My experiments with PC pistol and rifle bullets

Ian

Notorious member
Man, I don't know. I doubt it has to do with baking time though because I've over-baked PC up to nearly an hour at slightly over temperature and had no ill effects. 10 minutes at part metal temperature is the general instruction for most powders, but you have to know how long it takes the bullets to come up to full temperature before you can figure the additional 10 minutes. 200 .30 caliber bullets take 12 minutes to reach 400 in my convection oven, so I bake for 22 minutes after preheating.
 

Brad

Administrator
Staff member
I bake for 31 minutes at 400 with no problems.
When you seated checks could the bullets have picked up any lube or oil?
This is a sticking issue, not a baking issue. First run not enough powder, second run way too much.
 

wquiles

Well-Known Member
That is why it is so weird - it is the same process I always follow: I rinse them in acetone, and grab a bunch with a latex glove and drop in the shake&bake container. Once done with the shaking, I then grab one by one with needle nose pliers, tap them to remove the large clumps (learned here in this forum!), and stand up to bake.
 

Brad

Administrator
Staff member
Could the acetone wash be marginally effective and this time it bit you?
Have you tried the first sizing and checking dry? Keep lube off the bullets in the first place?
I size my 200 swc before coating and have no troubles. I don’t use any lube with my Lee type push thru sizer.
 

wquiles

Well-Known Member
Could the acetone wash be marginally effective and this time it bit you?
Have you tried the first sizing and checking dry? Keep lube off the bullets in the first place?
I size my 200 swc before coating and have no troubles. I don’t use any lube with my Lee type push thru sizer.
I installed the gas check, lightly lubed with an RCBS case lubing pad and lubricant, then used acetone to clean, and then I shake and baked, so yes, I did use lube before sizing. Come to think about it, in the past I used WD40 for lubing before sizing, and then acetone before shake and bake. So you are right, in that it might be lube.


I also pinged Smoke in the other forum, and he said that it is not a temperature nor baking time problem, and he is almost convinced that the powder is contaminated with "something". He wants me to send him a sample for him to check out, so once I get his address I will send to him tomorrow.

Will
 

Brad

Administrator
Staff member
My understanding is that RCBS case lube is essentially STP. If true then the acetone wash probably wasn’t enough. That stuff must be one of the most tenacious substances ever.
 

Reloader762

Active Member
wquiles, just looking at your last set of pics using Smokes JD Green it appears that the bullets just didn't take the coating very well. A couple things can cause this, contaminated acetone if you use the same batch more than once or twice to clean your bullets before coating, powder than has been subjected to heat or excess humidity or just not enough static electricity generated to attract the powder to the bullets or a combination of several of those things.

The powder on some of those bullets also looks pretty thick although you did say you tapped off the excess it still looks to thick for my liking and it looks clumpy as well, I get good coverage and can still see all the fine detail of the bullet with no rough appearance if everything is right. I use both smokes and Eastwood powders, some of the Smokes powders I have tried sample of just didn't give me the coverage I like and or seemed rather thick to my liking but I have had excellent results with the Smokes Yellow / Green, Super Durable Clear, Carolina Blue and Transparent Copper which doesn't quiet give a solid copper look but it's close enough for me.
NOE 30 XCB. ready to size and gas check.


As to baking time I pretty much follow the directions on the Eastwood powders I use which are Silver Vein, Metal Gray and Med. Green. The instructions say to bake at 400 degrees for 20 min. after powder flow out starts which for me is basically 25 min. in a preheated oven.

How my bullets appear before baking.
Lee 170 gr. FN coated with Clear.


NOE 452 230 gr. Cup Points.


Silver Vein & Clear coated sized ready to load.


Lee .312" 185 gr. RN coated with Copper Vein & Smokes Carolina Blue sized, checked ready to load.

 

popper

Well-Known Member
Humidity, moisture in acetone, lube. Second coat generally goes on thicker and doesn't flow as well. Try fresh powder, dump the lube, not needed. You can use some water after coating.
 

wquiles

Well-Known Member
Humidity, moisture in acetone, lube. Second coat generally goes on thicker and doesn't flow as well. Try fresh powder, dump the lube, not needed. You can use some water after coating.
Wow, so different possibilities, not just the lube I used. I am sending Smoke (his real name is Jim) some of the "contaminated" powder and some of the new/never used powder since he wants to try it out. I will report back - probably a week before I hear back.


wquiles, just looking at your last set of pics using Smokes JD Green it appears that the bullets just didn't take the coating very well. A couple things can cause this, contaminated acetone if you use the same batch more than once or twice to clean your bullets before coating, powder than has been subjected to heat or excess humidity or just not enough static electricity generated to attract the powder to the bullets or a combination of several of those things.

The powder on some of those bullets also looks pretty thick although you did say you tapped off the excess it still looks to thick for my liking and it looks clumpy as well, I get good coverage and can still see all the fine detail of the bullet with no rough appearance if everything is right. I use both smokes and Eastwood powders, some of the Smokes powders I have tried sample of just didn't give me the coverage I like and or seemed rather thick to my liking but I have had excellent results with the Smokes Yellow / Green, Super Durable Clear, Carolina Blue and Transparent Copper which doesn't quiet give a solid copper look but it's close enough for me.
NOE 30 XCB. ready to size and gas check.

As to baking time I pretty much follow the directions on the Eastwood powders I use which are Silver Vein, Metal Gray and Med. Green. The instructions say to bake at 400 degrees for 20 min. after powder flow out starts which for me is basically 25 min. in a preheated oven.

How my bullets appear before baking.
Lee 170 gr. FN coated with Clear.
NOE 452 230 gr. Cup Points.
Silver Vein & Clear coated sized ready to load.
Lee .312" 185 gr. RN coated with Copper Vein & Smokes Carolina Blue sized, checked ready to load.
Man, those are beautiful!. I have never been able to get that level of consistency. What container do you use for the shake and bake?
 

Reloader762

Active Member
A couple different ones but all are #5 containers that I add some black air soft BB's or plastic pony beads to enhance the static electricity.


Pony Beads I get at Walmart, I run them about an inch deep in the smaller container and about 2" in the large container. I add 1 TSP of powder to the container and shake it a bit before adding the bullets then add another 1/2 to 1 TSP of powder then shake for about 30 seconds or so. I also like the humidity if I'm working out in the shop to be around 50% or lower.
 

fiver

Well-Known Member
it almost looks like the pigment 'fell out' of the powder or separated.
I get kind of the same thing if I try to use the powder a couple of times and it breaks down in the cup.
I started using [measuring out] just what I need and tossing anything leftover after a batch of bullets.
 

wquiles

Well-Known Member
it almost looks like the pigment 'fell out' of the powder or separated.
I get kind of the same thing if I try to use the powder a couple of times and it breaks down in the cup.
I started using [measuring out] just what I need and tossing anything leftover after a batch of bullets.
The first time or two I used the green powder it worked much better as well, but it was earlier this year when it was colder and drier. I also note how the powder now sticks to the container quite a bit, almost leaving a layer. I also keep the powder in the garage, where it gets humid and hot (95-100F) so I wonder if that also affects the powder. It is like putting a puzzle together and the pieces are all starting to line up and make sense now as to why I am having some of these difficulties and lack of consistency as powder gets older.


A couple different ones but all are #5 containers that I add some black air soft BB's or plastic pony beads to enhance the static electricity.

Pony Beads I get at Walmart, I run them about an inch deep in the smaller container and about 2" in the large container. I add 1 TSP of powder to the container and shake it a bit before adding the bullets then add another 1/2 to 1 TSP of powder then shake for about 30 seconds or so. I also like the humidity if I'm working out in the shop to be around 50% or lower.
Thank you much for the additional info and pictures :)
 

popper

Well-Known Member
My powder is in the garage also, in the double baggies Smoke sends. Red always works, sometimes better. Black I have trouble with, but it may be due to washed beads I used. Both definitely work better in the winter. You don't need any lube when sizing & GCing. Acetone absorbs moisture, one of the problems with HiTeking. IIRC someone is using yellow cable pulling lube for sizing but it is soap based, not oil. It's also gummy and nasty. IIRC Ian stated he thought lead powder also accumulates and doesn't help much. Try to size soon after casting when the alloy hasn't stabilized. Then PC and size if needed.
 

Ian

Notorious member
I think it was Bama who did the cable-pulling lube thing for pre-sizing. I don't use any lube when pre-sizing bullets, just whang 'em through a Lee die. If it wears out in 5K bullets so what, cost vs. acetone or other solvent + time is a "wash", but no problems so far. I used to rinse the sized bullets in Varsol to get the lead and copper fines off of them before coating, but found that fines accumulate in the container anyway from my rather violent application method so instead I just pour out the BBs and dry wipe the container every 15-20 batches and that takes care of both powder contamination and the fines from sizing AND shaking. Size dry, throw in the coating container, shake-pick-place-bake. I also post-size dry as the coating is very slick and requires no lube.
 

fiver

Well-Known Member
sticking to the cup and not the bullets is the lead I would follow.
either your not generating enough static or there is something on the bullets.
a high tin content in the alloy can retard adherence too.
 

wquiles

Well-Known Member
Thank you guys for the great insights. I was planning on casting this coming weekend, so I will have more "raw" bullets to try some of these tips/suggestions soon. As I always do, I will post pictures :)
 

waco

Springfield, Oregon
What was your alloy? I had a very similar thing happen when trying to pc the 90/6/4 alloy. I could not get the pc to stick.
 

wquiles

Well-Known Member
What was your alloy? I had a very similar thing happen when trying to pc the 90/6/4 alloy. I could not get the pc to stick.
It has been mixed and re-mix over the years, so I have zero idea what the alloy is :(
 

waco

Springfield, Oregon
Higher Sn/Sb content? I think that was my problem. The bullets are slightly frosted but VERY slick. The powder just didn’t want to stick.
 

popper

Well-Known Member
IMHO Ian has the best solution I just pour out the BBs and dry wipe the container every 15-20 batches and that takes care of both powder contamination and the fines from sizing AND shaking. Inside of the tubs get rough from swirl and hold powder also. Any moisture accumulation in the abraded spots will retain powder. Beads and BBs get smaller with use so yea, lots of 'junk' in the bowl. PC really is cheap.
 
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