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Thread: Difficult sizing after PC

  1. #1
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    Difficult sizing after PC

    Happy New Year!

    Last night I ran into a problem I never had before. After powder coating the boolits were much harder to size than I have ever experienced.

    The facts I can think of that might be important:

    1. Using a Star lubrisizer, sized to .401" with a Star/Magma die.
    2. Using Smoke's lube as always. Same color as in the past.
    3. Same mold as I have used many times before for PC - .40 RCBS 10MM-170-SWC
    4. Shake and bake with ASBBs
    5. Alloy: 20 lb COWW Since I was planning on PC I didn't add the 1/2 lb of Monotype that I usually do. These boolits should be softer than COWW+Monotype. The boolits sat around for a couple of weeks before PC/sizing so there was probably some age hardening. I have not tested hardness yet but I usually do not PC immediately after casting so they always have some resting time before coating. I'll try to do that later today.

    My typical experience has been that powder coated boolits size more easily than when using a wax based lube. This time they started out OK but got harder to size quickly. I eventually bent my roller handle's shaft that I made from stainless steel. (I know that stainless isn't generally as tough as carbon steel but it's what I had on hand at the time.) I considered the boolit stuck at that point and had to get it out. When it was finally pushed through, I took a Q-Tip and swabbed a touch of pure lanolin into the die. That helped immediately and by the third boolit they were sizing almost effortlessly. After 15-20 I had to renew the lanolin and repeated this cycle several times with great success but it really slowed production. If I wanted to go slow I could use my Lyman 450.


    The 'not quite a solution' was to spray Dillon case sizing lube on the remaining boolits. They sized with more resistance than when using pure lanolin bit I got through the batch of about 600 boolits. Some of the first boolits to be sized had a little conventional lube in the grooves so no doubt that was helping but once that was gone and the die was really dry is when the sizing got difficult. In the past I've PCed 9mm, .357, .40 and .45 and sized them all in the Star without issue.

    Any ideas?
    Sometimes life taps you on the shoulder and reminds you it's a one way street. Jim Morris

  2. #2
    Boolit Master MyFlatline's Avatar
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    Sounds like the die is gummed up. I use water as lube and it works great...

    Just my .02

  3. #3
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    I have had to clean my dies due to this also, I had to hammer one out and then after cleaning it was much better. I am not sure what the gunk is that builds up in the die but it does
    "Yes or no will almost always suffice as the answer"

  4. #4
    Boolit Master


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    Tonight one of the boolits in question tested a BHN of 11.8 using a Lee tester; about what I would expect from COWW. Thanks for the ideas, gentlemen.
    Sometimes life taps you on the shoulder and reminds you it's a one way street. Jim Morris

  5. #5
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    Try lightly misting your bullets prior to sizing with a 12-1 mix of 99% alcohol and lanolin.

  6. #6
    Boolit Mold fotonord's Avatar
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    I am using a light mist of drylube with teflon over the lot of bullets and then swirling light in container before sizing , then it all goes very smooooooth , ( sizing from .365 to ..357 )

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master fredj338's Avatar
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    How long did you let the bullets cure before sizing? I generally find sizing fine as long as the bullets didn't get too big with coating or sit too long & harden. I try to size in less than a week after casting & coating.
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  8. #8
    BULLET SIZING LUBE for HiTek coated boolits works great for PC'd boolits also had good results with spray case lube

    http://hi-performancebulletcoatings.com/sizing-lube/

    I like to give a fine polish to the mouth of my sizing dies.

    With soft alloy so can downsize a PC'd boolit over .008, harder alloy a bit less.

    I try to use multiple steps if I have to go more the 3 or 4 thou.

  9. #9
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    Remove and clean your sizing die very good then lightly lube it .. betting this will make a huge improvement
    I carry a Nuke50 because cleaning up the mess is Silly !!

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  10. #10
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    I spray my PCd boolits with wd40 before sizing. They slide right through.

  11. #11
    Boolit Bub Boomsticks Firearms's Avatar
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    I had this happen to once. I think it was because I did not let the pc cure long enough the first bullet went in harder than usual and I made the mistake of putting a second one in to size and I knew I should have put a sized one in instead but in a hurry to get it all done I pressed the second one in and it stopped flush at the top and there was no pushing it anymore. Once I did that I left it alone for a day. The next day I had to remove the die from the star sizer and drive them out with a brass punch. I checked the die didnít see nothing wrong with and then put the die back in and started sizing the bullets they sized fine but it did seem if I tried to go to fast that it seemed get a little harder because I think the die might have been getting a little to warm for the pc at least that is what I was kind of thinking.

  12. #12
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    All,

    The reason for my first post is that I have sized many thousands of powder coated boolits in my Star with noticeably reduced effort as compared to sizing with a conventional wax based lube. Suddenly PC boolits were very difficult to size.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonheart View Post
    Try lightly misting your bullets prior to sizing with a 12-1 mix of 99% alcohol and lanolin.
    As stated in my first post, that was my 'not quite a solution'. I have pure lanolin and HEET on hand but used some Dillon lube that is alcohol and lanolin based.

    Quote Originally Posted by fredj338 View Post
    How long did you let the bullets cure before sizing? I generally find sizing fine as long as the bullets didn't get too big with coating or sit too long & harden. I try to size in less than a week after casting & coating.
    Per the first post, about two weeks. I am well aware of age hardening but these boolits tested last night at 11.8.

    Quote Originally Posted by Conditor22 View Post
    BULLET SIZING LUBE for HiTek coated boolits works great for PC'd boolits also had good results with spray case lube

    http://hi-performancebulletcoatings.com/sizing-lube/

    I like to give a fine polish to the mouth of my sizing dies.

    With soft alloy so can downsize a PC'd boolit over .008, harder alloy a bit less.

    I try to use multiple steps if I have to go more the 3 or 4 thou.
    I've had Donnie coat some of my boolits when I lived close to him. HiTek is some slippery stuff! My boolits are not hanging up near the mouth of the die but much farther inside the die.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smoke4320 View Post
    Remove and clean your sizing die very good then lightly lube it .. betting this will make a huge improvement
    I'll try cleaning but don't know why I would suddenly need to lube the die when I've sized thousands that slid through easily without lube. I have never used any powder but yours. Boy, that stuff goes a long way. BTW, I had poor coverage on one tumble batch and they don't seem to have any more or less friction than those that are well covered.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tripplebeards View Post
    I spray my PCd boolits with wd40 before sizing. They slide right through.
    Thanks for the suggestion but I would go back to wax lube before using WD40. I don't want to have to get it off of the boolits.

    QUESTION:

    I have PCed and sized all of my .40 boolits so I have none to experiment with. The one difference between these boolits and what I normally cast is that my normal alloy is 20 lb COWW + 1/2 lb Monotype. Probably 99% of the boolits I have cast since I started in 1981 have been COWW + 1/2 lb Monotype so essentially that is all I know. This batch was straight COWW. Would COWW yield a larger diameter boolit without the Monotype? Since I mostly use that one alloy I have not committed to memory which alloys make bigger or smaller boolits.

    I'll cast some more with my standard alloy and see what happens.



    Additional comment: I did cast one batch of straight Linotype .44-250-KT because so many said a pure lino boolit would shatter when it hit heavy bone. It did not when I shot a 250 pound feral hog. I've cast 20:1 and 50/50 COWW/pure for Cowboy shooting but beyond that everything has been the 20 lb COWW + 1/2 lb Monotype for decades.
    Sometimes life taps you on the shoulder and reminds you it's a one way street. Jim Morris

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boomsticks Firearms View Post
    I had this happen to once. I think it was because I did not let the pc cure long enough the first bullet went in harder than usual and I made the mistake of putting a second one in to size and I knew I should have put a sized one in instead but in a hurry to get it all done I pressed the second one in and it stopped flush at the top and there was no pushing it anymore. Once I did that I left it alone for a day. The next day I had to remove the die from the star sizer and drive them out with a brass punch. I checked the die didn’t see nothing wrong with and then put the die back in and started sizing the bullets they sized fine but it did seem if I tried to go to fast that it seemed get a little harder because I think the die might have been getting a little to warm for the pc at least that is what I was kind of thinking.

    Interesting. I tested my oven and have to set it at 425 to get it to about 410 degrees so that is a constant in my process. I always let the oven fully preheat. Always bake for a minimum of 20 minutes. I may have gone 23-24 minutes on some of these batches so I don't think any of them were under cured. It's pretty easy to go fast with PCed boolits in a Star but the reloading room was only at about 65 degrees so I don't think I was warming the Star up too much. Still, the first error of troubleshooting is to assume anything is not the problem.


    I have a batch of about 600 more boolits from a Lee 170 gr RFN mold. Since the die and boolit are different I may not learn anything but I'm going to PC them as soon as weather on the patio permits and see if those size any differently. It was 70 degrees 2 days ago; snow is in the forecast in a few days.
    Sometimes life taps you on the shoulder and reminds you it's a one way street. Jim Morris

  14. #14
    I have made my own case spray lube from liquid lanolin and the red heet. About 1:10 respectfully. Iím guessing denatured alcohol could be used as well to thin the lanolin but I havenít tried it.

    We also make our own penetrating oil. 1/2:1/2 ATF:Acetone or Mineral Spirits. Run it in a One Shot can. Cheap and effective.

  15. #15
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    Denatured alcohol can vary in water content. It needs to be at least 90% alcohol for case lube. Anything less will leave the cases wet for too long. HEET is better at 99%. That's a good penetrating oil; better with acetone than mineral spirits I think. For really tough problems like removing barrels from military actions after being fired for decades with corrosive primers Kroil is very good at getting into tight areas. NEVER lube a boolit with Kroil and try to run it through a press, though. I did and t got stuck beyond imagination. Much worse than in my first post.

    It's been kind of cold and windy; not conducive to going to the shop to experiment tonight.
    Sometimes life taps you on the shoulder and reminds you it's a one way street. Jim Morris

  16. #16
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    The cure time and temperature for PC doesn't vary. What varies is the amount of time it takes to get the substraight up to the proper curing temperature. When I put almost 2500 bullets in my toaster oven you can bet that took a long time to come up to 400 degrees.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    If this is only a problem with one batch of boolits, it might be that you baked them with more powder than normal. If there is too much powder they can be larger and excess will end up at the bases. Have you measured them? Especially the bases?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregLaROCHE View Post
    If this is only a problem with one batch of boolits, it might be that you baked them with more powder than normal. If there is too much powder they can be larger and excess will end up at the bases. Have you measured them? Especially the bases?
    I actually didn't have a full coating on some of this batch. The batch in this case was about 600 pieces and coated in quite a few separate smaller batches. I think there were 4 separate bakes. The boolits were all dumped into a single box when done. The color is a little off and shiny lead can be seen through the powder in places. I did measure some before sizing when the problem developed but with no bare, unsized boolits to compare with the measurements didn't tell me anything. Most were in the .403-.405 range before sizing and all were .4010 to .4015 after sizing. Whether they were well coated or it was on the thin side didn't seem to matter as far as resistance went. I still need to get out to the shop and make/test some more.
    Sometimes life taps you on the shoulder and reminds you it's a one way street. Jim Morris

  19. #19
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    Not to veer off subject, but when you are lubing before sizing (lanolin, wd-40), I assume you are cleaning off before loading? Or just wiping off?
    Thanks, Dan

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