Ladle Casting Pot & Bullet Weight Variations

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  • Last Post 18 September 2023
Wm Cook posted this 17 September 2023

I ladle cast when using single cavity molds and I use Lyman’s 10lb furnaces.  I like the low profile (because I sit when I cast) but even with vigorous stirring between pours I can only get 50 or so drops (~220 grain bullet) before my alloy (Linotype) starts to separate and a flux is needed.  After 60 drops the bullet weight starts to get lighter so for now I stop at 50.

The alloy temp is PID controlled @ 695 and mold temperature is monitored pretty closely.

Lee has a 20 lb pot and maybe it’s just me but my success rate with their casting furnaces hasn’t been good.  I might be sounding uppity but I’m looking for a little better quality.

I’ve gone on line a number of times and other than the Lee it seems there’s not a lot of options for a 15 or 20lb pot for ladle casters.  Does anyone have a suggestion?  Bill.

My addiction to gambling starts and ends with me spending $ to try a powder I’ve never shot before.

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linoww posted this 17 September 2023

Waage is my preference ,it's expensive but worth it

https://www.buffaloarms.com/lead-casting-furnace-115v-ladl-rcb99989.html

"if it was easy we'd let women do it" don't tell my wife I said that!

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hporter posted this 17 September 2023

I like my Waage K4757 for ladle casting.

 

 

It was $198 back in 2014 when I bought it new.  I don't know what they might go for now.  They don't list them on the website, you have to ask about them.  https://waage.com/

 

I have a Lee 20lb bottom pour that I replaced the inner pot with a solid bottom from Lee that works OK - it works really well if you use a P&ID with it.

 

I just looked at the Lee website, and they have a Magnum Melter model, that looks like it sits a little lower than the bottom pour model.

 

 

Good luck!

 

 

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Glenn R. Latham posted this 17 September 2023

Bill,

   Your vigorous stirring may be creating tiny air bubbles in you castings.  The late Dennis Marshall did extensive testing of this and cross sectioned and polished bullets that weighed less after vigorous stirring, and found porosity running down the length of the bullet.  See his report in TFS 70-13.

 

Glenn

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OU812 posted this 17 September 2023

The RCBS Easy Melt furnace is priced @ 170.00 thru Midway. Temperatures are very accurate. I can cast just as well using the cheaper Lee pot, but requires accurate thermometer. The thermometers i own vary as much as 50 degrees.

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Tom Acheson posted this 17 September 2023

In 2013 my 1987 Lyman 20-pound pot finally died. I bought a Magma Engineering 40-pound pot. I had them omit the PIA bottom pour feature and use support legs that keep the pot as low as possible to the bench top. It’s 100% ladle casting for me and I’ve never looked back. The 40-pound capacity is really a good feature to work with a large batch of known alloy. $394 in 2013.

Tom

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Wm Cook posted this 17 September 2023

Your vigorous stirring may be creating tiny air bubbles in you castings.

Glen you may be right about air pockets but I took to stirring because without stirring the pot things quickly muddied up on me.  After 30 or 40 drops the sprue would have a tall (high viscosity) pour on the sprue plate instead of the flat (low viscosity) sprue that I was trying for. I over pour back into the pot to keep the base filled out.  By keeping the pot stirred I was able to get another cast before the alloy started to separate.  Wishing and wanting again.  I wish I had the back issues of the FS.  Still haven't bought the CD's.

Here's a look at the cast session I did on Friday.  Each bullet was kept sequentially so that I could compare their weight with the mold temperature.  48 of the first 51 dropped at 215.2 +/- .1g.  I forgot how to use the analysis tool on Excel to see the SD but it looked good. From drop 52 through 80 the weight dropped some and started to bounce around. 

Had I of continued another 20 drops I'm pretty certain it would have gotten progressively worse. So if I saw a decline in bullet weight consistency after 50 drops this snapshot view means that I'm only able to use 16% of the capacity of a 10lb pot before fluxing?  I've been trying to figure out best practices for ladle casting since last May and I have anecdotal evidence that leads me to believe this.

I realize that all of this is a moot point because most will say that a group shot with bullets weighting 215.0 - 215.4 will shoot no better than those weighing +/-.1 g of 215.2. 

But I'm bewildered with trying to understand fliers.  It drives me crazy when 3 out of 5 groups stick it and the other two has one or even worse 2 that step out of the group.  Between wind, equipment and bench practices there's a lot of reasons for fliers but I usually know when its a Bill Cook problem and when its not. Since I'm not all that smart I have to try harder than others. 

In 2013 my 1987 Lyman 20-pound pot finally died. I bought a Magma Engineering 40-pound pot.

Thanks Tom.  I knew I had seen something like that somewhere but couldn't find where I put the link. 

Thanks to all.  Bill

 

My addiction to gambling starts and ends with me spending $ to try a powder I’ve never shot before.

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Tom Acheson posted this 17 September 2023

When I’ve scratched my head about “flyers”, I can’t remember connecting that experience with alloy variation. There is no way I could track things back to that anomaly.  For me it’s 100% bench technique. Slight variations there are reflected on the target. But….I’m using a 7-pound XP-100 with a 15” barrel. Much more difficult to be consistent with than a rifle!

Tom

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 17 September 2023

flyers ... back when i wuz trying for small cast groups ... my worse flyers wuz caused by barrel conditioning ...  impossibly bad flyers ...  ridiculous flers ...   approaching Supernatural flyers ...

how could barrel conditioning cause a 12 moa angle flyer ?? ... ...  Buehler ?? ...  anyone ? ...   

and yes, i could repeat it ...

i can shoot both 150 grain and 90 grain together and not have that big o group .. don't think it is light bullets ...

ken in the darkness ...

 

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Wm Cook posted this 18 September 2023

You all just don't understand how far behind the curve I am on cast accuracy.  If I miss a shift from 1:00 to 11:00 the hole just isn't supposed to fly off high and right.  Its kind of unnerving.  And if you get two goofy fliers in the same group you start feeling like a dummy. The corners I'm scratching around have already been searched by many others. I don't expect to find gold any time soon but darn it I'm going to try as long as my bank account can keep up with the psychiatric bills.  Wonder if Medicare covers any of this?

 

My addiction to gambling starts and ends with me spending $ to try a powder I’ve never shot before.

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358156hp posted this 18 September 2023

Hi Bill,

Your consistency up to the 50 bullet point is really good, ~ perhaps 1%. Perhaps the next thing to try is to add your sprues back in at 50, and flux the pot thoroughly to see what effect that has on your situation. I see a lot of oxides in the pot when I ladle cast too, so when this happens I refill and reflux and everything is reset. It appears to me that the ladle is partially responsible for this condition as well, dross forms on the outside of the ladle during pouring and gets carried into the pot. I've had some success using spray on "Mold Prep" on the ladle, inside and out. That may help you too. My pot is a PID controlled Lyman Mag 20.

 

Bob

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Wm Cook posted this 18 September 2023

I think you're right.  By just doing a reset with fresh alloy and then fluxing I can zero out conditions and I'll be back to normal. That might be needed even with a 20lb pot, just not sure how often.  Without stirring the pot the scum starts to set it pretty quick and even with the stirring of the pot I can see the viscosity thickening and I start to see the ladle nozzle flow being inhibited as the pot level lowers.

I didn't think of it until you posted your reply but I've become accustomed to rapping the ladle on the edge of the pot to shake off some of the barnacles. The longer I wait to flux the worse it gets.  So I guess for my pot, my alloy, my methods I'll cast in lots of 50 before fluxing.  

My first pot was a Lyman 20#.  The thermostat went out on it and I found one somewhere and I have the pieces gathered but haven't reassembled yet.  You mentioned PID control.  Friday was the first time I used one on the little Lyman 10# and it was appreciated.  No more tinkering, just set it and forget it.  Got it from Hatch over on the Boolet forum.  Without the PID you can get caught with your pants down if the temp starts to fall under 650-660 and the bullets drop light. 

I have a Lee 20lb bottom pour that I replaced the inner pot with a solid bottom from Lee that works OK - it works really well if you use a P&ID with it.

HPorter's idea of converting the leaky Lee bottom pour to a solid steel pot is a terrific idea.  Didn't catch when I read your post.  Gotta dig mine out to see if it can be lowered as well.  Thanks again everyone.  Bill. 

  

My addiction to gambling starts and ends with me spending $ to try a powder I’ve never shot before.

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MarkinEllensburg posted this 18 September 2023

I wonder if you are alloying at a high enough temp. How much dross are you removing at the beginning of your casting session? How clean is your pot? How clean is your alloy? What is your alloy?

I have found that when ladle casting I need to flux more often than when I bottom pour. the process of dipping the ladle seems to bring more dross to the top. I cast mostly with lynotype and it is pretty dirty.

 

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John Alexander posted this 18 September 2023

Bill,

Why not shoot a string of groups with bullets from the 1 through 50 group and a similar string with bullets from the 50 through 79 group and compare the average group size?

This would help you pin down at what point accuracy is affected instead of what point weight variation increases.  Weight variation isn't a primary concern.  Small weight variation doesn't win matches.  Accuracy/precision does.

John

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Wm Cook posted this 18 September 2023

Mark everything is with Linotype at this time and I ran a constant 695 on this last batch.  I really new to this so you have to take what I say with some room for misinterpretation. 

I've been trying to cast consistent bullets since last year.  Last May I had two casting sessions in one day.  In the AM they dropped around 214.7 and in the afternoon they dropped around 215.8.   To make a long story short I found was that a change to the mold temperature effects the drop weights to a greater degree than a change of alloy temperature.  Alloy temperature being more forgivable to its effect on bullet weights and mold temperatures having a greater impact on drop weight. 

If I cast at 660 the alloy viscosity seems to thicken and negatively effects a clean pour into the mold and requires more frequent fluxing. In my mind 670 would be the lowest I could go. At 715 the alloy seems to be almost too hot and a dark contamination occurs on the alloy surface.  Like a dark bronze.

I flux by giving the pot a long stir (60 sec) while I scrape the sides/bottom and gathering everthing together to the top.  I then add a couple, three pea size pieces of clean wax and let it burn for a bit.  Then while burning I stir it into the pot and keep working the buildup on the surfice back into the pot.  At the end if I see tin still in the dross I repeat to get it to separate.  Eventually I wind up with a table spoon or two of dark grey matter that skims off and leaves a clean surface. Best bet is that what I scoop off is almost a dry powder, not a chunk. The first 20 to 30 drops after fluxing are a dream.  Clean fluid pour out of the ladle spout and a pleasant pour into the cavity.  If I get off my dead rear end and put that old bottom pour Lyman Mag 20 together I'd have a second bottom pour so I could compare the two. 

I think you may be right about the ladle carrying the contaminents into the alloy.  By stirring the pot between each pour I can extend the number of drops I get between fluxing but I frequently rap the ladle on the top edge of the pot to knock off buildup of contaminents.  My Lyman ladle is probably 30+ years old.  I have to others; Lee and the Roto Metal.  The Lee is too small for most anything and the RotoMetal is a great design but won't fit in my 10lb pot.

Again, if I get off my dead butt and modify that Lee bottom pour furnace that I shelved into a ladle desigh maybe I could use the larger ladle. 

Sound like I'm the problem doesn't it.  Thanks for helping.  Bill.

My addiction to gambling starts and ends with me spending $ to try a powder I’ve never shot before.

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