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Thread: Casting Minnie'

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Default Casting Minnie'

    I just purchased a new LYMAN Minnie' ball mold and need some experienced advice please. I have cast thousands of roundball for my flintlocks and cap-n-ball rifles using single cavity "bag-molds" over many years, but this is a different critter altogether. I immediately realized that my little ladle is not going to work, as the lead cools too fast entering the mold and develops wrinkles. I have arranged for a bottom pour electric pot which should cure that problem. What has me baffled is how to best remove the hollow-base plug from the mold without causing damage to the bullets. I tried removing the base plug before opening the mold, but that doesn't seem to do the base any good, and I have tried gently tapping the finished round with my mallet to seperate it from the base plug, but can see the indentations from the mallet. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Thanks...

    Bushwhacker

  2. #2
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    May 2006
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    Where logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
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    Bush-
    Did you degrease the mould before using it? The oily coating on it from the manufacturer, will burn onto it and cause sticking. Also, try lighting a candle and holding it close to the interior of the mould and base plug. It should coat the mould with black soot, which will make the minies easer to get out of the mould. After filling the mould with molten lead, knock the sprue of by whacking the sprue cutter. (I use an old hammer handle). Then twist the base plug handle back and forth a couple of times and open the mould. Then tap the base plug on a piece of wood, and the bullet should fall right off. I use an old florist box filled with a couple of thicknesses of foam rubber covered by two thicknesses of old denim. The bullet skirt will get out of round fairly easily if dropped on a hard surface. This has worked well for the thousands of rounds I've moulded in over thirty years in the N-SSA.
    Best of luck. BTW, I have always used 42 grains of FFF powder as a starting point, and have never had a gun that wouldn't shoot accurately with a powder charge within a few grains of 42.
    Paul Manzo
    "Never had I seen an army that looked more like work"......Col. Garnett Wolseley

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Huntsville
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    Hello Bush,

    I cast using a bottom pour pot. The only drawback to it is it can drip, which can splash you with hot lead. I keep a cookie tin underneath it slanted at an angle away from myself and that stops the worst of it. Eventually the drips built up a little lead stalagmite which you knock over and it goes back in the pot.

    All of my Minnie molds have a core pin that is still integrally part of the mold. So when you open the mold, the core pin is still attached to the mold halves, and the bullet sits on the core pin. You turn it upside down and the bullet either falls off the core pin or you give the mold handles a slight tap at the hinge point and the bullet falls right off.

    My mold looks similar to this: http://i.ebayimg.com/t/RCBS-Minie-Ball-mold-45-280-M-/00/s/MTUzNlgxNTI0/$%28KGrHqZ,!o0E63YVvQ8%29BO+Qq+vpz!~~60_35.JPG

    If you've got one of the molds where the core pin has a separate handle (like this http://media.midwayusa.com/productim...592/592352.jpg ) I'm not sure how that works.

    I drop into a bucket of water. I put a piece of cloth over the bucket with a slit in it. This allows the bullet to drop into the water but minimizes splashing, which is dangerous around a lead pot.

    Steve
    Steve Sheldon

  4. #4

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    Hallo!

    What has worked for me in casting a little over 20,000 of them...

    As shared, candle soot the base pin as well as the mold cavity.

    Using a piece of wood or broom handle section, when the lead has solidifed (NUG 2-5 seconds or so depending upon lead and mold temps)... give the mold a whack across the top of the sprue cutter.
    This will NUG set up a "vibration" through their mold below and free up the base pin. Then pullout/extract the base pin, turn the mold over and allow the Miie to fall. I use a folded up old towel to keep splashing water away from molten lead and the risk of splatter or explosion. (Some lads argue that water quenching "hardens" lead, but that is another discussion.)

    Aluminum type molds like Lee work fine, but better if sooted. In my experience, I went to steel mold blocks with base pins as I was wearing out an aluminum mold at the rate of one a year to where it was not aligning perfectly causing seems, or the "floating" base pin got out of synch and/or alignment and prevented the mold from closing.

    Others' mileage will vary...

    Curt
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    California People's Republic
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    I agree with everything Curt and others have said. I would wash the mold blocks with mineral spirits to get all the oil off of it, thoroughly dry, thoroughly smoke the interior chamber of the mold and the cavity plug (I like using matches, since for me, candles deposit a kind of waxy wet substance onto the mold blocks, maybe I'm just using the wrong kind), and cast a bunch of bullets.

    Minie balls like hot molds and hot lead. Bring the mold up to temperature and cast a lot of bullets. Eventually they should start coming out nice. Before they are seasoned, the brand new steel block molds seem to need "breaking in" or at least in my experience it has taken 100 bullets or so before they start coming out flawless.

    You also need dead soft lead for Minies. I aim for a 6 to a 10 on the hardness scale. I even bought elemental pure lead directly from the smelter (RotoMetals). The adhesive (stick on) wheel weights are pretty soft, and when mixed 50/50 with the pure lead, answer well for Minies.

    After you remove the oil to use the mold, you may consider a very very light coating of oil on the mold exterior to discourage rust until its next use.

    Good luck!
    Brett Gibbons
    3rd Regt. C.S. Engineers, Co. E
    www.hartsengineers.com

  6. #6
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    On the smoking, I recall reading, I think from Lee, that the smoking does not act as a mold release agent but rather it acts as a thermal transfer barrier that prevents the molten lead from dumping its heat too quickly into the aluminum molds, and thus you will get better casts faster with an aluminum mold. I assume aluminum molds benefit from this particularly since aluminum transfers heat much better than steel and so will be more prone to wrinkly bullets earlier in the casting.

    As the soot is quickly and mostly gone within a dozen or so casts, I believe that this is a temporary measure until the mold comes up to temp within that amount of time through casting.

    I've quit sooting my molds and I have no problems - provided you bring your mold completely up to temperature before you start casting. I keep a propane torch on my casting table for this purpose.

    I have found the Lee molds are OK for the money, but particularly with Minnie molds with the core pin that has to perfectly mate inside the two main mold body halves I find that the aluminum parts gall quickly. I also find that the sprue cutter galls against the top surfaces of the molds.

    I used to use a silicone lubricant as Lee suggests, but it burned away quickly. Instead, someone suggested graphite. I take a pencil and draw liberally on the top surface of the mold blocks and the underside of the sprue cutter - this provides excellent lubrication between the sprue cutter and the mold blocks and lasts for some time.

    I find my RCBS molds, which are steel, are of a much higher quality and have shown no signs of wear at all. They are worth the premium I think.

    While I'm going on about molds, rust will destroy a steel mold, so it is important to protect them. When finished casting I douse them liberally in oil. Prior to each cast I rinse them in acetone. I keep an old pickle jar full of acetone and re-use the same batch for cleaning several times, to save on acetone. Probably not the safest thing to store acetone in but it serves at the moment.

    Steve
    Steve Sheldon

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    King of Prussia, PA
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    In regard to heating up your mold. I always stick the corner of the mold in the melted lead, until it no longer sticks to the mold. That seems to solve the problem for me. Like others have mentioned, I perfer steel to aluminum molds.
    Bill Rodman, If you need a really bad example.
    King of Prussia, PA
    wrodman1@aol.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Warsaw. Mo
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    Thanks everyone! I'm sure that one of these "tricks will work.

    The mold is a LYMAN steel one, and yes, I first thoroughly cleaned it with mineral spirits. I also use a water bucket for dropping the rounds in, but mine sits on the floor between my feet, far removed from the lead-pot (a brass bucket I also use for fire suppression around the campfire). I read the sooting suggestion in the instruction manual, and I suppose I just didn't get it right. Will try that again. As for twisting the base plug, so far that has not gone well for me. Seems to disfigure the base. As soon as the electric pot is in my possession I'll give it another whirl and report back here with results. Again, many thanks for your help and advice gents!

    Bushwhacker

  9. #9
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    I also use a water bucket for dropping the rounds in, but mine sits on the floor between my feet, far removed from the lead-pot (a brass bucket I also use for fire suppression around the campfire).
    I find it useful to use some clamps or binder clips or whatever you have handy to secure a piece of cloth over the bucket, and cut a slit in it. The bullets drop onto the cloth and then roll down to the slit and into the water. It cushions their fall and minimizes splashing.

    Steve
    Steve Sheldon

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