavities. This timing allows 2 things for me. The puddle metal cools slower and doesn't pattern up with Antimony, additionally the the bullet metal cools longer for an easier release when I finally open the mold to drop bullets.

This whole scenario works for me, yields nicely filled bullets and sprues without antimony patterning so that I can drop each sprue directly back into the pot immediately before the next pour. What amazes me casting this way is that my rhythm actually does maintain sufficient thermodynamics to just keep going and cast a whole potful of about 18 pounds of metal without stopping!!!! 

Then I take a break and start another whole new potful if I want.

I first got this working with my RanchDog 460-350 FNGC, 6 cavity mold and now I can also do it with slightly less open plate cooling time with my RanchDog 311-165 FNGC 6 cavity mold.  Now I have way too many bullets and share them with my grandson! I have been casting over 50 years but only 2 years ago just began with 6 cavity molds and now I want more.

My pot temperature stabilizes about 620-635 F. after about a 25 minute melt of a new potful of #2 clone alloy with the mold sitting on top and the dial set at 6 and a half on my Lee 4-20. I flux once, ignore the thermometer, and cast till I run out of easy metal flow. This usually is when there is about 2 pounds left in the pot....a lot of bullets!

My first 2 potfuls with each new mold was all about finding the temperature and rhythm, it is working now.


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delmarskid1 posted this 11 December 2012

Cooling the puddle does do strange things to the bottom of the bullets. I see crystals in the cut off portion of my bullets when I go too fast. I like to run two molds and let the puddle cool on one while I fill the other. Back to the spout freeze thing. I have made the holes larger in the old 10 lb. bottom pour pot (Lee IV?)with a hand drill. The crusty's took longer to build up when the flow was faster. I had to drill from top and bottom as there was a jog in the channel. I also disassembled the pots and packed the sides with fiberglass batting.They held heat better and didn't cycle as often. My RCBS doesn't freeze up unless I'm casting at 650 in a cold garage. I ladle my benchrest wanna be's and BPCR 30:1 slugs.

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Uncle Russ posted this 11 December 2012

So far the best advise so far seems to be:

1- empty and clean the pot more often.

2- the best, the way my brain works, super insulate the pot as there nothing there from the LEE family.


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