Annealeez Aluminum Wheels

BallisticExpansion

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Ok guys I am back from my trip. I have some good news and not great news. Let's start with the good. The prototype wheels are done! I just picked them up and am in progress on testing them. The knurling didn't work for gripping the case so ditching that. I'm still brainstorming the solution, but I believe the Ultra copper RTV from permatex will be perfect for this application. It's affordable and good for intermittent temps up to 700deg. It also can be easily repaired by the customer as needed. I am planning to do my first heat test tonight to check how the wheels/machine heat up and how the RTV does. This first test I will be doing is 6.5CM on the large wheels which is how I previously melted my plastic wheels.

I'm still tinkering with the thickness of the small wheels. If I can get them small enough to do 300blk without too much heat transfer and also still support 30-06 I would be ecstatic. I think a 3/4" thick wheel is the ticket.

I'm scratching the big case cut on the standard wheel. When running small cases such as 223/300BLK it lets the machine double feed and jams. For those doing WSSMs/PRC or any case over a ~.49 body you will need to use the large wheels. Large will be good up to 338 Lapua and down to anything smaller that will not double feed and will clear the wheel.

Now the not great news. My machinist is not willing to run the job for mass production due to the time cost. He is running all manual machines and used a lathe and mill for these. They look very clean/nice and he does great work. However, to be frank these wheels don't need that level of precision. The only critical part is making the cuts centered. Once a machine is zeroed and jig set I believe these can be made pretty quickly by doing each operation in batches using only a vertical milling machine. Sandblasting would clean up any sharp edges and improve aesthetics. No turning as I will order the stock in the correct OD.

The other hurdle I'm facing is I don't currently own any machining equipment. I'm now shopping for a benchtop or knee size milling machine. There is going to be a time lag with all of that. Technically this job could be done with a mini mill. However, I'm trying to get something that I can use for a myriad of projects in the future for my 06/07 business as it grows. There is also a cost balance/limit as this is currently the only job I have lined up to run and sell. Using this job to pay off the machine I purchase at a minimum is my goal. I only have a partial idea of the demand for these wheels so I'm trying to err on the side of caution.

All that said... below are some pictures of the prototypes with and without RTV applied. Thanks guys.
 

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ChiefStone

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Looks good. If they end up heat soaking and it's an issue for the stepper motor/gears, drilling holes radially around the center might help with quicker cooling since there would be less mass? Just a wild thought, but I know that would add another step to making them...

I only ordered mine with a set of large wheels, and I ran them through my table saw to trim them down so that I could run my 6.5 Grendel brass through. The thickness ended up being in between what the Large/Small wheels from annealeez measure, and have worked for my needs, but I typically only run batches of 100 at the most.
 

Bob Wright

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I think your RTV coating will act as a thermal barrier on the aluminum. You may also try some on the face of the wheel if heat transfer is still a problem.
Also, Annealeeze has a change incorporated into the latest version, by rotating the wheel and gearbox assy on the face of the machine. Also, they eliminated the mounted torch turn buckle that held the old torch and hose due to lack of hose availability. I think the tank holder they now suggest using, will actually be beneficial to point the flame angle further away from the wheel. Take a look at their website.
 

BallisticExpansion

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Messages
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Location
North GA
I think your RTV coating will act as a thermal barrier on the aluminum. You may also try some on the face of the wheel if heat transfer is still a problem.
Also, Annealeeze has a change incorporated into the latest version, by rotating the wheel and gearbox assy on the face of the machine. Also, they eliminated the mounted torch turn buckle that held the old torch and hose due to lack of hose availability. I think the tank holder they now suggest using, will actually be beneficial to point the flame angle further away from the wheel. Take a look at their website.
That is a great tip Bob. Thank you! I did run into heat transfer issues on the 1st test last night. I knew it would be inevitable, but happened faster than I realized. 20min of continuous operation and the top wheel had slightly melted the gear shaft behind it and bonded to it a little haha. I was running 6.5CM on the large wheels. Which is putting the flame quite close to the wheel. It's definitely an improvement

I've been brainstorming a few solutions since last night. Here are a few. Anyone feel free to share thoughts on them.

Brass washer or nut behind the wheel to act as a barrier between the aluminum wheel and plastic gear shaft. Brass has ~half the thermal conductivity of aluminum.I am going to try this first since it is cheap on time and material.

Metal gears for the machine. Slightly cost prohibitive but more concerning is the labor involved on the customer side to install them

Ditching the solid aluminum idea. Brass or Titanium solids. Cons are cost and weight of the wheel being too much for the motor.

One idea I'm still researching is using aluminum tubing. Cut to desired thickness and fill with an epoxy/resin that is machinable and dissipates heat well. I'm not sure if this is cost efficient or if such a material exists readily on the consumer market. I really like this idea in concept.

Some good news! The copper RTV did excellent with the heat. It's definitely the way to go and I would even recommend it for the factory wheels. Simply put a pea size drop on a sponge and apply to the wheel as needed.
 

BallisticExpansion

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Messages
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Looks good. If they end up heat soaking and it's an issue for the stepper motor/gears, drilling holes radially around the center might help with quicker cooling since there would be less mass? Just a wild thought, but I know that would add another step to making them...

I only ordered mine with a set of large wheels, and I ran them through my table saw to trim them down so that I could run my 6.5 Grendel brass through. The thickness ended up being in between what the Large/Small wheels from annealeez measure, and have worked for my needs, but I typically only run batches of 100 at the most.
Good idea for the lightening/heat cuts. If I had CNC I would definitely incorporate that. It would also add some aesthetics. However, I will be working on a knee or mini mill so it's not time efficient currently.

Can you tell me how thin you cut your plastic wheels to avoid melting them for 6.5GR? I'm hoping my small wheel can do 300blk and up to whatever case it will hold without falling out...hopefully 30-06.
 
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Bob Wright

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Heat "conduction" thru mating parts is the enemy, so breaking that conduction will help. That wheel, wheel shaft, drive gear all are conducting that radiant torch heat. Breaking the radiant heat at the wheels first, then to the gear second. That would help answer that problem(s).
The only other way I can see is cooling with air without interfering with the flame on brass. That may work but it's a whole different project that may not make the project profitable.
 

BallisticExpansion

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Messages
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Heat "conduction" thru mating parts is the enemy, so breaking that conduction will help. That wheel, wheel shaft, drive gear all are conducting that radiant torch heat. Breaking the radiant heat at the wheels first, then to the gear second. That would help answer that problem(s).
The only other way I can see is cooling with air without interfering with the flame on brass. That may work but it's a whole different project that may not make the project profitable.
Right. Which unfortunately the wheel has to be tightened down against that shoulder on the gear to turn. The parts will still be mated but at least a brass spacer should help as a thermal barrier. I believe I will try that first and then determine if RTV is needed on the face of the wheel(s).

Air flow had also crossed my mind. I may play with a small fan and see how it effects the annealing/flame. It's a small inconvenience to ask of a customer if it means the unit will run for extended amounts of time. I'm very curious to see how the gears hold up with a "proper" sized case matched to the wheel. IE 300PRC on the large wheels, and also curious to see how much faster the small wheels will heat up.

Commercial level usage is not the goal here, but even approaching that level would be pretty sweet. I am really enjoying your insight and wisdom. Thank you!!
 

ChiefStone

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Good idea for the lightening/heat cuts. If I had CNC I would definitely incorporate that. It would also add some aesthetics. However, I will be working on a knee or mini mill so it's not time efficient currently.

Can you tell me how thin you cut your plastic wheels to avoid melting them for 6.5GR? I'm hoping my small wheel can do 300blk and up to whatever case it will hold without falling out...hopefully 30-06.

I'll measure it this afternoon... Full disclosure, I think I've only run 50 cases at a time through of the 6.5G, but haven't had any issues with melting as of yet. I set my torch up to run as perpendicular to the brass as possible so the flame itself isn't directing any heat towards the wheel, just the neck/shoulder junction. Not saying that's anyone's issue here, just rambling.

I've also got some 30-06 brass I could attempt to run through and see if it falls out or not.
Will report back.
 

ChiefStone

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Messages
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Can you tell me how thin you cut your plastic wheels to avoid melting them for 6.5GR? I'm hoping my small wheel can do 300blk and up to whatever case it will hold without falling out...hopefully 30-06.
My plastic wheels are currently 0.800” thick. I haven’t had a chance yet to run 30-06 through, but .308 case length (260 REM) does work just fine.
 

BallisticExpansion

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My plastic wheels are currently 0.800” thick. I haven’t had a chance yet to run 30-06 through, but .308 case length (260 REM) does work just fine.
Thanks for the info! I think that's the sweet spot at .800 if you want to keep the heat away and still be able to do long cases. Any shorter and 30-06 length cases will fall off the wheel. I did some testing by pushing the case forward in the wheel with it off the machine. I also found that the normal wheel size with the big cut will work up to 300RUM. I'm thinking now maybe offer the standard wheel with the small and large case cut. And only do the really thin and thick wheels at special request.
 

BallisticExpansion

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Update: After some research I'm not moving forward with mass production on these wheels at this time.

I may continue to look at shopping the job but I feel the market is too niche to make this cost effective for my time.

I did find when using the right size wheel for the right size case the aluminum does work very well. I did a hopper full of 308 cases (about 200, 20min) and the standard size wheels never got over 100deg. Also I switched from the RTV to skateboard tape with adhesive backing. The RTV was just too easy to peel off when handling the wheels and the tape is much cleaner.

One final reason I've lost interest is that I do not think the annealez will satisfy my semi commercial needs. Which is not what it's made for anyways. It's great for the average shooter doing a few hundred cases at a time. I want to do thousands in a day.

All this said I am actually moving on from the annealez to a nicer and more automated system. If anyone would like to purchase the unit or the metal wheels PM me and also check the classifieds here. Thank you all for joining me on this endeavor and for your input and time!
 
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