Hi guys. Respectfully, I don’t agree with two statements so far, based on my understanding of those statements (you all know I am getting senile…).
EOD - you mention that the high cost of the various machinery, including replacement, is irrespective of the quantity of cases manufactured. I conditionally don’t agree with you - I say conditionally, because it depends on the quantity produced and how fast the tooling actually does wear out in comparison to that of brass cases. The fact is that as quantity of any item produced on machinery goes up, the cost of each individual item produced is reduced. If it costs ten cents for one cartridge case made in a lot of 10,000, it will cost less than ten cents for each one if the lot produced is 1,000,000. The cost of the machinery is spread out over many more items, and it reaches a point where the machinery is “paid for” but the items keep flowing off the production line. I think I am sound on that in manufacturing.
Also, regarding the number of stages to be drawn, etc., since the equipment in major factories is automated and progressive, meaning that while one operation is done to one cup another operation is being done to another, I don’t think anything but the initial cost of the tooling is a factor there. I don’t see a time element very much involved (time is money) once the process of manufacture has reachrd the point, almost instantly, that each station of manufacture is performing their functions simultaneously. On a tiny level, I have loaded on progressive tools. My .45 tooling has one more step than the .38, due to crimping differences, but it takes me the same time to load 500 .45s as it does 500 .38s, because once each station has a case for processing, every time I pull down the handle once I have produced a loaded round. I think it is the same principle in high-production, fully automated equipment.
Again, if the actual raw materials for each item are much more expensive for steel than for brass, than my explanation above does not apply, since the raw material cost will be the same for each item no matter how many are made, generally speaking (not always, so don’t nail me to the cross on that one).
Ray - I am not sure I understand your comment about the U.S. investigating the manufacture of steel cases, but when realizing that brass supplies were not going to run out, abandoned the practice. I can only speak for Evansville Chrysler, for the most part, but they produced millions and millions of steel-case rounds in .30 Carbine and .45 A.C.P. and those lines were only shut down because projected use of those calibers, based on the war ending much, much later than it actually did, indicated that they had produced sufficient quantities to last the entire war to the projected ending.
It had nothing to do with finding out the brass was not going to run out. (I am using “brass” as a combined term for all the elements of its manufacture). We were still shooting that ammo in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Further, in .30 Carbine, WCC made it in steel cases in 1942 and 43 at least, and Frankford Arsenal made it in 1955. Lake City produced .30 Carbine in steel cases from 1953-1956. That was basically peacetime production, probably to replenish stocks consumed in Korea.
Regarding .45 Auto ammunition, aside from the enormous production levels reaached in WWII by Evansville Chrysler and Evansville Chrysler Sunbeam,
Frankford Arsenal made steel cased .45 from 1942 thru 1945, and then again a small lot in 1949. Remington seems to have only experimented with steel cases in 1942, and may have stopped due to the arrangements between the government and ECS for steel-cased .45. I don’t know that, but am making just an assumption that it may have been a factor. Winchester Repeating Arms made only a very small amount headstamped W.R.A. .45 A.C. and probably stopped because of EC as well, since they (WRA) were very helpful in helping set up production at Chrysler. However, in the period 1953 to 1956, WRA as well as Twin Cities made the .45 in steel cases as full production cartridges.
I think one thing was the primary cause for shutting down steel case production, at least in those two calibers during WWII, and that was projected need by quantity of ammunition produced, not considerations of future brass supply.
Just my opinion based on how much steel-cased ammo was around for the War, and still is today for that matter, from those years.