Bad day at the pot..

  • Last Post 26 April 2019
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tony1960 posted this 14 April 2019

Well it started out as a fine Autumn day (27C and blue sky) then it turned into the day from hell.

Wife went to work so I thought I would fire up a new 3rd hand Lee pot and cast some 36's and 45 round balls for our BP revolvers. It seemed like a good idea at the time, throw a heap of lead in and the thermometer and walk away to do the 100 other things associated with actually getting lead in a mould.

Came back 15 mins later to find a puddle of lead creeping across my bench like the lava flow from Mt Kilauea, damn stem wasn't seated properly so as the lead melted it decided down was better. So after stopping the stream and gathering up the flow it was down to business.

I run the two moulds at the same time, two Lee six cavity RB's, alternate between the two to keep the moulds at the right temp. I generally pour the first one and let them sit for a minute to warm up and then we're off. Always had beautiful balls come out of these and never an ill word spoken.

That was fine until half a dozen throws in and the sprue arm on the 36 snapped clean off at the handle, doesn't look like there was any pre-existing damage, just broke.

broken Lee mould

Sort of brought that to an abrupt stop. I suppose the easy bit is unscrewing the stop from the mould, getting the piece from inside the handle may be slightly more difficult.

At  least the 45 mould was behaving whilst I thought this through, then two of the cavities decided they wanted to stick, no amount of cussing or smoking, cleaning would get them to fall smoothly. Is there a god??

Unbolted a sprue handle off another Lee mould and put it back onto the 36, worked like a charm for the rest of the time, all six fell out like they were meant to and not a wrinkle in sight. This 'new" pot wouldn't keep temp up for love nor money, maybe taking a lot of lead out didn't help but we got there.

Ended up with  tub full of balls to keep us going for a couple of months so now have to find myself another sprue handle to replace the broken one.

The sun is still shining.

36's and 45's

I hope everyone else has a productive Sunday too.

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Brodie posted this 14 April 2019


About a year and a half ago I purchased some sprue cutter handles from a fellow in Canada.  I got his information  from the "Cast Boolits" web site.  I think with a little searching and time you could find him as well.  The Canadian handles are made from real steel not the frangible stuff that Lee makes theirs from.  I had the same thing happen to me.  I think that if you return the broken parts to Lee they will probably send you a new sprue handle.  The Canadian's wee kinda pricey.


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Millelacs posted this 14 April 2019

Lee has been real good about replacing stuff, even when I start the conversation with "I broke it".

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David Reiss posted this 14 April 2019

Many years ago there was an article in the FS about this issue and the author told how to alter the angle on the bearing surface of the sprue cutter to lessen it's load and prevent this from occurring. If I can find it I will let you know or maybe someone else might remember it also.

Let me leave you with a wise old saying, "It is better to have a bad day at the pot than to have a bad day on the pot".  

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
- Also deal in: Land, Banjos, Nails, Firearms, Manure, Fly Swatters, Used Cars, Whisky, Racing Forms, Rare Antiquities, Lead, Used Keyboard Keys, Good Dogs, Pith Helmets & Zulu Headdresses. .

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stevebarrett posted this 14 April 2019


But full marks put for persisting right through to the end! Ne Absiste, as was my old school motto.


Fortunately, so far, I've not had that mold problem, but I can definitely empathise about the dripping pot issue. I likewise once came back to a frightening outpour after forgetting I’d left the thing switched on. More of a problem though is the persistent drip, drip, drip when casting. Forever twiddling the screwdriver trying to get it right. Either it drips between pourings, or else you tighten it up and it won't pour at all. It drives me mad.


All these years I've used Lee melting pots; starting with the small ones and now using the 20 pound variety – but they all drip. Do people have better experiences with melting pots by other manufacturers?


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GP Idaho posted this 14 April 2019

stevebarrett:  I've never owned a Lee bottom pour pot but from what I read, dripping is a more than common thing with them. I do own the Lee Magnum Melter and obviously no drip problem there. I've had no problems with this pot and it hums a little electrical tune as you go along. I started out with the Lyman Mag 20 and have had twenty years service so I've got my moneys worth with that pot. And yes, it has a dripping problem also.  The best pot I own is the RCBS Pro melt. I've used this pot for about three years now and am very happy with it. NO drips and the flow rate is very easy to adjust. I don't know about the newer version of the Pro Melt but it makes me wonder why RCBS discontinued the previous version as it works so well. Gp

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Brodie posted this 15 April 2019

I started with a Lyman bottom pour 10# pot.  It dripped, I have three Lee pots (2 10# and one 20#) and they all drip to some degree or another.  I just keep a small blade screw driver next to the pot and when the dripping gets to be too much I use it on the stem rotating it back and forth a few times.  The drips usually stop for a while until I get a little bit of crud on the stem or the in the seat, and then we start over.  I do not understand why it is such a big problem.  THe Cheapest  electric pot on the market has to have some minor problems; I just have learned how to deal with them and keep on casting.


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stevebarrett posted this 15 April 2019


Maybe dripping can never be completely eliminated, but I find it an increasing annoyance these days. Thanks for that suggestion Gp. The RCBS pro melt 2 looks an amazingly sophisticated item, although it's the equivalent of $540 over this side of the Atlantic. I may well change though; It's time to try something new.




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muley posted this 15 April 2019

why not try using a ladle? I use a ladle and three moulds at one time in sequence.I use a 5 cavity a 4 cavity and a 2 cavity. I cast at 800 deg. they make a lot of good bullets in a short period of time.I use three one half by 6 inch steel angles and place moulds in groove between pours. works for me.

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shastaboat posted this 15 April 2019

You can't let the mold cool so much that cutting the spews causes this.

Because I said so!

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beltfed posted this 15 April 2019

Like Muley,

Go with a ladle. FORGET the bottom pour!!!!

Just crank that adjusting screw to STOP UP the bottom spigot and

ENJOY casting with a ladle


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max503 posted this 15 April 2019

I'm trying to picture this. I've been experimenting with a ladle. It shows promise.

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BigMan54 posted this 16 April 2019

I always keep an ingot mold under the spout. And an old cookie sheet on the floor under the bench.

This never actually happened to me, but I watched it happen to a buddy. He bought a Lee pot instead of an RCBS Pro-Melt like I have. So while I've always kept an ingot mold under the spout, and a 1/2" lathe strip under the back of the pot before I clamped it to the bench.  I've never put any thing on the floor under the pot until this happened. 

Although when I got back into casting 3 years ago, I fired up a cold pot Full of lead and forgot to put an upside ingot mold over the pot. It geysered. Fortunately I wasn't on the patio at the time. But I had a lot of splattered lead to clean up.


And David, while I've many a good day at a pot.

I've sure in my mispent youth I spent many more hugging a pot.

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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tony1960 posted this 16 April 2019

Thanks guys for the many words of wisdom. This is the worst bottom pour I've owned, yeah they all drip a bit but this is bad, no wonder it's had so many owners. Best I had was a Lyman Mag 20, but only after I modified the seat to give more purchase on the rod. I've always been a ladle man, nothing like stirring the lead around, much like staring into a campfire dreaming of days long past. The ladle has it's benefits and some moulds are finicky, as we all know. even these moulds on the weekend, the 36 had to be poured from front to back, the 45 the opposite to get any decent balls.

I can't afford one of the new RCBS or Lyman pots, too many dollars here and still don't think they would be as good as my old cast iron pot, just ease of use I suppose. I have dipped out of an old Lee pot that used to drip uncontrollably and it does work but my gas burner and cast pot does the same job and 20 pounds more lead in the mix.

The steel sprue cuter from Canada is an option when they get back to me, and I work out the exchange rate. Lead definitely wasn't cool, just bad luck on the day. I normally cast at around the 800F mark as I find pure lead a bugger to get flowing to fill moulds out, so a couple of quick pours normally brings them up to temp.



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BigMan54 posted this 17 April 2019

I have single cav and double cav for my .32, .36 & .45, If I'm having a bad time dipper casting with the double cav molds. I just switch to single cav. I think it's better to get fewer balls (clean up your minds) then just shut down after setting up everything.

I dipper cast RB's & MAXI's from a cast iron pot over a single propane burner. Always done it that way, since I was 8yrs old. 

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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delmarskid posted this 19 April 2019

When the cutter handle broke on my Lee six mold I used an adjustable spanner (wrench) to manipulate it. Ladle casting is easier than pot fixing. RCBS has s dipper that is larger than most.

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BigMan54 posted this 23 April 2019

But the RCBS dipper has a much bigger bottom. Ya gotta refill the pot sooner if you're using it.

Cuts into casting time.

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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tony1960 posted this 24 April 2019

Spent a few hours over my other lead pot on Monday, 30lbs of lead and ladled away dropping some Lee 158-357-RF. Never had an issue at all, tossed the first three pours away and had beautiful bullets from there on, no different method than the bottom pour. I was only going to cast a hundred or so, ended up having so much fun time got away from me and ended up with a little over 1,000, maybe I need a smaller pot to stop me? and yes, the RCBS ladle does hold more.

So thinking as you do, do you drop the sprue back in the pot every now and then or bulk at the end. As you can imagine there is a fair amount of sprue from a 6 cavity mould and 150+ pours. I tend to wait until the end so I am not waiting for the pot to get back up to temp but I do know of people who toss back in regularly so they keep the pot going. I find that I can turn the gas down as I am going to keep the lead at the temp I want, see, thinking $$ too.

How many of us still use the same technique as we were taught, the old timer that gave me my first taste of casting had some "interesting" techniques. He would only cast from a freshly dipped ladle, tapped that thing on the side of the pot each time to shake off any old lead and then he would dip and pour.  Always pushed the ladle across the top of the lead before he dipped so there was no oxidised lead making it's way into the ladle, he always had clean projectiles.

One of my Lyman 30 cal moulds needs the spout held against the sprue plate to fully form the projectiles. My 38 and 44 moulds tend to like a decent sprue to purchase extra lead when forming.

Sure is an interesting part of our sport.

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Hoppy posted this 24 April 2019

I've been casting with some brand or other of bottom-pour pot for many years, and now and then I'll get the kind of persistent dripping that a number of people have described. Like them, I'll usually get a screwdriver and twiddle the valve stem back & forth a bit, and the drip usually stops for a while. But eventually the drip gets too persistent to tolerate--then I dump all the melt out (or let it run into a muffin tin (my kinda lead mold) until the pot is empty and dry. I let everything cool down then dismantle the valve parts and give the pot a good scrubbing with a rotary steel brush and use steel wool on a dowel to clean out the valve seat area, and use the steel wool to polish the tip of the valve stem. Then I reassemble the pot parts and get back to casting--usually with no dripping for quite a while.

I think this happens because of the grit that sometimes accompanies the lead supply, or because of the rust that sometimes roughens the valve surfaces. Anyway, a thorough cleaning does the job, but it does take some time to do it right.

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BigMan54 posted this 26 April 2019

I'm still using the same RCBS Pro-Melt for 35yrs+. I've had a Lyman Mag-20 for about 30yrs, since my old SAECO 10lb'er died. Now that was a bit of a dripper. 

But neither the old RCBS or LYMAN drip unless I touch the handle by accident ( or clumsiness ).   I have a Lee 10lb bottom pour buried in the garage, I don't know if it drips. Never got a chance to use it. 

I usually cast from three 4-6 cavity molds at a time. I return the sprues to the pot each casting cycle of 3 molds. That maintains the temp of the pot with a variation of only 10degrees.  For some reason I just started doing that when I got the old SAECO 10lb pot. Casting from 2 4cav molds would empty the pot in about 10minutes. Then I'd have to refill the pot and wait 15 minutes for the the pot to settle down to casting temp. And the first 3-4 casts were throw a ways. So I was spending more time refilling the pot and waiting for the molds to come up to casting temp. Didn't have a hot plate in those days.   

So I don't have to deal with drips. And only use a dipper for BP balls and 1cav MAXI BALLS. A Lyman egg shape. Still the best dipper around.

Maybe emptying the pot out and cleaning it at the end of each session helps. 

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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