case annealing options

mitdr774mitdr774 MemberPosts: 922 Senior Member
edited March 6 in General Firearms #1
Currently I use a homemade rig with two torches and a pivot to pass a case through the flames.  While it works, it is not ideal and is not a very consistent way of annealing cases.  I have been looking at different options from a ready built setup using motors to hot salt systems. Im not super excited about a vessel of molten salt being in my work area, but am not opposed to the idea.  It would require doing my annealing outside though so as to minimize potential risk.  This method would also require that i only devote my attention to the annealing process.  Of the several propane torch setups I have looked at online, they all seem to be the same concept, but with different prices.  Having never had my hands on any of them I can only go by reviews, which can be a bit dodgy sometimes.


What have you guys used and how did it work for you?



I should add that this is mainly for my .458x1.8 cases, but I also need to be able to do longer cases such as my 6.5x55.  I doubt I will ever use my .458 WM or .300 WM brass enough to need to anneal it.
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Replies

  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 15,047 Senior Member
    A propane torch and a baking pan full of water...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 18,841 Senior Member
    I normally lose them before I get to the the point they need to be annealed
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,224 Senior Member
    Jayhawker said:
    A propane torch and a baking pan full of water...
    That's the way I do it.  Just tip the round over once you get it hot enough.  Although I haven't done it in years, so I'm going on memory alone.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • mitdr774mitdr774 Member Posts: 922 Senior Member
    Jayhawker said:
    A propane torch and a baking pan full of water...
    Gene L said:
    That's the way I do it.  Just tip the round over once you get it hot enough.  Although I haven't done it in years, so I'm going on memory alone.
    I have not tried this method yet.  My intention is to eliminate the human error factor from this.  My current setup works okay enough for small batches at a time, but is very inconsistent as far as amount of time spent being heated and its not a consistent amount of heat around the whole case.  I figure re arranging the setup with a third torch head would even out the heating around the case, but it just adds more complexity and bits in the way.  Since I am cutting just about all the factory annealed section of the case off when I trim for the length I need, I would like a uniform annealing across all my cases.

    knitepoet said:
    I normally lose them before I get to the the point they need to be annealed
    This is mostly for when I make my brass for the .458x1.8.  I have not had a chance to loose it yet.
  • PegasusPegasus Senior Member Posts: 2,588 Senior Member

    I could never figure out the role water plays in the annealing process of some people.


    I use a Giraud Annealer where I can load it with hundreds of cases and let it do its thing.  I babysit it because I do it inside and I don't walk away from an open flame, but does its thing very nicely.  I set it to about 8 seconds per case.

  • mitdr774mitdr774 Member Posts: 922 Senior Member
    My understanding of the intention behind the water in the pan is to keep the body and head of the case from excessive heat.  It makes sense to me in that aspect.

    Have you had to make any modifications to your Giraud?   I have heard of people adding voltage displays to have a repeatable speed setting on a lot of the motorized machines.
  • PegasusPegasus Senior Member Posts: 2,588 Senior Member

    Water is a very poor conductor of heat, especially compared to brass, so immersing the case in water does very little to nothing to prevent the body and head from excessive heat.


    As for the Giraud, I have not done anything to mine; I took it out of the box, attached a bottle to it and started playing with the speed setting to get the required time set.  I believe early or earlier models had issues with the rheostat, but that was addressed by the time Doug shipped me my unit.

  • mitdr774mitdr774 Member Posts: 922 Senior Member
    I will have to look into that as an option.  Thank you for your opinion on the Giraud you have.
  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 4,536 Senior Member
    Water is a poor conductor of heat, especially when compared to brass. The secret lies in the ratio of brass to water. A cake pan with 3 lbs of water into which you insert an eighth pound of brass (each individual piece weighs practically nothing above waterline), and you're gonna have a very difficult time getting anything below waterline much warmer than the ambient temp of the water. 

    I water quench 3oz. chunks of 1800F stainless steel in a  plastic 5 gallon Home Depot bucket all the time. While there are, admittedly, a few "dents" in the bottom, nothing's come close to burning through.

    It's all about the ratio.

    Mike
    Decisions have consequences, not everything in life gets an automatic mulligan.
    KSU Firefighter
  • jbohiojbohio Senior Member Posts: 5,508 Senior Member
    My father in law has an Annealeez.  He's happy with it.  I've used it, it works just fine.
  • PegasusPegasus Senior Member Posts: 2,588 Senior Member
    Water is a poor conductor of heat, especially when compared to brass. The secret lies in the ratio of brass to water. A cake pan with 3 lbs of water into which you insert an eighth pound of brass (each individual piece weighs practically nothing above waterline), and you're gonna have a very difficult time getting anything below waterline much warmer than the ambient temp of the water. 

    I water quench 3oz. chunks of 1800F stainless steel in a  plastic 5 gallon Home Depot bucket all the time. While there are, admittedly, a few "dents" in the bottom, nothing's come close to burning through.

    It's all about the ratio.

    Mike


    Water does nothing for quenching brass during the annealing process, unlike steel.  That said, sticking a piece of brass in water and the putting a torch to it is akin to using the brass has a heating element for water, just like a tea kettle.


    The annealing process for brass stops as soon as the heat source is removed so water quenching is not needed; it just makes the brass wet and that's another thing you have to deal with.


    But if it works for you, go for it; why mess with success.

  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 26,095 Senior Member
    Pegasus said:
    Water is a poor conductor of heat, especially when compared to brass. The secret lies in the ratio of brass to water. A cake pan with 3 lbs of water into which you insert an eighth pound of brass (each individual piece weighs practically nothing above waterline), and you're gonna have a very difficult time getting anything below waterline much warmer than the ambient temp of the water. 

    I water quench 3oz. chunks of 1800F stainless steel in a  plastic 5 gallon Home Depot bucket all the time. While there are, admittedly, a few "dents" in the bottom, nothing's come close to burning through.

    It's all about the ratio.

    Mike


    Water does nothing for quenching brass during the annealing process, unlike steel.  That said, sticking a piece of brass in water and the putting a torch to it is akin to using the brass has a heating element for water, just like a tea kettle.


    The annealing process for brass stops as soon as the heat source is removed so water quenching is not needed; it just makes the brass wet and that's another thing you have to deal with.


    But if it works for you, go for it; why mess with success.

    I 'think' Mike is referring to dropping the case in water after heating the neck to anneal it. He'll have to expand on his statement for confirmation, though.

    Now as to that bolded part of your post. You're wrong as to heat transfer stopping as soon as heat is removed. You can do a simple experiment to confirm. Take a 6 inch piece of #14 copper wire and stick it in a candle flame while holding the other end between thumb and index finger. Bet you don't hold it long. Heat transfers fast in brass and copper, and it WILL flow from hottest to coldest part of brass. You might fool yourself, but you can't fool physics of heat transfer.
    If the U.S. Congress was put in charge of the Sahara Desert, there would be a shortage of sand in under six months.



  • PegasusPegasus Senior Member Posts: 2,588 Senior Member
    tennmike said:
    I 'think' Mike is referring to dropping the case in water after heating the neck to anneal it. He'll have to expand on his statement for confirmation, though.

    Now as to that bolded part of your post. You're wrong as to heat transfer stopping as soon as heat is removed. You can do a simple experiment to confirm. Take a 6 inch piece of #14 copper wire and stick it in a candle flame while holding the other end between thumb and index finger. Bet you don't hold it long. Heat transfers fast in brass and copper, and it WILL flow from hottest to coldest part of brass. You might fool yourself, but you can't fool physics of heat transfer.


    I totally agree with you and we are saying essentially the same thing.  The thing is that annealing starts at about 500F, and there is a close relationship between time and temperature.  So at 500F, it would take hours to anneal a case, whereas it takes about 8 seconds or so at 750F.  As soon as you take away the flame, the annealing process slows down rapidly, essentially stopping as the brass radiates a lot of heat.


    On another forum, someone was arguing that he could anneal a case using a single candle while holding the case with his bare fingers.  My thinking was that all he was doing is warming up the case for some unknown reason; plainly deluding himself.

  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 15,047 Senior Member
    Just for the sake of conversation...how much did your annealing set up cost? 


    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 7,037 Senior Member
    Check this one out - Bench Source:  http://bench-source.com/id81.html

    My Dad does a lot of oddball black powder era stuff and for those guns, you frequently have to make Cartridge Case B by re-forming Cartridge Case A.

    He acquired this Bench Source unit about a year ago now and has been very happy with it.  It seems to be a pretty good company to deal with as well - early on, one of the little circuits/transistors/microchip switchy things blew.  He said it would have been easy enough to replace had they sent him one, but Bench Source said "Nuts" to that and paid shipping to swap out the entire machine.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • Johnny rebJohnny reb Member Posts: 448 Member
    The annealing made perfect which is very pricey$$$. Is the best thing I’ve used. I do not own one because of the price. I have used a buddy’s and I’m tempted to put the sheclkles together to purchase one. If someone does a lot of annealing and wants everything g extremely consistent this is it.
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 26,095 Senior Member
    Bigslug said:
    Check this one out - Bench Source:  http://bench-source.com/id81.html

    My Dad does a lot of oddball black powder era stuff and for those guns, you frequently have to make Cartridge Case B by re-forming Cartridge Case A.

    He acquired this Bench Source unit about a year ago now and has been very happy with it.  It seems to be a pretty good company to deal with as well - early on, one of the little circuits/transistors/microchip switchy things blew.  He said it would have been easy enough to replace had they sent him one, but Bench Source said "Nuts" to that and paid shipping to swap out the entire machine.
    Mikey likey! That looks like a nice machine.
    If the U.S. Congress was put in charge of the Sahara Desert, there would be a shortage of sand in under six months.



  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 7,026 Senior Member
    I use a Bench Source
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • mitdr774mitdr774 Member Posts: 922 Senior Member
    Any idea on pricing for the Bench Source?  I do not see it on their website, just a click here for availability and pricing, which sends you to a contact page.  

    Annealeze is around $300

    MRB is around $450

    Giraud is around $500
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 7,037 Senior Member
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • mitdr774mitdr774 Member Posts: 922 Senior Member
    I like the layout of the Bench Source.  It is the costliest of the bunch in this thread.  Hopefully it lives up to the expectations.  I will have 100 pieces of .458x1.8 brass ready for initial annealing by the time it arrives.  Turns out my initial idea wasnt working so good.  Some of my first pieces of brass are cracking when I started loading the heavy cast leads.  
  • PegasusPegasus Senior Member Posts: 2,588 Senior Member
    The Benchsource is a good unit; you made a great choice.  Let us know how it works for you.
  • mitdr774mitdr774 Member Posts: 922 Senior Member
    The other machines just left me a little concerned about the feed and rotation wheels being able to consistently control my .458x1.8 cases and longer skinnier cases like 6.5x55 and .30-06.  I know they have wheel options, but im looking for lack of variables to keep consistency.  Short of adjusting the torch heads, I suspect the Bench Source machine will be very consistent in setup with minimal adjustments.

    I know it was the most expensive of the ones I am looking at, but based on what I have seen it should be well worth the investment.  If I can double my case life from 4 to 8 reloadings it will go a long way toward recouping some cost.  Even cheap brass starts at $37 per 50 and then the labor time spent cutting it down, trimming, and annealing.  Im sure starting with better brass would extend brass life without any other change, but as an "experimental" stage still I am a little hesitant to dive into premium brass yet.
  • PegasusPegasus Senior Member Posts: 2,588 Senior Member

    This may be controversial but I'm not looking at starting an argument, just presenting my experience with annealing and its benefits.

    I do not anneal my cases hoping to get increased longevity.  In fact, I do not believe that annealing will increase the longevity of a case unless the case preparation involves something more drastic than a regular resizing operation.

    So, why do I anneal my match brass?  One word answer:  consistency.  I anneal to make sure the bullet release is as consistent as possible loading to loading.  It's the same reason I full length resize and with a small base die as opposed to simple neck sizing.  It's why I buy my components in big lots; cases, primers, powders and bullets.  It's my I point my already pretty much pointed boutique bullets.  I endeavor to eliminate as much variation as possible before the cartridge goes into the chamber.

    Annealing the neck every loading ensures that the necks are placed back at the same hardness every single loading.  I do not anneal in the (IMO) forlorn hope that my brass will last longer.  Before I started annealing back 6 years ago, I F/L sized my brass with a small base bushing dies without an expander ball.  I was getting 8+ very stout loads without any problems.  My cases would die when the primer pockets had expanded too much to hold the primer.  I have NEVER split a case neck on a bottleneck cartridge.

    Now that I anneal, I am getting 8+ very stout loads without any problems.  Yep, same number of loads.  However, I have switched to Lapua Palma brass with small primers and the primer pockets stay tight throughout the 8 loads.  I usually drop the barrel at 4000 rounds (8 loads for 500 cases,) and start with new brass, but I may just continue with this brass on the new barrel.  I should point out that I buy barrels in pairs and get them chambered exactly the same way at the same time.

    Now, I don't know if you will get longer life out of your brass. I haven't a clue what your case prep entails and why you stop using your cases after 4 loads.  Perhaps you have stated why earlier and I missed it.  If you reform cases, annealing is a must, but if you use cases made for the caliber you use them in, I doubt annealing will make them last longer.

  • mitdr774mitdr774 Member Posts: 922 Senior Member
    I am cutting .300 WM brass down to make my .458x1.8.  I end up cutting just about all of the factory annealed portion of the case off.  The brass was cracking after just a couple loadings before I started doing any annealing.  With annealing I can get at least 4 loadings before any signs of issues show up near the case mouth.  This brass seems to be on the brittle side.  With my previous method it is not a consistent annealing though.

    I understand the idea behind the annealing each loading for consistent neck tension.  I can't argue that one at all as it actually makes sense to me.

    I do have a handful of cases that are on their last loading due to the primer pockets being a bit on the loose side.  Since its loaded to push a 576gr cast bullet at about 1100 fps I am not terribly worried about the slightly loose primer pocket as pressure shouldn't be too high,  but they will be scrapped after this use.  I guess the previous loadings for this brass were all toward my maximum loadings.  I didnt keep my brass separate in the beginning like I do now.
  • PegasusPegasus Senior Member Posts: 2,588 Senior Member
    edited March 21 #28

    That makes perfect sense, which is why I had that caveat in my second paragraph and further details in my last one.


    I am very interested in your results with the consistency that you will get with the Benchsource for those repurposed .300Win Mag.  Does your .458X1.8 have any type of bottleneck to it or is it just a straight case?  Either way, annealing will definitely help case longevity here, but I would think it would only be needed once.  However, do you turn the new necks or do you retain the thickness you get after the cutting?  If they are not turned, then yes, annealing every time would definitely be indicated.


    Edit:

    I just checked the dimensions of the .300 Win Mag.  The shoulder diameter is .489, which leaves about .038 for the thickness of the brass to hold a .458 bullet.  The neck diameter for the .458 Win Mag is .481, according to SAAMI.  So, I don't see any shoulder on your .458X1.8.

  • mitdr774mitdr774 Member Posts: 922 Senior Member
    Straight walled case (tapered, but no shoulder) to be compliant with Michigan "shotgun zone" rules.  I have not inside reamed the cases.  Cut down, trim, anneal, and size/case mouth expand.  Even the big 576gr cast bullets do not run into issues with getting into the thicker portion of the case.  Or if they do, it isnt really showing when measured with calipers (I know, not always the best measuring instrument).


    This particular piece of brass used for the dummy round is a well used piece, and was due to retire from a loose primer pocket (most rounds were pushing a 325gr FTX at 2100 FPS using W296 powder, exact pressure unknown but should be around 50k PSI if memory is correct) after about 8 loadings.  It has been annealed several times in the process though.


  • PegasusPegasus Senior Member Posts: 2,588 Senior Member
    Ever neat.  It looks like you're shooting lipsticks.  Which flavor is that one?
  • mitdr774mitdr774 Member Posts: 922 Senior Member
    Lead and powdercoat flavor.  ACME only uses red powdercoat for their cast bullets.


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