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Thread: plastic Smith tubes

  1. #1
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    plastic Smith tubes

    Has anyone had a problem with the plastic Smith tubes "growing" with use? Mine fit the chamber loosely when new, but seem to get larger the more they are used. The bullet fits snugly when the tubes are new and get progressively looser with use, and the tube gets tighter and tighter in the chamber until they will no longer go in the chamber. I mentioned this to a suttler and was told that no one else had ever complained about this but me. :roll:
    Fletcher Pastore
    Cockade Rifles

  2. #2
    Joe Plakis, 9575V is offline
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    Re: plastic Smith tubes

    Yes I have experienced the same issue but have found a fix for the problem, I size the tubes! I made a custom die set for a Lyman single stage sizer that reforms the tubes. I load tubes for four different guns and have been using the same tubes for years. What I found was that some tubes would go in but would not come out without pliers
    Joe Plakis XXVIII
    Middle-Atlantic Region
    SAC
    9575V

    "Great leadership does not mean running away from reality. Sometimes the hard truths might just demoralize the company, but at other times sharing difficulties can inspire people to take action that will make the situation better." John Kotter

  3. #3
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    Re: plastic Smith tubes

    Fletcher, The problem with the black Smith tube is they are made out of the same material that milk bottles are made out of. The heat resistance of the material is rotten to say the least. I did a lot of research on the Smith tubes and the best ones were the old white nylon tubes. If you put a rivet in the touch hole they lasted for ever. If you do the math this means the suttlers sell fewer Smith tubes. I looked into getting a injection mold to make the tubes three years ago and it cost around $8,000.00 to make the first tube. The cost of the tubes was very good. The cheap black plastic were $277 per thousand, the nylon were $381 per thousand. Needless to say we are stuck buying the cheap black "milk bottle Polyetheylene" tubes unless the guy making them has a change of heart and uses better material.

    Joe Plakis Jr (the older Joe Plakis)

  4. #4
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    Re: plastic Smith tubes

    Would somebody be interested in making a die (and a flat-ended pusher) like Joe Plakis, 9575V describes for a Lyman Lubrisizer? I have had this swelling problem too, as I suppose have many others also.
    14th Miss Inf Rgt, CSA/N-SSA, NRA Life Mbr, no longer shooting

  5. #5
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    Re: plastic Smith tubes

    Ken
    I made a die set for the Smith tubes for mysel 7 my son and several others. If you are interested in a set send me an email. I need you sized bullet size and the time to make it for you.
    Joe Plakis Jr.

  6. #6
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    Re: plastic Smith tubes

    Gentlemen:
    I had the same problem with the black plastic Smith tubes. The first time around I turned the necks down with my Craftman metal lathe. This worked for awhile until they grew even more so I turned them down full length. Haven't had any problems since. Also, had to turn down the brass Smith tubes so the would not stick in the gun.
    Lee

  7. #7
    Scott Culver is offline
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    Re: plastic Smith tubes

    I have also experienced the occasional black plastic smith tube that no longer fits. I'm not sure it is firing them that has caused them to swell. I discovered rounds I prepared more than six months ago were slightly swollen around the bullet when compared to rounds I prepared more recently. I believe over time the bullet’s friction fit stretches the tube. So, I try not to prepare too many rounds in advance.
    Scott Culver
    McGregor's 2nd Battery

  8. #8
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    Re: plastic Smith tubes

    Joe, Jr. I'll probably take you up on that, but not just yet. I've been shooting .517 bullets, but am considering .516--must test first. Would also like to mike my chamber--have a Hoyt-relined Navy Smith. Must also ask this Q, for myself & others; "Have you been sizing those black cases before or after loading them?" Also don't know how to look up your email address--mine is Ken@ShilohGuide.com--please email me so I will have it. Thanks.
    14th Miss Inf Rgt, CSA/N-SSA, NRA Life Mbr, no longer shooting

  9. #9
    BillWeitz is offline
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    Re: plastic Smith tubes

    When I started having this problem I tried checking the size of the non-loaded tube, pitching any that didn't slide easily in the breach. After loading I found some tubes would still give me problems. I have a theory that the plastic becomes softer over time and is then more prone to give way to the bullet squeezing in. I've heard of people drilling the tube to fix the problem. I have found buying new tubes once a season works best for me, plus I don't worry about flash hole size changing. I just need to come up with a methode of knowing how many seasons a tube has been shot so I can take it out of circulation prior to haveing a problem on the line.

  10. #10
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    Re: plastic Smith tubes

    I tried sizing the loaded tubes and the accuracy went to pot. If you size a Black plastic Smith tube with a bullet in it they tend to cock in the tube. I size the tubes then load. As for how long a tube will last. Like I stated earlier we have four Smiths in the family and each one has a different chamber size. Making all the chambers the same was not an option as we found out the tubes expand from the force of the cartridge being fired and the heat from the powder burning. (Try putting a torch to an old black Smith tube and you will see what the heat does.) Sooner or later they start to stick when you try to take them out. Having pliers was required on occasion to remove a stuck tube. Turning the tube down on a lathe is good for a couple of more shots. The next thing you see by turning the tubes down is you need larger bullets to keep them in the tube. Sizing was the answer!
    As far as when to get new tubes we put rivets in the touch holes of all our new tubes, wash and size after using and we started out with 450 tubes about 5 years ago and if I had to guess we are now down about 20 tubes. We split one tube firing it, lost several and buggered up a few trying to size the tubes too fast (you can not cock them when you size them.). As for the touch holes, they are almost the same size as the day we first put in the rivets.
    I think one thing we all have to understand is the Smith tubes the suttlers sell us are “one size fits all” and they are made of the cheapest material they can get. After all if they lasted like the old white Nylon tubes that Mike Yeck sold they would last a long time and we would have to buy fewer Smith tubes.
    The real answer is to have “custom made” brass Smith tubes made for your gun. But then again the brass tubes are “one size fits all” also and they are not cheap! At this point I'll continue puting in rivets and sizing my tubes!

    Joe Plakis Jr.

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