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Market for modified molds?

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19 September 2002, 10:31
Paul H
Market for modified molds?
I've modified a few lee 2 cavity molds on my small lathe, and have been happy with the results. That said, I'm considering getting a larger lathe to modify the 6 cavity lee molds. What I would envision would be making a few LBT type cherries, so that I could make .357, .366, .375 .410, .416, 429, 452, 454 and 475 cavities. I could even do 50's, but could only make a 3 cavity out of the 6 cavity mold due to spacing. Also, the molds aren't that deep, so bullet weight would be limited ~240 gr .35, 250 gr .366, 260 gr .375, 300 gr .41/416, 340 gr .44, 360 gr .45, 420 gr .475, 450 gr 50 cal.

I'm thinking of a $25 set up fee, and $5/cavity. Multiple styles per mold would be possible, but each style would require the setup fee. I'm trying to figure out a reasonably priced way to offer a custom mold. It is too much work to disasemble the two cavity molds, but if I could get unasembled blank 2 cavity molds from lee, for a reasonable price, that would be an option as well. Personally I think the 6 cavity lee is a better design, and also the 2 cavity is shorter due to the pins, so max weight would be reduced.
19 September 2002, 10:50
How about if I sent you blank moulds from magma and bullet drawings would you be intrested? BBT
19 September 2002, 11:38
Paul H
At this point, I'm looking at making only a few styles of LBT shapes, ie WFN, LFN, WLN, I'm envisioning having maybe 1/2 dozen form tools that will cut all the cavities, and I simply need to alter the depth for weight, and depth of cut for dia. I don't plan to offer custom bullet shapes off the bat. I'll have to work up some rough cad drawings of the bullet shapes I'll be looking at.

I figure it'll be the end of the year before I'll be able to offer this service. I just wanted to test the waters before I commit my time and $ to do the R&D.
19 September 2002, 11:46
Paul I believe the market is out there. Are you going to post on Shooters per this topic?
19 September 2002, 12:32

I sure would be interested. I have some friends that may be as well. If you are going to make LBT shapes may I suggest that for handgun calibers .44 and .45 that the LFN shape be made with a .500" long nose. This makes a difference concerning maximum case capacity for the revolver cartidges.

Also. If you would like some LBT bullet samples, from LBT moulds, I have .452 325gr and 360gr LFN, 400gr WLN and .416 400gr LFN. Send me an email if interested.
19 September 2002, 13:05
Paul H

I was thinking of a dual crimp groove to allow for long loading. I've been crimping my 460 gr WFN's in the first lube groove in my 480, and it works great, providing me with near 475 case capacity. I'm basically thinking of .40" and .50" nose to crimp lengths.

I have several LBT sample bullets, as well as some of Veral's literature.
19 September 2002, 13:27

Your a step ahead of me. Good luck!
19 September 2002, 13:45
Paul H
BTW, what is the preference, 2 cavity or 6 cavity? If I can get blank two cavity molds from Lee, I'm thinking I can deliver them for ~$55-60. The 6 cavities would be ~$90-100.
20 September 2002, 09:47
Allen Glore
Paul I'd be interested in a .366 mold. Even though I don't cast I could send it to a bullet caster and get bullets in exchange for the mold and they would then add that bullet to their line-up.
20 September 2002, 13:00
Paul H,
Good idea you've got there. It's a wonder someone has not tried this before. I guess that makes you the pioneer, you lucky stiff.
I would be interested in the .375, if it was made large enough to cast .378 for my Wesson and Harrington Target Model 38-55. Interested enough to buy one, in fact, and would prefer the six cavity, though would also buy the two, if that is what you wind up making. Lots of luck with this.
20 September 2002, 13:18
John Y Cannuck
Are there any legal, patent, or other bullshi* problems with modifying Lee's products for resale?
20 September 2002, 13:43
Paul H
Originally posted by John Y Cannuck:
Are there any legal, patent, or other bullshi* problems with modifying Lee's products for resale?

I wouldn't imagine any more so then building a custom rifle?

My purpose is to offer mold styles that the big makers don't, but at costs under what a custom, or semi custom mold runs. I've used many lee molds, and all of them have made accurate bullets. That said, Lee doesn't make all the styles I want, and at $95 for a 2 cavity mold, and $130 for a 4 cavity, I can't afford enough balisticast molds to curb my casting interest. Hmm, that somehow translates into me wanting to spends $1k's to tool up and modify molds, I know it makes on some level [Big Grin]
20 September 2002, 16:53
I`ll take one in .366 or .368 for my glad to do some testing of them also,I`m disabled so the one thing I have is free time.I tried to re-bore a lee mould once just using a drill to make a simple 45-70 paper patch bullet,looked like hell,but shot 3 into 4" at 100 yds.Not good but tolerable for a first try.e-mail me when you can give a price and wait time,I just want a single,or double with 2 different weights.thanks.
21 September 2002, 00:28
PaulH...I beleive there's plenty of mould work out there for the asking. Is it in modifying the Lee moulds?? I can't answer that. There is plenty of work for a person with a mill/lathe/grinder and good machinists skills such as scaling mould tops, removing GC shanks and making HP moulds and missing HP pins. I just don't know if the money and demand is there for you to make anything but shooting money. But, you'd meet a lot of interesting people for sure.

A friend and I looked into the custom mould making business several years ago. The most economical method of obtaining mould blanks is to subcontract someone with CNC equipment to make the mould blanks already milled and pinned in quantity.

Most people if they're going to sink any amount of money into a custom cut/modified mould will want meehanite instead of aluminum.

The best method of doing this is to modify an existing RCBS mould belonging to the customer and here, the risk factor comes in to play.

There's many variables in this process but I'm glad to see that someone is looking at mold modifications. Orygun Mark and myself have been messing with them now for several years. I don't have the machine skills or equipment but a friend does and we've done maybe 25 or so over the past two years.

The next project is a Lyman 358315 with a variable weight and nose length with interchangeable nose styles on the same mould.

The sky is the limit.../beagle
22 September 2002, 16:04
I would also be interested. I have a old Marlin in 38-55 and a Winchester in 38-56 that slug out @ .379 I just did a buy from Natchez for some Meister slugs but would prefer a mold of my own that would drop slugs @.380 and about 255gr or lighter as well as a 300gr. I have a Lyman 375249 but it drops my alloy at .375 and they keyhole at 25 yards. I don't have any antimony yet to sweeten up my alloy to yield a larger bullet. If you could supply a mold that already drops a .380 with WW it would save me a lot of grief. Interested in Oregon....45nut
22 September 2002, 16:43
Orygun Mark
Paul H.
I have HP'd moulds, made new HP pins, and made different mose configurations for HP'd moulds.
It's a labor of love. If you count what your time is worth an hour you won't make much money. Like Beagle says there is lots of work out there but will people be willing to pay the price or wait. The few moulds I have made PB or changed the nose it has taken quite a while to grind the tools I wanted to use. Wish you the best of luck.
25 September 2002, 02:17
There is plenty of work out there for a skilled machinist with a lathe and miller, not just bullet moulds. The problem is getting people to pay for it. I've got out of mould making, except for myself, because people thought that because Lee sell their moulds at �12 a time that is what I should charge, or less, for making a one off custom design and I just got slagged off; being accused of ripping them off. I was only doing it as a favour, I never made a profit!! I now simply refer the ones who gave me hassle to NEI or Rapine who charge at least three times as much as I was charging.

The other problems I had were when a bullet design didn't work (and I explained why it wouldn't) but the person who's pet project it was claimed it was because it was a faulty mould. Another person complained of a mould I made being faulty and it turned out he had been smashing away at it with a hammer, ruining it! BTW, I trialed all my moulds before they changed hands so I knew they worked and the bullet met the spec.

Always get all or part of the money up front, I got stiffed too many times by those who obviously thought I worked as a charity. Anyone who treated me like that never got anything else made, instead I refered them to a proper engineering company so they could appreciate what a service they had lost by pissing me off.

Don't hesitate to make your moulds out of aluminium they will cast bullets just as good and last just as long. Aluminium wont stand up to much abuse but neither will an iron or steel mould! And if you are just cutting a single cavity you can, with plenty of cutting oil, get away with unhardened cutters.

I used to make mould blocks in batches of twenty pairs. If you get strip of the right size you can simply mill the handle slot down the length on one side and skim the other sides with a fly cutter and then cut the individual blocks off. Then it is just a matter of drilling the holes. The biggest hassle was making the spru plates, just use mild steel there is no need for it to be hardened.

As your work gets known you will find a growing demand for making one off small bits for individual projects; things like custom nose punches, sight bases, odd screws and such. Beware some of these "little" jobs can turn into rather big and frustrating jobs. Do not hesitate to refuse jobs that are described as "just a simple hole" but in reality is a very difficult, time consuming set up requiring special tools; your work and dedication to getting it right wont be appreciated!

I now only do work for close friends who appreciate my work.

One last tip: don't do anything for free. Unless I have had to buy materials I usually say "buy me a pint". If you charge nothing people think that is the value of your skill and time.
25 September 2002, 02:46
45Nut....Try shimming between the blocks with the stick-on aluminum tape like is used with A/C ducts. You can usually pick up .004" by shimming both sides and the dimensions don't get too distorted to produce good accuracy. If you don't like it, rip it off and you're back to square one. I use it all the time on 44 moulds to increase the diameter to about .433./beagle
29 October 2002, 13:16
A friend and I looked into the custom mould making business several years ago. The most economical method of obtaining mould blanks is to subcontract someone with CNC equipment to make the mould blanks already milled and pinned in quantity.

What quanity? and prices to you get? May be there is enough looking for some blanks to get an order.

[ 11-01-2002, 20:06: Message edited by: McD ]
30 October 2002, 05:45
Paul H
I know most of the work is in making the mold blocks, not in cutting the cavities, so that is why I was looking at modifying existing molds, or just getting blank mold blocks.

I figure a small CNC lathe would be ideal for cutting the cavities, and wouldn't be a huge investment. Getting set up to make the mold blocks would be a major investment.
25 November 2002, 14:12
You have me interested with the .44 in 340gr weight! [Smile] I've been looking for heavier and LIGHTER .44 molds and they aren't to be found! [Frown]

The lightest I've found is 215gr and the heaviest 310gr.

I'd like something, anything under 200 for a plinking round and use with .44Specials. And I'd like to find something heading towards 405gr as Beartooth has for the .444. I would think 340-360gr would be ideal in the .444. The 405's just look ridiculously long, but I'm sure they'd be fun to try! [Smile]