Ladle vs. bottom pour

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Longone posted this 20 April 2014

If this topic needs to be moved by all means help yourself. I was pouring over the results pages and have been wondering about this for some time. Is it just their set up that some use a ladle and some use a bottom pour? Is there more consistent results with one over the other?  I have been using my RCBS ProMelt for many years and have been very satisfied but just had to ask.  So many questions.  :D Longone

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badgeredd posted this 20 April 2014

My experience is casting with a ladle will give more consistent results with long skinny bullets or big heavy bullets. I use both methods as the need be. I started pouring with a bottom pour and seem to be able to get consistent weights and quality with most bullets doing so, but I have found I am more consistent with better quality when pouring the above type bullets with a ladle. YMMV.

Edd

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TRKakaCatWhisperer posted this 20 April 2014

The real question is two-fold. a) how consistent are you with each method; and b) what level of consistency do you WANT?

I can do +/-1 to 1.5gr on 300 and/or 400 grain bullets with two cavity moulds. Is it good enough? NOT for some applications. Could I do better switching from one method to another? Don't know.

BUT, by weighing each bullet (sometimes just after casting) I LEARNED more about consistency in casting than from ANYTHING else.

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 20 April 2014

on light aluminum molds i like ladle pour but for heavy molds because of arthuritis / carpal / pinched nerves / lazy ... i prefer bottom pour.

for bigger bullets the lee and lyman dippers are too little ... get a rowel dipper !!! i like to pour lots of hot lead on the sprue plate after the cavities are full ... makes good bases ...


i started with a potter bottom pour or a lyman dipper in 1956 ... ? door prize ?

ken

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Brodie posted this 20 April 2014

When I started bullet casting back in the late 60's I didn't have anybody to teach me and I had gotten a bottom pour pot. Since then I have almost exclusively bottom poured.  I found that getting around the mechanism with a ladle was a pita, and just gave it up. Also, I find that my cadence is much faster bottom pouring and the bullets more consistent. Brodie

B.E.Brickey

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Longone posted this 21 April 2014

Old Coot,

I haven't been casting nearly as long as some here, maybe 20 years on and off and mainly handgun bullets. When I started I was using a Coleman stove with a cast iron pot and a RCBS ladle. It was all I knew and I thought I was a real trendsetter!!!!!

I bought a RCBS ProMelt about 5 years later and have not looked back. Production............what a difference, nice bullets and plenty of them. I just keep reading some of the match results and wonder why some of the top shooters use a ladle. Maybe it's their passion or they feel they have better control over the pour. Either way there must be something to it.

Longone

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Tom Acheson posted this 21 April 2014

This is probably one of those “this works best for me” outcomes. 

I started casting in 1974 and for me it was a point in time when I finally quit trying to make my 1987 Lyman 20-pounder bottom pour unit work consistently, so I switched to a ladle, probably 20-years ago. But...there are two ladles on the bench. One is a Rowell that holds about a pound of alloy and I use it kind of like the way alloy drops out of a bottom pour, holding the mould level and passing over the top with the ladle, moving from sprue opening to sprue opening. 

The other ladle is a RCBS and I use it like it is supposed to be used with a large single cavity mould. You cock the mould top to the right 90 degrees, insert the small nipple on the bottom of the ladle into the sprue plate opening and the rotate the mould and ladle joined together back to TDC and let the alloy fill the cavity.

I follow two BPCR forums and just about everyone there seems to be using a high quality single cavity mould with a ladle. These are moulds that produce 350-575-grain bullets. So maybe it's a matter of mould design and bullet weight? My first BPCR rifle (.40-70 SS) was used in 2009 so by then I was already using the ladle.

There will be opposing approaches but that's the way I sail my ship in the sea of this great hobby!

Tom

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jhalcott posted this 22 April 2014

I find that ladling the large bullets for 45 caliber target work produces better consistency for me. I have 2 bottom pour Lee pots that see much more use, though!

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Brodie posted this 22 April 2014

Longone wrote: Old Coot,

I haven't been casting nearly as long as some here, maybe 20 years on and off and mainly handgun bullets. When I started I was using a Coleman stove with a cast iron pot and a RCBS ladle. It was all I knew and I thought I was a real trendsetter!!!!!

I bought a RCBS ProMelt about 5 years later and have not looked back. Production............what a difference, nice bullets and plenty of them. I just keep reading some of the match results and wonder why some of the top shooters use a ladle. Maybe it's their passion or they feel they have better control over the pour. Either way there must be something to it.

Longon

I guess that I wasn't completely honest.  My absolutely first attempt at casting was with a pot (made from a piece of 4” steel pipe) on my Mom's stove, the second was with the same pot and ladle on the stove in the “social room” of the dormitory at college.  The dorm monitor came in and asked what I was doing.  When I said : “Making Bullets".  He freaked and I had to talk to the Dean of men who banned my endeavor.  My parents gave me a 10Lb Lyman bottom pour for Christmas to keep my  casting at home and protect the range. Brodie

B.E.Brickey

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badammo posted this 23 April 2014

I use both ladle and bottom pour, each with their own pots. I found the bottom pour would not cast large bullets well, but does great with smaller than 300 grains. Bottom pour is Lee production pot, Ladle is Lyman that came with casting kit.

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LWesthoff posted this 23 April 2014

I started casting (mostly for .45 pistol) back in the '60s, and didn't even know bottom pour pots were available back then. Were they? Anyway, by the time I heard about bottom pour pots I had also learned that a lot of my molds did not respond very well to holding them right side up and just pouring lead into the sprue hole, so I stuck to ladle casting. Still use the ladle. Have never cast anything bigger than about 250 gr., if that makes any difference.

Actually, now that I'm up in my middle 80's I'm probably too set in my ways to change, anyway.

Wes

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RicinYakima posted this 23 April 2014

Potter Manufacturing began making the first bottom pour pots in about 1936, 3, three, pounders! Ric

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Longone posted this 23 April 2014

In 1936 they must have been coal fired.

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RicinYakima posted this 23 April 2014

:) !! Nope, they had three 110 volt pins on the back, so you could have 300 watts or 400 watts depending upon how you plugged the “waffle iron” cord into the back of the pot. No thermostats. Ric

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Brodie posted this 23 April 2014

I found that if I wanted good 550gr. bullets for my .458 I had to put the mould up against the bottom pour spout and hold it there until the sprue (or what little it amounted to) was hard.  This technique worked for really big bullets .  Brodie

B.E.Brickey

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EdS posted this 01 July 2014

I've been casting on and off since about 1962-3. I've used the ladle method for most of my casting, but have owned two Lyman 10 pound bottom delivery furnaces for brief periods of time. Today, I was working with a new RCBS 35-200-FN and could not get the cavities to fill out along the sides using my habitual ladle against the sprue plate and rotate 90 degrees method. But when I poured from the ladle with a 1/4” gap to the sprue plate (mold sprue plate up) I got excellent fill out along the sides, with only a very slight radius at the base edge, which should be no problem with this GC bullet. I welcome comments and helpful suggestions. Thanks, Ed

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RicinYakima posted this 01 July 2014

Ed, I too have seen this with new (and newer) RCBS moulds. It appears that there is not enough air discharge under the plate. I have solved this with my 40 caliber RCBS moulds by only tilting the mould about 10 degrees, leaving the ladle spout about your 1/4 inch away, and angling to “swirl” the liquid alloy into the cavity. Then I let a couple of hundred grains of alloy flow over the plate and back into the pot. It is not traditional, but works for me. HTH, Ric

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OU812 posted this 17 August 2014

Linotype works verygood in my RCBS bottom pour. I use linotype for my smaller 30 and 358 caliber moulds.

For softer alloys I use the ladle.

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OU812 posted this 17 August 2014

EdS wrote: I've been casting on and off since about 1962-3. I've used the ladle method for most of my casting, but have owned two Lyman 10 pound bottom delivery furnaces for brief periods of time. Today, I was working with a new RCBS 35-200-FN and could not get the cavities to fill out along the sides using my habitual ladle against the sprue plate and rotate 90 degrees method. But when I poured from the ladle with a 1/4” gap to the sprue plate (mold sprue plate up) I got excellent fill out along the sides, with only a very slight radius at the base edge, which should be no problem with this GC bullet. I welcome comments and helpful suggestions. Thanks, Ed Try loosening the sprue plate for better venting.

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JSH posted this 18 August 2014

I started off with a potter! Still have it but it needs some tlc to get it to working again. I then was loaned a lee 10 lb pot, it worked better. Then I purchased a 20 lb lee, it was better yet. I used it for several years. Then had the opportunity to buy an rcbs. A bit better pot no drip omatic. In my findings casting heavy or long bullets, a 20 lb pot that is full and then not used past half full gives me my best bullets. Just a guess but I think it is head pressure. Buddy cast his Postells till the pot runs dry. Then he culls them by weight. His cull rate was bad. Told him to run to about half a pot and refill. Hardly any culls now, compared to before. Jeff

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bliksemdonder posted this 19 August 2014

I'm a noob compared to many here but I found that my self-built bottom pour would not work well for the 300+ grain cast bullets. I fixed this by building a pot with a larger pour valve diameter of 3mm. I followed from the experiences of others using ladle pouring that a larger stream was needed to properly cast large cast bullets.

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Coydog posted this 19 August 2014

I started off with ladle years ago that is how I was taught by my dad when we cast sinkers for fishing and then I use the same way for boolits and then later on I got a bottom pour to speed up the casting. But if things gose to need to go back to ladle or something else comes up I will use ladle but in the mean time I use bottom pour.but for casting for my muzzle loader I use ladle.

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John Boy posted this 03 October 2014

I cast 22LR up to 50-70 and ladle pour only for better Bell Curve weight of the bullets.

  • Ladle spout stuffed in the sprue hole - 5 second pour - 5 second puddle frost at a pot & mold temp that generates the 5 second frost

Can't remember the last time I used the bottom pour pot

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Loren Barber posted this 03 October 2014

One needs to define consistency but I assume weight is what most think of as well as appearance.  I use a ladle with about 90+ percent yield of 30 cal bullets from one of several Accurate cut brass molds.  Target weight of 216.2 + or - 0.2 grains.  If I obtain a bullet at 215 grains, I use it for practice.  One well known competitor mentioned that he bottom pours with lower yield, but is very willing to sort to the level of excellence that he requires.

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max503 posted this 06 January 2019

I've never used a ladle although I have a couple.  Some of the 22 caliber boolits I casted today had these flow lines.  Typically, I believe, those lines are caused by insufficient heat.  A drop of lead forms on the end of the spout on my BP pot.  That drop cools a bit.  When I pour one of those itty-bitty boolits there isn't enough heat in the cavity to re-melt that partially hardened drop and I get the lines. I had to treat this two cavity mold as a one cavity mold.  When I directed the stream into each cavity individually, I got good boolits.  If I filled one cavity, then tried to fill the second without interrupting the lead stream I got the flow lines.

I'm thinking of trying the ladle to see if it works better with this mold.  In order to keep the blocks up to heat, I had to hold the mold block over the pot while the boolits were hardening.  I actually had a very low rejection rate after I figured out how to properly direct the stream into the cavities.

Anybody else use the Lee 2 cavity 22 caliber mold?  If so, what works for you?

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frnkeore posted this 06 January 2019

I have modified that mold. I cut the GC of and reamed in inside, to reduce the depth of the grease groove.

I've cast at least a thousand bullets from it, using both cavity's, w/o any problems, it fills out, completely.

For this mold, I use a 10 lb Lee pot, with 40/1 alloy and I pressure pour. That means that I put the sprue, in contact, with the nozzle, on the pot.

i run the pot at 780 deg and cast at fast rate.

Frank

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onondaga posted this 06 January 2019

Max503, you said,    "I believe, those lines are caused by insufficient heat."

Those lines are textbook "cold short" in metallurgy science.

I am a retired casting analyst, cold short is caused by casting below ideal temp for the alloy. Solidus plus 100 degrees F is the ideal casting temp for every bullet alloy with 1-2 cavity molds, and proportionally hotter for more cavities. The shininess of your bullet is also a type of cold short. The alloy cooled before it filled the mold enough to register mold surface detail. It cooled to a shine instead of maximum mold fill-out.

If you cast at the ideal temp and drop bullets 3-4 times a minute, your problem defects from "cold short" will be gone. Your error is that you missed a basic of casting.

REMEDY:

Establish the ideal temp for your alloy simply. Run your melt with a thermometer in it, when the metal is very hot and well above the point of fluidity, say maximum for your pot...Then disconnect power. Note the very first sign of surface hardening (this will appear as crystallization) and record the temperature. Add 100 degrees F and that is your ideal pot temp for 1-2 cavity bullet molds dropping 3-4 times a minute. It is that simple. Follow the basic rules of casting. You missed that by a whack.

A velvety or slightly frosty looking bullet surface as cast indicates good fill-out and good thermodynamics for casting your alloy.

 

Gary

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max503 posted this 06 January 2019

It was hard for me to keep this mold hot enough.  That's why I held it over the pot while the sprue hardened. When I did that (and when I interrupted the stream between cavities) I got good boolits.

I tried pressure casting but it gave big voids.  Seemed like it could be a venting issue.  I will take some Zud and a toothbrush to the vent lines and then try that again.  

Just for grins - I wonder if I can use a dipper with a bottom pour pot?

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onondaga posted this 06 January 2019

max503

Voids from pouring technique are completely correctable and not dependent on venting cuts at all if you learn "SWIRL casting". I have posted on it many times. You can search swirl casting but here are the basics:

Maintain spout or ladle distance to sprue gate hole while pouring so that the stream of metal is 1/4 to 1/2" maximum. Don't pour directly into the center of the hole, that turbulence causes gurgling voids that you are getting. Instead, tilt the mold so it is 5 degrees not level and preferably touching a mold guide to maintain the angle and distance. Direct the flow so that it hits 1/2 on the slope of the gate hole and 1/2 into the hole. The eccentricity of the flow being off center and the tilt of the mold forces the metal to swirl into the mold. This makes the voids impossible when practiced and done well and there is zero need or dependence on venting cuts when done well because the air goes out when the metal goes in. Casting is an ancient art and this method is ancient. The metal workers of the Egyptian Pharaohs were executed for casting flaws and they kept very detailed teaching notes that I have studied on the subject and taught to students in Dental casting of precious metals. Swirl casting works VERY well but must be very intentionally and precisely done. It takes practice, but I pour every bullet that way.

You have an old but very conquerable problem. Casting is an art, it is not just dumping metal into a hole.

NOTE: pressure casting works well with the right equipment and molds, Not Lee stuff. Lyman stuff designed for pressure casting works well because the parts of the system fit to do that. Trying to fake that with stuff that does not fit for pressure casting doesn't work.

Gary

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frnkeore posted this 06 January 2019

Are you preheating the mold, before casting? You need to do that. I lay my mold on top of the pot, while waiting for the pot to get to temp.

Frank

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Hornet posted this 06 January 2019

There is enough room in the large Lee bottom pour (20 pound?) to use it with a dipper, it just gets a little tight in some areas. I've got a couple of the smaller bottom pour pots (10 pound) that have had the bottom pour mechanism removed and the hole plugged for use as dipper pots. Lots of preheat, cast hot and fast for .22 cal. My testing shows MUCH less variation when I dipper cast but some folks prefer the bottom pour. I can usually make a bottom pour work, but need fewer tricks with the dipper.

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Lee posted this 07 January 2019

Interesting discussion. Boils down to what works for you. Started casting in the early 60s with a bottom pour pot, worked fine. Tried ladle casting at intervals along the way always went back to bottom pour for one reason it works for me. Cast from 22 to 12 gauge bottom pour works for all of them.

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BigMan54 posted this 09 January 2019

Onondaga,

Has it right.

I do the same thing, but the fewer cavities the the easier it is. After casting with 1cav, 2cav & 4cav molds for most of my life, I'm beginning to think that 4cav molds are the limit of my ability.

I have older Lyman 4cav molds & a couple of newer N.O.E. & ACCURATE 4cav molds. I also have a 5cav Accurate mold & 4-5 Lee 6cav molds. 

And I just bought a new N.O.E 5cav & another Lee 6cav mold I haven't even cast with yet.  I think that I get a lower percentage of rejects using 4cav molds then I do using 5cav molds. And I know for sure that I get a higher percentage of rejects using Lee 6cav molds. 

I still cast with old one cavity handgun molds for fun, sometimes dipper casting. Almost all my rifle molds are OLD Ideal/Lyman 1cav molds. I think cutting out the variable of multi cav molds works better for me.

And I still dipper cast pure Lead for Maxi-Balls and 1cav & 2cav RB molds. Just feels right for MuzzleLoaders and Cap & Ball Revolvers. 

I know technique and casting rythem play a Big Part in getting good bullets.

When I was a casting for Cowboy Shooting,  I used 4 RCBS molds, 2 of the 44-200-CM & 2 of the 44-200-FN. I had a rejection rate of about 2%. I did use that swirl method with a RCBS Pro-Melt. The bar mold "rest" actually made it easier.

But I just ain't that good anymore. Develop your own rythem & technique. 

Practice makes better. The more bullets you cast the better bullets you will produce.

 

 

 

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun.

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max503 posted this 10 January 2019

I'm gonna try that swirl method, maybe with a dipper.

Might try to rig up some kind of mold guide.  Any idears?

If we get snowed in I'll have some time to make boolits.

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Tom Acheson posted this 10 January 2019

There are possibly two different types of ladles.

When using the RCBS version (at the top below) by tipping the mold 90 degrees to the horizontal and inserting the nipple of the ladle that is full of lead into the hole in the sprue plate is a way to make quality bullets. Then rotate the two together back to the horizontal. Then lift the ladle up and let a sprue develop. For my 420-grain single cavity Paul Jones plain base bullet, I get very flat and sharp cornered bases and consistent bullet weights. 

If I use the Rowell ladle (bottom photo item) and just pour from ladle to the sprue plate hole about 1/2" above the top of the mold, the bases are not as flat and the weights vary more. I do use the Rowell when using lighter weight, multiple cavity molds.

I have a 40-pound Magma Engrg. pot and a 20-pound Lyman pot that started life as a bottom pour and I modified it to be ladle only. The Magma has a large top opening that works great for ladle casting.

Tom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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onondaga posted this 10 January 2019

Max503, you asked,

Might try to rig up some kind of mold guide.  Any idears?

 

Max, just look at the mold guide on the Lee 4-20, it is simplicity in parts and function for swirl casting. Just loosen the set thumbscrew and adjust the guide for mold height and flow to be 1/2 off center into sprue gate hole. I do the 5 degree tilt by eye with the mold bottom and side touching the guide.. The adjustable guide is on the front pillar that supports the pot:

 

https://leeprecision.com/pro-4-20lb.html

 

You could home make something just as simple and adapt it to what you have. It is also available from Lee as parts for the 4-20.

 

Gary

 

 

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max503 posted this 11 January 2019

Hey thanks. I could drill a hole in the base then run a bolt up through it and secure it with a nut.

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tlkeizer posted this 11 January 2019

Greetings,

I usually ladle pour with the mold top up, but thought I would try tipping the mold and ladle, and try some bottom pour furnace pouring; all into a 416 grain mold.  I used the same batch of lead, basically the same cadence, kept the pourings separate, and weighed them afterwords.  Here is my result, small population so may not be statistically strong.

First, the comfort factor.  I have been ladle pouring for well over 40 years off and on.  That is the most comfortable for me.  I get a small sprue on top of the mold, and it trims off well.  Not being what I think of as dexterous, tipping mold and ladle sideways just was not comfortable for me.  Bending over to see the bottom of the furnace, Lee, was a pain in the "lower back".  This could be addressed by setting up a higher base for the pot.

Second, mess factor.  Pouring mold vertical gives me almost no spillage, but then I have been doing that all my casting life so I should have it down for not making a great mess.  Turning mold and ladle sideways gave me a lot of spillage, so I poured over the pot.  Got a lot of lead on the sides of the mold, around the complete top of the mold, strings of lead, small (almost non existant) sprue, sometimes not enough to suck in lead to fill the mold.  When cutting the sprue off I had a lot of lead pieces at times.  Using the bottom pour furnace had basically the same problems of lead running everywhere from both inserting the nipple into the mold and letting the lead drop into the mold through about 1/4 inch air.  Same problem filling sprue and mold when nipple was inserted into the sprue plate.  Both non-traditional pouring for me created lots,LOTS, more mess.

Bullets.  Weights on bullets I kept were all very close.  All three sets filled out the same from what I could see, but bottom pour had more lead wings around the edge of the bullet base.  Checked sprue plate screw, tightened it slightly, helped some.  I kept the bullets I would have kept, but returned way more to the pot than from ladle pouring.  Segregating the bullets by weight in groups had the same spread of weights.  Each set had a ratio of 1 heavy, 2 middle, and 1 light.

My determination:  For me ladle pouring gives the best results, this takes into account the rate of good pours and mess created.  Of course my lightest bullet is from the 405 grain mold and from what I have read ladle pouring works better on heavy bullets than bottom pouring.  A good shooting friend of mine almost never ladle pours, bottom pours almost all his casting and says he has more of a mess with ladle pouring than bottom pouring.  So, whatever works best for you works for you.

I still use my bottom pour furnace, but I mainly use it to mix lead so all my "muffin biscuits" for a session are the same mix.  I mark each set so when I pour all my lead is the same rather than have slightly different mixes due to adding lead when the pot gets low.  When I add lead I let it heat up a bit to reduce weight variances due to temperature, one of these days while in the big city I will have to see about getting a thermometer.

Too cold to shoot, so thought I would do a little self comparison on ladle vs bottom pour.

TK

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max503 posted this 11 January 2019

Anybody have a spare non-bottom-pour pot they want to sell?

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Paul Pollard posted this 11 January 2019

I have a Lee 10 pound with the linkage removed and spout welded up. It’s a little tight for a ladle, but it works.

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