Author Topic: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon  (Read 14974 times)

Offline Coal Creek Griff

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #20 on: June 10, 2013, 12:06:40 PM »
I ended up doing this last night and it worked really well.  I chucked the die in the drill as I described and used a light touch on the finer grinding wheel, cooling often.  It took a short time to bring the die down to the target length.  I then used a flat file while the die was spinning to dress up the end and to create the outside chamfer.  I tried a reamer in the Dremel but switched to a fine grinding wheel in the Dremel, which worked better.  Under magnification, it looks like there was some chatter on that chamfer, but it certainly isn’t enough to matter.  I actually used steel wool to polish, skipping the sandpaper.  If it was something that people would be looking at or if it was a gun, I would have taken it through several levels of sandpaper and steel wool to get a high polish, but this will work just fine.  As a test, I took some brass that had been fired in my Uberti 1873 and resized in my die before.  I dropped them into the chambers of my Pietta revolver.  They dragged when the cylinder was rotated.  I then resized them again with the “new” die.  The cases easily fell into the chambers and the cylinder rotated freely.  The whole project took about 20 minutes.

CC Griff
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Offline Pettifogger

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #21 on: June 11, 2013, 12:59:42 AM »
I ended up doing this last night and it worked really well.  I chucked the die in the drill as I described and used a light touch on the finer grinding wheel, cooling often.  It took a short time to bring the die down to the target length.  I then used a flat file while the die was spinning to dress up the end and to create the outside chamfer.  I tried a reamer in the Dremel but switched to a fine grinding wheel in the Dremel, which worked better.  Under magnification, it looks like there was some chatter on that chamfer, but it certainly isn’t enough to matter.  I actually used steel wool to polish, skipping the sandpaper.  If it was something that people would be looking at or if it was a gun, I would have taken it through several levels of sandpaper and steel wool to get a high polish, but this will work just fine.  As a test, I took some brass that had been fired in my Uberti 1873 and resized in my die before.  I dropped them into the chambers of my Pietta revolver.  They dragged when the cylinder was rotated.  I then resized them again with the “new” die.  The cases easily fell into the chambers and the cylinder rotated freely.  The whole project took about 20 minutes.

CC Griff

Good job.  That's how I set up my .44-40s (in fact all three of the Winchester bottlenecks, .32-20, .38-40, and .44-40).  I pick the gun with the shortest chamber and shorten the dies to fit that gun.  Then the ammo will fit in the guns with longer chambers.  The only other major variable is bullet/throat diameter.  Most of the modern .44-40s will use .429 bullets.  Colts and some older .44-40s need .427 bullets or they won't chamber.

Offline HL Hunley

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #22 on: June 12, 2013, 04:11:36 AM »
Sir Charles - thank you!

Coal Creek Griff - good work! That makes me feel I can shorten my own die if it ever becomes necessary.

Pettifogger - great idea working on the shortest.

The real test will be Saturday, that's when I get to shoot my new rounds.

Cheers,
HL
Greenhorn | SASS #94810 | "A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds." Mark Twain

Offline HL Hunley

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2013, 01:10:05 AM »
Shot on Saturday and all went well. Resiszing was the key for me, and thankfully without having to machine the dies. I understand the cowboy dies are also a good bet.

Thank s everyone for all the advice and help.

Best,
HL
Greenhorn | SASS #94810 | "A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds." Mark Twain

Offline Montana Slim

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2013, 08:00:45 AM »
A search of the archived threads would have saved much time on this.....and BTW, for those with Lee dies, call Lee...I did so 15+ years ago. They took mine back under warranty & cut them to minimum length, no charge. You can do the job at home if you have a steady hand and a flat honing stone. I performed this operation on a Lee .223 siziing die for my tight-chambered rifles.

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #25 on: Today at 06:49:44 PM »

Offline HL Hunley

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #25 on: June 30, 2013, 08:01:16 AM »
Montana: "A search of the archived threads would have saved much time on this." I did search, it's a useful tool. I must have phrased the search mighty odd because I jes couldn't get anything relevant on .44-40s and this problem! What did you find in the archives, and how did you get good search results?

But all these replies have been helpful.

If I had to alter my die, I can see a lot of ways, and afterall, it ain't actually much to alter, and if ruined, one die aint the end of the world.

What disappoints (frustrates?!) me is that I will now have to always resize every round. The rifle has diff dims to pistol, so once fired in the rifle the round that fit the Smokewagon won't anymore. You'd think a  set of standards would be the solution, but apparently not.

At least it's all working. That Saturday shoot went well, nice BP going BA-BOOM! without any hiccups (except for some BP fouling, but I had petroleum oil lube in a few nooks and crannies).
Greenhorn | SASS #94810 | "A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds." Mark Twain

Offline Fox Creek Kid

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #26 on: July 01, 2013, 10:42:42 AM »
...What disappoints (frustrates?!) me is that I will now have to always resize every round. The rifle has diff dims to pistol, so once fired in the rifle the round that fit the Smokewagon won't anymore. You'd think a  set of standards would be the solution, but apparently not...


That is because the 44-40 is, by modern standards, ancient and the later SAAMI specs vary greatly, hence the variation. The only solution is to have the chambers reamed aftermarket with the same reamer or you can simply segregate your loaded rounds, i.e., one set for one gun & another for another gun.


Offline HL Hunley

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #27 on: July 03, 2013, 02:26:52 AM »
Hmmm, I like the idea of having rh chambers reamed...wheels are turning.  Thanks!
Greenhorn | SASS #94810 | "A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds." Mark Twain

Offline Judge Lead

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #28 on: July 17, 2013, 02:00:43 AM »
Reaming the chambers is a good way of doing things, so long as you can find the particular chamber reamer.
Here in Australia, we do not have the number of gunsmiths you guys in the states have (in fact, we have very few gunsmiths) and trying to find someone here who has one  :-\ .

I have used a 44 Special/Mag taper crimp dye with good results on the 44/40's.

Regards
When we were younger, the days seemed to drag. As we get older, we wish they would.

Offline HL Hunley

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #29 on: July 17, 2013, 04:32:26 AM »
Thanks, Judge!
Greenhorn | SASS #94810 | "A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds." Mark Twain

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #30 on: Today at 06:49:44 PM »

Offline sail32

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2013, 10:56:46 AM »
I have a habit of overdoing the roll crimp in my .44-40 reloads.
The solution, mentioned elsewhere, was to pull the decapping die and run the cartridges through the full length resizing die when they did not fit my Pietta Colt copy or my Uberti rifles..
The final solution was to use a Lee Factory Crimp Die and skip the roll crimp.
The gunsmith solutions seemed a bit extreme to me.

Offline Rowdy Fulcher

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #31 on: August 12, 2013, 05:39:37 PM »
Howdy
I use a factory crimp die , but still have an occasional problem with chambering  a round . so after I load a bunch of 44'wcf I run them through the sizing die without the decapper . I don't have this problem when using the .427 bullets but my Uberti's need a .429 there's where my problem is . Good luck and Happy shooting .

Offline HL Hunley

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #32 on: August 25, 2013, 08:10:40 AM »
Howdy Rowdy,

I started with .427s, but after slugging, I need .429s as well. I've bought the Big Lube mold (THAT was funny when my wife saw the VISA bill "WHAT is this?! 'Dick Dastardly's Big Lube'...some kinda porno toy?")

Now that I've adjusted my case resizing die, everything seems fine
Greenhorn | SASS #94810 | "A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds." Mark Twain

Offline Ken J Dyck

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Re: .44-40 rounds won't fit new Smokewagon
« Reply #33 on: December 13, 2020, 01:21:49 PM »
If you look at a factory new round the shoulder is way back. When fire the shoulder will move to the shoulder in the chamber and may not fit in any chamber that has the shoulder in a different spot. To get the shoulder pushed back it may be necessary to grind a bit off the reloading die so it will move the shoulder back. I say grind because a file will not go through the case hardened surface of a die. This is best done with a lathe and a tool post grinder. You only want to take enough off to allow the cartridge to fit the gun. The case hardness may only be a few thou thick.

A few posts later you said "When setting the shoulder back, don't go any more than needed. If the brass gets worked to much in the shoulder it will soon fail."

Sincerely, and with due respect: "a bit" and "too much" is a bit non committal IMHO. I've loaded for rifle and I've needed to have the case sized more, ie move the shoulder back more than the shellholder and die would allow. I prefer to have a custom shellholder, but I have shortened dies. With a bottlenecked rifle cartridge, other than the 44-40 & 38-40, the theory or established standard is to have around 0.003" shoulder setback, the ideal. If you have any more than 0.012" you will have issues. 0.007" is still OK. Setting it for 0.001" or 0.002" is a bit too tight, not much room for error/tolerance.

If you load on a progressive that has a shellplate, setting a die at touching plus 1/4 turn, not really a good thing, so, shortening the die is pretty much the only option.

So: on a 44-40 case, I don't think that I'd want to adjust for a shoulder setback of only 0.003". After all, without the die and shellholder being able to have the option of zero clearance, that could lead to issues. I checked my ammunition and I'm setting the shoulder back 0.045". I have a Redding die, and this is the setback that occurs with 0.125" clearance between the die and the shellplate platform on my Dillon 550. I've not completed any case life evaluation yet, but my guess is that I'm not going to see any. I've used a hammer and mandrel to straighten out the odd folded neck on an errant 44-40 case and that brass is very malleable.

I've seen some factory ammo with the shoulder 0.080" back from touching the shoulder of the chamber, and some ammunition and most new brass comes without a shoulder at all. Some ammo has a full circumference stab crimp under the base of the bullet. Upon firing, it's all good.

It's my opinion, that the 44-40 has it's own rules, somewhat reminiscent of my time spent with the 38-55 in a Winchester 94. As such, I'm not sure that sizing fired brass back down to new brass specs would lead to any issues. Without a sizing die with that ability, I can't test that theory.

Does anyone have any experience with "excessive" shoulder setback initiating undue brass failure?

Nitro (aka Big Boston)

Addendum: WRT shellplates, they work on a different set of standards than the common ram mounted shellholder. The industry standard for shellholder is that they add 0.125" (1/8 inch) to the chamber length of the die. There are 2 parts to a 7/8 FL die, the die itself and the shellholder is that other part. That is the reason the Redding shellholder sets work with any brand of FL die. My progressive is a Dillon, and the shellplates for it are not 0.125" thick (the distance between the bottom of the plate and the surface that the die can touch. I measured three, two were around 0.121" and the third was at 0.151". My 44-40 plate measures 0.109". I'm not too impressed with the "Precision" part of Dillon. My point being, setting the die to "touch" is not a precise setting. IMNSHO running a progressive press requires a bit more reloading knowledge than is required to run a single stage press. "Monkey running a spaceship" came to mind, and I apologise to any monkeys that take exception to my comment, it was not meant as an insult. Monkeys are intelligent, but only a few have ever operated a spaceship.

Nitroexpress (aka Big Boston)

Update: It occurred to me that I did have a way to set the shoulder back a bit more. I took the decapping pin out of my LEE FL die and used it like a LEE loader. IOW I pressed the case into the die to the hilt, rim solid against the die. This will push the shoulder back at least 0.060" more than using a standard shellholder. I measured, the shoulder was pushed back 0.076" on a freshly fired cartridge. Thus began the test. I used 5 cases from a box of factory ammunition. They had been fired and reloaded twice. I trimmed the cases after sizing, three needed trimming. I then reloaded them as normal, fired the ammunition and repeated. If a case needed trimming I noted it, if the trimming cutter touched less than half the circumference of the mouth, it was called a touch.

1: trim = 3, touch = 0
2: trim = 0, touch = 3
3: trim = 0, touch = 1
4: trim = 0, touch = 3
5: trim = 0, touch = 1
6: trim = 1, touch = 0   
7: trim = 0, touch = 2
8: trim = 0, touch = 2
9: trim = 0, touch = 2
10: just reload as normal after firing.



The picture is of the same five cases loaded after 10 test oversizings and firing. I certainly wouldn't have any hesitation in taking 0.060 off the bottom of my LEE die. I didn't see any evidence of any abnormal case stretching. I didn't see any indication of case fatigue.

 

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