View Full Version : Junk yard case annealer

05-01-2005, 11:43 PM
Some of my Starline brass is hard and not sealing well under low black powder pressure. It's time to anneal to soften it and extend the life of the cases. I don't know how many here do anneal, but thought it might be of interest. I went through my junk pile and assembled a semi auto case annealer. Total cost was under $50.00 and over $45.00 of that was for new propane torches. I gave it a trial run tonight and after a bit of adjusting, I think it will work great. I still have to make a cradle to hold the torches correctly but that won't be to hard.

If the photos I took tonight come out, I'll post them late tomorrow on my web site, www.castingstuff.com Look under case annealer on the lower part of the opening page. I will also show how to make one. It will require a lathe and mill, but with a small modification, could be done on a drill press instead of a mill with some careful drilling.

Some of the parts of this thing have been in my junk collection for over 30 years waiting for a home. Must be caused by growing up on a farm and not throwing out any that you "might need" some day. My wife will hate to hear this (hates my "useless junk" collection).

05-02-2005, 04:03 PM
Photos have been posted.

05-02-2005, 09:07 PM

As always another fine product . Thanks for the pictures .


Wayne Smith
05-03-2005, 08:04 AM
Thanks, but I think I'll stick with my lead pot.

05-03-2005, 09:19 PM
I guess you gotta be smarter than the computer, and as usual, I failed the test!
I can't find your pics of the annealing product. But I do have to say, looking around your site, you have some cool stuff...and yes *sigh* I'll probably be spending some of my money THERE too!

But I would appreciate some help finding this thing.

05-04-2005, 12:03 AM
Go down the opening page until you reach the "reference pages" (small black type). Right under the large red "new" is "case annealing" (large blue type) Just click on it.

05-04-2005, 08:26 AM
Now that you point it out, it seems to be glareing at me! I don't know how I missed it. But that's ok, it made me search around your site. Great site btw!

Also, cool annealer! Thanks!

05-04-2005, 08:45 AM
Gussy, great 'farm boy' solution to a problem that has plagued the masses for centuries. Typically overbuilt for extended long term use, minimal maintenance, and no break downs. That stuff out behind the barn does eventually come in handy for something. Doesn't it? sundog

05-06-2005, 03:05 PM
I posted this on a couple of forums and it was pointed out that when I was done annealing, a fork could be added, move the torches up, and roast dinner!

Ken O
05-06-2005, 07:37 PM
Do you have a bucket of water to drop them in when they come off the rotissary? I dont see it in the photo.
I used to anneal '06 cases by setting them neck up in a cake pan with an inch of water. Take a propane torch and heat the neck, and when it starts to get a glow, use the torch head to knock it over into the water.
Many would hold the case in their bare hand, heat the neck with a torch, and when it gets too hot to handle, toss it in a bucket of water.
I moved from the .30 calibers to a .223 for High Power and Long range competitons, so I get enough reloads that I dont think of annealing anymore.

05-06-2005, 08:56 PM
Ken, if the base of the case never goes over, say, 200 degrees F, then there is no need to cool the case. Once you are over a certain temperature to anneal, only that part of the case over that temperature will anneal. With real short cases using a wide mouthed flame thrower it would be safe to throw the cases into something cold, like water, or a snow bank if you live above the MasonDixon line.

Annealing is a function of time at annealing temperature. The more time, the more the annealing takes place. You will notice that rifle cases in particular almost never crack inside the neck (at first), and only on the outside. This is because annealing takes place on the inside of the neck with every shot, but this annealing takes place only for a fraction of a New York second. ... felix

05-06-2005, 09:14 PM
Ken, I'm using a small flame and only hitting the neck area. With 2 torches hitting it, it is under the hottest part of the fire for less than 2 seconds (this is rotating and the fire is not in one spot). Not long enough for the annealing to go down the case. I could pick up the case, by the base, as soon as it fell out with bare fingers.

With this type of annealing, the case gets fairly equal flame all the way around the neck. When doing it as you did, I had trouble getting it even.

Ken O
05-07-2005, 07:38 AM
Gus, what I was getting at, is the annealing process has been discussed on a lot of competition forums, it was always asked why to quench them in water immediatly. The answer was that brass is the opposite of steel, if it is heated and let cool slowly, it would actually work harden, just like when shooting (the brass gets hot from fireing and allowed to cool on the ground, which hardens it), and if heated and quenched, it aneals. Where steel is heated and allowed to cool slowly it aneals,and if quenced it hardens.
I'm no metelugist, so maybe over the years this was missimformation put on the forums, but if correct, you are actually hardening the way your doing it unless they drop in to a bucket of water.
And of course you want to keep the base of the cartrige from any anealing. Maybe there is a metalurgist or someone in the know on here that can comment, I would like to know for sure. Ken

05-07-2005, 09:53 AM
Ken, copper is the funny duck here, not the zinc component in cartridge brass.

Copper does not really connect electronically/magnetically to anything like zinc, lead, tin, antimony, arsenic, etc. Copper will float to the top in time. Therefore, making an alloy with copper in a batch of these metals is very time dependent (unless the alloy is made in outer space, et. al.). That is why babbits containing copper have to be handled in certain ways, and cannot be melted without certain rules for the handling of the babbit, such as when re-melting to cast bearings.

However, copper and zinc are closer together in weight, if you will, and that is a good reason to alloy these two constituents. Besides, both elements are fairly tough in their own right and will work OK for cartridge brass when together. The downside, as you know, is the zinc which reacts readily with water. For example, never let a case stand in water. Keep this brass moving when washing, and then dry quickly when done. Other wise you will get a orange water spot where the water was stationary for some time, indicating the zinc had been stolen away at that point. All this talk is hopefully helping you to visualize that copper and its normal alloys are mechanically bonded, rather than chemically or magnetically.

Heating a cartridge case will distribute the two elements more evenly, but never will it make the case new again because of the gravity effect. That is why you want to hurry up the job and keep the case below annealing temperature except where you have to have the "softening" occur. Again, annealing temperature is where the two elements are allowed to move within their self imposed lattice. Hotter the temperature, the faster the movement. Nothing more can be easily said. ... felix

05-07-2005, 11:12 AM
Yes, on second thought, I can add a little more. Take gas checks and place them into an oven at 300 degrees for an hour. Just turn the oven off with the door closed until room temperature. The checks will be dead soft.

OK, in time any alloy will reach a steady-state. This goes for any alloy, including steel. Softer alloys when first made will get harder, and harder alloys when made will get softer. The time to reach steady-state is dependent on all the variables you can possibly think of.

If you don't want your cartridge brass or gas checks to get a burnt look, enclose them with something that will burn which takes away the oxygen. An enclosed pipe loaded with the copper stuff and newspaper will work. Throw the pipe in the barbeque fire and let cool naturally. It's the oxygen that makes the copper component change colors. Burning the paper will take away the oxygen and combine it with carbon.

By the way, cartridge brass won't be shootable if annealed in a pipe as indicated in the above paragraph. The base of the brass will be far too soft.

... felix

05-10-2005, 01:36 PM
When I went to the large 45 cases, I had to go to three torches and they were a pain to adjust. I just picked up a speed control and I think that will solve the problem. 2 torches on the big cases weren't quite getting the temp needed.

05-10-2005, 04:03 PM
Gussy, yes, install three burners, and install very thin nozzles on them. You want very localized and intense heat for the shortest time possible. Might experiment with propane for the added heat when using needle nozzles. You've done an excellent job when the crimp area looks burnt like a military 223 case. The case bottom area should be or almost holdable by hand after immediately torching the case opening.

For added control, you might try adding some water in the bottom of the cases. If you see boiling water during the process, then go faster. ... felix

Ken O
05-11-2005, 10:24 PM
Felix, if I get what you are saying, when I used to use the cake pan method, there was no reason to knock them over into the water, correct?

05-11-2005, 11:45 PM
That's a 10-4, Ken. Just make sure the water is high enough to keep the case cool where you want to maintain case strength. Where the water starts to boil is where the softening is just beginning, so don't let boiling start. Use one case in the water at a time if you are being critical, so the water won't approach boiling. Better yet, like in photography, running water is perhaps best. ... felix