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  1. #11

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    This is what a micrograph looks like with a hardness test punch.
    The diamond shape is the hardness test, you can clearly see the grain structure of the brass.
    Notice how the grains are smaller inside & outside while they get larger in the middle?

    This is how you determine if your annealing was effective or not when you are looking for 'Perfect' ('Perfect' for fired brass).
    You can get about 85% of 'Perfect' with common home annealing if you get the temp & time factor right.


    This is an open coil electro-magnetic professional annealing set up.
    Notice the brass NEVER 'Glows' and takes it's time moving through the coil, the time factor that is needed.

  2. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rookie View Post
    Just ignore clay pigeon. Sooner or later, the mods will get tired of his insults and show him the door.
    "I've done it this way for 40 years and..."

    OK, if it works for you and you aren't interested in learning anything new...


    Personally, since I have the proper equipment & can do this testing, I've been messing with 'Hot Pot' annealing since I learned you can use dry media just fine.
    To further simplify the process, I've been testing the brass for resizing.
    When you get heat & time right, the brass sizes like butter and is extremely consistent.

    This is where you STOP instead of continuing until it's over heated & ruined.
    You simply 'Sneak Up' on the correct time since steel shot media transfers heat very quickly and between 700*F and 750*F you just need to get the time right.
    It's actually stupid simple when reduced to most simple terms with a 'Hot Pot'.

    Just use a fresh test batch each time, with 6-10 in a paddle, and a timer (second hand on a watch) and when the shoulders resize consistently at under 0.001", you found the correct time.
    No water pan needed, unless you just like drying brass after annealing, and that's about it.
    The lower temp (compared to a 'Jet' torch) you get the time factor SAFELY.

    Ain't science great!

  3. #13
    SSE is offline

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    Well JeepHammer that sounds interesting, Thanks.
    What size steel shot do you think would be best and what ballpark time frame should I start at, say starting @ 700 - 10 sec. or 20 ect.

  4. #14

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    With steel shot blasting media, no heat fracturing, so no hot media pooping out of the pot.
    70 grit rated will be about 0.007" in diameter, as fine as construction sand.
    I *Think* I paid about $30 for five pounds last time I bought it, and stainless will cost more (about double) but won't rust nearly as quickly.

    I'm thinking I saw a 1,000 or 1,200 degree F. industrial thermometer on eBay a while back for $35,
    Or there are several YouTube videos that show how to hook up thermocouple/PID to automatically control heat from parts that aren't much more.

    Price of a lead melting pot depends on size & options, I'm thinking mine was under $40 gently used off eBay, and it's the larger Lee with twist knob temp control.

    My paddle (with holes drilled in it) is literally a wooden paddle ball paddle.
    The elastic band always breaks and the dog carries off the ball, so I had it laying around and I used it.
    The big pot will do 10 at a time, no issues, my smaller pot will only do about six with proper spacing.

    Start with SHORT time and work your timing up.
    When the brass resizes really consistently, STOP.
    It's better to be a little undercooked than overcooked.

    New, premium brass sizes like butter, really consistently, and that's what you are looking for.
    You have hit the nail dead on the head when the brass resizes consistently.
    The the test brass with shorter times that didn't resize consistently can be annealed again and resized again once you hit that nail on the head, but don't keep annealing & resizing the same brass over & over again.
    Once annealed & sized during testing, all of the brass can be annealed again with the correct time and sized again with zero ill effects.

    At 700*F it's almost impossible to over anneal the necks/shoulders, but the heat transfer will get into lower case & head, and that's bad news when the heads soften...
    I run the temp up about 750*F and go for 6-12 seconds (you don't need a digital timer at 750*F, a second hand on a watch is fine) and creep up the time until the brass resizes like new.
    Done & Done! Can't be more simple and for around $100 it's *almost* idiot proof.
    Heavy/thick shoulder cases, or older, poor alloy cases I've had to go as much as 30 seconds to get a decent anneal...
    More mass means more time to heat it.

    Keep in mind that different brass makers use different alloys, and time will vary with maker/head stamp.
    This let's you get real close to 'Perfect' with any head stamp you run into, provided you have enough of them to get through time testing.

    Quenching (usually water bath) does exactly zero to brass, no hardening & no softening.
    It simply cools the brass down sooner so you can handle it, and makes you dry the brass off, and potentially polish it again...
    Quenching ONLY comes into play if you seriously overheat the head, lower sides of the case, it will suck heat out and stop the annealing.
    You *Shouldn't* have to leave the brass in the hot pot long enough to heat the sides/head up to the point of annealing.
    Keep it mind the lower sides & head can reach 500*F for a very shot time with no softening/annealing.

    At 450*F it would take 8 to 12 hours for even first stage annealing to take place,
    You have to reach 600*F for 1-2 hours for second stage annealing to take place,
    By the time you reach 750*F annealing takes place in the neck/shoulder in seconds, while the lower case/head never reaches first stage annealing.

    Blasting them with a 1,500 or 1,800*F oxygen engorged torch will send the neck/shoulder into 4th stage (ruined) and bring the sides/head up to 3rd stage & 2nd stage respectively, which means they are ruined also.

    Two things you DON'T need when doing things this way,

    Templaque (Thermocromatic paint, color changes with heat),
    Since you are hardness testing by sizing, the actual temp the brass reaches doesn't matter and you don't need a sample mounted & prepared for hardness testing (which is time consuming & expensive, take a lot of very specific equipment & supplies to do correctly).

    You won't be looking for a 'Color Change' in the brass since you can't see the necks in the first place.
    I will guarantee you that if you see a 'Glow' in the brass, it's ruined.
    Everyone says to watch for a 'Red Glow' in the brass, and by the time cartridge brass glows you are WAY into 4th stage of annealing, and the brass is ruined for the intended purpose.

    The second thing you won't need is a digital timer.
    The temp is spot on to keep your brass alive, and it's VERY hard to ruin.
    Like I said, the second hand on a watch is fine for this way of doing things.

    You also won't need a quench pan to try and save your lower sides/heads, I do use an aluminum cookie sheet to push the cases back out of my paddle, and the aluminum cools the brass rather quickly.
    I do use a towel under the cookie sheet so I don't bang the necks up getting them out of the paddle, I just push down until they pop loose.
    You don't have to wedge the cases in so they hold an engine block up!
    You will pretty quickly figure out how much they need to be wedged to keep them in place (not much) and so they come back out easily.

    It's dirt simple annealing with very little guess work, but it's too slow for production work, and I need to anneal thousands when I process brass.
    For a home reloader it's as close to perfect in money, equipment & time as you can get since everything is off the shelf and pretty cheap/easy.
    I wish this idea was circulating 30 or 40 years ago!


    If you look at the pictures of the annealing coils, look for the brass laying next to the coil that has a 'Silver' neck/shoulder.
    That is a seriously overheated brass, it's ruined.
    The 'Silver' is the zinc separating from the copper, and this is called 'Lamination', the zinc is now a laminated plating on the neck/shoulder.
    When you fire this brass, it would DE-laminate, or peel off the case body.
    Brass with reduced zinc is basically just copper, so the neck will crack right away.
    I'd actually be surprised if this one lasted through resizing and loading before it cracked, and it would almost certainly crack upon firing.

    Chalk that one up to 'What NOT to do'.

    Jet torch flame annealed cases will often have a dramatic color change, and a dull finish that's slightly 'Silver'.
    That's zinc being burned out of the brass leaving pits (dull surface textured), and the 'Silver' is the zinc that didn't burn away.
    The case is still ruined, but not as dramatically as the one in my picture.

    The other thing you might notice about gas annealed brass is a VERY distinct line on the case body sides under the shoulder.
    This is the heat affect zone (HAZ).
    When you use a machine for flame annealing, you have a tendency to have that HAZ in the same place over & over again.
    Its a REALLY good place for heat stress to crack the case leaving the neck/shoulder in the chamber.
    Hot pot annealing never precisely locates the HAZ in the same place each time, avoiding that issue.
    It can't easily be avoided with a machine since a machine will position the brass relative to heat source in the same place every time.

    When I'm doing my own brass over & over again, I have to remember and move the stops a little so avoid a HAZ failure, and I had several before I figured this out...
    When I'm processing new production or once fired brass, it's not an issues since I anneal and the brass goes out the door, I never see it again.

  5. #15
    Expert Clay Pigeon's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rookie View Post
    Just ignore clay pigeon. Sooner or later, the mods will get tired of his insults and show him the door.
    LOL, I'll say it again, because with 45+ years of reloading with forming cases and I have yet to have someone even mention having brass micro-graphed after being manufactured. Made me laugh so hard I almost slipped a little pee.

    Heres an offer SSE, I live in northern Madison county, you let me know " With a PM " when this summer or fall you would like to come over and we can anneal your 308 and other brass on my Annealeez automated machine free of charge, when its set you dont need a watch to time anything, you dont have to handle hot brass and we dont even need a microscope to see the grain structure of the brass. We will use a burning gas like most manufactures have used for the last 125 years.
    "Too much agreement kills a chat." ~Eldridge Cleaver

  6. #16

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    Scroll down to the yellow bars of features & services, find 'Brass Analysis'...
    If you look at the page a little you will see a guy using a scaled microscope inspecting a brass sample.
    There is more than one annealer maker that offers hardness & micrographic inspection, and the fact that 'Pigeon' hasn't kept up simply proves my point.

    What he actually said was, he'll throw your brass on an annealing machine, cook the crap out of it, won't do even sizing testing to see if his time/temp was correct in the slightest, and he doesn't have any knowledge of how to determine when brass is correctly annealed.
    He doesn't care, it's not his brass he's potentially ruining, but he's willing to ruin yours for free...

    And he's said there is no point in taking advantage of 125 years of scientific gains, or use ANY testing procedure at all, not even simple case sizing measurements.


    I steer people away from AMP machines,
    I owned one, I used & evaluated it, its expensive for what it is, it's complicated, and it's trouble prone.
    The link above is simply to show that 'Pigeon' is way behind the times and there are people like myself that do micrographs to determine if the annealing is correct for the application.

    It's a high powered electro-magnetic induction machine that uses a ferrite core to focus the magnetic field.
    Anyone with a hobby knowledge of electronics can make one from eBay parts for 1/5 the cost.
    It's WAY overpowered, no time to allow brass to reconstitute/recover.
    Last edited by JeepHammer; 1 Week Ago at 15:55.

  7. #17

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    Now, taking advantage of 150 years of science & scientific tools,

    This is a video from L.E. Wilson on using a Datum Line case gauge.

    This will NOT tell you if the sides of the case are bloated, that's not what it's for.
    This provides an analog for the Datum Line (shoulder surface) in your chamber.
    It also incorporates a Datum Length minimum/maximum safety limits from SAAMI, and a case over all length minimum/maximum safety from SAAMI.

    It's also a pretty handy final QC check gauge for loaded rounds.
    Let's you know if excessive criming buckled the case shoulder bend, the bullet seating rolled the mouth lip, other issues that sometimes happen.


    Datum Length is the correct term for shoulder set back measurement.
    Head Space is in the chamber ONLY, it's bolt face to Datum Line (shoulder) inside the chamber.
    Headspace gauges fit into the chamber and will not measure case Datum Length.
    Screwing up these terms by the ill-informed is so common many novice level reloaders haven't even heard the term Datum Length...

    Using a caliper & a Datum Length case gauge you can accurately measure cases very precisely,
    And like I said, when your cases come out of the annealing and resize with a high degree of accuracy (without being over cooked) you have your timing correct.


    This isn't directly related to annealing, but comes into play when your resized brass doesn't quite want to chamber and everyone tells you to get 'Small Base' dies, or worse yet, 'Cam Over' (excessively hard on press linkage) your press to try and get the brass to fit the chamber.

    This is a case profile gauge, it's cut away so you can actually see how the case walls are formed in comparison to a properly sized SAAMI chamber.

    Sheridan Engineering - Slotted Ammunition Gauges

    This is the professional gauge/tool when case/chamber interference problems crop up.
    Rifles like the Ruger Amercan, particularly in .308 Win have a SAAMI minimum chamber, so the dies have to make SAAMI minimum brass to fit the rifle correctly.
    It usually turns out to be $30 'All In One' sizing dies that don't/can't make SAAMI minimum brass, so guys sacrifice the shoulder/datum length to get the side walls pushed back in enough to chamber...

    With a high precision chamber, they should probably be using a body sizing die, then a shoulder/neck die to make the brass fit, but you won't find that die set for $30...
    Last edited by JeepHammer; 6 Days Ago at 09:40.

  8. #18
    Master Hohn's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeepHammer View Post
    Giraud machine with induction annealer (Annie) and 3 I built myself.
    I don't use flame annealers, not enough control on fine brass.

    I also have a Rockwell hardness tester, and I can do cross sectioning, sample mounting and micrographs if what's what you are into.

    If you haven't beat the living crap out of the brass it can be recovered between 85% & 95% without expensive micrograph samples.


    If you want a low budget, but dead accurate annealing method,
    Lead pot, an accurate way to measure temp, and a media like glass beads or small steel shot.
    With a paddle of some kind, with proper size holes to wedge the brass in, you can do half dozen at a time.
    This allows for proper proper time factor along with precise temp control, an extremely accurate anneal this way with a little practice.

    If you are interested in this I can tell you how to determine the correct time in the media without time consuming and expensive micrographs.


    What are you talking about for piece count?
    Jeep, have you tried the salt bath annealing approach?

    I saw a video on the salt bath method using a Lee lead melting pot, and it looked a great way for a home user to get quality results without a flame and without dropping $2200 on an AMP machine.

  9. #19
    Master Hohn's Avatar

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    Also, did you etch your micrograph with 2% Nital? I wasn't sure if Nital was only used on ferrous alloy micrographs.

  10. #20

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    Salt does a good job, but it's MUCH more dangerous.
    Molten liquid by itself is dangerous, but use elemental salts and REALLY bad things can happen,
    From corroding lungs to explosions when contaminants are introduced.

    Keep in mind another complete cleaning is needed when you use salt, which increases work load.

    Nitric acid based etchants work well on cartridge brass, and they will give you a reasonable stain at the same time.
    I'm not doing polarized light inspection, so the nitric acid based concoction I use works pretty well.
    I don't care about crystal or grain orientation, just size & spacing, I'm not using it for a coating material, I'm using the entire case.

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