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Thread: Annealing Brass.

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    Default Annealing Brass.

    Iíve just finished annealing a small quantity of brass, 37 rnds, as a test. This brass had already been annealed by the person that gave it to me, and I fired it 2 or three times.

    I annealed it again because I donít know how many times it had been fired, before I got it, and I wanted to learn how to do it, before I did some more and newer brass in the near future.

    My question is, how much does annealing accomplish?

    Does it bring the brass back to the same elasticity of new brass?

    How many times can it be annealed, successfully? As many times as I want? Or is there a limit?

    Does it harm the brass if you do it wrong or have you had a bad experience with annealed brass?

    How much discoloration must I accept? (I annealed fired cases, and Iíve noticed that with the brass that had clean necks, the finished product was much cleaner, than the ones that were dirty to begin with. They were worse. The carbon burned into the necks, and pretty much impossible to clean, even with steel wool, and a case spinner, which is how I usually clean brass.)

    Iíve read bunches on how-tos of annealing, but never got much on expectations, and results.

    Thanks for any help you can offer on this.

    Smitty of the North
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    Member GD Yankee's Avatar
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    The boys on 6mmbr.com seem to think it is a good thing. This guy advertises a brass reconditioning service:

    http://djsbrass.com/

    I haven't used him, but have considered sending my once fired military brass to him. Look around 6mmbr.com and you may find info on annealing since they are benchrest guys.

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    Annealing brass does soften it and can be done over and over. But, how soft you get it depends on how hot you get it. You can get the brass hot enough to make it so soft that it won't hold a bullet very well. Also getting it an even temp all the way around and getting each piece annealed the same as the next is helpful. They make temperature crayons that melt at a certain temp. You mark the brass just at the base of the neck with the proper temp crayon and heat the brass until the mark melts and then dunk in water. Most people use propane tourches and turn the brass to try to heat it evenly. In a darkened room, the brass should just start to turn red before dunking it. I use my lead melting bullet casting pot and using a thermometer, heat the lead to approx 700 degrees. Holding the first piece of brass in my fingers by the rim, I dip the neck in the melted lead about halfway up the shoulder until it's getting to hot to hold, then quench. Remove primer first but don't polish the brass before annealing. You may have to dip the brass in graphite first to keep the lead from soldering to the case. The 700 degree lead touching inside and outside the case heats it evenly and no hotter than the set temp. Smaller thinner cases (22H) heat quicker than the big mag cases (300WM). Somewhere between 8 to 12 seconds seems to work for me. Softens them up without making them dead soft. After testing one case to see how long it takes to want to drop it, I use pliers and just count the time and drop in water. You can damage the brass if you get it too hot or if you anneal much past the shoulder onto the sidewall of the case. I don't anneal a lot of brass but what I have done seems to work well. Matching the hardness of anyones new brass is beyond any test equiptment I have.

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    I have formed so many cases into some other caliber and found long ago annealing brass (softening) helps save brass.
    It actually removes elasticity not the other way around. I've loaded well over 1 million rounds if ammo in hundreds of cartridges. I do not believe annealing is needed unless you are reshaping the brass. I've annealed 1000's if cases. The very best method is; use the crayons, spin the case in the flame, dunk in cold water.
    I use two crayon temps 640 on the neck and 610 at the line to be the new shoulder. If you anneal the body you will likely ruin it. Softening the neck of fired brass will sometimes lengthen the useful life. However I have found that once brass is fired it must be cleaned in a tumbler, inside and out, before any long term storage or the brass will deteriate and will likely split at the neck when fired. Also brass must be shiny clean before annealin. Oxides in the surface will be driven into the brass and cause hard and soft spots. Honestly it is best left to those who truly understand the metallurgy. In other words. Don't try this at home.
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    Well, I thought that elastic meant that the case would stretch and contract, and plastic was the ability for it to stay formed. And that annealing would soften it or make it more elastic.

    If I understand correctly, youíre saying Iím not correct.

    That annealing is, IFFY for increasing case life.

    That annealing should only be used to reform brass.

    You recommend doin it only with the crayons.

    Fired Brass should be tumbled clean for long term storage.

    Brass should be cleaned before annealing.

    Annealing should be left to people more knowledgeable, than a Missouri Hillbilly like me. IMAGINE THAT.

    Thanks Murphy. Thatís not what I expected. I was Fat, Dumb, and Happy. Now, Iím left only with ďFatĒ.



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    Thanks, GD:

    I'll check it out.

    Smitty of the Northl
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    rbuck351:

    I thought that the benefits of annealing was a given.

    I know folks who've done it for years. And are currently using 30-06 Military Brass that date back to the 60s, even 50s, with light loads.

    At this point, I'm not so sure, I'll become an annealer, after all.

    Thanks
    Smitty of the Norlth
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    Yeah, as I said, I don't anneal much brass as an ocassional split neck doesn't bother me much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    That annealing is, IFFY for increasing case life.

    That annealing should only be used to reform brass.

    You recommend doin it only with the crayons.

    Annealing should be left to people more knowledgeable, than a Missouri Hillbilly like me. IMAGINE THAT.
    Well, donít happen much but I got to disagree with Murphy on these here points.

    First two points:
    Iíve got a lot of hard to find brass (like 6.5 Jap) that have been loaded at least 20 times now, I anneal them with the pan method and full length resize every time they are shot and most are still doing just fine. Annealing will definitely extend case life in most chambering of moderate pressures, it does become iffy on very high pressure rounds IMO though because the annealing canĎt put the material back where the pressure moved it from. Rounds that your are loosing cases from split necks will definitely benefit from a trip under the torch and a cool swim. Now a common and inexpensive case like 30-06 may be cheaper to toss than mess with, annealing will extend their life but enough to be worth the time effort and propane??? Is to me but I don't think there's a lota profit in it.

    Ta other point:
    Yupí Iíve been a mettle worker all my life, started forging blacksmith tools and playing with temper as a little kid . . . but even a Missouri farm boy can master annealing brass, well within the tinkerin abilities of a city boy so a farm boy should be all set.

    Itís very easy to anneal brass and with a little playing with old bad brass you can learn to see when to tip it without any crayons or anything real easy. Over heat some and see what that looks like, under heat some . . . test with some needle nose pliers and see how soft they get. Soon you will be able to read the color, how the brass should look before you take the heat away. It needs to be good clean bass and dim(ish) lighting to see the color under the flame, soon as you pull the flame off the oxygen hits it and color is different. Itís not so much color as a waxy kind of look that tells ya in a real dark as night room sheíd be glowing a very dull red color. Go play for yourself and see what Iím talking about. In a couple hours of fun playing with fire and water you will know. Then take 10 cases, anneal 5 and mark them, load, shoot, repeat till you get failures and which fail and how will tell ya lots.

    You donít want to mess with the head hardness unless you got a real good idea what your doing. It IS possible to tighten loose primer pockets and even swedge the head down to reform into a smaller chambering. But thatís advanced stuff and ya need a heat treating oven with a very precise temperature control for heat soaking . . . if ya need those kind of things there are people that do it as was pointed out, takes a bit of knowledge and not all that cheap equipment. I can back stake with a punch to tighten some pockets but it doesnít always work . . . I can learn ya that trick if ya want.

    Stick with the water pan method and itís hard to go too far wrong. Itís a good idea to very the water level in the pan each time so as not to make a stress point where the work hardened materiel abruptly changes to the annealed materiel. Iíve seen fancy contraptions that spin the brass for even heat but itís not necessary. Brass is an exhalant conductor and the heat will get to the other side fine, just let it soak over for about 5 to 10 seconds after you move the heat away before you tip it into the water.
     
     
     
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    OK, AD:

    Maybe, I'll tinker some more with some cleaner brass.

    I'm loading the ones I have now, and will test them.

    I did it in a darkened room, with a propane torch in one hand and a case in the other. I had a glove on that hand.

    I heated at the base of the neck, and turned the case round and back again as it was heating to a Cherry Red, then drapped'em in the water.

    I used fired cases.

    Simple enough I guess. The process anyway.

    Thanks for the info, and perspective.
    Smitty of the North
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    You don't need to go that hot. Just barely seeing color and dump in the water.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitroman View Post
    You don't need to go that hot. Just barely seeing color and dump in the water.
    Do you mean a DULL Cherry Red?

    Smitty of the North
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    Yentlemen:
    OK, I started this, so I need to say,,,,,

    That, I'm not at all impressed with annealing, or perhaps, I should say MY annealing.

    I sized those cases, and they required Trimming, and then, of course, Chamfering. This brass has become much more BRITTLE than it was before. I'm pretty sure of that. (I recall that Murphy said,,,, "It actually removes elasticity not the other way around.")

    There is nothing to indicate an improvement, at this point.

    I will go ahead and shoot the loads I made, and If I anneal again, I'll take Nitroman's advice, and not heat them so HOT as I did before.

    Smitty of the North
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    For what its worth, and for those who may not have seen this article by Ken Howell on annealing cases you may find some helpful information here. http://24hourcampfire.com/annealing.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by ekberger View Post
    For what its worth, and for those who may not have seen this article by Ken Howell on annealing cases you may find some helpful information here. http://24hourcampfire.com/annealing.html
    Thanks ekberger:

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    I've been away from my desk was on my phone for with little patience for a detailed response on this subject.
    Actually, to my eyes anyway, the cases get blue under the flame. I heat them by spinning in a drill with a Lee case trimmer shell holder with a 1/4" hex shank threaded into the base. This grips the case head. The flame is ( I use an airline acetylene torch and a small welding tip) pointed directly at the 650 crayon mark. I clamp the torch head and hand hold the driver with the case he it. Put in the flame to warm up and mark with crayons. I use 650 F ( not 640 typo) at what is or will be the center of the neck. The mark the lowest point with a 610 F crayon. This is the limit of temp for the non annealed part. This gives me a safety valve, the 610 crayon to watch it also. I don't recall why I started doing that and not just the 650 but it seems to work for me. I anneal before forming anything that will move the shoulder and some things that are just necked if fired before. New brass needs no annealing usually but may require ginger steps to reform. I have annealed brass that has been fired several times and side by side half with no annealing from same batch. I've never found any advantage to the extra work of annealing necks nor have I found it to extend case life.

    Annealing is a PITA. I prefer to do it in the cool days of winter when I'm bored and feeling the urge to experiment. The last i annealed was in Fairbanks about 3 years ago. I had a bunch of fired (I don't know how many times) 45-70 brass. I annealed with this method and formed into 9.3x47mm. That is a funky cartridge for a single shot rifle (German I think) it is shorter but has a long black powder type taper that starts about 1/2" up from the head. It is necked to 375 not really 9.3. I did several without anneal and all but one had a wrinkle or two in it. After annealing I formed 60 or so formed beautifully with only one loss and they polished back up afterwards.

    If you are loading something, as Andy said, that is rare brass or already formed and you don't want to loose it, I'd consider annealing. I also consider loading milder loading milder loads. Thats the best way to prolong case life.

    Also case design or shape is a factor in case life. The straight sides of the so called improved brass is much better than the cases with lots of taper, given same pressure load. Pressure equals heat. At some pressure cases age, become brittle, loose copper (from chemical action from propellant salts, in the form of copper sulfate, It is that blue stuff you see in the case mouth a when you stored it after firing*) In other words just deteriorate. What I'm saying here is that higher pressure loads age brass much faster than just a couple K psi lower. This is a better way to keep brass young. I also believe cleaning after firing helps a lot.

    And I got all I know about annealing from Dr. Ken Howell. Everyone should buy his book Designing and Forming Custom Cartridges. He is one most the most knowledgable people ever on this subject and an absolutely great guy.

    * If you heat a case that has this residue in it, it will accelerate this decomposition of the brass. Doesn't it make sense to clean something before you subject it to extreme heat.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    Do you mean a DULL Cherry Red?

    Smitty of the North
    Actually I think most do not get the case hot enough to actually soften it. It will soften when heated to 660F then dunked into water below 100 F. If you don't get it that hot or don't cool it quickly enough, it will not be as soft. Or if you heat it to 500-600 degrees and let it air cool it will harden (become brittle) This is basically what firing does. I cannot see the color change when looking at the torch. If I stare at that torch a while, even with glasses, I go color blind so I don't know what color the brass is I just watch the crayon mark. The crayon is really the only accurate way to judge temperature.
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    Thanks Murphy, for your help:

    I reely am gonna give up this Shooting to Reload, and Reloading to Shoot, stuff, and take up Beeg Foote Research.

    I think I reely mean it this time.

    Smitty of the North
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    Thanks Murphy, for your help:

    I reely am gonna give up this Shooting to Reload, and Reloading to Shoot, stuff, and take up Beeg Foote Research.

    I think I reely mean it this time.

    Smitty of the North
    Now that's freakin' funny!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    Now that's freakin' funny!
    It's probably not so funny, when you consider that at the rate I'm goin, I'd probably accomplish as much doin that, as messin around with guns, and plotting to destroy Alaska Wildlife.

    It's become discouraging. Clearly, I've acquired some RONG notions about annealing brass.

    Please accept my apologies, All.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

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