Annealing brass

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Varmint Hunter, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. Varmint Hunter

    Varmint Hunter Well-Known Member

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    I've been shooting Lapua brass in a custom .308 win. So far I have reloaded the brass 11 times without any problem. I am using a set of Redding type S bushing FL dies. Primer pockets are still good and brass has only been trimmed a couple of times.

    At this point is it necessary to anneal the necks? Will I loose neck tension consistency if I don't? I've never annealed any brass before because I usually chuck it out before that became necessary. However, this .308 Lapua brass looks like it could keep going and going and going.
     
  2. trueblue

    trueblue Well-Known Member

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    VH,
    I would anneal the brass. I have found I get more consistant neck tension with annealing the brass more often. In fact, on my longrange loads I have started annealing after every firing. It does not take that long.
     

  3. trebark

    trebark Well-Known Member

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  4. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    There are many ways to anneal brass and without anything special I use a rectangular cake
    pan to place the brass in and fill with water it to the level you want the annealing to stop.

    Next I stand the cases up in the water about 2 inches apart . then take a cheep propane
    torch and point it down on one case at a time and heat until you see it change colors and
    with a welding rod or pencil knock it over in the water away from the rest of the cases.

    When you have done all of them just remove the annealed brass and start over on the rest.

    What I like about doing it this way is little or no set up time and you can do a few or many.

    Experiment with a few and you will be surprised at how easy it is and the results you get.

    There are some threads that show different ways of doing it (I think BB has a video) but this
    is a very easy way to get started and then if you want production go with the production
    methods.

    J E CUSTOM
     
  5. Eaglet

    Eaglet Well-Known Member

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    Annealing is fun and there is always a first time for everything.

    I tried my best to keep away from annealing but after some

    30+ years of reloading I had to do it. It's fun! Just don't drop

    the flame and burn your house because mama will kill you! :rolleyes:
     
  6. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

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    J.E., is it important to heat all sides of the case and if so how do you do it with this method?
     
  7. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    I've been annealing for decades, find it more of an art than a science. I've tried most everthing available except the temp sensitive paints and markers. Started out doing it really bad and have progressed to where I'm quite happy with the results.

    My early efforts followed the "heat necks until they are a bright red and tip them over in a pan of water" method. Bad way, at least for me; red hot is FAR TOO HOT and I couldn't do it evenly. Too much heat damages the brass alloy and leaves the necks dead soft, with very little real bullet tension/grip.

    Finally got a little smarter; Tried hand holding the cases at the head in my fingers while heating the necks. Aimed the inner blue tip at the junciton of neck to shoulder while turning the cases for an even heat treatment. Safety comes in that when they get too hot to hold they are immediately dropped into a water bucket. That was a better method but some torches aren't quite hot enough to get the necks up to the right temp before my fingers smoked!

    Finally, I lathe turned an aluminum case holder device that looks a lot like Hornady's annealing holder. Mine has a small, 1/4" diameter, holding stem about 3" long on one end that's easy to hold and spin in my fingers. The working end, the fat end, is about 3/4" by 2" and bored 1/2" by 1 1/2" deep. I can drop most any case heads (escept magnums) into. I can easily hand hold/spin it at a slant with a case in the torch flame for even heating and then drop it into a water bucket when I see the shoulder-body junction turn the "right" shade of light blue - it's a learned thing. That method works well and it's the only way I would suggest today.

    You could easily duplicate my case holder with a 9/16" or 1/2" deep wall socket (ratchet wrench) and a short socket extender.

    I like standard propane torch fuel, MAPP gas gets much to hot to fast for me to accurately judge shoulder colors.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2009
  8. Mikecr

    Mikecr Well-Known Member

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    The whole 'Annealing' thing is actually a big misnomer in our community.
    For one, annealed brass is completely ruined brass.
    What we're really striving to do is relieve stress in brass. And stress relieving is way lower in temperature than annealing.

    The reason 'annealing' is often tricky, is because a torch can quite easily do just that(around 1100deg, or glowing red in the dark).
    So keep it in mind while considering the methods described.

    Personally, the only way I've ever stress relieved brass is lead dipping. With this I can exactly control the temperature(600deg).
    But it's more time & setup than most would tolerate I'm sure..
     
  9. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    Yes it is important !!!

    the reason I like doing it this way is that I can control the amount of annealing (Just past the
    body to shoulder by about 1/8 of an inch). And I don't heat it till it turns red ,Just until the
    brass starts to change color (500o to 600o) .

    Also I hold the propane torch vertical to the case and in the center of the neck mouth about
    3 to 5 inches above it . this allows the heat to travel down the brass evenly and the water
    stops it so that it is a gradual change in the annealing instead of a sudden change in hardness.

    It is very easy to control and with a little practice is very fast and does a good looking job.

    I hope This answered your question.

    J E CUSTOM
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2009
  10. Eaglet

    Eaglet Well-Known Member

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    This is my third trial, not quite what I would like to see.

    I bet JE's method would leave them looking nice.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    That looks very good Eaglet !!!!!!!

    You did just enough of the body to get the transition from annealed to normal where it needs
    to be .

    And the color looks great !!!

    Good job.

    J E CUSTOM
     
  12. ilscungilli

    ilscungilli Well-Known Member

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    Eaglet, how much water did you put in the pan? Did it come all the way up to where that color transition occurs? Thanks.
     
  13. Eaglet

    Eaglet Well-Known Member

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    visigoth,

    I did not do them using J E's method where the brass is sitting in the water. I will have to try it though because what J E is saying makes a lot of sence. I just used the common drill gun to rotate the brass and then dropped them in water.