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Thread: Annealing brass

  1. #1

    Annealing brass

    Does anybody do this?
    If so what improvements do you see and how exactly do you do it? I've seen various methods on the internet varying from simly rotating the case by hand to some very exotic looking machines. I've tried annealing a few fired cases just for interest and they seem to resize really easily but have not reloaded any yet.

  2. #2
    I do it when the brass needs it or when I'm doing a heavy case reforming (like 357 magnum to .256 Winchester Magnum). Most of the time I find that brass has worn out in other areas about the time that the neck work hardens enought to resist my resizing efforts.

    There is plenty written on it. Be forewarned that over anealing will cause case separations.~Muir

  3. #3
    Muir, when you say case seperation where do you mean I have read its dangerous to anneal the case too low down and on the few I have tried I have made sure that only the neck and shoulder have been effected and only then to a blue colour. Is that correct

  4. #4
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    All bottleneck brass is annealed. It is just that on commercial cartridges - as agains those "sold" to the army - they are then tumbled to polish off the mark or discolouring that is left.

    Various methods are used.

    One says old the case in bare fingers, at the base, and slowly turn in a fixed single flame until it is too hot to hold. This prevents over-heating the base. When it is too hot to hold it is "done".

    Another method says stand the cases upright, base down, in a metal tray filled with about an inch of water. This again protects the bases from over-heating. Heat them until they are the correct temperature then flip them over into the water.

    In the US you can see quite superb "home made" machines that hold the cartridges in a fan shape. From above looking as if splayed out on a record player turntable. This rotates with a gearing past a fixed flame so that each cases spends just enough time in the flame to anneal before it turns out of the heat.

    I suppose that if you could make a large enough metal disc with grooves fix up such a turntable and get the gearing right you would be about there.

    It would resemble an bottom platter of an old Lewis Gun magazine but with the cases bases on the inside rather than on the outside I would think.

    Do I anneal? No. I just buy new cases if I need to. But that is because I have the luxury of using readily available calibres that brass is still made for. If you don't overwork the cases it isn't needed if you are getting rid of these cases after four or so reloads.

    But if you have an obsolete case where you don't have the luxury of throwing it away - because replacements aren't available - then after say more than four reloadings you may have to anneal or the necks will split.

    When boxer primed 303 was virtually unobtainable except for war surplus Canadian Dominion or Winchester we used to anneal. And I doubt there's any who are glad those "joys" are now not required!

    For forming as Muir describes for a 256 Winchester where he is reducing the case mouth and the parent case is of much greater width it is pretty much obligatory.

    I don't know of anyone who would however anneal say 243 or 270 that they were just using in a 243 or 270. Just reload four times and then buy some more. The "throw away society" applies to shooting too!

    As our fellow poster has said anneal only the neck and shoulder as annealing restores the ductility (softness or stretchiness) to the brass. So that it can expand and flow rather than split. Softness and stretchiness are properties definitely not wanted in that proportion in the case head area!

    But to repeat if you are using a modern, or old, calibre for which replacement cases can be easily still sourced...don't bother. When I bought my 280 Remington in London this year I bought three hundred cases from Norman Clark in Rugby. 4 x 300 = 1200! Enough to see me out for all my stalking!

    As said if you are having to anneal to extend case mouth life you are also probably having to attend to the "joys" of outside neck turning as well as mere case length trimming.

    Annealing is really in these times of plenty best left to those with obsolete calibres who need to get longer life or convert from other cartridge stock.

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