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Call for Help

18 Mar 2017
@ 05:20 pm (GMT)

Paul Leverman

I need help figuring this one out, so I am calling on you to voice your opinions or experiences. None will be discounted, as I have totally run out of ideas or solutions.

I bought the NoslerCustom brass. Reformed it from Winchester to Norma. All it took was to run it into a F/L 308 Norma Mag die, then trim to length. Simple, effective.

Made a mandril to fit the sized neck (-0.0005") and checked neck wall thickness. All were within half to three-quarter thou of each other.

Run-out on the necks were anywhere from zero (not quite, the needle moved, but just) to two and one half thou. Unfired.

Loaded up a bunch with whatever recipe I was testing. When I checked them after fireforming, none had stretched much, none had more than a thou of run-out. This tells me the chamber is good doesn't it?

When I went to re-size them, I used a Redding bushing style neck sizing die. Set up the die as usual (as per the instructions, plus I trued the decapping rod and expander as per the Hornady method.) The first three cases were fine. The next three had over five thou run-out. My first thought was the brass had an anomaly in the necks, so I carried on. The seventh had about four thou run-out, then two came out perfect.

I separated good from bad and marked high spots, and ran them through the die again, rotating them by one-quarter turns to see if it made any difference. On two cases, it reduced the run-out. It cured one case to perfect. The rest remained as they were.

I disassembled the die and cleaned it, just in case. Ran the bad ones through again, no change.

I removed the decapping pin, thinking that it may distorting the necks on withdrawal, but no, that made no difference. On a whim, I took a fired case that hadn't been sized yet, cleaned it, lubed it and ran up into the die. It came out with four and a half thou run-out (from zero).

I found it hard to believe that a die that had performed flawlessly previous to the Norma had all of a sudden developed a fatal flaw, so I started looking hard at the press.

I removed the shell holder, replaced it with another brand (same size) and tried more brass. Same results.

Took the shell holder out, cleaned the ram where it clips in, tried it again, same results.

Took the press apart and measured the bore that the ram works in. It was out of round by less than half of a thou. Measured the ram. I guess after twenty some odd years, something has to wear. At the top end of the stroke (bottom of the ram) it had worn one and a half thou. Enough to give it three thou of lateral movement at the shellholder end at the top of the stroke. Well, that was a cause for celebration. I had found my problem, or so it had seemed. Unfortunately, I had not.

I was just going to make another ram, but then thinking about the problems I already have, if I made a one thou mistake in machining, what would that translate to? So, time for a new press.

Installed a Rockchucker Supreme on the bench. Started over again with the brass and damned if I still didn't have the same results.

The next step (grasping at straws now) was to buy a new Redding neck sizing die in Norma mag. Nothing fancy, no bushings, just a die. Well, that didn't work. Even with removing the decapping rod, I still got the run-out.

So, basically I gave up.

The next morning, I sat there and stared at the whole mess trying to see if there was any combination I may have missed. Two different presses, two different dies, same brass, same results.

Out of pure frustration that I had quite possibly just ruined my new brass, I put the F/L Norma die in the new press. I knew I could get new brass almost perfect with it, so what the hell, try it. And it worked. If the brass didn't return to like new the first time, a second time through and it was just as good as when I started.

So this told me that it was not the brass, not the press, not the technique.

I re-installed the Redding neck die (non-bushing) and ran one into it. It came out perfect. So did the second one. But not the third or the fourth or the fifth. Back to the same old run-out problem.

So that's it. What did I miss? What is wrong with my technique that would cause an intermittent problem like this? I really don't want to F/L size my brass every time I load it. Any ideas to try to fix this would be greatly appreciated.

I know the solution is staring me in the face, but quite possibly I have worked myself into an irreversible state of frustration that has locked out my cognitive thinking.

Replies

19 Mar 2017
@ 09:17 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Call for Help
Ok, I am a bit like you Paul and I think most of us are the same in that when trying answer a question, we miss some of the information given, even if the person (in this case you) has supplied a good amount of information. So please accept this pre-apology if I cover aspects you have already covered.

Every now and then you will get a full length die that does a fantastic job and is a real keeper. So this is at least good to fall back on, even if it means having to clean up messy cases.

Regarding the bushings. The step down may be too much for this brass versus its current temper. You may have to do this in two passes / steps. I am just guessing so again- pinch of salt.

Wall thickness may be good from case to case, but it may simply be too thick in all cases. Have seen this before with this brass.

Can also try wriggling the press handle just as the case meets the bushing. A very small shaky motion to try and vibrate the case into self alignment.

Perhaps from this you can see why I favor the way the Lee die "collects" the case and then compresses then neck from the sides in a collet rather than pushing the case through a die. This is however a custom only option in .308 NM.


Not sure if any of this helps.

19 Mar 2017
@ 10:17 am (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: Call for Help
Im only an infant in experience compared to you lot but to me this screams "partial length resize" and forget neck size completely.
19 Mar 2017
@ 11:31 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Call for Help
The trouble with partial length resizing is that this is very often a myth or illusion. By this, I mean that the case is extruded and made longer when the die is backed off rather than minimal sizing. As the die is turned down (but still not touching the shell holder) it finally creates what appears to be minimal sizing / tight chamber fit. But instead and unknown to the hand loader, it has in fact pushed the case out of spec and then finally back within spec. This is an extremely common problem (covered in the book series). Only some dies will give true partial sizing demanding on case taper, die brands and also individual die to die specs. This particular die may work OK with partial sizing based on Paul's description of its performance, but it will still need to be used with lube and will be a slower process than neck sizing. Pros and cons.
19 Mar 2017
@ 01:00 pm (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: Call for Help
How would one go about checking that the bushing itself was all right, other than several rounds came out OK? Perhaps the mandrel?

I know I always anneal cases before doing this kind of thing, perhaps there is an issue with some cases being overly hard to resize and springing back?

Very curious as to a potential resolution here.
19 Mar 2017
@ 01:34 pm (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: Call for Help
I have not used the Nosler brass but was told it is made by Norma, which is good brass and I like it. That being said, the case necks are often on the thick side and even after Paul's fire forming then neck sizing, they could have developed a donut if his fireforming rounds were heavy ones. After fireforming I usually outside neck turn brass and before too many rounds have been fired, run an inside neck reamer through them.

Have never seen this issue so am just tossing ideas around. Nice to see that you have good equipment to measure runout and the like Paul.
19 Mar 2017
@ 01:52 pm (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: Call for Help
Paul, had you shortend the cases after forming them to .308 Norma case Length? Af not,could that create your issue?
19 Mar 2017
@ 02:53 pm (GMT)

Warwick Marflitt

Re: Call for Help
Brass springing back! Maybe its got a metalurgical memory? Tension in the brass
Anneal the cases and run them through after and see if your problem is fixed.!
19 Mar 2017
@ 03:30 pm (GMT)

mark whiteley

Re: Call for Help
maybe try some different brand brass?

I have had problems (not this) with nosler brass not being consistent in the same lot, I wont use it period

my opinion would also be try annealing as suggested

best of luck with it
regards Mark

19 Mar 2017
@ 05:19 pm (GMT)

Paul Leverman

Re: Call for Help
Now that's some good ideas. With what I have on hand, I will take the thicknesses down some and then anneal them.

Maybe I'm doing this to myself. When Nathan mentioned the bushings, I went back to my notes. Redding says one size smaller than the loaded round. Because I was using the Lee crimp die, I went with a bushing of equal size to the loaded round on the thought that less sizing would be better, and I could use the crimp die for neck tension. Not too much sizing, but maybe too little?

So how thick is too thick? I made a new mandrel today .0005" smaller than the average diameter of the 208 A-MAX/ELD-M, 0.0065". The cases were snug but not enough that I couldn't rotate them. Still had good thickness consistency, but they all measured .012". Is this too thick? Would .010" be better?

It still boggles my mind that the two Redding dies may be the culprits here. But keeping an open mind, I will do the annealing and run them through again. Am also going to fire off a bunch of good, bad, and ugly and see what the results turn out.

It use to be so easy to just punch a primer in, fill 'em with powder, trowel it off and pound a bullet in. Now science gets in the way and screws everything up by making me think. Thanks for the input fellows, will keep you up to speed on this.

19 Mar 2017
@ 05:20 pm (GMT)

Paul Leverman

Re: Call for Help
And Mark, yes it is the same with the R-P brass.
20 Mar 2017
@ 11:48 am (GMT)

Thomas Kitchen

Re: Call for Help
HI Paul
I have found norma which I think is nosler thick but semi soft so might be an issue.
My Lee custom collet turned up the other week, it's beautiful to use and so hassle free.
You might be able to use my order number and just get a second set of it sent to you?
20 Mar 2017
@ 01:06 pm (GMT)

Paul Leverman

Re: Call for Help
Sorry to all that responded. I had limited time when I first read the replies, but lots of time now.

To Nathan: as previous remarks, with the addition to the comment about wiggling the press handle. I usually introduce the case to the die with two or three "false starts" just to get it close. I've found in the past that shellholders are just horrible for holding any kind of alignment. As to the Lee collett, yes they are definitely a custom, and may be an impossibility. I've enquired about sending the two cases and the bullet across the 49th, and cannot get clear direction from our southern neighbours. It's not a problem to get the die back here, but getting the goods to them may be problematic.

To Mike: I tried the partial after your suggestion, but one ear still on The Boss. I polished my cases to remove any previous markings and ran them into the die. Not good. The case body/shoulder was the first place to make contact and the neck was nowhere near being sized. Too much in the wrong place as far as I could see.

To Bryan: The mandrel is sized for the ID of the neck. I suppose I could whip one up real quick to check the bushing. I think it may be safe to assume that I did not get the only bushing out of a million or so that was wrong. When I contacted Redding, they indicated that this was "the first" they had heard of this happening. Boy, aren't I the lucky one. Not exactly sure what the "donut" is. I googled it, but all I could find was for cases that had had their diameters changed, either up or down. It seems down is the more prevalent cause. In either case, I did neither, it's still a .308. And the tools are just tools. They've done their job for the past 35 years and they don't wear out, although I have seen a micrometer used for a C-clamp once, and it didn't last very long.

To Warwick, Mark, and Bryan: it seems that annealing may have some merit. I've reloaded a bunch to fire off tomorrow as a "control" group. This will also give me some to work with that aren't already whacked out. When the range work is done, I can try some with and some without annealing and see if this may be the answer.
20 Mar 2017
@ 02:34 pm (GMT)

mark whiteley

Re: Call for Help
Hi Paul
I have been thinking long and hard about this one
many years ago I had a very similar problem caused by a shell holder out of whack, the case should rock in the shell holder, I changed the shell holder and problem solved
but you already have tried that

also many years ago I watched a vid made by David Tubb on advanced reloading (I have seen it on utube) in this video he shows how the thickness of a case wall can vary from side to side so much that the case is shaped like a banana and wont straighten out, apparently all cases are like this to a degree, to check this he used a neco concentricity gage
but as you have tried different brand cases this should not be it

and when I fire form cases they come out with no run out at all, as close to perfect as can be, its when I size especially with an expander button or to tight tension that I see run out, or after seating
but you are using very minimal sizing from a bushing die and still getting the problem

I'm sure the lee collet die would have to help because of being sized on a mandrel

the problems I had with the nosler brass were, rims being to thick, primer holes off center and donuts forming after a few shots, all brands will have problems for sure but I expected better because they are so expensive, this was ready made 6.5x284 brass, not formed.

to check for a do-nut take a fired case and pass a projectile through the neck if there is resistance as it passes the neck junction or the projectile wont go past the neck junction you have a do-nut, if your chamber is cut with neck diameter large and a projectile falls in and out of the neck you will feel a difference in how much pressure you need to use to seat a projectile, you will feel the projectile go into the case easy then it will get harder as the projectile passes the do-nut at the neck junction
I hope I have explained this so you can understand it


I don't know if any of this will help but is what I have been thinking

regards Mark
20 Mar 2017
@ 03:37 pm (GMT)

Paul Leverman

Re: Call for Help
`Thanks, Mark. The more ideas about what it can't be will eventually lead to what it is, I hope.

The donut is explained perfectly. Unfortunately, with all the cases, the bullets fall right in.

You don't mention if the Nosler brass you were using is their Custom or not. These are supposed to be checked for off-centre flash holes, etc. All the problems we don't want to see in our brass. Basically, they do our work for us and charge us accordingly.

I am sure the collet will be a bonus as well, and I think I will take Thomas up on his offer. I'll see what Lee has to say anyway.

I've loaded up some pretty stiff loads for tomorrow. There will be no doubt that the brass is being formed to the chamber. So I guess it's a wait and see proposition, I hope to get some explanation from the fired brass.
21 Mar 2017
@ 11:08 am (GMT)

mark whiteley

Re: Call for Help
Hi Paul
the nosler brass I have I bought about 4 years ago when there brass cases were a new item for my area and I don't think they had custom brass then, I had a look at the web site to see if I could recognize a box but I cant, what I do remember is it cost around the same for 50 as it did for 100 lapua but the shop didn't have lapua at that time, I started getting do-nuts after 3 firings that caused pressure spikes as my loads were traveling,
I should say it was in the early days of production for them and I may have bought a crook batch that were not qc'd properly so I shouldn't be so negative I still think annealing may help
regards Mark
09 Apr 2017
@ 11:54 am (GMT)

Paul Leverman

Re: Call for Help
It's a shame how work can get in the way of life. I have been puttering around with this for a while now, and really, getting nowhere. But that is my bad, as I haven't really had my head or heart in it. But then, once in a while, the curve ball that is thrown at you could be a potential home run. While at work, I ran into one of my old contacts and a fellow gun enthusiast. Conversation came around to the problems I was having with the brass. Of course, Norma brand was mentioned, and I told him how I was having a tough go at finding any. He said he had a few that I could work with, and to stop by the shop. When I walked out of his shop, I had in my possession a 20 litre (5 gal.) pail overflowing with brass. Now not all of it was suitable of course, but the 65 Norma 7mm RemMag cases will definitely give me something to work with. I haven't yet, but once resized to the 308 and fireformed, they should be almost perfect, excepting the slightly shorter neck. But heck, it's worth a try. In the bucket, there were also 70+ brand new, unfired, 264 WinMag cases, with the Herter head stamp. These are the original issue cases (before the company sold), and were supposed to be Norma brass. Bonus! Again, the neck will be shorter, but oh well, somethings you have to live with.

06 Oct 2017
@ 05:04 am (GMT)

Paul Leverman

Re: Call for Help
Looking at the original dates, it's hard to believe that it has been this long to the end. I am pretty sure what went wrong. As it turns out, Mark was about the closest....it was the shell holder. The one I was using came with a used set of Norma 308 Mag f/l sizing dies, probably from the '60s or '70s by how the box looked. When I got my Lee collet dies, everything went back to normal, until I inadvertently left the Lee shell holder in the priming tool, and used the older shell holder in the press. Back to where I was in 30 seconds flat. Obviously there was an issue with the shell holder. Upon initial inspection, it appeared to be fine, but when I looked inside the groove where the rim sits, there it was. Some kind of gunk that had been built up and compressed for who knows how many years. Took a seal pick to it, scraped it out, and the steel underneath it was still shiny, like new. Been there from day one? Don't know, don't care. It is gone now and everything is back where it should be.

Now, every shell holder that gets used is cleaned thoroughly before being put back. An old toothbrush and brakecleen, twenty seconds of effort and hopefully never see this again.

Thanks to all who had ideas to try, all were worth the effort to try to fix this.
27 Nov 2019
@ 09:30 pm (GMT)

Francis Saunders

Re: Call for Help
Hey guys been awhile.
Sorry to drag up this old thread...
But I’ve just run into this very problem!
Will look at the shell holder first. Having got to the bottom and work my way to the top.
Bit of info.
7x57 fire formed with trail boss.
Went to neck size with my lee neck sizer. The first 18 no problem then they won’t size. Bullet won’t seat and falls through.
It’s Norma brass and new.
Looks like here we go again.
Cheers.
28 Nov 2019
@ 07:25 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Call for Help
Hi Francis, no worries.

Both the 7 and 8x57 rifle chambers can at times be somewhat oversized at the neck, especially old military chambers.

If you skim the shell holder or try to use extra force, it will make matters worse and you will likely ruin the die (the threaded cap section).

To remedy this situation, you need to sand the mandrel as shown in the Reloading book. The mandel I was sanding in the book was actually an 8x57, same issue.

You may also like to order a second spare mandrel now, just to give you some piece of mind (in case of mistakes). Some reloading suppliers keep spare mandrels in stock. Alternatively, you can order an undersized mandrel from Lee. This will be .002" smaller than your current. This may or may not be narrow enough. You will just have to see how you get on.

Try not to over do it. If you go too tight, it will create poor concentricity when seating bullets. If your first 18 were fitting OK, I would suggest that you may only need to drop down .002" to get a tight neck with all cases.

Hope that helps.
28 Nov 2019
@ 08:52 pm (GMT)

Francis Saunders

Re: Call for Help
Thanks Nathan, I have a sneaking suspicion that I may have done just this and damaged the die.
Have had a go at sanding the mandrel. As per your books instructions. But it has not helped.
So next step is buy a new die.
Would going to a REDDING S type be a better option or just stick with another lee die?
My options are for die purchase.
1 lee
2 Redding full length die and neck die this is the handgun and rifle die.
3 Redding S type die (would you know which bushing i need to purchase with this?
Cheers F
28 Nov 2019
@ 09:07 pm (GMT)

Francis Saunders

Re: Call for Help
Just as a side issue.
I would really like to stick with just neck sizing. But should I purchase a full length die just to get me out of jail so to speak.
The one thing I would like to do is first solve this issue. But I can’t just duck down the store and purchase a new die if this crops up again.
Hence the above question.
Cheers F
29 Nov 2019
@ 06:56 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Call for Help
Hi Francis, will break these options down a bit:

1. Order a new cap for the Lee die (cap threads may be damaged but the die threads will be fine). Also order a spare mandrel while you are at it. Note that some importers or retailers stock these parts. Otherwise, order direct from Lee.

2. Redding neck bushing die. I do not know what size bushing you need as I do not know how much spring back you are getting. You will need to measure your current sized ammo if you have any sized ammo that is holding a projectile just so, then drop 2 thou from this (in conjunction with the Redding purchase instruction page). Hope that makes sense.

Yes, stick with neck sizing. If you have a generous chamber, you do not want to be overworking the entire case.
29 Nov 2019
@ 08:27 am (GMT)

Francis Saunders

Re: Call for Help
Cheers thanks Nathan!
You should go into making belts and suspenders for all the the support you supply!!
I’ll let you know how I get on.
I’ll order the above and also measure up for a Redding die. That way I can really confuse the stuffing in between the ears.
ie just in case I’ve damaged the jaws of the lee die.
03 Dec 2019
@ 10:02 am (GMT)

JOHN HAYS

Re: Call for Help

Hi Paul,

Did you check the runout gauge/setup by repeating a batch of ten or twenty cases to see if the measurements of the individual cases are repeatable as you run through the sequence?

You would think so, but every piece of equipment is subject to wear, maladjustment or gremlins.
 

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