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Old 11-16-2020, 11:56 AM
AlHunt AlHunt is offline
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Default Chinese pencils

A few years back I was having a little trouble with bullets dropping from a particular mold. I had a genius idea, scrubbed a No. 2 pencil around the cavity and totally solved the problem.

So, it became a habit on all my molds. Until yesterday.

I couldn't find my trusty pencil so ran inside and grabbed a random pencil, which I later discovered didn't say #2.

I had a terrible casting session with the 2 molds I had prepped. Bullets fell right out and they just had a funky surface, some didn't fill out right and on and on. Ran the temperature up, down, refluxed, changed my casting pace. Nothing worked right.

I started to suspect I had contaminated the alloy somehow. I grabbed a 40 caliber mold to see how it did. I had not cleaned or prepped the mold. It dropped beautiful bullets, one after the other.

That's when I looked back at the pencil and realized it just said "Made In China". No #2 marking.

To confirm my suspicions, today I hosed the suspect molds down with brake parts cleaner, melted the rest of that same pot of lead ... and dropped perfect bullets.

The Chinese pencils must have something besides graphite in them.

Lesson learned. Maybe my experience will save someone else a problem.

Edit: Added a couple of pics before I remelt them.
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Chinese pencils-funkytexture-jpg   Chinese pencils-funkytexture-3-jpg  
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Last edited by AlHunt; 11-17-2020 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 11-16-2020, 12:06 PM
GypsmJim GypsmJim is offline
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Turn the mold upside down and light a USA made wooden match and let the flame lick the mold until the stick burns down. Repeat with the other half. Works every time.
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Old 11-16-2020, 12:38 PM
Telecaster Telecaster is offline
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I find the cheap pencils (from China) don't write well, and the erasers don't erase. You get what you pay for.
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Old 11-16-2020, 01:19 PM
nbedford nbedford is offline
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When the mold is new I first clean with lighter fluid and a q-tip, and then smoke my mold with a propane fire lighter, and that's it. No problem.
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Old 11-16-2020, 01:30 PM
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Any carbon whether it's from a pencil, match, candle or lighter is a contaminate. I tried smoking a mold many years ago and I didn't like the finish. I "marked" the cavity with a pencil and while better, still left a dull finish on the first dozen bullets cast. Today I put nothing but lead in my mold cavities...

When I get a new mold I'll clean/degrease it well (brake clean). Then I'll "season" it; heat the mold very hot on my hot plate and cool. I'll do this cycle several times and normally the mold will start dropping keepers right off the bat...

Last edited by mikld; 11-16-2020 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 11-16-2020, 02:44 PM
mtgianni mtgianni is offline
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I have a selection of old pencils I keep around just for molds. The point gets used for molds and the wood , usually Osage Orange, gets used to burnish off burrs.
Check your older kids student drawers.
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Old 11-16-2020, 07:02 PM
cowboy4evr cowboy4evr is online now
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I quit smoking molds years ago . I found it wasn't necessary . YMMV , Regards Paul
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Old 11-16-2020, 07:21 PM
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People have different ways. I smoke mine with a candle. No need to clean a mold-just put in a dry place. Never use wd 40 on a mold-it will take forever to drop a nice boolit. I like a smooth finish.
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Old 11-17-2020, 10:40 AM
2152hq 2152hq is offline
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Most of the Chinese mfg pencils are heavy on the clay binder and short on the actual graphite that is used to make the pencil 'lead'

This is just from my observations and using common pencil lead to scrubb metal surfaces that I don't want soft solder to adhere to.
Such as around a sight being soldered into place.

The sight base is clamped in place and the area around it is 'scribbled' with a common pencil. The graphite won't let soft solder (lead/tin) adhere. Any excess rolls right off. Makes the clean up much easier.

So it's the same idea as making the bullet not adhere to the mould.

But if I don't use at least a #2 pencil of the older US made 'school' pencils,,solder will still adhere a bit where the graphite is applied.

Little from China seems to work right even in the smallest of details.
But,,They probably never thought the pencils would have to pass the solder and bullet mould drop QC tests..
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Old 11-17-2020, 02:38 PM
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I have molds for toys, fishing lures and bullets well into the hundreds. Many are 100yrs old or better. I found there is no need to smoke molds.I would try the mold before automatically smoking it.

As far as Chinese pencils, the “wood” they are made of won’t sharpen correctly. They are wound like a firecracker of layers of paper like material.
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Old 11-17-2020, 06:37 PM
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I have a little tube of graphite dust I think I bought to lubricate cables or something. I wonder if that would work for your application.
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Old 11-17-2020, 07:05 PM
AlHunt AlHunt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregintenn View Post
I have a little tube of graphite dust I think I bought to lubricate cables or something. I wonder if that would work for your application.
If it's dry, I'd bet it would. My plan is to dig up a real pencil and not automatically use it every time. I can apply it to a hot mold so it's no real interruption if I'm having a problem.
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Old 11-17-2020, 07:42 PM
Qc Pistolero Qc Pistolero is offline
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I once bought a can of graphite to spray into the cavities of my molds.When ready to try it,I chickened out.The can sits there still full.
When done casting,I spray my iron molds with wd 40 after they cooled down and wrap them in an airtight plastic bag.When I want to use them,a generous spray of brake cleaner will remove everything from it.It works prefectly good for me for the last 20some years I've been doing it.
Of course,my alu molds I just let them cool down then stash them away until next use.
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Old 11-17-2020, 09:13 PM
Mike, SC Hunter Mike, SC Hunter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GypsmJim View Post
Turn the mold upside down and light a USA made wooden match and let the flame lick the mold until the stick burns down. Repeat with the other half. Works every time.
You are 1000% correct. It's the way I done it for over 40 years.
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Old 11-17-2020, 10:20 PM
BigBill BigBill is offline
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Don’t forget that Russian ammo decades ago didn’t smell like gun powder?
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Old 11-18-2020, 07:40 AM
Ruger 1,3 Ruger 1,3 is offline
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I smoke my moulds with Ohio blue tip matches.
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Old 11-18-2020, 10:03 AM
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I smoke while warming my molds on a hot plate . A good cigar that is . Regards Paul
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Old 11-18-2020, 10:19 AM
Mike, SC Hunter Mike, SC Hunter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBill View Post
Donít forget that Russian ammo decades ago didnít smell like gun powder?
???????????????????????
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