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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. The aim of this project was to eliminate the cone at the end of the collar to free up space on the hook shank for hackle. Also, since I fish these Poison Tails through rocks, mainly, I don't bother with a weedguard . That hole can be filled. Auto Zone carries the silicone. The small cup holds a small amount of dish detergent. Save the fork from your deli lunch. Cut a tine off. Cut a strip from a plastic card and shape to fit. This will serve as a dam. Before you use the "dam" tool or the tine tool, dip in the detergent and wipe off excess on a paper towel. You want only a thin film to prevent the tools from sticking to the silicone. After curing for 24 hours the silicone is ready to be trimmed flush. You may only need the single edge razor blades, but it won't hurt to keep a cut down acid brush, fine point tweezers and an X-acto knife handy. Laying the blade as flat as possible, cut the silicone slowly using a sawing motion. The blade dulls quickly. Replace it to avoid frustration and the use of strong language. You must use Drop Out if you're casting an alloy with bismuth in it. For the first pour, I made a couple dozen using 88% bismuth/12% tin. (Set heat dial at 3.) Then I cast the same amount with pewter. (Heat at 7.5.) I'm sure the Drop Out eases the removal of this alloy too. Now you're ready to pour. I do a bit of filing on the top of the head even though the fish won't care. After four dozen pours, the silicone is holding up fine. If you want to go back to the original mold, stick the silicone with a bodkin or other pointed tool and lift. You'll be surprised how easily your mold becomes "unmodified." For any small bits left behind, proceed with tweezers, your X-acto knife and patience.
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