Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Praxis: One Man's Solution to Bullet Casting Ventilation.

We will be having another melt party over Labor Day to smelt down 200 pounds or so of range scrap bullets into usable ingot for casting. We work outdoors on a nice day but of course that can be interrupted by rain, Thus I was interested to receive this from reader Chuck.
Evening Mike,
I did a bit of casting today and thought you might be interested in how I beat the weather. I have been casting in the past and had thunderstorms sneak up on me. That'll make you think twice about setting up the pot without a roof over it. I'm also a big fan of fresh air while I'm casting, so I have built a ventilation system that has been very helpful.
In the rain today I had to weatherproof one fan with a tarp, but that was no trouble. Never smelled a whiff of smoke while fluxing, and didn't notice the heat of the pot at all, even though it was in the mid 80's here. I will be building an aluminum sprue catcher, (probably bend up an old license plate) so I can cut the sprues into it at waist level and then pour them back in the pot when they start piling up. Lopping sprues off and trying to get them to fall back in the pot was not as ergonomic, or as safe as I'd have liked.
The bucket with the cloth on top is also my water drop bucket. I tie a towel with a hole in it over the top with an old boot lace to keep splashes down. I start each mold dropping onto the cloth, and once the mold is up to temperature I start water dropping stuff that needs to be extra hard. (7.62x39 bullets this afternoon.) I whipped up quite a variety today. Some .38, .45, 455 (298gr 454 HB Minie' Ball for Webley MKVI), and 6.5mm along with the 7.62x39 stuff.
I broke in two new molds today, one Lyman and one Lee. I can tell you without a doubt that I am going to keep smoking all my molds until they're black, no matter who made them. Neither of these molds had a problem with bullets sticking in the mold, but they were getting excess sprue lead sticking all over them. On a hot mold I had never had this problem before. I finished with three of my old faithful molds that'd been smoked one time, years ago, and they had zero lead sticking issues. Lots of mileage on these molds, but they just keep getting better with age. Too bad I don't have any kids around anymore to wrangle into doing the casting for me...while I supervise.
Enjoy the pics. Hope you get the house weather proof again pretty quick.


Anonymous said...

Interesting setup.

I avoid putting rejected bullets or sprues back into the melt while actually casing bullets. Do yourself a favor and put them in with the range scrap for later. I found that putting them back in the pot increased the amount of time I spent fluxing and skimming. I also found that investing in one of the larger bottom pour lead pots was well worth the money. Using a dipper introduces air & impurities into the melt. See above on time wasted fluxing and skimming. Mine is the RCBS 20 pound Pro-Melt but others have had good results with the other brands. I just found that I ended up with more bullets per hour and pound of lead with this unit than I did with my old 5 pounder & dippers.

Jim22 said...

Another idea: Back before I quit casting bullets I did it in my garage. I had a counter against an outside wall. On it I put a cheap 30" wide kitchen vent fan - the kind that goes over your kitchen stove.

Ran a 3"x10" duct through the wall so everything was blown outside. The fan had multiple speeds. It exhausted the lead fumes efficiently and it had a couple of handy light bulbs in it to light up my work.

Very handy.