edit: i originally posted file names and some numbers so i could finish this post at a diff computer
edit #2: sorry about spelling and if i got nomenclature wrong, i'm exhausted.
edit #3: added a note to the 'immediately after casting' picture.
edit #4: conclusion didn't relate how happy / impressed i am with the mold.
As mentioned, the #0 .320 mold came in today. I WAS going to work on the plating project... but after more than a full day at work and driving home, got a call that someone needed some help... so finished going home, ate, and went back to work for another 3 hours.
Thus, it was time to play with the NEW toy to feel better.
First impressions were really good as I've mentioned. I did get an answer back concerning how it was made, and they do indeed cast a blank themselves and then do a lot of milling.
It also came with an instruction set that mentioned using soot to lube it instead of Pam (for those that use pam on their molds, don't for this one heh). Does mention being able to use wood to tap the flatter sides of the mold to help break it open / shot loose.
Dunno if I mentioned it earlier, but you do need to get this mold really hot. And it's (instructions) not really kidding. You gotta feed lead through the tiny sprue holes... and if the mold aint real hot you aint gonna fill the cavities.
Anyhoo, on to the pics.
^ Here's the mold, with the free flush cutters. The green shotgun shell is a 3" magnum unfired 12ga for size comparisons. Pride in the name of the company and USA is obvious
^ Flipped mold over, this side you can see the size clearly laid out... #0 buck .320. Handy.
^ Me holding the mold. My hands are probably average sized. I can't touch my fingers to my thumb hehe.
^ The mold left open. The flash and milling made the holes seem to have a bright ring, they really don't have that. Two good sized screws attach each handle, it's snugly on there.
On the right side, there are two ball bearings on opposite sides of the length of the mold. On the left side is the matching hole. This would be the 'surly lined up and closed properly' things or whatever they're called. With this mold so far, that's not been fully necessary, it's fairly stiff to open. After it warmed up, it was a bit more loose.
^ One side of the mold. This shows some of the obvious signs of the blank cast. Doesn't affect mold quality at all though. Sprue cavity and holes are visible. There's the bigger funnel opening and two small holes on either side for each pellet. Dunno if it's obvious, but the outer edges of the mold are ground down to be at a slight angle pointing into the funnels.
^ The flip side of the mold.
^ Same side, this time with the flash turned on. You can see down into the pellet cavities.
^ After my casting session, the immediate results. Each pair of pellets has a fair amount of sprue on it, and I obviously didn't get perfect results hehehe. edit: towards the end, most of my breaks were producing great results like the pair in the bottom left.
^ Snipped of pellets in a Berry's box. I should prolly focus on trying to snip them better. If you see any dull / frosty looking pellets - those were from the first one or two breaks when the mold was too hot.
The mold was real easy to manipulate with welding gloves.
It's length means you can't take a head on approach to casting from a bottom poor spout pot, but gotta come at it from an angle. Not that big of a worry.
I thought I had the mold hot enough, but my first attempt was 2 long pieces of sprue with rods sticking off of it, not a single filling. So back into the lead it went for 2min. First break after that was obviously way too hot, waited a bit and tried again... then a third time and it seemed to do okay so i went about my business.
Getting it so that you only just fill the funnel and don't connect the sprues is ideal.
It takes a bit of practice to start at one end of the funnel, fill for a split second, then move to the opposite end of the funnel, fill for a split second... that way you're putting lead directly over the pellet holes and filling the funnel finishes everything off. Then move to next funnel.
I tried pouring directly into the middle of the large funnel, but that was producing poor results as expected. Really wanna get it lined up over the holes, and get the pause/move timing right so that overflow from first hole doesn't partially fill second and cause blockage. Standard fair for multi-cavity molds, but in this case since it's one 'funnel' feeding both cavities....
Knocking the pellets free from the mold was a bit of a pain at times, i'll re-soot-lube it next time. With the first few really hot ones, the pellets came out kinda pot metalish and stuff.
All in all, it was a pleasure to work with. My first few breaks had low success rate... maybe 2-5 viable pellets out of 20. Towards the end once I knew what the mold wanted from me, it was getting closer to 14-18 per break.
While snipping them, I did some counting.
I ended up with 125 "sprue pairs" meaning 13 breaks. That's kinda confusing given that the mold produces 10 of these at a time. I suppose I forgot to flip the mold once or tossed an entire early 5-funnel-joined-sprue back in the pot. I dunno. Anyhoo, 125 pairs means a total of 250 possible pellets.
Counting the pellets I accepted, I came up with 146 in all. This includes some from the first couple (6 pellets?) breaks that are prolly lighter / more fragile. Averaging 11ish pellets per break... and i know i was getting much better breaks at the end. When I cast more, I'll keep posted with updated numbers.
You're supposed to graphite/moly/allox lube the pellets, but I might skip it heh.
First experience thought - it simply works and appears to do it very well. Like any new mold, gotta learn it's personality for how it wants to be filled. I learned what it wanted from me in about 6-8 breaks ?
I love the design of this over the commercially produced 18 pellet thing, this seems like it'd fill better / easier. With the mold being apart of the handle, it runs a little hotter and takes a lil longer to get warmed up... but the wood coverings are more than enough with thick leather gloves / welding gloves you should be wearing anyway. Also, with the mold being apart of the handle, no real problems of "breaking the handles" like commercial molds. And, this is by a small time guy (who is quite friendly, btw).
$40 shipped, I suggest buying one if you load shotgun at all ... and if you load buck, there's no point in debating the matter heh.
I give it prolly 9/10 ?
Will continue to update this thread a few times more as I do a few more casting sessions.