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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone know the temperature required to anneal gaschecks? I'm doing it the old fashioned way, putting the checks in a piece of pipe and throwing it into the fireplace. But don't like having to boil them in vinegar, then tumbling to finish cleaning them. Would boiling them in plain water get them hot enough to take the temper out of them?
 

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Pourboy
  I believe about 900 degrees F is what it takes to anneal copper gas checks. I used to put them in a small cast iron pot cover thm with a lid put them in my lead pot and heat them up before dumping them into a bucket of water. Now I put yhem in an old discarded cast iron skillet,heat them red hot with a acetyline torch or with a throwaway propane torch and dump them in a bucket of water.I used to try making them all shiny and spic and span,but now ijust dry them out and use them.They look like #### with the fires turned off, but who is going to see thm any way?
tbc
 

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Discussion Starter #3
TBC- Doesn't water quenching your  hot gaschecks retemper them? I air cool them both after annealing and after boiling in vinegar.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Copper alloys can be cooled either fast or slow and the annealing still works.

Not true for most (all?) iron/steel alloys, they must cool slowly to anneal.
 

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Pourboy
from what I've read and experienced, copper does not go back to its origial state when quenched. I do not know any thing about boiling copper in vinegar although I know vinegar takes off oxide on copper and brass. I do not get hung up on polishing gas checks. They work if they are all shiny and spiffed up or not, and that is what counts with me.Thanks for answering back,I really appreciate it.
tbc
 

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Because I'm lazy and don't like making work for myself. I'll heat the gas checks up to red hot in a garage sale skillet and dump them on a sheet of aluminum to cool.
They are cool by the time get back with my cup of coffee.
Jim
 

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Correct on the copper quenching guys,

Fast or slow cooling doesn't matter, they will be annealed.

I'm always heating hard copper tubing with a torch until it's a dull red and either quench it with a wet rag or just let it air cool.

Sometimes it's easier to do that and bend it around corners than sweat on a 45 or an elbow. <!--emo&:)--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=':)'><!--endemo-->

Just like a brass cartridge case, the copper will harden back up again in time or from vibration or constant forming.


Regards, Ray
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'd have never guessed it, guys. I always (until now) believed that if you heat metal and then quench it, it would harden. Any idea how long annealed gaschecks would stay soft?
 

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Pourboy
 AS I get it , annealed copper or  copper alloys will stay pretty much annealed until they have been work- hardened . Dont worry about annealed gas checks getting hard, anneal them,and use them.Enjoy
  tbc
 

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It may seem obvious to everyone who has commented, correctly or not, but the entire discussion has been how to anneal gaschecks.  The real question is WHY!!!  I have only been casting & shooting gas check bullets for 40+ years and have never felt a need to anneal the gaschecks or seen in any published material any mention of why this would be beneficial, including the Beartooth Technical Manual (as well as I can recall) or Veral Smiths very useful book.

Just for the record, copper and its alloys will be annealed to as soft a condition as possible by heating to a dull red heat, aprox. 900 degrees F.  Copper alloys are hardened only by working.  Quenching, ageing etc. have no effect.  The principal reason for quenching copper alloys is that this breaks up and loosens the scale formed when the metal was heated.  Adding a mild acid, such as vinegar, to the quench will assist this action.  If you have any doubts, I suggest researching this in technical literature available at the library or by asking a metallurgical engineer.  

I am sure, and will verify with Lyman and Hornady if possible, that the material from which they make gas checks is received by them in an annealed state.  Punching will only harden the extreme rim and the one cupping operation will hardly cause significant work hardening.  Cartridge cases during the manufacturing operations go through much more severe forming than gas checks and they are only annealed after several operations have been performed.  Then the annealing is done at a very precise temperature to achieve specific hardness/strenght requirements. We're back to the original question of WHY!

I know some of you will be offended, but too much of what I see posted here is guesswork which many who are even less knowledgable will consider as authoritative.  I have actually seen answers posted, to paraphrase, that basically have said "I don't have any experience or knowledge on the subject, but I am going to give an opinion anyway".  This is why I finally felt a need to say something.  Please, don't make a post just to see your name on the forum.  I wish Marshall had been the one to say this.
 

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cb hunter
 Okay, I'll not reply to you .but to any one who is interested, THE CAST BULLET(which is the official journal for the CAST BULLET ASSN.)has for a long time championed the annealing of gas checks.I use annealed gas checks on my Quench-Annealed hunting bullets.And what are Quench -Annealed bullets?Ask me and I'll tell you.Wouldn't think of putting my ideas on tkis site  without an invitation.Did you say you've been casting for 40 years?Wellll, I've been casting since 1946 and I am still learning. Slow learner
   tbc
 

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That is all well and good about the CB Assn, and I agree that we can still learn things which is why I put out the money for both the Beartooth and LBT books.  It still didn't answer the basic question of WHY!  Other than adding another probably unnecessary step to an already complicated and time consuming operation, what is supposedly to be gained?  I feel free to assume that if the authors of either of these manuals saw a benefit to be gained that there would have been some mention made of it.  The entire question was WHY?  You still did not even address that.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Since you asked... I anneal gaschecks to eliminate the very real problem of seating gaschecks uniformly. It is easily possible to seat a gascheck crooked, often as a result of contact between the 'check and the sprue. Also, I have several moulds in each caliber, as most casters do. Check shank diameters vary, even between cavities in two cavity moulds. My experience has been that a soft gascheck is more likely to seat uniformly on the shanks. Also, I have a Star sizer and size bullets nose first. Unless your Star top punches are very close to bullet diameter, you're likely to bend the gascheck around the punch slightly when you size. I have several size punches, but find annealing is a big benefit too. Even in my Lyman sizers, gaschecks can seat slightly off center. I believe this is due to the fact that most of my Hornady checks are slightly concave on the bottoms, due to the manufacturing method. Annealed checks just fit better for me and are easier to size. I also seem to have fewer fliers with loads that use annealed checks, so there may be something there too.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Good answer, and I'll build on that with a few remarks.

First, we must consider the functions of a gas check, and how they might be affected by annealing.

A gas check replaces the bullet base with a cap of a different metal, which brings different properties with it.  It's harder than lead, for reduced lead fouling (good), but that same hardness might make it more difficult for the bullet base to obturate and perfectly seal the bore (bad).  So, with an annealed check, we might create a better gas seal for a longer distance down the bore.

Another function of the check is that it completely replaces the bullet base, so the dimesions of the check are critical to accuracy.  An out-of-round bullet base isn't helpful to accuracy!  We know this.  So... if the check is softer, AND the sizing process takes advantage of this, then we can potentially have a more square bullet base.  

I read an article by Ross Seyfried in G&A several years ago where he was trying to shoot MOA groups at 100 yards with a .45 Colt revolver.  One of the steps was to anneal the gas check, and with the sizer specially modified to bear only on the very outside edge of the check, and try to create the most consistent base possible.

Probably not too many of us could really prove whether this works or not, but it certainly could do no harm and might potentially help a bit.

Or, as noted, we can just anneal them to make life easier by reducing the effort of running the handle on the bullet sizing press!

Any other thoughts?
 

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Very good comments, Gents.

A small observation I might add would be that there would tend to be less "springback" of the annealed/softer check after it is run through the bullet sizing die. I have seen circumstances that have shown a check diameter run as much as .001" larger than the actual bearing surface diameter of the sized bullet after going through the sizer die.

I have an LBT mould that drops a bullet at or slightly over .357" with certain alloys. Passing the bullet through my Star sizer with a 358" sizer die is enough to lube it properly but some checks do not fully grip the the bullet base and others do. Annealing checks to lessen the springback of the cup sides will most likely be just enough to lessen springback for the checks to grab every base securely.

Going to try this on the next batch.

That's what this whole ball of wax is about, experimentation (the responsible kind) and sharing observations and methods with other handloaders. Some are right and some can be wrong. Some work and other methods don't. It's all part of the enjoyment of the hobby that up until the advent of the internet, I persued alone due to very few people engaged in it around me and where I live.

I want to say that I enjoy every little nugget of info from all you guys here whether it works or not. It is the responsibility of the user of this info to find out this for himself and use good judgement.

Anyone is welcome to post here for that reason so long as the exchange is cordial and doesn't degenerate into personal attacks. Think of this forum as an extension of the lobby of a gun shop or cracker barrel in the old General store with a group of friends chewing the fat over the subject of guns and handloading in general and sharing info and experiences with one another. You can't put a price on that.

This is a very valuable resource we have here.

Lastly a note to lurkers/newbies, feel free to post here any questions or comments you might have to the appropriate thread. There are no stupid questions only people wanting to learn more about this wonderful hobby.

Regards, Ray

(Edited by Contender at 11<!--emo&:0--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=':0'><!--endemo-->5 am on Dec. 8, 2001)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
As an addendum to Rays (Contender) last post directed to lurkers and newbies, I'd like to add that the only stupid question there could possibly   be, is the one not asked. Actually, basic questions help keep the "old hands" on the ball. There are new developments daily, and talking about them is the best way to perpetuate learning for all involved.
 

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Pourboy,

Looks like I got several people going on this.  I appreciate you being first to take the ball and answer the question!  While we're at it, just because I am new to the forum doesn't mean I am a "newbie".  I have been in this from all angles for the past 40+ years as I said.  I made my first bullet mould in 1959, and am currently modifying production moulds to hollowpoint if anyone is interested.  But, back to the question.

I will never argue with anyone who believes anything helps to make shooting more accurate, fun, whatever.  I do reserve the right to question if what works for you is, in fact, necessary or productive in a way such as we may generalize about.  One of the above answers mentiones "springback".  Certainly this is considered to be a problem, but consider two things which may contribute to this "problem". First, is the check shank properly sized for this brand of checks?  Second, don't forget that the bullet and check are sized to an even greater degree by passage through the barrel!  If the check is fully seated on the shank at the time of loading the pressure of firing will certainly force it firmly against the base of the bullet between the case mouth and the origin of rifling where it will be crimped firmly, again.  You mention unexplained fliers, it is possible that if the check didn't fit the shank properly that the check may come off after the bullet leaves the barrel.  Lyman in it's older books stated the belief that if the check came off after barrel exit that it had done it's job and this was not a problem.  I think all of you will agree that if this happens it can cause accuracy problems which would be totally random.

This is not directed by anyone in particular, but while we are about it there is a word which I have seen used incorrectly in every cast bullet article and in every publication gun related.  That word is OBTURATE!  A bullet expanding under pressure to fit the bore of a gun is NOT OBTURATING!  Call it what you want, bumping slugging, whatever, but the RESULT of these is OBTURATION, a sealing up or closing.  This is the way it is defined in Webster (the dictionary) and used in reference to artillery.  To be accurate, in every cartridge firearm the cartridge case is an obturator, which, coincidentally, it does by expanding under pressure.

This is for everyone.  In your answer you mentioned several things which you believed that annealing of the gas check improved or covered for.  The first was raised sprues.  That should be corrected by your casting technique wnd can be caused by improperly striking off the sprue, allowing the bullet to cool to too hard a state, or if you are using a eutectic alloy which has very little of a moderately soft state between the liquidus and solidus.  There are too many references to mention, but start with the Lyman Handbook of Cast Bullets.  

Concerning annealing letting the check stretch to accommodate a too large check shank, is this real or is your sizing die starting to crimp the check before it is fully seated?  Either can obviously the case.  Using a "gas check seater" on Lyman, RCBS, or Saeco sizers may help here.  Over the years I have encountered the same problems and have resolved them by casting and check seating technique.

You and all others on this forum may be aware of the following, but, for those who are not I would like to mention some articles which may be helpful.  These are: "Concentric Lubri-sizing" by Ed Wosika posted on Sixgunner.com/guest speakers.  The second is also by d Wosika and is on the Hanned Line web site, Hanned.com and is titled "Lubri-sizer Sizing Dies Technotes".  The last describes a source and a modification to production sizing dies which avoids the pre-mature crimping problem and assists in concentric sizing of the bullet.

Just to help establish my bonafides, I have been able to get a .35 Remington at just 2'' at 200 yds. with a cast bullet (RCBS .35-200GC) as well as two of my Marlins in the 1" area at 100 yds (Lyman 429421, what else?).  Lube was NRA.  I must be doing something right, except for selling both of these rifles.  Their replacements have been OK, but not quite so good! (They doubted Elmer too, FWIW)

Finally, again for everyone, if annealing gaschecks works for you, by all means continue.  I have doubts that the result can be as consistent as the checks are when received.  The above groups, which were repeated more than once, were with Hornady checks used as received.  Sorry for the length. This one I'll leave alone after this!!
 

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C B Hunter
  Well, we certainly agree on one thing and that is the use of the word OBTURATE.to say "obutrate the bullet " is like saying "plugging up the cork"
It is good to know some one agrees with you on somethig"
  Have you  had any luck using castvbullets for hunting big game: deer, elk etc? I have had very good luck for may ,many years and I cant see why more hunters dont use cast bullets.
  tbc
 

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Discussion Starter #19
C B Hunter- First of all, no one said or implied anything about your experience in casting or shooting, or any one elses for that matter. I don't see where you could have possibly taken offense. My last post was a general invitation to anyone who had a question or comment to please jump in. Lurkers can ask some pretty interesting questions sometimes. Plus, we like to talk here. That's what we're here for. Conversation, you know. As far as the annealing goes. Annealed checks seem to work better for me, I feel my accuracy is better, and I find it easier to seat checks and size bullets when the checks are annealed. I feel I went into enough detail earlier, and will spare everyone a rehash. As far as check selection, there are two common choices. Lyman slip on, and Hornady crimp on. I don't like slip fit checks, especially on rifle cartridges. They make me nervous. I use Hornady checks exclusively. And I anneal every one of them. And I am also aware that casting technique can be altered to change the base of the bullet. If anyone is interested, please start a new topic, and we can talk about this. I feel this topic is about exhausted.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Well, I've sure learned a lot.  We are fortunate to have some very experienced cast bullet shooters on the board, and a polite discussion as well.  Thanks to everyone's input.  I'll watch my use of "obturate!"
 
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