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  1. Massachusetts and other New England states has had lead restrictions on lead use for weights and jigs for a few years now. There's information here for not only lure builders who want to "get the lead out," but those who are thinking about getting into jig making, lead or alloy. The Lee Production Pot IV is the standard of the industry used by the hobbyist. It holds 10 lbs. of molten metal and features adjustable heat control. Metal is dispensed from the bottom of the pot. This melter is available from: barlowstackle.com and lurepartsonline.com. These companies also carry molds, hooks, paint, skirts - just about everything you need for lure making. Put the goggles on before you plug the pot in. The container from a turkey pot pie catches most drips but there will be the occasional splatter that escapes. Do not forget to use eye protection. The alloy I've settled on melts at 395º. A "3" setting works well. Have you been wondering about the screwdriver in the first photo? It fits the slot in the top of the valve rod and is used to adjust dripping. Some amount is to be expected with this mechanism because the rod moves a bit with each lift of the handle. One pound ingots of 88% bismuth and 12% tin are available from Rotometals,Inc., a long-established company in California. Here'a a link to this alloy which will take enough heat without melting to fully cure powder paint: https://www.rotometals.com/lead-free-bullet-casting-alloy-bismuth-based/ Read the specs and reviews. In 2012, I opened the mold after my first pour with a bismuth based alloy. I admired the fully formed jig for a while and then, no matter how much I yanked and cursed, I could not get the jig out! What I didn't know at the time was that bismuth is one of the very few substances found on our planet that expands as it cools. And this is why you need Drop Out mold release. https://www.amazon.com/Frankford-Arsenal-Aerosol-Release-Reloading/dp/B00EVNSFKY Sprayed with Drop Out, hook and keeper in place, you are now ready to pour. You can make about 4 dozen pours before you need to let the mold cool down and recoat with release. Filed and ready for paint.
  2. 6º F is all we've got between cured powder paint and small puddles of bismuth/tin alloy on the crumb tray of the toaster oven. Kurt Urban at CS Coatings informed me that "powder paint meeds a minimum of about 275º to achieve the chemical cross-linking for a complete cure." A rep at Rotometals agreed that when using their 281 alloy "that was cutting it pretty close." I had gone to casting bismuth/tin when Massachusetts enacted what I consider to be overly zealous lead regulations in 2012. And I continued to use CS vinyl paint to finish . . .drip . . .drip . . . drip . . . The result is fine but getting there is an extremely tedious process. So I decided to try Pro-Tec powder paint at 275º for 45 minutes. Hmmm . . . The alloy softened up enough to allow the wire weed guards to spread the head, the soft plastic bait keepers deformed and the amount of powder paint was too much. The paint was completely cured, however. I won't be whacking a jig head as hard on Quabbin's rocks as I did this one on a vise; the cured powder finish is more than adequate. But on what? I'm thinking pewter, specifically Rotometals R92, 92% tin/8% antimony. Melting temp is 466º which Lee Precision says "will melt in their Pro Pot IV." I knew that but had some concern about using it because Lee's instructions list pewter as a metal not to use in this melter. To make a full commitment to powder paint I'll need a fluid bed to fluff the stuff to apply a light coat http://www.barlowstackle.com/Powder-Paint-Fluid-Bed-P1009C134.aspx and a proper oven. http://www.eastwood.com/eastwood-bench-top-powder-coating-oven.html?reltype=3 If any of the more experienced jig makers care to offer input on the observations and ideas I've described above, I'd welcome it. WW
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