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Author Topic: Lubing Big Lube Bullets  (Read 3781 times)

Offline Marshal Will

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Lubing Big Lube Bullets
« on: March 06, 2023, 01:38:55 PM »
My apologies for a longish post but it's in order. In a fit of temporary sanity, I decided to forgo the round ball cartridges and again go for BP cartridges with conical bullets. In the past, I've had good results with conical bullets but the fouling has been an issue since the bullets didn't have appropriate lubing. I don't like putting grease cookies under the bullets because if I don't shoot them all right away, there is the possibility that the lube will migrate into the powder and cause misfires.

I got ahold of a friend of mine. Mark Whyte, aka Springfield Slim, who I have shot a lot of CAS with and who, in addition to doing leather working, casts bullets. He casts big lube bullets in both 260 grain and 200 grain. His price for 'as cast' bullets is good so I ordered some.

Meanwhile I started getting my Lyman 450 lube sizer ready to go with some BP lube. I first had to get the nasty black Lyman lube out of the thing. I disassembled it and cleaned all the pieces with a little solvent. I was able to get the plug of lube out of the main housing but that still left all the little passageways and such to clean out. I went online to find out how to clean that out. Most people were talking about submersing the whole thing in boiling water and waiting for all the lube to melt out. That sounded like a total mess to clean up afterwards, not to mention that all the exposed internal metal would be subject to rusting.

One guy said he used a hairdryer to melt the stuff out. So I put the main casting on a piece of cardboard and heated it with a heat gun. In fairly short order, I had bullet lube running all over the place. It's amazing how much lube the thing had in it. I cleaned up the outside and tossed the cardboard.

Also in my search online I read about guys complaining about bullet lube migrating out the bottom of the unit, oozing out onto the workbench. Some said they were loosing a bullet's worth of lube for every 4 or 5 bullets. One guy's solution was to bond a thin sheet of steel onto the bottom of the unit with JB Weld. The drawback to that was that when he wanted to take it apart, he would have to break the JB Weld and remove the plate. I assume that meant making a new plate every time you changed lube. Not for me.

I cut a plate the shape of the base out of 1/8" steel. Then I ground and draw filed the base flat. I needed new O-rings so I got them at the local parts store along with a sheet of gasket material. I drilled 1/8" holes through the plate and the base Then I tapped them to 10-32 and drilled the plate out to fit the flat head machine screws. After that was done, I installed the plate with Permatex gasket sealer on the top side only. Now it's ready to go and If I want to change the lube in the future, I will only need to make a new gasket, which I have plenty of now.

Now when the bullets arrive, I will be able to size and lube them with my lamb tallow/beeswax lube.


Offline Navy Six

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Re: Lubing Big Lube Bullets
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2023, 02:45:14 PM »
Marshall Will, did you get your Lyman lube-sizer straightened out? I was surprised to hear of your issue with the bottom leakage. I have the same Lyman, its 30 years old and I've never had that happen. I will get a little leakage past the base of the bullet if I crank the handle too much but thats about it. Mine has never had anything but SPG or my own soft black powder lube in it. You should have no problem lubing those bullets. I don't own a Big-Lube mold but I have plenty of Accurate Molds designed for black powder with generous grease grooves. That should take care of your fouling issues. Just out of curiosity at the end of a Cowboy match I generally check my rifle's muzzle and there is always a nice lube star. I also gave up on lube cookies as they were no better, for me at least, than a nice wide/deep grease groove in the bullet.
Only Blackpowder is interesting.
"I'm the richest man in the world. I have a good wife, a good dog and a good sixgun". Charles A "Skeeter" Skelton

Offline Marshal Will

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Re: Lubing Big Lube Bullets
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2023, 09:35:37 PM »
N6, it sounds like your experiences with good lube grooves is quite telling. The next thing I'd like to try are hollow-base bullets. It's good to know that standard lube grooves work as long as they carry sufficient lube.

My home made BP lube got fairly hard after it cooled from mixing. I Shaved it out of the jar and simply shoved it into the lube reservoir until it was fairly packed. Then I put the plunger back in it and started cranking. Soon it was coming out the ports where it would to fill the grooves. Then I let it sit for a few days. It never did get hard like it was after melting it all together. As it turned out, it was the perfect consistency without any heat so I sized and lubed a bunch of them and let those stand for a few days. The lube stayed soft but not soft enough to sag out of the grooves. Bueno!

So I loaded up a box of them, a combination of 1878 Govt spec 45 Colt cases and Cowboy 45 Special cases. They took 24 grains and 19 grains respectively. I let those sit for a week or more to see if any lube leaked out and all was good so Saturday I went over to a friend's and we tried them out in one of his Remingtons and my 1890. His cylinder throats measure .450 and his bore is .454 but those soft lead bullets obdurated great. Four cylinders worth in a row with absolutely no fouling in either pistol. Then we switched to smokeless rounds and kept shooting. Both pistols performed flawlessly. If anything, they got more accurate the more we shot. I'd call that a very successful trial. The Lyman 450 also performed well and the Big Lube bullets were outstanding.

I don't have a heater for my lube/sizer but I'm thinking that an over-sized aluminum plate on the bottom to heat with a lamp would work fine if I need to warm up standard hard lubes.

Offline Navy Six

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Re: Lubing Big Lube Bullets
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2023, 05:07:12 AM »
Marshal Will, when you are done with the Lyman Lubrisizer for the day, crank backwards on the ratchet handle a few times to relieve the pressure otherwise you will surely get leakage after a few days, mostly from whatever oil is in the lube.
What you experienced with your homemade lube, softer when coming out of the machine compared to first cooled, is due to the extrusion process. In Paul Matthews book about black powder lubricants he discusses this very thing and warns not to dismiss a bullet lubricant as "too hard" until it is extruded, or squeezed" through a lube machine. He describes the "crystaline structure"(my books are packed away right now so forgive spelling mistakes) of the mix as breaking down during the process. I have witnessed this(I'm sure everyone else has too) and the lube is always softer coming out of the machine. I never use a heating element as I only use softer black powder lubes which also work great on smokeless. The only time I questioned that decision was when I initially tried DGL lube. DGL seems harder than SPG and indeed it was advertised as useful for "hotter climates". Anyway, the pressure required to crank the ratchet handle on the Lyman was harder than when using SPG but the DGL still came out nice and soft. I now just make my own black powder lube.
Only Blackpowder is interesting.
"I'm the richest man in the world. I have a good wife, a good dog and a good sixgun". Charles A "Skeeter" Skelton

Offline Zulch

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Re: Lubing Big Lube Bullets
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2023, 05:44:25 AM »
Marshal..WOW! What a great post! I have soooooooo much to learn.  (7+"

Offline Marshal Will

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Re: Lubing Big Lube Bullets
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2023, 07:01:30 AM »
Marshal Will, when you are done with the Lyman Lubrisizer for the day, crank backwards on the ratchet handle a few times to relieve the pressure otherwise you will surely get leakage after a few days, mostly from whatever oil is in the lube.
What you experienced with your homemade lube, softer when coming out of the machine compared to first cooled, is due to the extrusion process. In Paul Matthews book about black powder lubricants he discusses this very thing and warns not to dismiss a bullet lubricant as "too hard" until it is extruded, or squeezed" through a lube machine. He describes the "crystaline structure"(my books are packed away right now so forgive spelling mistakes) of the mix as breaking down during the process. I have witnessed this(I'm sure everyone else has too) and the lube is always softer coming out of the machine. I never use a heating element as I only use softer black powder lubes which also work great on smokeless. The only time I questioned that decision was when I initially tried DGL lube. DGL seems harder than SPG and indeed it was advertised as useful for "hotter climates". Anyway, the pressure required to crank the ratchet handle on the Lyman was harder than when using SPG but the DGL still came out nice and soft. I now just make my own black powder lube.
Thanks for that bit of information on how it comes out softer. That explains it.

I also back off the handle when done, too. Been considering a little more beeswax for smokeless but it sounds like it will work fine as it is. Thank you for that, too. I'll give some a try as is.

Offline Marshal Will

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Re: Lubing Big Lube Bullets
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2023, 07:03:00 AM »
Marshal..WOW! What a great post! I have soooooooo much to learn.  (7+"
Thanks. I keep learning, too. You're not alone there.

Offline Navy Six

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Re: Lubing Big Lube Bullets
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2023, 08:35:15 AM »
Marshal..WOW! What a great post! I have soooooooo much to learn.  (7+"
Thanks. I keep learning, too. You're not alone there.
Don't we all have a lot to learn. That's what makes this still interesting after many years. Now that I'm retired I feel like I caught my "second wind". I have so many projects and experiments lined up I might have to hire a secretary to keep things on track!! :usa-flag-89:
Only Blackpowder is interesting.
"I'm the richest man in the world. I have a good wife, a good dog and a good sixgun". Charles A "Skeeter" Skelton

Offline Marshal Will

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Re: Lubing Big Lube Bullets
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2023, 09:45:19 AM »
Marshal..WOW! What a great post! I have soooooooo much to learn.  (7+"
Thanks. I keep learning, too. You're not alone there.
Don't we all have a lot to learn. That's what makes this still interesting after many years. Now that I'm retired I feel like I caught my "second wind". I have so many projects and experiments lined up I might have to hire a secretary to keep things on track!! :usa-flag-89:
LOL, so true. When I was young, my greatest fear was to be bored. I don't have that problem any more.

Offline Hawg

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Re: Lubing Big Lube Bullets
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2023, 10:59:56 AM »
LOL, so true. When I was young, my greatest fear was to be bored. I don't have that problem any more.

I thrive on boredom. It drives my wife nuts. (7+"
Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and tasteth good with ketchup.

Offline Marshal Will

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Re: Lubing Big Lube Bullets
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2023, 11:14:38 AM »
LOL, so true. When I was young, my greatest fear was to be bored. I don't have that problem any more.

I thrive on boredom. It drives my wife nuts. (7+"
LOL!