To quench or not to quench

  • Last Post 25 May 2015
sept171787 posted this 14 September 2009

So I am new to casting and I have a few basic questions. I am casting for a .58 1861 springfield with rifling.

  1. I have seen that keeping the lead between 550-600 degrees. The issue is that the lead still sticks to my spoon and lattle. What is the proper temp for the lead?

  2. Should I let the laddle site in the lead in between poors?

  3. Should I Quench or should I let the round air cool. I have noticed micro cracking after I quench the rounds.

  4. What is the best way to heat the the mould.

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billwnr posted this 14 September 2009

Your mould needs a higher heat. I don't know if you are really getting cracking in your bullets or if you are seeing creases caused from the lead (and mould) not being hot enough.

What alloy are you using for your bullets?

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sept171787 posted this 14 September 2009

I am using pure lead. What temp should my mould be at and after a couple of pours should my mould be at the right temp. I moulded 75 rounds and I did not turn my rifle into a shot gun.


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LWesthoff posted this 14 September 2009

There are several “correct” answers to your questions, which is just another way of saying there are more than one ways to successfully cast bullets. I've been casting for more years than I like to think about; first as a bullseye pistol competitor and later for rifle. Here's the way I do it.

Proper casting temperature is dependent on the alloy you are casting. If you have a Lyman lead thermometer it will show you the proper ranges for the more popular bullet alloys right on the dial. Best indicator is well filled out bullets.

Leave the ladle sitting in the molten alloy when you are not actually pouring with it.

Quenching is only necessary to harden the bullet to keep it from leading the barrel. I have not found it to be necessary with wheelweights or the mixture I presently use for competition: 2% tin, 7% antimony, 91% lead. My loads probably don't exceed 1800 fps MV. I use NRA formula bullet lube. I have NEVER had a problem with leading. Without the presence of small amounts of arsenic in the alloy, quenching doesn't seem to work very well anyway.

I used to lay the mold(s) on the edge of my old Saeco pot while I was waiting for the lead to melt. With the Saeco pot it worked O.K. Then the Saeco pot got old and died and I got a Lyman pot which doesn't have a big ledge around the top. I got a little electric hot plate. I set the molds on the hot plate while I'm waiting for the lead in the pot to melt. It works so well I wish I'd been doing it all along. When I start casting, the first bullets out of the mold are just as good as any of the others, and I have kept them separate and checked weights often enough to be able to back up that claim.

Hope this helps. Wes

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sept171787 posted this 14 September 2009

Thanks for your response. I have a lyman electric furnace and a lyman thermometer.  If I would have read the instructions on the back of the packaging it would have told me the correct answers:).

I will have to get a hot plate.


Again thank you for the response.




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Dollar Bill posted this 14 September 2009

billwnr wrote: Your mould needs a higher heat. I don't know if you are really getting cracking in your bullets or if you are seeing creases caused from the lead (and mould) not being hot enough.

What alloy are you using for your bullets?To add to what bill is asking, your alloy is important. As to your question about quenching, 1861 Springfields, being muzzle-loaded weapons, normally used hollow-base bullets. These require a soft alloy to expand and engage the rifling, so quenching or heat treating would be out of the question. They'd be too hard.

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billwnr posted this 14 September 2009

I keep thinking pure lead has a melting temperature of 628 degrees and that's why I thought your temps were too low.

I agree with you that a .58 caliber mould should heat up pretty fast because of the quantity of lead.

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Dollar Bill posted this 14 September 2009

No doubt, those .58 minie balls have enough lead to heat the mold quickly. I'll bet those cracks (if they are cracks) are in the skirt. Being pure lead, quenching will have no effect on hardness, but might cause rapid contraction in the skirt which might lead to those micro cracks you described.

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giorgio de galleani posted this 14 September 2009

I do not believe the lead termometers we can afford to buy are exact.

At least here in Italy the strenght of the electricity is not what it should be,it varies during the day,it depends on how much the industries are working.

I have ,I am really wicked;no faith in the thermostats of my pots,Lee,Lyman or rcbs..

I crank the thermostat all the way up,and,as old Elmer Keith said in his books,when a small piece of dry wood burns  spontaneously on the surface of the molten lead I begin casting.

Minié bullets cast from so called “pure lead” (another philosofical” concept) need the hyghest temperature your pot can reach,

It depends on the actual strenght your local electricity is.

Actually I like my cartridge gun cast bullets to be a little ,and uniformly frosted.

Optimum for water quenching from the mould.

And optimum for liquid Alox and Xlox lube.

If you fear rapid oxidation of your alloy,you can cover its surface with

 wood ashes(old timers trick) or cat litter,farina di Tripoli,aka diatomaceous earth.

And follow LWestoff criteria,when the bullets are good your temperature is OK.

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Ed Harris posted this 14 September 2009

For Minie bullets for black powder rifles you wil get best results pre-heating the mould blocks, ladle and core pin for the hollow base on an electric hot plate. The best way to do this is to use a metal bench block on the hot plate and drill an angled hole in it to support the hollow base core pin, so that you can place the pin in it between castings, and it will be in contact with the edges of the support hole.

You want essentially pure lead with no antimony, however, it is OK to add a very small percentage of tin not more than 2% to improve fillout. This will improve casting a great deal, but not harden the bullet significantly.

For original .58 rifle-muskets and faithful reproductions, use 45-50 grs. of 3Fg for target work. A charge of 65-70 grs. of 2Fg was the service charge and is good for hunting.

A 50-50 mixture of Crisco vegetable shortening and beeswax makes a good bullet lubricant for hot weather, if temperatures will be less than 60 degrees F, use two parts of Crisco by liquid volume to one part of beeswax. Below freezing for winter hunting straight Crisco will work fine.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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sept171787 posted this 14 September 2009

Thank you all for the responses.

  1. Electricity is very constant in the states. :)
  2. I was using “pure lead” from the foundry. No mix of alloys.
  3. Bore Butter is what I am using. But I will try the crisco bees wax mix.
  4. shooting I have been using 60grs of gorex ffg
  5. This season I hope to put a .58 cal hole in a some sort of non-domesticated 4 legged creature.

  6. Thanks for all the feed back. This community is great. I hope one day i will be able to add to this forum.

  7. WIll try out your suggestions this weekend.

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Dirtybore posted this 23 March 2015

Your pure foundary lead is the best you can get, be happy. That Bore Butter stuff is great so you shouldn't have to change lube.  I've been using that on my Minie bullets and round ball patches that are loaded in hunting rifles.  If I'm not hunting, then I use saliva for patch lube. 60 gr of 2Fg GOEX should do fine though I'm using 70 gr behind the RCBS 500 gr minie.  It has a thicker skirt than most of the lyman bullets.  That's the only reaon I'm getting away with that 70 gr charge.  You might want to try different charges just to see what the rifle likes. Good luck and enjoy the shooting.

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Bob 11B50 posted this 25 May 2015

I have an original Springfield .58 rifled-musket that I used to fire with about 58 gr. FFG  and Crisco lube.  Have not shot it for years now.  I do shoot an Italian reproduction Remington  Zouave.  It has been glass beded, and has had the lock tuned.  With 53 gr FFG I can get a 2” 5 shot group at 50 yds. using 50/50 peanut oil and bees wax.   I cast the Minie balls from pure lead + 1-2 oz. tin added to 20lb. lead and I pre heat the blocks to about 350* on a hot plate.  Be careful heating the pin on the hot plate, try making an aluminum block with a hole in it to take the pin, as C.E. Harris suggested.  I got an important phone call in the midst of casting some Minie balls and set the pin on the edge of the aluminum plate and the pin got too hot and the wooden handle caught fire and burned up.  I had a he__ of a time replacing the wooden handle.  I could not purchase wooden drawer knobs to replace it.   Bob 11B50 

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