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Expander ball?

 
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  #1  
Old 02-14-2010, 06:42 PM
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Expander ball?

I have read tidbits here and there about guys removing the expander ball from their sizing dies. I understand the reason why due to the possibility that they will gall the case necks, or "bend" the neck creating runout.

My questions is, does it take a bushing type or custom die to do this?

Can you just take the expander ball out of any good sizing die and expect good results?
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Old 02-14-2010, 08:10 PM
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Re: Expander ball?

Yes, you can take the expander ball out of any die. That will not however guarentee good results. Some dies will size the neck down a good bit more than needed relying on the expander to open the neck back up to where it needs to be. Without the expander in a die like this you will get an incredible amount of neck tension, that may be good may not, depends on what your rifle likes. The downside is you have no way to adjust that tension like you would with a bushing die.

Chris
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Old 02-14-2010, 08:19 PM
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Re: Expander ball?

Do they make different size expander balls like for instance .335 and .337 if so how could you go about getting some.

Diddnt mean to highjack this thread just was curious and looked like a good spot to ask.


Thanks,
Nathan
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Old 02-14-2010, 08:30 PM
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Re: Expander ball?

Nathan,

That's a darn good question. I've never seen them, but I've never looked for them either. I'd be inclined to say no, but I can't say for sure.

I know you can polish an expander down some to get more neck tension. But I don't know how you'd get less without going to a bushing die unless you have a way to polish the neck area of the die and still keep it perfectly round.

Chris
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Old 02-19-2010, 04:58 PM
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Re: Expander ball?

Hey guys,
looks like I'm a little late to this one, but it seemed worth stopping by. To begin, lots of folks don't use expander balls, and there's good reasons not to; they do bring about potential concentricity issues, and you are going to work the brass more in the neck area by dragging an expander ball back through it on the downstroke. On the positive (and yes, there is one), they do provide a positve control for uniform neck tension.

I like bushing dies. They make it easy to adjust neck tension if you're not using an expander ball, but that presupposes that your brass has necks of a highly uniform thickness. If you're loading in relatively small lots, with brass that's been meticulously prepped, this shouldn't be a problem. As a High Power shooter, I tend to load in fairly large lots. I'm primarily a Service Rifle shooter, which means I don't get into the Bench Rest prep sort of insanity; Service Rifle brass doesn't live long enough to justify the effort. I do want uniform neck tension, though. My solution is to use the bushings, along WITH an expander, just to ensure that everything's consistent across the board. I prefer the carbide expander balls when they're available, but a polished steel expander works too. In use, I select a bushing that, with that lot of brass, provides just enough tension that I can slightly feel the passage of the ball back through the neck. This means a little experimentation and measuring on your part, but hey, that's what it is. With many non-bushing dies and the standard expanders they arrive with, the neck gets sized down so much that you will have to fight to get the expander back through the neck on the upstroke. This is an invitation to all kinds of headaches, and not the way you want to go.

If you're serious about this, you're going to wind up honing the neck out to a size that will put the minimal sizing on the brass, while still bringing it down far enough to get the neck tension you want. That final dimension can, of course, be controlled by the expander. In the case of the steel expanders, this can be done with some patience, a good micrometer, and drill press and some emory or crocus cloth. On the carbide balls, we're pretty much at the mercy of the manufacturers there, unless you're adept at working the stuff. I'm not, so the term SOL comes to mind.

Yeah, there are some options here, so don't write them off too quickly. Hope that helps, or gives you something else to think about.

Kevin Thomas
Lapua USA
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Old 02-19-2010, 05:15 PM
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Re: Expander ball?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Thomas View Post
If you're serious about this, you're going to wind up honing the neck out to a size that will put the minimal sizing on the brass, while still bringing it down far enough to get the neck tension you want.

Kevin Thomas
Lapua USA
You ever honed the neck out of a hardened resizing die? If so, how did you go about doing that?

I just spent four evenings honing out the body of a RCBS full length resizing die so it wouldn't work my brass so much. I used a brass bore brush wrapped in 3M Wet-Dry sand paper, turn by a battery operated drill. All that did was polish the die surface. Next I tried a coarser grade of 3M Emery Cloth. More polishing. Next I coated the Emery Cloth with some silica carbide valve grinding compound - 280 grit. This started to remove some of the hardened steel - painfully slowly. Then I applied 120 grit silica carbide valve grinding compound. After about 2 hours of lapping with the battery powered drill, I was able to remove about 0.002" over the sides of this FL resizing die.

Anyone that says you have to clean your brass cases carefully so as to not scratch the resizing die is full of it as far as I'm concerned. Once those reloading dies are heat treated, they are tough - tough - tough.

This leave me wondering - what type of machining equipment or tools are used to open up a heat-treated neck on a full length resizing die?

Last edited by phorwath; 02-19-2010 at 06:04 PM.
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  #7  
Old 02-19-2010, 05:35 PM
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Re: Expander ball?

Quote:
Originally Posted by phorwath View Post
This leave me wondering - what type of machining equipment or tools are used to open up a heat-treated neck on a full length resizing die?
I wouldn't mind finding that out either, I've got a sizing die that is so tight in the neck I can just about lift my bench off the floor pulling the expander ball back through.

Chris
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