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Annealing aftermath

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Forum Name: Reloading .303 British
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URL: http://www.enfield-rifles.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=10836
Printed Date: October 26 2020 at 4:56pm
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Topic: Annealing aftermath
Posted By: philtno
Subject: Annealing aftermath
Date Posted: September 13 2020 at 8:19pm
Hi guys,
I would need you expert advice on what I just noticed after annealing my brass.
The brass i'm using are HXP (1969 -1976) and, for a big part of them, they have been reloaded around 10-12 times before the first full length and around 15 times before annealing was necessary.
I started annealing after having noticed that neither full length nor neck sizing was giving me the minimum neck tension...projectiles would sink into the brass.
After annealing I tried to neck size with the Lee Neck sizing die but the end result was not what I expected as the neck was literally collapsing into the shoulder....obviously the brass had become too soft.
I tried to full length size other brass from the same batch and the problem did not occur at all.  I tried the lee Loader way as well..same, no issue of neck collapsing.
Question: would this solve over time?? meaning, will the brass get some of its stiffness back over time after a couple of shots? I don't quite like full length-size them as it gives me too many case head separation.
Thanks
Philtno




Replies:
Posted By: BJ72
Date Posted: September 14 2020 at 3:16am
Hi philtno
If you haven't done so already, check your Lee collet die hasn't become stuck closed. If your press ram has closed on the collet die at any time without a she!! in place, the collet can bind on the mandrel and stay shut. It essentially stops the case neck from entering the die when you go to use it next and what you described will happen. It may have nothing to do with your annealing at all. If in doubt, pull the collet die apart and give it a clean. It only takes a minute.


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My idea of gun control is hitting what I aim at and nothing else.


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: September 14 2020 at 5:04am
I’ve not had this problem of sizing dies not producing sufficient neck tension.  Normally, annealing will slightly reduce the neck tension and make it more consistent, but still plenty of grip on the bullet (cant be pushed into the neck by hand).   The normal reloading cycle work hardens the brass making it stronger and will slightly increase bullet grip.  

BJ72 had a good thought, make sure the collet on the Lee die is not stuck closed, or partially closed.





Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: September 14 2020 at 6:13am
What temps did you heat too, & how did you measure it?


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Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: September 14 2020 at 8:44am
Do not use this brass if there is a risk you annealed the case head, it can rupture.  You should see discolored circumferential rings just below the neck.  It only takes 4 or 5 seconds to anneal the necks in the torch flame. 


Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: September 14 2020 at 9:37am
This is what the finished result should look like.



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Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)


Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: September 14 2020 at 2:31pm
Originally posted by BJ72 BJ72 wrote:

Hi philtno
If you haven't done so already, check your Lee collet die hasn't become stuck closed. If your press ram has closed on the collet die at any time without a she!! in place, the collet can bind on the mandrel and stay shut. It essentially stops the case neck from entering the die when you go to use it next and what you described will happen. It may have nothing to do with your annealing at all. If in doubt, pull the collet die apart and give it a clean. It only takes a minute.
Hi BJ,
Yes, that has been checked. 
Thanks for your input Wink
Cheers


Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: September 14 2020 at 2:34pm
Originally posted by Shamu Shamu wrote:

What temps did you heat too, & how did you measure it?
I can't say what the temperature was......I used a blow torch and open the gate enough to have a nice blue pointy flame....and put the neck of the case only under the flame for 5-6 seconds.
Basically replicating what tens of videos are showing...



Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: September 14 2020 at 2:38pm
Originally posted by britrifles britrifles wrote:

The normal reloading cycle work hardens the brass making it stronger and will slightly increase bullet grip.  
It's weird what you say as my experience is the complete opposite!!
brass reloaded just a couple of time have plenty of neck tension while, with time, some of them start having very loose grip....to the point where the projectile is sinking in the case, even after either neck sizing or even full length sizing.!!


Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: September 14 2020 at 2:39pm
Originally posted by britrifles britrifles wrote:

Do not use this brass if there is a risk you annealed the case head, it can rupture.  You should see discolored circumferential rings just below the neck.  It only takes 4 or 5 seconds to anneal the necks in the torch flame. 
I was aware of that issue and made sure I was not putting anything more than just the neck and the very top of the shoulder under the flame.....


Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: September 14 2020 at 2:42pm
Originally posted by Shamu Shamu wrote:

This is what the finished result should look like.

Hi Shamu,
yes that's what they look like, at least for the commercial brands i.e. PPU, S&B or winchester....the HXP are apparently made of a different type of brass as the discoloration is not that obvious.  It's much more subtle... to the point where it's barely visible.  and those are the one that are collapsing.


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: September 14 2020 at 2:43pm
Something not right that we are missing.  The whole reason to anneal is to remove the work hardening of the brass.  Do they size correctly in a FL die? 

I once grabbed the box of 168 gr .308 SMK bullets to load in the .303 cases and had that issue...




Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: September 14 2020 at 3:51pm
Agreed theres something not right.

Firing the brass "works" it, making it harder & more Brittle.
Reshaping it "works" it, making it harder & more Brittle.

That's why we anneal, because annealing changes the structure to remove the work hardening.
If you ever were in the middle east & watched the brass workers they hammer the brass till it gets too stiff, then reheat to soften & beat on it some more. We're doing the same thing!
So what can go wrong?

Well its possible to over do the annealing heating. That's why I use "tempilaq" or "tempilsticks" (You can find them at the local welding & gas supply places) so I KNOW the exact temperature. I use 450℉ (brown) for the shoulder, or 600℉ (red) for the neck.
Some prefer the lacquer (liquid) others the Crayon (solid).

Its also possible to UNDER heat it, so nothing happens!
If its way overheated the zinc actually exits the brass leaving it permanently weakened.
I've annealed HXP this way several times & had no problem.
I use the lowest flame I can get, just a 1/2~3/4" pencil flame with a nice "electric blue" cone. The actual brass is about 1/2" away from the tip of the blue flame. Usually 5~7 seconds with continuous rotation via an electric screwdriver it really close.
I also hide most of the case in a deep well socket just in case I mess up. I also dump into cold water, but this isn't really necessary unless you're doing a lot all at once & they're going to heat each other up randomly in the dump bin.



Hopefully this will give you some clue as to wast isn't right?



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Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)


Posted By: Honkytonk
Date Posted: September 14 2020 at 5:15pm
That is an awesome rig!


Posted By: Stumpkiller
Date Posted: September 14 2020 at 7:15pm
Originally posted by britrifles britrifles wrote:


I once grabbed the box of 168 gr .308 SMK bullets to load in the .303 cases and had that issue...


?

.308" should slide in easily without collapsing the shoulder vs .311" bullets.


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Charlie P.

Life is not about how fast you run, or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.


Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: September 15 2020 at 3:04am
I don't know what's not right....I do everything the way I've seen/learned it from many different source of info.
All I know is that some type of brass, the HXP which I'm really happy with and have reloaded them many times, seems to loose all neck tension no matter how I resize/full length size them after something like 10-15 reloads.
After annealing them, the neck sizing with the neck sizing die makes their neck collapse while the full length sizing seems to work (no collapsing). 
Is it possible that, after 40 years and so many reloadings, those HXP brass are just not going any further and are just at the end of their life....???
So why not just full length size them every time after annealing.....well, just over last weekend, I got six case head separations from that batch that I had to full length resize after annealing.....sounds like a catch-22 hey???
By the way, the projectiles are .312....so they just clearly rub their belly when pushed in the resized case.



Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: September 15 2020 at 4:50am
Perhaps you are not pushing down on the press handle hard enough to full close the collet on the case neck.  As the necks age harden, it takes a bit more force to fully close the collet. 

But that doesn’t explain why the FL die doesn’t size the neck sufficient to grip the bullet.  Take the recapping rod out and measure the diameter of the expander.  Run a case up into the FL die without the recapping rod and measure the neck ID after sizing.  Also measure the diameter of the mandrel on your collet die.  Something not right, I’ve never had this problem, even after neck sizing 20 times.  

Lee will sell you custom mandrel and decamping rod/expanders.  You may have to go to -.001 or -.002.  








Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: September 15 2020 at 4:59am
Originally posted by Stumpkiller Stumpkiller wrote:

Originally posted by britrifles britrifles wrote:


I once grabbed the box of 168 gr .308 SMK bullets to load in the .303 cases and had that issue...


?

.308" should slide in easily without collapsing the shoulder vs .311" bullets.

Stumpkiller, I believe the necks are collapsing when he tries to neck size them in the collet die, not when he’s seating the bullet.  

I should have mentioned that I use a -0.001 mandrel on my collet die.  I felt that the standard mandrel does give fairly light neck tension on the bullet, but not so light that the bullet drops into the case, or can be pushed in by hand.  I like to have about .003 inch interference with the bullet.




Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: September 15 2020 at 7:47am
One odd thought.
Bear in mind I've never used collet resizing dies so I may be way off base.
Could the die body be somehow too low in the press?
If it was would this cause the collet to collapse the shoulder as he describes?
Censored


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Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: September 15 2020 at 10:47am
I don’t think so Shamu, the collet is closed by the action of the she!! holder pushing up bottom of the die.

Now, if the die is not screwed in far enough, the collet may not be fully closing on the mandrel.  And that well could be the reason.  To make sure this never happens, I screw the die in at least a full turn past what the instructions say.  I push down on the press handle until I feel the collet closed on the mandrel. It takes at least 25 lbs pressure on a Lee classic press. 


Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: September 15 2020 at 1:46pm
Oh well, it was just a wild idea! Lamp


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Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)


Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 2:36am
Originally posted by britrifles britrifles wrote:

Perhaps you are not pushing down on the press handle hard enough to full close the collet on the case neck.  
Also measure the diameter of the mandrel on your collet die.  
Something not right, I’ve never had this problem, even after neck sizing 20 times.  
 
Breaking News: I just broke the hand press by pushing too hard with the Collet die....No joke!! So I'm sure I'm pushing down enough.

The mandrel of the collet die is .3085
I only have the problem with the HXP (1969-1976), not with any of the PPU, S&B, Win.  I guess all brass are not outlining the same characteristics...
I have TWO problems actually.  SOME of the HXP brass loose neck tension after more than 20 reloads.... no matter if I neck size or FL size.  NOT ALL the HXP brass......just some of them, apparently.
The second issue is that, those same brass, once annealed, become very very soft to the point that the neck is collapsing in the shoulder when i try to neck size them...This problem DOES NOT occur when I FL size them....but by FL resizing them, I start having significant percentage of Case Head separation.

What's happening is this, I reckon: those HXP brass that I have, after being worked a certain amount of times become so "stiff" that they don't resize properly....just like they would come back to the "fired" level (.314-.315) when removed from the resizing die.....that's for my first issue.
For my second issue, I think it's because of the interior shape of the Collet Die which does not support the sides of the case.  When the case is pushed against the mandrel, the shoulder and the top of the case have enough space for the neck to collapse.  If you compare the drawing of the collet die and the FL die on the LEE website, it clearly shows that.  This also make me assume that the HXP don't really handle being annealed and become much softer than other brands....or maybe "less old" brass.





Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 2:54am


Posted By: Pukka Bundook
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 5:02am
I still think the main problem is over-annealing, Phil.
No, this won't fix your broken press, but if the brass is over-annealed, it will collapse when sizing.
If it looked bright red/yellow, it was too hot and will be very soft.
Just a slight change in colour is hot enough.


Posted By: Honkytonk
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 5:35am
For it to crack at that corner must have been some serious force and mechanical advantage! I have annealed before with no issues. As Pukka says, just the slightest colour change, kind of a darker brass colour seems to be about right for me. How often would you anneal? Every time? Every second? I ask as I have this summers shooting worth of brass I'm thinking about prepping. Thanks!


Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 7:28am
I anneal every 3rd reload.


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Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 7:39am
I have found that excessive force on closing the collet can cause it to stick closed.  It should only take about 25 lbs force to close the collet.

Brass composition may be playing a role here.  It’s possible to burn the zinc out of the brass which would make it very soft if you over heat it.  

Doesn’t sound like we understand what the cause of the problem is.

I’m not convinced that annealing is essential.  I’ve reloaded cases many times without annealing the cases.  I also have not seen an improvement in accuracy from annealing in the LE or other military service rifle.   Perhaps with a match rifle shot off a bench with scope improvement might be measurable. 






Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 9:57am
The annealing isn't really about accuracy, but more about extending case life.


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Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)


Posted By: Honkytonk
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 11:00am
 I will say that and annealed cartridge with a round nose bullet looks very appealing to me. Like something you would have seen many years ago in Africa. 


Posted By: Goosic
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 12:23pm
HT. Five 215grn Woodleighs in once fired Herters brass that i annealed. 


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 1:45pm
Originally posted by Shamu Shamu wrote:

The annealing isn't really about accuracy, but more about extending case life.

Yes, although some will claim it’s essential for best accuracy (uniform neck tension).  

I have only annealed some of my .303 cases one time.  I generally will neck size 10 to 15 times, then do a partial FL size then neck size another 10 to 15 times and so on.  Perhaps up to 50 reload cycles.  I’ve rarely experienced cracked necks, invariably I get case head cracking first.   These are all Canadian military cases, 1943, 1944 and 1956 headstamps. I have one batch of PPU with approx 20 reloads; so far, no signs of neck or case head cracks and these have not been annealed (except when they were made).

I’m tracking the exact number of reload cycles on another batch of 50 PPU cases.  So far at 11 neck resize cycles and bolt closes with light finger pressure.  I will likely do a partial length resize in the next few reloads.  

I do believe the Lee collet die minimizes neck work hardening as the die squeezes the neck to the final diameter of the mandrel whereas a FL die will first squeeze it down smaller then expand it out to final size.  




Posted By: Honkytonk
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 2:28pm
Goosic! That's the look I'm talkin' about!


Posted By: Marco1010
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 3:46pm
Wow ! some substantial force used there...
I suspect the annealing is causing a loss of the Zinc.

"Cartridge Brass is an Alpha brass which are malleable, can be worked cold, and are used in pressing, forging, or similar applications. They contain only one phase, with face-centered cubic crystal structure. With their high proportion of copper, these brasses have a more golden hue than others. The alpha phase is a substitution solid solution of zinc in copper. It is close in properties to copper, tough, strong, and somewhat difficult to machine. Best formability is with 32% of zinc".
Annealing the cases too long or at too high a temperature could mean that you are melting the zinc out of the brass essentially. The Zinc has a melting point of just over 400 degrees C. and even below that the Zinc will begin to oxidise, once oxidised this will interfere with the properties of the case brass.
The Zinc actaully provides the strength to the brass. So if say you burn out some of the zinc, then the copper component will be higher which gives the soft flexible properties. and maybe this is the cause of the shoulders collapsing as this area has lost the reinforcing of the Zinc.

Also the HPX may have been manufactured with a low zinc content anyway, which wouldn't help.


Posted By: Marco1010
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 3:53pm
There is qite a good article about science of annealing if you look up bison ballistics website


Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 9:57pm
Originally posted by Marco1010 Marco1010 wrote:


Also the HPX may have been manufactured with a low zinc content anyway, which wouldn't help.

That's what I suspect and, again, probably with just some of them from a batch that would share the same brass composition.  


Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 10:01pm
Originally posted by Marco1010 Marco1010 wrote:

There is qite a good article about science of annealing if you look up bison ballistics website
Thanks for that, Marco.
I'll have a look.

By the way, Reloaders.co.nz have already replaced the press.....had to argue a bit for it to fall under the 2-years factory warranty but finally they accepted and I just received the new one Smile


Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 10:16pm
Originally posted by Pukka Bundook Pukka Bundook wrote:

I still think the main problem is over-annealing, Phil.

That could be if that issue I have would happen with any of my cases....no matter the brand.
I notice that some of te HXP brass I have outline a very slightly different rim shape and colour for certain years of manufacturing; Some look more "redish"....more like copper....which would tend to confirm the brass composition issue???


Posted By: Goosic
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 10:16pm
You had stated that the brass was collapsing into the shoulder when using the resizing die. I watched as a friend of mine lubed up the whole case,including the shoulder and neck. When he cammed the lever down,there was more resistance than necessary and when he removed the cartridge it had a bunch of dimples all around the shoulder and it appeared to look like the neck was collapsed.  He hydrauliced the case and collapsed the shoulder by over lubing the whole of the case.  He had to remove the die and thoroughly clean all the lube embedded on  the wall of the die. Could this be something that has happened to you?


Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: September 17 2020 at 10:59pm
Originally posted by Goosic Goosic wrote:

You had stated that the brass was collapsing into the shoulder when using the resizing die. I watched as a friend of mine lubed up the whole case,including the shoulder and neck. When he cammed the lever down,there was more resistance than necessary and when he removed the cartridge it had a bunch of dimples all around the shoulder and it appeared to look like the neck was collapsed.  He hydrauliced the case and collapsed the shoulder by over lubing the whole of the case.  He had to remove the die and thoroughly clean all the lube embedded on  the wall of the die. Could this be something that has happened to you?
I have collapsing when using the NECK sizing die....the LEE Collet Die, not the full length sizing, and with only a fraction of my HXP brass, not all of them.
But yes, I notice that some of the soot and lube residue was accumulating on my FL sizing die.

What I think may contribute to my issue is a combination of factors including the characteristics of some of the HXP brass i have, the neck sizing it self (see photo and the difference with the FL size die in regards to the sides of the brass.....) 
When pushing the brass against the collet, there is no support on the sides of the brass, unlike the FL sizing die which kind of is acting like a rifle chamber.


Now, there could also be an "annealing" issue.....some brass not withstanding it as well as others?? 




Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: September 18 2020 at 12:36am
[/QUOTE]
I notice that some of te HXP brass I have outline a very slightly different rim shape and colour for certain years of manufacturing; Some look more "redish"....more like copper....which would tend to confirm the brass composition issue???
[/QUOTE]

Here is what I mean. It's not that evident with the photo but there is a difference in the colour.




Posted By: Honkytonk
Date Posted: September 18 2020 at 5:32am
When I worked, our Fabrication Dept had a PMI gun. It was used to identify composition of piping etc to ensure the proper welding rod and procedure was used. It was accurate and pretty cool. Do you know anybody in a welding shop that may have one of these? I think they're pretty common now. It would definitely tell you % of elements within that brass.


Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: September 18 2020 at 5:39am
I suspect your right Philtno, some of your cases were over annealed, as explained in the Lee instructions, resulting in buckled shoulders.  Also make sure the collet is not sticking closed, or partially closed, I had this happen to me, likely from closing the collet without a case in the die.  I use a bit of grease on the contacting surfaces (outside of collet where it contacts the upper bushing).    

Still, none of this explains why you were not getting sufficient neck tension and bullets were dropping into the case. 


Posted By: Goosic
Date Posted: September 18 2020 at 6:54pm
I concur with britrifles.  I recently attempted to anneal some brass solely for the aesthetics that Honkytonk described. The brass is once fired brass. It was when I was seating the bullets that I had the neck of the case buckle into the shoulder. After pulling the bullets and depriming I found that with the minimalist amount of pressure using a small pair of pliers, I was able to completely crush the neck and shoulder  of the case. A definite accident that might have shed some light onto your predicament Philtno? This is the culmination of over annealing and simply seating a bullet.



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