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Casting Metal Parts
Weaponeer Forums : Casting

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  midmichigun

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Posted: November 12 2008 at 11:29pm | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This post is for all you Metal Heads that won't convert to plastic part molding! Since about '91 I have been dabbling in metal casting. Primary interest was antique tractor parts, but obviously this can be taken into any direction you want. When I started hearing talk about "cast bronze Sten bolts" I started having the cobwebs clear up. Here is a link that I found last night that might interest people:

http://www.backyardmetalcasting.com/

I am thinking about this for anything like: bolts, frames, receivers, barrel bands, sights, magazine well, trigger guards etc. Greensand and lost wax and lost foam sound like the ticket. If you have ever examined a Saturn car engine block or transmission, you could clearly see the foam cells.

I don't know if this had been done in the past, but with parts drying up, and the lack of "strong" plastics/ resins, the old tried and true metal shines through, so lets start a current thread on the matter! Currently, I am mainly interested in aluminum casting.

For those of you who just like chewing on a slab of metal to form your parts. Look at modern gun manufacture. I also look at it from time savings.

Anyone have any experience they want to share in this endeaver?

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  weaponeer

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Posted: November 13 2008 at 12:51am | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

very interested...  It's been 25+ years since I have done any sand casting with aluminum.
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  midmichigun

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Posted: November 13 2008 at 8:45am | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

Mr. Weaponeer,

Well, dust off the molds and lets go! While we dabble with casting lowers and other parts in plastic, other things still need to be metal (for now). I look at the cost of finished uppers, and I wet myself! I heard that the rampage is now to buy them all up before... Someone... gets into office. Perhaps our direction could be casting semi- finished uppers for some firearms.

Think of how many firearms are made of AL now?

Believe you/ me, casting AL is not hard. Its probably harder, in some cases, to cast plastic. But you do need bigger tools (torches, crucibles, sand). So its a different beast.

On some other forums, there is alot of interest to cast their own bullets (odd sizes and antique rifles). This is just a step above.

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  dcorb

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Posted: November 13 2008 at 9:29am | IP Logged Quote dcorb

First of all I vote to make a casting thread and move this and the plastic casting thread out of the open thread.

For the last five years I have been wanting to metal cast. Last year I thought for sure I would give it a try this spring. Spring came and with all projects I had in the works I never got around to it.

Naybe this will be the push I need to jump in.

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  bikergunnut

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Posted: November 13 2008 at 9:36am | IP Logged Quote bikergunnut

second it....motor pool?
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  Mad Machinist

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Posted: November 13 2008 at 9:52am | IP Logged Quote Mad Machinist

http://www.metalwebnews.com/

If you are interested in setting up a foundry......this might be helpful....check out the forge and foundry section....some good basic info.

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  weaponeer

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Posted: November 13 2008 at 12:41pm | IP Logged Quote weaponeer

The threads are now located in the Motor Pool!

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  Inabadhood

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Posted: November 14 2008 at 3:09pm | IP Logged Quote Inabadhood

I did some aluminum casting back in high school.  It was a lot of fun, but we used dark sand-like casting 'dies' that we formed from an original product we wanted to duplicate.  The castings were really pretty rough too...

Metal casting DOES have somewhat of a place here though...

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  janikphoto

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Posted: November 14 2008 at 3:29pm | IP Logged Quote janikphoto

wouldn't it be easier for many of us to cast a rough item and
sand/grind/polish it up than to mill it?
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  midmichigun

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Posted: November 15 2008 at 1:12am | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

janik-photo

Casting has its virtues. While many people may point out that if you cast... and then mill, why not just get a block of 7075 or 6061 (both T6) and go for it.

With a cast part, you end up with a product that is very close to what you need. I figure that some hand finishing, and you are set. I have had 3 forgings that I started working on, but since i had lost access to my mills and drills, the work stalled. However, if I had a casting that was real close, then I could have dremeled or filed to finish. But I had also invested in some time on mold making... so it may just be a trade off. I guess a build for every budget and talent level.

Also, with metal prices high right now, I was wondering what could be found (scrap AL) and see what type of product could be made from it. Remember that not all AL is the same. The stuff you buy OTC at places like ACE and TSC and Lowes... I hear tends to be low grade stuff (gummy). I don't never heard if its in the 20xx range. If you melt it and then pour, you may have a pretty weak part. Remember, depending where you want to take things, pouring can be an art and a science.

And yes, casting can come up with some pretty rough finishes. However, I think with the experimentation, a nice surface could be achieved. It may not be mil-spec, but if it looks decent, and doesn't crack, you are on the road. I point out some of the castings I have seen on cars recently. Only the critical mounting surfaces are machined.

My experience with the 1919 crowd shows me some cast components (if my memory serves). As those parts dry up, you have several alternatives: 1. Quit building them. 2. Machine from plate. 3. Cast 'em.

In-a -Badhood, jog some memory cells and join in. Anyone with experience and technique is needed. Especially if you want to cast some gun parts and take photos!!

Let me see how my weekend and then week looks guys. I may be posting some fun pictures.

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  dcorb

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Posted: November 15 2008 at 9:51am | IP Logged Quote dcorb

I think in another month or so metal casting would be the perfect hobby as the great white north is creeping down to my area.

If the snow does come in great amounts I might also give home brewing another try. It just seems like the best way to cool off a 5 gallon bucket of brew by sinking it in to a snow pile.

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  midmichigun

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Posted: November 15 2008 at 10:27pm | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

dcorb,

Haven't brewed beer yet. Still have lots of wine from home brewing.

I have lots of work packed in for the next week, but I will try and build AL casting equipment. I have a couple of plans in mind, just need the time.

I left several inches of snow, looks like it is tracking me. We are do for some weather tomorrow.

 

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  elmacgyver0

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Posted: November 16 2008 at 3:13pm | IP Logged Quote elmacgyver0

http://www.lindsaybks.com/

You guys need to check out this web site for books on metal casting. Exspecially the Gingery series of books. I built the lathe in the series using home made castings. I think this could open up a whole new world for you.

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  tommerr

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Posted: November 16 2008 at 5:06pm | IP Logged Quote tommerr

Sand cast aluminum is difficult to machine. Soft as it is, it always requires carbide tooling. The sand destroys HS tooling. You must consider what alloy you will melt and what subsequent heat treatment is required. Aluminum is not like casting a lead bullet. It is very complicated. I choose never to cast and I do not like casting. I work in a materials lab and I hate aluminum castings. Aluminum castings are full of porousity. Aluminum requires an alodine coating before it can be coated.

On the other hand, wrought aluminum can be wonderful. It machines wonderfully with good finish. Here again, carbide tooling is recomended. Soft aluminum wearing down 65Rc tool steel? Yes it does. I always prefer carbide over HS steel.

On the other hand, I am an old forged steel and fine walnut guy. Plastic is good for toys and aluminum makes great beer cans. If I forgot to piss off your particular group, please let me know and I will piss again. Look at the MP34 and the Suomi. There exists no plastic or aluminum. I know, the times were too early. What would you prefer; plastic and aluminum or forged steel and fine wood? OK, OK, I took my medication.
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  dcorb

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Posted: November 16 2008 at 5:21pm | IP Logged Quote dcorb

Then there is Miller brewing that thought plastic would make good beer bottles.

I have a few of the Gingery books. I already have a Lathe but really thought about making the Mill. And yes I plan to start metal casting, been wanting to for years. I just need a push to get started.

Now if I didn't fall into Gary's November is AK build month I would have more time to get started. I want to start with plastic casting first. 

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  bikergunnut

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Posted: November 16 2008 at 8:53pm | IP Logged Quote bikergunnut

Tommerr, I feel left out, you have yet to piss on my group . Metal and fancy grained wood all the way!!!

I too dispise hss, sure carbide can chip but that's what greenstones are for.

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  midmichigun

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Posted: November 16 2008 at 10:38pm | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

Mr. Tommer

Thats to bad you don't like our group. Heck, I was going to send you the latest cast Pastic/ Aluminum replica MP34 with a free case of ammo so you could product test it. Guess it may have to go to dcorb for starting the discussion on casting instead.

Actually I hate "plastic guns". Glocks? Who would want such an ugly thing. Also, I was raised that the M1 Garand and 1903 Springfield were the BEST guns ever made. Heck, even Gen. Patton 60 YEARS ago affirmed that the M1 was the BEST battle implement ever made. My father and brother both laugh at my AK's and AR's... Who would ever want to make a gun out of plastic or aluminum or gack(!) sheetmetal. Whats next? An aluminum and plastic car? Oops... my wife drove one for years... can't pick on it!

Guess thats why we are Americans... A build for Every Budget, and an agreement to disagree!

Anyway, someone brought up the idea of casting Al with the lost wax method... in the Plastic Casting section today. Stay tuned... I may need to borrow some of Mr tommer's carbide tooling soon.

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  bikergunnut

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Posted: November 16 2008 at 10:57pm | IP Logged Quote bikergunnut

O.k. I have to ask is casting IRON or STEEL beyond the scope of a backyard/garage foundry?
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  midmichigun

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Posted: November 16 2008 at 11:46pm | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

Mr. Bikergunut!

Clear answer: No.

Al seems to be a favorite for several reasons. Cheap and durable goods made from the process. It actually seems pretty easy. Casting steel and iron involves more metallurgy and is more involved. However, if you are doing heat treating on metals, you are one step closer than others.

Most people don't have either the equipment or knowledge, hence the feelings of uncertainty. It also seems a waste to buy/ build a foundry just to make one part.

Typically, people who cast metals are serious about it. This add's a new dimension onto their machining hobby. People are just accustomed to buying steel and machining it.

However, I would recommend that before "deciding" to cast metal, look at the many great suggestions that people are posting regarding magazines and Internet articles.

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  enterpricorp

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Posted: November 17 2008 at 7:04am | IP Logged Quote enterpricorp

Most of the aluminum castings I've came across are a high silicon content aluminum and I weld them with a 4000 series alloy filler which is also a high silicon aluminum.

At the least a casting would save a lot of machining time and there wouldn't be much print reading if you needed to machine it because all the contours/holes are there just take the surfaces down to their proper dimensions.

A thought about porosity and casting maybe this would help - someone could try enclosing their mold in an otherwise airtight box besides the pour hole at the top and purge the whole setup with argon which will get rid of the lighter air in the box. And, diecasting will give you a smooth surface, but I'm not sure what all that would require. From what I've been around, diecast alloys usually contain zinc and are not the best to weld on or cannot be welded at all.



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