Tobho's HT1-Inspired Cement Mixer Muller Build

Discussion in 'Sand Mullers' started by Tobho Mott, Mar 22, 2018.

  1. _Jason

    _Jason Copper

    Here is your coal crusher:

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  2. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Silver Banner Member

    Yeah thanks Peedee, I saw your post over there, it does sometimes get complicated duplicating threads between the 2 forums, but I know people who are on one but not the other and I don't want anyone left out... Well anyhow, thanks for that idea!

    Heard from HT1. He rcommended switching to 50/50 southern/western Bentonite and adjusting clay from 4.5 down to 4% and adding 1% dextrin. Or maybe trying just the dextrin first, which is what I'm leaning towards since I haven't found the southern (calcium) bentonite locally... yet.

    I found out there are several types of dextein, but it looks like the yellow aka canary type is what I need here for my molding sand.

    Also, he alsuggeated to dust the molds with graphite, especially for heavier sectioned stuff like the greensand ingot molds I use. I can get spray on graphite here and the spray can has iso alcohol and a trace of propane in it too. I wonder is I could do the 'spray it on and light it on fire' trick and get the same beneficial effect as just dusting on dry graphite powder...? Powdered graphite is around too I'm sure, but the spray on type is much easier to get to from where I am...

    Rocco's post on the other site was nice too, suggesting I try pouring Everdur into my Smelko sand to see if that stuff sticks too...

    I will get back and reply over there soon.

  3. HT1

    HT1 Silver Banner Member

    if you are going to mix Alcohol and Graphite and Burn it off you will need to use some bentonite in the mix to get a true mold wash otherwise save your self some time and do just what it says in the Navy reference I sent you, and sprinkle on the graphite, and blow out the excess

    V/r HT1

    P.S. pay attention to the instructions on mulling the sand it matters when the water goes in
  4. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Silver Banner Member

    Gotcha HT1, and thanks again!

  5. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Silver Banner Member

    Another copy/paste post from AA, mostly:

    I can confirm the new sand sticks to the bronze way more than the Smelko sand I used to face the patterns with does; must be some additives in play, presumably the "carbonaceous additives" Tim Smelko told me about.

    Already got a kilo of cornstarch to bake to make the dextrin I'll add on HT1's recommendation (technically he suggested buying some on ebay, not making my own, but you guys know me... my bad not his if that goes wrong somehow); internet says that will work to make yellow dextrin, which internet also says is the kind of dextrin that is used as a foundry sand additive...

    Before I heard from HT1 I had already reached out to a local blacksmith I just found out about, about buying a couple pounds of bituminous coal dust, which I thought might possibly be an OK substitute for sea coal. I think sea coal is more used for a ferrous casting sand additive, but I popped over after work and bought the smallest bag of coal he ever sold and that I will probably never need for $5 anyhow. Money well spent, since I got to shoot the $#!& with him for a while and look around his smithy, and now I have something to put in the kids' stocking next XMas. Nice little shop in his back yard, he has 4 coal forges (all strictly old school, no propane or power hammers to be seen) for teaching small classes, a few of anvils (one ENORMOUS one) and hammers and tongs and all the other stuff you'd expect to see, plus plenty of space to move around.. Also does a very small amount of sand casting, but I did not get into his other shed to squeeze a handful of his kitty litter greensand and see how it feels (told me it's mixed 5:1 (no muller), wow that sounds like a lot of clay...).

    He said he may get in touch about maybe casting some bronze crossguards for his knife classes, which sounds like a lot of fun to me... No promises were made or anything, but keeping my fingers crossed!

    Josh Van Noy from is the guy I went to visit. Really nice guy. Mostly teaching classes and selling smithing supplies and coal these days, but says he's been putting hammer to hot metal for 20 years.

  6. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Silver Banner Member

    Well, I made the adjustments to my new sand that HT1 recommended: adjust clay content from all sodium bentonite to a 50/50 mix of sodium and calcium bentonite and add 1% dextrin.

    Since I had already picked up the "sea coal" I added 1/2% of that too.

    The dextrin made a HUGE improvement to my sand's stickiness and green strength!

    Poured a test mold in aluminum, and this was the first mold made with my homemade sand that actually filled. Coping down to mold the antler opener was a joy, no crumbly sand to worry about like when I tried to mold a similar pattern before tweaking the sand.

    I also mulled it in a different order based on some references HT1 had sent me: added the water BEFORE the additives. Worked great!

    Thanks again HT1.


    Sand just fell off the castings, but left a layer of blackened sand sort of like how petrobond does. Smelko's recipe doesn't do that FWIW. I haven't tried again with bronze yet to see if the coal dust will prevent the sand sticking to the bronze as I'm hoping it will. That and trying a smoother pattern than those cheap Chinese iron castings I copied here, to see how smooth a finish it'll give compared to my sand from Smelko which I believe has finer grains.

    Anyone wanna guess what's written on the other side of the other opener? :D

  7. DavidF

    DavidF Administrator Staff Member Banner Member

    Drink beer!! LOL Love it!
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  8. Jason

    Jason Silver Banner Member

    awesome results Jeff. time to try the dogs again.
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  9. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Silver Banner Member

    Yup. Or should I say yap...

  10. Funkster

    Funkster Copper

    How much dextrin do you need to add each time you use the sand? I mulled some in yesterday (only about 0.5% as that's all I'd had time to bake in the oven) and used the sand today, just wondering if a significant portion of it gets burned or if it's just the black bits right on the face of the metal.
  11. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Silver Banner Member

    Remulling the dextrin sand after it gets blackened, it seems to lose some of its stickiness. I'm not sure how much to add back in, I would guess it depends on the casting's surface area. I found after pouring and remulling the bottle opener mold, just mixing the now darker sand back into the pile helped a lot, so I'm waiting until the whole heap starts to change colours, then I'll add some back in.

    Poured another test mold yesterday.

    No more stuck on sand! Great green strength. Zero flashing... Other than one massive runout. :D

    I waited a couple seconds and resumed pouring once the runout froze off and blocked the gap. Since the part was all in the drag, this worked great. Got lucky that time!



    Thanks again for the great advice HT1!

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  12. HT1

    HT1 Silver Banner Member

    any cereal binder will be completely lost in the burnt sand.. there are some different thoughts on this separate it out and keep facing and heap... if you have the test equipment, you just dry mull and test, and of course there is the experience guy, that just "knows" how much to add

    V/r HT1
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  13. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Silver Banner Member

    This is out of chronogical order. Video of some test molds and test castings, from before I added the dextrin and coal dust to my sand. It's just the original sodium bentonite and silica mix.

    (Ok, I swear, the next time, "bentonite," gets autocorrupted to read, "Bento items," I'm'a scream.)

    Shows how the sand wasn't as strong as I'd like, and how the sand was sticking to the bronze. The castings were all failures as well, I guess that's what I get for trying a new alloy and some new sand all at once.

    I was reading Pat's 8 attempts at casting his steam engine base, and as I was admiring his persistence, I realized I'd forgotten to post this here...

    I hope you guys get a laugh out of all my molding bloopers, some of the failures were just me forgetting how I have molded the one part before, included mainly just for laughs. Though maybe you will be able to see how the sand was still a little crumbly at that point as well. There's a part 2 in the works that will show how I tried again using my old sand for facing to see if it would stick to the bronze like the new sand (much less so), up through the aluminum.inum bottle openers and the success full bronze skull casting. But now that you've seen the results of the fixed up sand, here's how it went with the messed up sand:

    Close-up of the stuck-on-sand version of the skull casting:


  14. PatJ

    PatJ Silver Banner Member

    The sand used to mold the scoop looks pretty good.
    I am going to try some green sand this year at some point (I have been using bound sand).
    There is a lot that can be done with plain old water-based green sand, especially if you know what you are doing (I don't), and I would like to get better with that.

    I have yet to have a successful brass/bronze pour, and have attempted a number of them.
    Generally I get excessive shrinkage, plus other problems associated with trying to get the melt hot enough without burning all the zinc out of the mix.

    Looks like the scull was close to success.

    The trick with casting metal is to pay close attention t how the castings are turning out, and identifying what is causing the problems.
    I use the section about "casting defects" in the Navy Foundry Manual" a lot.
  15. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Silver Banner Member

    Heh, the sand in the scoop mold did look good... Until the greensand core broke off. :D

    Maybe that was my fault, I might have bumped the side of it opening the mold... But I don't think so, the sand just didn't have the strength I'm used to.

  16. HT1

    HT1 Silver Banner Member

    when you cope out a part, (dig down to it) you have to roll the entire mold so the green sand core is on the bottom BEFORE you open the mold... Remove the pattern, put the two halves Cope and drag back together, then flip the entire mold back over for pouring... This way you never have that big chunk of sand hanging till the mold is closed!!!

    This is also why molders get HUGH forearms... you have to pick up and flip, not roll Molds

    V/r HT1
  17. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Silver Banner Member

    Great tip, many thanks (again)!

    In retrospect I probably also should have just left it closed the first time instead of trying the Olfoundryman style test close...

  18. oldironfarmer

    oldironfarmer Silver Banner Member

    Could you also have put some wood screws or other reinforcing in the scoop sand to give it some more strength? You've got me wanting to cast a scoop.
  19. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Silver Banner Member

    Sounds like it could work. To be honest the trouble I was expecting was getting that thin casting to fill, not being able to mold it!

    If it broke off from just hanging and not from bumping the side(s) of the drag (still not 100% sure which it was), I really believe the updated and improved sand I've got now would have held up.

  20. Jason

    Jason Silver Banner Member

    Notice someone is being quiet about a certain FAILED pooper scooper???? I know and saw nothing. :oops::D

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