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Thread: Civil War Bullet Manufacturing Process

  1. #21
    hobbler is offline
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    Yesterday sent off one of the more recent Lyman 575213NS set of blocks to have the grooves removed. The mold is one of the newer ones manufactured with the smaller diameter channel for the base plug and someone had recut the channel size so that fit neither the new or old diameter plugs.

    The idea is to recut the channel to fit the older plugs (from the various Ideal / Lyman minies), taking the cut right on up to meet the ogive and eliminate the lube grooves. Then swaging down the castings to whatever diameter a given rifle might need.
    I would need to start large and swage down to avoid having a mold that was too small. And this way the blocks can be used with which ever cavity design of the various Lyman molds works best. With the modified "NS" blocks should be able to approximate the various designs of recovered relic smooth sided bullets. That's something I'd been wanting to do, to cobble up ammo such as was actually used and this was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
    Last edited by hobbler; 04-21-2020 at 06:30 AM.

  2. #22
    Kevin Tinny is offline
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    Base plugs

    Hello, all:

    Skirmishers helped me when I began working on accuracy with minie's and base plugs.

    They shared that large hollow bases combine form and spin stabilization factors.
    The shape of the plug relates to the thickness of the skirt AND its volume changes the minie's dynamic center of gravity and mass.

    A respected tester, the late Tony Bagdon, spent a lot of time with base plug shapes.
    The slightest profile changes produced unpredictable accuracy differences. Trial and error.
    John Dewald at North East Trade Co in Muncy, PA made many 54/58 plugs for Tony.

    I have worked through half a dozen plugs and it's like chasing what's left of my tail.

    All the best,
    Kevin Tinny

  3. #23
    hobbler is offline
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    As noted in the 1850's*, for lubed (not smooth) minies, the lube grooves also can supply stabilizing effects.

    *https://books.google.com/books/about...d=YXkDAAAAYAAJ

  4. #24
    hobbler is offline
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    Just something else working with, an adjustable .58 caliber to fit the various older Ideal / Lyman blocks with the full diameter base plugs.
    My Armisport interpretation of the P53 was produced with a 48" twist. Might use some of them in the P-H musketoon.

  5. #25
    Dheisey#7003 is offline
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    Many years ago, someone had made an "automatic" minie ball casting device. It combined a bottom drop lead pot, a rapine minie mold, an electric motor and a bunch of gears and cams. I only ever saw it once at sutlers. It was interesting. I believe you loaded lead into the pot, and once the lead was hot, you turned on the motor and the mold moved under the pot, lead dropped into the mold and then it went to a "drop" area where a cam actuated the mold to drop the minie out. The cam closed the mold and went through the process over again... It was pretty interesting. From what I gathered, it had to be a hollow base mold that had the base secured to the mold. At that time Rapine molds were the only ones that did that.
    When I say years ago, we are talking 20+ years ago when the sutler buildings were cobbled together like carnival stands with sawmill slats on the outside. I wish I had a photo of the thing, it was definitely a Rube Goldberg device.

  6. #26
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    Master Caster makes such devices.

    http://www.magmaengineering.com/master-caster/

    Not sure if it does hollow-base bullets though.

    Steve
    Steve Sheldon
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    4th Louisiana Delta Rifles
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  7. #27
    bobanderson is offline
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    I have a Master Caster. Great machine, will throw 500 bullets an hour using 2 cavity mould blocks.

    There could be some issues with trying to use it for minies. In use, the blocks swing down and separate in an arc making it near impossible to use a mould where the core pin is attached to the bottom of the pair of blocks with a solid plate. A teammate on the 1st Michigan had his Master Caster set up to use a flexible steel plate (spring steel maybe?) to hold the core pin. He had it figured out where he could cast minies.

    I use hard alloy for all of my breechloaders, so casting minies means cleaning out the pot to make the switch, or buying an extra pot (Not cheap!).
    For that reason, my Master Caster is restricted to hard lead alloy, a.k.a. smoothbore balls, pistol caliber bullets and civil war breechloader projectiles. Two notable success stories were one, modifying my Elka round ball mould to throw smoothie balls. At 14 balls per pound, a 40 lb pot gave me over 400 balls before I gave up. That should keep my two smoothies running for this year for sure. My second project was to convert my Moose Moulds "Bobtail" Sharps bullet. The Master Caster uses "keys" that simulate the mould handles we all use so I made keys and got the Master Caster throwing about 250 Sharps bullets per hour. I guess I just don't enjoy the slow progress when you cast bullets from single cavity moulds.
    Bob Anderson
    Ordnance Sergeant
    Company C, 1st Michigan Volunteer Infantry
    Small Arms Committee

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