Thursday, March 9, 2017

Cooking up some Ben's Red Bullet Lube

Unlike jacketed bullets , home cast lead bullets need to be lubricated before loading in order to prevent leading in you barrel when you shoot them . There are many bullet lube recipes available all loosely based on mixtures of bee's wax and other lubricants. The lubricating can be done in several different ways . But for now I will stick to the traditional pan-lube method . You stand all your cast bullets up in a shallow pan and pour in your melted lubricant concoction until it covers all the bullet grooves , you let it harden , after which the bullets can be plucked from the solid cake with the lube groves nicely filled.  One of the more popular home made concoctions appears to be something that goes by the name of Ben's Red .
Ben's Red is a mixture consisting of :
24 oz of Bee's wax
14 oz of Lucas Red and Tacky grease (one full tube)
4.6 oz of Johnson's Paste Wax
2.3 oz of STP oil treatment
2.3 oz of Automatic Transmission Fluid (Dextron/Mercon)
Started melting the Lucas Red and Tacky as that appears to be the worst part of the process
Once that was more or less liquid I added the other ingredients and started adding chips of the bees wax .
In order to speed things up without burning the mixture I chipped pieces of the wax off the block with a chisel .
Unfortunately I was half a pound short of bees wax so I knew I'd need to add more . I poured it out in a shallow pan to harden . It never fully hardened as I did not have sufficient wax in my mixture . It also smelled rather like burned crankcase oil . . . . will need to find a solution to that bit .
So a couple days later I was able to pick up some more bee's wax and remelted the mixture back down and added the remaining wax needed . This time I got smarter and used a putty knife heated with my torch to cut the block of wax into small chunks .
Also added about half a teaspoon of Vanilla Kero-Klean a deodorant additive that makes your kerosene space heater not smell so vile . Seemed to take care of most of the burnt oil smell .
I also got smarter and lined my pan with parchment paper to make removal of the hardened lube easier .
After about 15 minutes cooling in front of a fan I was able to remove my lube from the pan and flip it over to harden up some more .
Bagged for future use

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Bullets = Commercially made mass production projectiles .

Boolits = Hand cast, home made , custom sized projectiles for hand loading ammunition .
A while back I picked up an old single shot Harrington and Richardson Model 58 Handyrifle in 44 Magnum . Upon doing some research I learn it has the less than optimal Marlin 1 in 38 micro-grove rifling that is known to be over bore beyond the normal .429/.430 thousands . From what I read due to the slow rifling they seem to perform best with projectiles under 250 grain .
When I slugged the barrel with a soft lead weight and measured it we show .431 thousands
Before I bothered to do that I had ordered a Lee 429-200 RF mold . . . that is , four hundred and twenty nine thousands diameter , two hundred grain , round nose , flat point mold .
Looks like this . So after doing some digging I knew it might drop under size pills for my rifle and some additional fiddling might be needed to make them work . Either powder coating them or honing out the mold with some valve dressing compound might be in order .
 So I fired up the hot plate and the casting pot and figured I might as well find out what it does .
Needed some extra heat to get things going in the cold garage . Yes, I was next to the window and had a fan extracting the fumes .
Poured and sprue cut off
After some initial fumbling I got in to a rhythm .
An hour of work gets me a nice pile of decent looking 44 mag pills .
Half a cashew tub full .
They measure out between .430 thousands . . . .
. . . . and .428 thousands . . .  hmmmmm
They weigh out from 206.7 grains . . .
 . . . . to 209 grains as cast with my wheel weight lead mix .
I pushed a couple down the barrel with a dowel, and though a bit undersized according to the micrometer, they appear to be engaging the rifling well . So they might work just like that without resizing . Still have to see how they do for accuracy . If they don't work I might get a sizing die and size them all to .429 thousands and try my hand at powder-coating them to gain a couple thousands of an inch .
Alternatively I could hog out the mold using one of these boolits with some valve grinding compound and a screw in the base chucked in a drill .

02/24/17 Addendum: 
Referencing crimp question by Harry
 The Lyman cast bullet handbook does call for a heavy crimp on 44 mag for the reasons I mentioned in the comments.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Fricking mess . . .

I don't understand those that say they love winter. I think that's rather like the faithful wife who loves her husband despite the fact he beats her.
Last week we had bare patches of grass in the back yard. Then we got about ten inches of snow last Tuesday and another foot on Thursday. Saturday we spent three and a half  hours digging out of Friday night's twelve inches. Sunday morning was overcast and more snow expected. Made a quick dash up to Freeport and by the time we made it back home it started spitting snow again.
By two pm it was looking like this
By four pm there was enough our neighbor Tim across the street got plowed out.
And the town public works dept was knocking back the tops of the snow banks
By ten pm there was about ten inches on my grilling pad
It is gonna be a big one
Coming down in buckets
And more forecast for Wednesday
Eight am on Monday looking out the bathroom window. Must be sixteen inches on the grill pad.
Birds were desperate for food
Truck is buried
Had to dig ourselves out the back door. It was about three feet deep when I started.
Took ten minutes just to make it out to the garage
Yardstick on the cement grilling pad
Fifteen inches.
Three hours later I got the back . . .
 . . . and driveway cleared out,
 Annie dug out the truck and I took another hour and half to clear the roof
Will need a couple more hours of work before I am ready to get beat again on Wednesday

Friday, January 13, 2017

Honda Odyssey strut change

So last week I took the Honda Odyssey for the state motor vehicle inspection and they failed it on three counts.
1) Left front tire was unevenly worn, due to...
2) a broken suspension coil spring, and ...
3) the right hand outer tie rod end was worn.

The shop estimate was:
Two new front quick struts 580$ (can't change just one)
Labor 300$
One outer tie rod end 100$
Labor 100$
Two new tires mounted and balanced 160$
Vehicle alignment 90$
Total 1330$ plus sales tax

Given that we have some steep medical co-pays this month we need to do something about that expense. Besides I am getting bored of all this sitting around waiting to heal from my spinal surgery.

Checked Ebay and found the struts for 137$ shipped to my door.
Just don't tell the doctor each one of those is about twenty pounds.
A quick check on Youtube on how the job is done
Seems easy enough even for my feeble brain and lame neck.
So this afternoon I got motivated and fired up the wood stove in the garage and after some struggle finding my impact wrench sockets right where I had put them on my peg board on my work bench right in front of my nose, I pulled the offending part on the driver side. Note the broken coil spring.
And installed the new one
Button up the sway bar link and other loose bits and torque the big bolts to spec.
Switch sides and pull the passenger side strut
And put the new one in on that side. Bottom through bolts torqued to 130 foot pounds, top to 30 ft/lbs. Took it for a test drive and it no longer pulls to the left, so I may not even need the alignment. Total labor time? three hours, OK two and a half if you discount the time wasted looking for the stupid sockets and messing with the wood stove.
That's 730 U$ saved.
Next week I will tackle the tie rod end and take it back to the shop for some new tires and we'll see if they give me an inspection sticker.