Author Topic: help with bullet moulding  (Read 5751 times)

wheeler47

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help with bullet moulding
« on: April 08, 2010, 06:28:38 PM »
hi guys

i'm new to this forum page and need advice. i have a euroarms .58 caliber enfield rifled musket(i do civil war reenacting) but want to live shoot it. so i got a lee minie bullet mould to make my own rounds. i have only been doing this for a week so i know i'll get better(i hope), but every single bullet i made so far (about 50) have some artifact grooves or lines in them. some are very minute but some are quite flagrant.  i did try to get the temperature up and equal on the mould and got on a pretty good roll for a while so i know the mould got very hot, but not one round came out of the mould entirely smooth all the way around. :-\

 ???will these shoot ok ??? how do i post a a jpg attachment on this forum ???

thanks for any help ;D
« Last Edit: April 08, 2010, 06:29:54 PM by wheeler47 »

Daryl

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Re: help with bullet moulding
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2010, 07:03:08 PM »
Minnie balls (bullets) have to be perfect- especially on the skirts and at the bottom of the cavity hole.
The mould and lead have to be the proper temperature to case good minnies - minnies are difficult to learn casting with.
I suggest you get a .562" Lee round ball mould in double cavity for around $19.95 or single cavity for $16.95 - something like that and use cloth patches and round balls.  I've experience with several .577 Enfields and .58 US repro's and they all shoot round balls exceptionally well - as well as any longrifle, as a matter of fact.  Round balls are more accurate over normal muzzleloading ranges than minnies.  I've yet to see a  factory minnie chucker shoot into 2" at 100yards, whereas I've done that with the Enfields and the Zouaves using round balls.

Round balls usually shoot much closer to the original sights as well, whereas minnies usually shoot very high due to recoil induced trajectory.

Go to the 'Tutorials' forum here, and Acer Sac has a good run-down on picture posting. We do get 'the picture' of your bullets, though, form your dscription - we all started there.  Your lead temp needs to come up.  Minnies HAVE to be pure lead or very nearly pure lead - generally no more than 2% tin total and 0 antimony.  A hard minnie will not expand (obturate) into the grooves.

Offline SCLoyalist

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Re: help with bullet moulding
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2010, 07:06:19 PM »
It's been a while since I cast Minies, but what I remember doing was from time to time degreasing the inside of the mold with alcohol, then when the alcohol had evaporated, smoking the mold with the soot from a candle.   Wrinkles are usually caused by a cold mold, though.  Figure the first 10 or 15 casts are for bringing the mold up to temperature.   I filled the mold so as to leave a lot of lead for the sprue cutter, and gave it 10 or 15 seconds to cool and harden on the theory that the interior of the mold was going to take longer to cool and get solid enough to dump.

As to the jpg question,  I believe you have to have the image on a photosharing site (photobucket seems the most popular) and enter the url between the "img" and "/img" brackets created when you hit the "insert image" button on the toolbar.

coutios

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Re: help with bullet moulding
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2010, 12:29:45 AM »
  I have the same musket and spent 12 seasons with the 8th Ohio. Have alot of fond memories. My rifle shot/shoots well at 100 yards holding within a 6 inch group about 10 inches high of dead center, off hand. But not without some effort. The Minne is a big bullet and takes alot of lead that must be poured fast. I use a RCBS dipper with the pour spout opened up to increase flow. Once cast weigh, lube and size.  Keep records of what the gun likes so you can repeat. These things are a hoot to shoot, when I still could see you could see the rounds flying down range and hear the slap of that heavey round hitting the target.

Enjoy
Regards
Dave 

Offline Maven

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Re: help with bullet moulding
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2010, 01:33:34 AM »
"I did try to get the temperature up and equal on the mould and got on a pretty good roll for a while so i know the mould got very hot, but not one round came out of the mould entirely smooth all the way around."

Two potential problems:  (1) Your lead isn't hot enough and (2) the mould needs to be thoroughly degreased.  Fortunately both are easily fixed.  Look around (Midway, Mid South, et al.) for a good casting thermometer.  Your "melt" needs to be ~800 deg. F to get bullets without wrinkles.  Second, scrub the mold with your favorite degreaser, making sure it is 100% dry.  Then use several wooden matches to deposit a layer of soot over the cavities and base plug.  Btw, this is easier to do when the mould is hot (eliminates condensation on a cool surface...something you don't want!).  Hope this helps!


Paul W. Brasky

Daryl

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Re: help with bullet moulding
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2010, 03:36:10 AM »
I used to use smoke from matches, lighter or a candle, until I tried Ms. Moly and Hoppe's jacketed bullet moly spray. Rapine mould prep, a graphite in liquid form is also a great mould prep.  The Rapine or moly spray stops lead from sticking, lubricates the mould indexing bars and helps drop the bullet from the mould.
For a degreaser, ajax brushed with an old toothbrush, then flushed with very hot water will clean off any preservative waxes or oils. they will dry quickly. Getting an aluminum mould to temperature is as easy as dipping a corner in the melt, just as Lee says.  I let them sit on the pot's top rim to heat as the lead melts.

Harnic

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Re: help with bullet moulding
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2010, 06:09:44 PM »
I had a couple Minie squirters when I first started shooting muzzle loaders 35 years ago & used 2 different Lee Minie molds.  Both were easy to break in & cast well formed bullets after a dozen or so bullets.  My "trick" was at the end of every casting session, after them blocks returned to room temperature, I sprayed them liberally with silicone lube.  It dried in an hour or 2 & I left it on when casting the next time.  It seems to make a great mold release & helps even the poorly designed Minie ball fill the mold well, given that the lead is hot enough.  As I recall I started using wheel weight metal with good results as that alloy filled the mold halves better than pure lead.

Offline Dennis Glazener

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Re: help with bullet moulding
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2010, 02:24:02 AM »
Quote
As I recall I started using wheel weight metal with good results as that alloy filled the mold halves better than pure lead.
When I used to mold minnie balls, I tried wheel weight lead and accuracy went to pot, the "skirt" was not completely engaging the rifling. Evidently the lead was too hard. I have since heard to only use pure lead for Minnie balls if accuracy is a concern.
Dennis
 
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Daryl

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Re: help with bullet moulding
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2010, 03:21:47 AM »
Bullets of the expansive system, especially when used in original-type barrels with progressive depth rifling, require soft lead - very soft lead or the skirts will not engage the rifling full depth. Accuracy goes to pot and gas cutting from the deep grooves at the breech melts lead off and sprays it onto the bore in the bullet's path.  The bullet then rides over it and irons it into the bore.
Just one more reason I shoot round balls - no wiping while shooting, better accuracy, no leading and improved killing power over soft pointy bullets.  The Lee's skirts are too thin to allow a large enough powder charge to make hitting even feasable, let along possible at unknown ranges.  Their trajectory advantage takes place way past any legitimate hunting range, as in - over 300yards, they might have less drop, but not inside that range.  I checked using an accurate computer program and using probable ballsitic coefficients for round balls and slugs in large bores and at no range that the ball was in the air, did the slug shoot flatter. The ball hit the ground from a level shot and 50 yard zero, after the slug did.
A hardened round ball will outpenetrate a soft slug, any day.  The minnie expands from the base forwards, the skirt actually attmpting to pas the bullets nose, greatly increasing the contact with flesh resulting in shallow depth.  Light game can be penetrated with pure lead balls and slugs, but heavy game needs a hardened projectile and the round ball does it- again.

Harnic

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Re: help with bullet moulding
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2010, 03:14:57 AM »
Quote
As I recall I started using wheel weight metal with good results as that alloy filled the mold halves better than pure lead.
When I used to mold minnie balls, I tried wheel weight lead and accuracy went to pot, the "skirt" was not completely engaging the rifling. Evidently the lead was too hard. I have since heard to only use pure lead for Minnie balls if accuracy is a concern.
Dennis
 

I was very new to muzzle loading then Dennis & was likely using way to heavy loads, which is likely why the w/w minies worked.  Heck, I was still shooting a caplock!  That's how green I was! ;) I'm pretty sure I was blowing skirts with the pure lead loads.

Black Jaque Janaviac

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Re: help with bullet moulding
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2010, 05:21:52 PM »
Quote
I was very new to muzzle loading then Dennis & was likely using way to heavy loads, which is likely why the w/w minies worked.

Yes indeed.  The load that works well is way too heavy.   ;D

I cast roundballs for muzzle loaders and regular bullets for m-m-m-modern guns.  The modern guns get Wheel Weight alloy and I save my pure lead for roundballs.

The advice you've gotten is good.  Pure lead needs to be cast at a slightly higher temp than Wheel Weight alloy.  Any grease or wax in your mold will cause wrinkles.  Also a cold mold or cold melt will cause wrinkles. 

Generally if the glob of lead on top of the sprue cutter takes a few seconds to "freeze" your mold should be hot enough.  If you're still getting wrinkles it's likely from grease/wax.

If you read the instructions on Lee's molds they advise to lube the pins and such with wax.  I have yet to figure out how to do this without getting some wax in the cavity.  After lubing the next several bullets are wrinkly until the wax burns out. 

I'm not certain about minie bullets but I can tell you that for round balls and regular bullets - wrinkles won't matter for most of your shooting.  I just sort all my balls/bullets into "excellent" and "fair" quality.  I save the excellent quality ones for competition and hunting, the fair quality ones get shot at pop cans and such.

Daryl

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Re: help with bullet moulding
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2010, 07:45:39 PM »
I used to wax the plate and alignment pins of Lee moulds with beeswax quite successfully by just barely touching them with the corner of a block of beeswax.  This was until I discovered the Rapine and moly sprays. Now, alignment is perect without lube.

Harnic

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Re: help with bullet moulding
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2010, 08:58:35 PM »
I just spray my Lee molds with silicone lube when they cool.  No need to degrease before use & the bullets/balls drop out easily.

Offline stuart cee dub

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Re: help with bullet moulding
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2010, 04:14:50 AM »
Hi Wheeler!
I've been molding Minnie balls the last few evenings . I have two molds I use , an Aluminum Rapine mold  and a steel RCBS Hodgdon.
Of the two the Hodgdon is easier once it gets hot.I literally took me some time (several seasons in fact ) to figure out what works .
All my early bullets looked just like you described .The first bullets out of my molds still look like that.

1)Hot lead is critical .Really hot .On my old pot I crank it all the way to 800(That's an ''11'' on your guitar amps ;))  .
It has to run freely out of the lee dipper I use. Your thermostat might work better than mine .
Some pots work better at a certain lead level .Mine casts better bullet from about 3/5th down to about 1/5th .I suspect the pot heats the lead best at those levels.
2) Graphite mold release definitely works.(I understand Mr Rapine has retired but I might be wrong)
3) When pouring lead into the mold ,the mold should be tilted to slightly to one side .The position and angle of the mold and the ladle's lead  stream and its entry angle make a difference ,check as you go along and pay attention to what you are doing .Repeat what works .
4) When the stream of lead goes into the mold there should be enough of an opening left to let air escape
5) Keep pouring lead even if it is just a small stream on the opening after it is full .It helps prevent cooling'' sink holes'' on the nose
6) Flux your lead often .I use candle wax (paraffin ) I use my covered lee dipper by filling a bit of the cavity with a bunch of candle shavings then (gently) plunge the whole thing to the bottom of the mold and start stirring it in.
Once infused step back it will start smoking .
Hopefully you are doing this outside .These are fumes you don't want to be breathing. Wearing thick leather gloves with some polycarb lensed safely glasses .After it is done smoking take an old spoon and push to one side then scoop of the dusty crud exposing nice fresh clean lead .
I scoop lead from the very bottom on the theory that the purest and possibly the hottest lead lurks in the bottom of the pot.
 
 Molding is a learned skill ,Minnie balls are just about the hardest kind of bullet to mold .The Lee's thin skirt make them trickier.

Now Daryl is correct in his criticsism of the Minnie Ball. Everything he said was true  .Round balls are flatter shooting and good for hunting .
They are very flexible in regards to different powder charges , are accurate. With a big enough bore and a hardened bullet they were effective even as elephant killers.

The Rifle musket was not designed for hunting , it does load a lot  faster and if you account for the trajectory it is very accurate.
Minnie rifles are a system ,built for uniformity, simplicity of use,and for launching a specific balanced load for a certain range for 19th century military use  .
That is why for modern use they make durable, easy to maintain, deer rifles for moderate ranges  and are  good target guns
The top caps it uses make them very reliable. If you have an old one the parts still interchange after 150 years !
I am very fond of mine of my 3-band .