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Bad brass?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by SPU, Mar 26, 2014.

  1. SPU

    SPU Southwest Oregon Old Fart

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    I was cleaning brass in my ultrasonic cleaner the other day. I usually dry by throwing the brass in a pan and baking at 200 degrees for 20 minutes or so. This day the wife was baking and so I held off. I was watching a game and she offered to put the brass in with her baking and I didn't think. It was about 400 degrees.

    When I pulled the brass out it looked case-hardened, with blue hues over much of it. Did I case harden the brass without realizing it? It was all my 7.62x54R brass and a hundred pieces or so of my .38 special brass. Do I have to throw them away or can I use them safely?

    Anybody know?
     
  2. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    It has to get to 500F for any change at all to occur but only a lab would be able to tell (at 482F for any length of time, no change at all will occur).
    To anneal brass, it has to get to around 650F.
     
  3. Jamie6.5

    Jamie6.5 Western OR Well-Known Member

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    Hardening wouldn't be the issue. In order for brass to be hardened, it has to be worked.
    Heating and cooling softens the brass, as in annealing, as CertainDeaf pointed out.

    If you softened the caseheads, you would be at greater risk than hardening them.
    But if the temp limit was kept at @400*F, it's doubtful that you did any damage.

    Was the tray of brass placed directly over the oven's lower element? (bottom rack position?)
     
  4. Mikej

    Mikej Portland Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Gotta ask, did your 7.62 X 54R smell like brownies?
    Mmm...
     
  5. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    If you're really worried about it, smash a couple with a hammer and or pliers to see if they deform as "easily" as non-suspect ones.
    If they crack, they for sure have not been annealed.
     
  6. Rusty Shackleford

    Rusty Shackleford Portland Member

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    Did you rinse the cases after cleaning ? Might be a chemical reaction caused by heat. I rinse mine after cleaning in a mesh colander and set it near some heat, next morning they are dry.
     
  7. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    I just don't use the oven any more (I've washed my brass with soap and lemishine for decades) as no matter what you use it seems they come out pretty discolored regardless of any appreciable temperature.
    I hang mine so that the closed dryer door pinches and holds a pillowcase holding the brass if I want to dry it fast.
     
  8. skud_dusty

    skud_dusty Salem, OR Active Member

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    I had similar issues and it was because I was not rinsing well enough and using way too much soap. Just recently I moved from lemishine to actual lemon juice and only a drop of soap instead of a healthy squirt. My brass comes out almost as shiny as brass that has been polished in walnut media for a couple hours.

    I typically oven dry @ 200 degrees for an hour or so. Longer if I didn't decap before hand.
     
  9. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    I'll try using less and rinse more.. I only rinse with hot water like twice.. just covering the top of the brass by a couple inches and agitating with my hand before dumping into a colander, and then while still hot, onto a big bath towel to "tumble" dry.
    If I'm not in a hurry, I'll then put them back in the colander and place it over a heater vent.. unless it's nice and warm out.
     
  10. erudne

    erudne The Pie Matrix PPL Say Sleeping W/Your Rifle Is A bad Thing? Bronze Supporter

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    I was gonna say sounds like chemical/mineral deposits
    but don't quote me
     
  11. SPU

    SPU Southwest Oregon Old Fart

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    Good ideas. I rechecked with my wife. She assures me the oven was at 350, then when she baked some blueberry cupcakes (no funny brownies, sorry) the temp. was dropped to 300 degrees F. She is firm on this. The tray was on the middle rack and in the oven around 45 minutes. I should add some of the brass came out looking normal. Some of the brass lost the blue hues overnight and returned to normal color, and some nickel plated ones look just the same as always. I'll try crushing a couple, then hammering a couple and see what happens.

    I use diluted Hornady ultrasonic cleaner and a short squirt of liquid clothes detergent as a surfactant for 1 1/2 quarts of distilled water. After cleaning I rinse in distilled water in a bucket with a lid and shake them around. Never had this problem before after 5-6 thousand cases and 2+ years. It is possible I didn't rinse enough. I prefer drying in the dryer but the wife won't let me anymore. I'm looking for my testicles as we speak...

    I think the chemical reaction with the extra heat and poor rinse as the catalysts, is most likely. I've never had that happen -- always bright and shiny before. I think I'll drop the clothes detergent from now on and limit drying to 200 degrees.

    The cupcakes were delicious.
     
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  12. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    Boy I'd be careful with asking her anything if she's willing to let you put brass in the oven.
     
  13. SPU

    SPU Southwest Oregon Old Fart

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    I married her because she would let me put my brass in her oven.... so to speak. Ahem.

    And she is a good cook.
     
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  14. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Chances are your brass is now annealed beyond uselessness. Standard temp/soak time for making .223 brass via the SCAMP process is 410F for 1 hour.

    Your brass is not hard, it's now dead soft. You can check it and see how much hardness remains by squeezing the case neck/mouth with some pliers and see how much it springs back. If it doesn't spring back at all it's useless and must be discarded. Firing it will cause the brass to flow, allowing high pressure gas, casing materials and others to spray right back in your face, it can damage you and the gun.

    FYI, brass only softens on heating.

    This is one of those reasons why an oven is a really crappy brass dryer. If you want to make a brass dryer, get an old cracker tin, cut a hole in the bottom and stick a hair dryer in it, take the lid and poke some holes in it. This will dry your brass without fear of cooking it and burning out the temper.

    If it seems soft, it probably is, and should be discarded.
     
  15. SPU

    SPU Southwest Oregon Old Fart

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    Well, I'll check out the brass when I have time this weekend, but I suspect my first inclination in post #1 and AMProducts is likely correct, and I'll call it an expensive lesson and toss them. Even if the wife was correct and the setting on the oven was never higher than 350, that doesn't mean that spot in the oven didn't go higher. Lesson one in this hobby is never take a dumb chance. Thanks for the input guys.
     
  16. skud_dusty

    skud_dusty Salem, OR Active Member

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    Do some reading here and make your own decision:

    http://www.6mmbr.com/annealing.html

    "Brass which has been "work hardened" (sometimes referred to as "cold worked") is unaffected by temperatures (Fahrenheit) up to 482 degrees (F) regardless of the time it is left at this temperature. At about 495 degrees (F) some changes in grain structure begins to occur, although the brass remains about as hard as before--it would take a laboratory analysis to see the changes that take place at this temperature.

    If cases are heated to about 600 degrees (F) for one hour, they will be thoroughly annealed--head and body included. That is, they will be ruined. (For a temperature comparison, pure lead melts at 621.3 degrees F)."

    Depending on your oven, it may not even be capable of getting a high enough temperature to damage the brass.

    I think you are just fine ;)
     
  17. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    If you want to split hairs... get a vickers hardness tester (DPH) and test the hardness gradient of each case. That will definitively tell you what you're actually dealing with. Last time I had to buy a vickers indenter I think I paid over $400 for it.

    Even if all that brass was made by lapua, and then hand plated in nickel by the queen of england, it's value compared to that of your firearm and health should make this a non-issue.
     
  18. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    How much brass are you talking about anyway? More than you could ,uh,discard? For safety purposes?

    I think the best way to dry your brass is some sort of bag to throw in the dryer on low heat or no heat as air movement dries as good as heat,or better.
    Plus tumbling the brass as you dry it will insure you get all the water moving about and not leaving spots.
     
  19. YOURSUPREMECOMMANDER

    YOURSUPREMECOMMANDER Raleigh Hills, Or. Active Member

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    I made a similar mistake. The bigger mistake was that I reloaded the stuff. The first shot fire-formed like melted butter in the breech & bolt. Your brass is now too soft, it's garbage. The change in color was your primary Que that it's been annealed. It's too soft near the case head.
     
  20. SPU

    SPU Southwest Oregon Old Fart

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    I put them in the brass recycle jar for all my rejects. It just isn't worth the worry. It was about $50 worth of brass. The .38special brass is usually loaded to low pressures, but I have so much and it is so cheap to replace I just won't take the chance. Of the 7.62x54R brass, I decided to save 6 pieces that never changed color, but I marked the bases with marker. I'll see how they do.
     
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