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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Making Something

...Out of a crappy day.

So with the shooting excursion called off, Cro decided to bust out the molds and turn some discarded wheel weights into something more useful.  I figured it would make for a decent blog post, so I came over with the camera and ended up learning something.

The process is pretty straight forward, toss the weights into the pot, the lead melts, and the less dense steel clips float up to the top where you can scoop them out.

Plop in some bees' wax to keep things flowing and smelling a little better (it acts as a flux) and pretty soon you get some nice molten lead ready for molding.

Add enough bees' wax, and it'll flash over for a bit, which you can use to smoke the mold, depositing some carbon on it to help the bullets pop out.  Plus it makes for my favorite picture of the day:

Seriously, those are the kind of pics that motivate me to lug the thing around.

Anyway, back to the bullets.  So once you get the lead hot and melty, you can start heating the mold, basically running some lead through it till the bullets actually start looking good.

Cro uses the Lee two bullet molds, they're a good size, and pretty simple to use with the built in sprue cutter, and they heat better than the 6 bullet molds.  I wouldn't want to handle anything bigger under his little pot either.  Once they're warmed up, you get some pretty nice looking bullets.

Then we just tossed them in a bucket of water with a towel stuffed in the bottom to keep them from bouncing and getting deformed.

We found that with two guys with the two bullet molds, you can get a pretty good rhythm going.  Two hours of BSing, and we had a nice pile of .44 and 9mm bullets for the price of the electricity to heat the pot.

I think I need to pick up a .45acp mold and a beater GI barrel.  Quite a few tire places will let you have buckets of used wheel weights, so for the cost of powder and primers, I could be shooting 1911 for nearly .22 prices...


Mike-ENDOtactical said...

Awesome pictures! Those bullets look really nice. Rewarding to say that you made them literary from scratch too.

Fred said...

Yup. Next step is to learn how the heck to actually load them.

racer944 said...

I've gotta dust off my father in law's reloading set, those pictures look great!

HTRN said...

You may have a harder time finding wheel weights than you think - It's been my general experience that chain places(Sears, Costco, etc) dispose of them "internally", and the independents have scrap guys if they generate them in any significant quantity.

Sean said...

Check out your local shooting range. I got a 5 gallon bucket of lead/copper jacket at the gun store I work at (we have an indoor range). Same process, heat it till the copper/dirt/bits of target float to the top, skim it off, and pour it out. A friend goes to his outdoor range and picks up bullets out of the dirt at the handgun range, it takes more to clean it and it takes longer to get a working amount but its free.

Fred said...

I've got a cheap trap for pellet guns, and a CO2 pistol I don't use enough (it is nice to be able to practice in the basement on really crappy days...) Nowhere near as much lead, but it's still some, and more shooting practice.

Sigivald said...

When I'm doing pewter casting, I heat my (soapstone) molds in the oven to make for better results.

If you have easily removable handles...

(And don't forget, active ventilation of lead fumes!)

Anonymous said...

A word about the copper jacketed bullets. The lead is softer than what we use for cast bullets in cartridge guns. So you will have to use that lead for making muzzle loading bullets. That is why the fellow that picks up the cast pistol bullets on the range.

When I want hard lead I have found that I have to pay for it at the tire places. Also not all the wheel weights are good for casting the new ones aren't hard lead and will mess up your melt via contamination.


Sean said...

The lead I salvaged from the range is about the same hardness as wheel weights, the next batch may be different, it all depends on who shoots what bullets when and how often.
My friend that picks up bullets at his range uses Lead Free Solder to up the hardness of his stuff, we are testing some 10:1 and 20:1 in my 45-70 black powder loads, but smokeless would need more solder to bring up the hardness.