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Next step on the 30-06 brass: ANNEALING, and 44 JHPs getting wrapped up.

Posted 01-16-2011 at 16:44 by MakeMineA10mm
Updated 01-17-2011 at 21:39 by MakeMineA10mm (Adding pictures)

With those beautiful 1000 pieces of 30-06 brass staring up at me, I couldn't resist not working on them...

The next step was annealling, but because I had found a few cases with live primers still in them while I was passivating and polishing them, I decided to jump in and remove the primer pocket crimp first. This way, I have verified there's no live primers in the brass before putting them to the torch... So, last night, while Unforgiven was on the boob tube, I got about 350-400 of the shiney brass de-crimped around the primer pocket. To do this, I just chucked the deburring/chamfering tool into the variable-speed drill and set it on low speed. Holding it over a cardboard drum lid to catch the little chips of brass, I firmly pressed each case's primer pocket against the spinning deburring tool for 1.5-2.0 seconds, which zipped the crimp right off. I got these 350-400 processed during the last hour of the movie last night while still enjoying the movie. (Mostly, the drill noise was a little distracting...)

So, early this morning, I ran to Tractor Supply and picked up a deep-well 1/2" socket, a 1/4" --> 3/8" socket head converter, and a Benzomatic propane torch. I used these to chuck the socket onto my variable speed drill, and set up the torch in front of me at my back bench (which I also cleaned off last night). I had the box of 350-400 cases with the de-rimmed primer pockets on my left, the torch in front and a stainless steel colander on my right. The socket is used as a recepticle to put the case in, and it fits perfect for -06 head-size brass (in diameter). And, it leaves just the correct amount of the mouth, shoulder, and first 1/4" of the body of the case sticking out for exposure to the flame. It not only shields the lower body and head of the case but it mildly acts as a heat sink to also keep them from overheating that way as well.

Then, the drill can slowly turn the case while you hold it so that the neck/shoulder junction of the case is in the flame. I held it so that the brass was just off the bright blue center flame, but the lighter blue surround flame was licking and wrapping around the case neck. I've watched the videos on Youtube of the annealing machines, and they all hold the brass in the flame between 6 and 8 seconds. I also found and read a couple write-ups about annealing on-line, and basically the key is to not over-heat the brass and not get too low on the case. I had taken care of this latter worry through methodology, so I just had to watch the application of the heat. Heat concerns both the temperature of the flame and the length of time exposed. (You can run you hand through a candle's flame, as long as you do it quickly, but hold it 6" above the flame for awhile, and you'll be DARN uncompfortable!!) Basically, with annealing, and using the Benzomatic torch, we want the brass to turn blue, to at the MOST very dull orange. Basically, after watching the machines, none of them got the brass to the orange stage. As soon as the brass took on a blue-tinge, it was moving out of the flame.

(Pretty happy with the consistency on these!)

I found that if I split the difference on the machines and counted 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, all the way to 7 Mississippi, I was at just the right temperature. This was holding the brass in the flame as described. On a few pieces of brass, as I was pulling the neck out of the flame, it was just passing from blue to dull orange, but those are just fine too. As long as the annealed part of the brass is still shiney (in blue to rainbow colors, rather than solid gold), it's good. If it's dull and black, it's gone too far... Sticking to my 7-second rule, I had no troubles whatsoever. 100% of my brass looks perfect.

(Mmmmmm, shiney, annealed brass!!)

Now, the only steps left are trimming and it's associated de-burring and chamfering. Then, I'll have what amounts to basically brand new brass ready to load. (Except it's from 1955 at the Lake City Arsenal.)

This brings up an interesting point. I bought this brass from Jeff Bartlett (GIBrass.com) over 10 years ago, cheap! It's pull-down brass. (Our govt. at work -- They required the ammo to be decommissioned by tearing it apart, but the companies who did that work sold off all the components to us reloaders, rather than scrap it...) So, I got 1000 pieces of 30-06 brass for around $80 shipped back then. Question is, what have I had to do with it?? Let's look at the processing steps, one-by-one:

1. Citric Acid bath, rinse, dry in oven,
2. Polish in vibratory tumbler w/ corn cob and Dillon polish,
3. Remove Primer Pocket crimp w/ drill and deburring tool,
4. Anneal w/ Benzomatic Torch, 1/2" deep-well socket and drill,
5. Size/Trim with Dillon Rapid Trim 1200
6. Deburr and Chamfer case mouth w/ deburring tool and drill.

AFTER all those steps, I'm at basically new, ready-to-load brass. This begs the question: Would it have been better to just start off with new commercial brass?

If time is a factor, I'd say YES! But, I'm pretty happy with the progress so far:

(original case on left, citric acid & tumbled in middle, and annealed on right)

Monetarily, I bet if I depreciated the accessories I had to use for this processing over how many cases they would process (not just these 1000), I'd suredly still be money ahead, but it would not be as big of a margin as it sounds, just for the price of the pull-down brass vs. new brass. BUT, if we would factor in all the time this was involving, it would be another thing altogether! I don't put a price on this time, because this is my hobby. I enjoy it. It's relaxing and exciting for me simultaneously. BUT, if I was in a hurry, like a hunt or a match came up unexpectedly, this monetary savings of using this pull-down brass would be lost in an instant. So, if reloading is not a pastime for you, but is merely a means to an end (more shooting), I recommend you go for factory-new brass. No headaches, time, work, from all the processing. BUT, I bet you won't enjoy shooting it as much as I do!! Another aspect of this is that I feel my Garand and Springfields should be shot with arsenal brass. It's all psychological, I know, but it just seems right vs. the wrong of shooting commercial ammo/brass in these vintage military weapons.

On the 44 JHPs, I wanted to pass on some news. I put in cannelures on Friday, and I've got that issue solved. I was trying to go over the cannelure over and over again with my tool. This is a mistake! Go around one time, with enough pressure, and you get a perfect cannelure. Go too light and try to go around again (or over-and-over), and you'll get the cannelure running up and down the bullet. (You can see this in my comparison pic of my bullets in a previous blog entry.) So, now all my 44 "Gold Talons" are done... Well, they were done, until I decided to shine them up with another tumble in the tumbler. I foolishly thought I could get one more trip through this old media, and it smudged up all the bullets making them 5x uglier than they were before... So, they got a dip in the citric acid this morning and now they're being tumbled with new media and polish, and they're getting pulled out as soon as I hit "POST NOW"...
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Total Comments 4


  1. Old Comment
    nickE10mm's Avatar
    Interesting stuff... And if nothing else I'm sure it was a learning experience. It would be for me... Lol
    Posted 01-16-2011 at 18:48 by nickE10mm nickE10mm is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Kegs's Avatar
    Good writeup!
    Posted 01-17-2011 at 09:56 by Kegs Kegs is offline
  3. Old Comment
    MakeMineA10mm's Avatar
    As I said in my first-ever blog entry, I haven't invented any of my ideas. What I have done is perhaps make the process more efficient or better by combining/adjusting ideas.

    Here's where I got the idea for annealing:

    Ammosmith has many good video articles. I don't always do it the way he does, but we're pretty close. For example, I learned from a metal chemist that air-cooling is actually a tiny bit better than water-dropping brass at the end of the annealing. The reason for water-dropping is convenience/safety not having hot brass rolling around. I found a large stainless steel metal collander keeps the hot brass up off my table, and the holes let air through for cooling, and it's large enough to hold a LOT of cases. I also don't spin my cases anywhere near as fast as he does. I just get them to where they're turning a little faster than an LP on a phonograph, for those of you old enough to remember those!

    I STILL haven't found my camera battery, so I'm off to Best Buy for one this morning. Over the next couple days I'll be updating all of my blog entries with more pictures, so come back and check it out!!
    Posted 01-17-2011 at 10:27 by MakeMineA10mm MakeMineA10mm is offline
    Updated 01-17-2011 at 10:29 by MakeMineA10mm
  4. Old Comment
    MakeMineA10mm's Avatar
    Well, as you can see, I got a new battery!
    Posted 01-17-2011 at 22:00 by MakeMineA10mm MakeMineA10mm is offline

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