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  #1  
Old 08-15-2001, 12:49 PM
Jack Monteith's Avatar
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 Balloon head cases are mostly ancient history now, but there's still a few around. They have a thin base, no thicker than the rim, with a bump in the middle for the primer. Compare this with a modern case, called the solid head type, with a base about twice as thick as the primer. They are weaker than modern cases. I don't know when they quit making them, but it probably was before World War II.

  There's a semi-balloon head type too. I'm not certain about what the difference is, but Elmer Keith didn't recommend them for reloading either.

  One of the guys was shooting some in .455 Webley at the club last week when one separated right at the rim. It had a D.C.Co. head stamp (Dominion Cartridge Company, old Canadian brand). The bullet was still in the case and there was no harm done to the gun or shooter. He's using a very heavy bullet and a very light charge to compensate for the bullet.

  We inspected the rest of the D.C.Co. cases for a stress line, such as we see on .303 cases, a quarter inch ahead of the rim. They all looked good, so he went back shooting and has another one separate. That one it parted right at the rim too and there was no stress line visible.

 His .455 cases with a Dominion (newer than D.C.Co.) headstamp have solid heads. These are actually .455 Colt cases, which is the same as the .455 Webley Mk I.

 Reloaders shyed away from hot loading the .45 Colt for years because the first cases had balloon heads. The black powder SAA Colts can't take these loads either. I'm not sure about the later SAAs.

Bye
Jack
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  #2  
Old 08-29-2001, 03:10 AM
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Jack,
 Thanks for the "heads up" on this style of case. I will keep watch when I do start to reload. I am still waiting for my ATT permit so I can pick up my .455 colt, but the first box of shells I am going to use is from Fioche. I  am not sure what type of case they use, but will inspect them before any reloading is done.
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  #3  
Old 08-29-2001, 06:27 AM
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Modern Fiocci shells will surely be of the solid-head design.  I don't believe that Fiocci has been making the .455 shells anywhere near long enough to have used the old technology.  If it's USA production (Ozark or Nixa, Missouri, don't remember which town) then definitely it's new stuff.  Should reload fine.
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  #4  
Old 08-29-2001, 07:27 AM
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Hi, Snowman:
* I wouldn't worry about new Fiocci cases. These D.C.Co. cases are probably pre world War II. They are gun show pickups and had been reloaded several times before failing.

* I'd check cases with older headstamps like REM-UMC, WRA & WESTERN for ballon heads, in any pistol calibre, just to be safe.

  Ask Bedlam on the Miramichi to fax your ATT to the local cop shop. Works for me.  

Bye
Jack

(Edited by Jack Monteith at 8:33 am on Aug. 29, 2001)
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  #5  
Old 09-26-2001, 11:44 AM
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Jack , I finally have my gun home. I hope to get to the range this weekend to fire off some fiocci ammo that I picked up. Just one question, there sems to be a bit of excess headspace, approxametly one half of the rim thickness. Should this be of concern to me or am I just letting my lack of expirience get the better of me?
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  #6  
Old 09-26-2001, 08:48 PM
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Hi, Snowman:
&nbsp; Glad to hear you've finally got your gun. I'm not going to say anything more about the CFC <!--emo&:angry:--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mad.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=':angry:'><!--endemo-->.

&nbsp; The only thing I've got on revolver headspace is the Kuhnhausen S&amp;W shop manual. It's .006-.012&quot;. I would think that you should be able to get a feeler gauge in between the recoil plate and a case head and see what it is. I don't know how much over .012&quot; would be safe for a low pressure cartridge like the .455.

&nbsp; Case heads are pretty thin on the Webleys. I've got several variants in my cartridge collection. Most are .036-.039&quot; but one is only .031&quot;. Perhaps Fiocci speced them on the thin side.

&nbsp;It more likely that you've got some cylinder endshake. Can you move the cylinder back and forth any? Often endshake results in a very small cylinder - barrel gap, say under .003&quot;. Anyhow, check it out and see what you come up with.

&nbsp;If you've got an .030&quot; rim and headspace of half that, you're at .015&quot;, which isn't much over spec.

&nbsp;Some of my friend's Dominion .455 cases are balloon heads too. I'd be inclined to avoid them as well. The unfired factory stuff is in the collector category now, and you'll be lucky to find any that's cheap enough to shot.

Bye
Jack &nbsp; &nbsp;
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  #7  
Old 09-28-2001, 03:59 PM
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Thanks Jack.
I checked for cylinder end shake as you stated and it did increase the cylinder-barrel gap from .004&quot; to .005&quot;. I measured the rims on 10 different fiocci cases, the smallest being .035&quot; the largest being .038&quot; out of this group. Also with the .035&quot; rimmed case in the chamber I measured the headspace to be .010&quot;. &nbsp;
I now feel much better about taking this gun and firing it, thank you very much for the information.
&nbsp;
Harold.

p.s. I will have to wait until next week, but I will let you know how the gun performs.
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  #8  
Old 03-13-2002, 12:20 PM
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The final episode.

&nbsp; &nbsp; My friend dropped in on the weekend and asked me to pull the bullets on his last few .455 D.C.Co. case reloads. &nbsp;I've got one of those hammer type pullers and the collets aren't the best for rimmed cases, since there's nothing holding the case from coming out. &nbsp;In fact, one case bounced out when the bullet came loose. &nbsp;We did a couple more and another case bounced out and disappeared behind some boxes. &nbsp;Oh well, let's dump the bullet & powder and do the rest . &nbsp;Surprise ! The body of the case was still in the puller and the bullet was still seated in it. &nbsp;The head and rim broke off ! &nbsp;The metal on the body was burned half way round and the rest was crystalized. &nbsp;

&nbsp; &nbsp; Several gents have recommended using a shellholder instead of those collets and rubber bands in the hammer type pullers. &nbsp;They do work better on rimmed cases, but we didn't have the .455 holder here.

&nbsp; &nbsp; The oldtimers were right when they said balloon head cases were weak. &nbsp;

Bye
Jack
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  #9  
Old 03-14-2002, 08:19 PM
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Jack et al:

Just to clarify the matter of cartridge case heads and their proper nomenclature, let's go back to the beginning. (Just for the record, I didn't read all of the earlier posts, so someone may have covered this. *If so, I apologize.)

Balloon head:
A true balloon head case, also known as a folded head, was made entirely of thin metal and most resembled the current rimfires. *Some had a primer pocket bumped in and some had internal primers and actually look like rimfires. *These were the type which gave so much extraction difficulty in the Trapdoor Springfields in their early years.

Solid head (early type)(aka semi-balloon head):
This is the type which is now usually referred to as "Balloon head", and sometimes, even now, as a "Semi-balloon head" but really isn't either. This is the type Keith referred to as a Semi-balloon head because he was old enough to be exposed to the real Balloon head. &nbsp;Keith lived at a time in his earlier life when any of the three types could be encountered. *This, as Jack said, has a base only as thick as the rim with a protruding primer pocket. *Some early examples of this type had the letters S H included in the headstamp to differentiate them from true (considered, and actually, inferior) Balloon head cases. *Most of these cases do date back to the 30's with some Dominion .450 and .455 being much later, since this case is so short it was the only way to get any capacity.

Solid head:
What we can probably refer to as a "True Solid Head", cases as we know them now.

Going back to the early type solid head. *There are several problems with them which should put them out of the running for loading:

1) As Jack said, the head is only as thick as the rim which places the area of stretch and ultimate failure outside of the chamber. *When modern solid head cases fail (head separation) it occurs inside the chamber and usually causes no mischeif, even in a high-intensity rifle cartridge since the failure occurs in a place whenr there is a portion of the body still on the head which acts as a gas check. *Just for the record, this "gas check" is properly known as an "obturator".

2) There is a sharp corner at the case body/rim junction which is a stress riser. *If you have an old loaded cartridge and want to know if it is an old or modern type solid head, chech at the front of the rim. *Modern cases have an undercut in front of the rim and the old style have a sharp corner. *This sharp corner is probably the real cause for this type of case not being made since that sharp inside corner is formed by a sharp and delicate portion of the forming dies which would have a relatively short life as a result.

3) Most old style solid head cases date to the time of Mercuric primers, even if the charge was smokeless. *Mercury, even in very small quantities, forms an amalgam with many metals causing them to lose their ductility and resulting in embrittlement. *This, and #2 combine to abrogate theproblems already caused by reason #1.

As a result of the listed reasons, the old style, now usually referred to as balloon head, have a very short life, frequently only 2-3 loadings. *The only possible reason to use such brass is with black powder since they have much greater capacity than modern cases. *Even with black their life is short and when they do fail (I had one lose a head in a .44-40 with 40 gr. FFFg, even with solid ear plugs the result was about the same as firing a gun in a small room without hearing protection! This was in a replica '73 Win. carbine, thank goodness for safety glasses.) the effect is less than interesting.

In short (Too late&#33<!--emo&--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=''><!--endemo-->, don't use them for any reason, even brass which appears to be un-fired. *They do fail and it can be very serious. *Modern powders do not require nearly the capacity which most revolver/carbine class cartridges already have.[B]
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  #10  
Old 03-26-2002, 09:24 PM
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Hi, Alk:
&nbsp; &nbsp;Thanks for the backgrounder. &nbsp;I should have replied early, but got sidetracked and forgot about it.

&nbsp; &nbsp; I goofed up in an earlier post. &nbsp;ALL the Dominion cases are semi-balloon head, to use Elmer's definition. &nbsp; I've got a couple of .40-60 Winchesters by U.M.C. &nbsp;with the S H mark. &nbsp;The S is at 9 o'clock and the H is at 3 o'clock. &nbsp;The U.M.C. &nbsp;headstamp wasn't used after the merger with Remington in 1902.

Bye
Jack
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  #11  
Old 03-27-2002, 03:56 AM
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Jack Monteith

In your first post here you refered to the light band that appears on the case a quarter inch above the head.

Correct me if I am wrong here, but I don't believe you will find that ring, on that style of case, as the ring is caused by stretching of the brass at the point where the heavy base meets the thinner wall on the new style case. Since the balloon style case has no transition like that, it won't show up. I would look for a different sign of failure on a balloon case.
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  #12  
Old 03-27-2002, 07:48 AM
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Hi, Drifty:
&nbsp; &nbsp;You are correct. &nbsp;We didn't know as much about semi-balloon head cases then as we do now. &nbsp; Being Canadians, we are very familar with .303 British cases failures and the bright ring ahead of the rim, &nbsp;so that's the first thing we looked for. Yes, it was a learning experience.

Bye
Jack
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