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 makeing 54 caliber round balls

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shorthair15



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PostSubject: makeing 54 caliber round balls   July 6th 2015, 8:45 pm

looking for info on how to make round balls. i have 300 round balls in 50 caliber i figured i could melt them down and make some 54 caliber balls for my new 54 cal hawken im getting. i know i need a mold and something to melt the lead. i picked up a 50 caliber renegade on the weekend. called bobby hoyt in PA today he said he may be able to fix it matters how bad the pitting is or rebore it to 54 caliber. so im sending out the barrel tommorow to him. i traded for the gun for a salmon rod. so i thought i got a pretty good deal. not a expert but the pitting does not look bad its in the top section near the muzzle. sorry dont have any pics. just trying to find some use for these round balls. thank's

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PostSubject: Re: makeing 54 caliber round balls   July 7th 2015, 1:45 pm

A pitted barrel sometimes shoots quite good. It just needs to be cleaned frequently.
Did you shoot it to check for accuracy first?

You need a Lee dual-cavity round ball mould ( about $20 new), some pure lead some .015-.018 patches, a cast-iron pan or pot from a yard sale and a lead dipper. That's the minimum but you can invest in a Hot Pot for a bit more or a bottom-flow lead 'furnace' if you're looking to do a lot of casting.

The Lee mould will have directions on how to cast.

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Randy Johnson



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PostSubject: Re: makeing 54 caliber round balls   July 7th 2015, 3:06 pm

Some 54s shoot a .535 better than they will shoot a .530, but a .530 mold is a good place to start.
When using a stove or hotplate to do the melting I have always preferred using one of the old cast iron ladles with the spout and handle all cast as one piece. You can just pour directly from the ladle into the mold. I think it's easier, and you can stretch the lead a little farther than you can with the dip method. Back when I first started, a hotplate, a hammer handle (for knocking the sprue plate aside) the mold, and some leather in a pan to catch the bullets pretty much covered the whole setup.
After many thousands of round balls and Minnie balls made with the hotplate/ladle setup I broke down and bought a Lyman cast iron bottom flow furnace. It didn't make balls and bullets any better, just faster. When my safe walked out the door in '99', I sold just about everything that wasn't stolen, including the Lyman furnace.
A few years ago, when I decided to get back into the game, I resolved to revert to the hotplate/ladle method of casting. The ladle part was easy. You can find them at flea markets, yard sales, junk shops, --- even Ebay. Ebay prices for them seem a tad high to me, but if you are in a hurry....
The bad news, is that they don't make hotplates like they used to. I bought four different brands of new and two old ones. Even though one of the new ones was highly recommended on a website aimed at casting fishing sinkers, NOT ONE of the hotplates I bought generated enough heat to melt all the lead in a ladle that held, at most, a pound and a half of lead. The one the website recommended kept fluctuating temperature, so I jumped the rheostat out of the circuit. Even after doing that, the thing just wasn't up to the job. They were all rated at 1000 watts. I gave thought to investing in a 1500 watt single burner hotplate but wound up buying a Lee bottom pour furnace instead. For round balls up to the biggest size I make (.648) it works great. It falls way short trying to cast Minnie balls though. Even when I preheat the plug that forms the skirt, it is impossible to get a Minnie ball without major voids. To be fair to the Lee furnace, I had the same problem with the much higher priced Lyman furnace.
So.....
If you can cast on a regular electric or gas stove you will probably have all the heat you need to cast balls. If not try to find a 1500 watt hotplate. Or, just save yourself some money and start with the Lee bottom pour furnace. As long as you are not wanting to shoot Civil War muskets you will be good to go.
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