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Thread: What Causes a Shoulder Crush?

  1. #1

    What Causes a Shoulder Crush?

    Or how do I prevent it? Resizing the .38-40, never had a crushed shoulder before. I've throughly cleaned the inside of the die. I've wiped the lube off the case. Now 100% of the cases are getting the very same crush indentation.Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Boolit Master Boolit_Head's Avatar
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    That looks strange, not like any shoulder crush I've seen before. That is usually from seating and crimping. This looks more like a hydraulic dent from case lube but you said you cleaned them. Am i seeing this right that is a crease fore to aft of the case from sizing? I am guessing during cleaning the die you inspected it looking for a obvious cause there.

    Just on the outside chance have you checked case length to see if they need trimming?
    On every question of construction let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.

    Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823

  3. #3
    I've certainly inspected the inside of the die, sized, observed the crush, cleaned and inspected again and got the crushed case again. It's a real puzzler to me.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Boolit_Head's Avatar
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    That is making me think there is excess metal in the shoulder that has to go somewhere. By chance got a case from a different batch? maybe it will act differently.
    On every question of construction let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.

    Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823

  5. #5
    These cases have been resized in these dies using the same lube without being crushed. Same components, new problem.

    I've seen this kind of a crush on .270 cases, but only a small percentage of the cases were crushed. Now 100% of the .38-40 cases are crushed the same.

    I'm duplicating the problem 100% of the time. It's a new problem I can't figure out.

  6. #6
    Forgive me as I blather on...

    The .38-40 chamber doesn't support the shoulder so fired cases expand the shoulder forward and shorten the neck. Resizing the .38-40 reshapes the neck back to its longer specifications and reforms the shoulder back lower on the case.

    I loaded these cartridges with very old 700X. The powder doesn't reach the same velocities as new 70X. I've loaded these .38-40 a little light because this old 700X may be a little unstable.

  7. #7
    Starline brass, Redding dies, RCBS pump spray case lube. Shooting lead home cast boolits of course out of a 3rd Gen Colt's SAA. The press is a Rockchucker.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I am fairly certain I have seen dies with a tiny pinhole drilled in the shoulder area, and assumed it was there to relieve any built up air pressure on cases that may seal on the case body and neck simultaneously. Is there a chance your dies have this hole and it's plugged?

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I was thinking that if all else is OK, then maybe it is the brass case stretching out over time from multiple shots fired. The metal gets more thin. Then when you resize it the excess brass has to flow somewhere and it causes the dent to occur.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Change how you are lubing the case. Appears to be clear sign of lube denting. Lube dents occur on the shoulder just as pictured.

  11. #11
    I'm using lighter fluid on a patch on a jag to clean the lube off the inside of the die and a terry cloth rag to clean the lube off the case. Still getting th the shoulder dent.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Never lube the neck/shoulder, only the base/cylindrical part of the case.
    Wet a finger and swirl it around the base, thats all you need.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master OS OK's Avatar
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    Have you tried backing the size die out a turn, sizing and checking the case in a case gage? or your cylinder...
    Maybe your pushing too much brass back and possibly too far. Could need annealing also.
    a m e r i c a n p r a v d a

    Be a Patriot . . . expose their lies!

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  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Jack Hammer View Post
    I'm using lighter fluid on a patch on a jag to clean the lube off the inside of the die and a terry cloth rag to clean the lube off the case. Still getting th the shoulder dent.
    Does the sizer die have the vent hole as described by Dubber and is it plugged with old hardened case lube, a needle and some spray brake cleaner may fix it.
    Hell, I was there!

  15. #15
    I've eliminated the shoulder crush by twisting a lighter fluid soaked patch on a jag in the die. Previously I'd just run the patch up and down the die. It needed a more vigorous cleaning.

    There is no vent hole. Thanks guys

  16. #16
    17nut, thank you

  17. #17
    Boolit Master gnostic's Avatar
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    I've seen similar crushed cases when sizing 223 military cases to 221 fireball. I'd back my sizing or trim die off a bit and see if the cases will chamber.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master


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    In over 55 years, I've never experienced a dent like that, but will now know what to look for if I do.
    That's how, even us seniors, learn and solve problems.
    Thanks to all who contributed.
    Information not shared. is wasted.

  19. #19
    I've been loading for 40 years, what's important is to have a source such as castboolits for when I've got a head scratcher. There's a certain amount of anxiety that arises when faced with the unknown along with damage to your components. Glad help is here.

    I've cleaned the begebers out of the inside of the die with lighter fluid and thrown the cases back in the tumbler for an good cleaning and polishing. Next resizing session will follow 17nuts advice.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master


    Larry Gibson's Avatar
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    Are you sure there's not a vent hole under the lock ring?

    That's where it is on my RCBS 44-40 FL die.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
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LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check