Thanks J E (-and Roy too!)
Ok, so I've talked to the gun smith who is both building the rifle and is making the dies. I just ordered 4 more 6.5mm die blanks and they are being shipped up to the smith (who lives near me) overnight for delivery tomorrow. We are getting together Saturday morning to both make the intermediate step dies plus anneal the cases. 2 questions:
1 - he just got in the Ken Light automated case annealer, but although it will give us the most consistent case neck and shoulder temps, he's concerned that with a case this short/fat, the automated rotary case annealer might allow too much transfer of heat down to the base. Anyone used an approach other than the water-in-the-pan method on pretty short fat cases and should we be concerned? Obviously with 200 - 300 cases to do, this will go MUCH faster - if it works ok...
2 - I've heard there are 2 possible designs we can go for on the form dies; the first is with the first die to severely reduce the existing shoulder angle while leaving the distance between the current base to the current neck/shoulder junction unchanged but moving the distance between the base and the body/shoulder junction to the target length of 1.298"; then with each successive die, start to re-steepen that shoulder angle, essentially making the neck longer and longer as we decrease the distance between the base and the shoulder/neck junction point. The second option is to instead leave the neck angle alone, and essentially with the first die move the body/shoulder junction back but only for to that 1.298" point by shoving it back, but only to a case diameter of about .06: to .08" with each pass, for 3 to 4 passes - so in other words, half way through the 4 passes with the first approach we would have a case with a very long, very gentle sloping shoulder, while with the other apporach, half way through the 4 passes we'd have a case with have a case that looks like it has 2 shoulders (until we completed all the passes of course.) Make sense?
So my question is, which of the 2 approaches is better - create a very, very shallow sloping shoulder and gradually steepen it, or push the shoulder back, keeping it 35 degrees, but take 4 passes to move back the entire shoulder? I've has one person each, both very reputable, recommend each method. So any input from anyone whose done this (ESPECIALLY with these doggone thick/apparently harder than average) WSM cases (I'm using Winschester cases in face) would be very appreciated. We only have 4 blank dies to do this with and are running very short on time, so it's critical we get it right the first time on this Saturday morning. Thanks everyone for your time!!!