Author Topic: Opinions on new lead casting furnace  (Read 11963 times)

Offline Navy Six

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Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« on: March 07, 2015, 06:42:30 PM »
Some of the equipment is finally wearing out and I have to get a new bottom pour furnace. I have it narrowed down (I think) to either the RCBS Pro-Melt or the new Lyman Mag 25 Digital furnace. The RCBS costs about $130 more but I had a older Lyman 20lb pot years ago that was well.... The thing did nothing but clog and I finally threw it away in disgust. I have lots of casting experience so I know about using clean lead and frequent fluxing, especially for a bottom pour. So, I am hesitant to go with another Lyman pot. Has anyone had experience with the new Lyman? In going through older posts everyone gave high marks to the RCBS but no one seemed to mention the new Lyman. If the RCBS is that much better than I will gladly spend the extra money.
By the way, the new pot will definately be a bottom pour as I already have a Ferguson 40 lb pot for ladle casting, but sometimes the noise of the propane burning or my bad elbow makes the bottom pour my choice. Any help is appreciated.
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Offline August

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2015, 07:38:34 PM »
The RCBS is worth every penny they charge for it.  In terms of temperature range and regulation, it has no peers.  The bottom pour mechanism is fool proof.  If you continue casting, you'll end up with an RCBS eventually.  Best get it first and save all the money you'd otherwise spend of second-best choices.

Keep an eye out for sales.  Sometimes local shops have one at a great price. 

Offline Sagebrush Burns

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2015, 09:19:42 PM »
I've had nothing but good experiences dealing with both of those companies.

Offline wildman1

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2015, 09:36:53 PM »
Read the Lyman Cast bullet hand book esp the chapter on alloys. You will find that clogging of a bottom pour has nothing to do with brand but everything to do with "dentrites". Just sayin'. wM1
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Offline Slamfire

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2015, 12:42:06 PM »
 Hey ,WM,, could you esplain, what dentrites,,consist of , just in case I come across this problem???








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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #5 on: Today at 04:22:43 PM »

Offline Litl Red

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2015, 04:46:34 PM »
My furnace before the one I got now used to "clog" a lot.  

My "new" one doesn't.

In fact the "old" one didn't after I discovered something.   Letting it heat up "enough" to begin with evidently got the spout area hot enough it wouldn't give problems.   Enough was about 40 minutes with the old one.   The new one takes less.  

Neither was getting plugged with trash.  The exposed tip hadn't gotten hot enough to keep from freezing the lead coming out.  It dawned on me one day when I blipped the lever first thing to clear a drop.  Put the mould under the spout and NOTHING.    There was solid lead at the tip.   Externally heating it when it stopped worked by was a pita.   Simply letting it heat up longer and she poured like gangbusters.   Plugging it in "earlier" is no problem at all.   Can't ever remember this one clogging.  And it's a Lyman.

Be advised, the only clogging seen was at the start of a session.   Since day two of my casting, I've used the paperclip trick whenever pausing the session to return sprues to the pot, while waiting for the temp to reach casting temp.    

Offline wildman1

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2015, 07:30:17 PM »
Read the Lyman Cast bullet hand book esp the chapter on alloys. You will find that clogging of a bottom pour has nothing to do with brand but everything to do with "dentrites". Just sayin'. wM1

Dentrites are small molecules of aluminum that are present in lead whether it is virgin or recycled. When they get in the bottom pour spout which is cooler than the pot they will eventually build up and reduce the flow. The easiest way to get them out is take a paper clip that has been straightened to an L shape and open the spout with a pan or bar mold under the spout, stick the end of the clip into the hole in the spout as the lead is coming out and ream it out. Only takes a couple of seconds. Really you should read the chapter on alloys as there is a lot of stuff in there that you would never find out about alloys and casting. I struggled with a bottom pour pot for quite a while until I read that particular chapter. Now I will clean they spout a couple of times a casting session. My pot runs well enough to pour perfect 500 g bullets. wM1
WARTHOG, Dirty Rat #600, BOLD #1056, CGCS,GCSAA, NMLRA, NRA, AF&AM, CBBRC.  If all that cowboy has ever seen is a stockdam, he ain't gonna believe ya when ya tell him about whales.

Offline Navy Six

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2015, 07:34:20 AM »
Wildman,
Thanks for the additional info. I originally tried the paper clip trick with very limited success. That darn Lyman pot would eventually get to the point(after about an hour of casting) where nothing would open the spout for lead flow. It didn't matter how hot the pot was either. I even tried drilling out the spout to remove whatever was stuck in there. I eventually tried the inexpensive Lee 20 lb pot and it has never clogged, not even close. And I am using the same methods of fluxing, etc. and that Lee pot, outside of the dripping, has been very reliable. That is why I'm hesitant to try another Lyman pot. The old Lee pot, after about 12 years of heavy use, is finally earning a place of retirement. I am in the process of ordering some new bullet moulds and would like to get started casting as soon as this weather breaks a bit as I usually cast outdoors. I guess I'll have to make a decision fairly soon.  
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Offline mehavey

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2015, 11:03:08 AM »
Which is why I finally plugged up/tied down the bottom-pour features on both my
older Lee & Lyman/ProMelt (pure lead) and went to straight dipping on everything. 

My next two pots were WAAGE furnaces dedicated for Lyman#2 and 30-to-1. (And
by definition/choice they are dippers -- extremely fast to heat/precise temp hold)

Since I don't run gang molds (two-cavity being max), I don't miss the irritation/-
maintenance of botton-pour at all.   ;)

Offline Crow Choker

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2015, 12:04:33 PM »
If buying new, I'd be happy with either the Lyman or RCBS. I've never had a RCBS, but haven't heard of any ill's about them. I've been using a Lyman Mould Master XX 20 lb lead pot since 1979, only problem with it I've had is the thermostat going out on it around 6 years ago. Lyman had discontinued that model and sold out of it's remaining stock of replacement ones, but gave me the phone number of a shop in Missouri that had replacements. Got one, wasn't an exact one, but the guy at the shop advised it was better than the original. Sent a diagram how to rewire and the XX has been 'spittin' out lead since. I was just to 'cheap' to buy a new one for some $250+ greenbacks. New thermostat was around $45.00. I did tell Lyman they should still be stocking the XX parts.

 Navy Six: I noticed when that when my original thermostat was going bad, the top portion of the furnace seemed to have lead at the right temp, but the bottom area (pour spout area), seemed to not be the right temp and would keep plugging up no matter what I did. That was before I invested in a lead thermometer, so I can't say what the lead temp ranges were. As long as were talking about 'plugged' casting pots, this post isn't  a"Plug" for Lyman products, but I think they have good stuff, no matter what model you get.

Agree with Wildman on the 'dentrites', it isn't furnace problem, but rather 'a price of doing business' when you cast. I've always done the same as Wildman, but fashioned a 'unplugger' from a wire coat hanger. Bent a piece of the hanger at 90* leaving around a 1" or so for sticking up into the pour spout, then I shaped the remaining length into a oval shaped handle and "WahLaa", you have an indispensable casting tool. I've been using the same one since buying the Lyman Furnace in '79. Casting bullets with lead pots is the same as plantin' a garden, there are things that need to be done with the garden after planting the seed to get good veggie's---meltin' lead for bullets is more than just turning on the juice for the pot and pouring bullets, ya gotta treat the lead and pamper it to get good bullets. Readin' this post tells me its suppose to be 50* this week in Ol' North Iowa, maybe time to start castin', need them bullets!!  ;D ;D
Got to thinking after I posted this--Ya-I'll "Plug" Lyman products, have an assortment of Lyman, ie. moulds, dies, etc. Never a problem with any except the XX Furnace, but the thermostat didn't go out until nearly 30 years of service. Paid $50.00 new for the unit back in '79! ;D
  
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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #10 on: Today at 04:22:43 PM »

Offline bowiemaker

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2015, 02:41:16 PM »
For what it is worth, I bought a new Lee Pro4  20 lb bottom pour last year. I have only used it once but it worked flawlessly with no clogging when I cast about 300 .45-70 bullets. It did the job very well and cost $64. I made a video of it here:
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Offline wildman1

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2015, 04:40:51 PM »
If the spout leaks just give the screw a half turn. wM1
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Offline rickk

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2015, 11:28:22 AM »
I went through 4 LEE Drip-a-matic/Shock-a-matic pots before I smartened up and got the RCBS PRO-MELT.

I am much happier now.

Rick

Offline rickk

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2015, 11:37:25 AM »
BTW, a bit of advice... I had to learn it the hard way but you don't have to.

If whatever pot you get does not have a 3-wire plug on it, ground the pot however you have to ... ground it well. If you don't ground it, you will get shocks. The intensity of the shocks will increase with the age of the pot.

You can try using a GFI receptacle but I pretty much guarantee you that, no matter who's pot you use, the GFI will trip out regularly, frustrating you until you stop using it, which will bring you back to grounding the pot.

The RCBS pot has a three wire cord. The LEE pots only have a two wire cord - at least the four that I went thru came that way. I have no idea how they can get a UL certification with such a shock hazard.

So, no matter what you get, make sure it is grounded. If you get any shocks off it, even a tingle, grounding is insufficient and needs to be made better.

Offline longinosoap

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2015, 02:07:04 PM »
Being a rookie with absolutely no experience melting metals of any kind, I bought a Lee 20 pound bottom pour pot. That was 7 years and probably 40000 bullets ago. I cast in the winter when its a little cooler. Make enough to get me through a year of shooting. That Lee pot cost about $65 back then. It still works as good as the first time. Maybe I got lucky, but my pot drips maybe twice in a 2 hour session. A turn of the screw back and forth and its good to go.

I have never used any other brand, and I am sure they are good products. But I am very pleased with my Lee. When I take it down from the shelf and knock the sawdust off it, it fires up every time and does the job it was intended for.

Offline Cliff Fendley

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2015, 03:42:57 PM »
Never got shocked yet with the Lee pots but then it is always sitting on a big steel welding table which is sitting on the ground just outside the shop door. Maybe it is getting grounded through the steel table.
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Offline Crow Choker

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2015, 04:31:19 PM »
I was getting a little buzz from the Lyman Mould Master XX I described in my post above, but that was when the thermostat was going bad and I didn't have it plugged into a good enough grounded circuit. A three prong outlet, but it wasn't grounded as it should have been. Never any problems since I put the new thermostat on and I do now plug it into a well grounded outlet.

As far as Lee pots go, I've never had one. I've talked to and read of those that do, some are on their 2nd or 3rd one and they swear by them. Some that have had them say they'll never get another claiming short longevity. Heard of some still in use after 20 years. Some have advised due to the lower cost vs a Lyman or RCBS that they can buy 2-3 Lee's for the price of a Lyman or RCBS. Guess it comes down to preference and how much a caster wants to lay out in funds. For me, I'd rather get a Lyman or RCBS and use the same pot for a lot of years, in my opinion they are built heavier than the Lee's. Kinda like the old story of two guys making a 500 mile trip. One bought a Cadillac and the other a VW Bug. They both got to destination X eventually. 
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Offline Rabbit

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2015, 06:17:07 PM »
Howdy Navy Six,
I would like to share my experience with RCBS. I bought a Pro Melt about 20 years ago. I have cast thousands of bullets with it, it has given great performance.
About 2 months ago, during a casting session, the Pro Melt started to fail. We could tell as we turned the dial to raise the temp., the on/off light was going out. I called RCBS and was told that I could return the furnace and they would troubleshoot it, and give me an estimate to repair it. They thought at the most, it would run me about $75.00. After seeing what they go for a new Pro Melt, that sounded like a real bargain.
I returned the furnace and after a week or so, I was told that my furnace would be completely rebuilt, NO CHARGE! Now that is customer service!
Don't be afraid to spend the extra money, I can't say enough good about RCBS.
Rabbit

Offline will52100

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2015, 08:57:12 AM »
I ran a Lee 20 pound bottom pour for years.  A friend talked me into a RCBS bottom pour and I retired the Lee and gave it away to a friend just getting into casting.  Never got a shock from the Lee, and it sat on a wooden bench.  It did drip a bit if I wasn't careful, but not a big deal.  The RCBS, was a PITA at first, would never hold consistent temps, replaced the thermostat and still would not get up to heat and hold it.  Built a PID controller for it and no problems since.  With both pots working, the biggest differnece is the RCBS heats up a bit faster and re-heats new ingots faster when filling the pot.  And doesn't drip as bad as the Lee, but I have to clear the spout more often as well.

A bottom pour is a must for me as I have a bunch of 4 and 6 cavity moulds.
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Offline nagantino

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Re: Opinions on new lead casting furnace
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2015, 03:40:52 AM »
The Lee bottom pour works fine. It's melting and pouring lead. It drips a little but I would have thought they all do. I burnt the element out on one by running the pot at a high temperature as the pot neared empty. That was my fault.

 

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