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Rex
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Posted: September 09 2017 at 4:00pm | IP Logged Quote Rex

How long do you wait after casting to size your bullets?
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Old Ranger
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Posted: September 09 2017 at 5:08pm | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

It's my understanding that one can size right after casting, but a few days should pass before shooting to allow for the "cure time. Some sources say sizing, lubing, and loading cause zero curing issues if not shot in a couple of days. Some purist insist on zero contact with the cast bullet for weeks. I think thats a might anal if ya ask me.

I do know that the bullet, when cast, does not shrink or swell. The core, however, must cure for several hours (48 most quoted).

I have sized & loaded an hour after casting, and shot about an hour later. My weapon didn't blow up. I wasn't arrested by the casting police. And my gas mileage didn't change a bit.

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Rex
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Posted: September 09 2017 at 5:21pm | IP Logged Quote Rex

Thanks Wade, that is my feeling also.
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Ham Gunner
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Posted: September 09 2017 at 10:10pm | IP Logged Quote Ham Gunner

I read about a test someone done with various alloy make ups and using water dropping and heat treatment, etc. They determined that many alloys do get harder after some curing time and some even resoften a bit from their peak hardness after an even longer curing time. So depending upon the alloy make up, things do change with time. Perhaps not much with most alloys, but with some it is substantial so sizing quickly could help a slight amount and in the case of heat treatment hardening, sizing before heat treatment is a must to prevent work softening.

I let my bullets air cool and don't worry about any curing time so I might size/lube right away or I might wait for no telling how long before I have time to size/lube. With my alloys I have not noticed any difference. At least not enough that I can tell without actually doing a hardness test.

I think there could actually be something to sizing right away before the bullets cure if using alloy that has plenty of antimony and a bit of arsenic such as clip on wheel weights especially if one drops them into water. They will get harder over time to a point as has been determined with tests so the idea is to size before they completely cure so that they won't be work softened again when sizing later.

I have never tried heat treatment as I have never found a need for anything harder than I can come up with in my mixing of alloys. I can come up with about anything from soft lead up to and including just harder than Linotype, but I normally never mix up anything harder than probably 15-17 BHN even for my rifles and I have pushed some of them up to 2,000 fps without problems.

At most cast bullet pressures I don't think curing time even needs to be be considered, but then I don't push mine much past that 2,000 fps mark. If using a softer alloy that does cure harden or when using heat treatment then I suppose cure time might be something one should look at.

Part way down in this article is a chart of bullet hardness measurements over the course of time. Lots of other great knowledge about alloys. Some a bit technical, but great reading.

Alloy Info We All Should Know

Edited by Ham Gunner on September 09 2017 at 10:19pm


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Buffalogun
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Posted: September 13 2017 at 9:37am | IP Logged Quote Buffalogun

This is LEE's 457-340 rf cast from a mixed alloy that included 1 tbsp. of hard bird shot. It was cast 12-22-2015 and tested a couple weeks later at a BHN-17.

Today, I retested and it now has a BHN-14. So it has softened a little. I don't think the change would make much difference in the field.



Almost forgot...this bullet was water quenched. I size as soon as the cast bullets cool.


Mike

Edited by Buffalogun on September 13 2017 at 9:52am


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Old Ranger
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Posted: September 20 2017 at 7:18am | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

Been reading the responses here. Appears that sizing after casting makes a real difference in the bullet hardness as it cures as opposed to sizing later.
Apparently, if allowed to cure, then size later, the bearing surface will be softened. Something that we as casters wish to avoid. I suppose if the alloy was very hard and sized later it would be fine if still hard enough for most needs, yes?

I know that the same alloy and bullets sized right after casting, and sized a couple weeks later, those that are cured are harder to run through the sizing devices. More pressure is needed to work em. Not real scientific I grant you but I can tell the difference between the two.

Now I don't have water in the same room as a working pot of lead is going. A personal preference for my own safety. So I can't say from personal experience about water quenched rounds. But, logically speaking, the water quenching hardens the outer shell of the bullet. But sizing has proven to weaken the alloy's cure. So if sized after the quenching wouldn't it be logial that the effects of quenching be reversed? If so, that sounds rather counterproductive. Food for thought.

I have cast, sized & lubed, and shot in the same day. Younger and ignorant of the cure time involved. Funny thing is I couldn't tell a difference. And I have, and still do, cast many and put them up for later use. Often months will pass before I size & lube them, and will load right away.

I have not studied on foundry operation, but have done my share of blacksmithing. Water and oil quenching produces different results with iron and steel. Lead is not the same and I don't know all it's properties. Guess I better study up some huh?

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RT58
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Posted: September 20 2017 at 12:01pm | IP Logged Quote RT58

I have done water quenching and always shot them soon
after. I believe the hardening by water quenching is not
permanent and will eventually soften to the original
alloy hardness over time.
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Ham Gunner
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Posted: September 20 2017 at 3:40pm | IP Logged Quote Ham Gunner

I alloy my bullet metal to be the harness that I want after air cooling according to the pressure they will be subjected to. It may be years after loading before I shoot them so the water quenching method is certainly not going to be beneficial to me.

Heat treatment after sizing and then lubing without further sizing would certainly be the best method if one truly needed very hard bullet metal. I just do not see the need for most handgun bullets to need overly hard bullets. Perhaps the higher velocity rifle loads could benefit from heat treatment and it would still leave one an alloy that was not brittle.


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