Annealing cases??

PrimeTime

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May 9, 2001
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256
As I have just gotten into the more advanced reloading in the past year or so, I would like to gain information on this process.
When exactly is it most beneficial to do? Somone recently told me they anneal new cases and others have said only older brass.
What part of the case do you annel, just the neck or further down than that?
Any feedback would be helpful as this is one area I have not yet tried.
Happy Hunting
 

Dan Conzo

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Dec 5, 2001
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Nanty-Glo, Pennsylvania
Just anneal the necks. You can use an electric drill or old phonograph with a shell holder attached (Lee w/ spud on drill) rotate case about 30 to 50 rpms. Place propane torch within 3/8" in center of neck, watch rust colored heat ring go to mouth of case then back down to shoulder junction, immediately remove (with gloved hand) case and dip in a 3 lb coffee can of water for 20 seconds, clean out inside walls of neck with swab, hang upside down to dry. This should be done before sizing neck on fired cases. You may need to use dark glasses to see rust colored heat ring. On a 300 Wby and a 308 Baer this procedure takes about 12 seconds on fired cases. I've never annealed new brass but I know people that do and shoot real good. It seems that annealing cases gives you more case life and more consistant neck tension and makes it easier to keep concentricity. The shell holders I use are made by Lee, they are threaded on a spud so the case will set still. Necks should be cleaned with 0000 steel wool before and after annealing. You can tape or wire Variable speed electric drill the proper rpms or use a phonograph at 33 rpms.
 

Tim Behle

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Mar 16, 2002
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McNeal, AZ
I decided to try my hand at annealing some cases this morning. But I didn't have anything to attach the case to a drill.

I tool a small screw and tightened it into the chuck, then formed a lump of modeling clay to about the size of a golf ball. I pushed one end down on the screw, and pressed the base of my brass into the other.

It took just a second or two with each piece of brass to set it up to spin straight.
 

Brent

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Here's a link, http://www.angelfire.com/ma/ZERMEL/PSLONG06f.html, He does basically the same thing I've done. I use the Lee drill adapter/case trimmer dealy too, worth the couple bucks for sure. If you've heated them red hot, you've overdone it and are likely too soft now. They make a temp stick you can use, but I've never used it. I dunk mine when the color begins to change. You can spin them in yor hand but it just works better using the drill adapter shell holder. If it gets too hot to hold, or even close to that....Your doing something wrong!! You'll need to heat the neck and dunk it quicker. Get your technique down on some bad cases before you try the good ones, it's pretty easy really.
 

MAX

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Sep 10, 2001
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263
I tried a totally unscientific approach awhile back as suggested by Barsness(I think). A candle or small oil lamp and a damp cloth. Hold and spin until getting 'warm'
in your fingers, wipe soot off with cloth. It seems to work well with small cases, haven't tried anything larger than .257 Rob. Only tip I can offer is that it doesn't hiss a bit when you wipe the case neck, it's not hot enough.
 

adobewalls

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Mar 17, 2002
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Location
Houston, TX
I haven't annealed in several years, but from what I remember followed up the annealing with mid-range loads and then full power loads thereafter. I don't know if that step contributed anything, its just what I did.

Accuracy for me did improve after teh annealing. At that time I reloaded for velocity and the hot loads would stiffen the neck so much that there was a noticeable difference between the older brass and the newer when I resized. The annealing relaxed that stiffness comsequently helping restore accuracy.
 

Tim Behle

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The first two things I learned this morning:

Not all propane torches are created equal.

I can turn the brass orange in only eight seconds.

What can be done with this over heated brass? Will it never be useable? What can I do to get it back to where it should be?
 

4mesh063

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Dec 8, 2002
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374
Tim,

Go down to 4 seconds in front of the torch and don't dunk it. Let it cool slowly. If you see it changing color, you went too far. ps, I do my brand new cases because the first inch of case is cut off and reformed.
 

Brent

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Jun 12, 2001
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Tim.

I've got them "just" red before and fired them without a problem. It just leaves them increadibly soft, even with quenching them. It is fairly hard after the first firing again. You'll be less consistant from load to load if you over do it and neck tension will not be what it should.

I wouldn't get them hot without quenching in water, lest you get soft head bases. I'm not sure what temp the bases are getting on 4mesh's, but if you get the neck warm enough to actually anneal, the case will get VERY hot if not dunked and just let set there. Be carefull.

I don't count so much as I try to get the color change the same then the remove and dunk part consistantly timed. I dunk from the base to force the heat away from the head and cool them in a cosistant way from case to case. You can't do this in but very dim light or you'll see the subtle color change way too late.
 

4mesh063

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Dec 8, 2002
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374
Hey Brent,

I don't like quenching them for a few reasons.

First, the amount of heat needed to anneal the case is a ton less than red hot. Think about it like this. If you are grinding a piece of A2, lets say. On the grinder, it turns gray. That's about 400degrees. Blue is about 600 degrees. Now it gets brown, thats about 800. You now have a work-hardened piece of tool steel.

If you through harden the same piece of A2 at about 1725Degrees, it'll reach about 60rc. To draw it back, you place it in an oven at 400 and it'll "draw/anneal" the steel. Now, that amount of time is a lot longer than we do our cases (1 hr), but it does not need to be as long if we get the item hotter. (we just loose control of the end result). On brass, you don't need to get the brass anywhere near red to do the job. Even if you see it discolor from the surrounding air, I'd call that too hot.

Dunking, even mouth down, gets water in the case. That water may still be in there days later. (I've done it). I usually would put my cases in the oven to dry them out. I do not advocate that for anyone. I've pulled bullets to find wet primers and powder. No thanks.

Next, when you dunk the case, you "chase" the heat away from the water. The odds are, you have now warmed the base enough to anneal it also, even though you were thinking you stopped the process short. Another example of that. Take a piece of a coathanger about 4 inches long. Hole the wire between your fingers. Now heat the end of it red hot, while holding it. Heat it until you feel the wire in your fingers becoming uncomfortably warm. Stop. Now, dunk the red hot end in a glass of water. Instantly, your fingers are burnt fast to the wire. You have now chased the heat energy away from the water and up the wire.

For me.... Less heat, more time. Let them cool slowly with NO water near em.

BTW, red hot also means you have burned the carbon deposits into the neck and now it is near impossible to remove. That lends itself to uneven bullet release I think. If nothing else, the burnt crap on the outside makes cases stick in the chamber and I don't care for that.

Take one of your over annealed cases and fire it. Keep it as an example for size. When your other brass comes out of the gun smaller than that, they are begining to rebound and need annealed to acheive a better seal at the neck.
 

Goofycat

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Sep 29, 2006
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223
Location
Santa Rosa, CA
The first two things I learned this morning:

Not all propane torches are created equal.

I can turn the brass orange in only eight seconds.

What can be done with this over heated brass? Will it never be useable? What can I do to get it back to where it should be?
If it goes beyond "dull red," throw away the brass! You've heated it too much! You want only a dull red color. Anneal where there is low light so you can see the color change.
 

Goofycat

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Sep 29, 2006
Messages
223
Location
Santa Rosa, CA
...or give it to your kiddies or grandkiddies as whistles. Overheated (over-annealed) brass is dangerous to shoot. Do NOT use it. if you want to get into annealing, practice it first with some old brass so you can make the mistakes before you screw up the stuff you want to reload. Anneal in a low-light room; if you don't, you will tend to over-anneal. You should use a 1/2" tip on your propane torch, although a 5/8" tip will work. All you need is a rotary drill and a socket that allows you to fit the case loosely enough so that you can easily dump it into water afterwards. You can also use butane instead of propane. Butane is far cooler than propane, so it will take more time if you use butane (see 4Mesh's post above).

Do you need to quench in water? No, but it acts as a cushion for the cases when you want to eject them from your socket without damaging the cases after you anneal them. You could just as easily dump them into a bucket of rags, but you might cause dents in the necks of the annealed cases as you dump more and more of them into the bucket.

Annealing does not improve accuracy, and in some cases may decrease accuracy....depending on the rifle, the shooter and reloading technique. The purpose is to allow you to "refresh" the brass after it has been work-hardened from having been shot a few times and to prevent the brass from splitting at the neck due to work-hardening. You don't need to anneal new brass UNLESS you are necking down to produce wildcat cases. Necking down immediately work-hardens these cases.
 

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