when i first set out to figure out how to fabricate a cartridge case that would be a reasonable facsimile of the .30/280 brit, if not exactly a duplication or replication, i stated that i sought to do so using common sources of materials and tools, and that i wished to avoid the cost and difficulty of making the .280 brit itself.
in my first article, i noted that if a proper set of .30/280 british sizing & forming dies, and chamber reamers and other allied articles could be found, that they would be horribly expensive. and, so it has turned out.
rather, i limited my approach to using things readily at hand in terms of tools and materials, and that would be reasonably expensive.
"and, it turns out, that the .30/280 british cartridge is going to be relatively easy to duplicate, at least in spirit and in general dimensions."
"i think my solution, when you consider it from the dearth of resources available, and potential costs involved in doing it the conventional way, is, well, just pretty damned elegant."
note: read the posts. they are indexed.
drew, from www.barking-moonbat.com, has informed me that reloading dies for the .30/280 brit are available from several sources, which i have related previously in another post. he wonders if that has dampened my enthusiasm for my project?
not in the least. as expected, the reloading dies (mentioned by drew) retail at about $170, exclusive of tax, shipping & handling. if you buy the dies, you are going to have to buy a forming die. and, if you go beyond making cases to actually making a rifle to shoot, you are going to have to buy a chamber reaming die, and the services of a gun smith with machining skills to fabricate a barrel for you, and to install and head space it on a receiver.
you are looking at close to a $1000, and perhaps $1500 if you buy a top notch "match grade" barrel.
my way is far easier, far cheaper, and gives you a cartridge/cartridge case combination that is very little different in some respects from the original .30/280 british, in terms of dimension and performance, and which is in some respects superior to the original design. some work is involved, yes, but you are not going to avoid work even if you buy the "original" die sets. you are still going to have to fabricate & load your own cases, and you are gonna have to learn about bullets and powders and such.
the case i have fabricated is one stout little dear. she's rugged. she'll stand the test of time, and use, and she'll stand beside you.
look at the little dear. this is one very robust case. --
caption: these cases were section with an abrasive disk on a dremel tool. the marks on the case on the right were made by a screw holding the disk in place, ... , my apologies. but, look at the thickness of the case walls, especially in the case mouth holding the bullet. i do not know how the .30/280 british was fabricated, nor the dimensions of the case walls. but, if they were heavier than those obtained by fabricating the "brit" from a once fired .243 winchester case, i would be very surprised, indeed.
caption: i want you to notice a couple things revealed in this photo, (besides the fact that i am not an accomplished photographer, which is rather obvious.) 1.)see the darkened ring in the interior of the case mouth, about 40% up the case mouth from the top of the shoulder? well, that "ring" is the junction of the case body and the case shoulder in the .243 winchester case from which the "brit" is fabricated. the case mouth above that is the slope of the shoulder, and the case mouth below it is from the cylinder/body of the case itself. friends, that portion of a case is very strong, perhaps stronger than any other part of the case with the exception of the head/web portion. 2.)notice how the exterior of the case mouth is shiny? that's because it has been "neck turned," e.g., the exterior of the case has had material removed from it by the operation of a small hand lathe. (turned by me, not an electric drill. right down to basics, here.) look at the bottom of the neck, (right hand side of the picture, to you) right where it joins the slope of the case shoulder. notice that the lathe turning actually goes beyond or past the point where the neck's cylinder is to be distinguished from the slope of the shoulder. and, notice, there is no diminution of the thickness of the case neck from the case shoulder caused by this. now look to the other side of the sectioned part, (left hand side of the picture, to you), and this is confirmed with absolute clarity. the case neck has not been reduced in thickness whatsoever by the cutting of the lathe in turning the outside of the neck. this is very sturdy construction, indeed.
i fully expect a long working life with these cases.
now, i will punish the first bunch of cases loaded and fired. i will use a small number, and i will fire them repeatedly, looking for signs of case fatigue & failure, such as cracking, splitting and stretching, & the like. i will do this, quite frankly, to see if any corrective steps have to be made in case fabrication in order to eliminate weak places in the case.
a word about annealing. case annealing is a way to relieve stress left in the material and its form caused by the rigors of case fabrication. when these cases were formed, a larger case was made into a smaller case, and a great amount of material (relative to the material in a given case) was moved and displaced to make a new form. now, the original cases were pretty robust structures to begin with, and i have taken and moved them, and it took some force to do it. it wasn't easy moving the resizing press handle, when the case shoulder of the .243 winchester was moved up into the part of the 7mm-08 die that forms the neck: the shoulder had to be squeezed down substantially in diameter, and moved down the case into thicker case walls.
it took some fiddling around to figure out how to do that, and i still loose a case now and again to the rigors of case fabrication, by way of cracks, splits and just outright collapse of the case walls. there is no redeeming such failure.
if stresses such as this have left the brass weakened, or "work hardened," then those defects will show up in case failures of one sort or another during firing.
if they do, i will have to "anneal" the brass, which is to heat it and then quickly quench it in water, in order to soften it and to relieve the stress. quenching brass in water works exactly the opposite of quenching steel in water, ... , quenching steel "freezes" it in the crystalline structure at the temperature in which it is placed in the water, even though the water eventually cools the steel. it tends to harden steels, and can make it brittle. quenching brass at a higher than ambient temperature tends to soften brass, and to make it more malleable.
so far i haven't, and i hope i don't have to.
time will tell.
conclusion of these articles on fabrication.
this is it.
any other articles will be on the process of loading the cartridges with primer, powder and bullet and shooting them to evaluate performance.
you've had pretty good reportage on this part of it, as it has transpired. warts, mistakes, the whole shebang as she happened.
it's been fun for me.
john jay @ 04.13.2012
p.s. update: go here, for pictures of sectioned .30/280 british cases, and bullets. http://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkas:280_30_British_Ammunition.jpg . it does not appear to me that the original military cases are as robust as the ones i have fabricated for "jj's brit." i will look around to see if i can find case wall thickness dimensions, and provide some comparison. end update.