No problem...ask away. I do not mind helping out. I have spent many hours toiling over the lead pot trying to get the right mixture. Unfortunately, I do not have access to Linotype or any other known type lead any more. I can order it though the net but funds are a problem so I have been trying to work around the problem. The advice on the net to use a known lead will make it easier for you. I have cast for larger calibers for years but the .224 caliber has been a challenge. I have a large store of bullets for my 308, 30-30, 357 and 45 that has been made from strait Linotype and Lyman #2 lead.
I now use ww/tin mixture. I use 50/50 solder for my tin. I only have a 2lb pot that will go to 750 degrees. Made back in the late 50's.
I use the Lyman mold 225438. Once I cleaned and broke in the mold, I started casting. Took me awhile to figure out that the mold had to be rather hot to get a good bullet. If the bullet was a mirror finish...it was a dud. The grooves edges are not sharp. Once the mold gets hot enough, the bullets will have a polished aluminum look. Hard to explain but you will know once you see it. Once you get to that point, don’t stop till lead runs out or you get tired. Keep a steady pace. Too fast and you will get hot spots on your bullets. They will appear as whitish color spots and most likely the edges of the grooves will not be filled out in that area. Flux and stir the pot every so often or your bullets will come out at odd weights and trash will start getting in your bullets. By trash, I mean oxidized tin and antimony will form voids and dirty spots on your bullets. Make sure your spru plate is not too tight. It will cause you to tear cavities in the base of these small bullets. Never had that problem on larger calibers.
Below is long winded but I am a do it the hard way type and I like figuring things out. Learn alot that way...that and I don’t have the cash to buy allot of gadgets. So I make do with what I have.
As for hardness testing...I do not have a gage for that. I made a temporary DIY test till I can get one. I went to a local gun smith and got several bullets that he had cast that he had tested. I took two 3 x 3 blocks of aluminum that I had and bored 4 holes in each block. I then soldered 4 rods to the bottom plate and polished out the holes on the second plate. This way the top plate would slide up and down without binding. I made a 14lb lead chunk formed in a pipe that I could place on top of the sliding plate. I then placed each of his bullets of known hardness one at a time and applied the weight. I then took my dial calipers and measured each bullet. This gave me a guide line. I would then take and cast up a bunch of bullets and test them with different mixtures of ww and tin. I tried several different lots. Some strait from pot and others from water cooled or oven heat treatment. I was able to get a basic hardness for my cast bullets. My WW/tin mixture is about 11bhn. It seems to be rather accurate as each batch was slightly different. Every time I make a new batch, I place in my DIY tester and check them out. They stay pretty consistent till I make a new batch from a different lot of WW. Anywhere from .001 to .0005. I make WW 20lb batches. I use a cast iron mold that is used to make cornbread that looks like corncobs. It makes ingots that are an average of 15 ounces a piece.
It works for me but if you have the cash…get a tester if you want to get very accurate hardness test.
I found that the strait from the pot air cooled bullets do best for me. I am not out to shoot 2500+ with cast bullets. I was looking for more modest ranges of 1400 to 2000fps. And I get good expansions from those bullets as low as 1000fps.
As I said in previous post, Lil’Gun did very well for me as did Unique. I just loaded up another test batch with loads ranging from 7.5gr thru 8gr. I got my best groups from earlier tests in that range. I am going to try and repeat those test to see if it was a fluke or not and to home in the best load for that powder and bullet. With Unique I am working on the 3.5gr to 4gr area. That was the best groups I got for that lot last time.
Lube seems to be another issue all together. I am still experimenting with different lubes I make myself. Vince gave me a few tips and got me started down that path.
This is something I really enjoy. Cast and reload while weather is too hot, cold or rainy. Better than watching the boob tube reruns... Unless it’s a good hunting show
I salivate at the thought of going out and testing my loads on the weekends. I work 10 to 14 hour days during the week and I am too tired to hit the range by the time I get home.
I hope this helps you out a little. It is not hard, just takes time. Once I nail down a formula that works for my gun and the loads I want for different game for that caliber. I pretty much stop experimenting as much for that gun. I then work on making sure I can repeat the process over and over again with the same results. Once I have familiarized myself with those loads and where they hit when I pull the trigger….I am hunting fool till I get something else to work up loads on.