Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

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Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

Postby Silvers » Thu Mar 12, 2020 5:09 pm

So last Saturday I cranked up one of my idle MEC 9000’s to reload (100) 12-gauge shells with a favorite load for casual sporting clays ….. Remington Gun Club hulls with XY.Z grains of Alliant E3 powder and 1 ounce of 7-1/2’s. Velocity 1150 with relatively mild recoil. That particular 9000 press has long been set up for that load which I use in all my SxS’s and pump guns. I fired (50) of the reloads on Sunday along with (50) factory shells. That was in a Winchester Model 12 pump gun and all was well except that one of the reloads was a squib load that sounded pretty weak but the shot and wad did clear the barrel.

Yesterday I was out with a Winchester Model 21 Trap double gun, starting to get in gear for upcoming SxS events. I was going to shoot the remaining (50) reloads along with (50) factory loads. About ½ way around the course I fired at a clay and the report was exceptionally loud and the recoil very severe. One of my buddies said the gun had "doubled" but I didn’t hear or feel two quick and distinct reports. Then upon opening the 21 the left hull ejected, and the right shell was unfired and it extracted as normal (I had the trigger set for left barrel first).

Ok what happened? As best I can figure the squib load on Sunday resulted from powder that had somehow clogged up in the drop tube and that hull received only a small partial charge. Then the very next hull on the carousel received the proper charge from the charge bar PLUS what had lodged in the drop tube. The result was a pretty severe overload and that’s the one I shot yesterday. How much of an overload is unknown but considering that weak squib load it must have been pretty hot.

More on my conjecture that powder clogged up in the drop tube: Well, I usually fill the powder and shot bottles on the 9000 and leave the remaining contents in those bottles until the next time at the press. The E3 powder on Saturday was there in the bottle for way longer than usual, maybe about six weeks while I and my buddies were concentrating on shooting small bores. Did that long interval of weeks cause the powder to clump up? Is there another explanation?

I don’t remember reading this caution before but from now on I’ll remove the powder bottle from the press after done loading and dump the remaining powder back into the factory container.

On reflection I’m happy I was shooting that Model 21 yesterday. Winchester reported one of them fired 2000 Proof Loads each with “seven and one-half tons pressure” with no ill effects.

FMI, I’m attaching three pics:

1) See how the metal base on the hull expanded into the cut-out in the breech that holds the left ejector. The hull base in that area is now eccentric by .008” and mind you, the Gun Club hulls are unibody and don’t have a separate base wad.

2) The second pic shows the flattened primer with the start of a crater rim, and how powder gasses escaped around part of the primer pocket; this is a twice fired hull and the primer wasn't loose in the pocket

3) Last pic shows how the plastic hull material (second hull from the right) extruded forward by about .060” as compared with the other fired hulls shown for comparison.

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Last edited by Silvers on Fri Mar 13, 2020 7:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

Postby Stan Hoover » Thu Mar 12, 2020 6:33 pm

Hello Frank,
glad that nothing worse happened, from the looks of that shell, you had some serious pressure.

People ask me why I reload, I guess because I enjoy doing it with my son? I have heard different people report bad things happening with progressive reloaders and I always have this in the back of my mind when reloading. My Ponsness Warren specifically has stickers on the each reservoir about draining shot and powder after each use, I never have, maybe I'll have to give it some more thought.

I'm glad you were shooting the strongest SXS action produced in USA!
Thanks for posting this, it is a good reminder.
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Re: Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

Postby kgb » Thu Mar 12, 2020 6:39 pm

Scary! As a habit I do not leave powder in presses although I don't think it should cause clumping.

A friend showed up for Skeet league one day and his Citori sounded like a cannon. He came off station 1 and I asked about his reloads. He said they were done as usual but I had him go buy some factory shells for that day. He went home and found someone had tweaked his charge bar, both powder and shot were apparently adjustable. He lived in an apartment and some maintenance folks had been in the previous week. Added to my paranoia about reloading, as does your tale here.
Bore, n. Shotgun enthusiast's synonym for "gauge" ; everybody else's synonym for "shotgun enthusiast." - Ed Zern
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Re: Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

Postby Stan Hillis » Thu Mar 12, 2020 7:56 pm

Excellent reminder to check that powder I left in the bottle since last reloading session. I have regularly left it in the bottles, and if I continue to I will make it a habit to check it closely before beginning to load.

As to getting paranoid about reloading, I won't because of this incident. I will, however, be more diligent to double check everything before starting, then weigh a few loads to reassure myself the charge is correct.

Thanks, Frank. SRH
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Re: Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

Postby Jeff S » Thu Mar 12, 2020 10:18 pm

I haven’t reloaded in close to 30 years, but I’m pretty sure that when I did, I left powder in the pipeline. Thanks for the warning, and glad that you weren’t injured.
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Re: Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

Postby jolly bill » Thu Mar 12, 2020 11:55 pm

Frank,

Something like that sure is a head scratcher and you try to determine just how that happened. Your observation seems to make sense. And on a 9000, you might not notice an over loaded round that had perhaps had a 1.5 +/- times powder charge that when finished, drops out the back of the loader.

I've never used a MEC 9000 for loading. I started with a single stage MEC Sizemaster but have graduated to a MEC 8567 Grabber which is sort of a manually operated progressive. And with that, something amiss may be a little more obvious. And especially, each loaded round has to be physically removed and can be inspected.

Always good to start out weighing several cycles of powder and shot charges to make sure they are what you think they should be. And as we all know when loading, always on the alert of the primer feed to make sure a primer dropped and not up side down. And of course having shot and powder in the bottles.

Luckily, I've never had any mishaps that I didn't find, even with my nice soft shooting 12 gauge, 1/2 ounce loads. And that's just about all I load these days.

I think anyone that reloads can use your incident as a reminder to check all those details and empty those bottles in their correct containers, especially the powder.

Good that your robust M21 took that load in stride. And you too.

Jolly
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Re: Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

Postby scaupman » Fri Mar 13, 2020 8:13 am

Frank - Glad you and the gun are OK!

I always check for defective crimps when boxing freshly loaded shells, or on the trap line, when I put shells in the chamber while waiting for my turn to shoot. A squib load may have a noticeable concave crimp, whereas a shell with double drop of powder may have a bulged outward crimp. For any squib load, I always check the bore to be sure the wad cleared and is not presenting an obstruction for the next loaded shell. Shoot Safely!
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Re: Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

Postby Silvers » Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:04 am

Thanks everyone for your kind comments. Yes that shot on Wednesday definitely got my attention. I've reloaded shotshells for over two decades now and never had anything like this happen.

Allan, the charge of Alliant E3 I use is relatively light and this morning just for test I loaded one Gun Club hull with 1.5 X that powder charge and the rest of the loading operations went as usual and the crimp looked typical and without a trace of a bulge. Then when I cut that shell apart I found the powder tightly compressed. Those of you who load light so-called "low pressure" shotgun loads with any powder should be aware of this. Incidentally that 1.5 X weight of Alliant E3 is way over the max shown in Alliant's loading data for my GC hull and components.

Here's some additional data.

One other possible factor: like most of my friends I use a "baffle" beneath the powder bottle to decrease the range of variability of the powder drops. Now, I don't know if it had anything to do with clumping of powder I left ~6 weeks in the press. You'll see in the last pic (looking down from the powder bottle) how there are two baffles that each block about 1/2 of the cross-section and cause the powder flow to reverse before getting to the powder bushing in the charge bar.

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31120-6.JPG
Last edited by Silvers on Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

Postby fox-admin » Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:33 am

Frank: I have had issues with the baffle. I found for some reason the drop of the powder was delayed. When I moved the press handle to the full upright position occasionally some powder would come out of the powder feed tube and spill out over the mouth of the case which was still in the powder station. I use MEC 9000's and 9000H machines and no longer use the baffle.
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Re: Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

Postby jolly bill » Fri Mar 13, 2020 12:26 pm

Silvers wrote: . . . . .Allan, the charge of Alliant E3 I use is relatively light and this morning just for test I loaded one Gun Club hull with 1.5 X that powder charge and the rest of the loading operations went as usual and the crimp looked typical and without a trace of a bulge. Then when I cut that shell apart I found the powder tightly compressed. Those of you who load light so-called "low pressure" shotgun loads with any powder should be aware of this. Incidentally that 1.5 X weight of Alliant E3 is way over the max shown in Alliant's loading data for my GC hull and components. . . . .

I should have thought more about that, ie, a 1.5 X weight of powder would be a very subtle increase in volume and probably pretty hard to see. Not so for a similar increase in the shot charge. That definitely would be more obvious.
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Re: Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

Postby Mike of the Mountain » Fri Mar 13, 2020 5:00 pm

Frank, another distinct possibility is a spider or some other insect could have worked it's way into your powder tube and caused the clog. I actually had that happen to me once. Loaded one shell fine, crimp looked a little recessed, then second shell overflowed. Found out I had a spider egg mass in the shell that fell from the drop tube. There was still some web in there I had to clear. It can happen this time of year as we do have heat in our reloading areas and spiders, etc are moving about.
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Re: Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

Postby jolly bill » Wed Mar 25, 2020 9:58 pm

Jim DeMunck, a world class engraver and a pretty darn good gun mechanic, follows the forum occasionally but not a registered user.

He sent me the following in regard to the suspect overcharge in that reload:

"Bill,
I was reading the thread on the Fox Forum about the overload/reload in the Win21.
viewtopic.php?f=46&t=9572

The one pic he included of the base of the shell is very familiar to me.
This one: Image

See the grains of powder stuck between the primer and the primer hole in the case? That shows that there was some powder from the previous drop stuck up in the drop tube.

When the next sized and deprimped shell moved over into position to station #2 (MEC9000) to be primed and charged, the new primer drops into place.
But before the deprimed hull can be brought down on that new primer to seat it in place, that stuck charge is freed from the drop tube (machine vibration?) and falls into the open hull.
Being that the hull is not yet primed some of that powder leaks out the back as the new primer is being seated. You get exactly what you see in the pic.
A seated primer with some powder grains stuck in place around it.

The rest of the 'extra' charge is still inside the hull. Then the machine drops the regular charge in on top of that. You have the extra charged hull. The one before it was the squib.

That's exactly the problem I was having with that last jug of Clays. Too light and fluffy & getting stuck in the drop tube.

I use a MEC 9000 also."

End of Jim's comments.

Seems to be pretty logical explanation.

Bill
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Re: Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

Postby Silvers » Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:31 am

Bill, thanks so much for posting and please thank Jim for me. His explanation makes perfect sense. The hull that's pictured is still on this desk with the computer; I just took a paper clip and picked at what I thought was powder residue around the spent primer. What I found was indeed unburned grains of E3 Alliant powder that were squashed between the rim of the primer and the base of the hull, against the standing breech and outside of the powder burn area of the hull.

Undoubtedly I had a partial blockage in the drop tube on my 9000 press and it dislodged and caused an overload in the next shell in the carousel. I still don't know why that happened but have gone to emptying the powder cannister after each reloading session and also using a piece of brass window screen in the funnel used to fill it. I'd also checked the powder drop tube right after this happened and found it clean as a whistle.

Thanks again to both of you.

frank
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Re: Happy it was a Winchester Model 21

Postby Sporrns » Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:07 am

Thanks Frank, Bill & Jim D. In my long but essentially undistinguished reloading career, I had this identical problem frequently reloading for the 28 gauge. Maybe it was the press I used (MEG 9000 G), maybe it was the atmospheric condition(s) in my gun room (I even went to fine copper wire(s) grounded to nearby metal pipes to help suppress electrostatic charge affecting the rheological properties of the powders I used), or maybe it was the various powders themselves. One time I noticed a round ready to come off the press turret that would not crimp enough to close properly after repeated tries. When I pulled it off and dissected it, I found a fresh primer in the powder charge below the wad. I often wonder what would have happened if the round had closed and crimped to tolerances and I had actually shot it in one of my guns......scary!! Kevin
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