Greetings. I recently bought a lee aluminum mold for 405 grain hollow base 45 caliber bullets for my 45-70. The problem I have is the casting gives a wire rim around the outside of the base extending down from the bullet, same diameter as the bullet itself. Lee said I need to clean the hinge and lube it. That has not seemed to make a difference. I can reduce the excess by squeezing the handles of the mold very hard, but don't believe that should be required. Other than trimming off the excess or returning the mold to Lee, any suggestions? T.K.
lee 405 grain hollow base mold problem
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- Last Post 05 April 2013
Check for complete mold closure. This is difficult to check with the self centering bottom pin assembly on, but use a small flashlight and check if there can be any light shined through the cavities by looking at the line where the mold halves meet when the mold is closed.
Next remove the handle hinge nut and bolt and do the same check for light. This will be easier to see if there is any but will not indicate if the problem is with the bottom pin in place only.
Use magnification and check for burs around the mold cavities and look very closely around each locating pin for flash where the aluminum meets the steel. Remove any flash or burs with a needle point at the locating pins and use a bamboo or hardwood stick to rub out any burs at the mold cavity edges..
Check mold closure with a light again.
Reassemble, lube mold pins and use a leather mallet and while squeezing the mold handles to see if you can bring the mold halves to better mating with several taps on each side of the mold above and below the slot where the handle jaws are attached to the mold blocks. Strike toward the center with light blows to push the mold halves to mate.
If you really study what you are doing you can get them to mate, if not , send it back with sample bullets showing the problem at its worst.
Lee molds are not a major investment, but I'm sure you want it to work right. Be patient and look closely at what you are doing. hopefully you will find what is preventing complete closure of your mold. Sometimes lady's lipstick lightly and evenly rubbed on one entire side of the mold and then tapping shut will leave a mark on the other side indicating where a early contacting burr or flash is. Actually try that first and if you find the problem immediately, it will be an easy fix to remove the offending spot with a little scraping till you get good even closure indicated by the lipstick on the other mold half and bottom pin.
Also you may have just rotated the bottom pin to a bad place for fit and that can be corrected by rotating trial and error coupled with light inspection. One of my Lee hollow base molds only likes the bottom pin rotated in one exact place or I get flash when casting. I have marked the pin and the pin base with a scratch for reference for when I have difficulty. You won't have these troubles as frequently with $100+ custom molds, but they have problems too. It is best to learn how to spot problems and fix them yourself with either price range of molds.
AND YES a firm squeeze is required every casting even if mold mating is terrific.
Onondaga, Thank you. I will give this a try. I have half a dozen other molds for other guns and never had this hollow base problem before. After I go over the mold and cast again I will let you know the results. Temps up here in south central interior Alaska are dropping again, so don't hold your breath waiting for an update; I don't cast when it gets down below zero. Again, Thank you. T.K.
Onondaga, Don't know if the earlier reply got through that I tried to send tonight, so here is a second try. Cleaned the mold, checked for burrs, etc. Took the mold apart for the cleaning and checking, and while apart I manually placed the plug in each of the mold halves. There was a distinct rim around the plug where there seems to be excess cutting. Put the mold back together, and cast a few to check the mold again; same results. I have the mold back in the box with a letter and some examples of the castings I did to check the mold. This will be mailed to Lee in the morning. None of the other three molds with plugs have this problem, none of them are Lee. But, I have friends that swear by Lee, so will let them check out the mold. After I hear back from Lee I will let you know what they do and say. Thank you again for your help.
Terry, Sounds like you are doing everything you can , the right way.
I've had a similar problem with a 45-70 HP mold. In my case I solved the problem by tightening the hinge nut on the handles. If it gets loose the molds won't close in proper register every time.
Today I recieved the mold back from Lee. They replaced the insert holder, and the insert with a larger one by 0.015 inch. So, they must have agreed with me that there was a problem with the mold as there was no charge. And I also got a nice apology for any inconvenience I had due to the wire rim. Put me down as a happy customer:D.
I had to try the mold of course, and since it is above zero today I went out to the shed, turned up the heater, and cast about 20 bullets. Mr. Lee said he cast 12, and had flat bases around the hollow portion. My bullets were also flat around the edges; problem solved. Now, no excuses, only chances to excel (as far as the cast bullet is concerned anyhow).
While waiting for the mold to come back I polished the bores of the trapdoors a bit, and am eagerly awaiting shooting again. I did shoot a little with prior cast and trimmed bullets after the polishing, and my groups are a little smaller. Between the new bullets cast and the polishing, waiting to shoot is kind of like waiting for Christmas morning. I will write about what I see as a result of the two combined when I can.
Thank you all of you that took the time to respond to my initial query helping me to determine the cause of the casting problem.
I managed to get out to do some shooting with the new bullets. I have managed to get a couple 1 1/2 inch 4-out-of-5-shot groups at 50 yards. I did not shoot farther as I declined to wade through the snow further. My last group had the first shot in a clean barrel, then of the next 4 one was 1 1/2 inch lower and 2 inches left, and three centered at one more inch lower and in a line touching like birds on a fenceline. If I can get the one flier culled regularly.............
I tried to insert a photo, but could not get it accomplished. If I ever do get it figured out I will include photo's. (Yes, I have gone to the listings on inserting photos, but to no avail.)
More when I get more shooting in. TK :}
trying to get photo attached, will see if I can do it.
Great progress. What is your rifle model and the history of the barrel. How did you break it in and was the bore polished?
The rifle is all original, model 1873 Springfield, trapdoor 45-70. My grandfather bought it as a young man for $5.00 cash, said it took all one summer to earn enough cash to buy two (the other one I am having the bore lined with an insert, more on that after I get it back). The lock says Watertown 1863, the reciever is numbered 486924, the outside of the barrel has a V, P, Eagles Head, then lower case p all in a vertical line along the long axis of the barrel. I did not separate the barrel from the stock to check underneath. The back sight does have some windage adjustment, I know not all of them do as my other rifle cannot be adjusted on the back for windage. Until I fired it the rifle had not been shot for at least 63 years so the barrel was in good shape, but not new. I have now put 88 rounds through it.
For break in I had it proofed with the loads I will nominally be using after cleaning the bore with gun cleaning solvent brush and patches. Then after shooting about 40 times, I polished the bore. I looked at what you have done, and read on another forum where a guy used 0000 steel wool over brush and patch. Since I do not have a snake, I used the brush and steel wool method. After cleaning the barrel, I soaked it with Liquid Wrench a half an hour, ran a couple patches through, then another soaked patch. I wrapped an old brush with a patch, a bit of 0000 steel wool, soaked it in Liquid Wrench, then brushed the bore for about 5 minutes while re-wrapping the steel wool a couple times to not get ruts. Removed the steel wool and patch, then ran clean patches through until they came out “clean". I think the first patch came out with junk from the 1800's, it was really dirty, rusty, and evil looking. I soaked the barrel again, and let it set a couple hours, then cleaned the barrel as I normally would after a couple dry patches to clean out residue. I was not after fire lapping, just polishing as you mentioned in one of your writings. I have no intentions of steel wool usage again, I currently figure one polishing should be enough. I have no idea how much if any my grandfather shot it, and won't be able to ask him in this life.
Between the problem with the wire rim on the cast bullets, now corrected, and various loads, I have gone from CEP of “sheet of typing paper” to about an inch and a half, all at 50 yards as I have not felt like trudging through the snow all the way “to grandmother's house". I do not think the barrel is totally broke in yet for current shooting, and will keep track of the loads. From my limited hi-power competitive shooting to purchase of rifles in the past to shooting a few thousand prarie dogs to articles I have read, I think a barrel is not really broke in until around 200 rounds, after that I think other factors than barrel break in determine accuracy. I may be wrong, but that has worked for me in the past.
The weather is finally getting on toward where Spring can be seen on the horizon, so hope to get more shooting in.
Hope this answers most of your questions, enjoy your shooting.
You are good to go. I asked about the bore condition because of your first shot high. This is something that can be resolved if bore roughness was the cause. Bore condition could well be the cause of the first shot high you have. If that is persistent, I would polish the bore and , if necessary go up .005” in bullet diameter.
It is wonderful that you are shooting a family rifle like that. You might be hesitant to polish the bore because of the age and sentimental value. That is certainly understandable.
Another tip that has resolved first shot high for me is to use Johnson's Paste wax to wax and shine the bore after cleaning. I apply the wax with a standard cleaning rod, slotted patch holder, and sweatshirt patch. Then polish the wax with a fluffy-mop.
Be sure the alignment pins are light lubed with beeswa and graphite stick from LBT or “Bullplate” lube from Accurate.
My Webley Mk2 265-grain HB mold runs well once lubed and pre-heated om hotplate, in 45Colt carbine with 6.5 grs. of Bullseye.
73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia
Well, I trudged through the snow out to 100 yards. With the way I shot I think I better get within 50 yards. :P I'm still evaluating my performance, but had a myriad of old loads so do not consider the trip more than a chance to shoot and get more cases ready to load with like components. Somedays you load, some days you shoot, some days all you get accomplished is “unloading"; I unloaded. More later when I have better controlled data. The day, however, was sunny, no wind, about 40 (above), and waaaaay too nice to stay inside, so I didn't.
Lee hollow base molds work well for me. You got a clinker. I think you'll like it. I wrecked the one that I had by experimenting with the cavity size. I filed the top off of the forming cone to make the cavity smaller. It cast fine but shot not so well.
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