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Old April 30, 2013, 05:10 PM   #1
steve4102
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Water Dropping?

I've been reading about increasing the hardness of cast bullets by dropping them from the mold into water. I have also been reading about testing the hardness of bullets with a set of artists pencils.

I watched a YouTube the other day of a guy casting bullets and water dropping them. He made a few air cooled as well. He tested the hardness with his finger nail and came to the conclusion that water dropping and air cooled were the same hardness.

So, I tried it for myself. I tested the hardness of my air cooled cast bullets with pencils. I then cast a few bullets and dropped them into water. After about a hour I tested the water dropped bullets with pencils. Sure enough they tested the same as the air cooled bullets

Whats up with this? Do these bullets have to sit and cure for awhile before then become harder? If so How long should they sit before I test them for hardness?

Thanks
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Old May 1, 2013, 10:51 AM   #2
TheBear
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im one of those guys who drops them into water from the mold. I did some testing and found out that bullets dropped in (ice-cold) water are ~1bhn harder then the air cooled ones..
I think it depends on the alloy though...for some alloys (with more antimony) it seems to work better then for others.
and its not gonna hurt your bullets so you can only profit from doing it...

Last edited by TheBear; May 4, 2013 at 03:46 PM.
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Old May 1, 2013, 11:58 AM   #3
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Well, something is wrong with your tests. What? No way to measure your results without a lead hardness tester.

It does matter what the alloy is. Pure lead will not harden when dropped into cold water! The alloy HAS to have both tin AND antimony in it to be heat treated, which is what dropping a just cast boolit into cold water is, heat treating. The addition of a small amount of arsenic acts as a catalyst to improve hardness. Most scrap lead has some arsenic already in it.

When I water drop, I get from 10 to 12 BHN higher than with air cooled. My water dropped range lead is 12-14 BHN air cooled, and 20-22 BHN water dropped. This is being tested using a lee hardness tester. The air cooled boolits can easily be scraped with my fingernail, the water dropped I cannot even scratch them.

As far as the you tube dudes, I don't even bother looking at most of them. Give somebody a platform, then duck! You'll get all kinds of bad info presented as Gods honest truth.
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Old May 1, 2013, 01:02 PM   #4
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Along with what Snuffy said about alloys, there will also be a difference from when you first cast them and 2-3 weeks from when you first casted them. I haven't been able to test this myself because I don't have a hardness tester, but from what I've picked up on with a lot of reading from others is that the properties can change over time. Not only meaning they can get harder but some will actually get softer. In essence I don't believe hardness should be stressed over as much as proper fit to the barrel.
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Old May 1, 2013, 04:32 PM   #5
steve4102
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Quote:
Well, something is wrong with your tests. What? No way to measure your results without a lead hardness tester.
I found the technique here.

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...s-with-pencils
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Old May 1, 2013, 06:47 PM   #6
Mike / Tx
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Hey Steve,

The method works as described with the pencils as I have a set myself. I used them for almost a year before getting the Cabine Tree Tester. After getting it I tested everything I had tested with the pencils and came up within a couple of BHN from what the pencils had given me. It wasn't exact but it's close enough to get what I needed to know.

Snuffy has it right, plus usually it is recommended to wait two weeks for the hardness to "mature" or stabilize. That is how I did it as well. I know it is a pain but it is worth it if you want to know about how hard your alloy is getting.

Also the readings you get from ingots will usually not match what you get from bullets. This is one reason I try hard to keep my raw alloy smelting temp within a close degree of what I usually pour at and never over 700 degrees. Usually it is in the mid to high 600's. Then when I pour up the ingots I will also pour up a half dozen or so of the Lee 452-255 RF bullets and toss them in a baggie with my ingots when done. Then later on I can check the actual bullets and know about how hard any future poured ones will be. If I wanted to check the same for water dropped it would be real simple to just drop half of them into a bucket and air cool the others and I would know both ways.
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Old May 1, 2013, 08:16 PM   #7
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Arsenic is the catalyst for water droppin , true tin & antimony has to be there also .

Sad but the easiest way is to put magnum shot in the melt to get the arsenic.
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Old May 3, 2013, 12:25 PM   #8
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I've begun oven hardening mine to get more consistant bhn. When dropping in water they can be +/- a couple bhn, when doing them in an oven they all are at the same temp and quenched at the same rate. This is mostly a way to try and squeeze that last little bit of accuracy for bullseye comp than an absolute must do. I also let bullets age harden for 2-3 weeks before loading and shooting. In approx. 2 years lead will start to soften but how much and at what rate all depends on alloy.
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Old May 4, 2013, 03:30 PM   #9
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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The only suggestion I have on this subject. Pay close attention to what Mike /TX said and the pennant info left by snuffy also. Both by what I see and read know their business in regards to their experiences in home casting. Just another humble opinion like so many others before me.

S/S
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Old May 19, 2013, 10:26 AM   #10
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Another method of heat treating involves an oven. I feel it is more consistent and allows you to put rejects back into the pot without waiting for them to dry. I use Glen Fryxell's method for heat treating: size the bullets and then heat them to 450 in an oven. (I use a dedicated baking sheet that I don't use for food!) Once the bullets reach 450 (about 30 minutes) simply dump them in a bucket of cold water.
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Old May 19, 2013, 04:47 PM   #11
steve4102
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Quote:
I use Glen Fryxell's method for heat treating: size the bullets and then heat them to 450 in an oven. (I use a dedicated baking sheet that I don't use for food!) Once the bullets reach 450 (about 30 minutes) simply dump them in a bucket of cold water.
I use the Lee sizing dies. I lube with 45/45/10 before and after sizing. Is this going to be a problem If I heat treat with lube on the bullets?
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Old May 19, 2013, 10:37 PM   #12
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Dupe, sort of.
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Old May 19, 2013, 10:59 PM   #13
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I've been puzzling over that same issue, Steve. For effective heat treating Glen recommends sizing before HT'ing and Lee recommends lubing before sizing. I've tried lubing w/ LLA, sizing, HT'ing and relubing and the lube got a little dark during the HT process. Seemed to work fine, tho. Lube gets way hotter than 450 when fired, just looks funny.
I've heard of folks lubing w/ WD-40, sizing, HT'ing, lubing w/ LLA. I'd want to wash off the WD-40 after sizing to keep it from reacting to the LLA but honestly don't know if it's necessary.
I've also sized them dry, HT'd, and applied two coats of lube. The Lee dies don't seem to like that sequence of events.
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Old May 20, 2013, 04:16 AM   #14
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Yesterday I poured up a couple hundred TLC311-165-RF using some of the large iso core alloy I had. After looking at my WW stash and my pure stash I figured I might as well go ahead and try the iso core since I had a full box of ingots ready to go and they are listed as pretty close to the same minus the arsenic in the iso core.

Anyway as most recommend sizing the water dropped ASAP and I also had found this to be true with some handgun bullets, I dried them all off, and set up to size and seat the GC on them. I figured I would simply use some Imperial Sizing wax as it just happened to be sitting next to the press. So I grabbed up a couple set the check in place and slathers them down to run through the Lee sizer. WOW were they something to shove through the .309" die I was using. So figuring that might be a tad small I also ran a couple of them through a .313" die I had as well. Same story different verse. Those things were about as hard as anything I have ever sized. I haven't checked any on my hardness tester just yet but I will bet they easily hit up above 15-18 for sure.
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Old May 20, 2013, 09:01 AM   #15
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As for sizing WD boolits before lubing, mix up some 50-50 dish soap/water. Dunk the boolits in it, size them up. I would rinse them before letting them dry.

The last run of 9mm I did, some 125 TCTL lee's, I coated them with rooster jacket lube after they dried out of the quenching water. THEN ran them through the .357 lee push through sizer. Rooster is no longer made, the company went out of bidness. That lube was enough to ease passage of those uber-hard boolits.

Not using some sort of lube in a lee die CAN cause it to get leaded up. Besides the pressure that it would take to push them through.

Mike, I bet if you check those TLC311-165-RF, you'll find they're bigger than what the die would normally size a soft boolit. Those 9's that I sized in a .357 lee die actually ended up at .358. Which is exactly what I wanted. I was attempting to solve a leading problem in my CZ-75. I figured a hard boolit, also a BIG boolit would be the answer. It was! AND accurate as well, nice round groups @ 50 feet with almost no leading.

I'll try them @ 25 yards soon. The lack of plated bullets has forced me to solve the leading/accuracy problem for the 9mm. My son just discovered 3 gun down at Memphis last Saturday! He had a blast, pardon the pun. He put a 3 shell extension on his 1100 skeet gun, shot his elcheapo AR with a cheap red dot and his CZ PO-1. I'm going to need to make a LOT of 9mm this summer. I might just try it myself, if it doesn't land me in the hosp. Can you limp through a 3-gun course??¿
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Old May 20, 2013, 11:13 AM   #16
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I heat treat the same way as Tex, using straight WWs. I don't have a hardness tester but the bullets are really really really hard....really hard.
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Old May 20, 2013, 10:10 PM   #17
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Rooster is no longer made, the company went out of bidness. That lube was enough to ease passage of those uber-hard boolits.-Snuffy

Oh, no! Use Rooster Jacket over LLA to cut down on stickiness. Bummer, thought it was a good product.
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