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Thread: Hydraulic Fireforming

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    Happy Camper hcpookie's Avatar
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    Default Hydraulic Fireforming

    I did a double-take when looking at Hornady's latest catalog they mailed me. In the back is a section for custom dies, where they want you to let them build "anything you need".

    Pictured there is a hydraulic forming die, that is cut away so you can see the inside.


    WELL... looking around on the reloading forums, this seems to be an easy case forming method that is overlooked. It takes a hammer, some medium-weight oil (refrigerator pump oil is mentioned) and some time.

    The "garage" method seems to be that a full-length forming die is used, and either a cap or a base plate is used. The ram one person mentioned was to use a fiberglass rod, and a bullet turned upside-down and stuck into the case neck. Then "a few whacks with the hammer" and you're done.


    This sounds like a nice, easy alternative to fireforming with powder, no?

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    Gunco Maniac sjohnson's Avatar
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    It's messy (need to clean up the oil or dry out the water in the case), and not well suited to necking up a case. Good for taking new brass and forming it to your chamber size, though.

    If you're a benchrest shooter, with thousand dollar barrels it makes a lot of $en$e over fireforming. For most of us, fireforming 100 cases or so is a plinker's idle afternoon

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    Happy Camper hcpookie's Avatar
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    You know the oil mess would not bother me. Using a good mid-weight oil like hydraulic pump oil or perhaps even mineral oil, and the mess wouldn't be as bad as using automotive oil. That would stink! A 5-gallon bucket full of that orange degreaser at Home Depot & Lowe's would be PERFECT for cleaning off the brass after the fact. It really wouldn't be too big a mess to clean up. Assuming it splatters out of the hole for the plunger, a towel wrapped around that would solve most of the problem.

    That's a good point about necking-up the case. I can see where that would be a problem. Seems like it would be limited to case improvements that don't include re-necking. The one I read about on the accurate reloading forums was to resize an 8mm mauser to a longer case capacity, with an obviously shorter neck. Like an Ackley Improved, but not quite. He said bumping up the case neck was much easier than fireforming.

    I thought about this, and you could probably use the same full-length sizing die if you could find an appropriate plug for the ram. Replace the depriming pin with the plunger/plug and find a flat pipe cap or something else to secure the base. Didn't someone say that the reloading thread size was based on large semi-trailer lugs? Perhaps a scrap lug and bolt could be used as a cheap base. Or thread the FL die into the press about halfway, and thread a bolt into the bottom end. Either way, it would plug the base and you'd be OK.


    I'm thinking this would be a great way to get stuff done during the week nights when I'm unable to get to the range before it closes. Ya know?

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    Gunco Veteran muttman's Avatar
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    hc pookie,
    if you plan on using oil to form a case you might try mobil "dte light" or the likes of. it is used as a lube in pnumatic cylinders, tools. it is common on the market and not special used and should be cheper and easyer to get.
    muttman

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    Happy Camper hcpookie's Avatar
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    I found a few interesting tidbits on this:

    http://www.go2gbo.com/forums/index.p...#msg1098432652

    and


    http://forums.accuratereloading.com/...43/m/970108687


    The accurate reloading thread goes a few different directions, but one guy did create his setup (presumably on a lathe) and was very impressed with it

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    Gunco Irregular TRX's Avatar
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    Hmm... if you wanted to neck up some brass, why not machine a tapered plug to enter the case mouth while the case and die are submerged in oil? That way, the escaping oil would be opening up the case mouth, pushing it out and away from the plug.

    You wouldn't have to keep changing expander plugs in a regular die, and you would be less likely to crush a case while expanding it.

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    Gunco Maniac sjohnson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hcpookie View Post
    ...
    Didn't someone say that the reloading thread size was based on large semi-trailer lugs? Perhaps a scrap lug and bolt could be used as a cheap base. ...
    Semi-tractor tire lugs are precisely what was used "back in the day" to form what we now buy off the shelf. Any decent automotive supply will carry them, I've seen them being sold at NAPA. When you look at one, it'll be a "duh!" moment, the "genetics" are obvious.

    Add your lathe, and custom dies are yours to make!
    I have a daughter. I tell her, "911 is what you dial after you're raped. 1911 is what you should have before they try."

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    Happy Camper hcpookie's Avatar
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    HRM that's interessting. I need to find a NAPA store around here, as I don't know if we have one or not.

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    Gunco Maniac sjohnson's Avatar
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    Truck repair shops will have them. Ask for 7/8-14 Bus mount studs. Alternatively, buy some 7/8x14 bolts in whatever grade you can work comfortably with. Unless you plan on using the die for many thousands of forms, you probably don't need to use hardened/hardenable steel.

    McMaster-Carr has 7/8-14 steel hex-head cap screws. Assuming you'd want 4 inch long bolts, Grade 5 @ $5.07 each (fully threaded) and Grade 8 @ $5.46 each (partially threaded). I'd go with the 5's myself, easier to work with and no need to worry about threads.

    7/8 nuts are huge, so you may want to go with handloading locking rings.

    One nice thing is that since dies are short you can turn custom dies with even the small lathes. Boring a taper to match brass can be tricky, though.
    I have a daughter. I tell her, "911 is what you dial after you're raped. 1911 is what you should have before they try."

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