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Old 08-08-2017, 07:07 PM
38SPL HV 38SPL HV is offline
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Default Alternatives to tumble cleaning brass

...in the past I've used fine steel wool and also " Scotchbrite" non scratch pads to brighten up my cases. I mainly clean the first 1/4 length of the case beginning from the case mouth. I then take any remaining surface residence off with a rag. These were methods used decades ago before tumblers became popular. And no, you don't require sparkling bright cases to have them shoot accurately.

Your methods?
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Old 08-08-2017, 07:13 PM
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I'm still a tumbler guy.

Been thinking about other methods though. I tend to do things in bulk so your method would be a little too time consuming for me.

I'm thinking either ultrasonic or maybe the stainless pins in a rotary tumbler. I heard about a guy that actually uses the stainless pins in a cement mixer and can clean brass by the five gallon bucket load.
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Old 08-08-2017, 07:33 PM
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That sounds even worse and more time consuming than tumbling.

I just rinse off the brass and let it dry. I have 25+ reloads on 38 and .357 batches of brass and 10+ reloads on .30-06 batches using this method.
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Old 08-08-2017, 07:34 PM
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It doesn't make them shiny like tumbling them does, but soaking them in Citric Acid solution (2 Tblsp/gallon) overnight does clean them up somewhat. Like the old gunfighter's tombstone: "Here lies ol' Bill under the grass. The other guy had shinier brass"

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Old 08-08-2017, 07:37 PM
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Default I wash them in a colander.

I wash them in a colander, but it's more work and doesn't do the job of tumbling.

Hint: Stick a hair dryer in the pile of cases and heat them up til you can' pick them up. The heat will distribute nicely. Let them cool off. Stir and repeat if needed. (I make sure the water is dumped out before this.)
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Old 08-08-2017, 07:42 PM
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I also use an aluminum spaghetti strainer. Put them in a warm oven for a few hours to dry them out. Always deprime before any wet cleaning.
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Old 08-08-2017, 07:43 PM
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That hair dryer tip seems a little time consuming. I washed some brass once and I just stuck it in the oven for about fifteen minutes on the lowest setting to dry it out.
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Old 08-08-2017, 08:10 PM
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Brass cleaning the most talked about topic in all reloading forums!

I gave up cleaning as I learned on the internet that NEW cases provide the utmost in accuracy, so I just throw away all the once fired brass and buy new brass for every load.
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Old 08-08-2017, 08:25 PM
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I have used several hand methods, over the years. Until I could afford a tumbler. Back in the day, about the only thing readily available was Thumbler's and they were still mostly advertising to rock polishers. Bought a Model B in the mid 1970s and never really looked back ( I have strayed to a vibrator type when I fell into one for cheap but always returned to the Model B) Bought a second one, new, at a gun show in about 05 (again for cheap, about 50 bucks). I have used walnut both treated and plain, corn cob, both treated and plain and finally a drilling product called "Nut-Plug" (It was free and came in broken 50 lb bags) which is mainly walnut or pecan shells. All worked. Sometimes well. Sometimes not so much. About 5 years ago I started to read about SS pins and decided to give them a try. Along with a detergent and a little lemishime they worked well. But what a pain in the butt to deal with. Very labor intensive. Pins scattered from Hell to breakfast and several extra rinses it just wasn't worth it to me just to get clean primer pockets. (many years ago, during my PPC years, I washed pistol cases in soap and water with good result. The cases were not grungy they were just smoky. ) I decided to try the wash method again, this time with the addition of the lemishine. Worked nearly as well as the pins but without the extra labor and mess. Anyway, the pins and magnet went down the trail, at a local gunshow, about a year ago(lost money on that deal!). That is where I am at now and it works for me.
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Old 08-08-2017, 08:50 PM
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Rule3...really...new brass? Or are you trying to sell that bridge in Brooklyn?

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Old 08-08-2017, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by GB View Post
I have used several hand methods, over the years. Until I could afford a tumbler. Back in the day, about the only thing readily available was Thumbler's and they were still mostly advertising to rock polishers. Bought a Model B in the mid 1970s and never really looked back ( I have strayed to a vibrator type when I fell into one for cheap but always returned to the Model B) Bought a second one, new, at a gun show in about 05 (again for cheap, about 50 bucks). I have used walnut both treated and plain, corn cob, both treated and plain and finally a drilling product called "Nut-Plug" (It was free and came in broken 50 lb bags) which is mainly walnut or pecan shells. All worked. Sometimes well. Sometimes not so much. About 5 years ago I started to read about SS pins and decided to give them a try. Along with a detergent and a little lemishime they worked well. But what a pain in the butt to deal with. Very labor intensive. Pins scattered from Hell to breakfast and several extra rinses it just wasn't worth it to me just to get clean primer pockets. (many years ago, during my PPC years, I washed pistol cases in soap and water with good result. The cases were not grungy they were just smoky. ) I decided to try the wash method again, this time with the addition of the lemishine. Worked nearly as well as the pins but without the extra labor and mess. Anyway, the pins and magnet went down the trail, at a local gunshow, about a year ago(lost money on that deal!). That is where I am at now and it works for me.
I agree. I find the soap and water method works well, costs about nothing, takes a minor amount of time, and gets the brass fairly clean and even relatively shiny.

I usually do this during the evening in 1 quart plastic containers (old coffee jars) with screw on lids:
-4 parts hot water.
-1 part cleaning strength (6%) white vinegar.
-*Dash of NaCl (table salt)*. Edit: I use so little salt it's probably irrelevant and another poster (hdwhit in post #13) does raise an important point and what he describes can happen with too much salt.
-Liquid detergent (5 drops) to give plenty of suds.
-While engaged in some important activity like looking through this forum I agitate the container(s) for about 30 seconds every 15-30 minutes over a period of 1-2 hours.
-Rinse off the brass.
-Place wet brass on old cookie sheet in the oven set at about 200 degree F.
-Turn off oven before bedtime.
-Voila, dry as a bone brass the next morning.
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Old 08-08-2017, 10:06 PM
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Quote:
Dwalt wrote:
...soaking them in Citric Acid solution (2 Tblsp/gallon) overnight does clean them up somewhat.
At that concentration, overnight may be too long for optimal results. I use 1 teaspoon per quart of water (1/6 the amount of citric acid in 1/4 the amount of water) and soak the cases for about fifteen minutes agitating them every five minutes or so to ensure that where the cases are touching gets exposed to the acid.

I then rinse them thoroughly and let them air dry overnight. After resizing, I tumble in walnut media for at least two hours to remove the sizing lubricant. This imparts a fairly nice shine.
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Old 08-08-2017, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
g8rb8 wrote:
-Dash of NaCl (table salt).
I urge everyone to NOT use salt in processing their brass. The salt makes the brass shine by creating an electrical gradient at the surface of the brass. And because salt is a highly polar molecule, it is extremely difficult to remove from the surface of the brass (including the interior surfaces) and its presence will promote future corrosion.
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Old 08-08-2017, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Ray1970 wrote:
I heard about a guy that actually uses the stainless pins in a cement mixer and can clean brass by the five gallon bucket load.
Don't know if this is the one you were thinking about, but here's a video posted by Aardvark Reloading showing steel pins being used in a modified cement mixer.

Of course, if you consider that the Harbor Freight 1 & 1/4 cubic foot mixer costs $159 - less than a lot of benchtop tumblers with much smaller drums - the guys at Aardvark may be on to something.

If you are going to try and copy what Aardvark did, remember to note what they did for baffles and also you will need to seal every seam with some sort of gasket compound when you assemble the mixer or else all your water will leak out before the load is done.
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Old 08-08-2017, 10:20 PM
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Dry vibrator with walnut for an hour and all is clean and shiny ready for my progressive loader.
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Old 08-08-2017, 10:24 PM
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A little bar keepers friend in a bucket of water.Slosh it around for awhile and rinse them off a couple of times.It works quite well,though I tend to just use a tumbler.
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Old 08-08-2017, 11:28 PM
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I use Birchwood Casey, concentrated case cleaner on grungy
cases, cleans good but no shine. The cases that I use all the time
I just use turbo with walnut media. I'm kinda in the middle, go
through to much ammo to do each one by hand, but not enough
for a cement mixer.
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Old 08-08-2017, 11:51 PM
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Lemishine IS Citric Acid, but with an anti-caking agent added. The anti-caking agent is not necessary. I buy the CA in bulk from eBay, much cheaper, usually 10# at a time. I use lots of it in the dishwasher. I have found it doesn't make much difference how long you let the cases soak in CA solution, I usually do it overnight, but an hour is actually enough. It gets them clean enough for me. I have rescued lots of really dirty and corroded brass that way.

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Old 08-08-2017, 11:53 PM
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I've been using a corn cob/walnut shell mix at 50/50. I put in a couple cap fills of nu-finish, and two hours later in my Dillon tumbler they come out like brand new. I tried wet tumbling ,I didn't find the mess worth the trouble.
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Old 08-08-2017, 11:56 PM
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I use Citric Acid-Lemi shine. I use 1/2 tsp in 1 gallon of hot water. Used to do it in a plastic jug shaking every 5 minutes for a total of 30 minutes, then rinse very well. I recently bought a Harbor Freight ultrasonic cleaner. I use it with heat for 30 minutes. I place wet rinsed cases on a towel on the patio to dry. If I want shiny I then tumble them a bit. I DO deprime first. If you leave them in citric acid too long or use too much your brass turns pink. Works for me. The ultrasonic is also good for cleaning gun parts.
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Old 08-09-2017, 12:13 AM
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A little bar keepers friend in a bucket of water.Slosh it around for awhile and rinse them off a couple of times.It works quite well,though I tend to just use a tumbler.
+1 on this. works very well.
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Old 08-09-2017, 12:23 AM
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When i started reloading almost 40yrs now, i just rolled fired cases around in a damp towel. All i wanted was clean. Today i dry tumble in cob & walnut mix. BUT, i have tried the wet towel again, this time soaked in water & a little lemishine. Then roll again in Just a wet towel. It gets them clean & shiny with zero drying time.
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Old 08-09-2017, 12:24 AM
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Default I could buy a lot of.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rule3 View Post

Brass cleaning the most talked about topic in all reloading forums!

I gave up cleaning as I learned on the internet that NEW cases provide the utmost in accuracy, so I just throw away all the once fired brass and buy new brass for every load.
I could buy a lot of new ammo for that! I guess I'm into the utmost of economy more than the utmost of accuracy.
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Old 08-09-2017, 12:45 AM
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I'm still a tumbler guy.

Been thinking about other methods though. I tend to do things in bulk so your method would be a little too time consuming for me.

I'm thinking either ultrasonic or maybe the stainless pins in a rotary tumbler. I heard about a guy that actually uses the stainless pins in a cement mixer and can clean brass by the five gallon bucket load.
I use a Harbor Freight Cement mixer, instead of trying to seal up the drum, I put a 5 gallon plastic pail into it. I had to glue vinyl strips to act as agitators to the inside of the pail. I used Wash and Wax car soap and a sprinkle of Lemishine. I've used stainless pins for years but the last time I cleaned brass, I tried it without the pins, just the cases bouncing around in the same solution. With the pins, I tumbled them for about an hour, I did 2 hours without the pins. They came out just as shiny. The inside of the cases aren't as clean, but clean enough for me. I took out the whole "separate the pins from the cases" step. I won't be going back to using the pins.
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Old 08-09-2017, 01:47 AM
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When I shot benchrest I cleaned my brass with Never Dull. However with handgun brass I use a tumbler with corn cob and a little Nu Finish.
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Old 08-09-2017, 08:15 AM
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Gentlemen,
Re: time element related to cleaning brass.

The original post of individually cleaning brass with Scotchbrite pads seems inordinately time intensive.

Please chime in about the time involved with various medias (walnut, corn cob, metal pins, etc.) used with tumblers in regards to maintaining the media and especially time for getting the media out of the cases. I picture needing to inspect each case for retained media and removing media from a significant number of cases being time intensive (with quantities of 500-1000 pieces of brass) versus bulk rinsing of the brass and placing the brass on a cookie sheet which only takes a couple of minutes.
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Old 08-09-2017, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by g8rb8
-Dash of NaCl (table salt).
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdwhit View Post
I urge everyone to NOT use salt in processing their brass. The salt makes the brass shine by creating an electrical gradient at the surface of the brass. And because salt is a highly polar molecule, it is extremely difficult to remove from the surface of the brass (including the interior surfaces) and its presence will promote future corrosion.
Excellent point hdwhit. The amount of salt I use is so miniscule that it is probably not relevant so I edited my post. Yes, too much salt can affect the brass. Rinsing is important. On the other hand the recipe appears to have been used for years by re-loader apparently without significant problems.
Thanks
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Old 08-09-2017, 08:24 AM
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I could buy a lot of new ammo for that! I guess I'm into the utmost of economy more than the utmost of accuracy.
You guys obviously failed to see that he was being facetiously humorous in his response about buying new brass, didn't you?
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Old 08-09-2017, 08:26 AM
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Ultrasonic. Super fast, super clean.
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Old 08-09-2017, 08:29 AM
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Brake Parts Cleaner in a coffee can. Shake, dump, done. BPC evaporates very quickly.
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Old 08-09-2017, 09:49 AM
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I'm still with the tumbler, corn cob or walnut with a little nu finish does just fine. Throw them in and go about your rat killing for a couple hours. If I feel real generous I use a little Flitz to shine them up. Kinda pricey though. Cheaper to just use Rule3's once shot brass he left behind.
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Old 08-09-2017, 12:17 PM
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I'm a small lot reloader...I don't mind my process, but I'm going to try some great methods mentioned in this thread (of course we knew Rule3 was being facetious - that is in his DNA - but we like him just as well).
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Old 08-09-2017, 12:53 PM
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I'm a small lot reloader...I don't mind my process, but I'm going to try some great methods mentioned in this thread (of course we knew Rule3 was being facetious - that is in his DNA - but we like him just as well).
Who me? Being Facetious??

I thought it was downright sarcastic

As a small lot reloader you should caress each piece of brass, polish them on a Jewelers wheel and scrub out the interior with a caliber specific brush. This is in addition to cleaning the primer pockets, uniforming and trimming of course!
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Old 08-09-2017, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Triggernosis View Post
You guys obviously failed to see that he was being facetiously humorous in his response about buying new brass, didn't you?
Absolutly not! I read somewhere that everything posted on the internet is true. (I think I read it on the internet.)
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  #35  
Old 08-09-2017, 06:28 PM
Triggernosis Triggernosis is offline
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Originally Posted by Rule3 View Post

As a small lot reloader you should caress each piece of brass, polish them on a Jewelers wheel and scrub out the interior with a caliber specific brush. This is in addition to cleaning the primer pockets, uniforming and trimming of course!
That's pretty much what many of my fellow Service Rifle competitors do - and almost 100% of them that shoot lower scores than me. They're fondling their brass while I'm dry-firing and refining my positions.
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Old 08-09-2017, 06:40 PM
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Brass cleaning the most talked about topic in all reloading forums!

I gave up cleaning as I learned on the internet that NEW cases provide the utmost in accuracy, so I just throw away all the once fired brass and buy new brass for every load.
At least some, if not all of Rule3's sarcasm is directed at me.

On another thread, a member asked if there would be a difference using precision loaded ammo and "slapped together" ammo.

I suggested he just use new brass, for the precision loads, instead of sorting and the case prep for a test he could conduct and answer his own question.

New brass! What an absolutely wacky idea on my part!
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Old 08-09-2017, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by tpole View Post
Ultrasonic. Super fast, super clean.
But for the whole drying time thing & to really get the primer pockets dry & clean, you have to decap first, adding yet more time & extra work??
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Old 08-09-2017, 07:14 PM
Triggernosis Triggernosis is offline
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For my Service Rifle shooting I've been using new, pre-primed brass, shoot it once and selling it as once-fired. Now that's the way to do it!
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Old 08-10-2017, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
arjay wrote:
A little bar keepers friend in a bucket of water.
The active ingredient in Barkeeper's Friend is oxalic acid, so its mechanism of action is the same as Vinegar (acetic acid), Lemi-Shine (citric acid). They can all be made to work well.

Quote:
DWalt wrote:
[Citric Acid] in bulk from eBay, much cheaper, usually 10# at a time.
Good point; particularly if you clean a lot of brass or use the citric acid for cooking for food preservation. For me, a single bottle of Lemi-Shine has lasted more than a year.

With any weak acid solution, concentration and exposure time need to be balanced. I use a fairly high concentration of citric acid with a soaking time of fifteen to thirty minutes. If I were leave brass in that solution overnight, it would change to a very unattractive dull color.
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