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Discussion Starter #1
We all have heard the horror stories of major explosions, flying metal, blood on the benchrest, etc.! But....The problem is duplicating it in a controlled situation. I do know this...ONE REASON WW does not want you to reduce loads in Ball is the fact below a certain temp the varnish is not burned off well.We have all heard about powder not lighting off well until the bullet was in the barrel and then an explosion. Well, let me tell you it's hard to make happen in a controlled situation...no matter what they say.
So...What caused these early detonations. Most seemed to happen with the 4831 series powder with reduced charges, but not always. One bad one happened with IMR 4064 full power charge. What was different about this one...the loaded ammo had been riding in a metal bow in the back of a jeep all season! Well...Breaking down the loads showed the powder had been vibrated to the point it was breaking up and this put the pressure up, big time! It is a fact that if you took a normal load of IMR powder, broke each grain in half, you would have a bomb when you pulled the trigger. You would have doubled the burning rate! This lead many ballistic people to believe that the early detonations were caused by old brittle powder. This means that with a reduced load the powder was not flamed off good, was thrown against the shoulder, crumbled, and fired...pressure went through the roof! It also seemed that the location of the reduced load had something to do with it! Remember some of this surplus powder was twenty years old in the 60's, some even older, stored in heavy cardboard containers that allowed the solvents to dry out, and in hot military warehouses. It would now approach sixty years old! Also in double base powders the nitro get unstable in heat and age.
I've seen the nitro bleeding out of 20% dynamite in old storage sheds! Scary!!! So we now have some ideas of what happened...the answer is to keep your powder cool and don't go overboard on old IMR surplus powders. The old Ball powders seem OK. Just something to think about! Regards, james

(Edited by James Gates at 8:29 pm on Feb. 25, 2001)
 

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This thread will be easier to find later on if put into the handloading forum!

Many thanks, great post!

Marshall

<a href="http://beartoothbullets.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/topic.cgi?forum=2&topic=33" target="_self">Moved here</a>
 

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James, I remember these detonations very well. I was using the H4831 in a 244 Rem load. Purchased 16# @ .90 a lb. I still have 5-6lb in a steel DOT shipping container. It's been stored in my basement all these years and was last used in 1998. I'm not the least bit afraid of it because of the storage conditions. I had an old Hodgdons manual that advocated using the H4831 as a bulk powder for reduced loads. One in particular was fill up a case of it and seat a 500gr cast for a trapdoor Springfield load. Never used it in my Rolling Block, because I felt uneasy about that. Your explanation is new to me, but I don't remember all the accounts of it back then. I remember that has never been produced under lab conditions.
 I also know of a person that loaded up some 30-30 loads with IMR3031 powder and thru it under the truck seat for a back up occasion. Five or so years later he locked up a M94 with the first round he touched off. Pulled a few bullets and that powder was not recognizable. Definitely altered the burning rate in its journeys. When I read some of the internet posts in some forums on reloading, I dread the thoughts of accidents. Everyone believes the manuals are written by lawyers, so use old data because they allow more powder to be used.
 

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James, I ended up with a double post, but editting in this answer. I see the tumbler posts including 8 hours to make sure they're nice and polished. Appearence means nothing. I worry what's inside the case.


(Edited by RugerNo3 at 10:30 am on Mar. 5, 2001)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
RugerNo3...I'm not afraid of the old surplus 4831 either, in full loads! The problem is, no matter how we store it, we don't know what happened before we get it. I've seen many of these military storage "dumps".
You are also correct that it's hard, if not impossible, to duplicate to problem. Your note about the .30-30 just reaffirms my thoughts that there was some reasons for the powder to break down. My post was just to point out that it had happened, for whatever reason. Another thought...There never has been a proven case with RE type flake powder and really with Ball. It was always with long tubular powder. It must be traced to the break down in the tensile strength, for some reason? On the other hand we hear some a*s suggesting tumbling, or worse, viberating their "loaded ammo" to get lube, etc. off!!!! That's sure death and early resurrection! I tested a "fired" case with IMR 4350 and a bullet stuck in one time years ago in my Lyman(vibe)....the powder was almost broken down after a couple of hours, where Ball and flake showed little. Oh well..........!
Best Regards, James
 

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Ron Reiber, balastician for Hodgdon was quoted in "Handloader", "I have never been able to reproduce this condition in the lab with a rifle with a new barrel, but I have been able to do it with a barrel chambered for an over-bore cartridge that has a rough throat, like, say, a .243 Winchester that has been fired 500 times. You need both the recuced amount of slow-burning powder and a rough bore to make it happen, and that combination can raise pressure so high it will lock a rifle bolt shut."
 
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