Casting equipment for sale

Justin Hacker, who was a regular at the Hive some years ago, alerted me that he has some casting equipment available. People showed some interest on Slack and in person, so I asked for some photos. I was out this week, so I missed any discussion that may have occurred on this, but I figured I’d write the message to open for people to discuss.

I’ll quote his description here:

“My living situation has changed a bit and I have some metal casting equipment that I don’t exactly need at the moment, I was wondering if you’d like to buy it. I have a mid sized foundry, unused only burned in, that will hold a #8 or #10 crucible, a #10 (I think) carbon crucible that’s brand new and never used, a mini foundry that I have used extensively for jewelry casting, and a full bucket of seasoned greensand casting. Does any of this sound interesting for you? I’m asking $100 for the lot, I need to make some space haha. Hope you’re well and still casting!”

“I snagged some pictures, although not of the sand itself. For whomever is interested, I’ll be giving one of the pails of sand (some of those are other things, it’ll be a heavy pail by itself). The small chip on the rim of the crucible was there from the factory and doesn’t affect it’s strength or usability, it’s purely cosmetic.”

Note that the foundries do not come with a torch.

Google Drive album is at:

Metal Casting

Every so often I see evidence around Hive13 that someone has started to build a foundry. What I don’t see is a completed and operational foundry. Having done ductile iron, aluminum sand casting and silver centrifugal casting, I can attest that these are sophisticated processes requiring many steps to complete.

Metal casting is not ‘easy’. Melting metal is the trivial part of the casting process.

After the initial mention of this offer, I got to thinking about what is and isn’t included.

This lead to thoughts on things for us to discuss before embarking on this particular quixotic quest.

What is the foundry objective? Art? Functional?

What materials? Aluminum, Brass/Bronze, Gold, Iron, Silver, Steel? Equipment for one Not easily interchangeable with another.

What is the size of casting to be made? Ounces or Pounds to melt and pour?

All Methods and Materials flow from these decisions.

After we get agreement on the following questions then we need to evaluate the total list of tools and skills required to succeed with executing the choice.

Hint: It’s gonna cost a lot more than $100.

Main branches

Sand Casting – Preparation and maintenance of sand Fines, Binders/Clay, Moisture

Lost Foam is sand casting where the pattern is shaped from polystyrene foam.

Lost Wax – Refractory Plaster – Vacuum chamber to settle plaster? - Bake out the wax

Centrifugal Casting is a variation on Lost Wax casting often used in jewelry and dentistry

I’ll state right now that steel/iron/most bronze is out. The temps are just too high to effectively do.

Aluminum, yellow bronze, zinc, copper, gold and silver( if you can afford it) are all doable in a small foundry like this.

Mainly that is because lost foam and sand casting can handle these. Lost wax is difficult because of the requirements for the ceramic shell. Zinc you can even get away with plaster molds if you dry them in an oven first.

My feeling is that if everything is there for aluminum and zinc casting for $100 with no “we’d just have to make...” them it is not a bad investment.

Ah, Yes. There’s the issue. What is missing from this offer?

  1. Mold Flasks. Can make from 2x4 or 2x8 + hinges, angle iron, bolts and clamps
  2. Pattern making tools, Can make patterns on the CNC router or 3D print them. Do need to have sand pounding tools and talc bag.
  3. Condition of sand is unknown. This ain’t sandbox sand. Need to turn sand, mix in additives, control humidity. Need shovel and lidded barrel to roll it around for mixing.
  4. Heat source - Torch, valves, gas lines, supply tanks. A pyrometer to check temps would be good.
  5. Metal - Aluminum or zinc. Don’t think this is a recycle cans post can crusher sort of project.
  6. Space. None of this is compact. It is messy. Melting can’t be done inside.

In short, there seem to be more parts missing than present.
I don’t think I’m interested any more.

If we had a dedicated cabinet outside to keep it in I'd be much more excited about it.

It takes even more than Velzy mentioned to ensure proper safety. Foundry gloves, protection gear, fire-proofing, ventilation, respirators, etc.

The “zinc shakes”, “metal fume fever”, and “glavie flu” are pretty horrific. Molten alloys with zinc, cadmium, antimony, etc are nasty even outdoors. You have to know what’s in an alloy…

If iron casting were a feature, I’d totally be there for that. But without an outdoor extension, loading bay, extra wing… I don’t really think there is the space to try casting on a large scale. But, you know that is not the end of the world. The Hive has community in droves, and if there was even a quarterly meeting of area casters for show and tell… there is no reason that can’t get people towards the occasional odd or end that just has to be cast. Maybe… if a commercial vendor would accept molds to stand by until they had extra? Hard to figure how that works out, they may insist on preparing the mold for safety. Dunno, not found anybody small scale.

There is an art brass casting house accross the street from Hive13. I talked to them pretty extensively during made in camp. They said that if any of our members ever wanted to cast something they would be more than happy to help us out. Might cost a bit, but that seems well worth it to have the help of guys that do it every day.

This is something that I’ve been looking into for a while. I would love to learn how to do it. I was thinking of beginning with low heat metal since it doesn’t take a full furnace to melt it. Do you know if the guys across the street offer walk throughs or basic intro trainings?

I have a business card at home, I’ll post it so anyone interested can call them. they just do brass as far as I know

I’ve helped a friend out with his homemade furnace and aluminum casting. It’s very easy to do sand casting. It’s quite hard to do reliable, repeatable castings that aren’t porous or contaminated. You often won’t see how good or bad you’ve done unless you cut your finished pieces up and look at them under magnification. If you’re interested in casting for ornamental purposes, go for it. If you’re interested in casting parts that have to bear load, beware.
That’s my limited experience…